Let's look at a short passage from the Eva Wong translation:
"The Book of the Yellow Emperor says, "The Valley Spirit that does not die is the Mysterious Female. It is the foundation of heaven and earth. It continues forever and cannot be used up." Because the valley is hollow, it can hold the spirit, it can embrace, and it can nourish. Because the valley is empty, it is not subject to birth and death. To transcend birth and death is to enter into the Limitless (wu-chi) and be at one with the origin of heaven and earth.
The Gate of the Mysterious Female is where all things are created. And yet heaven and earth are said to be born from the not-born. This is what is meant by "that which is not born gives birth to everything," for the Mysterious Female is that which is not-born. Its origins belong to the realm of non-differentiation, where there is neither birth nor death. Because it is never born, it never dies. Because it never dies, its energy lasts forever. It is in heaven and earth, and heaven and earth do not know it. It is in all things, yet all things do not recognize it.
If we understand that birth and death are part of the natural order things, we will know that our lives cannot be controlled by our own efforts, and coming and going are not our own doing. At birth, we take a shape and form; in growth, we undergo development and change; and when our course has run out, we dissolve and return to where we were before we were born.
If we know the order of things, we will understand that when intelligence and wisdom have reached their zenith, they will begin to fade and decay. The rise and fall of shapes, colours, thoughts, and feelings are not subject to control. Because we don't know whence they come or where they go, we can only say that everything that is born comes from the not-born. (Eva Wong, Lieh-Tzu, Shambala, 1995, p.27)
Now let's look at a more scholarly translation of the same text, this one by A. C. Graham
'"The Book of the Yellow Emperor says:
The Valley Spirit never dies:
It is called the dark doe.
The gate of the dark doe.
It is called the root of heaven and earth.
It goes on and on, something which almost exists;
Use it, it never runs out. 1
'"Therefore, that which gives birth to things is unborn, that which changes things is unchanging."'
(Birth and change, shape and colour, wisdom and strength, decrease and growth, come about of themselves. It is wrong to say that it brings about growth and change, shape and colour, wisdom and strength, decrease and growth.) 2
(1) This passage is also found in the Tao-Te-Ching, ch.6.
(2) If these obscure sentences are rightly translated, they must be a critical note by another hand.
(A. C. Graham, The Book of Lieh-Tu, Mandala/Harper-Collins, 1991, p.18)
At first glance a reader might say that the Graham translation is more "choppy" and the Wong one "reads better". But I would like to point out that in the Graham version there is a lot more information about the text being conveyed to the reader. In effect, we learn from his presentation there is very little in the quotes that actually comes from Liezi himself. Instead, what we have is part of the Dao De Jing which has been attributed to The Book of the Yellow Emperor, plus a couple lines that seem to be some marginal notes that ended up getting included in the text through a copying mistake.
What we learn from these two pieces of information is that this text is not a complete document that came directly from a realized Daoist master, but rather a result of a collaborative process that included several people. Bits and pieces came from previous books and there are actual editing mistakes. For the modern reader this is incredibly important because it reduces the likelihood of a naive reader making a fetish out of the text.
In contrast, the Wong translation not only glosses over the fact that the text is largely quoted from the Dao De Jing, it is heavily laden with interpretation that seems to come directly from Ms. Wong's own version of Daoism. Of course, she is entitled to her understanding of Daoism; but Graham seems to be suggesting that the original text is much more terse and metaphorical than her translation would suggest.
People who elevate religious texts to the level of revealed WISDOM cease to see the authors as being fallible and rooted in a specific historical context. As a result, they tend to assume that every single word of the text is literally true in a way that the original audience and the authors themselves would never have. As a result, they cease to read the book "against the grain" in an attempt to find out what makes sense to them, and what does not. Fortunately, for Western Daoists this doesn't lead to fundamentalism of a sort espoused by Osama Bin Lauden or Jerry Falwell, but it does mean that they stop seeing the texts as being practical guides for the here-and-now and instead see them as some sort of "cosmic statement" about "ultimate reality".
Realized men do not want people to follow them slavishly, or to put their writings on a pedestal. Instead, they want folks to make the same sort of effort they did, and find their own particular wisdom. Reading a bad translation of an ancient text over and over again without learning anything in the process is simply one more way in which people fail to find their own spirit. It might be best to not look in books at all. But if we do, then the serious student of Daoism should be availing herself of the latest scholarly wisdom---if for no other reason than to free herself from her lingering infatuation with a specific text.