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Poll: "Without translation, there is no history of the world." - L. G. Kelly
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
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Sep 28, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question ""Without translation, there is no history of the world." - L. G. Kelly".

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A forum topic will appear each time a new poll is run. For more information, see: http://proz.com/topic/33629


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Yaotl Altan  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 18:32
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English to Spanish
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Approach Sep 28, 2007

Civilizations approach each other with translations.

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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:32
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Very true Sep 28, 2007

Very philosophical for a Friday afternoon! I looked this up on Google. It helped me clarify the idea behind the question....

"Most of the world's past comes to us in translation. "It may not overstate the case," writes L. G. Kelly, "to claim that the history of the world could be told through the history of translation. Indeed, one might even assert that, without translation, there is no history of the world." At a time when people and ideas, culture and business, seem increasingly to cross barriers of language, translation from one language to another becomes a necessary part of the action. And that action is neither transparent nor automatic. Indeed, translators have an ancient wisdom..."

I’d have to agree that without the hard work of translators we would know very little about the past or even other present day cultures for that matter.
It’s a good thought for the International Translators Weekend.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
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Seems... Sep 28, 2007

...obvious to me.

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Rebecca Garber  Identity Verified
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Historic languages Sep 28, 2007

As a medieval historian, my source documents are written in Latin, Middle High German, Middle Dutch, Middle English, and if someone else translates them, Old French and Old Spanish. And these are secular documents.

Religious texts, such as the Talmud, Bible, and Koran have even longer histories of transmission through and into different languages.


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Beatriz Galiano
Argentina
Local time: 20:32
English to Spanish
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Agree Sep 28, 2007

Translation is in the very essence of communication, from country to country and from culture to culture.

Plain truth, at the level of praxis, translate in order to reach the masses and the world.



[Edited at 2007-09-28 17:00]


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Luis M. Cuerdo Galarraga  Identity Verified
Spain
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Grandiloquent and void Sep 28, 2007

"Without carpenters, there is no history of the world", you might fit any word in that phrase.

IMHO


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
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No history without the written language Sep 28, 2007

I am not really sure history would not exist without translations. But I am sure history, knowledge, science and the world we know would not exist without written human languages.

In my opinion, history of Egypt existed before the Rosetta stone was discovered, Roman history existed before translators of Latin to other languages, etc. etc. To me us translators are just as essential to history as are people like librarians, archeologists, printers, book lovers, art lovers... and of course the source of all history: each and every human being of every nature and kind.

Now, the last sentence was grandiloquent, huh?


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Fernando D. Walker  Identity Verified

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Completely agree... Sep 28, 2007

That’s the kind of statement that should be said more often, especially when our profession is not so recognized. We are the bridge between human beings of different cultures, so imagine... What would happen if there were no bridges…?
Best,
Fernando


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Riccardo Schiaffino  Identity Verified
United States
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Without translation the history of the world would be different Sep 28, 2007

"Without translation, there is no history of the world" sounds very close to pretentious B.S., but it leads to two interesting "What if"s:

1) What if there was no translation because all languages would be so fundamentally different as to preclude any possibility of common ground or understanding? (call this the "Rendezvous with Rama" hypothesis)

- or -

2) What if there was no translation because everybody, everywhere and in all times always spoke the same language (the "Before Babel" hypothesis).

There could be a couple of interesting SF stories there.


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Luis M. Cuerdo Galarraga  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:32
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What if? Sep 29, 2007

My guess:

1) What if there was no translation because all languages would be so fundamentally different as to preclude any possibility of common ground or understanding? (call this the "Rendezvous with Rama" hypothesis)


It already happens and it is called different species, if monkeys would be able to speak as we do they would be integrated in our society-civilization. If there were other humans communicating, say, like dolphins, no doubt we would be hunting them.

2) What if there was no translation because everybody, everywhere and in all times always spoke the same language (the "Before Babel" hypothesis).


Language is organic and living, as we are, it would mean that we are all equal, probably like ants.

[Edited at 2007-09-29 13:42]


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:32
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Those who disagreee Sep 29, 2007

What's your reasoning?

Translation is a part of written language, without which we could only understand our own. Since most of history has not been written in our own language, then how could we understand it?

There would be no history as we know it without translation.


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Amy Duncan  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 21:32
Portuguese to English
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I disagree Sep 29, 2007

It's sort of like saying "If a tree falls in a forest, and nobody's around, does it make a sound?"

Yes, there is history of the world, even without translation.


Amy


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telefpro
Local time: 05:02
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Translations distort history Sep 30, 2007

At times, translations distort history. Sometimes translation is a betrayal. I t would be more apt to say that without language there is no history.
Historical age? Translation age?


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This is what I think .... Sep 30, 2007

Without translation, progression of world civilization could be only a bit slower. I say this because people always had communicated with body languages as well.

Well, you would say we are talking about written mode of communication.
But when people were confined in their place of birth, therefore it was quite often their place of death, what was the merit of written mode of communication?

Back off from thinking from where we are, especially of the age of Internet.
Do not think like this has been around since the begining of our civilaization.

Bible has been the biggest incentive for our progress in terms of translation.
Look who we are talking about when we say the "International Translation Day"?
This is still quite West oriented mode of thinking.

Hey, Asian or African or Arabic colleagues, where are you?


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