I found a fun questionnaire on this blog and decided to use it to ‘close’ 2011 on Wonderland. This year was exceptionally full of travelling, for which I feel grateful. I went somewhere almost every month. I visited 3 continents, 12 countries (6 of them – for the first time) and 21 cities. True, I didn’t blog on Wonderland much, as there were so many things to do and so much to share on my Lithuanian blog. The loss of the possibility to interact with my readers on Cafe Babel blogs was also very discouraging, and this is why I started cross-posting. Anyway, let’s hope the next year will be equally interesting and less busy. Continue reading
Have you ever noticed that the best compliment students give their professors is something along these lines: “S/he is capable of explaining complicated things in such a simple manner”? Teaching and research, as well as the media, is often about translation: from specific to abstract, from sound/view to words, from one culture to another. And some scientists work very hard to translate everyday language to the language they share with their colleagues. Two examples from Economics:
1. You take a simple sentence, such as “People migrate if it’s worth it and if they want it” and translate it into
Source: Eurofound. 2007. Factors determining international and regional migration in Europe. Dublin: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions.
2. You take an everyday concept, such as “higher salary”, and translate it to “higher rental rate on a unit of human capital stock”. Other examples: human language: “emigrees are caught in a dilemma: staying in the host country and earning more money, or returning and spending the money already saved” -> economics language: “each unit of time spent abroad increases his lifetime utility by raising his total consumption possibilities, but it decreases lifetime utility by reducing the time available for consumption at home”.
On the other hand, other social sciences, such as Sociology and Anthropology, are not immune to such translations either. For example, “[Research subjects] actively engage with, negotiate and redefine [research topic] as they exercise their agency” means “Hey, I’m not claiming that people’s actions are determined by impersonal powers and structures, got that?” Something like “In some cases/ contexts X may be interpreted as Y” translates as “Don’t blame me for making generalisations about X”. Also, it’s a must to start an article with something like “X can be very diverse and is experienced depending on one’s individual background. The experience of X can be A or non-A”. This also means “Did you think I would dare to generalise about X or people’s experience of X? But since we’re doing science here, just a little…”
Prague is probably by far the most known and popular city in Central and Eastern Europe, with hordes of tourists and large numbers of exchange and full degree students. Some people know Prague as a city of sophisticated culture, the birthplace of Franz Kafka. Others associate it with nightlife and youth. It appears that Prague fell victim of its own success. The city is continuously being reshaped and damaged by the flows of tourism, and locals are losing a sense that the city belongs to them. Continue reading