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Language of Thought and Translation

For someone who is completely bilingual it means that he or she is lucky enough to be able to communicate with anyone who can speak those two languages. This is a gift that many people would love to have but find it far too difficult to acquire. From time to time someone who is bilingual may get asked what language they usually think in.

It appears from research that we do not necessarily choose a certain language to think in but we somehow process our thoughts in a chosen language, such as the German language.

In the translation world the concept of language and thinking is quite important. This is because the translator needs to be able to translate a language not just word by word but to express the correct meaning as this is necessary so that the reader can fully understand the translation.

If a translator wants the targeted audience to understand fully the concepts that have been translated, the right words need to be chosen and examples selected carefully. When a reader reads the text, he or she immediately puts it into a type of picture form so if the words and expressions aren’t translated well, misunderstandings can easily take place for a huge variety of things including colours, political thoughts and religion.  If English is to be translated into German language the translator has to be able to quickly determine the thought processes of the English text so it can be translated into German with exactly the same meaning.

The hypotheses surrounding the language of thought has been very controversial as a few philosophers argue that the language we use in public is our unique mental language. This means an individual who speaks the German language thinks in this language.  However, other intellectuals believe that complex thinking can be found in those who have no access to a public language, such as babies and some types of primates. This theory implies that what is called ‘mentalese’ could be an innate feature.

These ideas relate to anyone who speaks any language, including the German language. When it comes to researching these facts, a lot of data collected is based on observation, not direct communication with the subject.