Italian: a language made of rubber

“The great ductility characterizing Italian language (this language that seems made of rubber, this language that makes one feel able to do whatever he’d like with it) allows us to translate from other languages into it a little bit better than into any other language.

Of course, this is the sort of advantage that presents an almost equally bad disadvantage: Italian is an isolated, untranslatable language. A good Italian translation of a foreign book (with regard to that field of writing where it all gets very, very difficult: literature) may be able to save some sort of flavour, some taste of the original; an Italian writer’s book, no matter how good its translation into any other language, will lose a much bigger part, if not all, of its original taste”.

(Italo Calvino, Una pietra sopra, Einaudi, 1980)


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