Hatrack River Forum   
my profile login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Discussions About Orson Scott Card » Conceptualisation of "the mind"

Author Topic: Conceptualisation of "the mind"
Member # 7815

 - posted      Profile for lonelywalker   Email lonelywalker         Edit/Delete Post 
Back in linguist mode...

I was just having a discussion in my semantics class about how to translate abstract ideas and emotions between languages. Some examples of what we were talking about are: soul, luck, fortune, fate, and destiny. My class is about 50% native Hebrew speakers and 50% native Arabic speakers.

The professor, who is American, said that THE MOST DIFFICULT idea to translate into other languages for him is the English concept of "the mind". And, indeed, this was borne out by the ensuing discussion.

So, Hebrew / Arabic / other non-English speakers, do you know how "Children of the Mind" is translated into your language? Also, more abstractly, do the ideas of the aiua and all the mind-related discussions in Xenocide and Children of the Mind translate well?

Posts: 66 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7746

 - posted      Profile for BandoCommando           Edit/Delete Post 

I'm going to turn this question around. How would Hebrew/Arabic speakers differentiate or define the term "soul"?

To me, aiua, mind, and soul all have nearly identical meanings, but are often used in different contexts.

For instance, I use "soul" when speaking of how greatly moving things in my life affect my thoughts and emotions - music, and religion are the most prominent. Of course, in the context of religion, soul is also the element of my being that exists beyond my mortal life.

"Aiua" is the sense of self a person has. In a way, it is synonomous with soul, to me. But aiua has a stronger connotation to me with "self-image" whereas "soul" seems to be more objective. *I* define my aiua, but my soul was defined by a more powerful being.

Again, "mind" is close to synonomous with "soul" and "aiua," but I use it more often when discussing more mundane things, such as my conceptualizations, my point of view, etc, and reserve "soul" for the things that really get my pulse going.

Metaphorically, one might say that the soul resides in the heart, and the mind resides in the brain, but they are two entities of the same body.

If this doesn't help you, I hope at least that my thoughts don't seem TOO foolish.


Posts: 1099 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7815

 - posted      Profile for lonelywalker   Email lonelywalker         Edit/Delete Post 
Hi BandoCommando,

Are you a native English speaker?

Unfortunately I'm not a very competent speaker of either Hebrew or Arabic, so I can't answer your question about views of the soul, but I hope someone else on here will.

My semantics class deals with Natural Semantic Metalanguage, which is basically a language for talking about language - using simple words which, in theory, exist in all human languages and can therefore be easily translated. This is especially useful when talking about abstract ideas - things you can't just point to in order to describe them.

When I get home I'll post the NSM definition of "soul" and "mind" we were given.

For ME, I think I agree with you when you say that the soul is more a predetermined thing, and the aiua can be shaped and changed. However, I find it very difficult to differentiate between these similar concepts: soul, spirit, mind, personality, the metaphorical use of "heart", and the aiua.

"Soul" to me does seem to be a much more overtly religious concept than the others, as a kind of moral core given to us by a higher being.

"Spirit" seems to be a physical representation of some kind of driving force within us. I wouldn't call it a religious concept, except that the word is commonly used in a supernatural sense - either as a ghost, or in the case of the "Holy Spirit".

"Mind" is at its most simple an abstract representation of the brain, of thought processes, but I feel that this definition is not a clear definition. The mind seems to far surpass electrical signals in the brain, but perhaps this is just because humans tend to have an exaggerated idea of our position in the world.

"Personality" seems to be more concrete: the sum of our experiences, plus some innate genetic dispositions. But this, too,is a shaky definition.

"Heart" - something like the non-supernatural spirit, the ability to feel emotions strongly, but in a positive way.

Now, "aiua"... I think of it as a non-supernatural soul. The sum of "us" not constrained by a body, but not determined or governed by a supernatural being either - instead, governed by ourselves. Which is pretty much what you said.

But you can see from my "definitions" how hard it is to pin down these ideas. Even if there is a generally accepted definition, these ideas in particular seem to be strongly affected by the individual's ideas about religion, and his/her position in the world.

Posts: 66 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7825

 - posted      Profile for aiua   Email aiua         Edit/Delete Post 
I really have nothing to add to this, nor do I speak another language. I just wanted my name on here.
Posts: 1215 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Member # 7749

 - posted      Profile for ricree101   Email ricree101         Edit/Delete Post 
And to up your post count? [Wink]
Posts: 2437 | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2