Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Do you speak my language, do I speak yours?

When I started studying Political Science back in the previous century, I never realised that I would end up as a translator. Well, it is 2005 and that is what I get mostly paid for. My work both in the foundation and as a freelancer is mostly translating needs and views to a language more familiar to another group of people. I am not talking about translation in the linguistic sense rather than in the cultural sense.

I have to say that the studies of rhetorics are a big help in this process. I have realised lately that the subjective nature of language is very strongly stuck on me. We give different meanings to the same words and different words to the same meanings. I would not say confusing, I would say interesting. In my work I am like a messenger for instance between bureaucrats and journalists or artists and possible funders. It means that when to the other audience one has to say that there is a clear need for a critical evaluation, to the others the same meaning would be communicated better by saying that there might be a problem.

I enjoy this tremendously. I keeps the mind active and reminds of the power structures loaded in every single sentence.

I have also enjoyed it tremendously that during the last years there have been signs of rebirth when it comes to the public interest in language and grammar. The popularity of Lynne Truss´ Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a clear example of this (although I have to say that I find the language and argumentation of the book slightly poor) shows this quite clearly. When it comes to politics and language I would highly recommend Norman Fairclough´s New Labour, New Language where he analyses the language of Tony Blair and manages to explain very simply the differences in what is said and what is meant.

And of course there are different levels when it comes to interest in linguistic tricks. I am fully aware that quite many of my relatives still find it difficult to understand that someone can get a Master´s Thesis by analysing the use of the word citizen in information society policy documents. I did.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

On kivat sivut, joita olen päivittäin seurannut.
t. I

V said...

Hehheh, paha heitto lopussa :D