"There is no such thing as a literal translation, by nature of choosing one word or another, you influence the next step," (Bea Basso, an Italian translator) says.If people are saying this about works for which lots and lots of native speakers can still be found, just how much worse must it be for works that are at least 2000 years old?
Of course, finding native speakers can be a problem for more recently-written works, too.
...regional linguistic differences can factor into a work, too — which is why Basso (who's from Venice) found it odd when she was asked to translate plays by Neapolitan author Eduardo De Filippo.This just underscores what I say all the time: "all translation is interpretation." There's simply no way around having to make choices as to which word most accurately represents the original intent. And one person may well make different (significantly different) choices than another person.
"Every region in Italy is so dramatically different ... the dialect, the customs, the food," says Basso. "Eduardo De Filippo uses an old dialect [from] the late 50s, so not even my Neapolitan friends would always know, they would have to ask their grandmothers. That happened several times."
Here's another example:
"Rabelais, the author of this very strange book, ends the chapter with a sputtering iteration. I believe it's something like 43 different words in French for s- - -,"* says Raffel. "My problem was finding 43 different words because English is not so plentiful in these things."I wonder if the French have greater or less difficulty finding an appropriate translation for σκυβαλα as found in Philippians 3:4b-14?
*That's not my censorship. NPR did that themselves, both in the text link and in the article heard on the radio.