The term ‘culture’ addresses three salient categories of human activity: the ‘personal,’ whereby we as individuals think and function as such; the ‘collective,’ whereby we function in a social context; and the ‘expressive,’ whereby society expresses itself.
Language is the only social institution without which no other social institution can function; it therefore underpins the three pillars upon which culture is built.
Translation, involving the transposition of thoughts expressed in one language by one social group into the appropriate expression of another group, entails a process of cultural de-coding, re-coding and en-coding. As cultures are increasingly brought into greater contact with one another, multicultural considerations are brought to bear to an ever-increasing degree. Now, how do all these changes influence us when we are trying to comprehend a text before finally translating it? We are not just dealing with words written in a certain time, space and socio-political situation; most importantly it is the “cultural” aspect of the text that we should take into account. The process of transfer, i.e., re-coding across cultures, should consequently allocate corresponding attributes vis-a-vis the target culture to ensure credibility in the eyes of the target reader.
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