Translation Matters, It's a Fact
Recently, I overheard a conversation between two people questioning why translation matters. “What’s the big deal?” they asked. I was furious! I interjected,
“Translation is so much more than what people think! Translation is life, different ways of life and different views of looking at things. Things you would never be able to consider without translation.
Picture it this way,” I said.
“Your life is a hallway full of doors. There are new opportunities behind these doors but you’re not quite sure how to unlock them. Walking down the hallway a few doors open but most of them remain locked and before you know it, you’re standing in front of the door at the end of the hall looking back on all that you’ve missed out on; looking back on all the things that could have been but simply weren’t.”
I wanted to tell you guys about this because this is essentially what we do for people. Though our roles may differ, we are always a team working towards the same goal.
To me, everyone wears a pair of glasses and by speaking another language, you put on a different pair of glasses. When you translate from one language to another, sometimes there isn’t a direct translation, so you need to think in that language. That is a different pair of glass because you are changing how you perceive things.
By understanding multiple languages, you put on multiple pairs of glasses, thus opening different doors to different perspectives on life. With this, you’re able to explore different cultures around the world.
When I travel, I wish I could speak every language that I encounter, because I want to be a part of the culture that these people live in. Living in one place your whole life, you don’t know what the world has to offer you, what sort of traditions, values, and practices exist in other parts of the world.
The world is a diverse place, full of colors and different stories; I think the goal in life is to expand and explore, to read as many stories as possible, and to embrace the differences in people. Translation is that bridge between stories, between cultures.
My job is to travel, explore the world and all its diversity, so that I can report back to you all and encourage you guys to travel and see the glory the world has to offer. I’m experiencing how translation works on a global level, being immersed in different languages and seeing how various cultures use language (did you know there is a group of people who communicate through whistled speak? They don’t use words, but rather they whistle to each other to talk! How amazing is that?).
The two having the conversation shrugged, “So what? I don’t want to experience different cultures. I like my own traditions.” While I understand some people don’t wish to change their ways, I still needed them to understand—I asked them if they liked to travel, to which they said they did. I replied:
“Picture you travel to Cancun, Paris, Venice, wherever, and you happen to get hurt! You need to go to the hospital, and unfortunately you need to have a procedure done. When you go home [mind you, these two come from a place where they primarily speak English], your doctors and your insurance company are going to need to know what happened.
You’ll get paperwork from the hospital where you received treatment, but your doctor at home won’t be able to read it because it’s in a different language. To know what treatment you had, it would need to be translated so they know how to further take care of you and put it in your medical history.”
This is also where we come in. I added, “My FCI family back in the States manages foreign document translation into English or even vice versa. Translation service are needed in situations such as that. You may not know establishments like this exist until you happen to be in a situation where you need something translated, whether it be for a medical or financial reason, or even something personal. This is yet another reason why translation is important.” Fueled by adrenaline, I continued.
“Not to mention that certain parts of the world are becoming more diverse, and the necessity for bilingualism is evident. There are bilingual road signs, menus, signs in stores, instruction manuals, etc.
People are migrating, moving around, and translation is necessary not only to speak with the various people you encounter, but to understand them.
With a language comes culture, tradition, values, and practices that are most likely fairly different from your own.
To me, that is the purpose in life: to experience everything you possibly can. That is why translation matters— it’s life. It’s all around us, whether we choose to see it or not.”
The two nodded their heads. I could see that I had reached them, if only in a small way. After the two left, I smiled because I was proud to have voiced my opinion of the work we do and how it can affect people.
The point of this letter is essentially this: Speak up, interject, and tell people who we are, what we do, and why we matter. As translation certainly is important, even if people don’t realize or simply can’t see it just yet.
That's all for now,