“If you’re going to admit that stories matter,” Wilson told me, “then it matters how we tell them, and that exists on the level of microscopic word choice, as well as on the level of which story are you going to pick to start off with, and then, what exactly is that story? The whole question of ‘What is that story?’ is going to depend on the language, the words that you use.”
A young woman’s suicide has sparked a backlash against the country’s labor conditions. But death by overwork is so common there’s even a word for it: karoshi.
5 Japanese Words in the English Dictionary
“An Arizona biologist believes that their sounds should be considered
language — and that someday we’ll understand what they have to say.”
“From gigil to wabi-sabi and tarab, there are many foreign emotion words with no English equivalent. Learning to identify and cultivate these experiences could give you a richer and more successful life.”
“In the future, Lomas hopes that other psychologists may begin to explore the causes and consequences of these experiences – to extend our understanding of emotion beyond the English concepts that have dominated research so far.”
“For example, in 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev was translated as telling Western ambassadors, “We will bury you.” But what Khrushchev actually meant was, “We will live to see you buried,” meaning that communism will outlast capitalism. That’s still not a very nice thing to say, but not quite the death threat it was initially understood as.”
“Managers in different parts of the world are conditioned to give feedback in drastically different ways. The Chinese manager learns never to criticize a colleague openly or in front of others, while the Dutch manager learns always to be honest and to give the message straight. Americans are trained to wrap positive messages around negative ones, while the French are trained to criticize passionately and provide positive feedback sparingly.”
“But speech must be decoded by other systems in the brain as well, including systems for semantic memory and syntax. Speech is open, inventive, improvised; it is rich in ambiguity and meaning. There is a huge freedom in this, making spoken language almost infinitely flexible and adaptable — but also vulnerable to mishearing.”
The idiom: Tomaten auf den Augen haben.
Literal translation: “You have tomatoes on your eyes.”
What it means: “You are not seeing what everyone else can see. It refers to real objects, though — not abstract meanings.”
“From emails sent last year, purportedly to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, by Lamis Omar, a Ph.D. student working as his translator. The emails were among hundreds recovered by WikiLeaks and released in July.”
Here is a link to a great website that compiles a bunch of different Bible translations. What’s fascinating is to compare the same verse from the different translations and interpretations to see varied the texts can be. How important is language when it comes to communicating ideas particularly with something as important as religion?
Here is a link to a famous passage from the Bible, John 3:16
Depending on which translation you chose to read, you would come away with very different ideas about what God expects of people.
Here’s a link to the main site.
All of this raises interesting questions about what the job of translators and interpreters is. Are they supposed to translate literal words? Are they supposed to communicate meaning even if some words have to change? How are you supposed to know the choices they made are accurate or true?