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Thursday, 3 September 2015
Grooming and Language

Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything,
David Bellos, Penguin, 2011, page 348

In our last look at David Bellos' book on translation techniques, he points out that among the larger primates, grooming performs the mechanisms of organising society, of setting rank, relationship, privilege and so on. But at a cost - time. The practical limit on group size is about 55, simply because there is not enough time to meet, groom and be groomed by, and remember more than that numbeer. Bellos go on:

There is a striking fit between this picture of social construction among primates and the people actually talk. Articulated language allows the group size to increase greatly, but not indefinitely. The way any individual talks is part of his identity as a member of a specific community, defined by region, area, city, maybe even street, and certainly by clan or family ... to put this broad understanding in a nutshell: language is ethnicity ... and that means: how a social group constitutes and identifies itself.

So do we as believers/Britains/Americans/Jews have a language or 'dialect' of our own? Does that communicate to other people - are we even aware of how it does or doesn't communicate? Do we respond correctly to the translation gotchas that can block or trip up effective communication of our message and even of ourselves?

Posted By Jonathan, 1:16pm Comment Comments: 0