Linguistic: Fyodor Dostoyevsky and Famous Sapir-whorf Hypothesis Essay

Submitted By susanjuly
Words: 641
Pages: 3

“Learn a new language and get a new soul” ------Czech Proverb
It is hard to imagine a world without languages. As human beings, we depend on languages to interact with the world, to function in our daily lives, and to flourish in our our culture. Thinking and language intricately intertwine, and languages have impact on the way we think and perceive the world. The famous Sapir-Whorf hypothesis holds that the language we speak determines how we perceive and think about the world. To say that languages determine the way we think is much too strong, but they do influence our thinking. Thus it is one of the factors that make literature translations much harder than they seem to be. A good translation requires not only needs to contain the same content meanings, but also has to include the intangible expressions or characteristics that the author expressed in the content. One of my favorite book series is Harry Potter. My mom got an original English version of the Seven Deathly Hallows for me when I was in high school. Since it was the first time I ever read an English version of Harry Potter and since my English was not good enough to understand even half if it at the time, I had to use the dictionary throughout reading the book. After looking up the meanings of words, I could connect the sentences together and understood the context. However, I felt that I was not fully into the storyline. Later, I purchased an official Chinese translated version and started reading it. During the reading, I compared some sentences in the Chinese version to the same sentences in the English version, and started to realize that I perceived things a little bit different between two versions. In the English version, the author used lot of British humors and dialects to reflect the characters’ personalities and characteristics, which made it very hard for me to perceive and understand. On the other hand, the translator of the Chinese version not only translated British English into Chinese, but also organized them in a way so that the Chinese readers could perceive the same things, such as the humors and characteristics of characters.
Here is another example of how linguistic determinism makes literature translation very difficult. The Brothers Karamazov written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky is one of the most famous novels literature field. In English, the translation by Constance Garnett is probably the most widely read but even so, there are still critics who question her translation strategies. For example, the