Thursday, January 24, 2008

Making sense of Steinerese

And here's another author I haven't read. George Steiner. Though I can't say I suffer any embarrassment from the admission. This article and the following sample from it may explain why:

Making sense of Steinerese may look difficult, but it’s quite simple once you get the hang of it. Just ignore three-quarters of the words, and translate the rest into plain English.

Steinerese: “The rhetoric of desire is a category of discourse in which the neurophysiological generation of speech-acts and that of love-making engage reciprocally.”
English translation: “Talking and making love are closely related.”

Steinerese: “Though it may take on ‘surrealist’ modes, the grammatology of our dreams is linguistically organised and diversified far beyond the historically, socially circumscribed provincialities of the psychoanalytic.”
English translation: “Dreams involve language, and elude psychoanalysis.”

Steinerese: “Saturation by commentary, by textualities parasitic on preceding expositions, may, arguably, inhibit autonomous creativity.”
English translation: “Too much criticism stifles literature.”

I heard that at that big technology show (in Las Vegas?) recently one company introduced a device which translates simultaneously. You speak into one side of the handheld unit and an automated voice blurts your sentences out the other side in any one of several languages of your choice. I don't think I'm making this up. But if I am, it's a brilliant idea. Now if only they could invent something that does the same with the double-speak of politicians. Say, something that comes as a feature on your tv.

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