Translating as Drawing a Mountain Ridge

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Translation is like drawing, or painting, a mountain ridge. The contours won’t match up perfectly, try as the artist might to reproduce the intricate ups and downs with exactitude. In the end, you’ll be left with your interpretation, having flattened out some bits, having elevated others. But as you approach the mountain, the contours fade and you find yourself face to face with an overwhelming mountain.

The role of a translation consultant is to help translators match up the contours and to avoid flattening out the mountain. Some contours will be possible, others not. But the mountain will remain.