Avoiding Gender Bias in Translation

Avoiding Gender Bias in Translation

Translation can be tricky when trying to choose the correct words to portray feelings and meaning. Here are some tips to ensure that your translations steer clear of accidental gender bias.

Accurate Translation

Art is a great example of one-part portrayal, and one-part interpretation. Whether a painting, poem, or theatrical play the translator has the job of representing the original author’s message. While there are some words with no direct translation between languages, it is this very point that the translator must look at the intent and tone in order to choose the most accurate substitution – and preferably gender neutral.


Bias in the Classics

When translating a classic written by one gender and translated by another, how do you keep bias out of the equation? This is a big question that has already been the topic of debate with classic literary pieces such as The Odyssey by Homer. The first translation in French was often criticized, as many felt the female translator’s portrayal of the female characters was too empathetic. On the converse, works by male translators have been highly praised although they have taken generous liberties with words that held no such implication in Homer’s original work.

Avoiding gender bias in a classic literary translation is not as easy as assumed but can be avoided with much thought. “All translations involve a process of interpretation,” states Emily Watson, the first woman to translate The Odyssey into English. When it comes to a creative work, bias may play its own role in a story, but we can only hope a translator remains as close as possible to the original author’s intent.


Translation in Business

Business translation requires unbiased and straightforward translations. Though the occasional liberty can be taken with a creative piece, professional documents are much different. Keeping the lines of communication open in business is extremely important, especially in fields such as marketing and human resources. Biased translations can impact business productivity, performance and results.

At Metaphrasis, our team strives for accurate and professional translations of the highest caliber. Are you ready to explore translation services free of gender bias? Let’s Get in Touch!