Transcending Meaning – Why I Studied Translation

I’ve always had a fondness for languages. I realised, when I was younger, that it always thrilled me when a movie in a foreign language was on the television. Subtitles have never deterred me, I loved nothing more than hearing people speak with different words and accents. I couldn’t agree more with what South Korean director, Bong Joon Ho said when his film ‘Parasite’ won best Foreign Film at the Golden Globes. There really is a wealth of fantastic films in so many languages, portraying so many cultures for people to enjoy once they overcome the aversion to otherness.

I smugly announced once about languages, that I would learn them all. By this, I mostly meant that I would study both French and Spanish in secondary school, but it was not long before I learnt exactly, the great plethora of languages and cultures which the earth contains.

This adoration for languages stuck with me throughout the years. Rather, it spurred my desire for knowledge and understanding. I have a great desire to understand life, people, and the world we live in. All our subjective experiences add up to something much greater. I think that this is an important understanding for a translator to have, the realisation that all experience is human experience and therefore, relatable in some way.

There are an abundance of stories just waiting to be told and heard for the first time, and these stories have invisible threads which connect everything. A commonality can be found within differences, and it is a great challenge to uncover it and bring it to the surface, for beneath words are feelings. And it is these feelings which I believe it is essential to relay. If a sentence speaks about love, the quest is to conjure a sentence that emits that same feeling of love in another language.

Although my path twisted and turned as time went by, from psychology to neuroscience, and eventually global studies, I knew that I would return to my desire to learn languages and explore the theoretical, creative, and practical aspects of translating from other languages into my native English. So, even though it can be challenging and confusing, and painstaking, I decided to walk the path of a translator.

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