TEXTBOOK OF TRANSLATION 1st Edition - Paper (Anglais) Broché – 1 novembre 1987
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As (relatively) often as Newmark is cited by other writers, it should be understood going into the book that his views are by no means the norm and the author himself is very aware of this. Simplifying the position, Newmark supports loyalty to the original as opposed to the `transcreation' of a new text in the target language. He takes something of a combative, even snooty, stance while defending his argument that the translator's role is to remain essentially invisible and should be there only to relay the message, as exactly and to-the-word as possible, of the original author. For example, the dictum that you must account for every single word in the source text appears constantly throughout the book, which obviously makes a lot of sense in theory. It may be worth noting, though, that most of Newmark's many examples are from French, German and Italian (the book can probably get pretty frustrating at times if you don't claim at least a basic familiarity with these languages), and if you don't have the `luxury' of working with languages as closely related and historically and culturally interactive as these, you may find it difficult to apply his strict warnings against translating with the purpose of conveying the meaning (the gist, or the `spirit') of the original to your own work. Jaded professionals may find themselves at turns amused and wistful when faced with such a forceful argument in favor of the `ideal translation.'
While most readers are going to have a tough time agreeing with all the points in this book, it is still an effective reminder to stay tight with your work and to read your source texts very, very closely. Opinions aside, just about everyone involved or interested in the field will find something useful in the many examples and words of advice that Newmark presents. A Textbook of Translation may be something of a rare find by now, but it's definitely worth a look for both its practical tips and its role in the formation of translation studies.
The advice he gives the reader, however, is much less applicable to the translation into English of languages such as Chinese or Japanese, which are much more high-context than English, and in which vagueness, redundancy, non-linear organization, "understood" information, and run-on sentences are the order of the day. The very nature of Chinese writing, in most circumstances, forces the translator to distance himself from fidelity to the original text, instead trying as accurately as possible to convey the source language writer's meaning in a way that sounds natural and understandable to the reader.
The author's lack of consideration of non-European languages, his over-opinionated demeanor, his sometimes-questionable prose, and the fact that the book is two decades out of date (given the Internet as a valuable resource for professional terminology, proper names and much more) are why I am giving this otherwise engaging and informative book three stars instead of five. It is still a recommended read for anyone who is serious about translation as a career.