Language as an “extension of culture”

Yesterday, I had a chance to talk to one of seniors who I went to school with in University. As a very renowned scholar (in my eyes at least, and not that I am not worthy of making such judgement) he is someone who uses both creativeness and very contemporary techniques and social skills to go up the academic social ladder, and at the same time still manages to find time and space to create new kinds of  learning “experimentations”. Some are very logically organized, some are very eccentric, and most I believe are quirky… The other day, I had a chance to help him out with one of his lectures in Ritsumeikan University (which is also very strange enough…) and a conversation I had with him during lunch after that class.

The article below, named “They Thought You’d Say This: Unlikely phrases from real phrasebooks”, shows examples of many sentences that many seem a bit out of universal standard of cultural context of modern day society…

As we are starting to move into a society where we rely much heavily on lingua francas (commonly used languages) like English, Spanish, maybe French?)and Mandarin, we are all subconsciously building up a social norm, a standard, of what is expected, what should not be said, and how to be polite. But somehow scary enough to say, there is also might be a danger that we might be headed to direction where we are just learning how to keep “quiet”, and I mean, forever.

The above phrases are somewhat I think, a “saviour” to today’s world where we are rapidly and sometimes too much, going into a overly-efficient society.  In a country like Japan, the 2020 Olympics and number of Government strategy implementation towards gearing up tourism related industries are creating high demands for translations for signage, contents, and sometime names and way to address proper nouns. But as many might know, Japanese is a language quite “opposite” to the English languages that many things translated directly will just not make any kind of sense both grammatically and many times from cultural value kind of way. But at the same time, many of these translation processes also helps raise a question, give us (or forces us to…) SLOW DOWN, THINK and maybe even STOP for a brief moment, about the language spoken and what messages those spoken words are trying to convey… this is something that might be qualifies as “food for thought”.

In any case, if you are a tired of a rapid light-speed (literally) urban life, I can recommend you to go into the outskirts, untouched traditions and cultures and try  to translate contents into a more universal, modern standard, while you break a few bones here and there.


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