[trans-ley-shuh n, tranz-]
What is typically such an easy word to comprehend can suddenly become complicated. As the definition above states, translation is a change or alteration of an original language into the reader’s native tongue. 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei is a prime example of translation in perspective. Each and every entry has a similar yet different interpretation of the original, written in Chinese.
“…translation is dependent on the dissolution of the translator’s ego: an absolute humility toward the text. A bad translation is the insistent voice of the translator – that is, when one sees no poet and hears only the translator speaking” (17).“It is a classic example of the translator attempting to “improve” the original” (17).
Both of these quotes suggest that the translator feels that their native language is “superior” to the original. A loss of meaning can happen in result of translation- a removal of the experience that the poet is trying to relate. This relates to linguistic constraints. As most may know, there are some words in other languages that are untranslatable or words/phrases that don’t equate to the same meaning or even tone. One main example of this is when Wei writes about the empty mountain vs. a translation of Western thinking as choosing to translate “empty” to “lonely.” Empty doesn’t necessarily mean lonely, but it was a choice that the translator makes.