There are less technological and physical barriers to cultural exchange than ever before. Ideas, people, things are constantly moving across borders in our increasingly global society. But transactions are one thing. Communication is another. Transactions are about the fulfillment of economic needs. Communication, on the other hand, requires empathy, learning, arriving at a consensus.
Is there such a thing as universal truth? Is it even possible to understand someone from another culture? Renowned translator David Bellos examines this question. We hear from him directly in an excerpt from his book, Is That a Fish in Your Ear?, in which he looks at the history of language and translation. In a recent video interview, Bellos spoke to Big Think about how translation is a transformative act. Learning another language teaches us the limits and possibilities of intercultural communication. We see this all around us--the Oscar nominated film, Avatar, is in fact an example, he says.