Matt at No-sword has a post describing the remarkable process by which Buddhist sutras were translated from Sanskrit into Chinese a bit over a millennium ago. It began with a Lead Translator who read the Sanskrit original aloud, included what Matt translates as a “Meaning Certifier,” a “Text Certifier,” a “Scribe Learned in Sanskrit,” a “Receiver via Brush,” a “Text Composer,” and a “Translation Barger-into,” and was finished off by a “Trimmer/Finalizer” and the following ultimate touch:
潤文官 (“Text-Juicing Official”): Determined whether the translation was appropriate as Chinese text, and added rhetorical flourish as necessary. For example, the “度一切苦厄” (“he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty”) of “照見五蘊皆空 度一切苦厄” (“he illuminated the five skandhas and saw that they were all empty, and he crossed beyond all suffering and difficulty”) was not in the original; it was added at this stage. The previous eight steps were performed by monks, but this step was performed by a lay official.
When that sutra was done, it had been translated to a fare-thee-well, let me tell you. (Of course, then the efficiency experts got involved and now they just shove it into Google Translate and let the chips fall where they may.)