Hip, hip, hooray! – Cheering and National Identity

If we want to know what a country’s culture and psychology are like, we just have to listen to how its inhabitants cheer. Whether formally during national holidays or casually in sports events, each country has a particular way of celebrating their identity and that of its people, with almost ritualistic phrases that strengthen the bond between citizens. The words, the tone, the accompanying claps or movements, even the melodies used to cheer on the country are a reflection of its people, their history and their national identity.

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Sigue leyendo Hip, hip, hooray! – Cheering and National Identity

The Bright Elusive Butterfly of Translation

A widely accepted “truth” of translation is that it should be a faithful representation of the source text. Unfortunately, most translators who try to follow through on this end up peeling back their eyelids or chewing on their keyboard as this faithful representation eludes their bloody grip. What they should do is ask the question whether a faithful translation is possible or even desirable.

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The World at your Ears

One of the barriers that our ever more globalized world still faces is the language barrier. With almost 7 thousand different existing languages in the world (2009 data, Summer Institute of Language International, quoted by Linguistic Society of America), learning them all would be a herculean and impractical task. On the other hand, given that language is a fundamental part of identity, trying to unite humanity under a same tongue, whether fabricated (like Esperanto) or existing (like English, considered “default” in many international scenarios) might be considered almost offensive. Humans tend to avoid conflict and communicate with each in their mother tongue through an intermediary who speaks both languages: an interpreter.

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Translating a message from the dawn of time

There are certain words whose mere utterance is usually followed by the unleashing of a whole arsenal of human gestures and expletives indicative of unrepentant incredulity, ranging from a rolling of the eyes to howls of utter contempt. One such word is “fairies”. Another is “ghosts”. And yet another is “Anunnaki”.

The interesting thing, however, is that the notion of the Anunnaki which, at a stroke, turns all our conceptions of history, anthropology, archaeology and even genetics on their respective heads, was obtained from a translation.

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Sigue leyendo Translating a message from the dawn of time