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A 'fidus' translator/interpreter was one who could be trusted, who got the job done ontime and to the satisfaction of both parties. To do so, he had to negotiate between twoclients and two languages, if he
Page 4was an interpreter, or between a patron and two languages if he was a translator. The factthat negotiation is the central concept here militates heavily against the kind offaithfulness traditionally associated with equivalence. Indeed, it is entirely conceivable,not to say inevitable, that the interpreter who wants to negotiate successfully a businesstransaction may, at times, be very well advised not to translate 'faithfully', so as not to letthe negotiations collapse. In the Horatian model there is no sacred text, but there definitelyis a privileged language, namely Latin. This implies that negotiation is, in the end, alwaysslanted toward the privileged language, and that the negotiation does not take place onabsolutely equal terms. The parallels between the position of Latin in Horace's time andEnglish today are interestingly close. English today occupies the same position throughoutthe world that Latin occupied in the Mediterranean during the last centuries of therepublic and the first centuries of the principate. Translations into English, particularlyfrom third world languages, are almost invariably slanted toward English: we areconfronted with what we may term the 'Holiday Inn Syndrome', where everything foreignand exotic is standardised, to a great extent. At least this is the case with texts that can beconsidered to build the 'cultural capital' of a civilisation. The question does not even arisefor another type of text, and for reasons that have little to do with translation as such: theday when computer manuals will be translated from Uzbek into English, rather than theother way around, is obviously not near.Another change is that today, we have come to recognise that different types of textsrequire different translation strategies. Some texts are primarily designed to conveyinformation, and it stands to reason that translations of such texts should try to conveythat information as well as possible. How they do so in practice will, in each particularcase, be the result of assumed or explicit negotiation among the initiators who not onlywant the text translated, but also want it to function in the receiving culture in ameaningful way, the translator who actually translates it, the culture to which the textbelongs, the culture the translation is aimed at, and the function the text is supposed tofulfil in the culture the translation is aimed at.There are also texts that are primarily designed to entertain. They will have to betranslated in a different, though not necessarily a radically different manner, since textsthat are primarily designed to convey information, may well also try to entertain theirreaders, if only to ensure that the information will be conveyed in the most painlessmanner possible. Conversely, texts that are primarily designed to entertain, may, and oftendo, also contain information.