Translation is such a vast topic; techniques to be discussed, technologies to be learnt, nuances to be traversed, barriers to be broken, and so much more!  Then of course there’s the localisation, internationalization, globalization and glocalization - to name a few of the –izations in store. Interesting point this: ‘-ization’ is defined as “A suffix forming nouns denoting the act, process, or result of doing something, or of making something.”  The ‘something’ in this context is a clear, natural and accurate interpretation of one language into another, which brings me to the Eureka moment for this week’s blog. This week we will focus on the very core of why we are in business. We do call it the’ Language Industry’ don’t we? So Language it is.

The Evolution of languages is a study in itself and has a many thousand book shelves worth of material to its credit. There is the Bow wow theory, the Pooh-pooh theory, the Ding-dong theory, the Yo-he-ho theory and the Ta-ta theory for instance! No, I ain’t kidding you. These are names of actual theories propounded by Friedrich Max Müller in his book Lectures on the Science of Language.

Theories apart, what interests linguaphiles like us, are the intricacies and complexities within the broad spectrum of the standard definitions of ‘Languages’ and its relevance to the Language Industry. A language is a dynamic entity; it has a dialect, a sociolect, and an idiolect. Let me define these for you:

  • Dialect – is a particular form of a language that is peculiar to a specific region or social group. The English language has quite a few dialects in itself. I found this Harvard Dialect Survey an interesting read. It breaks down the English dialect by State in the UK. There are a very many!
  • Sociolect - a social dialect: a way of speaking shared by a particular group of people from a particular age, ethnic group or social class. Wonder why some people sound ‘posh’ and some others ‘common’? This is sociolect in play. Slang is also considered a sociolect by the way.
  • Idiolect – is our own particular, personal way of speaking. The choice of words, language style, sentence order, and the other things that make our language unique to us. My best friend had this peculiar habit of repeating herself, which wasn’t a case of repetition for emphasis; it was just the way she would speak. Coming to think of it, this was her Idiolect!

When it comes to Written Translation, these intricacies need not be delved into. What is taken into consideration is the most popular Locale of that language. For example, the Spanish Language can be said to have three locales - Spain, Argentina, or the United States. Even regionally, there could be different locales. The Indic language Kannada, for example is spoken differently in Mangalore, Bangalore and Gulbarga, all different cities of the same Province/State.

In Localization, each locale represents unique cultural and other guidelines that govern how products are adapted for sale.  How then do we decide which locale to use if we are to choose only one out of them? Generally, the locale with the highest number of potential product purchasers or users gets top priority. Simple!

But when it comes to Transcription, Subtitling, Dubbing and Interpretation -those services that require a reliance on the spoken form of language, the ‘-lects’ demand attention. Being able to recognize and understand the dialect, the sociolect and even the idiolect has a bearing on the quality of your Transcription or your Interpretation. 

We would love to hear from you on the challenges you have faced in deciphering these complexities of language in your assignments. Feel free to comment!