Apr 30, 2002

Art of Simultaneous Interpreting is More than Just Being Bilingual. "Sasae pointed out that it would be difficult for those in the profession to improve as interpreters unless they tried to develop the "something beyond languages." I think that what Sasae is referring to that holistic conference room awareness that allows the interpreter to recognize that 70% of the attendees have succumbed to post-lunch slumberdoom. Time to let the Sarah Bernhardt within blossom!

Apr 29, 2002

Machado de Assis, Translator of Oliver Twist. Machado de Assis, greatest Brazilian novelist, left an unfinished translation of Oliver Twist. This year, the publishing house Hedra called on writer Ricardo Lísias to finish the translation. This project and Mr. Lísias have catalyzed heated flame wars at the Portuguese literary translators mailing list, Litterati last year, if not for anything else, because Mr. Lísias is young, provocative and entered the sacred python pit announcing his project and stating that a good translator should:

"(...) dive into the literary text, fuck it, fall in love with it, feel what it has to say. Then come, come and come! Kiss the
text, fondle it, arouse it, make it feel the irresistible urge to jump into bed with you. The translator has to make the text beg: fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!"

Most literary translators almost died of apoplexia upon reading these words. But in the end, Lísias left the list voluntarily, dishevelled but undisturbed with two or more invitations to a cozy dinner under his belt.

At any rate, questions are raised by both the Machado de Assis translation (a "belle infidèle" by definition) and the contemporary translator's patches. The eyebrow raiser issue is that Machado de Assis translated Oliver Twist at the turn of the century, under a completely different conception of what a translation should be. And more, how sucessful was Lisias' emulation of Machado de Assis translation style ?
The Writer Everyone Loves to Hate. Who else could it be but the translator? This article is pure gold. Howard Goldblatt vents off many of our frustations and ends with this magnificent statement of love for the profession:

I am sometimes asked why I translate, since to many it seems a thankless vocation. Why, they ask, don't I write my own novels, since I have lived (they assume) an interesting life and must by now have an idea of what a novel should be? I can only say that not all translators are closet novelists, and that I do not consider translation to be a lesser art -- one that ought to lead to something better. The short, and very personal, answer to the question is: Because I love it. I love to read Chinese; I love to write in English. I love the challenge, the ambiguity, the uncertainty of the enterprise. I love the tension between creativity and fidelity, even the inevitable compromises. And, every once in a while, I find a work so exciting that I'm possessed by the urge to put it into English. In other words, I translate to stay alive. The satisfaction of knowing I've faithfully served two constituencies keeps me happily turning good, bad, and indifferent Chinese prose into readable, accessible, and -- yes -- even marketable English books.


Apr 28, 2002

Bilingual Multimedia Storytelling. "Fabula is a free software package for making bilingual multimedia stories with children. Using Fabula, teachers, parents and children can combine texts in two languages, images and sounds to make fun-to-use interactive learning resources. You will also find examples of bilingual Fabula stories made by children from across Europe. We invite you to download and explore these stories yourself. But don't stop there. Send in the stories you make with Fabula and show them to the rest of the Fabula community." Not all languages supported, but the idea is neat.

via textmatters via oddsocks

Nudes Adrift. Spencer Tunick made it to the first page of one + two principal São Paulo dailies. Folha de S.Paulo commented that most of the 1,500 participants in the Ibirapuera mass photo shoot were white males, very few Brazilian women or black, oriental or native ancestry models showed up. Probably a result of leftover macho morality. The artist is keeping a photo diary with some sketch individual pictures, take a peek. However, the group photos are orders of magnitude more intriguing.
Privacy Concerns in Blogland. I've just logged in to Blind Tangerine's blog with his permission (took me an international call and some grumbling with sleepy tangerine) to do a little smudging here and there, almost unnoticeable. For a moment I contemplated the idea of posting an entry in which he atones for his wicked ways by taking a dip in the Hudson river with the Baptists but I backed off in the last minute because he already gives me a terrible time for reading his sizzling hotmail once upon a time. And it was not my fault. He had left the Remember me box checked and I stumbled on 20 or more messages on a Saturday night.

The sorcery turned against the sorcery when I was in Miami last January. While I was cooking dinner, the Giant Jalapeño bared my hotmail naked unveiling the undeniable fact that I had a crush on the Green Eyed Temptation and therefore should be stamped with a red A on my 36D chest for the rest of my life. Bummer supreme. My love life is dominated by the trickery of Hotmail cookies.

I am seriously concerned that the Giant Jalapeño is going to waltz into this blog one of these days, especially because now I am getting referrals from Yahoo with keyword sex. The Panopticon is watching me unrelentlessly. I should move to Happyland, the modellstat conceived Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan and featured at the 25th São Paulo Biennal, which I visited last night. Supposedly there is a photo of Denise and I at the mediatic artfest on mediamorphose.org, but I couldn't find it and that beret guy scares me. What's a girl to do but escape the urban jungle taking refuge in consumerism. Yesterday afternoon I took the Mermbaby to see Ice Age and couldn't resist this pen even though I am broke as can be. The truth is I edited their catalogue into Portuguese last year and I am a brand loyal knowledge worker. I don't translate bellic equipment brochures and I don't look like Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Saddam's Piñata. Soon to be featured at E-bay: autographed copies of Saddam Hussein's play and booklets with speeches translated into several languages, including the memorable address Mother of All Battles.

Apr 27, 2002

Introducing Henry Raddick, a Genius of Amazon Comedy. He has taken Amazon reader reviews and listmania lists to a next level. Here's a teaser review prompted by How to Raise and Train a Pug

Sound guide to a horrid little dog
I bought this book in an effort to learn to bond with my pug Grendel. The burden falls on me to do it as my wife refuses to walk him as she says he adds 10 years to her appearance (15 with the dog jacket), and in a funny way I think she's probably right. He is a hard dog to to get to know, and even harder to like, but thanks to this superb guide I think were making progress until my kids put that "Kick Me" label on his jacket. 4 neighbours took up the invitation on a recent walk and Grendel has, if anything, become even more disagreeable.

via plastic

Spoonerisms and Malapropisms. "Let's say you're looking out the kitchen window and there is a deer on the patio. (This happens frequently at our house.) You call your wife by shouting, "Come and wook out the lindow!" Or you come into the house, all hot and sweaty from raking leaves, and your spouse says, "Go and shake a tower!" Spoonerisms are linguistic flip-flops that turn "a well-oiled bicycle" into a "well-boiled icicle." Let's say you're looking out the kitchen window and there is a deer on the patio. (This happens frequently at our house.) You call your wife by shouting, "Come and wook out the lindow!" Or you come into the house, all hot and sweaty from raking leaves, and your spouse says, "Go and shake a tower!" Spoonerisms are linguistic flip-flops that turn "a well-oiled bicycle" into a "well-boiled icicle."

As for malapropisms, well, they are a bit like bushisms...

via glossblog
The Hardest Natural Languages. Wasted Bits has started a meme by mentioning a paper entitled "The Hardest Natural Languages" by Arnold Rosenberg in which the author attempts to determine what groups of people feel are the hardest languages in the world. "The paper is speckled with lines like "eto dlya menya kitaiskaya gramota" -- which apparently means 'it's a chinese document to me' in Russian, so therefore the Russians think Chinese is harder." The subject has been picked up by Plastic.com generating over one hundred erudite and not-so erudite comments. High feedback level for an article that is not meant to be serious linguistic fodder, according to one of the commenters.

World's Only Women's Language in Dire Need of Protection. "In a bid to save a special language used exclusively by women of an ethnic group in central-south China, a protection zone will be set up in Hunan Province.

The language, on the verge of disappearing, is believed to be the world's only women's language. It is used among women of the
Yao ethnic group in Jiangyong County of Hunan. The language was usually written on silks, paper fans or embroidery items. So far, more than 1,200 characters have been identified. Less than 700 characters are in common use." (Read more)
Myths of National Origins. In Landscape and Memory, Simon Schama argues that the German myth of origins can be traced back to Tacitus's Germania. I believe it's safe to say that the Brazilian myth of origins begins with the Carta de Pero Vaz de Caminha a El Rei D. Manuel, the first historical document describing the land and people, later deconstructed by the Antropofagia school of Brazilian Modernismo.

What about other nations? Which are the ethnography documents giving rise to other country mythologies? The Môr-forwyn Enigmatig would like to know, leave a comment, will ya?

Apr 26, 2002

Double Negatives Defined. A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."

more language jokes
A Linguablog and Other Stuff. Beautiful Glosses is published by Renée, "the journeyman linguist, featuring coverage of languages, folklore & mythology, Mac usability, nonsense, annotated links and, of course, booklore."

via morfa, a weblog in Welsh

Other recent great finds:

sophismata, a mathematical weblog. The author is currently involved in a graph design discussion with patriarch Edward Tufte. Definitely worth a look.

nonharmful, a medical weblog. This blog has tons of interesting links, such as research findings about breast-feeding pheromones, the number of germs on the hand that types at the keyboard and a history of heroin addiction.

sysblog is not topical in content. But the writing and the life story behind it is very poignant. Posts such as rikki and my morning struck a chord in me.

consumptive is a grade A blog on art, photography and the uncanny. There I discover a link to a funny page listing signs you've been living in Japan for too long. Maybe The Brazilians has a similar list?

On the other hand of traffic, we've been recently noticed by the insolvent republic of blogistan, booboolina and blue tea leaf. Thanks for the linkage! And thanks to Google for driving lots of mermaid seekers to the blog.

Of Mothers and Insects. An interesting article by fabulous Jeanette Winterson on this tricky business called motherhood.

If you're into microbes and insects, Tech Central Station has an article on bio-art, i.e. art that uses living organisms as a medium as seen in the works of Damien Hirst and Adam Zaretsky. Paraphrasing Marshall McLuhan, the roach is the message. Writing this post addition has made me feel a sudden nostalgia for the impressionists and their desire to paint outdoors to better capture the playfulness and density of shadow and light.

Un Goûter Chez Paul Delvaux. Hermaphrodite has a charming piece on encountering Paul Delvaux at age 5. I fell in love with Paul Delvaux's painting while living in Belgium. I am particularly attached to The Village of the Mermaids, an enigmatic self-portrait of sorts.

Apr 25, 2002

Fallacies. Stock up for your next flame war.

Mobile Gossiping. "Gossip is not a trivial pastime: it is essential to human social, psychological and even physical well-being. The mobile phone, by facilitating therapeutic gossip in an alienating and fragmented modern world, has become a vital 'social lifeline', helping us to re-create the more natural communication patterns of pre-industrial times."

via glossblog
Diminutive, but Perfectly Formed. "Umberto Eco explains why short forms of modern communication can be simply irresistible."

More Umberto Eco. Here is a portrait and some choice links.

Apr 24, 2002

English it is, but not as we it know."Speaking you Internet? Availability now at the engines of search a means there is for foreign words translated to be. And so a language of newness has been birthed.

In factual, this tongue no other like is. His specialness from the two things come. First, he is by computer made, seems it by people who get out much don't. Second, when speaking him, no persons a bloody word you say understanding. So, to exhibition of myself, this article in him writing I am; and, to the judging of envelopes from readers receiving, parts other of this newsy paper being in him written also."
Is the Pentagon onto Something? Three hints: it's bi-directional, it speaks Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Uzbek and getting it to work is proving to be more difficult and complicated than expected.

To Speak or Not to Speak. "To be or not to be? That is the question that never gets voiced in the latest production of "Hamlet" to hit the nation's capital."

Do we have an extreme sports Hamlet yet?
Gypsies 'squat' at museum dedicated to their history. They Roma have always been the true anarchists. Plep has some cool links to related photography essays: The Roma of Central and Eastern Europe by Rolf Bauerdic. The Dream. 'A photographic essay among the Chergari Gypsies in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria and Urban Gypsies of London.
Typecasting: the Use and Misuse of Typography in Movies. Truly interesting if you are a detail freak with a Film Making B.A. That's my case by the way, and no I don't ever want to get into the movie industry. I am a happy translatrix and interpretatrix.

Apr 23, 2002

Woody's World of Penis Euphemisms. To go with our collection of vagina synonyms. Oh and you can insert your own euphemisms, I mean, submit.
Communications are Making the World Less Tolerant. A contrarian's point of view.
Sartre in Araraquara. In 1960, Jean-Paul Sartre visited the sleepy town of Araraquara, Brazil to give a conference at a recently founded university. As befitting, his entourage comprised Simone de Beauvoir and Jorge Amado among other figures of note who descended from the intellectual heights to take a long kombi ride to the venue. Ok, I will make a long story short. There was simultaneous interpreting at the conference. Guess who was moonlighting in the booth? Antonio Cândido and Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Holy smokes!

Apr 22, 2002

A Phonetic Glossary for Understanding my Speaker.
(I know it's mean, but I can't resist it)

Lied= LED
gastoban= gas turbine
greta= greater
icks= X
beering= bearing
compleht= complete
shave comman= save command
computer= noun, masculine, always he.
ex: check if he is not running
common viks= coming weeks
loophole= lube oil

Added Bonus:
To make the application running it is something we are not using so often.
You can use the logic to make whatever or something in this way.
Mythic Encounters Amidst Sao Paulo Traffic. Another day, another buck and another dent in my car. For the second time this week, a moron drives straight into my bumper at a red traffic light. My poor neck is being so victimized by these minor accidents that I am starting to wonder whether the whiplash can develop into a RSI.

I was quite angry this morning because I was hit not by a compact but by a juggernaut truck, how do you call them, the type that takes money from the bank to wherever they put these tons of currency and has heavily armed security guards as passengers. I stepped out of my car red with indignation because the driver had just tried to cut me off so I felt it was a revenge of sorts.

Funny thing is his name turned out to be Dionisius Albino and I had received a virus infected e-mail from a certain C.Jung that very morning. Life is fraught with mysterious associations and synchronicities. And my neighborhood is teeming with those juggernaut trucks because the Transbank quasi-paramilitary compound is two blocks away. Anyway, Dionisius promised me Transbank is going to pay for the damage. I am just not sure I can trust a mythic persona with such a bad rep.

Brazil Innovates Again. After McInternet, TAM airlines is now offering onboard happy hours on shuttles flights between major Brazilian cities. Snacks, drinks, free beer and live music. Talk about friendly skies.
Historical Moment. Please raise your glasses and celebrate with me the fact that I've just delivered the last file of the abominable Secrets of E-commerce. Never a 90,000 word project took a translator longer to complete. Hallelujah! Now it's invoicing and waiting for the typeset version for a last chance to nitpick at my own translation choices.

Apr 21, 2002

Ape-English Dictionary, you know you are going to need it.

Apr 20, 2002

How Peculiar. "The ancient Greeks and Romans needed interpreters in large numbers because they generally considered it beneath their dignity to learn the languages of the peoples whom they conquered." From a Brief History of Interpreting. More info here.

Waging Peace on the Internet. Thoughts on hacktivism. The other side of the story: Palestinian Sites Knocked Offline By Mideast Conflict.

La Traviata. In backwards navigation. Bravo!
Mimosa. Orange juice and champagne. This photoblog is just as tasty.

Apr 19, 2002

Philosophical Investigations. Two readers discuss Wittgenstein.
Venezuelan Investigations. Larry Rother tries to explain the high-voltage political turnarounds.
The Unsuspected Connection Between the Tao Te Ching and the Nutburger-Eating Left. "Homemade furniture and worship of state power; nutburgers and anti-Americanism: why this persistent connection? I think we all have a sketchy idea of how it hangs together.

For deeper understanding, though, you could do worse than pick up the Tao Te Ching. A new annotated translation of this classic text of ancient Chinese quietism has just been produced by Moss Roberts, professor of Chinese at New York University. Roberts’s version of the Tao Te Ching raises the political issue with unusual clarity. "
East Timor: The Road Ahead. "East Timor's newly-elected President Xanana Gusmao, a poet and freedom fighter, loves the Portuguese language. It gives him a sense of identity."
Weblog Bookwatch. "The Weblog Bookwatch searches weblogs that pass through the Recently Changed list at weblogs.com looking for links to books at Amazon.com. The books shown are the most frequently mentioned."

And while I am at it, The Economist compares the American bestseller list to the Brazilian counterpart without drawing any portendous conclusions. (print edition, but e-mail me and I'll send it to you if you ask nicely.)
Whip me, Spank me, Gentifry me. "Like other renegade subcultures, S/M is gradually becoming gentrified."
Intel's Quixotic Quest for the Next Billion Users. "Humanities majors do have a future in high tech after all. In the heart of chip giant Intel Corp.'s research and development group here in the great Northwest is a small cadre of researchers who don't want anything to do with math, physics or chemistry.

They are anthropologists and psychologists who hang out with teenagers in local hostels, young families in their living rooms, fishermen on their boats in Alaska, American Indians on Navajo reservations and the poor in Brazil.

Their mission is to find out how technology can penetrate some of the unlikeliest places and spell potential future market growth for Intel." (Read more)
Bonehead. So my little project for this year, aside getting laid more often and traveling to Europe (and getting laid in Europe wouldn't be bad either, that's what they call synergy), is to join this association as a membro-candidato. Hey, today I've even been invited to their meeting for non-affiliated but soon to be considered worthy of APIC interpreters.

The thing is that to apply you need to collect signed agreements to prove that you have worked at least 50 days under their recommended conditions, fashioned after the AIIC working conditions. I've already worked way over 50 days in the six years I've been doing the booth thing but I am very sloppy when it's time to get the paperwork neatly filed in folders. I was so happy yesterday because I had a contract for four days to add to my collection, but then in the last minute I forgot to stash it in my purse. I claim self-sabotage! Does this mean that I secretly want to remain a slave to my computer and translate radiation therapy spec sheets till Jesus kingdom comes?
What the Klez. I've been receiving truckloads of virus-infected messages for the past two days. This morning I also received a little spam from Polyglots.com, a site that masquerades as a portal but it's just a translation service of sorts with very bad taste in design. Translation Zone is also offering Trados 5.5 on discount, another message informs me. And now Outlook Express has just crashed in my second attempt to download all of my 293 messages. Isn't life divine.

Apr 18, 2002

What the Font. Is that Desdemona or Funky Fresh? Upload an image and have the genie in the machine find it out for you.

via a blog with a name that keeps changing
The Almighty Mcmouse. Quite a surprise awaited me this afternoon. After I left the training center where I was working I stopped by at McDonald's to grab a coke and checked my e-mail in the meantime. The trackball mouse looked just a little bit like a quarter pounder but nothing like a free e-mail check en route.
Predictable. To only find out that this venue has a computer plugged to a high-speed connection available all day. I could have been blogging every 30 minutes on my respite breaks! Last night was fun, I met one of the readers of this blog who purveyed me with a very special crack copy of a very coveted translation software in exchange of a copy of Neuromancer on loan. After leaving the pub I dashed to another restaurant where a group of ten or so colleagues were having dinner in honor of Gabe Bokor and Alexandra Russell-Bitting. Some of the guests: the queen of witticisms Lady Roxanne of Cornwall, our very distinguished teacher, the real doyenne and LN from the PUC Translation Department. Time to fly!
Russia Resists Plans to Tweak the Mother Tongue. "Russia's tradition-minded press and much of academia has greeted with unremitting scorn a plan to revise the rules of Russian spelling." Portuguese-Russian trava-línguas: siakinevasseaquiseusavaeski?

Apr 17, 2002

City in Paraná State Builds a UFOport to Celebrate its Anniversary. Translation courtesy of Mermaid Translation Services, We Translate the World and Your Mother Too. Please don't bash me Tangerine, you know I never slut into my B language and that I always spell check when I am actually working.

The 131th anniversary celebration of Bocaiúva do Sul, in the metropolitan area of Curitiba, has been marked by controversy. The high point in the festivities was the official announcement of plans to build a UFO-airport in town. According to mayor Élcio Berti, proponent of this polemic idea, a runway for space saucers would attract more tourists to Bocaiúva do Sul. Berti declared that he has sighted many UFOs in the region, but he won't disclose the location chosen for the UFO-port because the "extraterrials asked him not to tell".

Apr 16, 2002

for more vintage feminist and civil rights buttons click here

via gmtplus9

The M Word. Pencil in hand? Strike through minority, it has fallen from grace.
Bushisms. Take a quiz to see how well you know your Bushisms.

Apr 15, 2002

Endangered Languages. "Half of approximately 6,000 languages currently spoken worldwide are endangered to some degree or dying out, according to a recent report by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization." (Read more)

via fabulousness.pitas
Word Map for Wonderland. What meaning could possibly emerge from software that truly reduces "Hamlet" to a screenful of words, words, words? It seems unromantic to think of a Shakespeare play as a linguistic database, akin to love being measured by physiologists through pulse rates and pupil dilation. But as more literature is put into digital form, computers are successfully being called upon to analyze its content and structure."

via the tangerine newsfeed

Apr 14, 2002

Back from Neverneneverland. Dilligence and Flowering Youth just came back from the movies. They went to see Peter Pan II, a movie that left Dilligence wondering if the boy who doesn't want to grow up is a relation of Dr. Mr.Spock's, just look at those pointy ears. Dilligence has some theories about some consumerism icons: in her head Orville Reddenbudder Reddenbacher must by all means be Colonel Sander's lost brother.

Dilligence should be studying her glossaries for next week's interpreting assignments, but her xiphopagous sister Sloth won't let her. Dilligence has just visited her friend Scorn's blog and made a bunch of preposterous comments and also launched the revolutionary idea of airborne orgies for cross-atlantic flights, a new marketing gimmick that can save the destiny of aviation and the sanity of bored-to-death passengers. Dilligence is a bit bored herself, she knows that next week is another anticippointment for the readers of this blog because she won't have time to post anything. She tried to schedule some posts but she is full of self-doubt and doesn't think it will work at all.

Dilligence wishes Cupid would write more often and send her a picture of him in shorts. Failing that, she wishes that she wouldn't argue with Huge Sex Drive and No Brains every time they talk about Flowering Youth. Dilligence advises Scorn that he is going to end up like Flowering Youth's hamsters, forever spinning in the wheel of love. Dilligence is now going to take a last look at a cute new picture of Flowering Youth in last year's Festas Juninas, a gift from Scorn, log off and read Cartas de um Sedutor in bed, waiting expectantly for the Angelus and the always too sudden arrival of nightfall.
Another Language for the Deaf. "Imagine a language that can't be written. Hundreds of thousands of people speak it, but they have no way to read a newspaper or study a schoolbook in the language they use all day long.

That is the situation of the quarter-million or more deaf people in North America whose primary language is American Sign Language. Although they form a vast linguistic minority, their language, as complex as any spoken one, has by its very nature defied most attempts to write it down.

In recent years, however, a system of graphic symbols based on dance notation has allowed the world's signed languages to be captured on paper. What's more, the system's advocates say, it may furnish deaf children with a long-sought bridge to literacy in English and other spoken languages, often a great struggle for signers." (Read more)
An Open Letter To All Humans from the Society for Improving the Monkey Image and Name."Let us, monkeys, first express our heartfelt and sincere concern for your population in these extraordinary and difficult times. We understand that your economies are saggging, that your financial and religious institutions have been rocked by scandal and that you're not having as much fun as you used to. (...) That being said, it has become clear through several press reports, government actions and official statements that the reputation of monkeys everywhere has become sullied by the action of a mere few. Let us be clear: we condemn the actions of these rogue monkeys..." (Read more)

Apr 13, 2002

Engrish Signs and Labels. For restrooms, go back towards your behind. If you ever stop laughing, check out Omniglot for an overview of writing systems.

via #!usr/bin/girl
To All Pro Anorexia Nervosa Googlers. This is what you need.
The Non Verbal Dictionary of Gestures and Signs. From Adam's-Apple-Jump to Zygomatic Smile.

via the ever lovely kelegraph
Laughing with Google. Estale aqui para saber por quê.
What We Think of America. Take a peek at Granta 77 in which 24 writers share their views on the good and bad about America.
Identity is a Bloody Business. "Religion, nationality, or race may not be the primary causes of war and mass murder. These are more likely to be tyranny, or greed for territory, wealth, and power. But 'identity' is what gets the blood boiling, what makes people do unspeakable things to their neighbors." (Read more)

article by ian buruma via vincent buck
The Semiotics of Political Addresses. This is a bit old news now that Colin Powell is already out there in the Middle East, but it is interesting to see how semiotics adds to the decoding of Bush's adress. For a moment, I felt I was back in Communications School, in the roundatbles we had after watching those silly, content-crowded and formless presentations by our classmates. The other day Camilla criticized an installation saying, 'Gosh this is just like those things we did to express ourselves in college.' But I digress.
Information Architecture & the London Underground: a Metaphor. Form: notice how the article is divided into short pages. The International Herald Tribune has been doing something similar with their news, only the chunks of text are much larger. Content: Read it through, it's fascinating.

via elegant hack
The Oulipo Compendium. New book release on the very obsessive self-imposed constraints undertaken by Oulipian writers. Here's a little backgrounder on Oulipo:

The Oulipo - in full, the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Literature - was founded in France in 1960 by the French author Raymond Queneau and the mathematical historian François Le Lionnais. Made up of mathematicians as well as writers, the group assigned itself the task of exploring how mathematical structures might be used in literary creation. The idea of mathematical structure was soon broadened to include all highly restrictive methods, like the palindrome and the sestina, that are strict enough to play a decisive role in determining what their users write. The most notorious example of this approach is Georges Perec's novel, A Void, written without a single appearance of the letter e.

Added bonus: an article on Translation and the Oulipo : The Case of the Perservering Maltese, by Harry Matthews

via boing boing

Apr 12, 2002

So You Want to Date a Stripper ? All I can say is ouch!
Brazil, Land of Wonders. For saudosistas, here is a well designed site about música caipira, a folk variation of Brazilian music which eventually found its way to the mainstream and lost its beauty when it evolved into the deplorable música sertaneja pop romântica. For the historically-minded, there is a quite exhaustive site on Canudos, one of the most intriguing revolts in Brazilian history and inspiration for mother-have-mercy-of-meboring-as-hell Os Sertões and Mario Vargas Llosa's The War of the End of the World, probably one of the best books written by Vargas Llosa, who subsequently lost his mojo.
Scientific Eponyms: Source of Misconceptions. "The practice of naming things after people (real or mythical) who are associated with them is called eponymy. There are eponymous words, like "guillotine," "bowdlerize," and "sadism." There are eponymous place-names, like Pennsylvania and the PelopÛnnisos. And there are eponymous compound expressions, like "Copernican system" and "Halley's comet." When such expressions occur in the sciences, the presumption is that the thing designated was discovered by the scientist whose name is affixed to it. That presumption is nearly always false." (Read more)

Apr 11, 2002

British Library Takes Co.Uk Domains Under its Wing. As the online knowledge base expands, librarians rush to catalog and save what is in essence an ever changing medium.
The Illustrated Book of Sexual Records I swear I was only looking for confirmation of some condom trivia found on the Johnson & Johnson website. Lo and behold, the stuff Guiness does not include.

The Simpsons' War. Believe it or not, the Rio de Janeiro Tourism Board is suing Fox Cable International for the 'Blame it on Lisa' episode, in which the yellow-tinged cartoon family visits Rio. Among other capital sins, the soundtrack has Caribbean music instead of MPB, the characters take a conga line instead of the bus to get to their hotel, and Bart is kidnapped and eaten alive by an anaconda. Sounds like one of the funnest episodes ever!
Ih8.Net But one thing you got to say for them. They've been giving a lot of work to localizers. One million freaking words in the user interface, and another 15 million for documentation. Here's another article on the evil plot.
Quiz. Which is the only book with such controversial content that when new versions were issued some centuries ago translators and publishers met death at the stake? Are you sure? Click here to find out.
Is International News Here to Stay?"In the post-Sept. 11 climate, the assumption that viewers are now more "interested" in international news, and the fear that this interest will wane faster than a dieting fad speaks volumes about how journalistic decisions are made at the highest levels."
War Crimes Court Becomes a Reality. The treaty that establishes an International Criminal Court to try crimes against humanity was ratified by 60 countries today. The United States, China and Russia are not among the signatories, however.
News from the Gossip Department. Our very distinguished teacher writes again to ask me for the umpteenth time where she can find the description of the Passover Seder I spent in her company. She also comments that she accepted to translate a Naipaul book for a major local publishing house.

Surprisingly, the Green-Eyed Temptation also writes after reading my entry on the Avenida Paulista mugging adventure. He offers some soothing words and hints at the fact that he didn't mail me a certain check for services that shall remained unspecified in this blog. Oh shoot, I couldn't bring myself to get mad at the little street urchins because they were too much like my daughter and I can't get angry at him because he is too handsome.
Words for the Wise. Merriam Webster offers a delicious selection of transcripts and audio files describing word origins, expressions and neologisms originally broadcast by the NPR program by the same name. Other languages are tangencially represented when they intersect the English vocabulary. Here's an interesting excerpt about issei, sansei, and similar Japanese generation designators:

"Our friend referred us to Key Words in Multicultural Interventions. According to that dictionary, Japanese who immigrated to the U.S. are known as Issei, literally, "first generation." Children of the Issei are Nisei, literally "second generation." Third generation were Sansei, and fourth, Yonsei. That's where things get interesting. The Japanese language counting system that produced the terms Issei, Nisei, and Sansei logically produces Shisei for the fourth generation, but since shi also means "death," an alternative counting system was used to arrive at yon meaning "four," before returning to the original counting system and labeling the fifth generation Gosei.

The story doesn't end there, either. When Issei (Japanese Americans who immigrated to this country) send their children (the Nisei) back to Japan to be educated, that generation of children is renamed Kibei, literally, "the ones who returned to America."
(shouldn't this be the ones who returned to Japan??)

Apr 10, 2002

English as a Lingua Franca. Martin Wooding offers a broad perspective on the rise and fall of lingua francas. Here's a teaser:

Over the entire course of recorded history, languages have gone in and out of fashion as a preferred tool of international communication. At the dawn of civilisation in the ancient Middle East, Egyptian rose to preeminence among nations; by the end of the Middle Ages it was extinct. In the Hellenistic period, Greek was spoken all the way from Athens to the banks of the Amu Darya in Central Asia; now it is confined to the southern extremity of the Balkan peninsula. Latin once reigned supreme over European territory south of the Danube and west of the Rhine, not to mention North Africa; it even survived the fall of Rome by well over a millennium, and was actively used by scholars as a pan-European language as late as the eighteenth century. Today Latin is no longer used for communication (except in the Vatican), and appears to be rapidly disappearing from school curricula.

These examples serve to demonstrate that there is nothing new about the concept of an international language, and equally that no one language has secured this status permanently, though the life span of a successful international language is a long one, amounting to a thousand years or more. None of the languages mentioned extended their sway beyond a certain region of the globe; other regions have seen the development of their own international languages (like Arabic in the countries of Maghreb and Mashreq, Mandarin Chinese in South-East Asia or Swahili in Eastern Africa). What is different about today’s situation is not so much essence as scale: for the first time in history, due to the political developments and technological progress, it is possible to speculate about the emergence of a global language. (Read more)

Apr 8, 2002

Pro-ANA sites. No Watermelons Allowed unearthes some pro anorexia nervosa forums and questions whether there are any legitimate free speech issues in the concerted effort to shut down these sites, which as far as I could tell are peopled almost exclusively by teenage girls. Is this any different than forums promoting child pornography or inciting people to commit suicide or perform self-mutilations?

Apr 7, 2002

La Machine à Manuscripts. Umberto Eco is concerned about the impact of word processing in philology and literary criticism. He frets over the loss of the intermediate stages of the draft text and also about the ability of reviewing the final text endless times. Qui peut affirmer, par exemple, que la possibilité de corriger un texte à l'infini en améliore potentiellement la qualité ?

thanks to animaemk for the link
Gregory Rabassa Gets a Beating and Other Tidbits from the NY Times. The New York Times is ripe with stories of interest for the readers of this linguablog. Take your pick or read them all if you have the time.

The Overwhelming Allure of English focuses on the proliferation of Spanish within US borders but argues that bilingualism is so hard to maintain because "English is so dominant and so highly rewarded".

The People vs. Potty Mouth offers a cautionary tale for the hard cussers among us. Apparently there is a little-known Michigan law against cursing and while the convition of Timothy J. Boomer was overturned last week, it really sounds like the stupidest of things to have your criminal record blemished as a result of falling into the frigid waters of the Rifle River and unleashing an emphatic stream of profanities.

Some Say Hospitals Lack Vital Procedure: Translation describes the plight of the non-native speaker who has a child delivered by a non-Spanish speaking staff and is told only hours later by a social worker that her baby has died.

The Verses from Bin Laden's War tells of a poem found in an abandoned house used by Al Qaeda fighters in Kabul. Specialists in Arabic literature say the verses were written by Bin Laden who tries "to use poetry, a revered art form in the Muslim world, to further his cause and burnish his image as a pan-Islamic warrior, savior and muse (sic)."

Lastly, The Return of the Caravels: Getting and Losing the Portuguese Empire is a rave review of António Lobo's book where Gregory Rabassa is scolded for not making things any easier for the reader and creating a "a translation in which you are never quite sure if you are concentrating furiously on Antunes's genius or Rabassa's problems". Several illustrative examples of translation faux-pas are described, such as using aphta instead of cold sore.

Apr 6, 2002

Language Wars. "Most observers tend to explain political conflicts around the world as the result of racial, ethnic, religious, or territorial disputes; we rarely see language as a direct and fundamental cause. "What I'm trying to do is reintroduce the category of language into our thinking about political conflict," says Shell, himself an immigrant from bilingual Quebec".
The Color-Blind Web. "In Cyberspace, nobody knows your race unless you tell them. Do you tell?” Several years ago, I put this slogan on a poster advertising an MIT-hosted public forum about race and digital space. The resulting controversy was an eyeopener."
One Too Many."The elder statesman of the European left, the former chancellor Helmut Schmidt, yesterday poured petrol on the flames of Germany's impassioned immigration debate when he declared that there were far too many foreigners in his country and that they could not be assimilated because his compatriots were 'racist deep down'." (Read more here, there and yonder)

By the way, I notice that Reuters said the offending word was xenophobic while The Guardian reported it as racist. So what is it going to be, baby? What was the actual German word ? And still in the inquiring string...any translators in need of a good whipping today?
Limited Inc. I praise his writing to the blogging skies and urge everyone who chances his or her eyes on this entry to head over to Limited Inc. because Roger Gathman is Paulo Francis reeincarnate.
Holographic Video Anyone? "An American firm is poised to show off what it says is the world's first holographic video recorder." Now imagine in the not distant future, watching a rerun of your wedding video with all those relatives you don't particularly want to remember you have displayed in holographic form.
From Translation to Imitation. "Why translate? Kenneth Rexroth, one of the most influential translators, writes in his essay, “The Poet as Translator,”-- “The writer who can project himself into exultation of another learns more than the craft of words. He learns the stuff of poetry.” Translation is at the heart of poetry-- a poet like Rilke writes in his “Ninth Elegy”..." (Read more)
I Can't Do the Cha-Cha. Unlikely phrases from real phrasebooks.

via the language lover's playground Metaverse
Business Cards and Cake Icing the Multicultural Way. So much about language and multicultural exchange etiquette goes unwritten, especially in the realm of the nonverbal signs. I'm referring to things such as the proper form for handing out and receiving business cards in Japan, or whether or not it's considered vulgar to touch up your lipstick in public (in Brazil it's a-ok) and even how to choose the type of cake to be served in a conference coffee break.

Yesterday for example the Swiss-German instructor at the course I was interpreting went out on a limb to please his students. He brought a neat little package with cake for the morning coffee break. As we opened the package, expectation soon gave way to gastronomic unease. Four large éclairs looked very festively back at us. Rich gourmandises they were, with icing and fine decorations as if made in an Austrian patisserie, side by side with the graham crackers Angela had brought.

How can a foreigner know that by decree of some unspoken law or Brazilian custom elaborate cakes and pastries are meant to be eaten only in the afternoon? A sponge cake would have been fine but those marvelous delicacies looked unnapetizing to us for reasons of time and occasion.

But Brazilians are also known for their hospitable and corteous ways. After a long wait and many uneasy glances, one of the students picked one of the éclairs in a token sacrifice to gastronomic and multicultural harmony.

Thoughts on Breakfast Foods. I read somewhere that the reason why there are few breakfast restaurants of ethnic inclination is that breakfast is the meal that is mostly connected to your national origin. At breakfast, people feel like eating what their mothers used to make for them when they were kids, leaving the tastebud experiments such as Escargots à la provençale for other meals. Breakfast is all about the food that makes you feel at home.

If you are Brazilian that means fresh fruit, pão de queijo, bolo de fubá, sometimes rosquinhas or for small appetites a média which is the local name for caffé au lait and a frugal pão na chapa consisting of a French roll with butter heated on the hot plate. In Japan, it means miso, rice, fish and vegetables. For Americans it's eggs and sausage and bacon as well as other delicacies.

When I was living in California, Rick and I used to breakfast at Mexican restaurants, burritos and spicy huevos rancheros because that was the food that made him remember his not so lovable childhood where the crowning happy memory was his adorable Mexican mom pontificating in the kitchen.

Cockledeedoodoo. "Animals make much the same sounds around the world, but each language expresses them differently. English and French cows sound the same, but not in English and French."

Apr 5, 2002

La Malinche. Malinche, Malinztin or Dona Marina, as she was baptized by the Spaniards spoke both Maya and Nahualt and is often credited with playing a key role in the Conquest.

Says the Oxford History of Mexico, however, that her importance as an interpreter has been considerably overstated because "the truly crucial linguistic leap was not between two indigenous languages but rather between a European and an indigenous one. This connection was achieved not by Marina but by Geronimo Aguilar, who spoke both Spanish and Maya and accompanied her throughout the Conquest."

Ascending to the status of a myth for also mothering the "first" Mexican with Cortés, no less, Malinche's name has evolved into the adjective malinchista, used to describe a person who turns her back on her culture. Her name also designates a volcano in Mexico.
Mideast Blues. The more I read the more confused I get. Angered, frustrated, depressed also apply.
On April 5th 1208. Quetzalcoatl, Toltec king, priest, astronomer, and culture-hero, dies; he reduced Mayan calendar and appendices to a system of signs and ideographs which fitted all languages equally.

Apr 4, 2002

Chouchoot. Cajun Dialect page, complete with .wav files and crawfish backgrounds.
The Obscene Madam H. One of the most important events in the Brazilian literary scene this year is the republication of Hilda Hilst's complete works.

After going to Livraria Cultura twice today (don't ask!), I find myself reading in delectation a brand new copy of Cartas de um Sedutor, which is in turns a disturbing and hilarious roman épistolaire. This is book is part of her pornography trilogy which she undertook in an attempt to check if by writing smut she would reach a larger audience. But then "My French publisher Gallimard said that I had elevated pornography to an art form and nobody read the books".

The Brazilian media like to portray her as a difficult, impenetrable author, which probably aggravates her condition of ignored homegrown genius. This embitters her deeply, as I had the opportunity of hearing from her own lips. Is she really such a rocky read? I don't think so. Her prose is brilliant, fluent and sparkling and it will set your brain cells into high spinning motion.

Luckily, Editora Globo is churning Hilda's books fast so soon there will be no need to scour the second-hand bookstores or borrow them from your friends, which is how I came to lose most of my HH books. I also noticed that her site now offers samples of her works in German and French. No English translations yet (we are still waiting for Blind Tangerine to find the translations lost on his drive), although this épostouflante author has won the respect of French critics and has a small squad of readers who regard her with undying admiration.

If all my efforts were not in vain and if I managed to tingle your imagination, you can start your Hilda Hilst education by downloading some of her poetry in .pdf format and some writings for the E-rocket reader. There is also a chat session transcript.Desejo.com, an excellent site for erotic poetry, also presents some of her works. My favorite one over there is the sad sad tale of Cidao, the Dwarf.
Using the Wrong Language. Palestine TV broadcasts in Hebrew to reach the Israeli public. But even if the language is right the choice of words may be wrong.

At the risk of sounding naive, before starting this blog I had never realized how thorny a subject is language from the political point of view.
Crashing Both Your Eardrums and Your Computer."According to Yahoo!, Celine Dion's latest CD will not play in computer drives. In fact: 'Should the consumer try to play Dion's CD on a PC or Macintosh, the computer likely will crash.' "

Apr 3, 2002

Austria Proposes Mandatory German Classes for Immigrants and Fines for Failing Fluency Tests. "Under the proposal, they would have to take a 100-lesson course and pay half the tuition of about $315. Those who fail to pass a test showing they have mastered basic expressions would be subject to fines of up to $175; those who don't comply within four years could be forced to leave Austria."

This is too awful for words.
Taking no Sides. Because whereupon we don't know enough we must not speak (tangerine, identify the quote). But check out Electronic Intifada.

via the lovely not.so.soft via sleevenotes
Quick EM News. I've been bribed into meeting a certain gentleman at a pub for three Sempé books. My doctor says no coffee, no cigarettes, no alcohol for me because I have an incipient ulcer and no helicobacter pilore to blame. On Friday I will go again to the Petrobras thermoelectric plant located in the cu do judas to interpret about compressors or other arcane machinery. I will try to bring home a scoop for the Abraxas newsletter. I doubt I will succeed. Next week, more interpreting, NGO stuff this time, always more fun than mechanics. After much indecisiveness, I'm moving my office to Michael's den in Pinheiros next week. This move automatically rules out my chances of ever getting hired by Bloomberg Brazil as it is going to cause a mighty short circuit in my board of translation liaisons. In addition to this, "I Ricordi Si Interpretano Come I Sogni".
Spam Fatigue. Chris Sherman from Search Day recommends Mailwasher for getting rid of spam. "Mailwasher's been
literally saving me an hour or more each day."
Buzzword of the Day.

TECHNIBAN. A fundamentalist mindset, repressively opposed to ground-breaking technologies that could upset the status quo. Apparently coined by info warrior Richard Forno in a rant about politicians protecting the entertainment industry from new technology that would undermine its current business model.
The Politically-Correct Carmen. "The first scene takes place in a square in Seville. Young factory workers spill into the street for their morning break of fresh fruit. One of them, the dark Gypsy Carmen, sings a lovely habanera, reminding us that love occurs between all genders, races, and body types. Before returning to the factory, Carmen throws a rose to the Basque soldier, Don José. A fight breaks out between two of the young persons in the factory, and while trying to instruct them on the futility of violence, Carmen is arrested. Don José is ordered to guard her, but she convinces him to allow her to escape, explaining that they are all victims of patriarchal oppression."
Aesthetically Pleasing Vibrators for Fashionistas. What was wrong with the former look? Can anybody tell me why a dick should not look like a dick but rather as "stylish paperweight" or an "ancient fertility symbol"?

Take my advice: it's all part of the grand conspiracy that aims at transforming the primeval force of sex into consumables and making sex look as tame as a box of cocoa puffs on a supermarket aisle. It's as demeaning as the nefarious "how to enjoy a better sex life" manuals.

I can't stand it when Marie Claire publishes an article on "Tantric Sex: Two Couples Tell How it Changed their Sex Life", imparting in wishy-washy subtext that sex is not only healthy for you but that there is a certain trendy modus operandi to sex and if you don't stick to the fashion, girlfriend are you missing out. Consider those bulleted lists with 10 items that appear on every sex article published by brainless female magazines. "First clean up the environment, then light the room with colors that stimulate the chakras such as red, yellow and orange, then do this then do that." Oh, aromatic candles are high on the list too.

Even when they try to get it right, like some webzine whose URL I forget, they tend to blow it. I was so excited when I clicked on the hyperlink to How I Became a Discerning Consumer of Porn, alas disappointment awaited me (anticippointment, see DOF). The author was driven by a reasoning that equated choosing your porn to browsing through discount racks at Loehmann's until you find the little number that is all the rage this summer, without giving any sign of reverence for the astounding performances of Rocco Siffredi. Actually, I take it back: The SoapBox girls got their thing right, their take is more how to choose the little number that best compliments your libido. But for every SoapBox girl there are a thousand practical bulleted lists that kill every last atom of raunchiness in you.

Today few dare speak out the truth about sex, as Norman Mailer did in this interview on Ethics and Pornography or Bigas Luna in his The Ages of Lulu.

"Great sex is apocalyptic". All you have to do is think of turn-of-the-century hardcore postcards and the lasciviousness that irradiated from them and compare it to aesthetically pleasing vibrators to feel that they are really trying to rob us of our erotica. I won't stand for this theft.
Lion Moms. This is the animal world equivalent of snatching a baby from her real mom in a shopping mall.
Oh, Oklahoma."A petition to make English Oklahoma's official language is unconstitutional, the state's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The court ruled the initiative infringes on the right of free speech, on the freedom to petition the government for redress and on the policy-making function of the state Legislature. The proposed statute would have banned state money from being spent on translations of public documents or providing services in different languages."

Zombie Moms. Been up since 5.22am myself. And I don't take an afternoon nap.

Apr 2, 2002

Ms. Kim, I don't understand what you're saying. Kindergarten--a novel experience in any language--got off to a baffling start last fall in one Schaumburg classroom when teacher Yuri Kim began speaking to her pupils in Japanese.
Browsing the Web through a Radio. Hey, look at the bright side: no need for pop-up killers on the wrong side of the digital divide.
Translation Napster ?"A US software designer plans to harness the brains of the world's computer users to build a multilingual translation database. Brian McConnell believes it could provide a free way to translate the many languages not included in existing online translators." Yada yada yada. Will these scientists ever stop bothering me?

"But Paul Rayson, a research fellow at Lancaster University, adds that unskilled translators may confuse the meaning of individual words. 'The problem is you generally need the context to get a good translation,' he says.

No shit. I guess that will be translated as "não merda".

Apr 1, 2002

Sex Less Popular on the Web. A Pennsylvania State University researcher says the popularity of sex on the Internet may be over-rated. Really? The data she analyzed were based on Excite search requests. My theory is that clunky Excite is failing to excite the cybernauts.
Verlan. Ever wondered why the French dialect is called verlan? Because it's French à l'envers. BBC, which is turning out to be an aortal feed for this blog as a result of its extensive coverage of languages, has published a brief overview of Verlan a couple of days ago. The link is only slightly dusty. Brush it off and I'm sure you can use it.

What I need right now. Somebody get me out of gmtplus9 before I plunder all his links
Plastigraphics and Dermagraphics. What exactly is this all about? It's a bit mesmerizing in a Mattel kind of way. There is also a basfonds version with a dermaglossary of Russian prison tattoos.

via the very odd gmtplus9
Poetry in Translation. Just found some good poetry translated by good translators into Portuguese. Unfortunately not all pages display the poem in the original language for comparison.
Slavery Brouhaha. The question of slavery has been on my mind lately. First because of the controversial NY Times article on slavery in Brazil that prompted ambassador Barbosa's reply. Secondly because last week I celebrated the true meaning of freedom with friends. Thirdly because I read Foe this weekend and delved deep into Friday's mind. Fourthly because I just stumbled on this poignant piece on slavery. And last but not least because I realize that I am tied in debt bondage to my hatreds. The more I toil and labor in the quarry pits the further freedom seems.
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart. Got some free time? Read this poem.
The Mystique of Hotel Room Wrecking. For some reason, the Copacabana Palace seems to incite the most outrageous behaviors, a tradition initiated by former guest Orson Welles.