The translation of thinking

The translation of thinking

Steinbeck seeks to understand the difficulties his interpreters faced when supporting him on his trip to the Soviet Union with Robert Capa. The language difference wasn’t the real issue, it was bridging the thinking gap. ‘The answers I was supposed to have...
All languages, all accents

All languages, all accents

Steinbeck sums up the polyglot strengths and quirks of his friend Robert Capa with whom he spent a month in the Soviet Union, during which Capa managed to hoover up a smattering of Russian to add to all the others.  I loved his mish-mash matching of one accent to...
Of time and tenses I

Of time and tenses I

A fascinating insight into how we fold our perceptions of time into language, or language influences such perceptions.  It made me realise that my assumptions about time, how I engage with and experience it, may have been strongly shaped by the languages I grew up...
Of time and tenses II

Of time and tenses II

Another angle on language and how it shapes or at least influences our perception of time.  Here Adam Nicolson discusses the anchoring of tense in many languages, while others allow things to happen in a more imprecise location in time. ‘The sky is the great...
Instinct with poetry

Instinct with poetry

A fine and subtle way to depict a look which appears to express more than the person looking is capable of feeling. And I’ve always been struck when I come across commonplace proverbs and phrases in their original setting, and see how readily they are used by...
An English view of Russian

An English view of Russian

Although ignorant of Russian, I am interested in how cultures see other cultures, and languages see other languages, even if those perceptions are inaccurate.  Was this just a finely poetic notion in Woolf’s head, or was it based on something she knew or had...
Language like a wipe of garlic

Language like a wipe of garlic

What a way to convey the invigorating presence of foreign words in a language.  Even if imperfectly grafted, they add something of value, providing the same ‘rank zest’ that a wipe of garlic brings to a salad bowl. ‘There are, through this random...
The astonishing sound of Magyar

The astonishing sound of Magyar

Having just returned from Budapest, I was happy to rediscover this galloping description of the way it can sound to a foreign – or at least English – ear, with its agreeing vowels and harmonies.  And he’s captured the rhythm perfectly – that...

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