Letter: Steiner's deficient description, comparatively speaking

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The Independent Online
Sir: It required our combined expertise, as former senior translators with the EU, to make sense of the extract from George Steiner's inaugural lecture as Visiting Professor of European Comparative Literature at Oxford University.

'Scholastic-academic edifice' . . . 'accede to these criteria' . . .

'classics too long pre-potent' . . . 'instauration' . . . 'contrastive' . .

. 'comparatist' . . . 'privilege' (used as an active verb) . . . 'facticity of existential reality' . . . 'temporality' . . . 'tabu' (spelt and italicised as if it were a German loan-word).

Perhaps next time Professor Steiner has to address a British audience, he might consider engaging the services of a practitioner of the decried art of translation, with a view to having his - albeit admirable - ideas put into English.

Yours faithfully, TIMOTHY JOHNSTON, RICHARD DUNN Chesterton, Cambridgeshire 12 October

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