Quotes Worth Quoting on International Translation Day 2014


The ATA’s Spanish Language Division (SPD) wishes all its members and contributors, as well as translators and interpreters everywhere, a very special International Translation Day 2014!  To help you celebrate, SPD members have shared some of their favorite quotes for reflecting, learning, and smiling about the craft of translation and interpretation.

We hope you enjoy them. Congratulations!

Fran Samuel, Administrator

Helen Eby, Assistant Administrator


 Members of the SPD Leadership Committee


Mafalda, created by Quino. (All rights reserved to the artist. http://www.quino.com.ar/)

Mafalda, created by Quino.
(All rights reserved to the artist. http://www.quino.com.ar/)

Quotes Worth Quoting on International Translation Day 2014

“A translator is to be like his author; it is not his business to excel him.”
Samuel Johnson

 “It takes 5 million dollars to train one [emphasis added] aircraft carrier pilot. Nobody has ever seriously argued against spending this money. It is in the national interest. Trained professional interpreters are also in the national interest. You can train a large number of interpreters for five million dollars. One properly trained diplomatic interpreter’s skilled translation may avoid the conflict in which that carrier may have to be used, at a possible cost on tens of hundreds of millions.”
Harry Obst, in his book White House Interpreter

 “Toda traducción es como el reverso de un tapiz.”
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“El lector ideal es un traductor. Es capaz de desmenuzar un texto, retirarle la piel, cortarlo hasta la médula, seguir cada arteria y
cada vena y luego poner en pie a un nuevo ser viviente.”
Alberto Manguel

“Sin traducción habitaríamos provincias lindantes con el silencio.”
George Steiner

“Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature.”
José Saramago

“El novelista es el mono de Dios. Pues bien, el traductor es el mono del novelista. Debe hacer las mismas muecas, le guste o no.”

“Cuando yo era chico, ignorar el francés era ser casi analfabeto. Con el decurso de los años pasamos del francés al inglés y del inglés a la ignorancia, sin excluir la del propio castellano.”
J. L. Borges

 “Simultaneous interpretation is like driving a car that has a steering wheel but no brakes and no reverse.”
Pyotr Avaliani, UN Russian Interpreter

“Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that’s the whole art and joy of words.”
C. S. Lewis

“Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.”
Paul Auster


Contributors*: Cristina Hendrix, Cristina McDowell, Danielle Maxson, Georgina Caviglia, Gerardo Konig, Margarita Hernández, Rosario Charo Welle, and Virginia Perez-Santalla

*Contributors do not own or claim to own any of the rights to the quotes cited in this post.