We can all appreciate these translation quotes if we have had to read or write in a language other than our native.
According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, translation is “an act, process, or instance of translating: such as a rendering from one language into another.”
Without translation, it would be impossible to communicate documents between different languages.
Many important historical documents have been translated into multiple languages so knowledge can spread worldwide.
For example, the Bible has been translated into over 3,000 languages to share religious teachings with everyone.
Translating documents goes back more than 2,000 years when a poem called The Epic of Gilgamesh was translated from Sumerian into several Asian languages.
Take a look at these translation quotes to see just how important translation is.
You will also enjoy our article on language quotes.
Best Language and Translation Quotes
These short quotes are some of the most popular on the topic of translation.
1. “Words travel worlds. Translators do the driving.” — Anna Rusconi
2. “The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.” — Italo Calvino
3. “Translation is at best an echo.” — George Borrow
4. “Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes.” — Günter Grass
5. “The literature of the world has exerted its power by being translated.” — Mark Van Doren
6. “A great age of literature is perhaps always a great age of translations.” — Ezra Pound
7. “Every act of communication is a miracle of translation.” — Ken Liu
8. “The two dangers are over translation and under translation.” — J. Thompson
9. “All I know about grammar is its infinite power.” — Joan Didion
10. “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” — Charlemagne
Translation Quotes From and For Translators
These quotes are the translators of the world serving an essential purpose.
11. “Writers make national literature, while translators make universal literature.” — José Saramago
12. “A translator is a reader, an interpreter, and a creator all in one.” — Bijay Kumar Das
13. “I just enjoy translating; it’s like opening one’s mouth and hearing someone else’s voice emerge.” — Iris Murdoch
14. “The translator is the author’s accomplice.” — Jorge Gonzalez Moore
15. “The art of translation lies less in knowing the other language than in knowing your own.” — Ned Rorem
16. “Translating is always about making sacrifices; however, nothing essential should be sacrificed.” — Enrique Diez-Canedo
17. “A translator ought to endeavor not only to say what his author has said but to say it as he has said it.” — John Conington
18. “Translators never come to rest; they are constantly in two places at the same time by building associations that carry the foreign into the known of their own language.” — Rainer Schulte
19. “Translating from one language to another is the most delicate of intellectual exercises; compared to translation, all other puzzles, from bridge to crosswords, seem trivial and vulgar. To take a piece of Greek and put it in English without spilling a drop; what a nice skill!” — Cyril Connolly
20. “Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another, who have enabled us to understand that we all, from every part of the world, live in one world.” — Paul Auster
Translation Quotes On The Importance of Translation
The ability to communicate between languages is crucial in the world, as shown in these translation quotes.
21. “Through the act of translation, we break out of linguistic confinement and reach many other communities.” — Ngugi wa Thiong’o
22. “Because without our language, we have lost ourselves. Who are we without our words?” — Melina Marchetta
23. “Without translation, we would be living in provinces bordering on silence.” — George Steiner
24. “If the translator does his job as he should, he is a benefactor of humanity; otherwise, he is a veritable public enemy.” — Miguel Saenz
25. “Translation does not usually create great works, but it often helps great works to be created.” — G. Highet
26. “Great self-discipline is needed if one is to be a faithful interpreter and not fall into the temptation of ‘improving’ one’s original.” — Betty Radice
27. “The translator is a privileged writer who has the opportunity to rewrite masterpieces in their own language.” — Javier Marías
28. “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” — Nelson Mandela
29. “Translating means having the honesty to stick to an allusive imperfection.” — Michael Leiris
30. “It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.” — Harry Mathews
More Translation Quotes About Langauge
Here are more quotes showing the importance of being able to translate languages.
31. “The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” — Ludwig Wittgenstein
32. “Language is wine upon the lips.” — Virginia Woolf
33. “With languages, you are at home anywhere.” — Edmund De Waal
34. “I want my words to survive translation.” — Kazuo Ishiguro
35. “Language shapes the way we think and determines what we can think about.” — Benjamin Lee Whorf
36. “The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of a tapestry.” — Leonardo Sciascia
37. “Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.” — Oliver Wendell Holmes
38. “Firstly, a translator is a person with no rights, only duties. He must show loyalty to the author like a dog, but as a special dog who behaves like a monkey.” — Maurice E. Coindreau
39. “Language comes first. It’s not that language grows out of consciousness; if you haven’t got language, you can’t be conscious.” — Alan Moore
40. “So what should be expected of a translation? Not only that it should be faithful, but also consistent, meaning that it should be readable and make sense.” — André Markowicz
Translation Quotes About Communication
Communication between societies is dependent on talented translators, as these quotes show.
41. “Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” — Anthony Burgess
42. “Translation says the unsayable twice, once in another language.” — Rachel Blau DuPlessis
43. “What is lost in the good or excellent translation is precisely the best.” — Karl Wilhelm
44. “If the translation respects the original, it may, and even should, be able to hold a dialog with it, face-to-face and hold its own.” — Jean-Yves Masson
45. “As an interpreter, you create nothing, for you are a mere sculpture.” — Anxo Perez
46. “The translation in fact, becomes a moment in its own evolution, and the original is fulfilled even as it grows within the translation.” — Jacques Derrida
47. “The problem of translation is to retreat to a simpler tenor of one’s own style and creatively adjust this to one’s author.” — Paul Goodman
48. “The ideal reader is a translator. He or she can pull a text to pieces, remove its skin, cut it to the bone, follow each artery and vein and thence fashion a new living being.” — Alberto Manguel
49. “It is the task of the translator to release in his own language that pure language that is under the spell of another, to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in his re-creation of that work.” — Walter Benjamin
50. “Translation is a two-edged instrument: it has the special purpose of demonstrating the learner’s knowledge of the foreign language, either as a form of control or to exercise his intelligence in order to develop his competence.” — Peter Newmark
What is the Difference Between Translating and Interpreting?
Translating is taking something written in one language and translating it into another or multiple languages for people to read.
Interpreting is when a third party orally or with sign language conveys a message in one language into another language so that the receiver can understand what is being said.
Please share these translation quotes with your family and friends and post any comments about how translation has impacted your life in the comment section below.