German philosophy: Language and style

Topoi 10 (2):155-161 (1991)
The remarks which follow are intended to address a certain apparent asymmetry as between German and Anglo-Saxon philosophy. Put most simply, it is clear to every philosopher moving backwards and forwards between the two languages that the translation of an Anglo-Saxophone philosophical text into German is in general a much easier task than is the translation of a German philosophical text into English. The hypothesis suggests itself immediately that this is so because English philosophical writings are in the main clear and intelligible, and therefore easy to translate. The texts of German philosophy, on the other hand, both classical and contemporary, seem in many cases to be marked by stylistic obscurities or idiosyncracies of a sort which make them not translatable in the strict sense at all.
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