According to an online dictionary website, it is defined as “a written communication in a second language having the same meaning as the written communication in a first language”
I believe this is the most fundamental definition we know all along. However, if we ponder further, we will know that translation does not only mean written communication. Translation could also mean bring two different cultures closer to understanding each other.
When we go to a foreign place, where the language or culture is not anything near to our own, we feel uncertain or even fearful of them as we do not understand them. However through a local guide, who acts as a bridge between two cultures, we learn and appreciate them.
One example is in a village located in Papua New Guinea, boys going on to manhood have to go through a “cane-swallowing” ritual, whereby cane as thick as 1cm in diameter is bent and to be swallowed, pushed down the throat, all the way to the pit of the stomach, and pulled out. In this process, they suffer internal bleeding. If it is not successful, they may die.
As people who live in culture and developed cities, we find this very inhumane and wonder why they are crazy enough to even want to go through it. But as we learn from the guide, we realize that this is part of their culture and it is an important chapter of their lives. Only after going through the ritual and the boys “truly become man” and be able to build their own houses and go out of the village to make a living. Only through the bleeding can they “purge out” their mothers’ blood that is within them and be independent. It may seem primitive, but it is their way of living.
Cross culture understanding helps bring everyone closer to each other, hence become One People. In closure, we know that without the correct translation, life-changing ritual such as this will only remain as a hideous scene to us.