How To Translate

Revisiting this

I essentially want to be a connector. To be the spinal cord that bridges the gap between the intelligent brain and the strong body. By that I don’t just mean intellectuals / working class. Any group that’s disconnected and whose skills and resources are complementary. Young and old. Men and women. Parents and non-parents.

I initially wrote, “I essentially only want to be a connector.” Thinking that, well, I would only be bringing the original thoughts of people who are smarter than me to people who are less smart than me. But a body is entirely paralyzed without the function of the spinal cord. Even when the body parts themselves are totally functional, the absence of the connection renders them useless.

Since that sounds much too egotistical, let me say: I want to be a neuron that makes up a spinal cord.

I want to help get this body moving and alive again.


The spinal cord translates the neural impulses of the brain into physical action. The spinal cord is a translator. 

I will translate things like this:

Even if writers are aware of their masculine pronoun usage, they may assume that readers understand the usage as hypothetical and not gender-determinative. However, there have been studies that evidence the masculine pronoun’s tendency to evoke masculine images in readers’ minds (see Gastil’s 1990 study “Generic Pronouns and Sexist Language: The Oxymoronic Character of Masculine Generics”). With the threat of such latent biases seeping through our writing into our readers’ minds, what are our options to make our writing more gender neutral? … If you once referred to a group of people, then why shouldn’t they function as a single person, especially given the demand for gender-neutral pronoun identities in a world that is becoming increasingly less defined by a gender binary?

To this:

“He / him” is the default when the gender of the subject isn’t specified, which obviously isn’t very nice to the “shes” and “hers” of the world who also exist and are also people. I found “they” and “he or she” too unwieldy, so now I just use “she” as my default. Instead of complaining, perhaps other concerned writers could just do that until “he” and “she” are both used randomly. Seems fair.

My translation actually contains more than the original, because I have an actionable solution and the other writer is just waffling about.

I have a hatred of the languages of both academia and low pop culture because they necessarily exclude each other. They’re both not conducive to communication of ideas. Low pop culture language is conducive to insulting and gossiping, and academic language is conducive to making smart people sound like twats that few other people can understand, which I guess makes them feel smarter.

The method of translation that I find useful beyond all others is metaphor. Learned from Jason Pargin and TLP, of course. Take a situation that the audience already understands (ex., again, “You’re not to blame for the snow falling, but you’re still responsible for shoveling your driveway”) and equate it to the situation you’re trying to explain to them (“You’re not to blame for the problems of society, but you’re still responsible for helping to solve them.”).

The understanding is instantly transferred.


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