We are all translators

By | October 7, 2020

My area of work is not humanities but rather IT; it may seem strange to be here talking about translation. But, in reality, I have come to realize for some time now that what I do is, in effect, a form of translation.

As a programmer, I take as input the requirements for a program in human language and translate them into an intermediate language, the source code. Then, with the help of a special program called Compiler, this source code is, again, translated into binary language, a language the computer understands. This is how we get the desired output, a program that performs the desired task according to specified requirements.

Similarly, a translator takes as input a text in one language and translates it into a different language (the output).

However, the world of translation does not end here. We are constantly translating in our personal and professional lives: when we read, we translate a written text (with all its symbols) into its abstract representation to interpret it. When we speak, we translate our ideas into sounds that others, when they listen, translate back into ideas that can be understood.

In reality, our brain is nothing more than a complex translation machine that translates sound waves, light waves and electrical signals from our skin, nose and tongue into something we can understand as the world around us, with all its sounds, colours and movement.

We are all, in the end, translators.

Luis Rodrigues, System Administrator

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