Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Translation = Decadence?

"The traditional view of language contends that translation is a decadent act since it corrupts the pure 'innocence' [Footnote: See George Steiner, After Babel. "Innocence" is a term Steiner uses to suggest the original uncorrupted status of the original language] of the original language. This widely accepted view has its roots in Greek thought and religious traditions. For instance, Herder believed that when a text guards itself from all translations it retains its vital innocence. This exemplifies the long-standing religious and mystical perspective George Steiner refers to as 'seeking to protect the holy texts from traduction.' The mystical text seeks to protect itself from translation by inscribing itself as irreducibly singular. Like Rousseau's account of the 'origin of languages', the mystical is situated in an essentially undivided point of linguistic 'innocence.'"

[Amir Ali Nojoumian, "Translation: Decadence or Survival of the Original?"]


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