Theo Harden - The Awful German Language, or, Is ‘Die Geistige Entwicklung’ ‘The Mental Development’? 13
Theo Harden The Awful German Language, or, Is ‘Die Geistige Entwicklung’ ‘The Mental Development’? I Introduction Appendix D of Mark Twain’s essay collection1 A Tramp Abroad has the title ‘The Awful German Language’, and the author introduces his American readership in a very entertaining way to a number of linguistic oddities of German and it is safe to assume that his article is to quite some extent responsible for the widely accepted reputation of the German language as being awful indeed. But there seems to be more to that particular notion. José Ortega y Gasset starts his seminal work ‘The Misery and Splendour of Translation’ by relating an event which occurred at a symposium in Paris, where the discussion of the impossibility to translate certain German phi- losophers into other languages led to the proposal of a study that would determine which philosopher could be translated and which could not (cf. Ortega y Gasset 1992: 93). These examples show that there is a certain unease when it comes to translation, particularly when German is involved. II The Genre Translating philosophical texts and preserving not only the intended mean- ing, but maintaining also a certain degree of stylistic accuracy is certainly an extremely demanding task. It is therefore quite surprising that so little 1 I am referring here to the 2007 edition published by Digiread. 14 Theo Harden of the relevant literature in Translation Theory is actually devoted to this particular field. The vivid discussion which has been taking place over...
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