Our most important language is the language of the heart

Ever since we were children we have been encouraged to express our emotions through words. When tears roll down a child’s face we ask them “What happened? Where does it hurt? Why are you crying?”. This happens when we are adults too and we need to be able to explain our feelings. Sometimes even in more than one language. This applies at the workplace especially. Nevertheless, we all have our own language of the heart (often our mother tongue), no matter how multilingual we may be. It is the language we write most fluently in. It is the language in which we let fly four letter words when we lose our tempers. It is the language that is our strongest, the first one embedded deep in our core.

Even though I lived in Luxembourg and Germany as a child and spent a few later years in Spain, and despite the fact that I speak five languages fluently, for me, Finnish will always be the language I express emotions in. Finnish is my go-to language that allows me to express myself most clearly, regardless of whether I am writing or speaking. However, it is not always possible to choose the language of the heart for self-expression, which can prove to be both a challenge and a gift.

The better you learn a foreign language during your lifetime, the closer it will get to a language of the heart. I am sure it is possible for a person to have another language that is almost equal to their language of the heart, especially for people who grew up in a multilingual family and environment. It is unlikely that a person can attain this level unless they are in a situation in which they completely abandon their mother tongue and use a language other than their safe and familiar language of the heart.

Translators are an exception to this rule, however. Their competence requires seamlessly mimicking the emotional aspects of languages that are not their own mother tongue. In their hands every language is transformed into a language of the heart and each reader gets the same emotional experience from reading – in their own native language. Translators can make text come alive, use expressions that native speakers understand best, and highlight the best features of a text. Translators are a little bit like fairy godmothers for expressing emotions through language. They help us succeed in situations where our language skills aren’t quite up to the task. How lucky are we!

Pauliina Jokela

Marketing Manager, Project Coordinator