If you were hoping for an extension/parody of the Hitchhiker’s Guide series, I’m afraid I have disappointed you.
For those of you who may not know (and I apologise to those of you who do for the following explanation): In Douglas Adams’ famous book series, the characters put Babel Fish in their ears in order to understand things in other languages. This idea has been carried out in babelfish.com and babelzine.com, two language/linguistic-based websites…and this book!
Unlike the books I have previously reviewed, this book is nonfictional. It is a very detailed description if the intricacies of different techniques in translation, and things to look out for: eg if a certain piece of dialogue in a film has to remain in English due to the significance of English in that circumstance.
….okay, so out of context that seems positively bizarre! But I promise you, this book is fascinating!
If you are a complete language nut like myself you will love it. It’s very, very well written and quite funny in parts too. As far as I am aware, this is Bellos’ only original book (ignoring those he has translated) but that is a real shame! I love how he writes. This book can be quite hard to grasp at first – and some parts may seem quite dry – but the fantastic way on which Bellos writes these fascinating facts helps that a lot.
I have learned so many amazing facts from this book and, at any opportune moment, I love to share those I remember with anyone willing to listen.
This is definitely for people interested in the art of translation and interpretation – I would never pretend that it would suit everybody, that is simply not the case. I really hope that whoever does find such things interesting will pick up this book and get stuck in!