Day 2414, translation.

Daily picture, My thoughts

I attended a lecture about how we, as humans and groups, make choices. Part of the discussion afterward was about the different ways we make decisions.

Because I didn’t want to spend too much time on my post, I looked for a fitting quote by my favorite philosopher. The funny thing is that I found two versions of the quote that I wanted to use, and they translated the German word empfindungen into sensations and feelings. Feelings are sensations, but a sensation is not always a feeling… I don’t know if that makes sense.

For me, as a non-English speaker, they seemed to be slightly different. You can decide for yourself, but the quote’s meaning changes quite a bit for me, depending on what translation I use. I guess that the translators used their knowledge of what Nietzsche might mean because you can use both words to translate it according to the dictionary. It depends on the sentence which one you use. In the Dutch translation, they used the word ervaringen, which is usually translated to English as experiences, I guess that covers both the other translations.

I just wanted to share this experience of finding a quote about how we come to our thoughts and stumble on different thoughts about translating the text.

The quote is from:

The Gay Science by Friedrich Nietzsche

  1. Gedanken. − Gedanken sind die Schatten unserer Empfindungen, − immer dunkler, leerer, einfacher, als diese.

-Thoughts are the shadows of our sensations – always darker, emptier, simpler. Translated by Jesefine Nauckhoff, 1974

-Thoughts are the shadows of our feelings always darker, emptier and simpler. Translated by Walter Kaufman, 2001


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