Cultural References in Translation

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Culture is a heterogeneous term including several aspects of society: any 'product' which has a defined meaning inside a group of people -as a society is- could be considered as a cultural product. Under the light of the modern definition given by anthropologic studies1, culture is a symbolic system which allows people to understand what surrounds them: it consists in a "set of meanings"2 which puts the men forming a group in the condition to be able to comprehend correctly the message.


What makes people a group are not only the affinities of its members, but rather the diversity its members have towards what stands outside of it: the action of culture is similar to the two faces of a wall, which both encloses and, on the other side, protects from what is unknown and obscure, from what is foreign. And the language is the most important (and most efficient) wall a group have to protect its society, its structures and its culture.
As the language is the main vehicle (and product itself) of a culture, it is almost impossible to translate the same cultural reference in a different language: the final result will always be lacking something in the power of the form or in its deep meaning. ...
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