David Bellos

Babbling Barbarians: How Translators Keep Us Civilized: Ever heard people say things like, “A translation is no substitute for the original” or “Humour can’t be translated into another language”? In this wide-ranging conversation with David Bellos, Meredith Howland Pyne Professor of French Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, many fascinating features of language and translation are explored at length.

This carefully-edited book includes an introduction, Teaching a Man to Fish, and questions for discussion at the end of each chapter:

  1. Introductory Musings – On Perec, Chomsky, and other matters
  2. An Illustrative Capture – Learning from The Great Escape
  3. Getting the Joke – Translating Humour
  4. Probing the Foreign – Dickens, word order, and Anglo-Italian gibberish
  5. Films in Translation – Subtitles, dubbing, and “The Bergman Effect”
  6. The Varieties in English – In search of a middle form
  7. Asserting Our Individuality – Language as an expression of our identity
  8. Translation and Meaning – Extending the Principle of Effability
  9. Mathematics and Music – Pushing the boundaries of “language-like”
  10. Language and Thought – Plato, Hopi, and jumping mind-grooves
  11. Paying Respects – Valuing the translator in our midst

Available in electronic format on all major booksellers, including: 

Babbling Barbarians: How Translators Keep Us Civilized is also part of the five-part Ideas Roadshow Collection, Conversations About Language & Culture, which is available in hardcover, paperback and electronic format.