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Through the Language Glas - Guy DeutscherThe blurb on the back cover of Through the Language Glass: Why The World Looks Different In Other Languages by Guy Deutscher reads:

On an odyssey that takes us from Homer to Darwin, from scientists to savages, and from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water (a ‘she’) becomes a ‘he’ once you have dipped a tea bag into her, ‘Through the Language Glass’ explores some of the most intriguing and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind.

That immediately got me interested, so I bought the book. It’s a great read and it contains a lot of interesting information on how language influences the way we look at things. Or maybe not. Find out for yourself!

Dutch linguist Nicoline van der Sijs has written a book about the influences of the Dutch language on North American languages. The book will be published in September, both in Dutch (Yankees, cookies en dollars: De invloed van het Nederlands op de Noord-Amerikaanse talen) and in English (Cookies, Coleslaw, and Stoops: The Influence of Dutch on the North American Languages).

From Santa Claus (after the Dutch folklore saint Sinterklaas) and his sleigh (the pronunciation of the Dutch slee is almost identical) to a dumbhead talking poppycock, the contributions of the Dutch language to American English are indelibly embedded to some of our most vernacular terms and expressions.

We always get our sin too - Maarten H. RijkensNa het succes van I always get my sin van Maarten H. Rijkens is er nu een vervolg: We always get our sin too – Tips om bizar Engels te vermijden. Dit boekje bevat niet alleen voorbeelden van vermakelijke fouten in het Engels (I fuck horses), maar ook de correcte vertaling (I breed horses).

Het boek Vertalen wat er staat van Arthur Langeveld verscheen voor het eerst in 1986 en is nu opnieuw uitgegeven. In het boek worden vertaalvragen beantwoord aan de hand van bestaande literaire vertalingen. Voor beginnende vertalers en voor iedereen die met vreemde talen en vertalingen te maken heeft.

Vertalen is een vak, een moeilijk vak, en slechts een gering aantal natuurtalenten beheerst dit van meet af aan, de meeste andere mensen echter moeten er een opleiding in krijgen, want het is een vak dat – mits enige aanleg aanwezig is – zeker geleerd kan worden. Dit pleidooi voor een professionalisering van het vertalen zal iedereen kunnen onderschrijven die bijvoorbeeld wel eens geworsteld heeft met een volstrekt onbegrijpelijke, want door een Japanner uit het Japans vertaalde, handleiding voor een elektrisch apparaat.

Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran FoerThe novel Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer

tells the story of a young man who goes to the Ukraine in search of the woman who saved his grandfather from the Nazis. He is aided in his quest by a blind old man, a randy guide dog and a very, very bad translator.

Some of the chapters are written by the “very, very bad translator”, which sometimes leads to hilarious dialogues (the “I” in this dialogue is the translator):

“Your train ride appeased you?” I asked. “Oh, God,” he said, “twenty-six hours, fucking unbelievable.” This girl Unbelievable must be very majestic, I thought. “You were able to Z Z Z Z Z?” I asked. “What?” “Did you manufacture any Z’s?” “I don’t understand.” “Repose.” “What?” “Did you repose?” “Oh. No,” he said, “didn’t repose at all.” “What?” “I…did…not…repose…at…all.”

Charlie Croker, author of the book Lost in Translation – Misadventures in English Abroad, has published a sequel: Still Lost in Translation – More Misadventures in English Abroad.

The Telegraph has published some examples from the new book:

In front of construction works at Bolivian airport: Sorry for the bother

Above basin in toilet on train, China: Don’t throw things in the pond

Sign on windy road in the Himalayas: Be mild on my curves

Small hotel, Cornwall: Will any guest wishing to take a bath please make arrangements to have one with Mrs Harvey

Munich, Germany: In your room you will find a minibar which is filled with alcoholics

At a wadi in Oman: Drowning accidents are now popular

Czech Republic: We like 2 please our customers but if u r unhappy please see the manager who will give u total satisfaction

In Japanese national park containing monkeys: You had better deposit your baggage into the charge free lockers or it will be ours. But we are not interested in your camera. We do not like to be stared at our eyes. If you do so, we are not responsible for what will happen. We do not hope to be such a monkey. Please, refrain from feeding us

Toledo, Spain: Frozen ice available here

Dydo coffee, Japan: There’s a gallon of deliciousness in every drop

Notice on a door in Sana’a, Yemen: Physio the rapist

Sign outside cottage hospital, Caribbean: Dont (sic) park here, hearse calls daily

“Emergency exit” sign at Beijing Airport: Do no use in peacetime

On snack handed out on China Southern Airways: Airline Pulp

In Japanese car park: Please get a punch at window No 2

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In his book Becoming a Translator: An Introduction to the Theory and Practice of Translation, Douglas Robinson discusses both the theoretical and practical aspects of becoming a translator. It is aimed specifically at novice translators and discusses subjects such as:

  • How to translate faster and more accurately
  • How to deal with arising problems and stress
  • How the market works

The book includes a wide variety of lively activities and exercises to facilitate the learning of both theory and practice plus a detailed Teachers Guide with suggestions for discussion and activities and hints for the teaching of translation.

Lost in Translation - Charlie CrokerSpoken by more than 700 million people, English has travelled to all corners of the globe. But some of it gets scrambled along the way. A new book, Lost in Translation, has compiled some of the best, or worst, communication catastrophes. Rachael Bletchly picks out a few of her favourites…

Hotels’ room for improvement
India: Welcome to Hotel Cosy: where no one is stranger.

Paris: Please leave your values at the front desk.

Seoul: Third floor: Turkey Bath.

Hamburg, Germany: It is our intention to pleasure you every day.

Zurich: We have nice bath and are very good in bed.

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Watching the English - Kate FoxIn Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour anthropologist Kate Fox describes how she has observed the English to find out what exactly are the defining characteristics of Englishness. She talks about the rules of conversation in different situations and the rules of behaviour, for example at home, at work and in the pub. In her own words:

I don’t see why anthropologists feel they have to travel to remote corners of the world and get dysentery and malaria in order to study strange tribal cultures with bizarre beliefs and mysterious customs, when the weirdest, most puzzling tribe of all is right here on our doorstep.

It’s a very interesting and amusing book which will give you some insight in the English and English society.

We always get our sin too - Maarten H. RijkensI always get my sin – Het bizarre Engels van Nederlands van Maarten H. Rijkens is een vermakelijke bloemlezing van fouten die Nederlanders maken als ze Engels spreken. Enkele voorbeelden:

I thank you from the bottom of my heart and also from my wife’s bottom
(Ik bedank u hartelijk, mede namens mijn vrouw)

May I thank your cock for the lovely dinner?
(Mag ik uw kok bedanken voor het heerlijke diner?)

I hate you all heartily welcome
(Ik heet u allen hartelijk welkom)

About this weblog

Translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture
-Anthony Burgess

To know another’s language and not his culture is a very good way to make a fluent fool of yourself
-Winston Brembeck


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