Students’ main takeaways

“I think the largest lesson I’ve learned is that translation is nowhere near perfect. There will always be some way to criticize a translation and/or nitpick the different choices someone makes, or how the translation differs from the original. But all translation (or at least good translation) is done with a purpose, and none of the decisions are casual or careless. I used to think that translation was such a straightforward thing, but I’ve realized that trying to express a thought in a language with different vocabulary and syntax and grammar is far from a simple task.” (Jason)

“I think I come away from the course with a sense of how much richer the world is for having translation. Without it, so much would be lost from culture to culture. In as global a world as our own, it is essential to have translation facilitate understanding between different regions.” (Ben)

During a comparison activity in Spanish 310, Connor Vasu points out a difference among the students’ translations of a newspaper article.

 “[…] translation is a process and deserves the upmost appreciation. I no doubt have gotten an incredible perspective on an industry and lifestyle that I never had really considered before that impacts lives all around the world everyday.” (Andrew)

“Translation is hard. It is no simple task to convert one text into another language while maintaining its cultural significance, and to do so successfully, a solid understanding of both languages and audiences is absolutely necessary. Often times, the work of translators and interpreters is left unrecognized, but I see now that it is crucial in bridging cultures and bringing people together.” (Shalin)

Interpreting workshop with Certified Judiciary Interpreter Yasmin Metivier

“[…] I think one thing that will always follow me is faithfulness to the text. I always believed that translation had to be almost word-for-word, but I understand now that a translator not only translates into another language, but also another culture. A cultural reference in Spain may not have the same function or impact in the United States, so a new cultural reference has to be devised in order to be applicable to the target audience. This idea is also seen in poetry. Some things simply cannot be translated, so translators have to do their best to quite literally write their own piece with their own writing style while still trying to maintain the meaning the poet intended.” (Abby)

Certified healthcare interpreter Liz Essary shares her experience with students from Spanish 310 to prepare them to shadow interpreters at Duke Hospital

“I think the most valuable thing I learned from this course is what it means to translate a work. Translation is not straightforward. There are gray areas everywhere and it is up to the translator or interpreter to make creative decisions in order to transfer meaning the best they can because there is no such thing as a perfect translation.” (Charlie)

“[…] learning Spanish is so much more meaningful to me now than it ever was. In previous classes, I had mostly learned Spanish for Spanish, with a focus on vocabulary and grammar, among other technical principles. But, this class opened my eyes to the advantage of bilingualism in the real-world, and makes me proud to say that I’m a Spanish major.” (Bailey)

Maha El-Metwally and Elena Langdon speak about the challenges of interpreting in humanitarian and healthcare setting and share some of the strategies they have employed.

 “The thing that I will carry forward from this course is the importance of the process of translation. It requires several rounds of intentional and thoughtful consideration, as well as the feedback of others, so that you can evaluate effectiveness. This course has taught me a new way to approach communication and I’m excited to bring these revision and practice steps into my work in the future.” (Michael)

“[…] Before this class, I had not really thought about how many different sub-fields existed within the larger translation/interpretation work. I did not realize that a translator/interpreter could specialize – and actually should specialize – in a certain type of translation/interpretation […] I’m actually very interested in translation/interpreting now. I actually plan on volunteering for a non-profit that currently needs Spanish speakers and people who can translate paperwork from English to Spanish. This class has given me greater confidence in my general Spanish communication abilities!” (Stella)

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