It is not possible to understate the pivotal importance of George Steiner’s work After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation. Published in 1975, its placing of translation theory – which had, until then, been considered peripheral – at the center of the social sciences was an epistemological turning point. Translation is not merely a fundamental operation of language, whether within the same language or when moving from one language, or one system of signs, to another, as Roman Jakobson had already shown. For Steiner, “all communication is translation.” Without translation, there can be no true understanding of the contemporary world in all its complexity and diversity; relying solely on a supposedly global language such as English, or even on machine translation, will only lead us to the impasse of incommunication.
- George Steiner
- After Babel
- epistemological turning point
- cultural diversity
- machine translation