Orientalism, Occidentalism and Translators

The Silk Road

The Silk Road

Before proceeding any further in the writing, it would be apt to explain the meanings of the two terms we would be using in this article, namely, Orientalism and Occidentalism. Orientalism is from the word “orients” which means the countries of Asia and particularly Easy Asia. Orientalism then implies the characteristics of the people of Asia. Similarly Occidentalism is from the word “Occident”, which means the West or countries of Europe and America. Occidentalism suggests the characteristics of the people of Europe and America and their literature, customs and language as well. Edward Said has conducted deep research in his book “Orientalism—Western Conceptions of the Orient”, trying to see the connection between the people belonging to both the Eastern and Western words, not to mention the factors that attract them toward each other. History shows us that the Westerners have had their interest in the orient, which complemented their own culture. To maintain this mysterious fascination which people of both worlds have for each other, language has played its role. The language barriers have not let the Occidentals fully understand the orientals and vice versa. But much of the Eastern literature has been translated in the West and there are many translations available from the Western literature in the East.

As Edward W. Said maintains, the Orient has  a special place in the European western experience. It is to be noticed hereby, that historians, sociologists and anthropologists have seen a difference between the perception of the Americans towards the Orient and the perception of French, British, Spanish, Portuguese, Russians, Italians and Swiss towards the Orient. For the former, Orient comprises for the Far East (mainly China and Japan), but for the latter, Orient is the name of an ideology and a mystery which they have always wanted to unravel. In order to understand this Orientals and the myths associated with them, Occidentals have explored their literature, translated their stories and delved deeply into their poetry. More than the mystery, the Orient is a vital part of the material civilization and culture.

orient-trade-europe“The  Orient is not only adjacent to Europe; it is also the place of Europe’s greatest and richest and oldest of colonies, the source of its civilizations and languages, its cultural contestant, and one of its deepest and most recurring images of the Other.”

And now when we look at the mingling of both the worlds, whether it be for trade and commerce or for investment (in the modern times), we come to see how both the worlds are mutually dependent on each other. The language gaps the people experience have been mitigated by the help of translators and the translation services they provide. In the modern world, people are less enthusiastic to go through the ordeal of learning a language, especially when they can have other aids like translators and interpreters. For the West, Orient has been an enterprise. In the modern world, things have changed a little with agreements and dealings based on a “win-win situation”. Now nations have understood from the past adventures that to prosper globally, one nation cannot become totally insensitive with the needs of the other. A mutually beneficial intercultural relationship is going to save everyone a lot of trouble and resentment. Also, the ideology of ruling a nation from afar is more common these days. But the world is going towards a more tolerant attitude as a whole. The reason could be anything. It could be an awakening after the two World Wars or a realization that no nation is too weak not to be able to defend itself. Whatever it may be, nations can progress by trade and commerce and foreign investments as much as they can from establishing full control of a territory. There will come a time when every nation will have to agree with this precept.

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