Words have power. Words influence. Subvert. Radicalise. But what if that was just scratching the surface? What if the right word could hack the source code of your brain …and what if it fell into the wrong hands?
A brief reflection: I consider myself lucky to speak and read several languages. Picking up Temeraire in Dutch has made two things clear: firstly, my Dutch isn’t as rusty as I think! Secondly, the staggering cognitive load of reading in a foreign language. I understand everything as I read it (I don’t actively translate along in my head), but it takes my full concentration. All that grey matter normally deployed on sifting implications and judging characters is focused on basic meaning instead.
It’s good to be reminded on a regular basis what a difference reading in your mother tongue makes. I have ALL THE RESPECT for my friends who read books in English as a foreign language and make it look easy. Now lets take a moment to consider authors who write their works in a second language. People, you are AMAZING. Never forget it.
Lastly, did you know that the Dutch word for ‘pacing’ (as in around a cabin) translates literally as ‘polar bearing’? OMINOUS, much? I love Dutch.
Do you ever read in a language that isn’t your mother tongue?
A pre-Babelfish translation comedy.
A charming reprint of a 19th century instructional, intended to help Portuguese students learn English. Given the Portuguese authors didn’t actually speak English, unintended hilarity.
When evidence is uncovered suggesting humanity was seeded on Earth by extraterrestrials, a tiny crew of specialists is sent on a one-way mission into deep space to find our makers. Pulled out of stasis ahead of schedule, the team find that first contact is no easier when you’re the advanced, space-faring aliens.