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Tales of social interaction in times of social distancing

The very essence of the translation industry is to bring nations, cultures, social groups and human beings together. Each and every day, our words and work sail across oceans, take to the skies and tread the longest of roads when our bodies do not or cannot. Communication in the modern era is a cleverly devised teleportation tool that allows us to bond even when our doors are closed, finding new, more imaginative ways to bridge the widest of physical gaps through our words and actions. Now is a time to celebrate this. While the Coronavirus may mean keeping our distance, it also has the power to bring us even closer together.

That is exactly what we have already seen happening between nations, with oodles of international outpourings of solidarity. France sent 17 tonnes of medical supplies to Wuhan last month, with China reciprocating with one million face masks this week. This sends a clear message in itself, but the literal messages that come along with these deliveries demonstrate how the power of words can really come into its own… ‘We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers of the same garden’ was the line sent by Chinese electronics company Xiaomi to their Italian counterpart, a quote from ancient Roman philosopher Seneca.

Even some frostier relationships have begun to thaw as the need for cooperation begins to supersede past differences; ‘Even though we live in different places, we live under the same sky,’ read the stanza on the sides of boxes filled with face masks and thermometers sent to China from the Japan Youth Development Association (JYDA). Boxes that arrived from China to Malaysia carried these famous Malay proverbs, ‘We share and carry the same load together’ and ‘We ascend and descend a hill together.

Would we have felt inclined to emblazon our packages with thought-provoking proverbs before now? Perhaps not, but much like our experience of literature and culture, our experience of pain is a shared one. And this is before we even get onto the prospects of social media! Fortunately for us, our modern scope for interaction in a time of such hyper-connectivity is nothing short of phenomenal. We have long had the power to speak, sing, listen to and enjoy a world of culture, events, presentations, discussions; exchanging news, stories and even images of our own faces. Time to see just how much we can do with it!


Written by Amy Reid, WIT Account Manager


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