In this end of the year I’ll talk about something personal. I don’t like generic messages; I think they are empty and meaningless. I’ll talk about something that made me think about the meaning of goodwill and understanding.
My husband took his DNA test: I discovered that I’m married for the past 25 years to someone that has in his genes almost the entire world: Natives from Chile, Ashkenazim Jews, Mongols, South Asians, Senegalese and Cote d'Ivoire people, Irish, Basques, the entire Southern Europe, Germans, Polish, North Africa, Middle East, Eastern Europe, in several percentages in his DNA. The United Nations in 23 chromosomes.
His mitochondria (always passed down through the mother) traveled the globe counterclockwise, across the Bering Strait, and went down the Americas. His Y chromosome (always passed down through the father) traveled the globe clockwise. And they met at the place where my husband was born.
How did this multitude of people, in this succession of individuals, from such disparate locations around the globe, converge into this unique individual? How did different cultures, different languages, different places of birth, all converged into the person married to me? How, in times of slow travel, have such diverse people managed to make themselves understood and live their lives and survive, and ultimately make up my husband’s genome?
He is the DNA of the Babel of what is to be a human being, and he is a whole being and, at the same time, the final period of a succession of individuals who, despite being so disparate, understood each other and were able to communicate and to have children. And so on.
Well, if he is the final period, we have the ellipsis: 3 daughters, also Babels of the father + mother mix (my DNA test comes out this week, I am so excited!).
And what does this relate to translation? Well, if there was no communication in the whole tree of individuals that led into him, there would be no tree per se. Translation is understanding, it is a message understood and passed on, it is communication. It is goodwill. It is hope in having a shared future and a future to be shared.
We don’t need to talk the same language: with translation, the message can be shared.
A message of peace, goodwill, and coexistence with the stranger, the foreigner, the different. The acceptance of the differences that made us, in the end, what we are: human beings.
Merry Christmas and a Great New Year for all, from my heart. I hope that in 2020 we can foster more understanding and goodwill among human beings.
Bonus: Our boys also came to wish a Merry Christmas to all!