After Thursday’s translation panel, I left Hance thinking about the struggles created by translation in an attempt to purely convey language, in other words, getting the true meaning through. During the panel, the vase metaphor had me thinking about the purpose and value of translation. In the metaphor, the vase represents pure language; the purpose of a translator is to reconstruct a broken vase from its fragments. This task is impossible because the vase will never look the way it was, it will simply be an approximation. Thinking of this vase reminded me of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle in which one has to accept a certain level of uncertainty when measuring things, more especially when it’s small and precise things. Heisenberg said that one cannot measure the momentum and position of a subatomic particle because one value affects the other, both cannot be measured simultaneously. Something similar happens with translation in which the translator may not know the smaller and more culturally specific words and ideas in language. There’s always a magnitude of uncertainty. Similarly, there is uncertainty in science, a discipline that often stresses over precision. Despite the emphasis on making efforts to achieve precision in science, there will always be inaccuracy in data, measurements, and experiment execution; the findings will only be close approximations. In other words, the translated idea will never be the exact same idea; but rather, a close approximation to it.
My mother is an interpreter for the Baltimore County Public Schools, meaning that translation is a part of something that she works with every day. My mother’s primary goal as an English-Spanish liaison interpreter is to prevent any miscommunication between the parents and the teachers––something that she had struggled with when she first came to this country. One of the challenges my mother faces as an interpreter is trying to properly convey ideas from English to Spanish for the teachers she is helping, as well as from Spanish to English for the parents and their children with precision. It was for struggles across the language barrier between parents and teachers that made her want to become an interpreter in the first place. Thinking of the role my mother’s job reminded me of the readings we did for Borges and Plato in which a translator had to carefully translate the writer’s ideas into English to ensure that we, the readers, obtained the full picture of what the writers were saying. For someone to translate these texts, they would have and to understand the concepts Borges and Plato were writing about, ensure that the ideas that they translated are comprehensible in English, while staying loyal to the ideas, and have a strong background in the writer’s language and culture in order to understand any cultural references. Through the readings and lectures we have had, I came to realize that we take translators for granted in all the work they do to make the ideas of writers comprehensive for everyone.