Friday, November 11, 2011

Imagine a World Without Translation…

Can you imagine a world without translation? Our own Dan Levine tried, and he didn't like what he saw.

John Lennon encouraged us to imagine a world without divisions or borders in his celebrated hit ‘Imagine’. The song epitomized the times, with its message of hope for an international brotherhood. Since Lennon’s era our world has grown rapidly smaller, and as each day passes we grow more and more connected. Of course, our current situation is a far cry from the ideals put forth in Lennon’s work; however there is no denying that we are now better able to communicate with our friends, family and neighbors both at home and abroad.

However, could you imagine a world without translation? It is something many people do not even consider, however if you stop to think about it the implications would be huge.

Where did your TV come from?

How about your stereo?

Have you played any video games lately?

Unless you only buy domestic goods, you are likely a benefactor of translation. Even those painful-to-read user manuals were (in some cases) dutifully worked over by a translator. Without their help the flow of goods from country to country would have been drastically stunted.

It doesn’t stop with flashy electronics and video games however; from classical masterworks such as ‘The Iliad’, to commercial successes like ‘Harry Potter’, could you imagine the loss in shared storytelling and knowledge the world would have suffered if not for translation? How far would our cultures have advanced without being able to share ideas and advancements?

Further, how would the political sphere operate? Could international politics even churn along without the help of translation and interpretation? How would world leaders negotiate? Would world peace even be a prospect without being able to understand one another?

These questions could continue on forever; however that would be belaboring the point. Translation is vital to the continued growth, success and advancement of all peoples. In business, education, friendship, or international relations, the world we share is becoming smaller –and it is in large part thanks to translation.

How has translation benefited your life? Feel free to leave a comment!