We often reassure ourselves with the saying as long as we get the meaning across. Nonetheless, more often than not, we hear no less of the loss of original favor or color in some unique expressions that we cherish as part of our own identity. We have much to lose in annotation, transliteration, or translation with different languages and even every same language across different eras. The living fossil of past extant records is the only thing we can trace back to the remote time for a glance at daily aspects of ancient life, and books of timelessness perpetuate well into our presence nowadays. There is a strong continuity in how we express ourselves in our tongue as we share and resonate very much in our human nature through the upheaval and toil in history.
Every concept or peculiarity in a particular language should be readily explainable if not directly relatable in another language. As a language learner, I have come across terms or expressions of a complicated nature worth further exploring and researching to ensure proper interpretation and usage. For this, I resort to ordinary common sense and find similarities among languages to have a better understanding.
The idioms are the most well-known throughout human history. We are certainly more familiar with the ones associated with physical senses and body parts to express our emotions and feelings. ¡Quiero que me trague la tierra! or simply ¡Trágame Tierra¡ expresses such a strong and shameful emotion for one’s disappearance from the scene. Another more fantastic version of the same intention in English that conveys no less such urgency to escape from presence would be the catchphrase from the Star Trak series, “Beam me up, Scotty.” I am sure there are numerous examples that we can draw upon to reflect the similarities and differences across different languages. An eye for an eye in one language could have been a tooth for a tooth in another. We may find the intimate greeting and farewelling 안녕 (peace; good health) in Korean to be a little more challenging if we take it literally, but we find strikingly similar wishes as we bid farewell to the close ones on a lengthy journey.
What’s your take besides my mundane approach in learning a new language and culture? Can we express every possible phrase and sentence in another language from the source language? Could some expressions lose subtleties to the extent of preventing a learner from acquiring the true meaning even if translated adequately? Another significant challenge for us is understanding the language in the context where the circumstances are no longer applicable or dramatically different from our current prospectives. Do you have grand moments of Eureka when discovering amazing things you would never expect to find in another language or culture?