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Looking for book recommendations for language lovers
Thread poster: Michele Johnson

Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:59
German to English
+ ...
Jul 4, 2007

What books can you recommend for language lovers, not necessarily translators? Mostly I'm looking for books in English or German, but welcome all recommendations. I'll start off with two of my own favorites:

In Other Words. A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World. Christopher J. Moore. 128 pages, Oxford University Press (March 17, 2005) ISBN 0192806246
Could have been a bit longer and I find it somewhat Euro-centric, but nonetheless a fascinating read.

The Deeper Meaning of Liff. A Dictionary of Things There Aren't Any Words for Yet--But There Ought to Be. Douglas Adams & John LLoyd. ISBN 0307236013
Also available in a combination German-German and English-English version:
Der tiefere Sinn des Labenz. Das Wörterbuch der bisher unbennanten Gegenstände und Gefühle. ISBN 3453879600
This makes a great holiday/birthday gift.

I also remember reading (maybe on proz.com?) about a book of unique phrases from around the world, for example a word in language X for being willing to forgive someone once, and then forgive them a second time, but not a third time. Does anyone remember this? I couldn't find it in the forums.


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Thomas Deschington
Poland
Local time: 12:59
English to Norwegian
+ ...
These came to mind... Jul 4, 2007

One book I enjoyed during my translation studies was a little book by Deborah Tannen called "That's not what I meant" (ISBN 1-85381-512-8), which is about pragmatics and communication. Entertaining and insightful.

Another one I read recently was "On writing" by Stephen King. It has two parts: King's story of how he became a writer, and a section of "tricks of the trade". Very readable, useful, and FUNNY! (ISBN 0-7434-2104-3)

A third one, which I picked up at a supermarket in California, is a tome, quite useful, but not particularly geared toward language lovers. I had to buy it just so I could boast of having a book with this title in my library: "The complete illustrated guide to everything sold in hardware stores and garden centers (except the plants)"! I think I've used it once... (ISBN - in case you're interested... - 0-7624-1493-6)


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LuciaC
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:59
English to Italian
+ ...
Thanks Jul 4, 2007

Thank you very much for the info.

The book you mention might be 'The Meaning of Tingo'

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meaning-Tingo-Adam-Jacot-Boinod/dp/0140515615


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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 12:59
German to English
+ ...
The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher Jul 4, 2007

worth a read (though I haven't finished mine yet)

or even Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson


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Andrew Levine  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:59
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Le Ton beau de Marot by Douglas Hofstadter (yes, it's in English) Jul 4, 2007

I second Cilan's recommendation of Mother Tongue.

Translators especially will love Douglas Hofstadter's Le Ton beau de Marot: In Praise of the Music of Language (it's in English, despite the French title). There is plenty in it for all language enthusiants, though.

[Edited at 2007-07-04 08:47]


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Anne Goff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:59
French to English
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The Professor and the Madman Jul 4, 2007

by Simon Winchester

About some of the key contributers to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Somewhat fictionalized, but fun.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:59
English to German
+ ...
Me talk pretty one day Jul 4, 2007

by David Sedaris.

Cultures are clashing, languages are clashing. One of those books that you wish they had an infinite number of pages and will never end. You will giggle your head off.

A review:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:U5iayazBXccJ:www.bookpage.com/0006bp/david_sedaris.html%20me%20talk%20pretty%20one%20day&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us

[Edited at 2007-07-04 09:35]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:59
English to German
+ ...
There is one more thing Jul 4, 2007

As a teen I read my way through the entire shelf of fairy tales from all over the world at the local library. That was approximately 25 years before I even dreamed about being a translator. The result: I gained an outstanding understanding of idioms, sayings, quotes, history, culture and whatnot. Besides, it's fun. I highly recommend it.

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Nicole Johnson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 12:59
Italian to English
+ ...
Another Bill Bryson Title Jul 4, 2007

is "Made in America" which is an entertaining and informative history of the development of American English. He includes lots of facts, tidbits and anecdotes, explains the evolution of the American language and also provides several examples of words that have been lost along the way...my favorite has to be "slobberchops" which was once used to describe a messy eater and is now our Golden Retreiver's new nickname. And of course, he does it all with his great sense of humor!

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Cilian O'Tuama
Local time: 12:59
German to English
+ ...
and then of course there's Mark Twain's classic short story Jul 4, 2007

"The Awful German Language" which appeared in his book "A Tramp Abroad"

Hilarious.

http://www.proz.com/topic/12671


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Anne Koth  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:59
German to English
My bookshelf Jul 4, 2007

"The Adventure of English", by Melvyn Bragg
(I found it interesting, although slightly irritating from time to time; he seems to suggest, just slightly, that English must be a world language because it is inherently superior...)

"Deutsch für Kenner", by Wolf Schneider - a classic: the best one I've read in German. Takes apart sentences written in newspapers and shows you why they are badly written.

"Eats, shoots and leaves", by Lynne Truss, Queen of Punctuation

"Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod", by Bastian Sick: the first, the best.

"The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker: long and a lot of complicated detail, but absolutely fascinating.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Astonishment of Words Jul 4, 2007

I haven't seen a copy of this in years, but Victor Proetz's "The Astonishment of Words" (1971) is wonderful. It's a collection of excerpts from famous works of English-language literature, followed by the published French and/or German translations.

I especially loved the translations of Lewis Carroll's writings: a chapter from Henri Bue's French version of "Alice in Wonderland" and multiple French and German "Jabberwocky" translations ("Le jaseroque," "Der Jammerwoch," etc.)

If you've ever wondered how to say "Thar she blows!" or sing "Auld Lang Syne" in French or German, here's your chance to find out.

It's probably out of print, but I just looked on abebooks.com, and lots of independent booksellers have copies available.

[Edited at 2007-07-04 14:48]


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Michele Johnson  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:59
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Tingo Jul 4, 2007

LuciaC wrote:
...
The book you mention might be 'The Meaning of Tingo'
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meaning-Tingo-Adam-Jacot-Boinod/dp/0140515615


Thanks Lucia! I'm pretty sure that's the one. A forum search seems to confirm this.


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Catherine Bolton  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
Member (2002)
Italian to English
+ ...
Loved that book! Jul 4, 2007

Anne Goff wrote:

by Simon Winchester

About some of the key contributers to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. Somewhat fictionalized, but fun.


Another good one is Jacques Barzun's "Simple & Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers". I bought my copy through Amazon UK.

Catherine


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:59
German to English
+ ...
Bill Walsh Jul 4, 2007

Lapsing into a Comma and The Elephants of Style by Bill Walsh. You can check out his Web site here: http://www.theslot.com/

I second the recommendation of Der Dativ ist dem Genetiv sein Tod!


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