The Pros and Cons of Language Translation


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To answer the question above we first have to define what is actually meant by translation before we are able to think about the limits and advantages of translation. Translation can be described as an expression of a sense from one language to another as well as a transmission of a written or spoken language into another.

Translation is since the beginning of human culture an important item of understanding between different countries. So the “Stone of Rosette” made it possible to decipher the ancient Egypt language. But here we already see the limits of translation. We never will be able to understand all their feelings. Later on, the translations of the old Greek and Latin authors have influenced all western Europe countries and have let to the grandiose works of Shakespeare for example. Here we see the great advantage translations have brought to all Europe.

As the statement in the title says, translation offers us the experience and attitudes of another culture or mentality. When for example reading books from typically English authors like Agatha Christie or George Orwell in German or any other language, we learn something about the culture or mentality, because the good description as well as the feeling of being in Britain at the present time, makes this possible.
From this we come to a point which is even more important, the transport of culture and understanding between peoples. A good example for this is the book “Uncle Toms Hut” which had enforced the fight against slavery world wide but was hardly able to cause political influence. This shows again the limits of translation. On the other side we can not imagine a world without the translation of literary master pieces from all countries, mentioned only the great Russian, German, English and French authors red all over the world. Here we see the problems and limits of translation very closely. A good translation not only transports the sense but also the choice of words and the way of expressing. Especially for translations of high standing literature the translator should be home in both languages. The translator often finds his limit with poems.

An other example to show the limits of translation are technical items, which were produced in China or Korea. As we do not speak any Chinese or Korean we are not able to understand what we should do before the first use.

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Here criticism can be made when the translation is not understandable. This happens often for some technical items produced in low cost countries if the translator never has seen the product and has no idea of the product he has to describe, especially if the translation is made in English, where mistakes already have sneaked in and then is translated in several languages from the English, so that people can not understand what actually is meant.

Concluded we see that within our global world the advantages of translation are boundless while the limits may be minimised by careful work.


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