May 30, 2002

Kaput, But Getting Better. The Mermaid Senior is still alive, although looking a little emaciated and yellow around her fins. The Mermie, joy of my life, is now rosy-cheeked, climbing on the couches and cute as ever, thanks to massive doses of antibiotics and mommy attention.

I don't know what we both got, but it felt like dengue fever, because "you're not going to die from it, but you're going to wish you could". I woke up with a monster headache this morning, but the fever was finally gone. Yesterday afternoon was the lowest point: while translating as furiously as my faint limbs allowed I kept thinking to myself that the first thing I am going to do after I finish this file is check in at a hospital. Only I never got to finish that freaking long file.

One of the most annoying things of working with TRADOS is that you begin with page 1/30 and by the time you're coming to the home stretch it's page 43/53. TRADOS just blows up these monsters. So in the end I wrote to my dear Romanian agency owner and said, sorry I'm kaput, I need a deadline extension to which she agreed, gently adding the following recipe against the flu in her e-mail:

One of the best and easiest cures is drinking a rather large amount of clear fluids (water, tea, fruit juice, even clear chicken soup qualifies), so your body is obliged to flush out "the evil". "Large amount" is 3 liters a day and up. The teas of choice in this case are camomille, linden, echinacea, flu mixture.

Working for a person who sends you cures for the flu is such a treat. No wonder I give to this particular agency most of my availability and the best translations to my ability even when I am burning with fever and just want to crawl into a hole and sleep.

So now that my readership has been reassured about the Mermaidian family's health, I can move to lighter subjects, such as amputations on the Discovery Health Channel. What's up with that?! Well, I never watch much TV but I've been vegging out a lot in front of it lately (Dr. Mumford twice on HBO this morning and The Talented Mr. Ripley to boot) and I promise you that I saw a leg amputation case being broadcast. I don't know the details, but she seemed to be an African woman who stepped on a landmine and the doctor was breaking the news to her in front of the camera. "We're going to have to chop your leg off. Let me see how much residual bone will be left". Is that plain revolting or what?

One more thing before I close this entry. A letter which didn't come with the DNB (Do Not Blog) notice and which I found quite intriguing.

my name is NERTHUS which means the first mermaid. My mother's family have lived in an area of the Peak District in England, the centre of which is the Mermaid's Pool. She has been seen recently and truly does have long hair and blue eyes. I have long hair and blue eyes, do you think my parents had a strange sense of humour?

Answer: I think that hairstyles can be changed and even eye color, but the name you're given brings a heavy load of family mythology with it. Almost like anatomy, it can determine who you are. A name is a powerful thing.

May 27, 2002

Fever. I just wish it would go away. It's been burning on my daughter's brow for five days now, so we got her started in antibiotics today. It disappeared for a day and then resumed its course. It hasn't been running as high as before, but it's still there, like a sinister guest overstaying his welcome.

In Brazil, when we want somebody to leave, we'll put a broom upside down behind the door. I'm feverish too and this is a luxury I can't afford right now. I need to be strong to nurture her back to health. To sit beside her holding her hand as we watch cartoons. To make a run to the drugstore, to check her temperature at night. I'm feeling immensely tired and irrationally scared that this fever will never go away. But it will.

The male nurse before giving her the injection made the sign of the cross over her body, this brought me some relief. She is my honey. In bad dreams, the sea swells up and takes her away from me, or sometimes the river current is too strong and carries her off along the eddies. I wake up terrified.

May 26, 2002

Cannibal Manifesto. Limited Inc. puts his seal of approval on cannibal poetics and links to an English translation (a good one) of Manifesto da Antropofagia, previously featured on this blog.
Luciferous Logolepsy. "A collection of over 9,000 obscure english words. Though the definition of an "english" word might seem to be straightforward, it is not. There exist so many adopted, derivative, archaic or abandoned words in what we loosely define as the "English Language", that a clear-cut definition seems impossible. For the purposes of this project though, words are included that may stretch any basic definitions. Particular attention has been paid to archaic words, as they tend to be more evocative - as if their very age lends additional meaning or overtones. Current personal favorites include "skirr", "epicaricacy" and "schizothemia"."
Dracula Goes Theme Park. Not even the Carpathians are free from gimmicks to suck the blood out of tourists.
The Third Leg of the Bermuda Syntax Triangle. Mr. Rumsfeld, whose phraseology has been called "Rummy speak" inside the Pentagon, is the latest in a long line of government officials who have put their own stamp on syntax. Moreover, his words have leavened a Pentagon parlance normally freighted with arcana and acronyms. (Read more)

May 25, 2002

Language Cull could Leave People Speechless. Ninety per cent of tongues including Tofa and British Romani to disappear by 2050 according to researchers from the University of Manchester.
When the Audience Takes Off their Headsets. It could mean one of two things: either the translation is bad or Clinton is babbling away incoherently. I've seen it the other way around too: English speakers grabbing their headsets desperately even though the person who has the floor is speaking English. With a very thick or unusual accent.
Warming Up to the World Cup. Not much of a soccer fan, except when the sporting world collides with my interpreting assignments or when there is news of the publication of a multilingual soccer dictionary.
Monster Features Article on Translation. "With more and more businesses going global, the market for translation services is in demand and continues to expand", notes Walter Bacak, executive director of the American Translators Association (ATA), in Intercom magazine. Bacak also reports that the field is projected to grow from a current $11 billion to a nearly $20 billion industry in 2004. And, many more job opportunities are expected to fuel this growth."

May 24, 2002

Winter. A sudden arrival, like all tropical winters. It's cold enough to light up the fireplace, which I did this morning. Last night was rough, with the mermie running terribly high temperatures because of the flu. After the doctor's appointment this afternoon I am going to rescue my dongle from the office and hopefully do some work on a release notes file. Not many cools links to share, but talk about being a dog person!
Apártense todos que vengo yo: translator humour. This is Paul Roigé's hilarious posting on the ProZ forums. I can't resist posting it here.

"Yoo hoo Big World! Ofrezco traducciones rápidas garabateadas del Geordie al Manchego Seco por sólo 0,0000000001 pesos bolivianos en sellos de correos usados por página. Interesados envíenme CV y HP, referencias a nivel Honoris Causa, pizza margarita y foto del gato. Los 10000 primeros recibirán un ejemplar de roca volcánica tamaño A3 ¡GRATIS! con la frase en jeroglíficos TRADUCE QUE ALGO QUEDA, GUAPA a todo color rosa y exculpida por el traductor con el pie izquierdo de su señora.

Clientes con menos de 34 años y un día ininterrumpidos de experiencia como cliente en tiendas de calzado y confección abstenerse (Imelda, tú no). Vamos, ni se les ocurra. Todo cliente deberá estar titulado en al menos dos ramas del árbol en la que se orine su perro. Todo aquél que me ofrezca mayores emolumentos por mis traducciones será denunciado a todos y cada uno de los miembros y miembras de PORÓ y a mi sobrino que es abogado en un bufete del Bronx (mucho cuidado con él, pues a su vez tiene una cuñada camionera en Chicago, cuyo abuelo tiene una suegra veterana de la guerra de Cuba, ¿capisci?).

50% a pagar en la fecha de defunción del cliente, el otro 50% a la de su perro meón. Acepto todo tipo de sistemas de pago, menos cheque, transferencia o al contado. Todo cliente potencial deberá tener TRADOS, DEJA VU, PC, MAC, PALM, FREEHAND, ACROBAT, ENCICLOPEDIA CATALANA, ULTRALINGUA, PAGEMAKER, QUÉSÉYO y 30000000000000000000000 000000000000000000000000000000000000000 MBs de MEMORIA y DOS ABCESOS EN EL PARIETAL IZQUIERDO como mínimo.


Interesados rellenen cualquier hoja usada de papel que encuentren en el servicio y envíenmelo corriendo a través de ese perro que no para de mearse, el muy can, ¡ya! a:

Paulie Panoli (MD, Bchi, OhAh, AhiVa, MLISRNRCIPHJOUDOSc)
Afiliado al QMQJA (QuéMásQuieresJulandrónAssociation)
- 20 años de experiencia como intérprete en el interior de celdas unisex de confinamiento para contrabandistas de traducciones literales en las principales cárceles tailandesas.
- 20 años de experiencia como corrector de lentillas.
- 20 años de experiencia en la localización de palabras inexistentes.
- 20 años de experiencia en la investigación de las raíces fino-úgricas de los cerezos en flor en una granja avícola de Denver CO.
- 20 años de experiencia intentando hacer funcionar el maldito TRADOS“.
- 2000 años de experiencia en la construcción de Arcas para el transporte de fauna armenia en peligro de extinción para la firma NOÉ, NOAH & PETS, CO.LTD.AMEN
- 20 años de experiencia en lo que tu me pidas, guapa.



May 22, 2002

Hamster Crisis. Two days ago, on a common bout of insomnia, I dragged my voluminous ass out of bed and into the bathroom. While I was there I couldn't help noticing the scurrying sounds coming from the drain. Oh, God, I thought. That's really the last thing I need, rats in the apartment.

Yesterday evening, I came home to staggering news of hamster rescue. Sueli, the live-in nanny (cultural note: it's common in Brazil and indispensable when you're a working single mom) also known as Swahili, while changing their food saw that one of the hamsters was missing from the cage and clever girl that she is took a peep inside the drain. Yes, there was the missing hamster, only she couldn't know for sure, so she elaborately made a string hook and pulled it up. It was Giggio all right, only dirty and wet and hungry and smelly and therefore irrecognizable for his sibling Toppo.

Moral of the story: Toppo got all territorial over the cage and wouldn't let Giggio come near the food or the water and before the crises developed in full-blown hamster fratricide, I made a run to the petstore and got another cage. I have no idea where I am going to put it though. My apartment already looks like crazy hybrid of Toys'R'Us and an overcrowded world-music and furniture store. Like the hamsters, I am thinking of renting a house nearby to move my office into and have my lovers come by in the best boudoir tradition. Only I don't have any lovers at the moment, so it's all pretty much wishful thinking, like my plans to go to Barcelona to study Spanish at the end of the year.

In spite of the hamster crises and the Blogger instabilities, good news still cheer me up. Three are the things brightening up my day: the Google Glossary, the news that B. is going to come to S.Paulo from Geneva in June and the news that the GET is back to his home wherever that may be. The Giant Jalapeno also promised that he is coming to see his daughter in June, but like St.Thomas said, seeing is believing. Skeptical is my middle name in matters concerning the GJ.
Google Glossary Search. This tip comes from Michael Molin from Transhub and was posted at GlossPost this morning.

Google has made an experimental search interface for searching online glossaries, similar to News.Google, Images.Google , Groups.Google and other interfaces.

You can check it out at

As far as I could tell, only English definitions are covered, type anything in another language and you will get zero results. But they provide a feedback button and a discussion forum, so there is a chance that if an overwhelming number of translators requests advanced language features they might include them in a new release.

I also tried general language words such as vexation and oxymoron and got no direct results to Merriam-Webster or other standard dictionaries, which would be a welcome addition.

This is exciting news for the translating community. I've always said that if I get a tatoo it will be a sailor's heart with Google splashed accross it.

May 21, 2002

Tangepotism. Blind Tangerine is starting a new and tasty blog called The Hairy Eyeball, Glances Askance at the War on Terror. Here's the starting entry: in which Tangerine chooses a patron saint and declares his undying dedication to snarkiness:

Welcome to the Hairy Eyeball, a serio-satirical global Web log, written in the American vernacular and focused on the death of irony and the war on terror as viewed from the borough of Brooklyn, whence we receive dispatches from contributors from around the alleged globe. Alexander Pope canonized old Quintilian as the patron saint of the kind of war we propose to fight here in his Essay on Criticism:

In grave Quintilian's copious Work we find
The justest Rules, and clearest Method join'd;
Thus useful Arms in Magazines we place,
All rang'd in Order, and dispos'd with Grace,
But less to please the Eye, than arm the Hand,
Still fit for Use, and ready at Command.

As President Bush said, this war on terror will force us to associate with some unsavory people—so, too, in the war of words on the war on terror: Pick up whatever word is handy and bludgeon something stupid with it. You could even say that the Web log as a genre is satirical in its very essence—much as a Web site, with its hyperlinks, is the post-Gutenberg congener of the commonplace book, a collection of loci communi or "common sites." Consider the origins of the term:

The etymology and history of satire are as mixed up as the stuffed sausage from which it may have received its name. Even those who wrote it used other terms. Horace called his satires sermones ("talk") and Juvenal called his farrago ("stuffing"). However, these glimpses of daily life, mixed with wit, invective, and obscenity, formed a recognized genre and source of pride for the Romans in that they could claim it as their own: Satura quidem tota nostra est [Quintilian, Institutio Oratoria 10.1.93].

Other etymons, according to our offhand research, include a specious derivation from the Greek satyr—a half-man half-beast noted for its unbridled sexual appetites, since so-called Menippean satire was a mix of prose and verse—and the according to some more philologically plausible Latin satura or "salad"—a bunch of stuff fresh from whatever's in the market that day, cut into roughly uniform chunks, with oily unction and piss and vinegar superadded.

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, in austere Anglo-Aristotelian fashion, has this to say: "Satire, in its literary aspect, may be defined as the expression in adequate terms of the sense of amusement or disgust excited by the ridiculous or unseemly, provided that humour is a distinctly recognizable element, and that the utterance is invested with literary form ..." Aw, fuck literary form and adequate expression: let's settle for "glimpses of daily life, mixed with wit, invective, and obscenity," in 400 words or less, and addressed to our editorial board, and honi soit qui mal y pense.

A mermaidesque, angel-in-the-house recommendation, Tangerine, try not to offend Greeks, Trojans, Liberals and Mahometans, although I fear you your capacity of equal opportunity offender and subgenius. Now go read the original entry for some wholesome clickety-click.

Translation in the Rennaisance. In the good old days: "The status of translation in this period accords with the humanistic and patriotic high-mindedness of most translators. The desire to be useful to one's fellow-citizens and to improve their cultural environment runs strongly through their accounts of their motives; underpinning this was the theory that it was beneficial to copy a good model (see criticism, literary). As Harington observed, it was preferable "to be called rather one of the not worst translators then one of the meaner makers". Certainly in the hands of Amyot in France or Holland in England the translator's profession attained a literary dignity that it has seldom, if ever, attained since.
The Art of the Book Review. Someone didn't have his Prozac this morning: "Over time I've learned the secret code words of book reviewers who don't really want you to know what they're talking about. "Coming of age," for example, means "self-involved young person agonizes over sophomoric minutiae." "Internal odyssey" means nothing happens. "Introspective" means psychobabble."
The Real New York Underground.
via impeccable briqueabraque

More color in your salad: purple carrots are set to hit UK supermarkets this July.
via the apothecary's drawer

Hone in on your lingam and yoni skills: full text of the Kama Sutra.
via bifurcated rivets

May 20, 2002

My Collection of Quotations on Translation

Translation is the paradigm, the exemplar of all writing.... It is translation that demonstrates most vividly the yearning for transformation that underlies every act involving speech, that supremely human gift.

Harry Mathews (b. 1930), U.S. novelist. “The Dialect of the Tribe,” Country Cooking and Other Stories (1980).

Translation is entirely mysterious. Increasingly I have felt that the art of writing is itself translating, or more like translating than it is like anything else. What is the other text, the original? I have no answer. I suppose it is the source, the deep sea where ideas swim, and one catches them in nets of words and swings them shining into the boat ... where in this metaphor they die and get canned and eaten in sandwiches.

Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929), U.S. author. Address, 1983, in Poetry Series, Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, D.C.. “Reciprocity of Prose and Poetry,” published in Dancing at the Edge of the World (1989).

Any translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential. This is the hallmark of bad translations.

Walter Benjamin (1892–1940), German critic, philosopher. “The Task of the Translator,” Illuminations (1955, ed. by Hannah Arendt, 1968)

Poetry is what is lost in translation.

Robert Frost (1874–1963), U.S. poet. Quoted in Robert Frost: a Backward Look, ch. 1, Louis Untermeyer (1964).

The best thing on translation was said by Cervantes: translation is the other side of a tapestry.

Leonardo Sciascia (1921–1989), Italian writer. Guardian (London, Aug. 5, 1988).

'A translation is no translation,' he said, 'unless it will give you the music of a poem along with the words of it.'

John Millington Synge, Irish playwright. (1871 - 1909) The Aran Islands ( (1907)) pt. 3

The vanity of translation; it were as wise to cast a violet into a crucible that you might discover the formal principle of its colour and odour, as seek to transfuse from one language to another the creations of a poet. The plant must spring again from its seed, or it will bear no flower.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet (1792 - 1822), A Defence of Poetry (written (1821))

Humour is the first of the gifts to perish in a foreign tongue.

Virginia Woolf (1882 - 1941), British novelist. The Common Reader, 1925

An idea does not pass from one language to another without change.

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (1864 - 1936) Spanish writer. The Tragic Sense of Life, 1913

The original is unfaithful to the translation.

Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986) Argentinian writer. Referring to Henley's translation of Beckford's Vathek. Sobre el `Vathek' de William Beckford

Translate beautifully or be replaced by a machine.

Josh Wallace, translator, at Lantra-L

(to be continued...)

Blogspotting. Here's is Daniella Thompson's blog with articles on Brazilian music and culture (plus the occasional rumination and disc review in English). If you're into Brazilian music don't waste another second reading this entry.
Web of Words. It's a site site dedicated to the regional and minority languages of the European Union. It has been created within the framework of the European Year of Languages, with the support of the European Commission.
You can find general information about each language, the area or country where it is spoken as a minority language ; and listen to a poem in the language. They have a page for Judeo-Spanish, neat.
A Racial Slur Database. Unfortunately, very useful for translators. To counter the bad juju in this entry, take a look at the Museum of the Person, where any person can make his or her story known on the Internet. This site is somewhat similar to Immigrant Voices and The New Americans (both links via plep)
Sign Madness. I'll give you an example. In the UK, they say over the railway system: “Passengers alight here”. This means passengers get off. Luckily many tourists do not take this literally and think they have to incinerate themselves by setting themselves on fire at the end of the underground system. This would turn Ealing Broadway into a crematorium. Of course I am being rather ridiculous just to keep your interest, but why don't they say, instead of setting yourself alight, something like: please leave the train here?"

May 19, 2002

The Rise of Compound Adjetives. ''Hyphenation gives the impression,'' says Frank Abate, former editor in chief of the U.S. Dictionaries program at Oxford University Press, ''that the compound is novel, imaginative or requires some background knowledge.'' He notes that some of these double-word modifiers grow out of adverbial phrases: in ''technology at the cutting edge,'' the adverbial phrase is swung around in front of the noun to become cutting-edge technology; in the same way, ''you can track changes in real time'' becomes real-time data.

May 18, 2002

At MIT, They Can Put Words in Your Mouth. "Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the first realistic videos of people saying things they never said - a scientific leap that raises unsettling questions about falsifying the moving image."
Some Language Experts Think Humans Spoke First With Gestures. "What a hairy back!" was Lily Tomlin's candidate for the first human sentence. But whatever the content of that original remark, if Michael C. Corballis is correct, it was expressed in gestures, not words." Well, I am not a linguist either, but it makes sense.
Wanderlust. The ambivalent wanderluster Baudelaire, as quoted in The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

"'Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he'd get better if he was by the window.' Baudelaire was, nevertheless, unashamed to count himself among the patients. 'It always seems to me that I will be well where I am not and this question of moving is one that I'm forever entertaining with my soul. Sometimes Baudelaire dreamt of going to Lisbon. It would be warm there and he would like a lizard gain strength from stretching himself in the sun. It was a city of water, marble and light, conducive to thought and calm. But almost from the moment he conceived of this Portuguese fantasy, he would start to wonder if he might not be happier in Holland. Then again, why not Java or else the Baltic or even the North Pole, where he could bathe in the shadows and watch comets fly across the Arctic skies? The destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away, to go, as he concluded 'Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of the world!"

But he was aware of the difficulties. Baudelaire once had left the leaden skies of France embarking on a journey to India. Three months into the sea crossing, the ship ran into a storm and landed in Mauritius for repairs. "It was the lush, palm fringed island that Baudelaire had dreamt off. But he could not shake off a feeling of lethargy and suspected and began suspecting that India would be no better. Despite efforts by the captain to persuade him otherwise, he insisted on sailing back to France."

Update: three translations of poems about travel by Baudelaire.

May 17, 2002

The German-Hollywood Connection."The Germanic impact (Austrian, German and German-Swiss) on Hollywood is often underestimated or even ignored. But the fact is that Hollywood – without its decades of Teutonic influence – would not be the center of the world's entertainment industry that it is today. True, there have been other influences from France, Italy, Russia, Japan, Great Britain and other sources, but just as people of Germanic heritage make up the largest single ethnic element other than Anglo-Saxon in the United States, no other single influence on American cinema has been greater than that from the German-speaking world."

Don't miss Leni Riefenstahl's bio annotated with links.
Wear lipstick, have a tattoo, belly-dance, then get naked. The making of a virtual librarian. Is the stereotipical librarian nerdier than the stereotypical translator?
Deep linking, deep shit. Be surprised. Or pretend like me that you knew about this.
RTFM. A forum about user manuals, bibliographic artifact for the clueless, sometimes adding yet another factor of cluelessness due to arcane tech writing and bad translations.

May 16, 2002

Translating Style. I think Missveen would like this book by Tim Parks.

"One wet Thursday, as it were, many years ago, I decided to give a group of students a piece writing in Italian and English. They had to decide which language was the original, which the translation. It was an odd piece and they soon found the four or five places where the texts were different. They opted for the Italian, which seemed all proper and correct. The English was bizarre to say the least. It included the expression 'he shut himself together.' It was D.H. Lawrence.
I was fascinated. Infallibly, by finding where translation differed from original, students whose English was far from perfect were able to identify those places where a writer diverged from standard usage. The reason is evident enough. While it's fairly easy to translate content and standard mannerisms, when the meaning of a text lies in the distance between itself and what the reader expected, then it is difficult for translator to follow. Looking at all the ways a translation differs from its original, you can begin to get a good sense of how a writer worked and what his particular take on language and indeed life was. Because for each author who has anything interesting to say, the problems are always different. That's what this book is about."
I Left My Heart. God I love this place called Santa Cruz. I spent most of my pregnancy there, stuffing myself at the Staff of Life Foods vegan restaurant, looking at the sun, waiting for footsteps in the gravel, cooking elaborate lunches, going for walks, watching daytime TV, having baby and immigration reveries, signing petitions for the right to sleep on streets, scouring the second-hand bookstores...doing mostly nothing but be pregnant. But all the time I was there, even when I lived right above the metaphisical store in Capitola, I never saw such shrubs.
Brasiliana. New book fetish on my list: Brasiliana da Biblioteca Nacional, an inventory of all things Brazilian chock full with the most gorgeous iconographic images. The book was compiled by researcher Paulo Roberto Pereira.

While browsing the Biblioteca Nacional website, I also discover an online version of the Dicionário Cravo Albin da MPB, a wide selection of Brazilian classics in electronic format and a Brazilian writers biography database. Good finds on an insomniac night.

May 15, 2002

Pandora's Wordbox. It's a mixture of mythology, medicine, etymology and wordlore illustrated with classical paintings. Sure worth a visit to ponder over sentences such as "Imbibing to ebriety may imbibe to imbecile" and to check out the paintings, which are amazing, sometimes eerie.
Dictionaraoke. Now you can hear the on-line dictionary sing the songs of yesterday and today. Smack my bitch up, highway to hell and rock the casbah among the 91 entries.

via the totemic paganist aka blind tangerine

May 14, 2002

Shocked. How has it come to pass that Enigmatic Mermaid is the first-rated blog on Bloghop? I must have either slept with my butt turned up to the moon (Portuguese saying, one of my favorites to express good luck), or ahem, I must have cheated, a trait that seems to be encoded in the genes of all Mermaidian species. Oh, and it gets better. This blog is the first result in Google for keyword e n i g m a t i c.

Japan Pop. "Japan is reinventing superpower—again. Instead of collapsing beneath its widely reported political and economic misfortunes, Japan’s global cultural influence has quietly grown. From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and animation to cuisine, Japan looks more like a cultural superpower today than it did in the 1980s, when it was an economic one. But can Japan build on its mastery of medium to project an equally powerful national message?"

I'll post it here cause I want to read it later. Have to go home now because the FTP server automatically erased the files I am supposed to be translating. Serves me right for being a procastinatress. Self-reminder: must not forget dongle, must not forget dongle.
Liebfraumilch. Pindorama as envisioned in Oswaldo de Andrade's Manifesto Antropofágico should be home to the Brazilian utopia, based on a matriarchial and anarchic society, free from all repression:

Down with the social reality, dressed up and oppresive, registered by Freud - we are for the complex-free reality of the Pindorama matriarchy, free from madness, prostitution and jails.

The Alphabet versus the Goddess, another book cluttering my nightstand, makes some controversial claims about the decline of goddesses and the development of societies based on the written text, that I take with a whole handful of salt. Becoming a mother turned my life upside down. I'm not sure I would go for a second run at it. Suave es La Noche is celebrating the birth of a baby girl, which immediately fills me up with joy while making me think of the disturbing story Big Milk.

A world where senior citizen Dionne Warwick gets busted for smoking pot is the very antithesis of Pindorama. This entry is lacking in logic but I will post it anyway.

May 13, 2002

Untranslatable Joke? I suspect so, because Herr Professor's humor is impenetrable to me. Plenty of fun to be had at the Freud exhibit at the Library of Congress, though. Noteworthy: Envelope with prescription and wrapper that held cocaine, ca. 1883; image of hysterics under hypnosis at Salpêtrière, from D.M. Bourneville and P. Régnard and the planche is called Attitudes Passionelles.

Mersurgeon General's Warning: Please refrain from Attitudes Passionelles. If you can resist, adopt them with moderation and be sure get a good shrink and/or pills

Los jóvenes homosexuales y las muchachas amorosas A colleague was telling me the other day that to find a lost object it's helpful to meditate and try to transubstantiate yourself into what you're seeking. I was doing no such a thing a minute ago when I found this Neruda poem that has been running away from me for as long as I can remember. Could any of the sex & search fiends who visit this blog please help this overworked translator find the original in Spanish?

The ode to the Magellanic Penguin is quite magnificent. It reminds me of my brief encounters with this commoner of antarctica icy landscapes. They bite hard.

Update: Many thanks to Prentiss Riddle for finding Neruda's Cavallero Solo translated by José Paulo Paes.

Update 2: I went to Livraria Cultura this afternoon and couldn't resist buying a paperback Pablo Neruda anthology, where the formerly elusive poem is printed. I transcribe it here because the Web can't do without such a poem in its original language.

Caballero Solo

by Pablo Neruda

Los jóvenes homosexuales y las muchachas amorosas,
y las largas viudas que sufren el delirante insomnio,
y las jóvenes señoras preñadas hace treinta horas,
y los roncos gatos que cryzan mi jardín en tinieblas,
como un collar de palpitantes ostras sexuales,
rodean mi residencia solitaria,
como enemigos establecidos contra mi alma,
como consipiradores en traje de dormitorio
que cambiaran largos besos espesos por consigna.

El radiante verano conduce a los enamorados
en uniformes regimientos melancólicos,
hechos de gordas y flacas y alegres y tristes parejas:
bajo los elegantes cocoteros, junto al oceáno y la luna,
hay una continua vida de pantalones y polleras,
un rumor de medias de seda acariciadas,
y senos femeninos que brillan como ojos

El pequeño empleado, después de mucho,
después del tedio semanal, y las novelas leídas de noche en cama
ha definitivamente seducido a su vecina,
y la lleva a los miserables cinematógrafos
donde los héroes son potros o príncipes apasionados,
y acaricia sus piernas llenas de dulce vello
con sus ardientes y húmedas manos que huelen a cigarillo.

Los atardeceres del seductor y las noches de los esposos
se unen como dos sábanas sepultándome,
y las horas después del almuerzo en que los jóvenes estudiantes
y las jóvenes estudiantas, y los sacerdotes se masturban,
y los animales fornican directamente,
y las abejas huelen a sangre, y las moscas zumban coléricas,
y los primos juegan extrañamente con sus primas,
y los médicos miran con furia al marido de la joven paciente,
y las horas de la mañana en que el profesor, como por descuido,
cumple con su deber conyugal y desayuna
y más aún, los adúlteros, que se aman con verdadero amor
sobre lechos altos y largos como embarcaciones:
seguramente, eternamente me rodea
este gran bosque respiratorio y enredado
con grandes flores como bocas y dentaduras
y negras raíces en la forma de uñas y zapatos.

Banned Books. You can read them online, but not Lady Chatterley's Lover. Prudes. Enjoy the Decameron or JJ Rouseaus's Confessions, which begins with these remarkably ambitious words:

I HAVE begun on a work which is without precedent, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I propose to set before my fellow-mortals a man in all the truth of nature; and this man shall be myself.

I have studied mankind and know my heart; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature has acted rightly or wrongly in destroying the mold in which she cast me, can only be decided after I have been read.

Flipping them WordBurgers. Wordburgers are back, but so far I've been receiving only the English-Spanish e-mails. My friend Jayme wants to know whether there are any hidden nuances in the expression "your back is broken", which has been featured in a lot of pop song lyrics lately. Jayme is a good sniffer of a translator. But I'm not sure about it, I suggest "de espinhela caída" as a tongue-in-cheek translation.

"Yeah, you're pretty good looking for a girl, but your back is so broken..."

I've been feeling sick as a dog lately. I won't go into the medicalities, but it's related to a surgical-like intervention. I'm running just a little late with my browser localization, dogdamnit. And I had to decline an invitation to put my voice to the service of the ILO on account of feeling so ill. I also receive news from the Green Eyed Temptation. He's made it to a little coastal town in Italia and hasn't checked his e-mail in two weeks. He is also afraid he will have to go back to the US soon, he is more full of mysteries than an enigmatic mermaid. Mother's Day came and went and I couldn't eat anything at all. Plep has noticed me, I feel almost as flattered as I feel sick, and there is probably no prayer for my kind of maladie.

Keyword online translation has been bringing lots of visitors. My advice is hire a human translator.

May 12, 2002

When President Translates as "Great Supreme Leader". "Some would contend that to say the Korean government is run by a "supreme leader" is anachronistic since this suggests a dictatorship or authoritarian ruler. This would be the same if we call the head of the Korean government a consul, governor-general, chieftain or generalissimo. These terms refer to a leader who sits on the people, rules over them and exercises sovereign power over his nation.

The Korean translation of "president" is daetongnyeong, "supreme leader," to which is affixed "great." So the governance of a country whose sovereignty rests with the people is under "great supreme leadership." The presidential system originated in the United States, and daetongnyeong was adopted as a translation of the word "president" into Chinese, but the reverse translation would not be "president."

Asian countries began translating Western thinking and ideas in the middle of the 19th century. Translation of the word "president" into "great supreme leader" in Chinese characters first appeared in the written Treaty of Kanagawa between Japan and the United States in 1854.

In 1844, however, the Qing Dynasty used Chinese characters whose pronunciation was similar to that of the word "president" in English.

Korea also used the same transliteration for "president," starting in 1876, with the signing of the Treaty of Ganghwa, a one-sided pact between the Joseon Dynasty and Japan. The use of the Chinese transliteration was in official documents until 1901.

Linsho Miskuri, who translated many English legal terms into Chinese characters, first translated "president" into the Chinese characters for daetongnyeong in his 1873 publication on the French constitution, drafted in 1791, and other constitutions legislated during this revolutionary period. Afterward, King Gojong of Joseon Dynasty used "daetongnyeong" when he was briefed by Hong Yeong-sik, on his return from his sojourn to the United States.

The United States also used the Chinese characters for daetongnyeong in diplomatic papers it sent to King Gojong in 1895. Yu Gil-jun, one of the late Joseon Dynasty scholars who advocated a selective acceptance of Western ways, said in his book "Seoyugyeonmun," published in 1895, that the leader of the United States, where people exercise sovereignty, is not a king but a "daetongnyeong." Seoyugyeonmun is the account of the scholar's experience in the United States and introduces Western customs. "Daetong-nyeong" appears in the constitution legislated in September 1919 by the Korean Provisional Government established in Shanghai. The constitution states that Korea shall be under a presidential system.

The power of words greatly influences people's thinking. Language is the vehicle through which the packaging and distribution of ideas is made. Those who seek to overhaul society try to gain hegemony of language to control ideas. Sometimes words are distorted from their true meaning.

In Korea, the original meaning of "president" has been bleached due to the slow progress of political awareness of the people. In a constitutional democracy the president is of the same rank as the president of the Constitutional Court, the speaker of the legislature and the chief justice, and represents the nation overseas. But in Korea, the president is as the Chinese characters denote: the "great supreme leader."

The former Korean presidents seemed to regard themselves as supreme leaders, misusing the right to grant parole as soon as they were sworn in. They committed the mistakes of not listening to advice and trying to tailor the thoughts of people and intellectuals for their purposes. The reason all our former presidents have been regarded as "failed" presidents is that they have taken the wrong path, which inevitably led to their doom.

The people also harbor the misunderstanding that the president has a free hand in almost everything. Therefore, all the people are desperate over the result of presidential elections.

Intellectuals and experts do not try to persuade the people, they appeal to the president. The police, prosecutors and the court, who should monitor social order by enforcing laws, wait for the decision of the president instead of following legal protocol. That the president is omnipotent is an anachronistic way of thinking. The constitution of Korea does not allow the president to exercise such power.

The press uses the term daegweon, which literally means great power, to address the president. We must amend the meaning of the word "president" to emphasize "servant of the people" before we hold another presidential election."
GOP's intent lost in translation ''I'm surprised that they wouldn't have gone with a professional translator, and if they did, this translator seems to lack experience in this type of translation,'' said Georgia Seminet, a Spanish professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce. ''Honestly, it looks like they grabbed some volunteer and said, `Hey, you speak Spanish, you do this.'''
The Age of Internet Sex Toys is Here. "You plug the sex toys into the Symphony, plug the Symphony into your computer, and use the special Internet chat software included. This software lets you talk to someone else on the Internet, kind of like, say, AOL's instant messaging software or ICQ software. The person you are talking to can send commands to your Symphony unit, telling it to switch the sex toys on or off...just the thing for those "spicy" conversations!"

Moral Clarity. Tangerine says it's a contradiction in terms. Safire traces the origin and ressurgence of the expression and its antonyms, moral equivalence and moral relativity.

May 10, 2002

Bad Translation Protects American Steel. In Portuguese.

May 8, 2002

Poetry Wednesday. I am going to follow Dave's example and contribute to this worthy cause with a link to Literary Translation, brought to you via Enig and by the British Council, a paper on translating Paulo Leminski including translations by by colleague and doyenne supreme Regina Alfarano, and the following poem, also by the Polish-Black-Brazilian author:

Blade Runner Waltz

Em mil novecentos e oitenta e sempre,
ah que tempos aqueles,
dançamos ao luar, ao som da valsa
A Perfeição do Amor através da Dor e da Renúncia,
nome, confesso, um pouco longo,
mas os tempos, aquele tempo,
ah, não se faz mais tempo
como antigamente.
Aquilo sim é que eram horas,
dias enormes, semanas anos, minutos milênios,
e toda aquela fortuna em tempo
a gente gastava em bobagens,
amar, sonhar, dançar ao som da valsa,
aquelas falsas valsas de tão imenso nome lento
que a gente dançava em algum setembro
daqueles mil e novecentos de oitenta e sempre

More Leminski in Portuguese and in some Spanish translations by Rodolfo Mata.

Girl on the Bridge. I absolutely adored this movie. From the opening monologue in which Adele recounts her life as a human trampolin to her transformation in the perfect target, I felt life suspended in pure cinematographic enjoyment.

May 7, 2002

Singaporean Colloquialisms. "When we are stumped for words, when no literal translation in English will do justice, when the language of Shakespeare, Milton and Dickens cannot convey the nuances of what we think, feel and mean, we dip into our multi-racial treasury of uniquely Singaporean colloquialisms."

Interview with a Big Man in an Invisible Profession. "Häilä points out that when talking about translations it is easy to inspect the commas, but few people realise what an immense job the translator has done when defining the writer's "tone of voice", his or her way of writing.

According to Häilä the "mistakes" are just a marginal area, which should be discussed with a slightly different approach.
Reluctantly Häilä gives an example of such a mistake he recently discovered in a book he'd been reading.

"In Zadie Smith's White Teeth there is a passage where the author colourfully describes gloomy railway yards, dilapidated buildings, littered alleys, and - rather surprisingly - grease-covered spoons. Well, the translator had failed to grasp that the "greasy spoons" in this context referred to cheap and nasty restaurants instead of unwashed cutlery." (Read more)
Translation Pushes Sales of Popular Books. "Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens" by J.K. Rowling is flying off the bookstore shelves in Berlin, while Clive Cussler's "Il serpente dei Maya" has taken Rome by storm and Stephen Hawking's "O universo numa casca de noz" has captured imaginations from Lisbon to Rio.

A quick glance of best-seller lists in major cities around the world reveals that many of the most popular titles are translations from foreign languages. (Read more)
Karma Komix. Here's the address, Atlas Magazine Online Paradise, Vaitarni River. Don't miss the photography session with Adam Kufeld shots of Cuba and Oliver Laude's images of Rural Chinese Architecture. More to explore in the site: Mao Zedong propaganda posters.
Buenos Aires en Setiembre? An invitation to speak at Atiba's 5th International Translators and Interpreters Fair has just popped in the mail. Maybe I can use my frequent flyer miles? No free ride on this one. Meanwhile, here are some Argentinean graffiti and quotes on the harsh times the country is facing:

'Estaremos siempre al lado del gobierno....porque si vamos adelante nos coje, y si vamos detrás nos caga.'
'Basta ya de realidades, queremos promesas.'
'La patria dejará de ser colonia o moriremos todos perfumados.'
'La deuda que le estoy dejando al país no es externa, es eterna.' Menem.
'Las inundaciones no se producen porque los ríos crecen, sino porque el país se hunde.'
'Algunos nacen con suerte, otros en Argentina.'
'Este gobierno es como un bikini, nadie sabe como se sostiene pero todos quieren que se caiga.'
'Las putas al poder, porque con los hijos, no nos fue bien'

Buzzword of the Day.
Scope creep: When a project continues to grow after the contract has been signed. In the end, the vendor does more work than it gets paid for.

Sounds very familiar...

My Featured Pro Collection

Maria Eugenia Farre

Software Localization Specialist

May 6, 2002

Analyzing the Language of Globalization. All that glitters is not global. Translation: Non è tutto oro quello che luccica.
Workhouses. "The Oxford Dictionary's first record of the word workhouse dates back to 1652 in Exeter — 'The said house to bee converted for a workhouse for the poore of this cittye and also a house of correction for the vagrant and disorderly people within this cittye.' "

via eclogues

Wondrous Woodcuts. "First published in Germany in 1925 The City is a portrait of urban Europe between the wars, told in one hundred woodcuts of exceptional force and beauty. Frans Masereel portrays parks and factories, shipyards and brothels, crowds, lovers, and lonely individuals with remarkable subtlety and nuance while exploiting the stark contrast of the woodcut medium."

via the always intriguing gmtplus9

The Internet Tarot. Huge list of tarot decks with illustrations. Sudden insight: somebody should make a tarot inspired by Internet imagery. A 404 page could be the Tower, a screenshot of Google should be the Magician; the Devil could be the Microsoft homepage, Amazon could be the High Priestess, which reminds me I am still waiting for them to ship my order. Oh, and be sure to check the Mexican tarot.

New Epidemic? Leading microbiologists are dying off faster than fruit flies. Other random news: F*cked Gaijin has blurted out a very good reason to boycott Las Vegas. Come on Nevada, get a clue.
HSBC Gets it Right. Instead of the surveillance cam, I'd rather have the popuperatti display HSBC's new branding campaign on my browser since they have to have their wicked ways. Here's the latest on The Economist:

Illustration: lemons and chili peppers.
Text: India- Wards off evil;
Mexico- Wards off Hunger.
Headline- Never underestimate the importance of local knowledge
Tagline: HSBC, the world's local bank

Maybe it's just a half-hearted attempt by a megacorporation to seem less intent on destroying local identities with their big bucks and monolithic business cultures. Notwithstanding the ideological patrolling of my own psyche, what I like about this campaign is that it is the advertising equivalent of a cultural consulting assignment.

There was a great design site aeons ago, with multicultural superstitions, proverbs, body language, alas the Web is now too crowded, sometimes I can't find a thing. Listening to Gypsy Bugaloo and sipping a cappucino on this cool autumn night can right almost every wrong in my tiny bubble of a world, however.
Just 2 More Things. A linkback to the gently erotic Suave es La Noche, blog that is going to make it to my left bar before you can blink and a solemn announcement of my resolution to read Le Siècle de Sartre when I am done with Schama, who has taught me so many wonderful things about the zubr. Bought it at the airport today while all the other mid-thirties gals were leafing through Glamour. I'm such an intellectual wannabe.
Big Project. Florianopolis was great, big baby fest with long treks by the shores of the Lagoa da Conceição and sunny days at Praia Mole, eating iscas de peixe and mandioca frita. The Merchild was a little less of a attention sponge this time because she had sprightly Valentina to play with. Sofia was in turns annoyed and fascinated by baby Tommy. The moment she saw him start breastfeeding she grabbed my hand immediately to get me out of there, as if afraid the little efficient milk vampire would attack her own mommy after being done with his own.

On the plane back, she threw one of her tantrums when it was time to fasten the seatbelt. Why can't I be more like Valentina's and Tommy's mother, who simply says It's the law! Buckle up!. I suspect that the Merchild is getting a little claustrophobic, she can't stand closed doors either. At least this time the stewardesses were not pointing to me and whispering as we left the plane like those two bitches in San Francisco International.

Good news on the business front, just as my interpreting assignments begin to slow down, my favorite project manager assigns me a localization project that is going to keep me busy and happy until July. I love to localize software and this one is a popular browser, very filet mignon. Cool. I may be also getting some radiation therapy equipment manuals in between, which I doesn't make me as giddily happy as software localization, but what the hell, I've been dealing with depleted uranium, gantries and linear accelerators for almost three years. I know the drill: the more technical and ungainly the subject, the better the pay.

Blind Tangerine is engaged in a bovine discussion on the anatomical specificities of auroch, the wisent and the bison of Lithuania. Little does he know that animal and vegetable names are puddles of quicksand. Especially when Germans, Poles, Belarussians, Iorubans and Baianos, Greeks and Trojans, everybody zeals for their symbols of national or regional identity, be it the almighty zubr or the starchy aipim. And I quote:

"Os iorubanos, devotos do inhame, não podem conceber como o milho e a mandioca sejam plantas importadas d’Améria, deduzindo do uso antigo e tão velha predileção consumidora, anotou Pierre Gourou."

May 3, 2002

Taking a Weekend Trip. Angela has suggested on the spur of the moment that the Mermonkey and I take the plane down to Florianopolis this weekend. It's going to be great fun especially because little Valentina age 3 is going to be there too. I'm not taking my laptop so there will be scant updates to the blog. I just hope I don't find any spiders in the kettle this time!

back on Monday...

May 1, 2002

Around the World with a Stereoscope. Stereoscopic photographs of China at the time of the Boxer Uprising. WW1 through the stereoscope with java applet. Eight stereoscope views of Jerusalem and the Palestine. Arkansas in stereographs and regular photographs. The Central Pacific Railroad. And finally, a History of the Stereopticon.

Killing the Buddha. God for the godless, cheaper than church, paved with good intentions.

E-voting Soon to be a Reality in Brazil. Brazil is one of the most advanced countries in the world in the field of electronic voting. In the last national elections, every vote was placed digitally through the use of electronic ballot boxes and most results were out in a couple of hours, a sharp contrast with the chad coroner reports and nightmarish recounts in West Palm Beach. Now it looks as if Brazil will be the first country to have elections through the Internet. IDGNow reports on the approval of a resolution that will allow for the issuing of voter cards in the form of digital certificates, paving the way for Internet voting in the very near future. Read the news in Portuguese or in bad English.

Language Rights. Here is a Islamabad scholar making the case against English. Caveat lector: Islamic countries don't have a good track record on defending minority languages, as demonstrated by the oppression of the Berber and Kurdish communities.

So read between the lines for that anti-American sentiment seeping through. Among other things, Dr. Tariq says that "American Africans (sic) although they do have distinguishing cultural features and speak Ebonics, they look like imitation products of American Western culture. They lack cultural authenticity." Oh pleeaaase!

Metablogging note: I find myself thinking about "A Agulha e a Linha", a short fable by Machado de Assis. I hope that by posting this, I am not acting as a needle for a lowly thread.