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Republicans are against free speech? How poor interpretation can mislead…

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Those who follow my book and my blog, know that I pick up on things most people leave unnoticed. With the Presidential election getting closer, I want to talk to you about politics, but from a very unique perspective,

“the meaning that got lost in translation.”

I am almost fifty years old. The first half of my life I lived in former USSR. I turned twenty-five when I was already in Los Angeles, California, USA. In the process of learning English, here in the U.S., I began to notice words that sounded familiar, but were actually not familiar. For example, the English word, Democracy sounds in Russian as Demokratia. Since I was raised during Russian State censorship of free speech, Western Democracy to a common Russian/Slavic folk simply meant Ability to speak without censorship.

In the United States, we have many people who came here from Russia or other Slavic-speaking countries. In the mind of the Russian/Slavic-speaking people, as far as I know, the principle tenets of the Democratic party get confused with freedom of speech. The word Democracy comes from the Greek Demokratia “rule of the people which was coined from (dēmos) “people” and (kratos) “power”, in the middle of the 5th-4th century BC. In such system of government, freedom of speech is essential. Although the tenets of the Democratic party are not all exclusively focused on the freedom of speech, an argument can be made that the two terms are somehow connected.

Well, be that as it may, how do you think Russian/Slavic speaking people would translate the term, Republican? The word Republic sounds in Russian as Respublika, a territory where the public share something in common. I know this is a “little” far from the values of the Republican Party. But, it gets even more interesting. The Soviet Union had fifteen republics. They were named after the nationality of people who lived there. So, other than “a territory where people have something in common” to average Russian folk the American word Republican did not carry any additional meaning. That is, until you start talking politics. Please, sit down. Here is the “logical,” notice, logical is not “literal” translation. If Democrats advocate freedom of speech and Republicans are at odds with them, therefore, Republicans must be against freedom of speech…

The words and terms have not changed in centuries. People from foreign countries take translation the easy way, if it sounds similar, it must be the same thing, with a different pronunciation. That’s how, for far too many people today, the term Republican began to mean, “Against free speech.”

Now, forget all those from Russia and other Slavic States. It’s not about the native tongue as much as it is about the home where you lived when you were young. Much of early education is done by the time you reach five years old. You may not know the terms, or words, but you know and copy emotional reaction to these words from your parents. But, unless you’ve embarked on the path of self-discovery, as you mature, you gain knowledge about terms, but your emotional reaction to them remains what was already programmed into you earlier. This is how, generation after generation, people transmit the meaning of the words, even when the meanings are not only wrong, incomplete, or inaccurate, but when these meanings have nothing to do with those words.

Do some legwork and find out for yourself what people mean when they say “I like the Democratic Party.” And then, ask them “What about the Republican Party?” I predict that people, who are sixty and older will tell you things about the tenets of the Democratic and Republican parties that have as much in common to the real meaning of these words as Chinese fortune cookie to American apple pie.

And you thought it was tough to win people over to your way of thinking. Now, try to keep in mind that what they have in mind about “X” and what you have in mind about “Y” are not simply at opposite ends of one line. Their meaning for “X” and your meaning for “Y” are not even in the same plane. No wonder, people would sooner replace a spouse and switch religion than change their political views. Before pulling someone closer to your side of thinking, you have to establish what planet they come from, and on what planet you are at. Happy pulling.


Alexander Nestoiter, author of:

Incredible Ah-ha Moments: Ideas you won’t stop talking about

Posted by Incredible Ah-Ha Moments at 3/31/2012 5:27 AM 
Categories: language
Tags: politics language translation Republican Democrat lost meanings