In 1983 Howard Gardner put forward his theory of multiple intelligences which sent shock waves through the educational system in the 1980s and 1990s. The repercussions of Gardner’s theory are still being felt today. What was this theory? In short, Howard Gardner believed that there was more to an individual’s intelligence than one single ability or skill. In his Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences he put forward several different types of intelligence. He refined his ideas over the years concluding that there are seven forms of intelligence.
An individual with heightened bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence might be well coordinated, have a keen sense of balance, be strong, flexible and sporty. People with high bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence may become sports-people, dancers, actors, doctors or soldiers.
Someone who has interpersonal intelligence is typically able to interpret other people’s moods and intentions, they are sensitive to other people and are often natural leaders, successful speakers, sales people, managers and teachers.
Intrapersonal intelligence is marked by introspection. Individuals with this types of intelligence are self-reflective and are able to understand their own emotions, desires and limitations. Such people make good philosophers, psychologists, and scientists.
Logical-mathematical intelligence, as the name suggests, can be defined as the ability to understand numbers and logical concepts, be able to reason, and think abstractly. Mathematicians, scientists, economists and programmers fall into this category.
Individuals who possess musical intelligence can understand and express musical forms, they are sensitive to rhythm and have a keen sense of hearing. Those with musical intelligence may be most suited to careers as musicians, singers, DJs, composers and even writers.
People who have heightened spatial intelligence are extremely sensitive to shapes and colours and are able to easily visualise objects. People gifted with spatial intelligence often make good architects, artists, map-makers and engineers.
Last but not least comes linguistic intelligence; a key factor, one would think, for linguists, translators and language specialists. Interestingly, actors, lawyers, philosophers, teachers and politicians are also thought to have this form of intelligence in abundance. People with linguistic intelligence are often said to notice grammatical mistakes, they enjoy word games, puns, learning foreign languages and often have large collections of books.
Is this really the case? Do all linguists and translators share a common level of linguistic intelligence? Is there a level of linguistic intelligence above which one will always be regarded as linguistically skilled? Must one posses this level to become a linguist and/or translators? More importantly, can the other intelligences be important to the work of a translator?