translator's role in communication process

The translator in the communication process

translator's role in communication process We often hear, at the conclusion of an argument, that there should have been better communication to begin with. The importance of good communication is always emphasized and its absence may lead to disastrous results, in business as in private life. When the intention is not to deceive but rather to be constructive through one’s own ideas, understanding communication’s main concepts is mandatory. This is a key qualification for any good translator as well, as the attributes of good communication are often the attributes of a good translation: clarity, transparency or efficiency in delivering the message.

We become better communicators with a better understanding of the following elements: the sender, the message, the medium and the receiver. The entire communication process may be seen as successful when certain conditions are met: the appropriate transfer of the sender’s ideas and intention’s into the message, the adequateness of the medium to the purpose of the message, the correct appropriation, by the receiver, of the sender’s ideas and intentions.

We must not forget the danger of over-simplifying when such essential concepts are at stake, but this should not deter us from the need of being understood and understanding others.

One of the most striking aspects of the communication chain is the dynamicity and non-passivity of all its elements. Both the sender and the receiver are active. It is clear that who initiates the process is actively constructing and delivering a message through some medium. However, the receiver is no less active. When we receive a message, we engage in a process of decoding it, which implies being a good listener (or reader), being capable of discerning the content of the message (how does it change anything? What knowledge does it bring?) or being able to understand the intention of the sender. When you read this text, you are doing just that. In communication, there is no passive reception.

In case a translation is necessary, it is inferred that its task is to make a communication process possible by further mediating it. The translator must be aware of the non-passivity of all the participants in the communication process. The translation of a text cannot compromise the message by garbling it. It must respect the ideas and intentions of the author as much as it must allow the reader to decode them. Finally, because it adds a mediation process to the general communication chain, it resembles the work of a referee in a football match: the performance is better to the extent that it is not perceived.


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