David Bellos

David Bellos is the director of the Program in Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton University, where he is also a professor of French and comparative literature. He has won many awards for his translations of Georges Perec, Ismail Kadare, and others, including the Man Booker International Translator’s Award. He also received the Prix Goncourt for George Perec: A Life in Words. He is the author of the book Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything.


David Bellos

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Linguistic Diversity IS Language

David Bellos on Big Think: In his book, Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and The Meaning of Everything, master translator David Bellos argues that “Babel tells the wrong story. The most likely original use of human speech was to be different, not the same.”

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Avatar: What's Lost (and Found) in Translation?

Avatar is a fantasy about sameness and difference. The hero is a human being. He's the emissary of a human mining company who is transformed by a fantasy scientific process into something else, into a native of this other planet, Pandora. So, his job is to infiltrate this other culture, this very other place, so as to feedback to his human controllers the information they need to pursue their mining project.

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A Few Oddities about Language

How do you give directions if your language has no "left" or "right"? Why would you need a word for the number 1.25? And how do you translate a joke? David Bellos looks at the peculiarities of language and the art of translation as a part of his book IS THAT A FISH IN YOUR EAR? TRANSLATION AND THE MEANING OF EVERYTHING.

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David Bellos

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Is That a Fish in Your Ear?

David Bellos
Faber and Faber, Inc.

An NBCC Award and Los Angeles Times Book Award finalistA New York Times Notable Book for 2011 One of The Economist’s 2011 Books of the Year  People speak...


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