Friday, January 26, 2007

On Translation as Such . . .

“Where the most thorough possible interpretation occurs, where our sensibility appropriates its object while, in this appropriation, guarding, quickening that object’s autonomous life, the process is one of ‘original repetition.’ We re-enact, in the bounds of our own secondary but momentarily heightened, educated consciousness, the creation by the artist. We retrace, both in the image of a man drawing and of one following an uncertain path, the coming into form of the poem.”

“‘Interpretation’ as that which gives language life beyond the moment and place of immediate utterance or transcription, is what I am concerned with. . . . Through engagement of his own identity, a critic becomes un interpète – a life-giving performer . . . . Interprète / interpreter are commonly used to mean translator.”

“In short, the existence of art and literature, the reality of felt history in a community, depend on a never-ending, though very often unconscious, act of internal translation. It is no overstatement to say that we possess civilization because we have learnt to translate out of time.”

“Any model of communication is at the same time a model of trans-lation . . . . The element of privacy in language makes possible a crucial, though little understood, linguistic function. Its importance relates a study of translation to a theory of language as such. Obviously, we speak to communicate. But also to conceal, to leave unspoken. . . . In short: inside or between languages, human communication equals translation. A study of translation is a study of language.”

(George Steiner, After Babel)

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