Interpreting Words

I currently work as an interpreter and one of the things that we often do is try to come up with large lists of words that can describe one concept. Doing this will give us more wiggle room when trying to come up with an equivalent interpretation. Interpreters need wiggle room because we don't interpret verbatim and languages don't have a one word for one word correlation.

Instead we interpret the concept and meaning of what someone says, not necessarily the words. If I were to say, "Don't make me ask you again." What does this mean?

Well, it can mean a lot of things depending on context and tone, but let's throw out a few options:

"Stop it."
"I will not repeat myself."
"Clean your room."
"I am getting upset."
"Please can we go to Hawaii."

These are just a few of the various meanings that could be conveyed by the phrase, "Don't make me ask you again." I am sure you can come up with a lot more.

Interpreting can be quite squishy because languages are squishy. The process of interpretation changes depending on the participants, environment, and noise and languages change depending on participants, region, and culture among other things. 

All of this to say, words are only a representation of an abstract thought in our heads. The more words and languages we know, the more clearly those thoughts can be communicated to another human being.