I came across a wonderful quote this evening on the subject of translation that sums up something I spent a lot of time thinking about while I was writing up my MA thesis
“… and each language represents a different equation between manifestations and silences. Each people leaves some things unsaid in order to be able to say others. Because everything would be unsayable.” (Jose Ortega y Gasset, quoted in Beyond Translation by A.L Becker)
It’s been a while since I’ve sat and thought explicitly about language and linguistics. I am keenly aware that translation and communication are a key part of what I love and what I spend most of my days doing. I’m at my most absorbed when engaged in the task of making sure people (and that includes me) understand each other when discussing complex and somewhat abstract ideas and agreeing how to go about the task in hand. It is not easy, I frequently come up against the gaps in the completeness of our communication and we all speak English!
I built my MA thesis towards the idea encapsulated by the quote above, that to say everything is impossible, the everything we experience is unsayable. The space for interpretation by the other party is a crucial part of communication, despite the difficulties it causes. I still hold by this and find investigation of the things we don’t say utterly fascinating, almost like uncovering mental blind spots. Very difficult to do, but potentially very rewarding.
Hah, I will say this though: it is more intellectually interesting and less frustrating writing an academic paper on the subject rather than daily banging my head against it at work 😉
In a form of protest against the gaps in the words we use, I’ll share my September playlist. Beyond the challenges of my work life, this is about where my head has been outside work 🙂