Aug 30, 2002

Kodak Moments. We've been linked by top Brazilian blogger Cora so I decided to change this around, from words to images, as befitting a linguablog. In about 20 minutes or as soon as I am done with my packing, whatever happens first, I'm off to Pira. Hey, I might even get a chance to visit the 29th Salão Internacional de Humor de Piracicaba. And now, ladies and gents, the pictures:


the mermaid jr. making bubbles with tamires and mateus nas festas juninas do Sesc

says pretty ellinor to mermaid jr. 'which one of these antiques should we smash first?

mermaid jr pondering over the wonder of murano with mare (mermaid senior's second astral twin, the first being the infamous paula jones)

the prodigious mini-mozart mermaid from bananaland

the first time ever the mini-mermaid agreed to sit for a picture. those jaboticaba eyes are saying 'he's mine!'

Aug 29, 2002

The flim-flam has got to go. At last, a convincing answer to the year's most poignant conundrum: why, when the government is perceptibly less than perfect, are the Tories still so unpopular? Professor John McRae, of Nottingham University, supplied the answer in Monday's Times. The language its leader speaks, said the professor, is out of tune with the age. He uses such phrases as "nitty gritty" and "silly flim-flam". Indeed, he once described the issue of his own baldness as "peripheral flim-flam". (Read more)

Aug 28, 2002

How I learned Portuguese. I've been reading with enormous pleasure the said book by linguist, translator and eminent Hungarian culture mensch Paulo Rónai. Call it double happiness: I've found translations into English of three of his crônicas: How I Learned Portuguese, The Languages I Didn't Learn and Intimate Portrait of a Language. They are delectable must-reads. Tom Moore translated the pieces and they were posted in the blog he maintains with Laura Rónai, whom I believe is related to both Paulo Rónai and Cora Rónai.

Great stuff for the budding linguist, for Mark Griffith and for anyone with a love of languages.

Ghost Words. "Lexicographers are human, and as a result their dictionaries contain errors, not many to be sure, but lengthy lists of errors in Webster's New International Dictionary, Second and Third Editions (Web 2 and Web 3) have been presented in past issues of Word Ways. These errors consist for the most part of misspellings, words out of alphabetical order and missing cross-references or variants mentioned in definitions." (Read more)

Related link: A bit about words
Pronunciation Guide to Foreign Names. Puzzled about the correct pronunciation of abtruse-looking foreign names you find in the news? Then check out the VOA's Pronunciation Guide. About 3,000 entries with Real Audio samples. This is a good follow-up to this post to Sand in the Gears, all but forgotten and buried under the dunes of Blogadoria.

Aug 27, 2002

Aug 26, 2002

Ipanema Beach was so crowded I felt like Enigmatic Mermaid Canned Albacore Tuna but overhead the amazing bundafest towered the Dois Irmãos. And isn't it great to see Rio turned upside down for the appreciation of bloggeros. I'm dying to blog but I can't right now. Working on Monday after a weekend trip to Rio should be strictly forbidden. I need a detailed pictogram of a needle with all its parts. What a monumental bore not to be in Urca drinking a caipirinha and eating bolinhos de bacalhau. My only solace is finding this carioca photoblog.

Aug 23, 2002

Cidade Maravilhosa. Ok, plans to go to Piracicaba this weekend are being dropped at the drop of a hat because I am going to Rio de Janeiro with G. The spring weather we've been having in the middle of winter and the clustering of friends in the Baía de Guanabara not to mention G.'s deep blue eyes and crystal clear laughter promise to make this one of the most memorable trips of all mermaidian times.

Aug 21, 2002

Quote of the Day

"Considérer et décrire la façon dont nous apprenons une langue c'est une peu comme observer et décrire le développement et les suites d'un sentiment amoureux"

Valery Larbaud

Aug 20, 2002

Dossier Fodinha. Here's Miguel Cardoso's brutally honest description of some types of fucking to be found in Portugal as well as some considerations on Orgasmeconomics. (I was going to say sexual conjunction or some other euphemism, but it's just not ethical).

After reading this post I will never again view the Portuguese as our slightly repressed brethren from Iberia.

Why I love LI. Because he is clever enough to know that Jorge Amado is "the Brazilian equivalent of Isabel Allende -- a writer for tourists only". And to affirm that lechery in film is a perfectly valid reason to peruse the dusty foreign film racks at the videostore.

I haven't seen the movie or read Dona Flor either. I confess I liked Capitães da Areia, but I read it when I was still a communist-fascist-rockn'rolling-class-skipping-sandinista twelve year old schoolgirl, fresh out of Les Travailleurs de la Mer.

Since we are talking about Brazilian literature, Mexerica keeps going on and on about João Ubaldo, but I don't like him very much either because he strikes me as too eager to please the reader. It makes me nauseous to feel the writer assiduously tickling at my foot with a feather and grimacing like a realejo monkey. Contempt for the reader is the very least you should expect from an interesting author.

However, I heard that the German translation of Viva o Povo Brasileiro is a jewel. To be perfectly honest, the best Brazilian book I read in the past 10 years was the neo-baroque piercing masterpiece Desmundo, by Ana Miranda.

Don't ask me how Miranda turned this trick because I abhor every stupid historical novel she has produced with the exception of Desmundo. The book is woven like a tapestry of sublime language. I read it with my breath suspended, placed it on my bookshelf filled with reverence and eventually lost my copy, as I keep doing with all books I would actually like to reread.

Dossier La Vache. "La langue française, avec ses expressions, dictons et autres proverbes, contient de très nombreuses références à la vache. Ce dossier vous propose une sorte d'anthologie de toutes ces "vacheries", qui sont autant de merveilles linguistiques, souvent très vieilles et quelques fois complètement oubliées."

Aug 19, 2002

Excommunicated Journalist No Longer Being Held Incommunicado. The news that TV was not held for further questioning by the Roman Catholic Church brings me great relief. He says he's been reading Confederacy of Dunces in the bright and troubled hours after Love Story closes and before the hangover descends over his skull with the weight of Gibraltar. Limited Inc. would sympathize, I am sure. And will you look at this? Caterina is adhering to the coinage ze linguablog!
Jack and Jill Went Up The Hill to Fetch the Mail. I don't know what is better: spending five days away from the Internet or coming home to a mailbox stuffed with interesting news from friends. So many interesting developments to follow. I'll start with Prentiss, who has initiated a very interesting discussion on Advice for a Budding Linguist and a clin d'oeil to Language Hat, another enlightened linguablogger for the language nerds ring.

Pat has also suggested my name as a contributor to Raising Hell zine, since I am always posting short sketches about the Mini-Mermaid. I love their pass-me-the-valium approach to parenthood. And it would be very interesting to present the views of an amphibious parent to the world at large, especially considering how parenting, like everything else including the shape of merluzas, differs when you live in the anti-clock wise water draining hemisphere. Incidentally, Tangelo is back to the world of the moderately annoyed but slightly bemused and while he can't remember the ending of The Age of Reason, it's always good to have him around for these and other 'consultations'. Ok, if you haven't heard it yet, the thing is that I was reading the book on a charmingly spotty 1963 translation at the beach and forgot it there and now I must know where the path to freedom leads.

Materially speaking, I think S.C. has got it right. Freedom is living on an oceanfront home in tropical paradise Praia do Curral with a high speed Internet connection by satellite. She is a translator, that is, when she is not diving in the blue waters of the island or watching the palm trees sway under the breeze, which shows that budding and seasoned linguists do well in pursuing their interests.

My weekend was pure Bali-Hai.

Aug 14, 2002

São Sebastrovão. As usual, my scatterbrainyness and indecision (not to mention bad hotel reports) have messed up with the plans of going to Florianópolis this week. I'm going to São Sebastião instead. I'm not taking the laptop because it was ruined by Mermaid Jr.'s squirting-water pretty mouth and I haven't had time to fix it yet. I'm not sure that there are cybercafés around either, my safest bet is crossing the channel to gorgeous Ilhabela. I'm sure the Captain knows where to find a decent connection. If you've taken a sudden interest in the roadway system of São Paulo State, it's my duty to inform you that the road map of the terra dos bandeirantes is available here. Bon voyage!

Aug 13, 2002

What's the Word? The MLA radio show has a lot of interesting programs available online for the language- and the literature-minded person. Here are some of the topics:

Literary Translations
Challenges specific passages posed for translators; translating the writings of Samuel Beckett, Pablo Neruda, Paul Celan, Gabriel García Márquez.
Participants: John Felstiner, Gregory Rabassa, Marilyn Gaddis Rose

The Bible as Literature: Translations and Interpretations Problems of translation.
Participants: Robert Alter, Steven Knapp, Debora Shuger

What parody is, how it works, and what it tells us about the thing being parodied; parody in Vladimir Nabokov's work.
Participants: Vladimir Alexandrov, Donald Gray, X. J. Kennedy

Looking It Up?
How important reference works have been created; Samuel Johnson's Dictionary; Diderot's Encyclopédie; how dictionaries are compiled today and how decisions to add new words are made.
Participants: David Barnhart, Gwin T. Kolb, Philip Stewart

Stories about Words
The changing meanings of words over time; the use of words that are meant to mislead.
Participants: Paula Blank, Roland Greene, William Lutz

Recent Nobel Prizewinners
Naguib Mahfouz, José Saramago, Derek Walcott.
Participants: Robert D. Hamner, Luiza Moreira, Edward W. Said
Slutty Behavior is Good for the Species. That is the conclusion of a new wave of research on the evolutionary drives behind sexuality and parenting. (Read more)

Oopsie. Not language-related. But check out the online exhibit Where do languages come from?
More Articles. The Mermaid points language lovers to the following articles:

Laughter needs no translation (a sketch on language teaching)
Ecojargon the lingua franca at Johannesburg summit (touchy language)
Selective Memri (Brian Whitaker investigates whether the 'independent' media institute that translates the Arabic newspapers is quite what it seems)
Speech translation to get more accurate intonation (developing prosody detection skills on speech recognition technology)
Web of tangled languages.(this woman loathes automatic translation!)
Computer program translates spoken English into Sign Language. (meet Paula)
Cultural relevance in advertising. (ever seen a commercial and said 'I don't get it' ? the more clueless you feel, the higher the chance the cultural references are being missed)
Language Boot Camp. "The Pentagon's school, the Defense Language Institute, is a barometer of hot spots and American interests worldwide. The campaign against terror has exposed a shortage of linguists in the military and in government who can speak languages like Dari, Urdu and Hindi, and instructors here are rushing to fill the void." (Read more)

Aug 7, 2002

Communicating with Japanese in Business. A very complete and interesting guide for gaining some insight into the Japanese way of doing business and communicating. Added bonus: glossary of Japanese business idioms.

Aug 6, 2002

Wednesday Five.Tranfree is doing some soul searching among its subscriber database. Here are the questions Alex Eames is asking.

1. What are your main frustrations or problems as a freelance translator?

Ok, here's a frustation. This week I received a phone call from a client after many months without contact. Her first question was: 'Are Do you still translate?'. Of course, I replied. I AM a translator. This little story just tells you how many moonlighters there are among my crowd. People who take a translation job now and then just to make ends meet. Nobody calls the doctor's office for an appointment and asks 'Are you still a doctor?'

2. What aspects of running your translation business do you find the hardest?

Finding direct clients. I don't have the time nor the skills to chase after new business. So basically all translation work comes on a referral basis. Slowly but surely.

3. Is there a way that we could help you overcome these problems?

Yes. You could set up a Society for the Preservation of the Professional Image of Translators. We could host yearly meetings where everybody would get drunk, exchange business cards, dance to music played by horrific bands and try to get laid. Wait a minute, that's the description of the ATA meeting.

4. What kind of products or services would make the most positive difference in your life and business?

A clone of myself.

5. Is there any other way we could help you to achieve your goals?

I'm not sure, but a massage and a replacement for this evening's interpreting assignment would be nice. Oh, and I want DejaVu for only 315 euros.
Slang with a Twang. This dictionary will help you talk Southern.

Aug 5, 2002

Viva a Sociedade Alternativa. The NY Times translates Maluco Beleza wrongly in this bumf article about the growing admiration of Brazil among Argentines. I've come to the conclusion that listening to lots and lots of Raul Seixas is fundamental to understanding Brazilian culture. Maluco Beleza means stoned out of your mind and feeling the inner peace that can only be created by substance abuse.

Aug 4, 2002

Vale of Tears and Pamonha. The weekend has left me with a little more blubber on my tail and a puzzling question in my mind. What are the odds that you spend a weekend on a strange town, meet three different women on parties and cozy dinners and all three break out into tears midway through the festivities while recounting to you their immense chagrin? Is the Aedes aegypti mosquito a vector for female desolation? Or is Piracicaba the Rouen of São Paulo State, inhabited exclusively by pamonha makers and women in serious danger of becoming Emma? No melancholy for the mermaid though: I was riding on a scooter yesterday, feeling quite dizzy with happiness.

Aug 2, 2002

Translatored-out. I'm pretty exhausted after pushing a steady 4,000 to 5,000 words a day this week. It's getting to be so mechanical, all these RC and Help files I zoom past without even thinking about what the heck I am doing. That's the danger of becoming specialized. You can do stuff blindfolded, fast asleep and mentally recapping the best stories you read in I Thought My Father was God the previous night. Consider this: the appex of mental stimulation for me this week was translating about six strings with poker terminology. For a moment I actually was paying attention to what I was doing and searching the mental vault for the correct translations. Dang. I should take a little challenge for a change. Let me see. A book maybe, just for the fun of it?

Some ideas I will pack in my duffle bag, together with perfume, my nightie and this excellent quote by Brazilian rocker matriarch Rita Lee:

"Estou na TPM, a Tranqüilidade Pós Menopausa. É a carta de alforria da mulher, a felicidade sem derramamento de sangue."

And the best thing: it translates almost perfectly into English. Does anybody want to give it a try?

Can I have a cappucino and a nice translation agency to go please? TranslatorsCafé is a new translation portal announcing itself as the "place linguists and clients meet". Currently listing 1,294 agencies x 33 linguists. Wow. It's usually the other way around. By the way, have I already linked to the Glossarist in the blog? Didn't think so.