I was going through some old notes and was reminded of this poem by Andrew Marvell - a treasure trove of aphorisms about translation to reflect on in the bath.
(Not a supporter of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, as it turns out... )
To his worthy Friend Doctor Witty upon his Translation of the Popular Errors
by Andrew Marvell
Sit further, and make room for thine own fame,
Where just desert enrolles thy honour'd Name
The good Interpreter. Some in this task
Take of the Cypress vail, but leave a mask,
Changing the Latine, but do more obscure
That sence in English which was bright and pure.
So of Translators they are Authors grown,
For ill Translators make the Book their own.
Others do strive with words and forced phrase
To add such lustre, and so many rayes,
That but to make the Vessel shining, they
Much of the precious Metal rub away.
He is Translation's thief that addeth more,
As much as he that taketh from the Store
Of the first Author. Here he maketh blots
That mends; and added beauties are but spots.
Celia whose English doth more richly flow
Then Tagus, purer than dissolved snow,
And sweet as are her lips that speak it, she
Now learns the tongues of France and Italy;
But she is Celia still: no other grace
But her own smiles commend that lovely face;
Her native beauty's not Italianated,
Nor her chast mind into the French translated:
Her thoughts are English, though her sparkling wit
With other Language doth them fitly fit.
Translators learn of her: but stay, I slide
Down into Error with the Vulgar tide;
Women must not teach here: the Doctor doth
Stint them to Cawdles, Almond-milk, and Broth.
Now I reform, and surely so will all
Whose happy Eyes on thy Translation fall,
I see the people hastning to thy Book,
Liking themselves the worse the more they look,
And so disliking, that they nothing see
Now worth the liking, but thy Book and thee.
And (if I Judgement have) I censure right;
For something guides my hand that I must write.
You have Translations statutes best fulfil'd.
That handling neither sully nor would guild.
Marvell, Andrew. Complete Poetry. George de F. Lord, Ed. London: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1984. 215-6.