[tlhIngan Hol] woe unto you scribes and pharisees, hypocrites

SuStel sustel at trimboli.name
Mon Mar 8 06:00:11 PST 2021


On 3/7/2021 6:19 PM, Will Martin wrote:
> I’ve read from several sources about the difficulty of translating ANY 
> ancient Greek text into ANY other language because of the many subtle 
> emotional nuances that are simply not represented by other languages.
>
> This brings me to the psycholinguistic concept that language shapes 
> one's thoughts (and feelings) as one uses language to express them. 
> Languages tend to evolve to express the ideas and feelings that a 
> people find a need to express through sufficient repetition to develop 
> the vocabulary and grammar to express.
>
> You can’t teach the number 5,384 to a person whose language has only 
> the number words for 1, 2, 3, many. This is like that.
>
> Combining these, I’d like to suggest that it might be impossible to 
> create a perfect translation because Klingons, whose feelings are by 
> necessity shaped by their language, may simply fail to have the 
> feelings that someone translating an ancient Greek passage seeks to 
> translate. Those subtle feelings may simply be too alien for a Klingon 
> to understand.
>
> It’s not just that the words aren’t there. The feelings and the ideas 
> aren’t there.

I completely reject the idea that people of different languages have 
different emotions shaped by their languages. Different paradigms for 
approaching practical problems, yes. Different levels of sophistication 
in expressing those emotions, yes. But the ancient Greeks did not have 
inherently more subtle feelings than modern people, no matter how 
emotionally nuanced their language.

You might have more latitude to claim this for a fictional, alien race, 
but there's no evidence whatsoever that Klingons' emotions are different 
than ours.

Your number analogy is wrong. Speaking a language that doesn't have 
words for numbers into the thousands doesn't mean you don't have a 
concept of numbers that high. It just means you don't have the tools to 
express that number, or that your tools are less sophisticated. Instead 
of "I saw five thousand, three hundred eighty-four soldiers," you might 
say "I saw as many soldiers as there are leaves on this tree."

Expressing emotion is expressing something internal to yourself. 
Expressing numbers is expressing something external to yourself. The 
latter requires special technology.

A person whose language doesn't have any way to express negative numbers 
can still comprehend "I have six sheep, but I owe you seven sheep, so 
even if I give you all my sheep, the next sheep I get will also go to you."


> This leaves you with the option that you try to prioritize the 
> subtleties that you wish to express working from the emotional 
> vocabulary of the Klingon language, and perhaps decide between the 
> subtleties that Klingon offers that might have been missing in the 
> original Greek relating to some of the Klingon affixes that get less 
> emphasis in Greek.

This is true of ALL translation. There's nothing special about ancient 
Greek or Klingon here.

-- 
SuStel
http://trimboli.name



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