Creativity in Translation

In word to word or literal translation, mechanic act of text, transforming from one to another just like in a mathematical equation. Some tools recognize the functionality of each and every word in its exact position in the sentence providing you with a potential translation. But issue arises when in some languages the word order is not fixed, allowing the translator to interpret it in a number of ways and a computer tool may misunderstand the meaning.

Translator cum Writer

The translation cannot be separated from writing, translators are initially writers than in addition to it, they are passionate about languages. It is in fact the power of words, it may take some time to come up with the a single term condensing the idea of the sentence. The translator as a writer make a selection and cutting to achieve the exact meaning in the text.

The human translators have to work on the order, tune and structure of the sentence while interpreting the text into another language. The translators are in fact building up a scenario while translating, transforming and re-writing. The art is to shape the text with its own identity while conveying the original meaning all at the same time. Hence, one can rightly say that the translators are writers also.

 Role of Creativity

It is actually feature of a skilled translator to add creativity into his work. However, the translation and creativity are inseparable as the translator not only interpreting the provided information, but also reform it in an understanding style in the other language.

Need of a Translator to be Creative

Creativity helps the translator in dealing with the common problems of translation, take example of confusion in choosing the representing form and content. The balance in the translated content is achieved with creativity of the translator.  Take an example of some of the languages that have idioms, the same may not be available in the other language, another example would be a case of cultural cues, here comes the creative writing approach of the translator that how intelligently he will be able to re-phrase the same in the other language.

Creativity is used at its maximum if it comes to Literature, for example, poetry; the translator needs to consider the imagery, rhyming, flow and rhythm during the translation. The illusive and the esoteric message of the literature must not be effected with the translation in another language.

Accurate amount of Creativity

Excess of anything is bad, same is the case with adding creativity in the translation. It is again the intelligence and experience of the translator to use the right amount of creativity in his work so that the originality of the work is not affected. There can be various degrees of creativity depending on the type of translation, for example, it can be used to its maximum in Literal translation but very little in the case of academic. However, we can conclude that an ideal translation uses the perfect and just the exact amount of creativity as per requirement.

Creativity in Translation requires mastery of the languages to pull it off successfully, that is mostly achieved with experience. Not to discourage the new translators, some people are gifted with great intelligence and skills. The translators must remember that the translation is not just about words, the requirement is to interpret the cultural context also.


  1. Avatar Alexie says:

    I never thought that creativity and translation go together. Human translation seems like a more analytical task, but how you’ve explained it does make sense. It takes a certain amount of creative logic to properly convert text from one language into another and still hold the same meaning.

  2. Avatar Derek Wilton says:

    Creativity is rare to find, and a great essential skill to have in the translation industry.

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