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Jargon – the practice of never calling a spade a spade when you might instead call it a manual earth-restructuring implement.
Bill Bryson in Mother Tongue
What’s another word for Thesaurus?
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.
Dictionaries are like watches; the worst is better than none, and the best cannot be expected to go quite true.
Language is the dress of thought.
He who does not know foreign languages does not know anything about his own.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in Kunst and Alterthum
A different language is a different vision of life.
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.
To know another’s language and not his culture is a very good way to make a fluent fool of yourself.
Common European thought is the fruit of the immense toil of translators. Without translators, Europe would not exist; translators are more important than members of the European Parliament.
Many critics, no defenders,
translators have but two regrets:
when we hit, no one remembers,
when we miss, no one forgets.
Say what we may of the inadequacy of translation, yet the work is and will always be one of the weightiest and worthiest undertakings in the general concerns of the world.
J. W. Goethe
Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.
Either the translator leaves the author in peace, as much as is possible, and moves the reader towards him: or he leaves the reader in peace, as much as possible, and moves the author towards him.
Translation quality assessment proceeds according to the lordly, completely unexplained, whimsy of “It doesn’t sound right”.
Translators live off the differences between languages, all the while working toward eliminating them.
…translating from one language into another… is like gazing at a Flemish tapestry with the wrong side out: even though the figures are visible, they are full of threads that obscure the view and are not bright and smooth as when seen from the other side.
Miguel de Cervantes in The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha
A good translation does not just convey the same meaning, but it gets the music of the words right.
Beautiful translations are like beautiful women, that is to say, they are not always the most faithful ones.
George Steiner in After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation