Translation and the meaning of everything?

I like this video promoting a witty new book about translation:

It’s a brilliant introduction to the sort of conundrums that can crop up in translating even the most “common sense” concepts. The book itself, Is that a fish in your ear: Translation and the meaning of everything has been garnering some rave reviews.

While Shaun Whiteside in the Independent says

“I can quite imagine translators, particularly those who also do a spot of teaching, being consumed with envy at Bellos’s ability to entertain while getting difficult linguistic ideas across to the general reader… Is That a Fish in Your Ear? is essential reading for anyone with even a vague interest in language and translation – in short, it is a triumph.”

While Michael Hofmann in the Guardian says

“I could say anyone with an interest in translation should read Is That a Fish, but there wouldn’t be very much point; instead, anyone with no interest in translation, please read David Bellos’s brilliant book.”

(As an aside, the Guardian have also teamed up with Penguin Books to celebrate the book’s publication with a chance to win a £400 voucher towards a life changing volunteering trip overseas.)

These reviews were enough to get a copy of the book sitting on my desk. Its Prologue promises a wide ranging discussion including:

“What can we learn from translation? What does it teach us? What do we actually know about translation? What is it about translation that we still need to find out? … Is translating fundamentally different from writing and speaking, or is it just another aspect of the unsolved mystery of how we come to know what someone else means?”

Some big questions, but they seemed to be tackled in a fun as well as informative way. I am sure I will be sharing some interesting tidbits from the pages ahead. In the meantime, anyone wondering about the title should have a look here for some mostly harmless background!

One Reply to “Translation and the meaning of everything?”

Comments are closed.