tlhIngan-Hol Archive: Tue Jun 18 08:11:36 2002

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Re: Translating vs. Thinking

ghunchu'wI' writes:
>I had some trouble with this advice when I read it, because I've always
>encouraged people to put forth their own ideas rather than translate
>someone else's.  But I quickly realized that what I've really been telling
>people is to *compose* their own ideas using what Klingon they know, rather
>than translating anything.

Good advice. I would go even one step further.

It's important to understand that there is a difference between translating 
words and translating ideas. It's easy to translate words because it's very 
mechanical, and that is (in my experience) what most people think of doing. 
But ultimately that doesn't help you learn the language, because language is 
about expressing ideas.

Consider a sentence in English and an equivalent one in Klingon -- neither 
one is closer to the "true" meaning. Rather, they are both arbitrary 
representations of that meaning. If someone had grown accustomed to 
translating mechanically, they would have a hard time using Klingon. A 
thought would occur to them to say, then they would compose the English 
representation of it, then translate it mechanically into Klingon (inverting 
subject and object, and so forth), then spew forth the Klingon 
representation. That takes a long time. What students need to learn to do is 
go from the original thoughts directly to Klingon. Then there will be no 
waiting to invert subject and object, for instance, because subject and 
object aren't located anywhere in the thought. It's just that when you're 
producing English, you have to first extract the subject from the amorphous 
thot-blob in your head, whereas when you're producing Klingon, you have to 
extract the object (or adverbial, or "header") first.

Most of us are capable of going from thought to English directly. When 
you're also able to go from thought to Klingon directly, then you should 
never notice any need to change "modes", if I understand correctly your 
reference to modes.

Anyway, having said all that, I'll emphasize that it's just as educational to 
translate other people's text as it is your own into Klingon, so long as your 
intent is to translate their ideas, not their words. Likewise, it won't help 
you at all to restrict yourself to translating your own "ideas" if you are 
still getting hung up on the words.

Someone writes:
>> Hol wIlo'qu'taHvIS ngugh pabmey 
>> wISovtaH 'ej DIpab, 'ach ngermey DIqellI'meH matlhab. ghovuSQo'.
>"While we very much use language, at that time, we knowing [sic - singular 
>object] grammars and we follow the rules [probably intransitive, but now 
>plural direct object], but in order that we are considering [progressing to 
>foreseeable goal] theories, we are free."

As you can see, this person is committing the error I'm talking about 
-- trying to translate words without regard for their meaning. He comes up 
with gibberish, because that's what mechanical translations yield except in 
the simplest of cases.

Andrew Strader

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