To Translate or not Translate

Yesterday a lovely young woman, about 30, told me, "I love your book. Thanks for writing it. I can relate so much to the immigrant story. It's like my story. I wish my mom could read it, but I'm going to translate it in summaries to her."

Wow. I was moved by the emotion in her words.

She wishes it was also in Spanish so her mom can read it. I wish that too. I actually began translating the first chapter with the help of dictionaries, thesauruses, and Google translate. Even with all those modern tools at my disposal to help me translate properly, I quickly found out there is no substitute for genuine author translation. Even hiring a translator is not quite the same as doing it myself.

I have always known that translation is a skill that requires much study and practice. It is not possible to do literal translations, especially of literary works, and expect it not to turn out awkward at best, or ridiculously funny at worst. I once was recruited to do on-the-spot translation for a VIP who came to speak to Hispanic parents in an organization that I belonged to. It was all I could do not to fall flat on my face. I had always believed that I was fully bilingual, but translation goes beyond being simply bilingual and into the demands of nuance and fluency as well as speed.

In writing, the speed pressure is minimized, but, ironically, that is precisely one of the deterring factors. It is a slow and tedious process to meticulously check the idiom, jargon, metaphors, imbedded cultural peculiarities, and so on.

I had shelved the idea of translating "Of Dreams & Thorns," but this young woman made me realize that I should reconsider. Maybe it will take a few months, maybe more, but there will be a translation of this book.

Thank you for reading.

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