It is widely suggested that ‘creative translation’ may have been the very first kind of translation. It makes sense; hundreds of years ago, the materials to learn a new language as we do nowadays simply weren’t available. So you really had to be quite enthusiastic about the job. In fact, you had to specifically want to share what you had to say with the whole world. Quite often, this involved doing what humans do best; taking something that is endemic to a certain place, and spreading it chaotically over the planet. Everybody, welcome to the first kind of marketing!

In the 19th century, translation was acknowledged to be essential to business and culture. Translators were taken extremely seriously. Alexander von Humboldt is responsible for much of modern science as we now understand it, and more things are named after him than anybody else on the planet. One of his English translators was famous for making notes and comments in the margins of Humboldt’s papers as he worked, suggesting improvements or contesting arguments. The thought of doing that in a scientific paper today!

But quite often, it is the manner in which important information is distributed that affects the way it is received. Tiny signals to the reader or listener produce different feelings. Often it is on these little feelings that our mood depends. And more often than not, it is upon our mood that our receptiveness to information leans. Something we will look at more closely in the next discussion on The Word Gym blog!

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