Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 4

Translation as intercultural communication

What characterizes the world today is the ever growing number of contacts which result in communication between people with different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This intercultural communication occurs due to contacts within the areas of business, military cooperation, science, education, mass media, entertainment, tourism but also because of immigration brought about by labor shortage or political conflicts.

Therefore, communication needs to be as constructive as possible, without misunderstandings and breakdowns. The goal of this project is to present some causes which lead to intercultural communication problems, and the means to overcome cultural and linguistic barriers. It is my belief that research on the nature of linguistic and cultural similarities and differences can play a positive and beneficial role in intercultural communication.

There have always been encounters between people of different cultural background, which has lead to people thinking about phenomena that were unusual in other cultures. These intercultural encounters were relatively seldom in early times, but in the 20th and 21st century society, they are part of everyday life. Along with the growth of intercultural encounters, English has reached the level of universal language, which smoothes the progress of intercultural communication, given its approachable characteristics and global status. Human language arises from biological evolution, individual learning, and cultural transmission, but the interaction of these three processes has not been widely studied. In what follows, I will analyze cultural transmission, which allows people to investigate how inborn learning predispositions are connected with universal properties of language, while showing that cultural transmission can expand weak predispositions into strong linguistic universals. Cultural differences refer, on the one hand, to language, customs and traditions, and, on the other hand, to the way societies organize themselves, in their common perceptions of morality, and in the ways they interact with their surroundings. These differences can be considered incidental objects resulting from patterns of human migration or simply evolutionary trait that is essential to our accomplishment as a species. Cultural variety may be fundamental for the long-standing survival of human kind, as the preservation of indigenous cultures is crucial to civilization.

From one point of view language is a part of culture, and yet it is more than that. It is central to culture since it is the means through which most of culture is learned and communicated. Only humans have the biological capacity for language, which allows them to communicate cultural ideas and symbolic meanings from one generation to the next and to constantly create new cultural ideas. The capacity for language separates humans from the other primates. In any language, an infinite number of possible sentences can be constructed and used to convey an infinite number of cultural ideas. Because of this, human language is significantly different from any other system of animal communication. From another point of view, cultures are continually undergoing some degree of change, and since language is a part of culture, it is always changing as well. Evidently, during ones lifetime, one is unaware of linguistic change, except for changes in vocabulary, mainly slang words and expressions. If we were to compare our language practice with that of the language in Shakespeares plays, it becomes obvious how English has changed over the past centuries. If people share society-organized life with other animals, culture is particularly human. Cultures are traditions and customs, passed on through learning, that dominate the beliefs and behavior of the people open to these elements. Children inherit these traditions by growing up in a particular society. Cultural traditions include customs and opinions, developed over the generations, about proper and improper behavior. Cultural traditions answer such questions as: How should we do things? How do we tell right from wrong? How do we interpret the world? A culture produces consistencies in behavior and thought in a given society, because through culture people create, remember, and deal with ideas. Being exposed to new ideas or a new environment, the society culture changes significantly at all levels, resulting in a shift in culture over time. Shifts in culture can of course initiate in the own society, but are more likely to be brought in by an outside culture, with a different set of assumptions, norms, values, etc. Shifts can of course be significant, or subtle, they can be fast or slow. The significant shifts are easily determined, changing society structure as a whole while taking place, and over a relatively short period of time. The encounter of the individual with foreign concepts of a diverse society can easily give birth to serious complications and misunderstandings. A major problem of the individual regarding intercultural encounters is language. Language can be considered a barrier when it comes to communication, because conversation is fundamentally interactive and it requires

response. This in turn requires a mutual understanding of conversational patterns/conventions. Conversational patterns are highly structured and very difficult to shift. Even when one speaks another language well, one probably still uses your native language conversation strategies. Intercultural communication represents any form of communication and exchange of information between people, with reference to different cultural frameworks (people who belong to different linguistic communities). Communication is a type of linguistic translation, constructed as a three-step enterprise: using a lingua franca, using the native language of one or both communities, and using particular communication means or devices (combining, verbal and non-verbal signs). Intercultural communication can be compared to translation activity broadly speaking as an activity to identify the meaning of communication signs in one language (source language), its critical comparison with meaning patterns (target language), and its restitution as a sign belonging to the sign system of the target language. However, translation, like intercultural communication, can be understood as an activity of the restitution of signs and their meaning in a target language; also, on a larger scale, it can be seen considered as an activity more or less comparable with the activities interpretation/appropriation. The work of translation should not be understood only in terms of result, of the completed task of transmitting a message from one language to another. The process itself stands out as that which creates bridges over language barriers and cultural gaps. We define it as communication, as transfer (Lat. transferre to carry over or across), through which intercultural relationships are being constantly shaped and reshaped. What is the relationship between translation and the texts that move from culture to culture? The question should come with answers regarding the reasons why texts move and how translated texts can be a symbol of such movement. Also, it should be able to make queries into the ethics of intercultural relations and how translators should react to them. In a nutshell, by associating the work of translators to the issues of intercultural transfer, translation studies should take its rightful interdisciplinary place among the social sciences. According to Roman Jacobson, translation can be divided into three main types: a) Intralingual translation or rewording. The verbal expression of language is replaced and interpreted by other verbal expressions of the same language. Rewording stands for word for word substitution, paraphrasing, summarizing, expanding etc. Rewording in this sense is a common discursive activity occurring in any text or conversation.

b) Interlingual translation or translation proper a verbal expression of one language is replaced and interpreted by a verbal expression of another language. Translation proper represents the shifting of a meaning/message from one natural language to another one. c) Intersemiotic translation: the meaning of a verbal expression is communicated by the means of non-verbal signs (Jacobson, 1959). In modern times (since the 17th century), translation has become progressively a central activity in Western (European) culture even if, naturally, translation has always been a social practice in the history of mankind. The growing importance of translation is related to the need to know and understand the other better, but it also has to do with pushing the European originated cultural frameworks within those of the other and forcing the other to accept and adapt to the Western cultural standards (in politics, economy, law, science, but also in even more basic value systems such as language and religion). Therefore, translation has been and certainly is one of the most important instruments for the expansion of European (Western) cultural standards all over the world. The interest for intercultural communication and translation has increased in the last decades. Translation Studies developed as an academic discipline in its own right. Intercultural communication, too, is in itself an academic field with its own specific concepts and analytical methods. However, despite a substantial amount of research output, both disciplines seem to have reached a stage where some of the key concepts and assumptions are being challenged, and the object of research is being looked at from a new perspective. Moreover, some of the key concepts employed in Translation Studies and in Intercultural Communication also play an important role in related disciplines.