There are many dictionary definitions of the word translation: to change from one state or form to another; to turn into another language; to transfer from one language into another. The synonyms are interesting too. They include: transfer; transform; paraphrase; explain; convert. Most or all of these relate to the process we are considering: the back and forth translation between feelings and words.
Issues & Advice: February 2011
"But in fact language is a double-edged sword... It drives a wedge between two simultaneous forms of interpersonal experience: as it is lived and as it is verbally represented... Language, then, causes a split in the experience of the self" — Daniel Stern, 1985
"Through his powers of intellect, articulate language has been evolved; and on this his wonderful advancement has mainly depended" — Charles Darwin, 1874
Between about 1 and 3 years, children change how they give life to their feelings. The facial expressions they used so actively as infants, while still there, are joined by early words. These words are very often primitive, raw and intense: Hate, no like, me, want, go away, shut up.
The key with the preverbal child is talking, using lots of words, and translating feelings into words. As we have explained previously, preverbal babies and infants use nine signals to express their needs, fears, feelings and desires. These signals (excitement, joy, surprise, distress, anger, fear, shame, disgust and dissmell) are communicated through facial expressions, vocalizations and gesture. Parents can help young children become aware of their feelings (and feel that the parents "get them") by using the words for the nine signals whenever an opportunity presents itself. "You are excited about that glitter make-up!" "You felt a lot of fear when the dog ran up so fast." "You were angry when I said no more cookies before dinner."
It is a thrill when parents realize how much a child is processing and learning before she utters her first word. Finally, they can talk to their children and be clearly understood. "Please bring your shoes to me so we can put them on"... and lo and behold the child delivers her sneakers. "Will you please pick up your trains off the floor so no one steps on them and breaks them?" And he picks up his trains. The child may not be able to speak yet, but he is accumulating an understanding of many, many words - far more than he will be able to put voice to for months and months.
"Man... is the most dominant animal that has ever appeared on this earth... Through his powers of intellect, articulate language has been evolved; and on this his wonderful advancement has mainly depended." —Charles Darwin