Object 3: Spanish to English dictionary

June 2, 2021


This is the Spanish to English dictionary I have used since grade six to translate words in Spanish class. While some words in Spanish have multiple translations, some have none at all, which makes the communication of knowledge in this context especially challenging.

There are so many variations of the Spanish language in different Latin American countries, that a word translated from English to Spanish may have different meanings among different Spanish speaking people. For example, the word ‘zapato,’ means ‘shoe,’ in Spain, but means ‘stupid,’ in Argentina, ‘Ugly,’ in Colombia, and ‘foul mouthed,’ in Costa Rica. This dictionary shows how challenging it can be to communicate knowledge when certain words, even within the same language, have such varying translations. The real world context of this dictionary is that words having multiple meanings when translated can lead to miscommunication, and impact the communication of knowledge.

This dictionary is especially interesting for the exhibition because some words and phrases have no direct translation, which raises the question of how we communicate despite this, and how we understand each other. Even when a word has no direct translation, translators adapt, and use synonyms or other words and phrases to communicate. This dictionary therefore enriches the exhibition because it is a real world example of the gap between language and meaning. Because Latin America is a vast continent and a melting pot of cultures, there are bound to be variations in language that make is harder to communicate. This dictionary is evidence of challenges raised by the communication of knowledge.


Image for source 1: Wikipedia. 2020. “File:Trump tweet – I won this election.png” Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Trump_tweet_-_I_won_this_election.png

Mason, Wyatt. November 2 2017. “The First Woman to Translate the ‘Odyssey’ Into English. The New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/02/magazine/ the-first-woman-to-translate-the-odyssey-into-english.html

ILS. 2018. “Untranslatable Words – What Haopens When There’s No Word for That?” ILS. https://www.ilstranslations.com/blog/untranslatable-words/

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