If people speak more than one language is what they know different in each language?

By: Guest
Date: Unknown--

Opinion varies on this question. Some people believe that the thoughts remain constant and only the words -- the translations -- change. Others argue that language represents culture and that translations cannot capture the "mood" or the cultural overtones of what is spoken or written. An Italian proverb has it (approximately!) that a translation is a polite lie. Thus, we often say that "some meaning is always lost in the translation." (With characteristic irony and punch, Robert Frost said that poetry is what is lost in translation.)

The counter-argument is, of course, that in expert translations, no meaning is lost.

In the early 1900s, Edward Sapir, an anthropologist/linguist, proposed the idea that thought and language are intertwined; that language reflects thoughts that cannot be "translated" into other languages. Some years later, Benjamin Lee Whorf studied the language of the Hopi Indians and concluded that language actually determines thought; that as people learn language, they learn both the culture and the thoughts that are unique to that culture.

As a simple example, one that Whorf did not use, notice the American-English expression, "Take it easy." It reflects a kind of relaxation of spirit, mind, and body that is uniquely American and that is not captured by comparable phrases in other languages. Why? Because other languages reflect other cultures and, therefore, other notions of "relaxation."

Through the 1950s, Whorf's analysis was popular and widely accepted. But his examples and arguments, particularly those based on Eskimo languages, were questioned and discredited, and his theories became less popular. For more on that issue, look for the "Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis."

Certainly, human thoughts have some consistency from culture to culture and from language to language. The belief remains in some expert circles, however, that cultures and languages have thoughts -- points of view, ways of thinking -- that cannot be conveyed precisely to people who do not understand the culture and that cannot be translated precisely into other languages.


it all depends if the words you are saying in one language can be properly translated into another language. it also depends on what language you are speaking and what language you are trying to speak.

Finally the simple answer is yes.

Every language has its own genius and every language "thinks" differently. Frost's observation is spot on. We might add that humor also cannot be translated.

[d] By: Guest
Date: Unknown---
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