Friday, November 21, 2014

Lost In Translation

While out on my walk today, I encountered a dog, which seemed to be lost.  She wasn’t very street savvy and kept her distance, even as she continued to follow me. After almost a half hour, she finally came close.  Sadly, her collar lacked any identifying tags.  It made me wish that she could talk.  

When it comes to communication, however, animals are frequently more readable than humans.  Animals don’t pretend and most of us understand the meaning of a dog’s wagging tail or a cat’s outstretched paws.  While psychologists and criminal specialists may be able to read human body signals and detect conflicts between actions and words, most of us frequently fail to interpret these signals correctly. Consider the spouse who is the last to know, or the employee who loses a coveted promotion when a trusted co-worker steals the credit for their ideas.  It’s not always malicious, of course.  Misunderstandings are commonplace among even the closest friends and relatives.

While we may miss some physical clues, we frequently rely on physical expression to interpret a speaker’s words.  The advent of text messaging, email and social media has increased communication problems, due to the absence of these physical cues.    This is compounded, when the text must be translated.  The other day, I was reading a Photoshop tutorial that had been originally written in Chinese.    The results of my browser’s translation were both comical and confusing.   I never was able to complete the tutorial.  It’s no wonder that businesses don’t rely on computerized translations, but seek professional translation services in China and other foreign countries for their contract negotiations.    Those of us, who use the web for personal reasons, will continue to use the frequently flawed computer translations, because that is what is readily available to us.  Though frequently inadequate, the quality is superior to that of early versions and hopefully, it will continue to improve.   

1 comment :

  1. It goes to show how important honest communication is to all of us.