Translation and Psychology: The Influence of Language on Thought

Translation and Psychology: The Influence of Language on Thought

Translation with is an intricate process that goes beyond rendering text from one language to another. The language that we speak can contribute to determining or, in any case, very strongly conditioning the way in which we are going to consider and understand reality. This relation of language, thought, and translation gives an interesting look into the human cognitive process.

The Influence of Language on Thought

The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, also referred to as linguistic relativity, is the statement that says our language structures might shape our modes of thought and perception of the world. This is through:

Perception of Time and Space: Time and space would be perceived differently in language descriptions. For example, while Mandarin may use a vertical description that literally places time traditionally and at the same time, English may express it horizontally. The speaker can gain an influence on the perception and conceptualization of time, which could be so subtle.

Color Perception: Some of that sort of research has found that our language might change the way we think, or even categorize the colors. For example, lots of words for different shades of blue in a language mean that the speakers are likely to think about the differences in shades more than speakers of a language for which they have few words for the color blue. Action and Responsibility: How a language may ascribe responsibility in an action might also bear on the perception of this action by its speakers.

For example, “I broke the glass” in Spanish would mean “Se me rompió el vaso” (the glass broke on me). It diffuses the responsibility.

Implications for Translation

The relation of language to thought has momentous implications for the translation process at

Interpreting Meaning: A translator ought to find out the notional force or meaning of words in reference to the cultural, cognitive frameworks giving meaning to the way words are used in utterances. 

Conveying Concepts: Some concepts are easily conveyed from one language to another, and others are hard to transfer due to a lack of a word or phrase equivalent in the target language. In such cases, a translator has to be ingenious enough to transfer correctly such concepts. 

Localizing Content: Localization of content entails making the content appropriate to cultural and language differences that will ensure the meaning is accessible to the target audience. A translator will be at a better platform to localize effectively if he knows that language has a cognitive influence on people.

The interplay between language, thought, and translation is complex and profound. A translator can do the work of transferring meaning in the most appropriate way to another language and culture only if he fully understands how language may determine thought. This serves to allow one to better appreciate the level of expertise and knowledge that lies in the hands of any translator, showing that indeed, their work is an art as much as it is a science.