Thursday, September 20, 2012

Language Barriers in Self Expression

Spencer Nystrom (student at Austin College):

"While I am no computer science expert, I’ve learned my fair share of programming languages in my free time. I’ve always found the structure of computer languages fascinating. Some require strict parenthesis placement, others need lots of “$” symbols, and others don’t even need line breaks. But what I find most interesting about computer languages is that they can lack the functionality of another language; in short, it is impossible for some more basic languages to perform some tasks higher-level programming languages can. Different programming languages tend to fill different niches.
Unlike computer languages, German and English (and all other spoken languages) fill the same niche in different areas of the world. Most times, the languages will convey the same meaning, but the way they go about conveying that meaning is completely different. In fact, there are many times where the process of translation will show what someone said, but not what they meant, because the way of saying it doesn’t exist in the other language. This is a rather interesting predicament. Just because two people don’t share the same language doesn’t mean they can’t share the same ideas and feelings, it just means they have to be expressed in different ways to convey the proper meaning. What could be said in a sentence or two in German could take a small paragraph in English to explain. This is why I love learning German; it bridges the gap and allows for a more intuitive understanding of the thoughts and feelings being conveyed than by having them translated.­ It lets ideas connect without being bogged down by interpretation."

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