Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ . Չորրորդ Հայքի Գրադարան . ճանաչել զիմաստութիւն եւ զխրատ, իմանալ զբանս հանճարոյ

Translation is a Lie

There are those who say “translation is a lie”, usually based on an argument that nothing could capture the essence of the original like the original itself (or some such thing). If these people knew anything about translation, they wouldn’t stop there… They would talk about the extent of the lie that is translation. Here, let’s only consider two volumes of the many, many books that have ever been translated, to quickly get a minimum estimate of the magnitude of this lie:

The Bible has been translated to over 600 languages, the New Testament to over 1,500, and each of the Iliad and Odyssey have amassed over 50 translations to English alone.

The Old Testament of the Bible was written mainly in Classical Hebrew, with some Aramaic, so if you or your teacher read it in any other language, you were lied to. The same goes for the New Testament, which was written in Greek. Actually, Jesus spoke Aramaic, meaning that his teachings were translated to Greek when the Bible was written, which even makes the original New Testament a lie. The Aramaic version of the New Testament, itself translated from Greek, is therefore a back-translated double lie. Oh yeah, and if you have read the Iliad and Odyssey in anything but Ionic Greek, your understanding of it is also based on a lie. 

If you take solace in having never read any of these books, don’t get too excited—you, too, have been lied to. No one escapes the ceaseless proliferation of lies advanced by the growing corpus of translated literature. All lies.

Please don’t read Chapter 1 of our translation of the Armenian classic Jalaleddin. It is a big fat lie. 

Take it from me, I am a translator who has nothing better to do with my time.

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