Dancing on Ropes
‘Full of lively stories … leaves the reader with an awed respect for the translator’s task’ Economist
Would Hiroshima have been bombed if Japanese contained a phrase meaning ‘no comment’? Is it alright for missionaries to replace the Bible’s ‘white as snow’ with ‘white as fungus’ in places where snow never falls? Who, or what, is Kuzma’s mother, and why was Nikita Khrushchev so threateningly obsessed with her (or it)?
The course of diplomacy rarely runs smooth; without an invisible army of translators and interpreters, it could hardly run at all. Join veteran translator Anna Aslanyan to explore hidden histories of cunning and ambition, heroism and incompetence. Meet the figures behind the notable events of history, from the Great Game to Brexit, and discover just how far a simple misunderstanding can go.
Translation is a matter of life and death - and not only because it is poorly paid. That's the thrilling, rather chilling, message of this wonderful history by translator and interpreter Anna Aslanyan, who blesses jaw-dropping and entertaining tales with an insider's insight -- Rosie Goldsmith * FT * Full of lively stories ... leaves the reader with an awed respect for the translator's task * Economist * Wide-angled and reader-friendly ... Aslanyan covers huge swathes of territory with a pleasantly light touch ... A singular achievement -- Boyd Tonkin * Spectator * Engaging ... Aslanyan's compendium of tales of interpreters at work spans not just the globe but historical experience ... [She] doesn't merely pay homage to her forebears in this honourable profession. Her deeper purpose is to get us to consider the future: to drive home the point that while this may be an era of machine-learning, it's too soon to dispense with the human professionals -- Bridget Kendall * Literary Review * Ranges engagingly across period, geography and media ... Illumine[s] both the complexities of the craft and the thorny question of the translator's agency -- Sarah Watling * Times Literary Supplement * Joyous ... A real treat -- Robert Fox * Reaction * Anna Aslanyan compellingly recounts ... verbal exploits [and] miscommunications ... weaving in anecdotes from her experience as a Russian-English interpreter and translator -- Emily Lawford * Prospect * Language both connects and divides us, and translators are the bridges between us: if ever there were a time when we needed to remember that we don't all think the same way, that concepts and idioms are different in different languages, it is surely now. And Anya Aslanyan is the perfect guide for this journey. She has produced a wonderful compendium of stories from the world of translation, which turn out to be stories of the world -- Natalie Haynes, author * Pandora's Jar * This richly stocked treasure-house of stories about the amazing exploits of translators introduces us to a huge cast of heroes. With engaging lucidity, Anna Aslanyan explains the complexities and conundrums that language professionals have grappled with over the ages, showing just how much skill, courage, ingenuity and wit they have deployed to keep the peace, spread the word and foster conversation among the peoples of the world -- David Bellos, author * Is That A Fish In Your Ear? * A colourful tribute to the translators and interpreters slogging away throughout history, oiling - or clogging - the wheels of diplomacy and culture. Flitting from saints to cheats, drudges to adventurers, pedants to geniuses, Aslanyan sketches a lively history of an underrated art. Highly enjoyable -- Gaston Dorren, author * Lingo *
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