Mar 31, 2002

Foe. Read it in little over two days, dazzled with J. M. Coetzee's writing. The Amazon recommendation system, or book sommelier in some idiolects, had been beckoning me to Disgrace for the longest time. How can the genie in the bottle know me so well?
Gotcha. Through Daypop I discover that Adam Rice, who maintains the Honyaku homepage, also keeps a weblog. Oh, and the very interesting Rikai.
Excuse me now. I'm trying very hard to read some Japanese:

Yakult relieving the starting pitcher professional baseball middle day equinox Yakult.

Baseball news?
Learning English the Surgical Way."It is a simple procedure: Just a snip on a membrane and the tongue is supposedly longer, more flexible and--some South Koreans believe--better able to pronounce such notorious tongue-teasers for Asians as the English word "rice" so it does not sound like "lice."
Arctic Ice and Way of Life Melting Away for Eskimos. "The changes are so widespread that they have spawned changes in the Eskimo languages that so precisely describe ice and snow. In Chukotka, where the natives speak Siberian Yupik, they use new words such as misullijuq--rainy snow--and are less likely to use words like umughagek--ice that is safe to walk on. In Nunavet, Canada, the Inuit people say the weather is uggianaqtuq--like a familiar friend acting strangely."

Place your Bets. A spinoff of the Long Now Foundation, Long Bets is an arena for competitive, accountable predictions. The bets go to charities designated by the contenders when the wager is placed. Here's an example:

"A computer - or "machine intelligence" - will pass the Turing Test by 2029."

Ray Kurzweil says YES
Mitchell Kapor says NO

Stakes: $20,000
Cyborg Sues Airlines. "Mr Mann believes that his status as a cyborg should be treated in the same way as anyone else with special equipment such as wheelchairs."
Think Twice Before Badmouthing McDonald's. Especially if you live in Chile.

Mar 30, 2002

More Languaphile Goodies. At Fields and Methods I also discover:

Gary Price's weblog
Fabulousness Pita and
Tongues of the Web. Article on the Economist presents an overview of machine translation and argues that "the Internet changes the game for machine translation: users want speed, rather than quality, and are more likely to accept poor results".

I agree. No-one can eat caviar everyday.

via field and methods, a newly-discovered blog on human language technology

On your next visit to a bookstore look around for free words.

Oxford Online: Will People Pay? The core collection is up and running and there is a 30 day free-trial for organizations and institutions. We are talking 100 dictionaries and reference titles across an array of subjects -- from astronomy to zoology -- into a single cross-searchable resource. But hefty fees are expected, even though part of the collection is available for free at Xrefer. Oxford Reference Online follows the launch of the Oxford English Dictionary in March 2000 as part of the dictionary's first complete revision in its 120-year history. The OED Online charges approximately $550 per year for a single subscription and a base price of $795 for multiple users.

Revamped. The Ethnologue has a new look.
Interpreting Bloopers. "After that wonderful speech, I think we should all give him the clap."
Language is not neutral, it carries the weight of its origin. Two readers want to know why this blog is in English. My justification, based on my experience, is that by choosing English I can reach a wider audience. But upon reading Mother Tongue, interviews with African poets Solomon Mutswairo and Musaemura B. Zimunya I realize that indeed:

"To choose a language is to choose an audience and by the fact of writing in English, French, or Portuguese the blogger has chosen to address members of the Brazilian petty bourgeoisie and English speakers"

nota bene:

"(...) Dambudzo Marechera, the late Shona poet, choose the English language "as a means of escape and mental liberation while at the same time undermining and subverting the former colonial language and its implications."

nota bene:

"When using the English language, the emotional component often gets lost; as a matter of course, writers feel more detached and relate to the language as a tool rather than as a means of cultural identification. Those however who have an equal command of both languages can benefit from the situation of bilingualism. They can choose either language according to specific purpose or feeling."

The emotional component does not get completely lost, in my opinion. It gets subdued. Ha Jin's writing comes to mind as an example. Interestingly, he always conceives his works in English, except when writing dialogues.

Could that be the reason why someone said that this blog seems to be driven by an almost inhuman logic?
Turning PDAs into Multilingual Chatterboxes. "Handhelds from Hewlett-Packard and IBM with built-in talking capabilities are still in development. But one talking PDA, known as the Phraselator, is due to be shipped in the next few days to U.S. troops in Afghanistan."
Big Blue Expands Its Vocabulary. "The additions of Chinese and Japanese as languages that can be translated to English take the number of supported language pairs that the WebSphere Translation Server can translate to sixteen, according to IBM."
Google vs. Altavista. "The folks at Google are very proud that their system defies human tampering. In fact, what they've done is encourage the development of bizarre business models structured to take advantage of their link-based ranking system."
So let's get to the point, let's roll another joint. "Mind-altering drugs may be so popular because they were once used by our ancestors to survive, two leading anthropologists have argued."
A Far-Off Inuit World, in a Dozen Shades of White. "The Fast Runner" (Atanarjuat) directed by Zacharias Kunuk and based on an ancient folk epic, is the first feature film made in the Inuktitut language by an almost entirely Inuit cast and crew. The film snatched the first feature Camera D'Or last year and New York Times is raving about it:

"The myth that Eskimos have dozens of words for snow may have been discredited by linguists", but Mr. Cohn, using a widescreen digital video camera, has discovered at least a dozen distinct shades of white, from the bluish glow of the winter ice to the warm creaminess of coats made of polar bear fur"

Sounds like paradise for Antipodeans scorching under an unusually hot autumn. Take me away, Nanook of the North.

Mar 29, 2002

Yahoo Snafu. Yahoo has changed its privacy policy and has not notified its overseas members that their universal opt-out preferences were automatically changed into universal opt-ins. What do you call that? Cara de pau.
Clue to Mood Disorders. "Anxiety and mood disorders among adults may be linked with the way a part of the brain developed shortly after they were born, research suggests."
We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge, doubt increases. Lucky me, I managed to snatch and post a Verba Volant quotation before Tangerine. Unlucky me, my poor dear little Mermaid Jr. spent the night in hospital on an IV drip. A nasty virus knocked her down. She is doing better so they released us this morning. Mermaid Sr. and Jr. are both exhausted. Mermaid Jr. is currently rubbing a piece of toast on my arm as a sign of affection. Mermaid Sr. is going to log off and spend the whole day watching Winnie The Pooh and Blue's Clues videos on the couch with her.

Mar 28, 2002

Chinese Journals Discard Up-Down for Left-Right Reading. "Imagine the uproar if an American paper suddenly decided that all text would be printed from right to left and that columns would run horizontally instead of vertically."
Google Bombs. Doing it for fun, self-indulgence, justice and profit.
Obsessed with Lampião. "Working with just a knife and a chunk of wood, Mr. Borges proves that "low-level technology often yields very powerful, moving and sophisticated results," said Marion Oettinger, director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Latin American Art at the San Antonio Museum of Art". While on the subject, Eleição dos Cornos (The Election of the Cuckolds) is a delightful online sample of literatura de cordel, a derivation from the pliegos sueltos that is alive and well in Brazil.
Multilingual Hong Kong a Model. "From the purely utilitarian point of view, mono-lingualism is the most efficient approach. But efficiency doesn't satisfy people's desire to use languages with which they identify and the social cost of such policies is high."
Fake Moustache Translator. Fake Moustache Translator attaches between nose and mouth to double as a language translator and identity concealer. Sophisticated electronics translate your voice into the desired language. Wriggle your nose to toggle between Spanish, English, French, and Arabic. Excellent on diplomatic missions.

thanks Tangerine, you've made my day!
Quote of the Day

One of the most interesting statistics about the Web is that the growth of the Web outside the United States is much faster than it is in the United States, and the growth rate of non-English languages is much faster than the growth rate of English. Of course, English has a head start. So the right thing is that eventually languages like Chinese should be the dominant languages because there are so many more people who speak these languages in the world. Today, we’re working on that.

Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google in this interview published today at the International Herald Tribune.
Don't Shoot the Translator. "The Egyptian report claims that a poor English translation of the flight's cockpit data recorder led to American speculation of a suicide. The initial translation of the pilot's last word were, "I place my feet in the hands of God."
Women Back on Top in New Kama Sutra Translation. ""Where it advises yelling, I think Burton couldn't imagine that women could have that kind of privilege," said Doniger. "He couldn't believe it possible."
Passover Seder. A far cry from the pain in Netanya, my evening was spent in amicable company. Jews and Catholics breaking matzo together. In this particular house, they invite goyim every year for the feast. Our hostess was thrilled when we asked questions, so dozens of questions we asked.

We were ceramists, translators, a law scholar, a headhunter with a passion for game hunting, an artist and a Holocaust survivor shriveled and cranky in her chair. "We cut her all the slack she needs", my hostess said in a whisper. Our very distinguished teacher was cracking jokes and making the table explode in roaring laughter. She also wrote a haggadah for dummies with lyrics, explanations and the sequence of events and warned us to pay attention closely because she would be conducting an oral test and grading us at dessert time.

Wine flowing like manna, we discussed Abraham and Joshua, Freud and Moses, the Talmud and the Torah. Seated to my right was Lucia. She is young and pretty with a turned-up nose and knows much more about biblical galore than me, in spite of all my Jewish wannabe-ness, an inclination that first blossomed when I was young and pretty and fell in love with a Syrian Jew with a soft voice and eyebrows as thick as Leonid Brejnev's.

I drank way over four cups of wine, but everybody told me that this is how it's meant to be in this joyous celebration of freedom. When asked what freedom means to me, the aberrant response of the love-phobic centaur-mermaid was "Not being owned by anybody, ever", later rectified into a more mild-mannered "the ability to think".

I asked why Jews bob when they pray, a legitimate and harmless curiosity, I would say. No one gave me a satisfactory answer and the focus was immediately shifted to Cabbalah and the beautiful Ladino songs of Fortuna. As it is often the case there is an unsuspected hero in every reunion. In our case, it was a hero by proxy and kin. It turned out that the young law scholar who is about to publish a book on hermeneutics is a second-degree cousin of the Brazilian Oskar Schindler, ambassador Souza Dantas who served in Paris during the 40s.

But maybe the real heroine was the shriveled old lady who only opened her mouth to complain about the size of the matzo bits and go for another swallow. Her eyes sparkled incredibly alive and blue as she reminded us all that since they fled in haste, the matzo had to be baked by the desert sun, a minutiae that has helped to keep the Passover tradition alive for over 3,000 years. Not only the Devil, but also God is in the details.

Mar 27, 2002

Father of 12 ordered to keep his dick inside his pants. No cookie dipping for Mr.Crawford until he pays his child support dues. Legal news shocker: Jefferson County Judge Thomas McDonald says "There's no constitutional right to have sex". Pardon my ignorance, is this for real or is it Courtv?

via newswecanuse via nocto
Signs of Trouble. If you ever land in a foreign airport and on leaving baggage claim you see more than one signholder parading names of journalists from major press tickets such as Associated Press, Reuters and the New York Times, make no mistake about it. This country is headed for trouble. This is what happened to me when I arrived in Argentina last November, precisely one day before the corralito withdrawal limit was imposed. Several cacerolazos and presidents down the road, the country now seems to be on the brink of a currency slide into a bottomless pit. My Argentinean colleagues write to me describing their plans to flee the country towards lands of lesser economic afflictions. I imagine new signs are being waved at Ezeiza only this time they are directed to the members of the IMF crew and spell disaster.
Of Special Interest for Fruit Flies. They suffer from memory retention problems just like me. Will the PKM protein also strengthen my synapses to help me stay away from particular types of Jalapeños?
Small World, ain't it? I've signed up as a subject for this research. My targets are a writer in New York, a student in Croatia and a computing instructor in Britain.
Pop-Up Toilets to Cut Street Urination. In my opinion, one of the most unfathomable aspects of the civilized world has always been the curb on street urination. Why on earth would you end up in jail for relieving your bladder?

The pop-up toilets sound great though. One of the electoral promises of São Paulo mayor Martha Suplicy was installing toilets under bridges for the overpass microtown dwellers. She also recommends wearing red lingerie when you have to make important decisions, That is Brazil for you.

via the Tangerine newsfeed

Mar 26, 2002

What does Portuguese sound like? A new friend has asked me today. Here's a definition from a reader of this blog, a gringo who shares my infatuation with Portuguese: "It is so, so beautiful! I happened to listen in on a chunk of Brazilian Portuguese conversation, and it sounded like a French person speaking Spanish".

What can I say about the language spoken in the Sleeping Giant (which is how the country is depicted in our national anthem) without causing a geopolitical incident? First of all, Brazil and Portugal are nations separated by a common language, as Mark Twain would have said if he had ever tasted a caipirinha and also visited Oporto. Iberian Portuguese is syncopated like a German fanfare. Brazilian Portuguese is delivered in a more leisurely pace and has more slurred endings. To someone who doesn't know Latin languages it may sound like Spanish, much like Czech and Hungarian sound exactly the same to me.

My Andalucian grandmother who was born in Algeria and spent her youth in Catalunya before moving to Brazil wasn't the world's most gifted linguist. Every time she tried to speak Portuguese, the result was perfect Catalan. My Catalan grandfather took offense for this linguistic faux-pas because during all the years in Catalunya she never ventured to say a mere "Véns a banyar-te?". When I was traveling in Italy, my every attempt to speak the Italian I picked up from the "ciao carina" who were trying to pick me up ended up as Frenchized Babelian with a pinch of Spanish. My daughter, the little tunababy, spent months toggling between the US and Brazil before her language skills were completely sound, so now she speaks Consonant-Free Portuguese or Vowelian, her own variation of Baby Martian.

All this to say that it all depends on where, when and who is speaking the language. And most importantly, on the linguistic footprints the listener is able to track down to make a comparison. To me Portuguese will always sound like a refreshing breeze blowing through the Indo-European linguistic stem. It's the language that makes me feel at home, it's the colorful language spoken in neighborhood padarias, sacred conservatories of the country's bonhomie and test laboratories for the latest linguistic quirks. But others may diverge.

To Tangelino, in his capacity of world's foremost authority in Letras Ocultas and Ciências Apagadas (Occult Letters and Erased Sciences) and to the drifters of the Seaweb: what do you think Portuguese sounds like?
New York Times News Tracker Alerts. The Gray Lady grants you three wishes. Mine are Brazil, translation and multilingual.
Lost in Translation. "What happens when an English phrase is translated (by computer) back and forth between 5 different languages?" It gets babelized.

Here's my stab at babelization:

"The sky above the port was the color of television tuned to a dead channel",
"The sky in the furrow was the color of the television, was attributed died to an advice"
Furrow I of the interior of the sky was the color of the television, attributed died in the recommendation
Furrow of the Innerens of the sky I was attributed I died the color of
the television, in the recommendation (which sounds a bit poetic)

fascinating link via kelegraph
I have succumbed to a test. Soon I will be posting cat pictures and song lyrics like every dim-witted blogger. Or not, if the enneagram test has any substance to it.

Pulvis et Umbra Sumus. But do entrust the writing of your epitaph to a friend rather than a foe.

Mar 25, 2002

When you Don't know Shit from Shinola. Try your luck with the Phrase Finder. But what should you do when you're looking for the lyrics of "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" by Noel Coward? Where did Google put it this time? I'll try to use the advice given to me last week. When you're looking for a lost object meditate and transmutate your protein blob into the object you're seeking. Here I am morphing into a HTML page with the lyrics I covet...ohmmm
A Subject Line is Worth a 1,000 words. Here are some subject lines taken from my inbox in no particular order:

Amelie Poulain Tropical
Re: coming to Sao Paulo? do look me up!
Fw: Humor: Capitalism revisited
Google's New High Protein Diet
teen cams! no membership or credit card required
[KudoZ] 90 degree offset screwdriver
You're Heartless

Other snippets and comments addressing yours truly overheard this week:

the merm is addicted to blogging (and I hope she remains so)
excellent point!
Ne lui ôtons pas ce plaisir a ce cher La Rochefoucauld

EM Health News Update. This morning I had a digestive endoscopy to see how my tummy is doing. Far from scary and painful, it was a delightful experience. The last thing I remember was me on the patient couch getting a shot and asking: "gee what is the name of this stuff, it's marvelous". Boink. And then the doctor shaking my shoulder and saying, "come on you sleepyhead!". I feel very peaceful now. I should have an endoscopy every week. Later my father told me that the sedative they gave me is the same used by the pervo pediatrician that made it to the hall of fame of interestelar scumbags last week.

I am working on some Frame Maker files today, implementing a screenshot image update for a highly technical medical software manual. It's another of my babies, I translated it last year. Now what does the graphics update consist of ? Deleting pratically every screenshot because they are releasing a new version and the older screens are not to be used or replaced. Oh lord, have pity on the readers of technical manuals, because they are sufferers in this earth.

The Virtual Townhall. Deutsche Welle brings an article showing that online public administration services, one of the most citizen-friendly guises of e-government, is working well in the town of Hagen.

Mar 24, 2002

Famous Last Words. "Pardonnez-moi, Monsieur" (Marie Antoinette, after treading upon her executioner's toe).
via provenanceunknown.
I've got you under my skin. I foresee that hundreds of Brazilians will be queuing up for this subcutaneous GPS tracking device. And that my dad will be the first in line.
Rainha Laura. She is brandishing her whip with a look on her face like she is in a Tide commercial.
Dragging the Chains of Authoritarianism. "Ghosts including that of the late communist leader Marshal Josip Broz Tito are stalking a Yugoslav apartment block built on an old military graveyard, residents complained on Thursday."
The Grandpère of Alphabetically-Indexed Wry Wit. Someone has finally had the divine inspiration of putting Flaubert's Le Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues online. We've had the Devil's Dictionary available for some time, so all that is missing is The Pocket Dictionary of People I Know jotted down by Pinto Calçudo in the greatest most funnest book of Brazilian Modernismo, and of course I am referring to Seraphim Grosse Pointe by Oswald de Andrade.
For every action there is a reaction. The market for anti-plagiarism software is expanding. This Economist article explains how it nails copistes.
via Geek Press.
Getting Jiggy with Tipper. "Gore said that last Friday, he came home from a speech at the American Bar Association's annual convention to find Tipper waiting for him in the bedroom in a lace teddy with a rose between her teeth. She then handed him a book of "love coupons" redeemable for a variety of sexual favors."

Mar 23, 2002

Weekend Frolicking. I finally decided to creep out of my shell and enjoy the urbanite pleasures available in São Paulo. Camila and I had lunch together at Capim Santo. It was feijoada day, but I kept my distance from the sinful dish and enjoyed a delicious passion-fruit sake caipirinha and eggplant-stuffed garlicky tomatoes.

After that Camila took me to see a Daniel Senise exhibit at Instituto Cultural Tomie Ohtake, a stone's throw from my place. The "Carambola" building cuts through the quaint Pinheiros landscape like a sharp postmodern dagger but in fact I wouldn't mind renting office space there.

Camila who commingles with the city's artsy and undergrounders invited me to go to the opening of the 25th Bienal tonight, but no way Jose. I still remember the previous first-night bash as an appalling overcrowded technofest with warm beer served in paper cups and evil bum artiste ex-boyfriend lurking in every dark corner.

I've been sleeping 6 hours a night for as long as I can remember and I've bought tons of books this week, so the prospect of an evening at home sounds very appealing. But I was talking Isa into going out for a beer so I don't know if I can crawl back into my shell without getting her pissed. She's invited me to celebrate Pessach this week and it's only polite you know. At the restaurant, Camila and I got a flier promoting a concert with Guine-Bissau artist Lilison di Kinara at the Francophonie 2002 festival being held at SESC Pompéia.

Here's a wager: I'll bet the hefty amount of R$5 with anyone who doubts I will meet Messieur JY there. He is the only man in SP to drink chamomile tea with provolone pizza and to affirm that the Celestial Seasonings Dragon herbal variety is an aphrodisiac as potent as rhino horn powder. Needless to say, our journo has a lovely French accent, wears a trenchcoat with sneakers and is totally into African beats.

Any takers?
Eugenio Chipkevich. "The Secrets Pediatricians Don't Tell".

Mar 22, 2002

macaco faça como eu digo e não como eu faço

The nerve of you. I am pissed at Robert J. Samuelson and The Washington Post and the syndication system for publishing a column under the self-important title Debunking the Digital Divide. In the article, not a fucking single reference is made to any other country in the world but the United States. Hellooo? Grab an Atlas and the CIA World Factbook will you and don't splash your articles with flamboyant headlines because they are inaccurate when you consider that triviality called "world". I am not a complete idiot and I know that the author was analyzing the Berkeley survey and that the Berkeley survey analyzed the situation in the United States. So what? What harm one or two non-navel-gazing paragraphs could have done ?
How to deal with your hate mail. Tangelo, this one is for you and for anyone who loves a little flame war (and that means me). Of course, to ascend to such serene penmanship I would need massive doses of Valium as you can deduce from the entry above.
Korean Soldiers Swap Guns for Dictionaries.

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea plans to draft in soldiers as emergency translators to help visitors at the World Cup after failing to recruit enough people with language skills, the South Korean organising committee (KOWOC) says.

Some smaller venues among the 10 cities hosting matches in South Korea have had trouble finding interpreters to help teams and fans from countries with less common languages. Even English, while increasingly popular, is not widely spoken.

KOWOC said the army, navy and air force had agreed to provide translators and help at the opening ceremony of the World Cup in Seoul on May 31.

"We expect the Korean soldiers' support will be of great help to the success of the World Cup," the committee said in a statement on Thursday.

Many soldiers speak English, having worked alongside U.S. troops based in South Korea. Others have trained at military academies in other countries or studied languages in South Korea before their national service.

The South Korean army and defence ministry have also set up committees to prepare for the finals, which are being co-hosted with Japan. The army will supply 2,410 personnel in total.

The armed forces are already heavily involved in security preparations for the tournament and have carried out frequent anti-terrorism drills with special police units.
A new market for software localizers? By the way it looks, soon there will be a new strain of job offers coming from ProZ.
Yet another chimeric sign decoder (on wireless networks this time). Why do scientists keep dreaming of the Universal Translator ? Don't they know it only works aboard the Enterprise? Maybe I am being too skeptical. Everything is possible in a world where Hamlet is translated into Klingon.
Are you with me? Because I want your undivided attention. The 1911 version of Encyclopedia Brittanica is available online. If you're wondering why you should bother about the digital reinstatement of musty old books, head over to Limited Inc. for enlightement with a capital E.

Mar 20, 2002

It will be a surreal burial.

The Bettmann archive, the quirky cache of pictures that Otto Bettmann sneaked out of Nazi Germany in two steamer trunks in 1935 and then built into an enormous collection of historical importance, will be sunk 220 feet down in a limestone mine situated 60 miles northeast of Pittsburgh, where it will be far from the reach of historians. The archive, which is estimated to have as many as 17 million photographs, is a visual record of the 20th century. Since 1995 it has belonged to Corbis, the private company of Microsoft's chairman, William H. Gates.

The Bettmann archive is moving from New York City to a strange underworld. Corbis plans to rent 10,000 square feet in a mine that once belonged to U.S. Steel and now holds a vast underground city run by Iron Mountain/National Underground Storage. There Corbis will create a modern, subzero, low-humidity storage areas safe from earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, vandals, nuclear blasts and the ravages of time.

But preservation by deep freeze presents a problem. The new address is strikingly inaccessible. Historians, researchers and editors accustomed to browsing through photo files will have to use Corbis's digital archive, which has only 225.000 images, less than 2 percent of the whole collection.

Some worry that the collection is being locked away in a tomb; others believe that Mr. Gates is saving a pictorial legacy that is in mortal danger...

When the move is done, Corbis's New York office will contain nothing but people and their computers, plugged into a digital archive. No photographic prints, no negatives, no rotting mess. Analog is having a burial and digital is dancing on its grave.

Sarah Boxer, New York Times, April 15, 2001
via Ctheory
Fighting joblessness among elephants. "In the 1950s, artists such as Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline embraced the expansive gestural freedom of Action Painting as a way of harnessing the beast within and channeling it onto the canvas. For elephants, most of whom remain art-world outsiders, this unbridled spontaneity comes naturally. Indeed, elephant painting is the ultimate Outsider Art, reinvigorating a moribund art scene and resolving the fin-de-siecle crisis in painting with a bold and uninhibited return to gestural abstraction."
Sreiovska Aenigmatikin calls your attention to...a Web entity not to be messed with.
Williwonka Chocolate Factory at Yahoogroups. Some people have been saying that the recent shutdown is linked to this child pornography bust-up.
I've been feeling furiously futuristic lately. I wonder why. I will probably return to my reading antics soon rather than later. Just grabbed Confessions of Zeno for a quick leafing through and looked full of longing at my Stefan Zweig Collected Novels.

Mar 19, 2002

Theta, gamma, sumation etcetera. I've just had to look up what ∑ is.
Blind Tangerine. He is commuting, retelling my dad's jokes and getting some momentous hexagrams from the I-Ching, events which he blogarizes in an unredeemably edgy style. Tangerine, tangelo, the world is round and if you go South long enough you will get to the North Pole.
Florida? Nah.
You'd be better off with a snuggling with an eskimo, looking at the pie in the sky from the shores of Laputa.
Meanwhile in a lavish conference room in Sao Paulo. I got to use the words velocity, Newtonian physics and dialectics and was approached by my speaker who said we did a marvelous job and asked me if I am American. Of course not. I'm just a fucking foreigner with several incursions to Dennis and Radio Shack in my curriculum vitae.

The speaker was something else. Brilliant, charismatic, knowledgeable in the art of getting the message across. He would interrupt the Brazilian partner and say: ok, let's cut the crap, what the journalist really wants to know is blah blah blah. Obviously not in so many words, but with the same charmingly self-reliant stance. He also repeated his key points dilligently until they materialized into indestructible chunks of doxa. Public speaking is the art of perforating blockheads in a very precise drilling spot but mind you, at varying speeds or everybody including the interpreters will fall asleep.

The only snag today was the equipment. We were using portable microphones with no headphones or sound proofing which means that a) I can't gesticulate profusely because I am holding the mike and for some odd reason that is detrimental to my delivery; b) I have to whisper into the mike so not to disturb the attendees and I have a hard time keeping my voice down when my mind finally enters into the speaker's wavelength.

Incidentally, my trip to Campinas has been cancelled because novice that I am will be replacing an abess with more interesting stuff to do at TELEXPO on Thrusday and Friday. TELEXPO is big, the largest telecommunications trade show in Latin America and to be honest I can hardly wait to get my little grey suit to the venue, especially because Angie and Ulysses will be there. I saw Angie in Florianopolis recently but Ulysses is a friend I haven't seen in aeons.
Know the Way to Monterrey?

(they should have called it The Interpreting Squad of Brancaleone)

MONTERREY, Mexico, March 18 (Reuters) — A German crew providing translation services for a United Nations conference on development financing went to the wrong city.

The crew members showed up in Monterey, Calif., rather than the meeting site more than 1,500 miles away in Monterrey, Mexico, red-faced United Nations and Mexican officials said today.

The crew members, from Brähler ICS, a German company, "planned their trip from Germany and their travel agency erroneously sent them to Monterey in California," an official said.
Trabalenguas So I got it all wrong and I've had my share of strikethrough text in this archive entry so I will just admit to a self-cannibalizing, distortion-prone memory and post below the Catalan tongue-twister where the 16 judges are saved from having their livers eaten by a hangman through the divine providence of a conditional clause. In all truth, the hangman is not even that keen on eating judicial mincemeat, I don't know where I got that from.
And the trabalenguas goes:

Setze jutges d'un jutjat mengen el fetge d'un penjat.
Si el penjat es despenja, els setze jutges del jutjat no podran menjar mes fetge del penjat.

My memory may be toast but I can still google my way to a page with a million trillion billion trabalenguas in a gazillion languages.

A Picture of Blogville. Add your own and marvel at the flimsy lines connecting Blogville.

Mar 18, 2002

Brasilia in three words. Babies, vomiting, room service. The mermaby was ill with a virus or was it the remainders of hot dogs she was picking up from the floor at the kiddie party? Suffice it to say that I was impressed with my ability to cope in a strange land, ordering cabs and waking up the pediatrician, calling drugstores and screaming at the reception desk attendant.

My friend came to visit twice. He was more handsome than I remembered. We talked talked talked, there was no end to the talking. I was looking forward to seeing the Brazilian Senate from the inside but the expedition was cancelled and more white towels ordered for purposes of vomit control. I missed MissVeen, struck unconscious with sleep at 9pm on Saturday. ( I bitch and moan like this blog is the "Wall of Lamentations").

The high point was running into P and his infant entourage at the party. He has the same thundering laughter that I remembered from Brussels. His baby boy is the spitting image of him, handsome, bright-eyed, spiky-haired, cute. P is working at the Brazilian branch of the ILO and was surprised when I mentioned I did an event for them last year. "How come? Who hired you?" I replied the marketing scheme is basically the same as with hookers: word of mouth.

Tomorrow I have a press conference, then a whole day with the inventor of the TOC, followed by a car ride to Campinas and another flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants assignment. I am getting to like interpreting much more than translation, especially because I get to wear high heels and look at the suits around me. Only sometimes they wear helmets. Who cares, suits, helmets everything boils down to testosterone.
Uroboros. In the best vendetta humour, the one catalan tongue-twister I know says that 17 judges in a trial eat the liver of a hanged man, the hanged man lets himself off the hook and proceeds to eating the 17 livers of the 17 judges.
We aims to please. A reader requests more debauchery and less geekery. I will see what I can do. Since I have nothing going on in the baudiness department, I have to resort to heavy doses of interpreting and translation geekery for content. In fact, now that my push-button powers are back, I've just set up The Translation Geek Daily News, which I hope to make into the Translatorama of Blogland. Take a look and keep me sending news for copy-paste publication. As for the snarky comments, leave them up to me.

Mar 17, 2002

A large bummer wrapper, a portion of inconveniences and a medium soda to go. I've just upgraded to BloggerPro and I am having major problems getting into the little box whence communications to the random universe are sent. Radiation spec sheets almost done, now it's packing and flying to Brasilia for the weekend. The big question mark is will Yahoogroups make it through the weekend? A Web spectacle to rival E.R.

Just received some news from my friend Leila, the sexiest psychoanalyst alive turned NGO project coordinator is not going to be around. She is traveling somewhere probably Holland. CM is trying to put me on one of the TELEXPO interpreting booths next Wednesday so I can skip a financial seminar. Three days of interpreting a week that is all I need to become quasi-rich.

This morning I chatted for a while with a friend who is bit down on account of his romantic situation. Oh, what is the forlorn lover to do but shout:
Next, please!

Mar 13, 2002

More Translation Geekery. Here's a master's thesis submitted to the Monterey Institute of International Studies in 2001, discussing the pros and cons of CAT software, and when it is or isn't cost-effective to use. And rest assured, there is a huge difference between machine translation and computer-aided translation.

I have to finish my radiation therapy spec sheets today because I have to buy tickets to Brasília tomorrow. The capital of Brazil is a triumph of modernist architecture and one of the ugliest places I've ever set foot in, but there are spraying the apartment for bugs and ants and I have lots of friends there.

Next week I have two days in the booth interpreting for this biz management bigshot. All about the TOC, not table of contents but Theory of Constraints.Some sort of Darwinian-inspired weak chain link stripping theory that probably boils down to major downsizings. But I am just wild-guessing. Anyway, it's another name to peg to my list of speakers which also includes offbeat personalities such as Steve Davies and Maguila (in the pre-Evander Hollyfield era).
Et on bloggue toujours. This article ushers the surfer to two interesting starting points for blog-hopping: Florent Latrive's and Emannuelle Richard's weblogs en français.
Sharbat Gula. Same girl? Are you sure?
Blogspoutage. It's been down the whole morning so I am going to get some work done before I add some more links to my sidebar. Dave Tepper has been turning the flattery against the flatterer and that tickles my ego in very pleasant ways.
Been there done that. So in the end I decided to uninstall Eyeball Chat since I don't have a webcam anymore and settled for the very promising and skinnable Trillian. While browsing around I couldn't help noticing AIM Translator powered by shitty PROMT-Reverso technology. The naive among my readers may be tentatively asking but does it work at all? It probably does, if you don't feed it the standard Elizabeth Barret Browning poems and keep your expectations low. As for the professional use of PROMT Reverso, my only cryptic remark is ask SAP about it. In any case, the AIM Translator could be a solution to all those "how do I say I love you in Spanish" queries swarming in the KudoZ language forums. I'm pretty sure that these linguistic afflictions are all coming from instant-messaging powered relationships.
What kind of geek am I? I'm the kind of geek who appraises João Roque Dias's presentation on Translating Technical Manuals as one of the most exciting talks of 2001. He has a nice collection of glossaries, I mean, not as large as The Glossarist or YourDictionary but surely more focused on Portuguese. He has just written to me, in my capacity as Glossary Goddess, to announce that his collection of online glossaries is now searchable. Excelente, João.
American Dialect Society Words of 2001. My vote goes to misunderestimate.

Mar 12, 2002

Isa Mara's E-talk on Literary Translation (continued)

Here are the questions and answers generated by her FAQ.

Questions & Answers

1- From : ROGERIO

Hi Isa,

I am too young to have read the classics, as you suggest. I have never seen a film with Humphrey Bogart and can't answer your question...
What do you advise me to do?
Hello Rogerio,
First of all, congratulations on wanting to learn. This is a good first step!
You have all your life ahead of you. There´s plenty of time to read the classics, watch classic movies and listen to classic songs. It´s all a matter of being interested.

My advice: first of all, rent the video "Casablanca" with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Watch it, love it, get involved. I dare you not to cry when they start playing the Marseillese!
Then watch it again to savor the dialogue in all its beautiful simplicity. Repeat the lines mentally, or even aloud, if you like them.

What's the effect? Besides a wonderful input in English, maybe the film will make you want to know more about WWII, the city of Casablanca, Bogart's movies, Ingrid Bergman's life, Cole Porter's songs or.... who knows what else? Follow your interest. Go look for it! . Find Casablanca on a world map. Find the lyrics of the song that Sam played again. Be curious!!! That's the recipe.

And also - take all kinds of courses. Art History, Music History, film scenarios... Join a theater group, you'll learn a lot. Go to Europe and to the US. Visit the main cities, go to the great museums. Is it expensive? Maybe no more than taking a university course in Brazil. New York and London are a must.

Read good books, newspapers and magazines. No time? How about trading 2 hours of TV for 2 hours of reading every day? That will make all the difference.

Let´s hear from you again -
all the best,
Isa Mara

2- From : OSMAN

I've just finished reading your tips on translation and I can't quite agree with you. Because it seems to me that you're being honest on all aspects but one. When you give the BRISTLES example, I disagree cuz it seems to me that all you translators have the annoying habit of saying that this or that phrase could have only been translated this or that way, and in my opinion there are many ways of doing it depending on the context, to whom the text is directed to and MOST important of it all: Who wrote it! who's the author? What's the character's age(if he or she's describing a scenario for instance) and his or her profile and needs, ambitions, is it a dramatic character or not? etc, etc, etc.
let's take this example of yours.

Let's suppose a 13 years old boy, laconic, intelligent but even still a child describes his homeland to a foreigner; Bristle would become INFESTAR very easily. and I can see other scenes in which BRISTLES would become PULULAR, ESTRAGAR, ENVENENAR, etc, etc, etc.
So I know you're a good translator but you guys seem to be always trying to scare the rest of us away from your area by not telling us the whole truth.
I read a lot, tons of books a year (english and portuguese) and i didn't need to look up the word Bristle in the Dic, but I can understand its meaning, so probably you'll tell me I'm wrong and so on but those aforementioned words could easily fit into various texts depending on a lot of aspects of it.

Hello Osman,

Well, I was not trying to hide anything from anybody, much to the contrary. I was trying to share my thought processes as I grappled with the word BRISTLE in that sentence. I also did not imply that my translation was the only possible one. To the contrary, there are endless possibilities.

The context: a story on Afghanistan published in The Economist, that I translated for the newspaper Valor Econômico. It said the Afghan soil was bristling with mines.
As a reader, you do well in trying to guess the meaning of words from the context; but for a professional translator this is not enough.

I feel it is my first and foremost duty to look up in one or more dictionaries **any** word that I don’t understand, or that is not very familiar to me, or that I’ve never seen in that particular context, or that offers difficulties for translation. Therefore I would never have translated that sentence without knowing the exact meaning of "bristle". It means a stiff hair, like the espinho do porco-espinho and other animals. As a verb it is very expressive here, meaning that the soil has lots of sharp and lethal bristles that are sticking out, ready to kill you or maim you.

I did not find a satisfactory way of introducing the words "espinho", "espinhoso". "eriçar" or similar ones here. That is why I chose to add the adjective "mortífero" to the landmines, to compensate for that loss and give back mines all their threatening force.

This is what is called in translation "o jogo do perde-ganha." If you lose a vigorous detail here, you try to add some more vigor elsewhere. Otherwise – por example, if I had settled for "solo cheio de minas" - you will betray the impact of the original and write a dull, inexpressive translation.

As for your suggestions, "envenenar" would be rather off the mark, but I liked "infestar" very much. It would fit in very well in that sentence: "seu solo infestado de minas." Duly noted!

Let me state that again:
***If you are a real professional translator, or if you take translation seriously, you **don't** rely on your guesses. You look the unfamiliar words up, you research examples with them, you try to understand them really well!
Millôr Fernandes, a great translator, has said he often looks words up in TWENTY or more dictionaries. ***

Thank you, Osman, for your participation and for raising this interesting point.
all the best,
isa mara


I agree with everything Isa Mara has said. But publishing houses are usually too inconsiderate with translators. Besides, it's quite common that the editor in charge has no experience in translation. Unfortunately, if good people are never given a chance, books will keep on having lousy translations.

Hello Fatima!

Unfortunately I must agree with you. I have not received too much consideration from publishing houses in all these years. There is a real problem with revisores that make unnecessary changes. Companhia das Letras is the best, also because all their staff has a much higher level than you find in the other publishers. Even so they hardly ever exchange a word with me about the translations - even though I ask for it, send them my comments etc. I would not say they are inexperienced with translations; it's just that they don't give it too much importance. They care much more about deadlines than about the quality of the work.

As for giving a chance to beginners, here's a tip for you. The first books I translated were those sugary romance stories that sell in newsstands (Julia, Sabrina etc) It is a good translation exercise and a not a bad beginning. You have to write in a pleasant, attractive manner and balance romanticism and eroticism very well in the love scenes so as not to slide to vulgarity. Believe me, it's not so easy! In fact there's quite a lot of creativity involved, since you often are asked to copydesk and/or reduce the story. So I could advise you to read a couple of them and write to the publishers offering to do a test.

There's no lack of work in this area, I suppose. They have this huge output of weekly silly stories to deceive the young girls into thinking they will find Prince Charming... But one has to start somewhere.

Thank you for writing and keep up the good work. If you really like English and translation, you will succeed!

isa mara

4- From : ADRIANA
Oi, Isa Mara,
É bom vê-la aqui no e-talks. Não sou tradutora literária, mas traduzo filmes e séries para dublagem e infelizmente não tenho tempo para ler 5 vezes a minha tradução, mas concordo com você - seria o ideal!
Mas o que mais me intriga é que os tradutores não tenham o "desconfiômetro" de perceber que "algo não está legal" e partir para a busca de mais informações - como nos exemplos que você deu dos "vinhedos da Marta".
Não posso dizer que eu conheça tudo, é claro - aliás, graças a Deus não conheço tudo - mas o tradutor tem que estar sempre atento para algo que "soe estranho", para fazer pesquisas a respeito do assunto. Fico abismada com a falta de cultura geral que alguns "profissionais" demonstram...

Um forte abraço,
Santos - SP

Hello Adriana!
So nice to hear from you. Well, my subject this time is *literary* translation, and that´s why I recommended 5 revisions - let's say 4 at the very least, if you are pressed for time, so that later on you won't open the book and find all kinds of little things that could have turned out better.

Translating movie subtitles is another area altogether, a different reality. I did it for a couple of weeks and I know what it´s like: you get tons of movies to translate over the weekend and there´s absolutely no time for refinements. Moreover, many of them are done in Miami by totally unqualified people.

Even so one would expect them to have a little more common sense and professional pride so as not to produce hilarious mistranslations such as "vinhedos de Marta".

The worst example I've seen so far is the tv movie "Fiddler on the Roof". In the beginnging the matchmaker was translated as "fabricante de fósforos". And worse, later on in the movie they changed it to "casamenteira" but never went back to correct the beginning. What sloppiness!

Anyway, subtitles are not my field, but I am glad to see that there are some intelligent, conscientious people like yourself doing this job -- which reaches millions of people and ideally shoud be done by well-paid, qualified professionals.

See you then and all the best,
Isa Mara


Oi, Isa Mara.
Eu concordo com o que disse a Adriana, realmente a pesquisa é fundamental para que o trabalho do tradutor seja bem feito. O problema é que muitas pessoas que fazem traduções consideram este trabalho como "bico" e então não dispõem do tempo necessário para revisá-las. Isto é bem visível nas séries de televisão, encontramos muitas "pérolas". Vamos torcer para que os "profissionais" a que se referiu a Adriana tomem consciência desta importância!

Oi Ludmilla,

Obrigada pela sua participação.

Creio que esse assunto da trad. de legendas mereceria um e-talk à parte, pois desperta muito interesse. Está dada a sugestão à Renata.

Como já disse, nao é minha area profissional, mas como telespectadora, tb. sou agredida.
E creio que há outros gdes culpados alem dos "tradutores" sem nenhuma cultura que fazem como "bico" esse trabalho massificante e mal pago . Culpada tb é a ganância das legendadoras e das emissoras. Não há interesse em contratar tradutores mais qualificados. Culpada tb. é a passividade do público. Se muitos escrevessem ou telefonassem reclamando das "pérolas", quem sabe a situação melhoraria?
No momento a tendência é piorar, pois o volume de programas de TV a traduzir é cada vez maior, a pressa tb cada vez maior, e nao há revisao quase nenhuma.
Entao só nos resta mesmo fazer um piquenique "nos vinhedos de Marta"!
isa mara

6- From : ROBINSON

Oi, Isa Mara,

É uma honra participar deste e-talk. Não tenho muito a acrescentar neste momento, mas gostaria de expressar minha satisfação por ver que sua primeira recomendação para um bom tradutor de textos literários é que ele ou ela escreva bem em português. Parece algo lógico, óbvio, ululante, mas, sejamos sinceros (como você), é uma coisa raríssima ver textos traduzidos em português cativante, dinâmico, convidativo. Tenho deparado com textos tão esdrúxulos quanto a própria palavra "esdrúxula", que nos fazem ter a sensação de estar passando de carroça por uma rua cheia de buracos e de lombadas!
Precisamos de textos que transpirem naturalidade, com a leveza de uma seda, que comuniquem um espírito bem-humorado, isento das carrancas sintáticas e vocabulares que assustam e afastam qualquer leitor por mais bem-intencionado que seja, que encantem e seduzam o leitor a continuar lendo, lendo, lendo. Queremos textos marcados pela singularidade do português falado no Brasil, corretos, mas brasileiríssimos, belos, mas encharcados de uma simplicidade que comunica, que entra no quintal das nossas emoções e da lógica do raciocínio lingüístico verde-e-amarelo.

Que bom ver você empenhada em ser alguém "que escreve gostoso". Um texto gostoso: que mais pode querer um leitor?

Um abraço.
São Paulo-SP.
Caro Robinson,
Muito obrigada pela sua belíssima contribuição. Sabendo que você é um editor, responsável por uma editora, suas palavras têm ainda mais peso.

De fato, as pessoas se esquecem que o requisito número 1 é escrever bem em português. As faculdades tb. poderiam ajudar mais nesse aspecto. A meu ver um curso de tradução deveria ter tb. aulas de redação criativa em português, para que as traduções fossem, como diz você, "textos corretos, mas brasileiríssimos, belos, mas encharcados de uma simplicidade que comunica."

Ótima definição!

isa mara
Web ethnologue. A new search algorithm developed by NEC could lead to the detection of "hitherto unsuspected communities", says computer scientist and network researcher Jon Kleinberg of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Is this a threat to Google's supremacy? Probably not, Google kicks ass.

Mar 11, 2002

Bedtime Stories. I just read Rapunzel to Sofia. My eyes are drooping like my lashes are lead. I should be working on my radiation therapy spec sheets, instead I am downloading Eyeball Chat and fighting very hard against slumberdoom.

The Danes make some damn good tales. When I was a child one of my favorites was Snow Queen. I pictured myself as little Kay, my vision blurred by a fragment of the mirror of evil, my heart growing cold like a lump of ice. My chromatic tastes in literature seem to range from white to scarlet, because Red Shoes also gripped my imagination by the tresses. Yeah, that's where my slot is. Somewhere between Snow and Red, my psyche gravitates.
From an accomplished seducer.

Fumar, em Montmartre, pega bem.
Ser negão, no Senegal, pega bem.
Frequentar rinha de galos, nas Filipinas, pega bem.
Mandar torpedos, em Pindamonhangaba, pega bem.

Já você, objeto nada secreto do meu desejo,
onde quer que esteja, sempre pega bem.


Where was I anyway?

Oh, I was trying to post this interesting finding about infidelity.
Literary Translation FAQ by Isa Mara Lando

Isa has given me permission to post her thoughts on literary translation here. The FAQ served as the basis for an e-talk (more of a talkback forum) at SBS. It's going to make for a long entry. The Translation Journal also features her profile. Her presentations are famous all over Brazil for she is an energetic and hilarious speaker. Ladies and gentlemen, I have the pleasure to introduce you to our very distinguished teacher:

Isa Mara Lando

Some thoughts on literary translation
posted at the SBS site in March 2002

Hi everybody, so nice seeing you here!

After having translated over 70 books (you can check out the list at my website) I often receive e-mails from people who would love to be literary translators and are dying for a chance. So here are some FAQs...

Q.- What does it take to be a literary translator? Do you think I could qualify?

The most important thing is to have a knack for writing well in Portuguese. "Você escreve gostoso”, “Nem parece tradução!” are the most gratifying compliments, that compensate for all the hard work.

I would say a good literary translator is someone who...

...has a natural, fluent, pleasant style in Portuguese.

Having corrected dozens of translation tests for publishers, I know how rare this is. Finding a good translator – someone who shows intelligence, general knowledge, elegance and a sense of humor, someone who can write a text that will keep the reader interested for 200 pages or more – is like finding a rare and precious gem.

Maybe 95% of the tests I have corrected are no good at all. The sentences are long, dull and humorless; they sound stilted and awkward. No wonder people often say they started reading a book but quit because it was boring – more often than not, the translation was boring!

Try and do some soul-searching. Do you enjoy writing? Do you write well? Can you keep the reader interested?

... has a sound knowledge of English that goes way beyond the basics.

Someone who has a rich vocabulary in English and can get the point of a joke, a word play or an idiom; someone who can understand complex English structures without being misled – that’s a real-to-goodness rarity.

... keeps his text interesting, expressive and lively.

English and American writers are often compelling, humorous, highly personal, even if they are writing about finances or technology. But most translators just ignore and kill all that makes their style forceful and appealing.

For example:
- “The catastrophic results" of the atom bomb became “considerable results".
- “Before we can trust them we have to examine seven times if they are hiding seven perfidies in their heart” became “We have to see how sincere they are.”

No flesh, just bare bones... No magic, no poetry, no originality, no soul...

Here’s an attempt at keeping the text vigorous:

"Angola’s fertile soil bristles with mines, its people are permanently hungry and afraid."

I couldn’t find a good equivalent for the verb "bristle", so expressive in the context. (Can you?? Send it over!)

But at least I tried to compensate with “mortíferas” right next to it:
"Seu solo fértil está repleto de minas mortíferas, seu povo sempre com fome e com medo."

... has a vast and diversified general knowledge.

Too often, would-be translators can’t recognize references to famous facts, names or places and make the most terrible blunders. For example,

"As lindas casas em estilo Tuscan...”
“Saímos de Nova York e fomos de carro para a Albânia...”
“O filme foi todo rodado nos vinhedos de Marta...”

(All real examples.)

Or else they have never left Brazil and cannot recognize features of American or British life.

For example,

“Peguei o tubo e fui para Piccadilly...”
“This Disney World fly-and-drive tour gives you unlimited park-hopping” was translated as “estacionamento grátis”.

Young people today unfortunately read very little and seem content with their MTV culture. But remember, “Knowledge is power”.
Develop the habit of reading! That will set you apart from the rest of the herd.

Also, a translator must travel and see the world. Is it expensive? Maybe no more than taking a university course in Brazil.

... can recognize the classics.

Suppose you were reading about someone who used to be very mean and tight-fisted but suddenly had a "scroogean epiphany".
Can you understand this? How would you translate so that the reader can understand it?

How about “Bush’s Orwellian address”?

Or an article on the Arab world entitled “...And the twain shall never meet”.
What do you make of that? Where does it come from?

The "classics" also include music and movies, since literature is full of references to them.
For example,

- When Humphrey Bogart asked, “Play it again, Sam”, what song did Sam play?

- How would you translate “The Rite of Spring”, considering you should adopt the most common and generally accepted form in Portuguese?

And – perhaps most important: if you can´t recognize those references, where and how would you look them up? And how long would it take for you to find them?

...knows how to use the internet effectively to do research.

If you don´t know the answers to the questions above, how would you go about finding out? And how long would you take to find them?

Q.-How many times should I reread my translation before I consider it done?

A. – This is the most important question, but I made it up myself. Unfortunately, no one ever asks it... But they should!

Reread it your text at least five times. It takes a long time to look natural! It’s like a young girl who spends hours dressing and grooming in front of the mirror in order to get that “natural" look. You know, “Wow, you look stunning!” “Oh, I just grabbed the first thing I found in my closet...”

So, don’t reread your work just once or twice, as most translators do. The more you reread it, the more natural and fluent your style will be. Read it a third, a fourth and a fifth time – in a loud voice! It makes a big difference. Listen to your own voice and make your sentences sound more beautiful, pleasant and well-balanced.

Aim for communication. Be clear and concise. Have a sense of humor, for God’s sake!

Then try and show your text to someone else – a colleague, or just anyone that can act as a normal reader – your mother, for example. Ask her: "So, was it interesting and pleasant to read? Is there anything you didn’t like, or that interfered with your understanding? Tell me and I’ll change it!"

Try doing that and you will see the difference.

The problem is, the more you polish your translation, the less money you are making, of course.
But you have to resign yourself to that. It’s the only way you can reread your work later and feel proud of yourself.

I look forward to your comments on this piece! Go ahead and write.
See you!
Isa Mara

Isa Mara Lando

Visit these sites:

Isa Mara - Translator's Profile:
VocabuLando - Vocabulário Prático Inglês-Português
A fine tool for smart translators

VocabuLando - Review in the Translation Journal:

Copyright Isa Mara Lando 2002. All rights reserved.
Forget Translation Memories and Globalization. The two hottest issues in the translation/localization world are client education and translation metrics. I just read the February ATA Chronicle and found three other interesting articles: Translating Official Documents for African Immigrants by Adrián Fuentes Luque, Where do we go from here? a brief overview of the evolution of the localization industry by Tim Altanero and Some Thoughts on the Modern Scientific Principle of Oversimplification by Steve Vlaska Vitek. None of the three are available on the online version of the Chronicle or at the Capital Translator Online, but I found this delightful piece on Music and the Zen of Translation also by Vitek at the NCATA site.
Pravda has a fringe stories section!? Uncanny. Bumpy translations too. Here's a piece of translation trivia to garnish this entry: Russia is one of the only countries in the world where they prefer translators to go into their B language. The rationale is that knowledge of the source text is more important than the style used to deliver the content.

Mar 10, 2002

Ils sont fous ces gauloises romains. Does anyone remember which of the Asterix characters used to say that? I need ginko biloba more than ever.
Another Drowning Dream. In my dream it is raining so hard that the house I live in with my large family slides into the water when it is hit by another house carried by the landslide. When the house begins to sink into the water I just open the windows and swim across the river to safety. The water is very cold and muddy. I feel immensely relieved to be on the other bank, alone with my daughter, away from my drowned house and my drowned siblings and parents. I find a stranger's house to live in. We have our own room and I never think back to my old home. But then I start meeting other brothers and sisters on the street. I feel glad to see them and ask if mother and father have died. Next scene shows me wandering around the half-drowned house in the middle of the muddy river. Most of the rooms are empty but eventually I find them: my parents are alive, living in the half-drowned house like nothing ever happened. I wake up.
Toppo and Giggio. My friend Robert has two bassets aptly named Whisky and Soda. Now we have two hamsters, Toppo and Giggio. They are freaky little critters but Sofia loves them. The Yin/Yang imbalance in this house is notorious so it's good to have male company again even if they spin the wheel for a living and sleep on top of the washer. How I can make a narrative connection between the hamsters and the Pierre Verger site I just found? I'll just spare myself the mental gymnastics.

Mar 9, 2002

Checking Checkmate. So I am using my inbox basically as a trashcan because I get so many messages everyday with a load of 20% to 30% spam. Ok by me, spam can actually make for a fun read. I like finding out about preposterous services like the cryogenic pet conservatory and marveling at the join the Ordem da Maçonaria (Mansonic Brotherhood) e-mail. Its huge categorical imperative of a subject line says Ordem (which in Portuguese can convey an idea of "open this e-mail, it's an order!). I mean, these e-mail disruptions make me keenly aware of the otherness of the Internet and that is a good thing. But Checkmate, the infidelity test kit grossed me out.
The Qualititive Display of Enigmatic Information. So, I changed the font to Trebuchet MS. It's a core font, but in case you need to download it you can find it here. To be perfectly honest, I got the idea from the Jorge Luis Borges Center for Documentation and Studies. There are a number of things that I want to change about the design, such as that eyesore of a left-bar. I want to make this page clean and pure like a graph by Edward Tufte. Speaking of Tufte, I never got to do the final proofing of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. They were doing the typesetting of my edited version somewhere in Boston and we're now two years down the road and no word from them.

I got an e-mail from the GET praising my rainbow hat and saying that he is leaving the Golden State in two days. He's being so mysterious about his whereabouts, a perfect waldo.

Hace un calor senegalesco. My mom who used to work in the airline business when it was considered very chic said that Dakar in the 50s was so excruciatingly boring that the British Airways representative went to the dentist one afternoon and had a tooth pulled by way of entertainment.

Mangoes for breakfast today, lusciously sweet like you only find them in the tropics. The mermbaby is just back from the pool. She is trying to mummify her mommy with scotchtape. I pasted a pocket-size picture of her father in the pink castle, right above the mantelpiece. He probably keeps eyeing the dolls that come and go into the plastic palace. The mermaid junior pays very little attention to this feat of symbolic engineering. There are times I think she's forgotten him or maybe she is just mad because he is away. Or maybe I am. Our correspondence has been sparse and dry verging on non-existent. I wish he would send me child support. I suspect he never will.

Mar 8, 2002

Oxford's Ark. It's a rangale of deer, a troop of dogfish and a pitiousness of doves. Want more? Then go to to Jargon Buster and learn the meaning of oxymoron or how best to use the imperative. Of simply sneer, like tangelo, I know that.

Rejected at Caption Machine.
Oyez, oyez. Quotes from official court records, circulated on the court interpreters list.

Judge: "The charge here is a theft of frozen chickens. Are you the
defendant, sir?"
Defendant: "No, sir, I'm the guy who stole the chickens."

Judge to Defendant: "You have the right to a trial by jury, but you
may waive that right. What do you wish to do?"
Defendant: (Hesitates.)
Lawyer to Defendant: "Waive"
Defendant: Waves (at the judge.)

Q: "Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a
A: "No".
Q: "Did you check for blood pressure?"
A. "No".
Q: "Did you check for breathing?"
A. "No".
Q: "So, then is it possible that the patient was alive when you began
the autopsy?"
A. "No".
Q: "How can you be so sure, doctor?"
A: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar."
Q: But could the patient have still been alive nevertheless?
A: "It is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law

By the way, Marta Rosas is releasing her book Tradução de Humor - Transcriando Piadas on March 14, in the Antiga Reitoria building of Universidade de São Paulo, 6pm. Also, here is a basic description of what it takes to be an interpreter.
Take your pick: my eternal gratitude or a $10 gift certificate from Amazon. Unlike the makers of the Electric Frog I can't do Photoshop magic. I am envisioning a banner for the Enigmatic Mermaid Blog but I can't make my vision into pixels. Would any of our readers would like to give me a helping hand? I'm overbearing but I will fully waive my right to rule over the universe and be very thankful for any given horse, regardless of the state of its dental hygiene.
Cum grano salis. The Electric Frog is home to the Harpeau Crapaud University, purveyor of the Doctor of Karmic Law diploma.

Mar 7, 2002

Vila Madalena. My favorite hangouts. Sure, Rio is more beautiful.

My tribute to international woman's day.
Calling all translaters. There is an Deputy Chief opening at the IMF. "Native English fluency is required, and candidates should have at least eleven years of relevant work experience, preferably with international organizations". Ai mamacita. Ain't that Fernando Montenegro's position? Hmm.

The PLD-ATA president says she is sorry I am not coming to the Santa Fe conference but hopes I will change my mind in time for the event. In case I don't, "journalism translation sounds like a great topic for the big one", which will be held in Atlanta this november.

My presentation need some tuning up and abridging. When I presented it in Rosario (oh Argentina, I cry for you), my audience was made up of students mostly. It was a hit but it took me 3 hours to deliver it so when it was time for me to give the GP presentation my brain was papaya pulp (not to mention that I had just come out of a very hot 3-day tryst and my body was screaming for some shut-eye). No wonder I slept for 5 hours through high speed zones and bumper-to-bumper traffic until we arrived in Buenos Aires. Knees lightly touching. Divine.
I'd rather have beluga. As a belle infidèle this kind of article tends to annoy me beyond belief. Who is going to pay sacks of money to a self-professed modest and submissive scribe that compares his trade to sweeping floors?

Somebody's got to blow the horn:

"Farei de minha arte um ofício minucioso, sofrido, modesto"

Tradução como auto-flagelação? Deus me livre, te esconjuro Satanás. Acho que está mais do que na hora de os tradutores darem-se valor. Os tradutores técnicos são capazes disso, não entendo por que os literários insistem nessa submissão e na imagem de abnegação que se reflete inclusive nos ridículos honorários pagos pelas editoras. Desculpe Paulo, mas frisar que "nossa tradição coleciona um célebre repertório de erros" é cair na mesma cegueira dos jornalistas que só abrem a boca para falar do tradutor quando faltam idéias para o artigo e o recurso é malhar. Em geral, para cada erro existem pelo menos mil acertos. Proponho o seguinte:

Trabalhando bem, expandindo meus horizontes e minha lista de clientes internacionais, terei o direito de comer caviar beluga, pois não sou trouxa e esta é a lei do mercado. Mesmo que tenha de reproduzir idéias com as quais não concordo e traduzir manuais de compressores, aturar revisões mal feitas, não me importarei, porque traduções são como filhos, criados para o mundo onde todas as coisas convivem em uma sinfonia de disparidades. Lutarei contra os biqueiros que denigrem a minha profissão e pedirei a São Jerônimo com Jota que afaste de mim a preguiça de levantar a bunda da cadeira para consultar o dicionário ou de pegar o telefone para ligar para um colega mais experiente. Não aceitarei trabalhos para os quais não me sinta capacitado nem serei o primeiro a afirmar que "não suporto ler livros em tradução" (mesmo se isso for verdade). Terei orgulho em ser uma betoneira de caracteres, pois sei, mesmo se o mundo ignora, que a argamassa que gira em minhas entranhas constrói as cidades do saber.

À bientôt,


Mar 6, 2002

Cool. Tomorrow I will be interpreting for a top exec of this company during an interview to this newspaper. Tangelo, do you want to send any questions?
Poderoso Cavallero es Don Dinero. My hand feels a little better. I'm working today.
Click for boobs. The Breast Cancer donate with a click system is not generating enough traffic to buy underprivileged women mammograms.
Slow starters. My chat list has finally decided to set up a collective blog cause they were tired of my raving and parading of slogans like "bloggin and hot dogs, that's the way to the future". The thing is I have to get the alpha female (and her other guises) to answer that team invitation. Her name is Lady Roxanne of Cornwall and bloggin is beneath her station.

Mar 5, 2002

We get goodies. Thanks to the impromptu stranger FH who sends me these bloggin trouvailles over e-mail.

We get letters, we get mentions, we get goodies, now I wanna know, when am I getting laid?
Does beheading hurt? The proponents of such questions are more worthy of admiration than the scientists who answer them.
We get mentions. Just call me my coração.
How to smooth your way into the bestseller list: Chutzpah and a credit card.
The Plumber Has Unclogged The Toilet and Has Just Left the Building. Yahoogroups is back up, let's see how long it will keep it up before it needs another Viagra. Get ready for the torrent of useless test messages. They forgot to include Ygps as one of the causes for Web rage.
Dorks may come in different flavors. But I guess it's safe to say they are all losers. Not me, I'm just idiosyncratic.

Mar 4, 2002

On Wishes and Coincidences. Paul Auster is way overrated and I generally dislike him very much. Yet while reading the Red Notebook two years ago I found myself completely fascinated with the strange concentric circles of time, space and events he described. I don't think I will ever read a more compelling piece on this eerie business called coincidences. For no apparent reason, today I was thinking back to a certain car ride to San Francisco, during which I tuned in to NPR and listened to a wonderful interview Auster gave to promote I Thought My Father Was God: And Other True Tales from NPR's National Story Project. The trip never seemed shorter, Paul Auster's hoarse voice on my ears, my attention dimly focused on 101 and in the back of my head this idea that in this collection of stories, written and sent in by NPR listeners, I would find ripples of those concentric circles that ressonated so deeply in me. On a whim, I hop on to Amazon, I find the book and put it in my Wish List, which I seldom use, I am a one-clicker through and through. A page loads up and I wonder, what else is in my Wish List? Only another item: a collection of Nabokov stories added exactly one year to date, on March 04, 2001.
Filtering languages. Article in Nature says that bilinguals activate sound-based filters before accessing word meanings. It makes sense to me if languages are stored in different brain regions, contrary to what this other article suggests. My non-scientific, purely empirical feedback as a non-bilingual (double A) but highly trained linguist (A Portuguese and B English) is the following: when I am in the booth I have no trouble going from English into Portuguese or vice-versa. But throw in a C language (such as Spanish which I have interpreted without relay on occasion) and my brain begins to melt. It's like swimming, taking a deep breath and going underwater from one side of a semi-olimpic pool to the other, back and forth, back and forth, always sideways, going fast and strong . When I am working from my C language into A or B the pool suddenly becomes larger. My brain kicks the wall go get impulse but the stretch to be covered is now longitudinal, I lose my breath before reaching the other end and I begin gasping for air.
Isa Mara Lando does an e-talk. Tangelo go and register before they run out of seats.

"Here's an invitation for you to participate in my interactive e-talk at SBS: "Some thoughts on literary translation" I wrote a two-page text on the form of FAQs, which will be kept online at the SBS site for the whole week, from Monday 4th through Friday 8th. You can read it and then post your questions or comments. I will post my answers and so we can have an ongoing discussion. There's a little bureaucracy first – if you are not a registered teacher at the SBS site, you have to register and wait for them to send you a password. But registering at the SBS site also means you can get discounts on textbooks and dictionaries - including VocabuLando! First click on the big green banner at the bottom of the site to get in. Then "professor" and "profissional de linguas" on your record and ask for a password. They may take a while to send it – they are right in the middle of the back-to-school rush. If you have trouble registering, get in touch with Renata Fernandes. With your password you can get in the section "e-talks".
I hope you enjoy my e-talk and send your comments over!"
See you! Isa Mara Lando