1. Hwaigon

    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

    Dec 5, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Second to the right, and straight on till morning.

    You'll never pull it off.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Hwaigon, Apr 9, 2015.

    I ran into an online discussion the other day about translating into the second language being almost a downright, full-fledged taboo, almost like believing in God in 21st century. The participants have, truth be told, pissed off my inner, humble, carefully and painstakingly crafted watchdog for self-confidence and belief in one's abilities. The argument was that it is (highly) unlikely for a non-native to acquire a near-native level of the target language. Now, I'm very grateful to the forums for the predictive text script, as it has led me to like-minded threads, but I believe I still do have my few cents' worth to throw in, difficulties that I do admit :

    • Language acquisition is clearly brought about by the length of exposition to the language itself. That being said, I have, with ups and downs, been exposed to one form of English or other for the entirety of 18 years, starting my journey in year two of my elementary school. Given that, I am far too wary of labelling myself equally lettered to an eighteen-year-old English, American or Australian, definitely not in terms of colloquial language and idioms. That, for some reason, is a gloomy marshland I dare not tread upon (idioms are somewhat better and not so off-putting). Needless to say, I find it of annoyance to my linguistic ego to always stumble across one-syllable slang lexis I do not understand. On the other hand, I might as well land better results in SAT or GRE in language in use or reading comprehension than a completely oblivious native.
    • syntax and grammar is attainable provided a respectable amount of time is allotted to this end. On almost daily basis do I discover new dimensions of information distribution withing a sentence and how meaning is dependent on word order and how it can be twisted. The difficulty resides in the art of rendering one's ideas into words by various means and devices, while bearing broader concepts in mind, such as cohesion (grammar) and coherence (underlying meaning and system of the passage). This sounds all too logical but should I strip my writing of the fancy fluff, then many times nothing remains, a vacuum with no idea in its heart.
    • vocabulary is a baptism of fire. I've been sincere, faced the truth and the truth has lead me out of the misconception that I know "quite a lot of vocabulary". At one point of my delighted enlightenment, I started off by accepting I knew sh*t. Vocabulary is among the most difficult dimensions of language acquisition, since it diversifies it, makes it richer, it is the herald of the writer's competence and is what breaths life into writing.
    • Socio-cultural background is a determining factor of writing. It's the part that can be feigned the hardest of all. Socio-cultural background is the knowledge of the indigenous people that I simply do not possess, thus can not react and respond to certain phenomena in their way.
    • One has to have the technical background knowledge in the field, into which the original text is to be translated, which I see as the very only impediment to a quality translation.
    • The above has lead me to the following conclusion: It doesn't matter whether one is a native or not when in the honorable pursuit of writing, so long as: One has been exposed to a stupendous amount of language, e.g. has had a massive language input; one intentionally seeks new ways of rendering thoughts into words, thus seeking new words; one has spent at least some time studying the culture of the target language.

    If these conditions are met, it is not difficult for me to imagine a highly articulated non-native who disposes of the love of language, whose technical and linguistic knowledge transcends the confines of his mother tongue, eventually wiping out the floor with many a complacent native. Let alone those who do not believe it possible to translate into English.
    Ivana likes this.

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