Pearls of Wisdom

Don’t you just love set phrases? Why “Pearls of Wisdom”? Why not “Tears of Wisdom” or “Drops of Wisdom” or even “Fire of Wisdom”? We might even be able to speak of “Pearls of Joy”, “Pearls of Doom” even “Pearls of Wrath”. What is it that sets a liquid phrase into a solid mould? What is it that makes the molten-hot words slowly cool into a form that will remain unchanged for several years – a millenium in lexical terms? Words love to liquefy, change and transform, but every now and again we see a snap-shot of what the language used to be and not what it is now. We see phrases like, well, “goodbye”, which is a derivation of “god be with you” and think about how important religion once was. This is incredibly important for the translator, who has to be aware of language, etymology and culture. It’s not enough to understand a word or phrase, a translator has to ‘know’ a word, really ‘feel’ the word in its context to be able to transplant it into the other language and culture.

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