Language and translation are bound together in a way that is impossible to break apart. Linguists who study one or both can get lost down historical, cultural, and even philosophical rabbit holes if they don’t pay attention.
When we learn about language and translation, we learn about anthropology, geography, history, tradition, and more, as well as many other things. There are a lot of books about language that have been translated. These books can help us think in new ways about ourselves and our world.
A lot of things interest me more than language and translation, but none more than that. I haven’t studied either of them, but I keep reading books about them all the time.
Throughout my twenties, I’ve tried and failed to learn Japanese and Chinese, and I mostly read fiction that has been translated from another language.
I get very excited about accents and dialects. When I go back in time to learn about the history and philosophy of language, I get more excited.
If you want to learn more about how languages work and change, or if you’re just interested in how languages affect us and how we affect them, these are the best books about language and translation for you to read.
Note: I’ve also decided not to talk about Noam Chomsky or Stephen Pinker here. You already know their names. Here are some new faces (and Bill Bryson).
Books About Language
Language is an endless sea that can be plucked. When we talk about the subject, we can look into everything from how geography affects how we speak to the inner workings of the human mind.
It’s likely that one of these books about language will become your new favorite.
Don’t Believe a Word: The Surprising Truth About Language by David Shariatmadari
Here is one of the most gripping, fascinating, and absorbing books about language that I have ever come across. David Shariatmadari has a positive attitude and a lot of good ideas.
Don’t believe a word is a journey into the roots of languages and how they changed over time and space.
Don’t Believe a Word’s first hook is the idea that no word is untranslatable. This is just a popular myth about language that isn’t true.
Initially, it may seem like a good idea to remove the idea of words that can’t be translated. This opens up a whole new world of exciting ideas about language history and etymology.
People who read Don’t Believe A Word will be more aware of the world around them, thanks to stories about different languages (things like gendered words, etymology, and even human consciousness).
It’s a deep dive into language from a lot of different angles, and it’s fascinating to everyone who reads it.
An I-Novel by Minae Mizumura
Translated from the Japanese by Juliet Winters Carpenter
A book called An I-Novel is a piece of self-fiction that combines real-life events and experiences with the rules and conventions of fiction writing. It was written by Minae Mizumura, who lived and worked in Japan.
It tells about the life of its author, a woman from Tokyo who moved to New York when she was 12. It’s been about 20 years since her last visit to Tokyo, but she still wants to go back. She wants to become a writer in Japanese and rediscover her language and culture as she goes along.
What makes this book so interesting and easy to read in a sea of books about language is that when it was written in Japanese, it was thought to be the first bilingual novel.
An I-Novel is mostly written in Japanese, with English peppered through out (in the English translation, the parts originally written by Mizumura in English are simply in bold) (in the English translation, the parts originally written by Mizumura in English are simply in bold).
When a book is bilingual, it shows that its author is a mix of different cultures and languages. She can’t just write in one place. Neither one is enough on its own. She needs both. In order to write, a person must use both languages.
This is a piece of self-fiction, but it’s also a “pseudo-philosophical” look at how language can be used to express, communicate, and understand. A truly interesting book.
The Adventure of English by Melvyn Bragg
As I’ve written this article, I’ve talked about how language has travelled and gone on trips. It’s hard to talk about language doing anything else because it’s always changing and moving. It’s very likely that Melvyn Bragg would agree.
Somewhere between narrative and history is where the author in The Adventure of English writes his or her book.
The book often makes English seem like a wide-eyed explorer. It’s one of the most ambitious and romantic books about language, but it doesn’t come across as a slap in the face.
Story-based nonfiction is what you’ll find in The Adventure of English. It’s very much like a history book that makes you want to turn the pages. A lot of the books on this list are about philosophy or science, but this one isn’t one of them.
But it doesn’t make it less enjoyable to read because of that, either. I think it’s one of the best books about language out there. It has so much to enjoy and learn from.
Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
Bill Bryson was born in the US, but he has become something of a national treasure in the UK. While his personal politics can be a bit of a minefield, his books are undeniably charming. They tell us interesting stories and give us a lot of facts all through the medium of comedy.
As someone who has a lot of wit and personality, it’s hard to separate Bryson’s writing from them. That only makes reading his books more fun.
Along with his short book on Shakespeare, Mother Tongue is one of my favorite Bryson books. It’s also one of the best books about language on the market.
Mother Tongue is a complicated but short look at the English language. It includes stories and facts about its history, composition, etymology, and versatility, as well as anecdotes about how words came to be.
When you read Mother Tongue, you’ll learn a lot about language and linguistics in a fun way.
Was one of the first books I read about language, and it led me down a path that was a lot of fun!
The Cabinet of Calm by Paul Anthony Jones
Here’s a new book that’s very different and interesting. As a collection of rare and hard-to-find words, the Cabinet of Calm will be released in 2020. It’s also a way to find calm and comfort in a stressful time.
If you’re looking for a short book that’s easy to read and enjoy, this one is for you. It’s all about the power of words as single ideas and entities that can be so important and powerful.
You can smile, feel calm, and find your center with each word in this book. It’s really a cabinet of calm.
Even though The Cabinet of Calm isn’t an in-depth study of linguistics or translation, it’s a fun book that can teach us a lot of new words and even make us think about how words can help us understand ideas.
In the event that these words are no longer used, where did the feelings that they describe go? And how do we talk about them today?
The Cabinet of Calm is real food for the soul. If you’re a bookworm or a fan of languages, this is a book you can enjoy without any fuss or stress. Books about language in a new way.
Words on the Move by John McWhorter
The book Words on the Move is for you if you want to read about language books that are easy to read but always leave you in awe.
While the book is written from an entirely English perspective, it is still a very interesting and educational look at the history of English etymology and how our language has changed over time.
The words of the move readers are piqued by facts about specific words, like where they come from, what they used to mean, and how they’ve changed. They keep getting these facts over and over.
It’s a good book that praises English for its strength, dynamism, and ability to break rules and try new things.
There are many paradoxes and hypocrisies in English that make it hard to understand, but it also changes and shifts every day.
The book Words on the Move is one of those about language that will annoy purists who have an idea of what English should sound like, and for that alone, I’d like to congratulate the author.