What is Linguistic Untranslatability?

Scribers International


What is the difference between translation and interpretation? The difference is very straightforward. Translation is written while interpretation is oral. Our blog topic today touches on the former and its importance in the globalized world that we live in right now. When translating, translators represent the conduit of passing information back and forth, from language source to language source. This involves understanding cultural and linguistic elements of both languages. This understanding is critical because untranslatability can happen due to different reasons.

For linguistic translatability to occur, languages must share common linguistic expression so that the same meaning is retained. For instance, Mandarin speakers tend to greet people by saying, “你吃飽了嗎?” which literally means “Have you eaten?”. Even though the Mandarin greeting can be easily translated into English – “Have you eaten?”, the same meaning (of greeting people) is not evoked in English. To English speakers, this might sound odd because…

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