The other day I wrote about a couple of words that are hard to translate into other languages (and hinted at a second part). Well today, I talk about a word from a list of, 5 More Difficult Words to Translate, from ALTA Language Services. To English speakers, this word will seem common and the word is fairness.
I’ve never thought of the word as particularly hard to define but I guess it’s just a case of, “fairness, you know, when something is fair.” This, of course, does not cut it. If you can’t define something without using the word in the definition, then it would seem you can’t really define it. Anyways, what the article has to say about it:
This past January, a blog post from the Atlantic Monthly by economist Bart Wilson sparked a debate about whether the English word Fair can be accurately translated. In the Beyond Words analysis of the Fairness translation debate, we explored all the sides, and discussed Wilson’s position that Fairness is a uniquely Anglo concept that carries historical baggage making it very different from notions of equity and right vs. wrong. You decide.
Well, when it’s spelled out like that. This is a fundamental problem, trying to differentiate between what is fair and what is right. Is it right for everything to be fair? Or would being unfair sometimes be the right thing to do? Not to get too political, but it seems like one of the key differences between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats want to do the “right” thing, tax the rich and help out the less fortunate. Republicans want to be more “fair” and treat everyone the same no matter their status in society. Obviously, Democrats would say it isn’t fair that people are born into poverty and Republicans would say it isn’t right to take money from people who earned it. It’s all very muddled and I’ll probably never be able to shake the idea of “Is this right or is this fair and which is more important?”
I’ve lived in New York City for a year now (my anniversary was a couple of days ago)! Kind of ridiculous, really. This has not felt like a whole year