Due to the new pandemic, our reality has changed drastically in a matter of weeks. The usual routines were shattered, and what seems to be a quick-paced scenario of a quasi-apocalyptic film generates new concepts and hence neologisms.
For example, a blend of “information” and “epidemic” gives us a new concept – “infodemic”, meaning an over-abundance of information – some accurate and some not – that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it.
Now that the word Brexit – the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union – and all its lexicon are so anchored in our everyday discussions and news, it seems unbelievable that the term was coined only in 2012 and didn’t enter the Oxford English Dictionary until 2016.
Let’s have a look at a few words and expressions brought to life by this political reality (or should I say reality show?)
In 2017, following the 90th anniversary of Antoine Saint Exupéry, a series of newspapers claimed that after its translation into the 300th language, Hassanya, “The Little Prince” became the world’s most translated literary work.
Indeed, this novella was translated into a maddening number of languages and dialects, some of which — like Aymara, Guarani, Quechua, Ancient Greek, Sanskrit, Ancient Egyptian, or Latin — cannot be called very common meta-languages.
Probably every translator at some point had to ask for more context and knows that it is not rare to receive a bewildered look in answer to this question. Translators’ obsession with context even became an Internet meme. However, is it so weird to ask for more context? A couple of days I go a came across a vivid illustration of the importance of having more context.
The allusion to chemistry, and even to the ancient and almost forgotten alchemy, implied by this site’s name is no coincidence. What does this exact science, and even more so the enigmatic alchemy, have in common with the seemingly trivial task of translation? – you will ask. First of all, ideal translation is as hard to elaborate and persistently sought for as the mystic philosopher's stone, a quest for which occupied minds of alchemists during centuries and gave birth to multiple legends and novels.