Tok Language Essay

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“Words are more treacherous and powerful than we think.” Evaluate the extent to which the characteristics Sartre claims for words affect negatively and positively different areas of knowledge.

To what extent does the existence of different languages and the need for their translation create problems for the acquisition of knowledge?

According to Sartre, words carry more power than we think and have the ability to betray their proper meanings. Words, or in a broader sense, language, is far more powerful than we give it credit for and is ambiguous in its nature to either be powerful in a good way or treacherous. When language is translated properly and knowledge is acquired successfully, language is powerful. However, when there are problems with translation and the original meaning of the words becomes garbled, language becomes treacherous. Now that we are aware of this fact about language, we need to make a calculated decision on the degree of negative effect translation has on the acquisition of knowledge. There are contextual losses, untranslatable words, and idioms. When we examine the losses as a result of translation, the extent to which the existence of different languages and the need for their translation creates problems for the acquisition of knowledge is great. As the Italians say, Traduttore traditore, ‘the translation is a traitor’” (Van de Lagemaat 63). First of all, each of us has a special relationship to our own native language and this relationship makes us “assume that it fits reality like a glove”. However, when we learn a second language, “one of the things [we] discover is that different languages divide the world up in different ways” (Van de Lagemaat 61). When translating words from one language to another, you “will not get a workable translation but gobbledygook” (Van de Lagemaat 61). This is when translation creates problems for the acquisition of knowledge. When something is being translated, there are three basic rules that...
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