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"Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World," by Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche

Penguin Group
Found in Translation, Nataly Kelly and Jost Zetzsche
Penguin Group

Jeff Glor talks to Nataly Kelly about "Found in Translation: How Language Shapes Our Lives and Transforms the World."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Nataly Kelly: This book was inspired by the work that interpreters and translators do every day. Because Jost is a working English-to-German translator and I have a background as a Spanish interpreter, we had plenty of our own stories to draw on. However, we were most inspired by our many colleagues who work in other areas of the field - translating everything from machinery repair manuals to love letters and websites.


JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

NK: Even though Jost and I were pretty familiar with the diversity of the translation field, we have to admit that even we were surprised at how much translation influences the ways in which we live. Not many people know that even NASA relies on interpreters, that translation helps prevent public health outbreaks, or that the latest fashion trends are heavily influenced by translation. Translation can truly be found in every nook and cranny of our lives.


JG: What else are you reading right now?

NK: I'm reading a great book called "Japanese Death Poems" by Yoel Hoffmann. It's a collection of poems written by Zen monks and haiku poets during their very last moments of life. I know it might sound morbid, but I'm interested in cultural views of various aspects of health, including end-of-life situations, and this is a fascinating glimpse into a culture that is quite distant from my own.


JG: What's next for you?

NK: I'm keeping busy with my research at Common Sense Advisory, but in my spare time, I'll continue writing and translating. I just found out recently that a publisher in Ecuador will be publishing a trilingual book of poetry by an indigenous poet from the Amazonian Shuar community named María Clara Sharupi Jua. I am her translator, so she has asked me to translate about 80 poems of hers into English. I can't wait for English readers to hear more of her voice.


For more on "Found in Translation," visit the Penguin Group website.