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I may be passionate about translation; I never got into the theory. My school (ISIT) gives us a various amount of history of translation, traductology, etc but even if I am the curious kind I always found them extremely annoying. When someone gave me the book “Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything”, you can understand that I was not really thrilled.

I could not be more wrong! I could not put the book down until I was done reading it.

The author, David Bellos is a Comparative literature teacher at Princeton University and an experienced translator. He did the award-winning translation of George Pérec’s books. David Bellos does not pretend to “tell you how to translate or how I translate” contrary to most translations books trying to explain what is translation and how to learn it.

He takes a close interest to literary translation, automatic translation, the comic book series Asterix, interpretation or subtitles using entertaining and captivating anecdotes. What was the use of the first dictionaries? Why is Russian language lacking a word for blue? How to translate what a fig is in a language that has no idea what a fig is? Is English hegemony a treat to other languages? In a book bursting with examples, some are food for thoughts and make yourself ask questions that would not have crossed your mind in the first place.

Language lovers will of course love this book, translators as well but also any curious person keen to learn and understand more the world they live in. I am more into novels but I loved “Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything” and I hope you will love it as well!

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