Customer Review

72 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book on translation I have read, October 20, 2011
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This review is from: Is That a Fish in Your Ear?: Translation and the Meaning of Everything (Kindle Edition)
This is the best book on translation I have read. I am a professional translator (American who does German to English, and I live in Germany). The book is not bogged down in the typical pedantic "linguist-speak" that you usually find in books about translation. The author ranges far and wide, from oral interpreting, to Biblical translation, to Google Translate and machine translation. I particularly liked his exploding of myths (the "Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax", and the myth that because Spanish and Chinese have a lot of speakers, that makes them big translation languages). The author shows that only 5 % of books from 2000-2009 were translated into Chinese (into Arabic is even more dismal). Only 10% of books were translated into English in that period, which shocked me as an "into English" translator. The author cites a figure that 78% of books in that period were into just two languages: French and German, which is truly amazing. This means that English, German, and French are by far the most important languages for translation, particularly for literature and books. It also shows that Americans and Brits don't read foreign books (!).

A good portion of this book is about what translation is. The notion of translating "sense for sense", not "word for word" is of course good advice, and very old advice. The author handles things like, what do we mean by "literal translation", and why it is harder to translate Asterix than Proust.

I loved the discussion of "UP translation" and "DOWN translation". (I won't tell you what that is, you have to read the book).

All-in-all, probably the best book I have ever read about translation, and very accessible to anyone, translators and people just interested in language. I can't recommend this book more.

A must read for translators.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 28, 2011 8:25:41 PM PDT
MaryMR says:
Were you pleased with the quality of the Kindle edition, formatting, etc.?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 8, 2011 1:28:59 PM PST
John says:
yes.

Posted on Feb 19, 2013 11:29:27 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 19, 2013 11:35:43 AM PST
rnh17 says:
Since you are a professional translator, I expected your English prose to be more polished. For example, what does this sence mean: "The author cites a figure that 78% of books in that period were into just two languages: French and German."

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 19, 2013 2:54:46 PM PST
MaryMR says:
Oops, methinks those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Posted on Oct 25, 2014 6:38:09 AM PDT
Converted says:
You should have said that it was also the only one!
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