Three Sides to One Story

People always say there are three sides to a story. The first side is the side of one group who embellishes the story with their own thoughts. The second side is the other group who also embellishes the story, but for their own benefit. The third side is the truth which is unaltered and in most cases unknown. I believe the same is true for translations of stories. In class, we discussed that translation means to carry something across different languages. This means that the translator is able to pick and choose what he wants to include and what he wants to exclude.

There are two translations to a witness account on the Sage of Magdeburg. The first witness account is translated by Julie K. Tanaka. From this account we get the sense that the witness, Otto Guericke, is looking at the war from far. It gives us an ugly picture about the war, but it does not seem as bad as the second account that Robinson gives us. Robinson’s translation seems like he is actually inside the city watching all this happen in front of him.

For example, both translations mention the army attacking the city too hard, therefore trying to defend themselves would be useless. As the reader, one interprets each translation differently by the way it is explained by each writer. In Tanaka’s account she says “Fires were set everywhere. By this time, it was too late for the city and all resistance was in vain…to be sure,citizens and soldiers gathered and resisted,” (Tanaka, 1). Robinson’s version says, “Fires were kindled in different quarters; then indeed it was all over with the city, and further resistance was useless. Nevertheless, some of the soldiers and citizens did try to make a stand,” (Robinson).  These two passages are both saying the same thing, but the translation is different. When Tanaka say’s that fires were set everywhere, this is the view you would see from far, but from close you would get Robinson’s view by describing that the fire was not everywhere, but in different quarters.

There is also a difference between just watching a battle and actually experiencing it. Tanaka’s translation says that the “most terrible moment lasted not much more then two hours, as the wind picked up and furiously spread the fire,” (Tanaka, 2). Robinson say’s that “in a single day [the ] noble city…went up in flames,” (Robinson). Once again, both translations are basically saying the same thing. Yet, the way they say it makes it seem completely different. If you were just watching a battle, you would be able to realize that it took only two hours for the city to go up in flames like in Tanaka’s translation. If you were inside the city, in the middle of the battle, time would be the last thing on your mind. Then two hours would seem like what Robinson’s translation says, “a single day.”

Although many parts of the article seem the same, there are many differences. Therefore, translations may not always tell the full story, or even the correct story. Little differences, may make a big change.

This is just another form of interpretation. It is up to you to decide what it looks like. It is the same for an author deciding to translate a novel. They get to choose what to do with it.

This is just another form of interpretation. It is up to you to decide what it looks like. It is the same for an author deciding to translate a novel. They get to choose what to do with it.


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