Friday, January 23, 2009

Episode 123: A Little Primer On Translation

No seminar today, but I had rehearsals with Amrit and Ranon. Amrit's rehearsal was completely messed up because I forgot the starting time, then I had to collect props, and then we couldn't find the props, so essentially I got nothing done with Amrit. Ranon's went slightly better in the evening. Now I've just got back from an unsuccessful attempt at viewing the house. We left a note, so hopefully, the tenants will call us back soon and we can take a look. I am quite reassured by how near we actually are to the bus stop! Anyway, Keegan, you're only partially right in saying that most European languages share common roots, and hence that translation is an easy task. If you map out the relationships between major European languages, you will find that a great many fall under the Romance family, e.g. French, Italian, Spanish. With these, translation is made easier because the languages descended from Vulgar Latin, which means words frequently share similar orthographies and meanings. However, consider the case of Romanian, belonging to a different branch of the Romance tree. Even orthographically, it is readily apparent that Romanian is significantly different from the aforementioned languages. We now consider English, a notoriously promiscuous language, wherein the problem of "false friends" presents itself, such that words which are homographs do not necessarily share the same meaning. Factor in the problem of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms, and perhaps all I need to say by now is that translation isn't some mechanical exercise like crunching numbers, where the "right" answer magically appears if you plug in the right figures into the right formulae.

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