Understanding, what is it?

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“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” Albert Einstein 

Since Albert wrote his aphorism about “knowledge” and “understanding”, the “Fools” made many steps further in knowledge, technology, communications, social networks etc.

Those magic devices and their clever apps in one hand and let us know everything in depth and width (more or less…). We can be in touch and chat with people in every corner of the world. We can get to know details of a disease or a scientific phenomenon that only professionals once knew. We can spread ideas (or rumours) from one side to the other of the planet.

However, while the knowledge (at least in terms of information) has hugely grown and is available to every Fool, the understanding doesn’t seem to have improved at the same speed. Technology is not the cause of it, but has added some more occasions for misunderstandings, interpretations, projections.

Think for example of the automatic dictionary: it is a marvellous invention. You type some letters and the machine completes the word out of its own choice! It is supposed to simplify our method of communications, but … read what happens.

Days ago I received the following message (SMS):

After riding I got a browse”.

What did you get?… I thought that this person -just after riding- got a new browser, maybe the ultimate version of Safari or Firefox or Explorer… While I was puzzled interpreting the first message, a second SMS arrived:

Sorry, I got a bruise”.

Oh, now I understand, my hardhead!

Another wonder of technology is the automatic “translator”: you type some words in your native language and you can get a translation in the language that you like in a few seconds! No need to learn a foreign language! the automatic translator makes the job for you! But … recently, someone sent me an email that started with these words:

“My Expensive Friend….”

WHAT? who am I? why I am expensive? Well, it was nothing to do with an invoice or a bill: it was the automatic translator that changed the Italian expression “Mio caro amico…” in “My Expensive Friend….”. Wow! Please do not rush to consider the machine faulty: they only reflect the weaknesses in the mind of their builders.

As far as we get to know the machines, their behaviours and their way of ‘thinking’, we  guess approximately what the original meaning was. Or we can adjust the meaning in accordance with our favourite interpretation!

Things should be slightly different when we speak directly with another human, for humans should be able to clarify to one other what they mean and achieve a direct understanding. But… more clouds are coming!

The “Anglo-EU Translation Guide”, a document that is widely published on the internet for free and very popular in language schools, reveals that the source of misunderstanding, interpretations or projections, are actually within the humans !!!

Read the  “Anglo-EU Translation Guide” below and you will understand why!