Season 2: Episode 2 – Lost (and found) in translation


What we love about music, is that it is truly a universal language for both the listener and the musician. Music unites, it stirs up emotion, it creates atmosphere and a sense of belonging. Music can be enjoyed by everyone who is fortunate to hear and by some who are able to feel the beat within the music. Irrespective of what language one speaks, music is understood by the listener and executed by the musicians who read the notes, keys and scales and nuances within the sheet music. Take for instance this piece by Pachabel, Canon in D, with over 45 million views on YouTube, every person who listened to it was able to experience and enjoy the rhythm of the notes, no one had to say “excuse me, I don’t understand”. With the spoken word it is different.

Have you ever had an interaction with someone and walked away thinking the person didn’t understand a word you’ve just said? Maybe in your effort to communicate you started speaking slower and louder, started pointing or gesturing, or even made words up that you thought might bring you closer to a mutual understanding. Colloquially it might be said the things you said were lost in translation.  We’ve just celebrated a month of South African Heritage and language is a key ingredient in our being a nation. Language is in many instances linked to our culture, society and fabric, it is a defining element in who we are. Through the South African constitution our eleven official languages are protected and the government has enacted other legislation to further the use and access to public information in our official languages. The reality is however that language lives in people. It grows, develops, changes and adapts. Kaaps is a perfect example of this and it is a beautiful expression of people living with their language and the daily use being documented into a dictionary. In South Africa we need to do more to be less “lost in translation”. The ability to be multi-lingual is key in furthering respect between individuals, recognising our diversity and celebrating our South African tapestry that Heritage Day represents. Start with a greeting an expression or a phrase, set your inhibitions aside and ask for help with vocabulary and pronunciation, sla maklik bra!

Today, 30 September, we celebrate those who aren’t lost in translation with International Translation Day. While you and I practice and learn to grasp a new language, it is important to recognise the Professionals who connect people through language. Translators give meaning that is culturally and language appropriate and act as a bridge when our language ability is a barrier.

As an agency, Mediaheads 360 is passionate about language and communicating with people. We specialise in translations to ensure that our client’s messages aren’t lost in translation and that audiences enjoy world class content in their mother tongue.

The team at MH360 agree with the sentiments of Madiba:

“Uma ukhuluma nendoda ngolwimi aluqondayo kuvele kuye ekhanda lakhe. Uma ukhuluma naye ngo lwimi lakhe, kuvele kuye enhlizweni yakhe”

“Xa uthetha nendoda ngoliwimi alaziyo, lonto uyiva apha entloko. Xa uthetha nayo ngoliwimi lakhe, uyiva apha entliziyweni.”

“As jy met ‘n mens praat in ‘n taal wat hy verstaan, begryp hy dit. As jy met ‘n mens praat in sy eie taal, gryp jy sy hart aan.”

“Arali ni tshi amba na munna nga luambo lune a lu pfesesa lu ya thohoni yawe.”

“Arali ni tshi amba nae nga luambo lwawe lu ya mbiluni yawe.”


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