Tag Archive | Linguistics

Lost in translation, or not

The beauty of writing and reading in two languages

I’m English but I also speak French fluently. On many occasions, reading translated comments or subtitles on the television or at the cinema has provided a few laughs and/ or head-shaking.

I love the fact I can pick up any French book and read it without any problems. It does open the mind to read authors whose mother tongue is not the same as yours. I also find it influences my own writing at times as I might  find another turn of phrase as I think of an expression in another language.

I was very interested therefore to read the interview of an Italo-British author. It struck me how she explained how either language was best fitted for different purposes.

There are subjects I find easier to write in english and vice-versa. When a personal tragedy affected me, I found release by writing about it in French, which is how the French writing adventure all started. I had never written in French before, nor had I thought about it. It just poured out of me, taking me by surprise.

Here is a sample of this interview.


She originally went to England at the age of 17 to study the language. There, she met and fell in love with an Englishman, whom she married at 21. Hornby has lived in England since 1969 and has worked as a children’s lawyer in London for the past 30 years. “There’s Nothing Wrong with Lucy” is the first novel she’s written in English, her second language.

Having completed the English manuscript, when it came to publishing the book in Italian, she decided to re-write it herself rather than have it translated.

There were bits of dialogue which didn’t fit in Italian so I stopped it. And descriptions were different. I remember I was describing the sky in St. James Park. In the English sky I was talking about the color of the sky. In Italian I had to talk about the clouds, not the color of the sky. It’s extraordinary. But when you think of it, logically, it’s right because language is harmony and some words are more harmonious than others in a language or in a particular sequence.

You just have to use different words. That is the richness of a language. A language is the soul of a nation, of people. The language is not just the way of identifying a shoe or a microphone or a finger, it’s just a way of expressing yourself.

Are there any things that you discovered about either of the languages in this process?

I think I discovered that each of them has its own beauties. And I discovered that I feel more at ease with English because it’s crisper, it’s shorter, it’s more to the point.

You can read the whole article here:



How little we know

My daughter thinks I know everything and believes I’m always right.I’m forever explaining to her that in reality no-one knows it all and that learning is a constant process, that in fact we all know very little .

I tell her how we never stop learning and remind her how her “know-it-all” mother struggles with new technical terms and that perseverance is the key.

Yes,I might speak foreign languages, I’m a writer, I’m well-read and well-travelled.Yet, there is so much I do not know, languages I cannot speak.

There are also subjects I have no interest in, ones that even if I can manage to get my head round them do not create this urge in me to find out more and more.

I do not care for finances much being the creative type.I love making and creating, I cannot get enthused about the revenue it creates.

Sometimes I could make my life a little easier and instead of struggling with all the technical stuff , I could have had someone  help me but I take  pride  in learning by myself.It’s not perfect and there’s much more to do but I feel I have accomplished something and pushed myself a little further.

That is the message I try to convey to my children.You can always go the extra length and take pride in what you do.The more you learn , the more you realise how much more there is to know.How exciting it is to be on a perpetual voyage of discovery!