There are two approaches towards the translational problem. Sometimes the term translation is considered to be literally a verbal interpretation from one language into another, or in a broader way- an interpretation is a synonym of translating the same information within one language.
The two ways are completely rightful – the first one described by Antuan Berman in his work «The experience of accepting other language» - suggests that there are many languages. The other was studied by John Steiner in his work «The song of Bable», it links to the phenomenon briefly described by himself as «To comprehend means to translate».
I’ve made up my mind to start with the 1-st approach which puts in the 1-st place the relation between native and foreign. Then I focus on another aspect – studying difficulties and paradoxes that occur during translation from one language into another.
So, we have come to a conclusion that there are many languages and they do vary. Though, it is worth mentioning that it’s the necessity for translation that makes people speak different languages. At the same time, the phenomenon of languages being different (the term invented by Wilhelm Humboldt) is covered with mysteries. Why are there so many languages? According to calculations of ethnologists there are 5 to 6 thousands of them. The Darwin theory of evolution with its mechanism of adapting to the habitat during the nature selection, doesn’t explain anything, for the existence of a lot of languages not only doesn’t help the humanity, but on the contrary – makes the situation worse. If one studies this situation within only one linguistic group it would be obvious that the quality of lingual exchange within its boundaries depends on the development level of the whole mother tongue. When it comes to going on a broader stage, here any lingual waste (as Steiner says) is of no importance and becomes a barrier.
Moreover, the main riddle lies somewhere different. The reasons causing misunderstanding between people are not that mysterious (the Bible myth about Babylonian pandemonium deals with the history of blend of languages and them being scattered around the world). What really matters is the common understanding among people who speak different languages, which doesn’t care for obstacles.
It is worth mentioning that a language is an all-embracing phenomenon (all people cooperate with each other). That is the human’s peculiarity, similar to the ability to use tools, create facilities and bury the dead. When talking about a language we mean the usage of signs not being objects or phenomena. They are corresponded conditionally for the language is a sign exchange. The language plays the key role in the development of a certain lingual community.
But here is the controversial thing. The fundamental qualities of any language – generalities and universalities being a mean of interaction are always endangered by its independent development as separate, local languages. The language universality thesis is vanished by the fact of its diversity and inconsistency into many separate aspects. That’s the source of numerous rumors about inconsistency of languages – fist, on the level of a myth, then the philosophy of language. For instance, the myth about Babylonian pandemonium is too short and complex in its literal version is making us believe in the ancient language. This language is the Heavenly one, once forgotten, but still capable of leading the people out of the maze. On the other hand, the myth depicts the inconsistency of languages as a total world disaster. But, I am to give you a little bit different, in some way more polite version on the humans’ situation in this very case.
Though, I would like to pay your attention to one more reason which shouldn’t be confusing the fact of languages being so different. It is vital to remember that the translation did always exist. Professional translators were preceded by travelers, merchants, ambassadors, spies who often spoke several languages. Polyglots could be met at those times.
So, here we have come to another language peculiarity, just as perfect as its sad imperfectness being a mean of communication. Just because there is such a thing as translation there is a possibility to say that every person has the ability to comprehend a foreign language. That is why we are pondering over some secret language qualities that are connected to the lingual practice. We will continue discussing this very topic at the end of our research when translation within one language is mentioned. We will be talking about a reflexive ability of the language, the one that allows us to ponder over the language, to look at it from a different angle, to make a research pattern of it by comparing the mother tongue with the other ones. For now I will talk no more about the analysis of reflexive and mental language function. I just want to focus on the fact of translation only.
So, languages differ greatly, but people still can learn foreign languages along with their native one. This mere fact has generated lot theories, which state a sad alternative in its conclusion. Some think that various languages are completely different that is why the translation from one language into another is unreachable. Others say that theoretically translation is possible owing to the general base of all languages. The second supposition leads to a new dilemma – either this general language base should be recreated which would lead to a more thorough search of the ancient language; or this general language base should be logically built which actually means the creation of a new, universal language. But whatever language is the base – the ancient or the new universal one – it should be completely represented phonetically, lexically, syntactically and rhetorically.
I suggest paying no attention to the translational/non-translational theoretical alternative and switch it with another one. The one that comes from the practice of translation or the alternative true/false translation that doesn’t exclude the fact that translation is a tricky deal always requiring the theoretical roots. At the end of the lecture we will see for ourselves that the difficulties of the inner translation (or the translation within one language) only support this sad statement. Recently I have taken part in the international colloquium on the difficulties of translation. I was listening to «Theoretically difficult, practically easy» report of a philosopher – analyst Donald Davidson. I stand the same ground (when talking about the two ways of translation – from one language into another and within only one language). Though theoretically the translation is impossible it is still done practically. The price we pay is our doubts of it being either relevant or non-relevant according to the original text.
Before we drown deep in the relevance/non-relevance dialectics of the problem according to the original text, I would like to say a few words regarding the reasons that influence the translational/non-translational dilemma of a text that leads nowhere but a maze.
Ethno linguists are the very people who created the conclusion on the text lack of translational ability. The works of B. Lee Bourf and E. Shapyr emphasized the non-correspondences between the lingual equations in different languages. First of all we mean the articulate and phonetic levels based upon the phonological system of this language (vowels, consonants et cetera). Then there comes the conceptual level of the language, or the notion system that the vocabulary comprises of (dictionaries, encyclopedias etc).