Forget about the title; who would read Egyptian poet Ahmad Rami’s rendition of Rubaiyat Al-Khayyam (Quartets) into Arabic and believe it is a translation of the original work?
That is because a translator can be as creative as the author if he/she was conscious of the elements of creativity in writing.
Scholars define creativity as “the ability to produce work that is both novel (i.e., original, unexpected) and appropriate (i.e., useful, adaptive concerning task constraints).” According to Lucía V. Aranda, a professor of translation at the University of Hawaii, these elements do apply to translation, especially in the literary and creative writing realms.
Given that translation is, in part, a process of tracing the creative impulse of the original work, both writer and translator are equally constrained by the task of constructing a text from raw language. For the translator, the main hurdle before an excellent translation job is the challenge to live up to the level of creativity in the source text. In other words, the translator is considered creative if he or she is able to leave the same effect on the audience, the same way the original writer does, taking into account the social and cultural factors.
This means that creative translation is pragmatic. Pragmatics in translation has become a major field of research, especially when it comes to the relevance theory in translation. According to researcher Bunyamin Yuvarlak, there are specific pragmatic principles that need to be taken into account to deliver a successful translation.
“During the process of translating a text, a translator makes choices based on his perception of the text and the relation between him and the targeted audience. Therefore, translation does not only rest on the lexical level; most translations are not simple word-for-word processes with the only difference being the involvement of two different languages between two texts.”
Sometime, we can judge the success of a translated work through the number of copies sold in other languages and dialects. The most translated book is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which, according to (www.ulatus.com,) is a “whimsical novella [and] one of the most-translated, best-selling books ever published. It has been translated into 300 languages and dialects and had sold over 140 million copies as of 2014, with nearly two million copies being sold across the globe every year. It has been adapted for radio, the stage, the screen, the opera house, and more across the world.”
A final word: Although creativity is associated mainly with literature and works of fiction, and although certain types of texts, such as legal documents have no creativity at all, other kinds of factual texts need some degree of creativity when being translated, and require the right strategy.