Forget about your translator’s instinct

Lucien HAMM Translation, Writing Tags: , ,
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When we’re not used to learning new languages, we tend to translate a foreign language into ours. But it doesn’t work well most of the time.

 

A foreign language is called a foreign language because it’s a different language. Even if that language is very similar to another.

 

A literal translation doesn’t mean anything in 99 % of the cases. Some words and idioms don’t even have any equivalents.

 

The alphabet is different. Even if it’s basically the same. Just notice the differences between English, French and Spanish letters. Or between Czech and Slovak.

 

The vocabulary is different. At best, the words are the same in their written form. But they’re always pronounced differently.

 

The grammar is different. The syntax is not the same. The words order is not always the same either.

 

A human language is like a programming language. The way we code depends on the language’s concepts and its main philosophy.

 

It’s the same with a natural language. We have to think in that language to use it correctly.

 

So forget about your translator’s instinct.

 

Learning a language is learning to think in a different language.

 

Learning a language is learning to think in a different way.


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