“The reason English-speaking readers can barely tell the difference between Tolstoy and Dostoevsky is that they aren’t reading the prose of either one. They’re reading Constance Garnett,” Joseph Brodsky once proclaimed.
Style or individual voice in literature is paramount, and whereas we often contrast style and substance, some would argue that in Literature with a capital L, style is the substance.
But how about commercial translation? You’ve worked hard to distinguish the look and tone of your website from the competition. But if you choose a translator based on his vast experience translating the websites of the other players in your industry, will your brand identity all of a sudden be washed away, blurred beyond your control?
Good literary translators try to disappear. A good advertising translator? Some of your company’s message draws on your industry’s conventional terminology, or terms of art used to discuss the technology you apply to help your customers. But some comes for your unique point of view and position within that industry. Will your translator know the difference?