Fluent fidelity

Many a translator attends closely to readable and adequate rendering for intercultural ethic. For example:

They [the native pilgrims] are simple people.


The word “simple” in this example above has other meaning plainness, naivety or frankness. But the translator has rendered it with “头脑简单” to show the speaker’s discriminatory attitude toward the said people.

A translator’s readable fidelity, nevertheless, does not always make sense, for it might be established on the prejudice against a source culture. Translations accurate and readable, on certain occasions, are organized to build up or solidify the recipients’ bias against neither a source culture nor a receptor culture. Instead, it is some other cultures that come into focus.

Unintelligible fidelity

A translator normalized with intercultural ethic can adopt foreignizing strategy to reproduce the foreigness and challenge established prejudice. A translator may at times intervene against intercultural ethic with unreadably literal translation. The majority of French translations of Egyptian texts carry canonical traces of such a strategy. The translations obscurely verbatim and requiring expert explanation is supposed to show world symptomatic “illiteracy” and “naivety” of the source culture.

Rationality of infidelity

Thought a translator is charged with faithful transfer, some translators normalized with intercultural ethic have perspicaciously revised the source texts. For example, female translators at times deliberately intervene for non-patriarchal target society. Acutely conscious that “ the translatress in her own person speaks”. In other conditions, a different conclusion might be drawn.

It is universally acknowledged that a translator has moral responsibilities for the audience and ought to assure the fluency of a version. There is an argument that a translator should struggle to satisfy the audience’s expectation can exemplify this. But a translator’s efforts for readability are not sure to conform to intercultural ethic, since target text receivers tend to deal with the works in line with their reading habits and thinking modes. He or she might serve intended readership with their common disdain of the author.

Many first world translators have adapted third world originals with their purpose of catering to their stereotypes. Furthermore, a translator against the norm of intercultural ethic may also resort to unreadable infidelity.

The translators live and work in a world that is far more complicated than any fidelity based ethics can encompass. The discussion about fidelity should not be confined to its information transmission or its serve for certain cultural groups. Since both fidelity and infidelity readable or unintelligible can be discriminatory, subversive or submissive, diplomatic, political, economic and military international co-existence necessitates emphatic researches on the normalization of fidelity with intercultural ethic.

Read Also: The Decency of Translation Criticism