Friday, 12 June 2015
After Babel: Aspects of language and translation, 3rd Ed.,
George Steiner, OUP, 1998, page 80
Steiner suggests that just as people have different skin colour and eye shapes, so they have different languages.
Languages are as figurative of the particular nature of a civilisation as are its garb and social rites. Each language is an 'epiphany' or artculate revelation of a specfic historical-cultural landscape.
He observes that the forms of Hebrew verbs are essentially co-existent with and inseperable from the Jewish ritual that they prescribe. Now comes the clincher:
But that which a language reveals as being the specific genius of a community, the language itself has shaped and determined. The process is dialectical, with the formative energies of language moving both inward and outward in a civilisation.