Ronald at TranslationArtWork has a nice insight into what makes a really good translation:
"Everyone can learn to cook, but not everyone has got that “taste in his hands”. As much as I may hate it, I am not a better cook than my sister. Even if the ingredients are the same. No matter how meticulously you follow the recipe, there will be certain difference in the flavor of the food. So even if you and I were to translate the same document, there is bound to be uniqueness in each outcome.
So what is that secret ingredient which gives it the unique flavor after translation. Why is that some translations are so blatantly obvious that they are translated that you can even identify from which language it is, if you know the original language while others are so well translated, it seems like the original matter itself?"
Ronald says it is passion, and I agree (being a great cook and a good translator myself). I never follow recipes, just look at them as a sort of directive to build on.
My philosophy in translation is not one heartily accepted by the standard school. In my opinion, words are something you must play with, reshape and remould, like plasticine. And you must have a great command of your language - like your mum’s command of all the spices in her kitchen - to be able to do that. And no fear about spoiling the broth!