Translators are a race apart/Dolmetscher scheuen Seife und Sonnenlicht

Norman Birkett on the interpreters – of course referred to by him as translators – at the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, as quoted by Mrs Boyo in The Daily Scorch:

…translators are a race apart – touchy vain, unaccountable full of vagaries, puffed up with self-importance of the most explosive kind, inexpressibly egotistical, and, as a rule, violent opponents of soap and sunlight…

She continues:

To this one might add “incompetent lechers, virtuosi of halitosis and inept propagandists of shopworn views”. The wretched hygiene, real and political, of the translator is a function of his irrelevance. Like religion, democracy and chocolate wrappers, he serves only to hinder progress towards one’s chosen goal.

and concludes that we should all speak the local languages, for example:

English, French and German would apply in our European case. One, for example, could speak in English while your interlocutor replied in French – each at his ease.

Those unable to learn these languages would hardly have opinions worth conveying to others, and the sums saved on the cabals of interpreters could be usefully spent on improving vocational education.

She quotes Tyutchev’s (Tiutchev’s) Silentium – here translated as ‘The word, pronounced, is a lie’, but Tyutchev was not above translation himself (I know nothing of his relation to soap and water). And I had no idea Minima Moralia was available in an English translation on the Web.

Thanks to kalebeul

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