Found in Translation

“Found in translation” is rapidly becoming my second most hated translation cliché. Despite this, I was keen to read Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche‘s book of that name (Perigee, 2012). They are two leading figures in the translation-related twittersphere and the book has generated quite a buzz. So mari bought it for me for Christmas. Along with something else:

Found in Translation (2 books with same title)

Spot the Difference…

Intended more for the general reader than an expert audience – with a foreword from David Crystal to draw in people interested in popular linguistics – it is a highly engaging whizz through the various worlds of translation and interpreting. There were aspects I’m very familiar with, and others that were quite new to me, and it’s packed full of anecdotes and stories to illustrate the general point made by the subtitle that Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World.

Baker Street station with Tube train

This is the London Underground, aka the Tube.

I found it rather US-centric – hardly surprising given that the authors live and work on the other side of the Pond. All the same, this resulted in occasional language usages that grated on my British ear. There are subways in London, but they don’t contain trains. I can’t believe that a UK author would ever write about the New York Tube, and it would be nice for a book on translation to get our terminology right! Similarly, it sounded most unnatural to talk about soccer in Brazil, but hey, those are minor quibbles.

UK subway, tunnel, underpass

This is a subway.

Otherwise, it was a very interesting and entertaining read, covering lots of aspects of translation I hadn’t considered before. Personally, I preferred David Bellos’ Is that a Fish in Your Ear but both books make a great introduction into our profession.

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About forwardtranslations

I'm a freelance literary translator from German and French to English. The title of my blog comes from Mary Schmich's description of reading: it struck home with me, and seems especially apt for translated fiction. Here are some of my musings on what I'm reading, re-reading, reading to my children, and translating.
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