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No Language – No Freedom!

December 2nd, 2008

Let me share my experience with you: if you are in a foreign country and you don’t know the language spoken in this country- you are totally dependent – that is exactly what I understood being as an exchange in Germany. Local people give you no respect no matter how smart you are. It takes you much effort to do  some basic things: starting from charging your sell phone with money and finishing with registration at the migration police.

Even if you had  an intensive course of a foreign language before your trip and you can say “Help me please!”  it was not garantied  that you would be understood. Even a  phrasebook  is of a little help. Sure you can ask how to find way to your hotel but can you be sure that you will understand the answer? Good thing if  you came from one european country to another. Languages can be different but there are still many similarities  (not only in terms of languages by the way).Now imagine you go to China….Can you grasp 4 tonalities? In order for you to feel lost you don’t even need to go to China and deel with its specific signs.  Try to go to a country where another alphabet is used.  If you are not familiar with cyrillica, you can’t even read the street names in most of  FSU countries.

That’s all well-known information but still – if you go to a foreign country make sure you know at least some elementary phrases and you can pronounce them correctly.
Thank God almost everyone speaks English in Germany otherwise I won’t be able to communicate. Though I have a German course it takes much time to come to a level of expressing your thoughts freely. Hopefully by the end of my trip in Germany I will have talked to German peolpe in their native language.
To sum up I can say that the more languages one speak the more useful it is. Also the more languages one understands the easier the process of studying a new one goes.

I’m  just wondering if the principe “Quality not quantity” can be applied to languages?

Quotes on Translation and Translators.

January 15th, 2008
  • Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.

Anthony Burgess

  • Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as is possible, and moves the reader towards him: or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him.

Friedrich Schleiermacher

  • Translators can be considered as busy matchmakers who praise as extremely desirable a half-veiled beauty. They arouse an irresistible yearning for the original.

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

  • Translation is at best an echo.

George Borrow

  • The original is unfaithful to the translation.

Jorge Luis Borges

  • Translation quality assessment proceeds according to the lordly, completely unexplained, whimsy of “It doesn’t sound right”.

Peter Fawcett

  • Translators live off the differences between languages, all the while working toward eliminating them.

Edmond Cary

  • Translation is like a woman. If it is beautiful, it is not faithful. If it is faithful, it is most certainly not beautiful.

Yevgeny Yevtoushenko

  • Many critics, no defenders,

translators have but two regrets:

when we hit, no one remembers,

when we miss, no one forgets.

Anonymous author