UnLIT: Minimising the Lost in Translation Effect

What it means

Academically, the “lost in translation” effect is the loss of specific nuances from one piece of work when it is translated into another language.

Each language has its own tone and rhythm, its own emphasis and priorities, and its own underpinnings. Even its their own idiosyncrasies. All of these combine to give each language a distinct flavour and nuance. These nuances are intrinsic to the language and cannot be replicated in other languages. Faced with such a word, translators must be content to use the best possible alternative that conveys the sentiment of the original.

What we do

Medianation LLP focusses on factors affecting communication in the same language. This can come about due to two reasons.

The first is when people with similar language skills have a difference in perception. This creates differences in priorities and emphasis, and other subtle intangibles present in the process of communication. Ultimately, the little things add up to reveal that two people who thought they were on the same page are in fact, at opposite ends of the metaphorical book.

The other, bigger reason is that people are often unfamiliar with the language. Such individuals usually end up translating their intent of their messages from their mother tongue. The resulting translation can lead to miscommunication, or restrict understanding.

This effect is especially prevalent in India, where many employees are first-generation English speakers.

India-specific problem

Within these, there are two categories. People with weaker English skills require additional explanation to understand what they are being told. But those with better English skills have a different problem. They understand what they are being told, but fail to grap the implications of what is being said.

The first category creates a known, identifiable barrier to communication that you can overcome by switching to another language, but the second category of individuals is harder to crack. Their grasp of English creates the illusion that they have understood what is being said, but in truth, they remain unsure of expectations. This means they are able to express agreement to a plan, but prove incapable of taking independent action if the need arises. Why? Because although they have understood what you said, they have not understood how they should react to what you said.

The only way to solve problems arising with the second category is to structure your communication, break it down into simple steps and simplify what you are saying. And repeat the exercise a few times, for best results. These people don’t really have an English language problem. (What to know what problem Medianation LLP diagnoses it as? Get in touch!)

Closing words

Thus, Lost in Translation comes about because of a difference in priorities and emphasis, and other subtle intangibles present in the process of communication.

It is a highly subjective, extremely subtle metric that explains the difference between what is felt to have been conveyed and what is understood to have been conveyed.

Medianation LLP focusses on ways to minimise this lost in translation effect. We believe communication is not about what we say, it is about what our audience understands. And our content is developed ground-up, keeping this point in mind.

Ground-up Approach

27 September 2017

It's Good to be Correct, Better to be Understood

27 September 2017