Bridging Remote Cultures

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Bridging Remote Cultures

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Title: Bridging Remote Cultures
Cross-lingual concept mapping based on the information receiver’s prior-knowledge
Author: Glückstad, Fumiko Kano
Abstract: A Japanese acquaintance who has been living in Denmark for more than 40 years formulated his difficult mission of undertaking translation tasks in the following way: “Once I deeply understood the two cultures [Denmark and Japan] and the cultural differences/nuances of conceptual meanings existing in the two countries, it became impossible for me to translate culturally-specific terms into the other language. Existing language resources [dictionaries etc.] are in this context useless”. What he was frustratingly expressing is that it becomes virtually an impossible task to precisely translate or convey the meaning of a Culturally-Specific Concept (CSC) if no exact equivalent concept exists in the Target Language (TL) culture. Despite this inherent frustration, communicators or translators are still required to convey such CSCs into a TL in an optimal manner such that a TL reader can instantly infer the original meaning of a given Source Language (SL) concept. In short, the key issue is whether there can be found a way to solve this inherently frustrating situation which even skilled human translators cannot easily cope with ? The challenge of translating CSCs from an SL is not only caused by the absence of equivalent concepts in a TL culture, but also due to differences of the background knowledge possessed by the two parties involved in a cross-cultural communication scenario. Sperber & Wilson (1986) emphasize that, although all humans live in the physical world, mental representations are constructed differently due to differences in our close environment and our different cognitive abilities. Because people use different languages and have mastered different concepts, the way they construct representations and make inference is also dissimilar. Since an individual possesses a total cognitive environment that is the set of facts based on his/her perceptual ability, inferential ability, actual awareness of facts, knowledge he/she has acquired and so on, it is much easier to achieve a so-called “asymmetric” coordination between communicator and audience (Sperber & Wilson, 1986)....
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10398/8546
Date: 2012-10-24

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