XTM Advent Calendar Day Sixteen – Strictly Speaking

XTM Advent Calendar Day Sixteen – Strictly Speaking

With the final of the latest UK series of Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday, this is as good a time as any to consider the links between dance and language. It’s a subject that’s invited serious study, and the two functions have many characteristics in common.

Gestures such as waving and pointing were used by our ancestors in the time before language, and we see them today in young children reaching out and communicating for the first time. Both language and dance originated with gestures, and however differently they’ve evolved, they still have that in common.

When we refer to dance as a language, or comment on someone’s body language, we’re speaking metaphorically. But how far can we extend the metaphor? Dance sequences are often described as “phrases” and professional dancers and their coaches refer to their combination of positions and movements as a “vocabulary”.

Like a sequence of speech, a dancer’s phrase can have a beginning, a middle and an end. But the two diverge when it comes to their actual meaning. A simple sentence can be accurate or inaccurate. When someone tells you it’s raining outside you’ll either get wet or stay dry, and what they’ve told you can be classified as true or false accordingly. A dance sequence can give us beauty, it can give us yearning and it can move us to tears, but can it give us objective truth? It may be correct or incorrect to place your feet in a certain position, but that’s a different matter. Only language can give us truth.

In an age of fake news, when the words “post-truth” are often used to describe our society, the certainty of truthful communication could not be more important. Language isn’t a scam, a dodge to hide behind. It’s mankind’s greatest achievement. When translators and interpreters volunteer to work in war zones, risking their lives to find common ground between people with loaded guns, they remind us of the power of plain truth. In a less dramatic way, every working linguist does the same thing every working day. Translators can help you reach out across languages and border. And they can help all of us preserve the truth of human communication.

Under the name “Dancing With The Stars”, the Strictly Come Dancing format has been licenced to 60 different territories all over the world. It’s based on “Come Dancing”, a BBC show with professional dancers and no celebrities that was cancelled because nobody watched it. It’s a good example of media evolution; survival of the fittest in a harsh, competitive world. Language evolves too, and so does the way we translate it. We have no other choice; the volume of material requiring translation and localization already far exceeds the capacity of human linguists, and it’s increasing exponentially.

A next generation Translation Management System addresses this need. It doesn’t just enable swift, accurate automated localization. It also meets the user’s need for a single source of truth, enabling, for example, immediate calculation of accurate word counts rather than waiting for external providers to deliver an estimate, and removing the complication of having different ways of calculating costs and delivery timescales. A next generation Translation Management System enables nuanced, persuasive communication in every one of the 60 territories covered by Dancing With The Stars and hundreds more besides. It captures the elegance and musicality of language, and the focused certainty of a corporate message. It helps you speak to the world. And that’s the objective truth.