Lost in Linguistics

♪ I want life in every word to the point that it’s absurd. ♪

Communication can only really take place if the following conditions are met: there has to be a speaker, and there has to be a listener. Most people view listening as a passive activity, but when you’re actively listening and focusing your entire attention on what someone is trying to express, communication will be a success. You’ll be able to actually hear what the person is saying, as opposed to just listening to the words and waiting for your turn to speak. Communication is to distribute knowledge, and knowledge naturally wants to flow.

With that in mind, the words you choose to express yourself matter more than most people seem to think. Given the same set of facts, the words used to describe them can totally change the story from a comedy to tragedy. It’s why I try to listen to the words people are using because whether they’re aware of it or not, it will reveal a lot about their character. It’s also why I’ve tried to focus on finding the right words to use when I’m speaking, in order to maximize the chances that someone would actually hear what I’m saying will increase if I am using the right words. The analogy that comes to mind is it will essentially be like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole when you’re not tailoring the words for your intended audience.

Below (hopefully for someone’s enjoyment) is another haphazard attempt on my behalf to translate a portion of a Neruda poem that’s been on my mind lately.

¿Y Cuánto Vive? / And how long does one live?
Spanish English
Cuánto vive el hombre, por fin?
Vive mil días o uno solo?
Una semana o varios siglos?
Por cuánto tiempo muere el hombre?
Qué quiere decir “Para Siempre”?



How long does a man live, ultimately?
Does he live a thousand days or only one?
A week or various centuries?
How long does a man spend dying?
What does it mean to say “Forever”?


PABLO NERUDA (via my translation)

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