After attending the translation panel that we had Thursday afternoon, I left Hance thinking about the struggles in translation to be able to convey the pure language, in other words, the true meaning. The example of the vase metaphor had me thinking a lot about the purpose and value of translation. The vase represents the pure language and the purpose of a translator is to reconstruct a broken vase from its fragments. An impossible task to perform since the result will simply be an approximation, never the same vase. This reminded me of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle (1927) in which one has to accept a certain level of uncertainty when measuring things, more especially when it’s small and precise things, something similar with how challenging it can be to convey the smaller and more culturally specific ideas. There’s always a magnitude of uncertainty. Moreover, it’s funny to think that there is uncertainty in science, a discipline that tends to stress over exactness a lot. Despite the emphasis of exactness in science and all the efforts one makes to achieve it, there is always going to be an inaccuracy in data, measurements, and experiment execution; rendering a lot of things as approximations. This is similar to what was talked about in the translation panel where the translated idea is never going to be the exact idea; but rather, a close approximation.
My mother is an interpreter for the Baltimore County Public Schools, so translation is something that she deals with every day. One of the biggest challenges that she faces as an interpreter is that she’s constantly trying to properly convey ideas from English to Spanish for the teachers, as well as from Spanish to English for the parents and their children. Her main goal as an English-Spanish liaison is to prevent any miscommunication between the parents and the teachers––something that she faced struggled with when she first came to this country. It was for those struggles that made her want to become an interpreter in the first place. Thinking of the role my mother plays in the BCPS system reminded me of the readings we did for Borges and Plato in which somebody had to carefully translate their ideas into English to ensure that we, the readers, obtained the full picture of what they were saying. For someone to translate these texts, they would have and to understand the concepts Borges and Plato were writing about and making sure that the ideas that they translated are comprehensible in English, while staying loyal to the ideas. Through the readings and lectures that we have had, I realized that we really take translators for granted for the work they do to make the ideas of these writers understandable to people everywhere.