Multiculturalism is an objective all humanity works towards. It has existed, in some form or another, from the dawn of civilization but today, when the cultures of the world are distinctly placed on their permanent tiers, it is all the more evident. Then you pick up a book written by a foreign writer, the last thing you think about is the process that book went through for you to be able to read it. For all you know, it’s a product of your own culture, even though that writer was born thousands of miles away.
To a certain extent, that writer becomes a multicultural entity through the fact that you can read what he/she has written. And this would not be possible without a practice you probably deem trivial: translation.
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No translation = no multiculturalism
Even from the most ancient ages of mankind, materials were translated to and fro. The flux of translated material was equal to the flux of material that was translated and given in exchange.
Even the Bible, the most famous book in history, was translated time and again until it reached the form it has today. The point is: absolutely every piece of paper, regardless of whether it’s from a newspaper, magazine or book, eventually goes through a translation process.
Most of the information that’s on it was probably translated anyway. Countries exchange not only goods but intellectual products, too. Without translation, there would be no multiculturalism, and that’s a fact that cannot be negated.
A gigantic industry
Translation is among the most fructuous industries of the moment. Unbelievable amounts of materials are translated 24/7 by millions of translators worldwide. That novel information is then processed by a country then translated by another.
It’s less likely that you’d have a favorite book were it not for translation. Can you imagine a world without translation? Neither can us. You’d have to spend your entire life learning new languages, which isn’t feasible, to say the least.
Thanks to translators, you can indulge in reading books written in the original languages of their authors. Maybe it sounds far-fetched for some, but we owe our development as a race to translation.
The fact that this sounds like a sophism makes it no less true. If you think about it, information – just like energy – never dies. It only takes another form. A book that cannot be found in a country, for example, as a translation, can still be found in the original language.
That can be applied to the entire bulk of knowledge from the moment it became a constant of human life to today, when you can translate an entire book with a more or less accurate translation software.
How then, could translation not play a crucial role in multiculturalism? Various cultures merge into one another through gateways of language, before anything else. There is an endless flux of material between countries and their distinct cultures.
Even the very definition of multiculturalism as “the coexistence of various cultures” warrants giving translation the credit it deserves.
We often think of translation as something trivial that we could do without. Wrong. Few things would be possible without it. You’d have to write the books you’d want to read, write music that you want to be able to understand, etc.
In the modern age, everything is based on translation. It is the leading mechanism in the diffusion of knowledge all throughout the world. Perhaps we should not look at translation, then, as a low-rank job, but one that is more important than any other.
Hope this cleared things a bit, because they ought to be transparent.