I love translation, but I seldom immerse myself in it. But when I decide to translate an article, I translate it with vim and vigor.To be honest, our translation classes at university were awful. Let me tell you a real story about our oral translation class.
One day our instructor brought a tape with herself and asked us to transcribe and then translate it. I listened to the tape and put down everything on my notebook. Something was wrong with a line in that text. The line, which knocked me for a loop, was this:
Her cat had been given its distemper shot.
Unaware of the real meaning of "distemper" and being lazy enough to look the word up in a dictionary, my instructor and classmates translated the word incorrectly. They thought the word meant "behaving badly". Do you get what I mean?
No one in the class paid heed to this mistranslation. During listening to the tape again and reviewing my notes for the exam, a question came to my head. Was it distemper, dis-temper, or this temper? The first one, of course, seemed to be the answer. And my trusty dictionary approved that.
Distemper: a serious infectious disease that affects animals.
Oscar Wilde once said it is always a very dangerous thing to tell a story with a moral. I cannot give the moral of this story a miss, however. Some translators, no matter where they come from or what their native language is, do not take translation very seriously. They do not want to thrash the problems of translation out. Please add the number of some students of translation and their teachers to the list.