Put it into words. 言葉にして。



A Vicarious Adventure in Translation

Today, Frank Warren posted a secret on the Facebook page for PostSecret that was in a language that he couldn’t figure out and he asked for help.  It’s interesting to see what happens when something like that is let loose on a social network, which has such potential for collaboration.  The secret was figured out not long after I started reading all the posts, but after that people continued to post, starting from the beginning of the translation themselves.  This incident is rather reminiscent of posts that I have seen on academic forums, in that the lower down in the comments one goes, the fewer people one finds who have read the upper comments.  A collaborative medium only works as well as those who are willing to collaborate.  Although there were certainly people who came in very late and had good things to say, their time would have been better served gaining knowledge from those who had come before them.  I suppose in that way it’s a case of “reinventing the wheel.”

In terms of the event’s larger significance, it is worthwhile to realize that if we are willing to take the time to learn from those who have gone before us, there may in fact be quite a bit more information about anything than that which we puzzle out alone.  If we build upon what is already present, who knows how far we could go?  An interesting life lesson in an incident surrounding a postcard.

As far as the actual translation goes, I have a feeling that I am too impatient for it!  This was such a simple translation, really, once the language was worked out.  In fact, it was less of a language than a cipher, since all the words ended up being in English.  Thankfully the script was also typewritten, which meant there was no variation in symbols from writing to writing within the body of the text.  With all these little details taken into account, cross-language translation of dead languages into living ones is simply incredible!  And here I am, hoping to translate living languages into others…I am excited to see what my capabilities are in the field and I look forward to learning more.  🙂

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