Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

Is That a Fish in Your Ear? : Translation and the Meaning of Everything

3.76 (1,758 ratings by Goodreads)
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Is That a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos asks: how do we really make ourselves understood to other people? This funny, wise and life-affirming language book shows how, from puns to poetry, news bulletins to the Bible, Asterix to Swedish films, translation is at the heart of everything we do - and makes us who we are.Selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011'A wonderful, witty book ... richly original, endlessly fascinating ... for anyone interested in words' Economist, Books of the Year 'A scintillating bouillabaisse ... spiced with good and provocative things' Literary Review'Dazzlingly inventive' The New York Times'Clear and lively ... There is nothing quite like it' Spectator
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Product details

  • Paperback | 400 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 28mm | 300g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0241954304
  • 9780241954300
  • 35,894

About David Bellos

David Bellos is Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature at Princeton University, where he also teaches Comparative Literature. He is the author of many books and articles on nineteenth-century fiction, alongside biographies of three icons of French culture in the twentieth century: Georges Perec, Jacques Tati and Romain Gary. He is also a well-known translator and the author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? The Amazing Adventure of Translation. David Bellos was recently awarded the rank of officier in the Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres for his services to French culture.
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Review quote

In the guise of a book about translation this is a richly original cultural history ... A book for anyone interested in words, language and cultural anthropology. Mr Bellos's fascination with his subject is itself endlessly fascinating * The Economist * 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 Bolano'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 *
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Review Text

In the guise of a book about translation this is a richly original cultural history ... A book for anyone interested in words, language and cultural anthropology. Mr Bellos's fascination with his subject is itself endlessly fascinating The Economist
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Rating details

1,758 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 22% (390)
4 41% (717)
3 29% (515)
2 6% (113)
1 1% (23)

Our customer reviews

This is an extremely intelligent book that deals with more than I expected. It is still a book about translation, but it is above all a book that shows how much the act of translation really implies and affects. It is not the light read (I thought) the cover kind of makes it out to be, but it is definitely one of the best books I've read this year. An incredible book for anyone interested in translation or language or culture, or for anyone who loves reading good, witty writing. It's also possible to read chapters as stand-alones as they deal with very diverse topics and don't overlap too much. If you are buying this book, enjoy! :)show more
by Rose
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