“Illegible Stamps & Untranslatables” - Introducing Our Recurring Subheader

TONE translates nearly everything, except for

  • illegible stamps
  • handwritten comments in an language's own version of “cursive” or “shorthand”
  • illegible signatures
  • country seals
  • official government slogans on letterhead
  • proper nouns
  • words whose meaning cannot fully be expressed except in the original language (untranslatables) like the word Croissant. Can you really describe what this is with words like fluffy buttery bread?

and….the list could go on.

Now you’re probably thinking, with that “blitzkrieg” (lightening war - which doesn’t really mean anything in English but makes sense if we just use the German word) of things you can’t translate isn’t TONE - translation of nearly everything- false advertising? The truth is that not every concept in one language can be successfully explained in another language. Think of all those moments in life when your mind can not seem to effectively connect to your mouth and whatever you’re really feeling can not ever be truly expressed. That’s an untranslatable.

Translation is not just converting one language to another language word for word, it’s actually convening the concept and meaning of a phrase, a sentence, a word from the culture whose language the source document is written in, to the culture that wants to understand that concept. Sometimes one group of people has no way to accurately convey to another group of people the exact meaning of a word they use because it comes from their lived experience as a community and only someone having lived their same experience would fully understand the significance of the word. A good example is the word “sobremesa” from the Spanish, meaning the time spent after a meal sitting around and talking to other people who have shared the meal with you.

This has been an introduction to a recurring subheader theme that you will see throughout our blog posts.

Check back soon for “Tale 1 of Illegible Stamps & Untranslatable's”.


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