It occurred to me today that translation and foreign languages litter everyday life, even for those of us whom aren’t in some way married to the industry.
Take a moody, emotionally charged teen for instance; nothing but a disinterest in foreign languages plagues their consciousness, yet their subconscious is perpetually peppered with alien tongues.
From the perfunctory ramblings of Pete Doherty on ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ (meaning ‘work makes you free’ – words which hung over concentration camps in war time Germany) to the twisted sonics of unintelligible, yet enjoyable, Scandanavian crew, Sigur Ros: multilingual-ness is everywhere.
So, too, are many English words used without a thought for their origin. Cliché, for example: a French word which comes from a time saving process typists used to use. For frequently occurring phrases, one slug of metal was cast to save typing each letter of each word out every time, and that slug was termed a cliché. A word which now describes an idea that has been overused to the point of losing its intended force or novelty.
9 October 2008 18:09