It is not words we should translate, but ideas.

Transmitting the message is not enough: we also need to reproduce the cultural, ideological and stylistic traits that come with it. This is the only way we can aspire to a translation that feels just like the original.

What is translating?

In order to express ourselves, for lack of a more efficient means of doing so, we use words. However, words themselves are not the message. We trust those hearing (or reading) them to consider them, relying on their own ideas, recollections, experiences and feelings, and reassemble from them a message that is as similar as possible to the original one.

Since there are no two people in the world that think, feel or perceive their surroundings in the exact same way, misunderstandings can sometimes occur even between people who speak the same language. As physical (and therefore cultural) distance increases, effective communication becomes more and more difficult. That is why those charged with facilitating communication between speakers of different languages cannot be content to merely replace the words in one language with words from another: they must also seek to achieve harmony between all grammatical, semantic and cultural elements which both the sender and the receiver of the message each have as their starting point. Their task requires empathy and a vast respect for both cultures involved, and their work must not fall prey to haste or nonchalance.

A translation must convey the same message as the original, in a way as similar to the original as the characteristics of the target language allow. Efforts must be made, though, not to introduce any unusual or alien elements into said target language. Ultimately, the aim should always be to produce in the receiver the same effect as the original would have had the receiver been able to understand it. Good translators must adequately balance the loyalty owed to their client, the original author, the audience for which the translation is intended and themselves. Even though it may seem that there are different interests in play, in reality, the main goal should be the same for everyone involved: achieving the best possible translation. Being able to play this role, as do (and have been doing through the ages) those to whom I owe no small part of my current and future knowledge, is for me a great honor, but also a great responsibility. After all, translating is relatively easy, but translating properly is extremely difficult.

What does sensum de sensu mean?

Ego enim non solum fateor, sed libera voce profiteor, me in interpretatione Graecorum, absque Scripturis sanctis, ubi et verborum ordo mysterium est, non verbum e verbo, sed sensum exprimere de sensu.

I, indeed, not only admit, but openly proclaim that in my translations from Greek (except in the case of Holy Scriptures, where even word order holds a mystery) I do not extract the word from the word, but the sense from the sense.

This fragment of the Epistula Ad Pammachium, De Optimo Genere Interpretandi (Letter to Pammachius, about translating in the best way), written by Saint Jerome (who became patron saint of translators) in the year 395 AD, has come to be one of the major historical maxims on how translation should be understood. I thus decided to adopt it as a title for this website for its ability to express, in a brief and recognizable manner, my approach to my profession.

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