I always enjoy reading metaphors or other descriptions that involve translation in some way (both metaphors that depict translation and those that describe something else using translation), because they offer a view of what people think translation is. One day it might be interesting to study these metaphors and see how the sense of translation has changed over time.
For example, last month, I mentioned Alistair Elliot’s idea of translation as powdered eggs. Henry Rider, in the preface to his 1638 translation of Horace to English, offers a very different metaphor, that of translation as clothing:
“Translations of Authors from one language to another, are like old garments turn’d into new fashions; in which though the stuffe be still the same, yet the die and trimming are altered, and in the making, here something added, there something cut away.”
I’d thought of translation as many things before, but I hadn’t thought about it as “old garments,” and though I like Mr. Rider’s metaphor, I don’t really agree with it.
Do you have favorite translation metaphors or descriptions?