Harry Aveling


Translators are regularly berated by various criticsfor their
apparently endless "mistakes ". All of us who are practising translators
know this well. We labour for years to trails late a text, ill a sensitive
and caring way, only to be told that "there is a comma missing on
page 45 ", "this sort of bird is a pigeoll alld not a magpie ", and "the
subjunctive, which is a particular feature of this author s style in the
original, is missing in the translation". Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes.
In choosing this particular topic, I have the sense that it is one for
which my critics, at least, consider me singularly qualified. In this
article, I wish to consider here whether it is still meaningful to consider
"mistakes" as a failure to achieve" equivalence, adequacy, accuracy,
etc., " especially in these postmodern days in which the concept of
multiple readings is well established. Part of my argument will also
distinguish between what might be initially considered "dumb
mistakes" (foolish errors) and "deliberate mistakes", the latter
occurring when a translator specifically chooses to recreate the text
in a way that seems to deviate from the literal surface meaning of the
source text. Thirdly, I will suggest that the evaluation of translation
needs not to insist that" This is wrong ", but rather to ask" Why has
the translator chosen this particular way of translation?" and" What
is it that s/he is trying to bring across from the original text into the
re-enactment of it?"


mistakes, translation, functiollalist approach

Full Text:



Goldblatt, Howard. "The Writing Life", The Washington Post, Sunday, April 28,

, Book World, p. 10

Nord, Christiane. Translating as a Purposeful Activity: Functionalist Approaches

Explained. St Jerome Publishing, Manchester, 1997.

Raffel, Burton. The Forked Tongue: A Study of the Translation Process, Mouton,

The Hague, 1971.

Venuti, Laurence. The Translation Studies Reader, Routledge, London, 2000.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.24167/celt.v3i1.1080

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