Translating Ancient Texts…

For those with translation experience of ancient works, you know how challenging it is.  Having a background of some cultures is our life experience, but in translation, we face situations which require us to select a limited number of words to express it. By “the life experience of a culture”, I mean the historical practices, religious beliefs, practices of a group of people, and so forth. The writer of the text  or literary work for translation may also have ideas and thoughts which differ from people in his or her own society, depending on his or her socioeconomic status, educational experience, and ideology, just to say the least. Adding summaries of cultural beliefs as well as knowledge about certain aspects of the authors or characters in foot or end notes often becomes unavoidable.

There are eleven words that I found online which are said to be “untranslatable” into English. But of course, you know it’s not just eleven that have caused headaches to translators!

Here’s the link to some of the literary works of 15th-century Vietnam. Voila,

Many thanks to this site in France!


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