Every sensible and rigorous theory of language shows that a perfect translation is an impossible dream. In spite of this, people translate. It is like the paradox of Achilles and the turtle. Theoretically speaking, Achilles should never reach the turtle. But in reality, he does. No rigorous philosophical approach to that paradox can underestimate the fact that, not just Achilles, but any one of us, could beat a turtle at the Olympic Games.
02 July 2008
The Impossible Dream
From Umberto Eco's introduction to Experiences in Translation, translated by Alastair McEwen: