Translation simply means communicating the meaning of a source-language text in text of a different language. Translation involves only written text, as opposed to interpreting, and therefore came into existence only after the appearance of written literature. Primarily due to the demands for commercial, legal and governmental documentation following the Industrial Revolution, some translation specialties have become formalized, with dedicated schools and professional associations. Anne Lee of European Translation is a registered member of all the relevant and important organisations for translators.

Because of the labour-intensive nature of translation, for many years people have attempted to automate translation (machine translation) or to mechanically aid the human translator. However, to date it is almost universally recognized that machine translation is incapable of coping with even the most basic phrases.

Translation involves the dual ideals of fidelity (or faithfulness) and transparency, which can often appear to be at odds. Faithfulness is the extent to which a translation accurately renders the meaning of the source text, without distortion, while transparency is the extent to which a translation appears to a native speaker of the target language to have originally been written in that language, and conforms to its grammar, syntax and idiom. A 17th-century French critic coined the phrase "les belles infidèles" to suggest that translations, like women, can be either faithful or beautiful, but not both. This view is largely disputed by modern-day translators, the best of whom are able to convey the full "lyrical beauty" of text, without deviating from it's full and complete truth. The skill to do this depends not only on the ability to speak, read and write both languages "as a native", but also involves extensive reading and knowledge of poetry and literature (both modern and classic).

Adapted from the Wikipedia article.

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