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Thread: Se vs Si compared to Ne vs Ni -- Some personal impressions

  1. #1
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    Default Se vs Si compared to Ne vs Ni -- Some personal impressions

    This subject has probably been done a hundred times or more. But I just felt like typing up something on the subject and can't be bothered to find exactly which past thread might pertain best. Please forgive the typos and all that--I'm moving rather quickly on this essay. There's some jumping around--typical Ne work.

    Here's the tl;dr version:

    My recent experiences with Se and Si dance instructors seems to elucidate a key distinction between Se and Si: Experience vs. System (to be explained below). And looking back, it seems to me that I can see the same kind of distinction between Ne and Ni in the translation work that I used to do when I was a staff translator on some big translation bureaus.


    Recently I've been taking dance lessons: Salsa, ballroom, Swing, etc. It's a very Sensor-ish activity. Instructors are almost universally Si-Dom/Aux or Se-Dom/Aux. It makes sense, of course. An instructor has to be able to break the steps down and focus on all the tiny details: Where your body is pointed vs. where your body is headed, how your foot is landing, whether you're on the ball of the foot, the heel of the foot, the *inside* of the ball of the foot, the *outside* of the ball of the foot, etc.

    So I've come to notice the following difference between Si instructors and Se instructors. (I'm an INFP myself, by the way, so I'm an outside observer--an iNtuitive. These are just personal impressions of what I see the instructors doing with their Si and Se.)

    Si instructors:

    When they're teaching a new dance step to students, they teach the new step as a *system*. That is, it appears that they have broken down the step and analyzed it in the past, and now they have at their fingertips these neat little counts and sequences that they've worked up to help them walk through the step with the students.

    So these Si instructors hit you with a *system* of counts and sequences, and they walk you through the dance step in a rather mechanical fashion. You're expected to hit all the high points of their *system* as you learn. And the only way that they will consider a new *system* for a given step is if some other instructor can come up with a better *system* and they can play with it for a while to see the benefits for themselves.

    Se instructors:

    When they're teaching a new dance step to students, Se instructors teach the new step as an *experience*. They often can't describe the step in terms of counts and sequences (other than a few basics that they've picked up from training manuals). Instead, they often teach by doing the step over and over and expect you to pick up the "feel" of the step from observing them. As they do the step, they'll experience the step for themselves and then elucidate some individual detail that they want to bring out to make the step more understandable. But they often can't walk you through the step point-by-point the way that an Si instructor will. Instead, discussion of a new step will involve the instructor demonstrating the step repeatedly and highlighting some new point with each new repetition. In a sense, the step is taught while the instructor is experiencing or feeling it "in real time" rather than based on a prior analysis and breakdown.

    Also, when the student tries out the step for him/herself, the Se instructor will experience the step with the student. The instant the student does something wrong, the instructor will stop the student-- the step "feels" wrong to the instructor. IOW, the Se instructor can *experience* the dance step even in an observer role, which makes Se instructors very keen tutors when it comes time to hone the tiny details of a dance. But this sort of Se instruction is done across many repetitions of the step, so that both the student and instructor can *experience* the step and *get the feel* of the step in order to get it perfect.

    Again, these are just personal impressions. But that's the big dichotomy that I see:

    1) Based on their experience of the dance, Si instructors have worked out a *system* of counts and sequences for walking students through a difficult dance step, and they evaluate the student based on how well he or she adheres to the *system*.

    2) Based on their experience of the dance, Se instructors have developed a *feel* or *experience* for the steps, and they walk the student through multiple repetitions of the step itself and bring out various aspects of the step "in real time" until the student can do the step in a way that "feels" right to the instructor.

    How does that pertain to Ni vs Ne?

    I was a translator for many years. I translated written documents; IOW, I didn't do spoken interpretation. (Spoken interpretation is best handled by extroverts; written translation is often best handled by introverts because it's such a solitary activity. Though I've seen some extroverts who were excellent at written translation.)

    Again: When reading what follows, it's important to remember that I'm talking about written translation, where there is lots of time available to work on a passage, bounce around ideas, and hone the translation to perfection. (The rules would be different for spoken interpretation, which tends to be more in-the-moment.)


    In my experiences as a staff translator in several large translation bureaus, I had a lot of experience working with both Ne translators and Ni translators. As I see it, iNtuition is about juggling large numbers of independent variables (often competing or conflicting in nature), taking an "overview" position in order to see patterns or "the big picture," and deriving the best combination or pattern of variables to suit the task at hand. Translation is a good subject for iNtuitive analysis, because as you translate you have to play off lots of variables against each other: Tone, mood, balancing literalness of the translation against a "natural" or smooth expression of ideas, how to deal with jargon, slang, cultural concepts that don't translate neatly, etc.

    Ne translators:

    When it comes to dealing with lots of variables, Ne translators seem to be like Se dance instructors: The task tends to be done "in real time" by going over a written passage multiple times and getting the "feel" right. In my experience, most Ne translators couldn't really enunciate any particular system for how to get a translation to "feel" right. They just bounced around different ideas on how to express a given phrase or idea until they could settle on 1 or 2 choices that had the best "feel" to them.

    As for Ni translators:

    I myself was an Ne translator; when I worked with INFJs (Ni translators), I noticed that they were often much more able to enunciate what specific aspects of the translation they wanted to prioritize, and that they could spell out specifics about why or how one translation of a phrase or idea was preferable to another. I'm not saying that they had a series of "counts" and "sequences" like an Si dance instructor. After all, we're talking about iNtuitives rather than Sensors. But they clearly had *systematized* their translation process, and their overview of a translation was more carved in stone than mine.

    Oftentimes two translators were assigned to work together on a single high-priority translation (a major speech on international policy, for example). We would be given the document and a couple days to work on it together, and we would bounce the drafts back and forth. I enjoyed working with Ni-users (mostly INFJs and ENFJs) on this sort of task, because we brought different strengths to the task.

    For example, when we got stuck on a difficult passage and couldn't think of a good way to express it, then I was the one (as the Ne-user) who could suddenly flip everything on its head and come up with a whole new way of approaching the problem. I could think outside the box "in real time" and be flexible in ways that the Ni translator couldn't. Also, I had the more "natural" tone: INFJs repeatedly complimented me on how native-sounding and smooth I made the final translation sound, as though the document had been written in that language to start with (as opposed to being a translation from a foreign language). For me, as an Ne translator, it was all about getting the "feel" right in real-time.

    OTOH, the Ni clearly had the edge when we came upon a particularly long, dense passage with a thousand competing variables to juggle all at once. As an Ne translator, I could come up with a thousand different ways to express that passage but I would flounder as far as determining which one way was precisely the very best, most optimal way to express that passage. The Ni translator, on the other hand, could find that needle in the haystack: They could peer among all the possible variables and find the one optimal translation that came closest to the mark. Furthermore, they could *justify* their choice: They had systemized their analysis of the translation process to the point where they could prioritize all the choices and analyze (and explain to an outside observer) exactly which possibility was best and why.

    And with enough back-and-forth under these circumstances, I kind of picked up on Ni translation systems--at least enough that I could discuss these things with Ni translators and arrive at a consensus with them on the final draft of the translation (rather than leaving it to them alone to make the final choice).


    Anyway, that's it. It's a lot of personal impressions; make of it what you will. But I thought I would spell this all out. My experiences with Se and Si dance instructors seemed to elucidate a key distinction between the two. And looking back, it seemed to me that I could see the same kind of distinction between Ne and Ni in translation work.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Array Chiharu's Avatar
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    FWIW, this seems to correspond with my own experience. As an ENFP, when I work on translations or even when I write in my native tongue ("translating" my ideas into words) my main goal is to get it to feel right, to sound natural (when I'm writing I like things to "flow" and when I edit other people's work I notice instantly when a sentence doesn't flow or doesn't sound like something someone would say in real life). My INxJ friends and classmates are much better at explaining the technical considerations but their work can feel... clunky? awkward? even though it's correct.
    Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness." ― Kurt Vonnegut

    ENFP. 7w6 – 4w3 – 1w9 sx/so. Aries. Dilettante. Overly anxious optimist.

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