The poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko once said, “Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.” Besides being incredibly sexist (Yevtushenko was divorced four times if that tells you anything), this is one of the biggest myths surrounding creative translation.

Many people who do not understand the practice of translation believe that literal or direct approaches are more accurate. Therefore, if a sentence reads, ある人が生まれた日 (aru hito ga umareta hi), then a more “accurate” translation to English would be “the day a certain person was born.” While more faithful at first glance, this translation may in fact be introducing mistranslations and is therefore not actually all that faithful.

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