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Is translation a science, an art or a craft?

As a matter of fact, this topic has been already discussed in depth by translation theorists and professionals as well, but without reaching a definitive conclusion on the same. In a nutshell, we can safely claim that translation is a combination of all of the above.

First of all, translation is a science with a solid foundation in the sense that the good translator needs to be fully aware of what the proficient scholars, theorists and authors have written/talked about translation scientifically in terms of its key issues such as theory of translation, scientific definition, equivalence, untranslatability, machine translation, literary translation, and many other semantic issues including but not limited to collocation, idioms, text and discourse analysis, pragmatics and even grammatical matters like ellipsis, substitution, etc. That is because a good translator needs to know at least about the fundamentals and rules of translation although there are no hard and fast rules about it. Therefore, the successful translator has to have a considerable background and specialized information about obvious and rules of translation, which can be gained by reading about the same.
Undoubtedly, this could help and support the translator to be on alert when it comes to conveying certain expressions, idioms and sentences from Source Language Text (SLT) into Target Language Text (TLT). In the final analysis, translation always poses a serious challenge to the translator as he/she has to come up with the right and intended meaning of any chunk or structure of language, which should be easily understood by and communicated to the native speaker of TLT. One should bear in mind that a good translator should always be keen on keeping abreast of the latest developments in the field of translation on all levels by attending international conferences on translation and reading a lot about it as well so that he or she can be armed with knowledge as knowledge is power.

Secondly, we can also safely state that translation is an art, where such notion or argument is absolutely true. This entails that translation should be an ongoing creative process, which puts the translator on alert all the time as he or she is facing an inner conflict whether to stick to the original language text words or just feel free to put it in the way he feels correct provided that the translated version should maintain the intended meaning of the author. At the same time, the translator should always have some margin of freedom to be innovative to a certain extent as he or she needs to keep making or cooking things, so to speak. In other words, he always has to make choices as he or she is supposed to come up with a correct and effective piece of writing that should be acceptable and understandable by the target language user.

Generally speaking, translation is a necessary evil as some people put it in the sense that translation must be done as it is the only way for the native speaker of any given language to understand what is going on in a language that is foreign to him so that he or she can communicate and react accordingly. Based on the above, we can say that a good translator needs to be a good writer; and writing as such is an art in the full sense of the word as active production is always underway whenever there is translation.
Finally, we can also safely say that translation by itself is an amazing craft or profession. This means, of course, that translation is a way of life and a mysterious and a beautiful career that should be a well-paid one. That is because translators just like any other position holders in real life situations must be well rewarded and appreciated for their hard efforts they always make so that they can produce at least meaningful and passable translations.