Book Translation – Keeping the Faith Part 2
As the saying goes…”Whatever happens, happens for a reason”
After I have read Paulo Coelho’s The Fifth Mountain, I continue to read his another book entitled “Like the Flowing River”. This is a collection of reflections from Paulo Coelho. In this riveting collection of thoughts and stories, he offers his personal reflections on a wide range of subjects from archery and music to elegance, travelling and the nature of good and evil.
What actually caught my attention is when I read a particular short story on “The Other Side of the Tower of Babel”. In this story, he pays his respect to the Holy Translator, Saint Mesrob. Below is an extract of what Paulo had wrote and it best summarize the importance of a good book translator:
“Today is 9 October, 2004. The town is called Oshakan, and Armenia, as far as I know, is the only place in the world that has declared the day of the Holy Translator, St. Mesrob, a national holiday and where they celebrate it in style. As well as creating the Armenian alphabet (the language already existed, but only in spoken form). St Mesrob devoted his life to translating into his mother tongue the most important texts of the period, which were written in Greek, Persian or Cyrillic. He and his disciples devoted themselves to the enormous task of translating the Bible and the main literary classics of the time. From that moment on, the country’s culture gained its own identity, which it has maintained to this day.
The Holy Translator. I hold the flower in my hands and think of all the people I have never met, and perhaps may never have the opportunity to meet, but who, at this moment, have my books in their hands, and are doing their best tremain faithful to what I have tried to share with my readers. I think, above all, of my father-in-law, Christiano Monteiro Oiticica (profession: translator), who is today in the company of angels and of St. Mesrob, watching this scene. I remember seeing him hunched over his old typewriter, often complaining about how badly paid translation was (and, alas, still is). He would immediately go on, though, to explain that the real reason he translated was because he wanted to share a knowledge, which, but for translators, would never reach his own people.
I say a silent prayer for him, for all those who have helped me with my books, and for those who have allowed me to read books to which I would never otherwise have had access, thus helping – anonymously – to shape my life and my character. When I leave the church, I see some children writing the alphabet with sweets in the shape of letters and with flowers and more flowers.
When man grew ambitious, God destroyed the Tower of Babel, and everyone began to speak different tongues. However, in His infinite grace, he also created people to rebuild those bridges, to enable dialogue and the diffusion of human thought. This person, whose name we rarely take the trouble to notice when we open a foreign book, is the translator.”
The above extract has touched my heart when I read it. In this commercial world, some people has failed to comprehend the importance of translation. They fail to understand that a translator takes much effort and time to produce a good translation work. My kudos to those professional translators in the world. Thanks for being the Bridge Across Cultures in this world!