How Languages Shaped Who I Am

陳宇祺 Interpretation Track

          When I was a kid, I would spend hours a day watching documentaries about how the wildebeests escape from the deathly jaws of crocs or identifying creatures on the encyclopedia. I bet my parents took pride in raising a scientist-to-be. After all, it was a dream that came up to scratch for a Taiwanese child — and I could have never foreseen myself growing up to be a language lover.

          My father was a manager who often worked on an expat package. Thus, I spent most of my childhood years in Malaysia, Singapore, and China. All the while, I didn’t realize I was learning different languages and experiencing different cultures. School was just school, and people are just who they are whatever their colors and religions might be. It wasn’t until high school when I returned to Taiwan and noticed the many aspects of language, such as its history, aesthetics, and rules. Though I continued to study in the science track (Group III), I was determined to discover more about language at college, as I did after entering NCCU.

          For me, language is about transcoding thoughts into observable signs and decoding the signs into internal knowledge; from a larger perspective, it is the rule of mutual acceptance and the philosophy of human nature. I loved literature and linguistic studies, so I was torn between these two fields when I decided to obtain a master’s degree. After consulting with my professor, I chose the translation field based on these reasons. First, the degree and training from this field could give me access to more job opportunities. What’s more, it is possible to combine the studies of literature and linguistics in this field. The act of translation has been practiced ever since people started to communicate with each other. It is an innate act to attempt mutual understanding, and there are mechanisms that made this practicable, whereas the results of translating are also works that could be appreciated. From a broader aspect, translation is the language that communicates different cultures – it is language itself and an act of greater significance. Therefore, I see the potential for translation theories to be applied to the industries, such as machine translation or language acquisition.

          In my first semester, I chose to attend all required courses for freshman year just to stick to the suggested curriculum. In addition, I took a course offered by the Graduate Institute of Linguistics on cognitive linguistics to have it attested as my specialized field. Courses offered by our institute have been very fruitful for me, and each of them provides a different aspect of translation studies. During Chi-Eng and Eng-Chi Translation courses, I have plenty of time to experiment with the many methods of translation on different texts, which are selected by the professors, and have in-depth discussions with the teachers and classmates in every class. While these two courses focus on the practice of translation, Contrastive Analysis and Translation provides the students with a more organized method to inspect the differences between translations of all kinds of context and purposes. Lastly, Sight Translation train students to apply comprehensive methods during their translations consciously, which is much more demanding than translating on paper. In conclusion, the courses are all connected with one another in some way, making translation much more complicated but fascinating as it already is.

          With 16 hours of class and 12 hours of work on the weekly schedule, I find it extremely difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the first month after school started. After rescheduling my daily routine, I find that the best way to keep a healthy mindset and mental state is to exercise more and meet with friends more, which is on the contrary of what most people might think. Surprisingly, I get a lot of me-time from exercising at the gym and commuting on my scooter. And I always make sure I spend more quality time with my friends, such as chatting or playing volleyball, instead of attending events and traveling with detailed plans. In other words, keeping things simple, regular, and calming is my key to a healthier life.

          To sum up, I’d say that entering GPTI is a decision that I’ll never regret. The professors and curriculum allow the students to explore what they are interested in and encourage students to train their senses of words and sentences. I feel genuine freedom from my weekly assignments when I’m translating, and I feel that I’m gaining better understanding in myself. If language is a path, then I’m assured that it’s taking me somewhere I’ll love.