Globibo Blog

Challenges in Translating Poetry

Translating literary texts is generally considered to be more difficult than translating other texts. Poems are even more challenging for so many reasons. Many factors need to be considered like the choice of words, figurative languages and metaphors used and so on. The translator also must be mindful of being able to convey the thoughts and emotions of the poet. Let’s not even begin with differing rhyme, meter, rhythm, and expressions not generally found in other poems. Most of these words are not used in daily conversations and that only works to further complicate a translator’s job.
Potential hurdles while translating poems are –
 Linguistic issues – Some words have no literal translation in another language. Others can refer to upto two-three words in conjunction to mean a single word in English or vice versa.
 Literal v/s figurative translation – Poems make use of words to serve as symbols or metaphors. The hidden meaning of these words adds charm to the work in context. Translators suffer the dilemma of translating these words literally or figuratively, taking
away from the combined effect of the original poem.
Translators are also confounded when they have to match the sounds of the original text in their translation, which is not often possible. When the rhyme scheme of the poem suffers a blow, it subtracts from the beauty of the poem.

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