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ursula k Le Guin quotes about translation

10 Ursula K Le Guin Quotes About Languages and Translation 

American writer Ursula K. Le Guin died on Monday, 22 January 2018. She was best known as a fantasy and science fiction author, of course. But did you know she was a translator, too? Before her death, she had four published translations to her name:

  • Selected Poems of Gabriela Mistral.
  • Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way, although Le Guin described this as “a rendition, not a translation.”
  • Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was, by Angélica Gorodischer.
  • Squaring the Circle: A Pseudotreatise of Urbogony Fantastic Tales by Gheorghe Săsărman.

Le Guin loved languages:  writing, playing with words, translating and inventing new ones. She wasn’t merely a powerful storyteller; she also had an incredible insight into the nature of language and communication. With that in mind, here are ten quotes from Ursula Le Guin for translators and language lovers alike to enjoy.

Ursula Le Guin on how writing relates to translation:

 

“Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat… where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches.”Tweet: Ursula Le Guin on writing and translation:

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Quotes about Language

I heard Nelson Mandela’s quote about language a couple of times last week and it inspired to collect my favourite ones together and put them on the blog. Whether you’re working in the language industry, teaching languages, studying language or just here for fun we’re sure one of these will make you smile.

Which one’s your favourite? or do you have any more? let me know in the comments.


If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.

Nelson Mandela

Use what language you will, you can never say anything but what you are.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

England and America are two countries separated by the same language.

George Bernard Shaw

Of all of our inventions for mass communication, pictures still speak the most universally understood language.

Walt Disney
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