GRE Argument Essay 37

There is a general idea that a translation always fails to preserve some of the qualities that distinguish the original work – i.e., that ‘something always gets lost in translation.’ Writers, critics, and the general reading public unthinkingly accept this clich. But this belief is unwarranted: translators are sometimes distinguished authors themselves, and some authors may even translate their own works. As the translator pointed out in the preface to an English version of Dante’s works, the violin and the piano make different sounds, but they can play what is recognizably the same piece of music.

The given argument contradicts the common belief that translation fails to preserve the quality of the original work. This contradiction is supported by two facts. The first one is that translators are sometimes authors themselves and they may translate their own works, thus managing to preserve the qualities of the original works. The second fact presented by the arguer is the preface to an English version of Dante’s works where it is mentioned that although the violin and the piano make different sounds, they can play the same piece of music. The contention made by the arguer is unconvincing despite the facts presented in its support. This is because the facts presented by the arguer fail to convince the reader that the conclusion drawn by the argument is justified.

Although, it is true that some translators are authors themselves, this does not hold true for the entire fraternity of translators and therefore, this fact fails to substantiate the claim that there will be no loss of quality when original work is converted to its translated version. There are times when works of well-known authors have to be translated into several languages. It is not necessary that all authors will be equally proficient in a variety of foreign languages. There are bound to be some versions of the work which have been converted into some foreign language with the assistance of a translator. In today’s world, there are numerous people who are purely translators and there are companies that exclusively carry out translations of the works of small authors as well as well-known authors.

It is not necessary that there will be no loss of quality even if the translator and the author of the original work are the same. This is essentially because translation involves rewriting the original work in a different language. No two languages are the same as far as the expression of feelings and description of events are concerned. Each language describes the environment around us in a specific manner and another language may not be able to express the same environment up to exactly the same level. This is because the adjectives used in a particular language to describe something may not carry exactly the same connotation or the same level when expressed in another language. Therefore, there is bound to be some loss of quality when the original work is translated into another language either by the author himself or by a translator.

Language and music are not comparable in the context of the given argument. Therefore, the second fact cited by the arguer does nothing to substantiate the claim made in the argument. Different instruments like the violin and piano make different sounds but both the instruments can be used to produce similar pieces of music. Music can easily be composed in such a way that different instruments play the same piece of music in such a way that they sound similar to the listener. However, the same cannot be said about a language which is an entirely different form of art. The expression of a feeling has to be exactly the same in its translated form which is very difficult in view of the reasons mentioned in the preceding paragraph. Moreover, one cannot refute the fact that the music will definitely sound different due to the difference in the sounds produced by different instruments.

In view of the above, it is evident that the argument is not well-reasoned due the presence of inadequate evidence which eventually fails to substantiate the argument. Therefore, the belief that there is a loss in the quality of the original work whenever a translation is carried out is rightly justified.