In 2017, following the 90th anniversary of Antoine Saint Exupéry, a series of newspapers claimed that after its translation into the 300th language, Hassanya, “The Little Prince” became the world’s most translated literary work.
Indeed, this novella was translated into a maddening number of languages and dialects, some of which — like Aymara, Guarani, Quechua, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Ancient Egyptian, or Latin — cannot be called very common meta languages.
Probably every translator at some point had to ask for more context and knows that it is not rare to receive a bewildered look in answer to this question. Translators’ obsession with context even became an Internet meme. However, is it so weird to ask for more context? A couple of days I go a came across a vivid illustration of the importance of having more context.
Allusion to chemistry, and even to the ancient and almost forgotten alchemy, implied by this site’s name is no coincidence. What does this exact science, and even more so the enigmatic alchemy, have in common with seemingly trivial task of translation?, you will ask. First of all, ideal translation is as hard to elaborate and persistently sought for as the mystic philosopher's stone, a quest for which occupied minds of alchemists during centuries and gave birth to multiple legends and novels.