Revue de presse
For anyone with a passing interest in language this work is enthralling ... A wonderful celebration of the sheer diversity of language and the place it occupies in human endeavour. Conducted by a man who clearly knows his stuff, it is a whirlwind tour round the highways and byways of translation in all its glorious forms, from literary fiction to car repair manuals, from the Nuremberg trials to decoding at Bletchley Park (The Scotsman)
Bellos has numerous paradoxes, anecdotes and witty solutions ... his insights are thought provoking, paradoxical and a brilliant exposition of mankind's attempts to deal with the Babel of global communication (Michael Binyon The Times)
[A] witty, erudite exploration...[Bellos] delights in [translation's] chequered past and its contemporary ubiquity...He would like us to do more of it. With the encouragement of this book, we might even begin to enjoy it (Maureen Freely Sunday Telegraph)
Is That A Fish In Your Ear? is spiced with good and provocative things. At once erudite and unpretentious...[it is a] scintillating bouillabaisse (Frederic Raphael Literary Review)
Is That A Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos (father of Alex of Numberland fame) is a fascinating book on the world of translation that might well be this year's Just My Type (Jonathan Ruppin, Foyles Booskhop)
Selected by The Times' 'Daily Universal Register' as a 'Try This' Book (The Times)
A fascinating...very readable study of the mysterious art and business of translation...Bellos asks big questions...and comes up with often surprising answers...sparky, thought-provoking (Nigeness)
Forget the fish-it's David Bellos you want in your ear when the talk is about translation. Bellos dispels many of the gloomy truisms of the trade and reminds us what an infinitely flexible instrument the English language (or any language) is. Sparkling, independent-minded analysis of everything from Nabokov's insecurities to Google Translate's felicities fuels a tender-even romantic-account of our relationship with words. (-NATASHA WIMMER, translator of Roberto Bolaño's Savage Detectives and 2666)
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? offers a lively survey of translating puns and poetry, cartoons and legislation, subtitles, news bulletins and the Bible (Matthew Reisz Times Higher Education Supplement)
Please read David Bellos's brilliant book (Michael Hofmann Guardian)
A clear and lively survey...This book fulfils a real need; there is nothing quite like it. (Robert Chandler Spectator)
In his marvellous study of the nature of translation...[David Bellos] has set out to make it fun...Essential reading for anyone with even a vague interest in language and translation - in short, it is a triumph (Shaun Whiteside Independent)
A dazzyingly inventive book (Adam Thirlwell New York Times)
Witty and perceptive...stimulating, lucid, ultimately cheering (Theo Dorgan Irish Times)
Superbly smart, supremely shrewd (Carlin Romano The Chronicle Review)
Selected as a National Book Critics' Circle Award Criticism Finalist 2011 (NBCC)
Présentation de l'éditeur
A New York Times Notable Book for 2011
One of The Economist's 2011 Books of the Year
People speak different languages, and always have. The Ancient Greeks took no notice of anything unless it was said in Greek; the Romans made everyone speak Latin; and in India, people learned their neighbors' languages—as did many ordinary Europeans in times past (Christopher Columbus knew Italian, Portuguese, and Castilian Spanish as well as the classical languages). But today, we all use translation to cope with the diversity of languages. Without translation there would be no world news, not much of a reading list in any subject at college, no repair manuals for cars or planes; we wouldn't even be able to put together flat-pack furniture.
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? ranges across the whole of human experience, from foreign films to philosophy, to show why translation is at the heart of what we do and who we are. Among many other things, David Bellos asks: What's the difference between translating unprepared natural speech and translating Madame Bovary? How do you translate a joke? What's the difference between a native tongue and a learned one? Can you translate between any pair of languages, or only between some? What really goes on when world leaders speak at the UN? Can machines ever replace human translators, and if not, why?
But the biggest question Bellos asks is this: How do we ever really know that we've understood what anybody else says—in our own language or in another? Surprising, witty, and written with great joie de vivre, this book is all about how we comprehend other people and shows us how, ultimately, translation is another name for the human condition.