Is the original meaning lost in translation?


It can be seen that the original meaning is always lost to some extent in the process of translation. The loss of meaning is an unavoidable part of the translation process and there are several elements that are main factors contributing to this phenomenon. To start with, if the original text presents circumstances that consist of elements unusual to the natural environment, institutions or culture of another language background, there is an inevitable loss of meaning associated with these. Furthermore, the two languages, both in their basic character (langue) as well as their social diversities (parole) have dissimilar lexical, grammatical and sound systems.

The above mentioned elements create another inevitable cause of loss of meaning in the translation. Moreover, there are differences between the original writer and the translator in them using the language itself as a tool of conveying meaning. They may have both lexical and grammatical idiosyncrasies (inclination to attach a personal connotation and meaning to certain words). They normally have completely different styles of writing as people usually write in a style that comes to them naturally - it is very unlikely that the translator’s style is similar to the author’s one. Lastly, the author of the original text and the translator have different concepts of meaning and different moral standards and the translator’s background tends to have an influence on their interpretation of the original text.

All of the above indicates that the translation is a multi-level process that includes not only lexical or grammatical elements but other cultural and environmental factors that may influence the meaning of translated text in different languages.