That funny thing called translation

March 4, 2019

A strange paradox about #translation is that while it is part of everyday life, people hardly seem to notice it’s there, which as a student sometimes lead to funny yet slightly #awkward conversations when introducing myself, because some people could hardly hide their surprise about the fact that there really was such a thing as #studying translation.  Although #social conventions prescribe to politely nod and assure the other person that their field of study is really interesting and worthy of admiration, some people somehow fail to do that when I mention translation, the look in their eyes betraying that they really have no clue what it actually entails.

 

A bit strange isn’t it, considering that translation is ubiquitous? Think about it: probably not one day in your life goes by that you do not encounter at least one object or piece of information that required translation. Open your fridge: can you truthfully say that all the food in there originates from your near surroundings and did not have to be shipped in from another country? Unlikely! But then how do you understand what’s on the label? Ah.

 

There are approximately 7,000 spoken languages in the world today. #Globalization has become a reality, bringing along with it #international trade and the exchange of virtually everything, ranging from goods, to money, to #information.  In his book Is that a fish in your ear?, David Bellos summarizes it quite extremely by stating that although it seems useless to imagine a world where translation didn’t happen all the time, you could technically decide to do without it. How? Either by learning the languages of all the different #communities you want to engage with, adopting one common #language, or just ignoring people who speak another language altogether. It is somewhat exaggerated, and you could easily find examples to illustrate that it’s not as black and white as that, but he does have a point. #Translators are a #force to be reckoned with!

 

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