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Three texts about translation, pick your level!


(Image credit –Tico– via Compfight)

Today i won’t write about language learning as such. You will see, however, that my other passion (translation) is just as relevant for foreign language study. And don’t worry: there’s a text here for beginner translators and seasoned pros alike. Choose one and explore!

Easy: “Lost in Translation”

Whenever someone asks about my favourite film, this is not my first answer. Its the one it think of after a while, and wish it came to me earlier.

There is so much to love about this film, and so much to be embarrassed, amazed and amused about. But for me, and for the friends in my life who share my interests, this story has always been about language and the way it works. It’s brave, beautiful and thoughtful exactly when there’s is not so much being said – and through this, the film explores exactly what it is that gets lost in translation. A feel-good movie for every linguist and language learner, surely.

Medium: “Is that a fish in your ear?”

I always wished there was a book I could give to everyone who fails to understand translators. To those who think that it’s reasonable to expect fast, cheap and faithful translations every time. To those who obsessed over words that they thought should be interpreted differently. Finally, to those who believe that in the future, human translation will be completely replaced by machines.

This is the book.

It’s witty, approachable, straightforward and practical. At the same time, it relentlessly focuses on one question: what does translation do? The examples will make you smile and wonder, and the language will ensure that you don’t get stuck in a complicated train of thought.

Read this and never be wring about translators or translation again.

Hard: “Mouse or Rat?”

Umberto Eco demands respect, time and lots of focus. This book is no different, but at the same time it’s a lot easier to follow. I’ve been reading this on my Tube commutes and enjoying it immensely.

Eco focuses on literary translation here, and does so from a very specific perspective. As an author, scholar and erudite, his perspective on translation is very specific, but that makes his argument even more enjoyable. Philosophy, logic, literature- they all come together in this book, full of useful examples in various languages. Avid readers and postmodern troublemakers will rejoice throughout, everyone else may find this a bit too hermetic.

Anything to add to the list? Got any suggestions for us? Share them below!

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