Tag Archives: translation

Would-be languages

Roughly half of world’s tongues are endangered by the time being and a great deal of them has recently disappeared. It is said a few languages will remain by next century. Most of people think that either one single language will be universally spoken or the main ones will mess up altogether into a global tongue. They are probably right, but what they say is just one among lots of possibilities. I think that in the future every person will speak a unique language.

OK crackerjack, but why?

Because although the first aim of a language is communication, the second and inalienable one is expression. When we utter words and sentences we always sacrifice the complexity in order to convey the main ideas. Literature is alike. Long –good– novels skirt round the plot time after time as long as tiny details unveil layers and insights about it. Similarly, poetry is as difficult to make as beautiful because it must convey as many things as necessary with as less words as possible. If we could develop our own language, we would not suffer to explain others what we exactly mean by means of inaccuracies. Of course we ought to solve the communication issue first.

Well_ How?

Informatics is drastically changing every professional field and lifestyle in spite of its novelty. It is based on programming and that means languages. Concealed numbers’ series encode the natural languages in simplified ones and translate almost any language into another. At the same time that the accuracy of translations rises, humans rely more and more on them as well as spend longer time in front of the computer while it turns into a vital tool to keep our relationships updated. Someday this situation will be seized to encode our feelings and complex thoughts instead of just mere hackneyed words. Meanwhile, the distance among people the computer offers will serve as a boost to develop our own language.

I can’t wait. When?

It is hard to say. European languages dominate as studied languages and means of communication among peoples. Languages such as Russian and Chinese, nevertheless, enjoy healthier economies nowadays. Had they attempted to spread, both their difficulty and the extension of the European ones would make such endeavour terribly difficult and slow. I think informatics will have reached high benchmarks by then, so that would be an excellent moment for people’s minds to be lit.

Nice. Where would it happen?

That is the easiest answer though the most difficult to happen. People shall realise one language is not better than another. Then this idea could blossom inside them.

What do you really think it’s going to happen?

Who knows? As I do not know I can imagine many possibilities instead of being stuck in a would-be false one. Don’t you think so?


When the Translator Writes a Different (Great) Book

Two years ago I read Orlando, by Virginia Woolf. I thought I was prepared, because I had read before both To the Lighthouse and Mrs. Dalloway. I was not. Since the first page there were things which sounded familiar to me. Despite being aware of it, the style was slightly non-Woolf, regardless the first half of Orlando is noticeably easier to read than other Woolf’s books are. That was not the matter. I must clarify that I was reading the book in Spanish. So at some point I stopped reading and sought the translator. There he was, Jorge Luis Borges, an author whose work I knew. I acknowledged that reading would be challenging. I was about to read two different books.

Firstly, I was a bit angry. I had chosen to read a Woolf’s book after all, so why should I endure another writer’s text? While reading I used to think that a particular word was clearly a Borges fetish, although the next one was an evident Woolf’s expression… What a mess! I was more focused on the style than on the story. That was sinful, because I was really enjoying the story.


Source: Commons (Public domain)

After a number of pages I started to think which Woolf’s expressions had influenced Borges’ style. That was even worse, because I interrupted my reading so that considering such trivia.

Afterwards, I understood that not only was I reading one book, but two. It was not I was reading two different books, but two insights around the same plot. I understood how a translator may convey his particular view of the book while still making a good work. Finally, I understood that all the translations are skewed. But do you know what? I didn’t mind. At least it doesn’t mind as long as the translation is good. Perhaps, there are translations which are better than the original.

I thereafter enjoyed Orlando to the fullest.