A fidus was one who could be trusted who got the job

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A 'fidus' translator/interpreter was one who could be trusted, who got the job done on time and to the satisfaction of both parties. To do so, he had to negotiate between two clients and two languages, if he
Page 4 was an interpreter, or between a patron and two languages if he was a translator. The fact that negotiation is the central concept here militates heavily against the kind of faithfulness traditionally associated with equivalence. Indeed, it is entirely conceivable, not to say inevitable, that the interpreter who wants to negotiate successfully a business transaction may, at times, be very well advised not to translate 'faithfully', so as not to let the negotiations collapse. In the Horatian model there is no sacred text, but there definitely is a privileged language, namely Latin. This implies that negotiation is, in the end, always slanted toward the privileged language, and that the negotiation does not take place on absolutely equal terms. The parallels between the position of Latin in Horace's time and English today are interestingly close. English today occupies the same position throughout the world that Latin occupied in the Mediterranean during the last centuries of the republic and the first centuries of the principate. Translations into English, particularly from third world languages, are almost invariably slanted toward English: we are confronted with what we may term the 'Holiday Inn Syndrome', where everything foreign and exotic is standardised, to a great extent. At least this is the case with texts that can be considered to build the 'cultural capital' of a civilisation. The question does not even arise for another type of text, and for reasons that have little to do with translation as such: the day when computer manuals will be translated from Uzbek into English, rather than the other way around, is obviously not near. Another change is that today, we have come to recognise that different types of texts require different translation strategies. Some texts are primarily designed to convey information, and it stands to reason that translations of such texts should try to convey that information as well as possible. How they do so in practice will, in each particular case, be the result of assumed or explicit negotiation among the initiators who not only want the text translated, but also want it to function in the receiving culture in a meaningful way, the translator who actually translates it, the culture to which the text belongs, the culture the translation is aimed at, and the function the text is supposed to fulfil in the culture the translation is aimed at. There are also texts that are primarily designed to entertain. They will have to be translated in a different, though not necessarily a radically different manner, since texts that are primarily designed to convey information, may well also try to entertain their readers, if only to ensure that the information will be conveyed in the most painless manner possible. Conversely, texts that are primarily designed to entertain, may, and often do, also contain information.

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