25 March 2012

First Post: Purpose and Disclaimer

First of all, welcome to ‘Translating Culture in a Culture of Translation’. As the world becomes more global, the more likely it is that the texts we encounter on a day-to-day basis will have been translated in one direction or another at some point or other. Quite unknowingly, we’re living in a culture of translation. As someone who works in translation with no real training except growing up in a bilingual household and having lived in both my 'countries of origin', I'm especially interested in the relationship between language and culture and how these elements interact.

Though I'm sure there's a whole field of linguistic anthropology out there, I haven't really looked into what the academics have to say about this. In fact, when I googled "translating culture" to check whether it would be available to use as a name for this blog (it wasn’t!), there were 154,000 hits, many of which were of an academic nature. Interesting stuff to read in the near future, I'm sure.

Anyhow, despite my academic shortcomings in this field, I'm fairly sure that a language reflects the culture of the people who 'speak' it (inverted commas because I'd say this also holds true of the myriad of sign languages around the world); that is, culture (as I understand it in this context: the worldview of a people, related to their environment and having an impact on their personality and, therefore, psychology) moulds how language develops, not only in its vocabulary but also its building blocks, its grammar. And, in turn, culture develops with the development of language; language also moulds the people. Now that I think about this, I'm pretty sure a similar reciprocal argument can be used with regard to the languages of music and mathematics, my other two passions.

Anyway, this blog intends to be a space for people who share this interest, open to comments and hopefully a place for anecdotes, debate and reflection. However, I insist: I'm  not a linguist. That is my disclaimer. Please feel free to qualify, refute or further explain any of my thoughts, I’m always open to learning.

This won't be a place where I necessarily 'talk shop', a shop on the other hand which I don't really consider my own but, rather, one with a window I'm looking into closely from the outside. Though at times I might try to ponder about certain issues at length, for the most part I'll probably just be pointing out things I encounter in everyday life that refer to language in general and translation in particular.

Some posts will be short simple anecdotes, whilst others might try to make sense of the world of language and translation and how to convey a culture when transferring words from one language to another; sometimes in general, others in particular as regards the two languages I grew up with and express myself in: English and Spanish.

Hopefully, over time, people will join me in sharing their experiences, anecdotes and thoughts.

In the meantime, enjoy!

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