I want to dedicate this entry to something very interesting and influential in my life, and that is the concept of what some call “untranslatable words/phrases”. Basically, it’s what it sounds like: a word or phrase deemed untranslatable into a target language. The reason I find this to be an important part of my life is because I’ve realized that differences in culture cause many ailments in global society such as confusion and misunderstanding, which can lead to ignorance and hate. People don’t often understand that by immersing yourself into another culture you are not necessarily taking in the customs. In fact, someone could live in another country for years and still remain grudgingly ignorant of why the people there do the things they do. It is only within the power of oneself to open the mind and accept that differences are natural and attempt to comprehend a completely alien lifestyle. I believe that the most useful tool to achieve this could be language. In studying linguistics it is clear that language is laid heavily with culture. This may seem obvious, but oftentimes it’s the last place people seek apprehension. Think about it: language is what humans use to convey concepts to one another. If two societies are so radically different, they will not possess similar concepts. Therefore, communication would be rendered almost impossible on many levels. Note: I peppered in “almost” for a reason. By learning a language and immersing oneself in a culture with an open mind, it is possible to bridge chasms. The title of this entry is 审美疲劳 (shěnměi píláo) which means something along the lines of, “Seeing so much beauty that one does not appreciate it anymore.” You can find one-syllable words to signify entire concepts that would take a paragraph to articulate in English. Think about why. Societal weight has everything to do with words such as these. In a place where it’s important to know the gender of a person you’re talking about, you’ll have words like “she/he, him/her” and language markers within your idiolect to show which gender group you identify with. In a culture where this is less important, these words and markers will be absent. You can also learn from the pragmatic (culturally correct, if you will) use of language such as, what questions do you first ask when you meet a person? If you ask about school and work, those things obviously hold weight in that society. If you immediately ask about how many children and what type of livestock they have, then that dictates what is important in that society.
Many of you probably already know all this and that’s awesomesauce, but I like to talk about these things. They remind me who I am and what I want to do in life. I have an unappeasable desire to understand the world and its people. I really think that with more understanding of each other, we can one day have world peace. Okay, well, probably not world peace… but trust me, things would be better! So think about something you don’t know about a culture. Like, “Why do people bow to one another as a greeting in some countries?” or “What is the significance behind never cutting your hair in certain religions?” Do some research. Try to understand. Maybe next time when you see it, you can really appreciate the meaning behind our differences.