Ruth Murphy:    

Translator

About Me


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


Translating 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, of which over ninety percent remains untranslated.

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 rarely work. I try to follow the model of Maurice Samuel, whose 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. My goal with each of my translations is to create a work that captures the era in which it was written, while still being wholly accessible to the modern reader.              


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: the challenge of transferring meaning from one culture to another.

My Yiddish translations include  literature, poetry, songs, historical and personal  documents, and yizkor books. I translated a 336-page book  - the Y. Eybrams Bukh (J. Abrams Book) - from Yiddish to English, my translation of Yaakov Gordin's
Iz er shuldig? ("Is He Guilty?") was featured in Pakn Treger, the Yiddish Book Center journal, and my translations of Salomea Perl's Tsipke  and Ayzik Meyer Dik's The Beautiful Minke are  currently published on the Yiddish Book Center website. I am a volunteer Yiddish translator for the Ellis Island Discography Project, and have transliterated and then translated a variety of Yiddish songs relating to the Jewish immigrant experience at the beginning of the twentieth century.


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.

Please contact me at ruthmurphytranslations@gmail.com