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Reading Languages Para Entender Diferenças

Updated: Jun 1, 2022

*Reading Languages to Understand Differences

Reading across translated and foreign books helps create a connection between language and the diversifying properties of learning new words, not just in the form of picking up new skills but noticing the differences in cultures.

We always hear about using Duolingo and how that little green owl pressures you to learn new words, eventually adding to your skillset. But aren’t there other ways? Well, yes there are! Like any language, understanding what is said and seeing it translated into your language is a great opportunity to not only recognize the word in a foreign language but also understand its meaning.

Translated texts that also contain the original language side-by-side allows for the reader to adopt the skill of recognizing a word and its meaning. This not only helps within the context of understanding what is being said, but also understanding why the phrasing exists. English has metaphorical speech like ‘break a leg’ to provide encouragement and not actual harm which translated into other languages would be peculiar. Words are not always directly translated, and sometimes in diversified languages, a specific word has a different meaning.

Like in Spanish, the word for speak (hablar) is dependent on the sentence it exists in, the time it is being spoken, and who is saying it. Much like English and its changes across the use of tense, language is specific to time, place, and sometimes even cultural significance. However, other languages have even more specified meanings that are so specific to the language of origin that it gives an insight.

Such words like "flâneur," of French origin, cannot be directly translated into English without a long-winded explanation as its meaning is translated to be “one who strolls aimlessly but enjoyably, observing life and their surroundings.” Such a word doesn’t exist in an English translation. We have close words like “wanderer,” but it lacks the aspect of enjoyment as one who wanders isn’t necessarily enjoying their surroundings. Other words can even have a deeper connection with its cultural significance.

The word "saudade", for example. "Saudade" comes from the Portuguese culture signifying a nostalgia characteristic related to Portuguese or Brazilian temperament. It is a word describing a state of emotional nostalgia or intense melancholic longing for someone or something with a deep attachment that is absent. This melancholy yearning is expressed in Portuguese and Brazilian literature and music. No word in English translation is capable of expressing such a feeling without understanding the turmoils of the people that know the word from its culture. So, reading a translated text with its original language of origin provides readers with an opportunity.

This opportunity is the ability to gain an insight into the culture of the literature they have decided to read. Words are not inherently separated from their origin when translated into an understandable language. Instead, the words demystify the author’s life, intentions, and culture to the reader who chose to read their translation. So, diversifying your knowledge by reading translated texts that contain the language of origin provides a stepping stone to understanding difference amidst so many languages, eventually adopting them into your speech and learning.

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