Waterstones Is That a Fish in Your Ear

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Waterstones Is That a Fish in Your Ear
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Price: £10.99

Brand: Waterstones

 

Description: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos asks: how do we really make ourselves understood to other people? This funny, wise and life-affirming language book shows how, from puns to poetry, news bulletins to the Bible, Asterix to Swedish films, translation is at the heart of everything we do - and makes us who we are. Selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011'A wonderful, witty book. richly original, endlessly fascinating. for anyone interested in words' Economist, Books of the Year 'A scintillating bouillabaisse. spiced with good and provocative things' Literary Review' Dazzlingly inventive' The New York Times' Clear and lively. There is nothing quite like it' Spectator.

 

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Merchant: Waterstones

Product ID: 9780241954300

Delivery cost: 2.99

ISBN: 9780241954300

 
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Author: therealus

Rating: 5

Review: Those of us with a suspicious, cynical or just plain realistic view of the world will undoubtedly have pondered the veracity of the translated texts they read and the translated speech they hear or read. In many foreign films they will often be reflecting on the amount of time it takes the speaker to say apparently not very much. If they have even a basic grasp of the language being spoken they will know there are some words that are not mentioned in subtitles, and will be puzzled by the content of the translation itself, to the point of vehement disagreement. Sometimes the source text, for example the original Hebrew bible, is in a form wide open to interpretation, with no lower case letters, word spacing or punctuation: whole wars have been fought over the positioning of a comma in the Old Testament. Sometimes the original meaning of a word, despite the supposed handing down of meaning orally by clerics, is completely lost: David Bellos here tells us that nobody actually knows the meaning of "cherubim", for example, and it has therefore had to be inferred. These and many other themes related to translation are addressed by Bellos in this informative and entertaining volume. He examines the history of translation, in the process tracing the word back to its roots over 5000 years ago, and its politics, including the issues surrounding translation at international bodies such as the UN and EU, and the way a whole, powerful caste of translators emerged in Ottoman Venice. He looks at the way in which machines have been harnessed in various ways to act as translators, including Google's algorithm to use existing online translations, often using English as a pivot language, to enable new ones. He analyses the thorny issues of translated humour and, a particular bugbear of this reviewer, poetry or song, where often whole stanzas are rethought in order to preserve rhyme, but at the loss of meaning. He confirms the suspicion that advanced learners of a non-native language eventually cease to translate as they read, having reached an understanding that transcends translation. And he shows, using measures of their volumes, where the main efforts are in translation, giving a feel for where economic, political and cultural power lie internationally. To his credit, Bellos does not compromise the seriousness of the subject. There is no attempt at gratuitous lightheartedness, although there is plenty of humour, or at dumbing down. As well as the mechanics of translation he addresses the more philosophical aspects, particularly the ethics of translation. That may have cost him some readers, but the book is stronger and more valuable for it.

 

Author: NJ

Rating: 2

Review: Am I missing something? Or am I the boy in the Emperor's New Clothes? I make my living as a translator and I used to teach English at university level. So this book ought to have appealed to me, especially if the fulsome reviews are to be believed. But I found it just dull. Bellos writes like an academic and that is not a compliment. There are places - many places - where my brain just clouded over, either from information overload (as in the details of systems at the ECJ and UN), or from what I found the plodding nature of the prose. There are many things known to all translators but not to the general public that pass unmentioned. For instance, Bellos notes that most translation is done into the translator's "mother tongue". But he doesn't say why - and any commercial translator will tell you that the problem is rarely understanding the original (what else are dictionaries and contacts for?) but working out how to express it naturally in the target language (for which Google comes in useful). And he never mentions that the most important factor in whether a text is hard or easy to translate is not the content but the quality of writing in the original (grammaticality, sentence structure, word usage, etc.). Difficult stuff written well just requires work. Easy stuff written badly is always a headache, because written badly almost invariably means ambiguity. Bellos is presumably luckier than the rest of us in getting good texts to translate. He also gets literary texts, and talks a lot about them. This may be interesting for the general reader but it has very little to do with how most of us make our living. There's also some very curious stuff presented, almost, as established fact. For instance, while Bellos is right to point to the way that language is a very significant factor in establishing social identity, it is surely going way beyond justification claiming, as he does, that this is the main function of language and the main driver of its origins. There's no reason to doubt the sincerity of the ranks of critics and reviewers. If they enjoyed this book, then that's great. But plainly I didn't. And that comes from someone from within the trade. There's no reason why someone shouldn't be able to produce a good book about translation for the general reader, but this one didn't do it for me.

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Lovereading Is That a Fish in Your Ear Translation and the Meaning of Everything

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Description: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything. Paperback /softback. By David Bellos. Lovereading Is That a Fish in Your Ear Translation and the Meaning of Everything - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

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The Book Depository Is That a Fish in Your Ear by David Bellos

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Description: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? : Paperback : Penguin Books Ltd : 9780241954300 : : 06 Sep 2012 : How do we really make ourselves understood to other people? This book shows how, from puns to poetry, news bulletins to the Bible, Asterix to Swedish films, translation is at the heart of everything we do - and makes us who we are. The Book Depository Is That a Fish in Your Ear by David Bellos - shop the best deal online on thebookbug.co.uk

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