Ruth Murphy:    

Translator/Interpreter

About Me


A translator is to be like his author; it is not his business to excel him.
 - Samuel Johnson


Translating and interpreting allows me to combine my love of languages with my research abilities and problem-solving skills. Words on a page are more than just words - they are the voice and world of the author and carry with them the people, culture, and history of that author. My job as translator is to make that voice and its world accessible to those outside it. 

There are few efforts more conducive to humility than that of the translator trying to communicate an incommunicable beauty. Yet, unless we do try, something unique and never surpassed will cease to exist except in the libraries of a few inquisitive book lovers.

  - Edith Hamilton


The desire to make accessible to English speakers important literary works that may otherwise vanish into obscurity has always been my prime motivator, especially with Yiddish literature, o in which over ninety percent remains untranslated. Although much of Spanish literature has been translated into English, there are still many works by lesser-known authors that offer much to modern audiences.


Woe to the makers of literal translations, who by rendering every word weaken the meaning! It is indeed by so doing that we can say the letter kills and the spirit gives life.
 - Voltaire


I strive to be an accurate translator but never a literal one, as literal translations or interpretations rarely work. I try to follow the model of Maurice Samuel (d. 1972), who translated from Yiddish to English many of I. L. Perets’ works. Samuel’s intimate knowledge of pre-Holocaust European Jewish culture, along with his own talents as an extraordinary writer, resulted in translations that are poetic, engaging, and brimming with life. His translations are true paradoxes - by their complete avoidance of literal translation, he was able to capture so perfectly Perets’ voice, era, and culture that they are actually the truest, most literal renditions of that world.


Translating should be an enriching intellectual experience and you should end a job as a different person.

 - Danilo Nogueira


More than anything, I enjoy the challenge of translating and interpreting - the challenge of transferring meaning from one culture to another.

My Spanish translations include software user guides, film scripts, literature and poetry. I also enjoy writing in Spanish, particularly on an academic level.  My Yiddish translations have been primarily literature and poetry, but also business documents and transcription. I translated a 336-page book  - the Y. Eybrams Bukh (J. Abrams Book) - from Yiddish to English, and my translation of Yaakov Gordin's
Iz er shuldig? ("Is He Guilty?") was featured in Pakn Treger, the Yiddish Book Center journal.

I began my career working with a language of a different sort - that of electronic voltages and signals, of electrical currents amplifying and decreasing, the hum of circuits conducting, the black-and-white world of digital logic, and the mathematical beauty of a sine wave.

I worked first as an electronics engineering technician, then began working full-time as an technical writer. I have done technical writing for defense contractors, Johnson Controls, a medical research/manufacturing project, a Japanese automated material handling systems manufacturer, and various freelance assignments. I have also worked as a mathematics and writing tutor for local community colleges and as a freelance correspondent for local newspapers.

Contact me at ruthmurphytranslations@gmail.com