What do J. R. R. Tolkien and Nicholas Sparks have in common? You probably wouldn’t find them in the same section at the bookstore, right? One thing they might have in common is the same translator. However, we wouldn’t expect George R. R. Martin to write a Nicholas Sparks book. So why would we give two very different authors to the same translator? Is one translator good for everything or should we match them with each author and book?

The same can be applied to cinema. No one would compare a Hitchcock film to the latest rom-com. It seems quite obvious to anyone who thinks about it that different directors, much like different authors, have unique styles and ways of thinking, which is reflected in the dialogues. Their work is their reflection in some ways. This is why it’s important to have a translator who understands the original author, so the translation is faithful in terms of meaning and style.

Is that what normally happens?

The truth is this perfect matching doesn’t always happen, especially in subtitling. Translators might be chosen merely for availability or lowest rate instead of knowledge of the theme and suitableness. Some don’t even identify with the projects they work on! Yet our task is to mimic the author. How can we do that if we feel no connection to the original? Is this fair to the public who love the authors/directors?

Translators can be flexible, and they are always eager to learn new things. But we are still humans with favourite genres and our own writing styles. Even the best translator might not be the right one for a specific translation, despite being jacks-of-all-trades in some ways. J. R. R. Tolkien was an amazing author; however, Nicholas Sparks’ fans might not have enjoyed as much if he wrote The Notebook. The One Ring is fictional and so is the notion that One Translator is appropriate for everything. Find the (right) one.

If you’re looking for a Portuguese translator with a great passion for literature and cinema who knows how to translate dialogue in a fluent, colloquial, and natural way and has a knack for comedy, I might be your one. Contact me and find out!

Side note:

An author I really enjoy reading is John Green. He writes heart-warming stories, and I can really connect with them, even though the main characters are always teenagers. I believe he’s the kind of author I’d ever feel qualified to translate. As for cinema, two of my favourite directors are Wes Anderson and Greta Gerwig at the moment. Anderson is amazingly quirky, and I adore his comedy style. Gerwig’s films, on the other hand, make me feel a bit like Green’s books. I can relate to the characters and I always have this light feeling of happiness when I finish one. If there are directors whose stories I’d be able to faithfully retell, I believe it would be them.