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All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated....As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon, calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come: so this bell calls us all....No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Every other man spoke a language entirely his own, which he had figured out by private thinking; he had his own ideas and peculiar ways. If you wanted to talk about a glass of water, you had to start back with God creating the heavens and earth; the apple; Abraham; Moses and Jesus; Rome; the Middle Ages; gunpowder; the Revolution; back to Newton; up to Einstein; then war and Lenin and Hitler. After reviewing this and getting it all straight again you could proceed to talk about a glass of water. "I'm fainting, please get me a little water." You were lucky even then to make yourself understood. And this happened over and over and over with everyone you met. You had to translate and translate, explain and explain, back and forth, and it was the punishment of hell itself not to understand or be understood.
We're pupils of the religions—Catholic, Protestant, Jewish . . . Well, the Christian religions. Those who directed French education down through the centuries were the Jesuits. They taught us how to make sentences translated from the Latin, well balanced, with a verb, a subject, a complement, a rhythm. In short—here a speech, there a preach, everywhere a sermon! They say of an author, “He knits a nice sentence!” Me, I say, “It's unreadable.” They say, “What magnificent theatrical language!” I look, I listen. It's flat, it's nothing, it's nil. Me, I've slipped the spoken word into print. In one sole shot.
What we see, we seeand seeing is changingthe light that shrivels a mountainand leaves a man alive. Heartbeat of the pulsarheart sweating through my body. The radio impulsepouring in from Taurus I am bombarded yet I stand. I have been standing all my life in thedirect path of a battery of signalsthe most accurately transmitted mostuntranslatable language of the universe. I am a galactic cloud so deep so invo-luted that a light wave could take 15years to travel through me And hastaken I am an instrument in the shapeof a woman trying to translate pulsationsinto images for the relief of the bodyand the reconstruction of the mind.
The Little Mute Boy. The little boy was looking for his voice.(The king of the crickets had it.)In a drop of waterthe little boy was looking for his voice. I do not want it for speaking with; I will make a ring of itso that he may wear my silenceon his little finger. In a drop of waterthe little boy was looking for his voice.(The captive voice, far away, put on a cricket's clothes.)Translated by William S. Merwin
Relate comic things in pompous fashion. Irregularity, in other words the unexpected, the surprising, the astonishing, are essential to and characteristic of beauty. Two fundamental literary qualities: supernaturalism and irony. The blend of the grotesque and the tragic are attractive to the mind, as is discord to blas ears. Imagine a canvas for a lyrical, magical farce, for a pantomime, and translate it into a serious novel. Drown the whole thing in an abnormal, dreamy atmosphere, in the atmosphere of great days? the region of pure poetry.
I want first of all... to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact--to borrow from the language of the saints--to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedrus when he said, "May the outward and inward man be one." I would like to achieve a state of inner spiritual grace from which I could function and give as I was meant to in the eye of God.
["All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant."] The original Hebrew word that has been translated "paths" means "well-worn roads' or "wheel tracks," such ruts as wagons make when they go down our green roads in wet weather and sink in up to the axles. God's ways are at times like heavy wagon tracks that cut deep into our souls, yet all of them are merciful.
If now and then we encounter pages that explode, pages that wound and sear, that wring groans and tears and curses, know that they come from a man with his back up, a man whose only defenses left are his words and his words are always stronger than the lying, crushing weight of the world, stronger than all the racks and wheels which the cowardly invent to crush out the miracle of personality. If any man ever dared to translate all that is in his heart, to put down what is really his experience, what is truly his truth, I think then the world would go to smash, that it would be blown to smithereens and no god, no accident, no will could ever again assemble the pieces, the atoms, the indestructible elements that have gone to make up the world.
For a lot of people, their first love is what they'll always remember. For me it's always been the first hate, and I think that hatred, though it provides often rather junky energy, is a terrific way of getting you out of bed in the morning and keeping you going. If you don't let it get out of hand, it can be canalized into writing. In this country where people love to be nonjudgmental when they can be, which translates as, on the whole, lenient, there are an awful lot of bubble reputations floating around that one wouldn't be doing one's job if one didn't itch to prick.
...I want first of all - in fact, as an end to these other desires - to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central cor to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints -to live 'in grace' as much of the time as possible. I am not using this term in a strictly theological sense. By grace I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony...
The script sits in front of you. The writer’s translated into ink what is in his spirit and his soul and his mind. Bum. [Thumps table.] I come along, I pick it up, and the ink goes into my eyes, into my mind, into my body, flows around and that part starts to inhabit me. And I know a good part when I see one.
There is a line somewhere in Wozzeck that translates out to, roughly, 'The world is awful.' Yes, I said to myself as I shot across the Bay Bridge not giving a fuck how fast I drove, that sums it up. That is high art: 'The world is awful.' That says it all. This is what we pay composers and painters and the great writers to do: tell us this; from figuring this out, they earn a living. What a masterful, incisive insight. What penetrating intelligence. A rat in a drain ditch could tell you the same thing, were it able to talk. If rats could talk, I'd do anything they said.
Reconciliation means that those who have been on the underside of history must see that there is a qualitative difference between repression and freedom. And for them, freedom translates into having a supply of clean water, having electricity on tap; being able to live in a decent home and have a good job; to be able to send your children to school and to have accessible health care. I mean, what's the point of having made this transition if the quality of life of these people is not enhanced and improved? If not, the vote is useless.'-archbishop Desmond Tutu, chair of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Committee, 2001
Lately I have been feeling hulihudu. And everything around me seemed to be heimongmong. These were words I had never thought about in English terms. I suppose the closest in meaning would be "confused" and "dark fog." But really, the words mean much more than that. Maybe they can't be easily translated because they refer to a sensation that only Chinese people have, as if you were falling headfirst through Old Mr. Chou's [Mr. Sandman's] door, then trying to find your way back. But you're so scared you can't open your eyes, so you get on your hands and knees and grope in the dark, listening for voices to tell you which way to go. I had been talking to too may people...to each person I told a different story. Yet each version was true, I was certain of it, at least at the moment I told it.