Sunday, February 11, 2018

Kató Lomb, Hungarian Translator and Polyglot (1909-2003)

A few days ago, I received Alex Rawlings' book, How to Speak Any Language Fluently, which I ordered from I'm now on page 84 of the book. Kató Lomb was mentioned in the introduction, so I started to research more about her.

My research brought me to this website called TESL-EJ and I found three books by the late Hungarian translator and polyglot. They're available for free on this website in the PDF format. I've downloaded all of them and I'm so grateful to TESL-EJ for making these available to us.

Polyglot: How I Learn Languages, Second Edition

Translated by Ádám Szegi and Kornelia DeKorne (215 Pages, PDF only)

Excerpt from Chapter 1: What Is Language?

There may be no other word in the world that has as many connotations as this noun does with its few letters. For an anatomist, it will recall the set of muscle fibers divided into root, body, blade, and tip. A gourmet will think of tasty morsels in stewed, pickled, and smoked forms on the menu. A theologian will surely be reminded of the day of red Pentecost. A writer will think of a tool that dare not rival Nature, and a poet will imagine a musical instrument. And if spoken by a poet of genius? “You won’t remain with empty hands under the empty sky” (Antal Szerb).

Translated by Ádám Szegi; edited by Scott Alkire (212 Pages, PDF only)

About the Book: Kató Lomb (1909–2003) was one of the great polyglots of the 20th century. A translator and one of the first simultaneous interpreters in the world, Lomb worked in 16 languages for state and business concerns in her native Hungary. She achieved further fame by writing books on languages, interpreting, and polyglots. In With Languages in Mind, originally published in Hungary as Nyelvekről jut eszembe… (1983), Dr. Lomb presents her views on subjects ranging from language differences, language use, the inherent compromises in interpreting, and language learning.

Harmony of Babel: Interviews with Famous Polyglots of Europe

Translated by Ádám Szegi (215 Pgs, PDF only)

About the Book: In the late 1980s the distinguished interpreter and translator Kató Lomb profiled and interviewed 21 of her peers in search of answers to basic but deep questions on the nature of language learning. She asked:

“When can we say we know a language?”
“Which is the most important language skill: grammar, vocabulary, or good pronunciation?”
“What method did you use to learn languages?”
“Has it ever happened to you that you started learning a language, but could not cope with it?”
“What connection do you see between age and language learning?”
“Are there ‘easy’ and ‘difficult,’ ‘rich’ and ‘poor,’ ‘beautiful’ and ‘less beautiful’ languages?”
“What is multilingualism good for?”
The answers Lomb collected from her interlocutors are singular, provocative, and often profound. Grounded in real-world experience, they will be of interest to linguaphiles who are seeking to supplement their theoretical knowledge of language learning.
All the three book above texts are sourced from the TESL-EJ website.