First edition book cover
|Publisher||Oxford University Press|
|Publication date||January 1975|
|Media type||print (hardback)|
|Pages||520pp (first edition)|
|LC Classification||P306 .S66|
After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation is a 1975 linguistics book written by literary critic George Steiner. It was first published by Oxford University Press in the United Kingdom and deals with the "Babel problem" of multiple languages.
After Babel is a comprehensive study of the subject of language and translation. It is both a controversial and seminal work that covers a great deal of new ground and has remained the most thorough book on this topic since its publication. Director Peter Bush of the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia described the book as a "pioneering work which revealed all communication as a form of translation, and how central translation is to relations between cultures." Daniel Hahn at ContemporaryWriters.com wrote that "It is extraordinary in making a real contribution to translation studies, while remaining fairly self-contained and accessible to people who have never before given the matter a second thought."
In 1992 a second edition was published by Oxford University Press with major revisions by Steiner, including a new preface, and new and expanded notes and references. A third edition, with minor revisions by Steiner, was published by Oxford University Press in 1998.
Table of contents 
- "Understanding as Translation"
- "Language and Gnosis"
- "Word Against Object"
- "The Claims of Theory"
- "The Hermeneutic Motion"
- "Topologies of Culture"
- "Select Bibliography"
- "Index of Proper Names and Titles"
In After Babel Steiner states "To understand is to decipher. To hear significance is to translate." He challenges conventional theories of translation by maintaining that all human communication within and between languages is translation. He argues that deception was the reason for the development of different languages: it was humanity's deep desire for privacy and territory that saw the creation of thousands of languages, each designed to maintain secrecy and cultural isolation. Real translation between languages is impossible because the original meaning is always lost: the translated text is tainted by the translator's own cultural beliefs, knowledge and attitudes.
Steiner states that the reason for the lack of new developments in translation theory is that translation is a hermeneutical task, "not a science, but an exact art." He then presents a new translation model that combines philosophical hermeneutics with existing translation studies to form a "systematic hermeneutic translation theory". The new model comprises four "movements": trust, aggression, incorporation, and retribution. "Trust" and "retribution" honour the source text and its author’s intentions, while "aggression" and "incorporation" benefits the translator.
- Steiner, George (1975). After Babel. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-212196-0.
- Carne-Ross, D.S (1975-10-30). "Cracking the Code: Book review of After Babel by George Steiner". The New York Review of Books (New York City).
- Ullendorff, Edward (1976). "George Steiner's After Babel". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (Cambridge University Press) 39 (2): 403–420. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00050072.
- Hahn, Daniel. "George Steiner". Contemporary Writers in the UK. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- "Aspects of Language and Translation". Kwintessential: Cross Cultural Solutions. Archived from the original on 5 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- Jaggi, Maya (2001-03-17). "George and his dragons". The Guardian, March 17, 2001 (London). Archived from the original on 24 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- Youzi, Li. "On the Subjectivity of the Translator". towerofbabel.com. Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.
- Meirelles, Alexandre. "After Babel, Aspects of Language and Translation Book Summary". Shvoong. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-15.