OGIRISI: a New Journal of African Studies

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Justifying mistranslation

Olivia Udo Ezeafulukwe


The eternal debate in translation circle, from the very first conception of its practice till date, has always been that of how identical a translated work should be to the original. Talks and debates about equivalence have not succeeded in telling us how identical a text should be to the original to qualify the version as faithful to the original. The debate has been so fierce that at different times lives have been lost even by people that are very knowledgeable in the field. Some translations adjudged faithful have been evaluated as unfaithful at some other circles leading to the belief that faithfulness and equivalence are all relative terms, understood in different ways by different people. This paper seeks to justify the so called unfaithfulness in certain translations by bringing to the fore the underlying information that provoke the so called mistranslation. It was discovered that translation being a human exercise cannot be perfect and that the word mistranslation in itself is a misnomer.

AJOL African Journals Online