Overcoming Language Borders

When you take a closer look at media public­ation, especially at renowned press, you may often see the use of foreign-language expres­sions. Think of “zeitgeist”, “joie de vivre”, “machismo” or the like.

The truth is, national languages are to a great extent blends of other languages. For English this is in particular the case, since it draws its native vocab­ulary from two sources: Germanic and Romance stems.

Yet not only European languages have influ­enced and still do influence English speech and writing but languages from all over the world. This can be exemplified by listing words from the area of food and cooking, like, e. g., yogurt (Turkish), mocha (Arabic), soy (Japanese), curry (Tamil), bagel (Yiddish) und so on.

Transcription or New Creation?

In Germany, almost one of two fiction books are trans­la­tions from another language. Given this, people working in this field provide for a vast body of public­a­tions and bear a lot of respons­ib­ility. But what’s the nature of trans­lating? Is it a detailed transcription –– word by word –– or is it the creation of something completely new?

While trans­lators in liter­ature are generally seen as creative authors, technical and academic trans­lators supposedly aim for precision and clarity. Yet, even those have to select between alternate wordings and make choices following their individual exper­i­ences and their own grasp on language.