Allycks's Reviews > After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation

After Babel by George Steiner
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's review
Feb 11, 10

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Hard as hell to get into but so thoroughly worth the effort. Reading After Babel, I could actually feel some of the old lazy given-up-for-dead neurons that I torched in the 80s and 90s springing back to life and looking to start up fresh.

What I learned from this book:

1. If you are reading this, you are translating, even if you are a native English speaker.

2. Being creative or at least alert with language amplifies your experience of life. Using the same old run-down vocabulary and hackneyed clichès flattens your experience. Every moment is fleeting and unique-- if you use the same expressions to describe different events then you are half dead.

3. George Steiner speaks more languages than I ever will, has read more than I ever will, has thought harder than I ever have. How many others upon this Earth are able to do throw downs with Noam Chomsky?

4. There is something inherently numinous in the speech-act, particularly so when using the conditional (What would you do...?)

5. What numinous means. It has nothing to do with numbers.
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