Reading about language

On this page you will a selection of texts that will help you to understand and improve your use of language as an interpreter. This is just a small selection of the books available about any of the languages below and is meant to encourage you to go out and find more rather than be an exhaustive list. There are also plenty of books worth reading in the hundreds of languages that are not listed here.

This page is also work in progress, so if you have found something you think should be here drop us a line.

Language acquisition

Basic Concepts and Models for Interpreter and Translator training

Gile, Daniel, 1995, Benjamins.

Quite technical and aimed at teachers. Students will still find the book very useful – particulary the chapters on Fidelity and Language Acquisition

Read a review of this book in The International Journal of Interpreter Education

Polyglot: How I learn languages

Kato Lomb

This book was originally written in Hungarian by this pioneer of the interpreting profession in Hungary. It is a mixture of extremely useful ideas, homespun linguistics and entertaining, if outdated, anecdote.

The Art and Science of Learning Languages

Gethin & Gunnemark

A polygot (40+ languages) explains how to go about language learning effectively

 One of the 3 parts of this book is devoted to high-level language acquisition for conference interpreters.

Read a review of this book by The Interpreter Diaries

Lesen Sie ein Rezension dieses Buches bei der MDÜ – Fachzeitschrift für Dolmetscher und Übersetzer

Maintaining Your Second Language

Maintaining Your Second Language:
practical and productive strategies for translators, teachers, interpreters and other language lovers

Eve Lindemuth Bodeux


Metaphors we live by

Lakoff and Johnson.

A standard text in linguistics this is a great insight into the metaphor of the English language. Time is not money….until you say it is.

The English Verb

Michael Lewis. LTP Brighton.

English grammar and that of its verbs has always been described using the structures and terminology of Latin, which is totally unsuited to the task. Lewis takes an empirical look at how verbs are used and rewrites the rules so we can understand what verbs actually mean. Brilliant.

Mother Tongue

Bill Bryson

A jovial wander through the language and its vagaries.

The English Language

David Crystal

English in its many guises, where it comes from, where its going. Fun pop-linguistics

The BBI Combinatory Dictionary of English

An absolute masterpiece of a dictionary of collocations in English.

English & Français

La Stylistique comparée du français et de l’anglais

Vinay et Darbelnet

One of the definitive texts of French-English translation for over 50 years.

Also available in English


A Linguistic Handbook of French for Translators and Language Students

Paul Boucher

“in-depth contrastive study of French and English based on recent theories of linguistics and discourse analysis.”

Ainsi parlent les Français

Julie BARLOW (Auteur, Traducteur), Jean-Benoît Nadeau

An English woman (who learnt French) and her francophone Canadian husband offer an incredibly insightful look at French… as only someone outside looking in could!

Tu parles bien la France

Julien Barret

“Il n’est pas question de se lancer dans un énième livre pour stigmatiser les usages de l’époque, il s’agit de décrire la langue d’un point de vue de linguiste et de faire entendre qu’elle doit servir sans asservir. “

Petite histoire de la langue française

Karin Ueltschi,

“Aujourd hui, dit-on… le bon usage se meurt, le respect n’est plus, le cancre se rebiffe et fait école, la décadence est à nos portes… Mais, nous rappelle Karin Ueltschi, notre prestigieux français…. n’a jamais cessé d’engendrer inquiétudes et polémiques. et constamment, les disputes … ont resurgi au gré des modes et des générations qui se sont succédé durant des siècles.”


Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod

Bastian Sick

“…Doch es geht nicht nur um Genitiv oder Dativ, sondern noch um viele andere Zweifelsfälle im Gebrauch der deutschen Gegenwartssprache; denn das Büchlein versammelt die Sprachglossen der wöchentlich erscheinenden SPIEGEL-ONLINE-Kolumne »Zwiebelfisch«.

Was ist deutsch?

Hans-Dieter Geleert

 “Hans-Dieter Gelfert geht in diesem Buch den Formkräften der deutschen Mentalität nach, die sich in der deutschen Sprache und der kulturellen Überlieferung über lange Zeiträume hinweg niedergeschlagen haben”


Successful Polish-English Translation: Tricks of the Trade

Aniela Korzeniowska, Piotr Kuhiwczak

“Niezastapiony podrecznik dla wszystkich osób, pragnacych rozwijac swe umiejetnosci translatoryczne.”

O przekładzie na przykładzie : rozprawa tłumacza z “Europą” Normana Daviesa

Elżbieta Tabakowska

“Autorka omawia po kolei poszczególne kategorie trudności, jakie napotykała jako tłumaczka; z zadziwiającą dbałością o szczegół wyjaśnia, w jaki sposób roztrząsano i rozwiązywano liczne językowe zagadki”

Jezyk Trzeciego Tysiaclecia

Zbior referatow o wspolczesnym stanie jezyka polskiego. (Np jezyk w reklamach)

Ojczyna Polszczyzna

Jan Miodek

Rozbawia i informuje uczacych sie polskiego cudcoziemcow, przestrasza polskie dzieci. 

Ciekawostki gramatyczne i ich wyjasnienia z jezyka Mickiewicza.