Untranslatable writings

After trying to post something soft and innocent, all of a sudden my fingers sort of started writing alone. Not joking: the words of Shakespeare’s language just came to me and started flowing like water. Have you ever thought that this story started long ago, busy with travelling, interpreting, contacting? Later, translation played an important part in it. When you work as a professional translator and intercultural communicator, all the time you are acquiring knowledge from several sources. Different cultures have a deep influence in your way of thinking, of behaving, even in your dreams.

Have you ever dreamt in another language? I have! Means that other languages pop in my head and do things I wouldn’t do if I only knew my mother tongue. Because you cannot translate all the words the same way out, some expressions suffer from untranslatability. Well… all those untranslatable feelings are there, doing things inside me. Maybe they are trying to come out through my fingers. As if there were ants running into them, making them run across the keyboard.

Hope this space gives me the opportunity to show it all. To express it the best way out. The innermost sensation is unstoppable, the outermost dictation could be unsolvable. Some experts say that you just need to say it, period. If it were that easy…

10 thoughts on “Untranslatable writings

  1. What a nice inspiring post. I’m an Indonesian and I ever had the experience of staying in India. When I met a driver in a cold winter during a trip of 1200 km from calcutta to delhi I showed him my “Kajuput OIl”. it is actually a traditional oil for massaging made only in my country and it is not avalaible in India. in my language it is called “Minyak Kayu Putih”. “Minyak” means “oil”, “Kayu” means ” wood” and “putih” means “White”. I cannot say my kajuput oil is “oil wood white” or “White wood oil”. It is still untranslatable since there is nothing like that in India.


    1. Conversely, in South America there is an infusion called “mate”, which is usually taken among several people. The fact of “giving somebody a mate” includes an implicit gesture of “please, join our group” that cannot be said in words.


    1. Let’s put it this way out. A person is brought up in a high-context culture, full of implicit elements, including “you must obey your family’s wishes” as something obvious. You live over twenty years with those beliefs as your only possible way of life, as your normality. One day, you go to live in a very different country, with a low-context culture, where everything is talkable, debatable, open to different opinions and possibilities. You experience all those differences listening and speaking in a different language that surrounds you all the time. Then, after a whole year living in the middle of such a culture, you go back to your country of origin. And then, your problems start: you discovered that your parents, although well-intentioned, were wrong in their assumptions. That is very unsettling!

      Although that is not precisely my life story, it is a typical example of how living and experiencing different languages and cultures influence your way of thinking, feeling and dreaming.


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