Navigating Culture

This month’s issue of MultiLingual is dedicated to navigating culture. Though culture isn’t inextricably linked to language — the existence of pluricentric languages proves that various cultures can be transmitted via a nominally singular language, after all — it is asymmetrically wedded to it in a way that touches the lives of all our readers. Put another way, one can be, mutatis mutandis, multicultural without being multilingual, but one can’t be multilingual without being multicultural. 

Being multilingual doesn’t just mean being proficient in the vocabulary and syntax of multiple languages, but also in their pragmatics. That is, knowing not just what to say but how, when, and why to say it. Grammar and phonology can be learned through books and practice. Culture, definitionally, can only be acquired through interaction with others, and it’s this ineffable and indispensable aspect of the multilingual experience that we hope to share with you in this issue. 

As 2021 comes to a close, we’re bringing yet more changes to MultiLingual, including the addition of a new section: Perspectives. We’ve recently published articles that have created quite a stir, and we welcome this. Our industry encompasses many aspects, and not all matters are settled. What will the future of translation look like? What makes for good localization? How do (and how should) different entities adapt to different markets? These are all questions with significant social, cultural, economic, and moral implications, and the answers aren’t as simple as “1+1=2.”

These articles have, perhaps predictably, invited a strong response from others in the field. We decided it would best serve the interests of our community, and basic fairness, to provide a platform not just for these articles, but for those wishing to express well-founded and carefully thought-out disagreement with them. It’s our intention to be a platform for debate and discussion, and the decision to publish a given piece is based entirely on the interests of our community and our commitment to fair and equitable coverage. These pieces reflect the opinions of their authors, and are not reflective of, or influenced by, the opinions of MultiLingual, its employees, or its advertisers.

We hope you enjoy this final issue of 2021. Stay with us in 2022 for more insightful, provocative, informative, and challenging coverage of language, culture, and the industry that they make possible.