“What is he trying to tell me?” “What is she talking about?” We all face situations where something that might seem perfectly intelligible to someone is over our head and plainly incomprehensible. It even seems like we sometimes need the help of a phenomenal glossary to translate everyday conversations.
You are unique. Every person is; and that is simply fascinating. But with this reality comes a not so fascinating intricacy: every person has a distinctive manner of expressing themselves. We each speak our own “language”. As a result, communication can be characterized as a cross-cultural interaction.
To some “I’m just going to read a few pages of my book” implies “I’m going to read as many pages as I can”. To others, it stands for “I am not going to read a single page”. Others yet might understand it as, “I just feel like being left alone” or “I have so much free time and nothing specific to do”. The list goes on. In all cases, one thing is certain: a simple sentence can transmit umpteen different messages.
People express themselves differently. Their feelings, emotions, beliefs, and characters clothe their words with distinct meanings. Not only that, but tone and non-verbal signals also play a role in transmitting messages. Hence, we do not all speak the same language. Each of us develops a language specific to them.
In the face of such a reality, every person takes on daily the task of translation. They try to decipher what others want to say and transmit it to their own language.
So, if you think you don’t need translation, think again! You face everyday situations where you not only need but also use translation, most of the time subconsciously. Whether to understand what your boss, friend, or parent is saying or to converse with your spouse or child, you resort to translating their language into yours.
This diversity is a source of richness but also the mother of countless misunderstandings. Still, let’s dare to be different, learn to embrace and understand our divergent languages, and celebrate this diversity that gives each of us a taste of a translator’s intricate work.