Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Continuing the translation-related stream of thoughts...What is, ultimately, the purpose of translation? According to Hofstadter, a thought could be seen as the specific itinerary via the (sub)network of active symbols (with all traffic scrupulously recorded). Along with this, we have to realize:
- there is no other network like this one;
- the author of the thought (be in in the form of a novel, a piece of poetry or even a phrase) does not necessarily perceive in all detail what was the purpose of all this and what the implications might be;
- ultimately, if to take this utterly seriously one will find himself / herself in the situation of S.B.Odin from Strugatsky's book 'Monday begins on Saturday', who, as we remember, knew how to perform every possible miracle, but was not able to really do anything, because it was never possible to satisfy all conditions!

Therefore, we can never expect the translation to be ultimately perfect. It simply cannot be, because no two human beings possess the same symbol network. The interesting question therefore is, what is the threshold of the information loss. How much information can be preserved when transmitted from one human being to another? How much information should really be preserved? (What if the noise is part of any thought, like virtual particles cloud is part of any "real" particle - sure we don't have to translate the noise?..)

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