Francesco Potorti`
Sun, 25 Aug 2002 19:51:48 +0200

      When J.B. Phillips set out to translate the New Testament into modern 
English he tested the quality of his work on three criteria worth our 
attention. (Is there any translation software that can meet these three 
criteria yet?)
      "There seem to be three necessary tests which any work of 
transference from one language to another must pass before it can be 
classed as good translation. The first is simply that it must not sound 
like a translation at all. If it is skillfully done, and we are not 
previously informed, we should be quite unaware that it is a translation, 
even though the work we are reading is far distant from us in both time and 
place. That is a first, and indeed fundamental test, but it is not by 
itself sufficient. For the translator himself may be a skillful writer, and 
although he may have conveyed the essential meaning, characterization and 
plot of the original author, he may have so strong a style of his own that 
he completely changes that of the original author. The example of this kind 
of translation which springs most readily to my mind is Fitzgerald's 
Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. I would therefore make this the second test: that 
a translator does his work with the least possible obtrusion of his own 
personality. The third and final test which a good translator should be 
able to pass is that of being able to produce in the hearts and minds of 
his readers an effect equivalent to that produced by the author upon his 
original readers. Of course no translator living would claim that his work 
successfully achieved these three ideals. But he must bear them in mind 
constantly as principles for his guidance."