Death and Mexican Tradition

Mexico has a curious relationship to death. While other cultures tend to view death with sadness, uncertainty, and even fear, in Mexican culture death is considered part of the cycle of life: inevitable and a little sad for those left behind, but not negative or to be feared. For Mexicans, the grieving process tends to include celebration and joyful memories of the person’s life. Around this time of year, November 1 and 2, annual Day of the Dead festivities are held; of course, the dead are invited to join the living for a while.

The Day of the Dead tradition has survived since pre-Hispanic times, overcoming historical and cultural challenges such as the Spanish conquest or the growing popularity of Halloween. It is so important, in fact, that UNESCO declared the Day of the Dead “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity” on November 7, 2003.

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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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Internet: preserving humankind’s intellectual heritage

In 1969, project ARPANET managed to send a message from a computer at University of California in Los Angeles to another computer at the Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park. Originally developed for military communications, and later for higher education centers, the network kept growing and making more connections until it was finally commercially available for the public. Almost fifty years after its birth, the internet is an inseparable part of our lives. This tool experienced its greatest growth during the 1990s and continues to grow: in the year 2000, 51% of telecommunications occurred through the internet; by 2007, this number had risen to an astonishing 97%.

Every day, about 2.5 million terabytes (the equivalent of filling 28.75 billion iPads) of information are added to the existing 1.1 zettabytes (the equivalent of about 36 thousand years of HD video) on the internet. Ninety percent of the content is less than two years old, and great efforts are being made to upload as much of human-generated information as possible to “the cloud”: the unreal, untouchable space where information can be stored forever.

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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