When we read or hear any language-statement from the past, be it Leviticus or last year’s best-seller, we translate. Reader, actor, editor are translators of language out of time. The schematic model of translation is one in which a message from a source-language passes into a receptor-language via a transformational process. The barrier is the obvious fact that one language differs from the other, that an interpretative transfer, sometimes, albeit misleadingly, described as encoding and decoding, must occur so that the message ‘gets through’. Exactly the same model–and this is what is rarely stressed–is operative within a single language. But here the barrier or distance between source and receptor is time.

– George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation (1975)


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