Jun 30, 2002

Brasil Pentacampeão. Ladies and Gentlemen, it's a fine day for Brazilians. I watched the game at home in my pajamas with Swahili and Preta. I never made it to the brick-oven joint with a large TV where I was supposed to go to for breakfast because Mermaid Jr. woke up late. I missed out on the wholewheat bread and muffins but not on the fireworks and church bell tolling.

Now, can somebody answer me what is that hairdo Ronaldinho is wearing? Looks like a you know what to me.

The Mermaid Jr. and Rafaella were playing "sick baby" with a doll a little while ago. After her nap, I am taking her to see Little Red Riding Hood at the theatre.

I know diddly about soccer, but one statement I read on Veja last week made a lot of sense. They say that there are 140 million soccer coaches in Brazil, but the one who brought us this cup was a soccer fan. Valeu Felipão.

Jun 28, 2002

Before Bjork. There was the Queen, the auk and the landscapes of Iceland.

via plep
The Myth of Gay Macho. Speaking of which, I totally liked Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And surprise, surprise: semen acts as an anti-depressant. (thanks to JP for the link)
Ten Lesser Known Facts about my Day Yesterday.
I slept with my phone off the hook because somebody was going to call me at 11.30 pm and I was just feeling too tired and antisocial for the task.
At 10 am I was wearing a helmet and protective glasses, paisley velvet pants and flat-sole shoes. I actually saw with my very eyes the very end of the Brasil-Bolivia gas pipeline. It looked surprisingly small, but then somebody explained to me that that was just the secondary output pipe. I also heard the word thyristor for the first and possibly the last time in my life.
I had lunch in a snack bar operated by an association for the mentally impaired. It was a nice place, under the trees.
I made three phone calls during the day to see how the Mermbaby was doing.
I received confirmation by e-mail that the GET's brother is coming to Brazil in July or August for ten days. He is going to crash at my place.
I gave my phone number to a 30-year old English engineer and shamelessly tried to seduce him. He was very cute.
Nilza had cooked lasagna for lunch. I was disgruntled because my fridge looks like a national park for fattening foods, including apple pie, feijão com paio and maasdam cheese.
I found out that some translations I sent to A. last year were done on a sailboat off Ilha Grande.
I blew my deadline for the radiation therapy software manual again.
I searched my disk for a dams engineering glossary to help a friend. I used to have a bilingual one in an Excel file. Couldn't find it. My friend is so desperate he is talking about flying in from Rio to try to ressucitate one of my defunct laptops.
At 11 pm I put the phone off the hook again because someone was ringing insistently and disturbing my dreams.

Jun 26, 2002

Go Brazil. Brazil 1, Turkey 0. Fireworks and deafening screaming in my building. I'm teaching the Mermbaby to jump and shout Brasil, Brasil, Brasil with hands raised, closed fits and a big smile. She is getting the hang of it.

The Curse. Via Les coups de langue, the names of menstruation in French. J'ai l'armée rouge is funny in a napoleonic kind of way. Since we are talking affair de femmes, here are some cunt power links, a menstrual journal and a museum of menstruation featuring more words and expressions para o paquete.

most links via ferocious things
Underwater Cities and Pravda Translations. Over at Caterina, always the good stuff. I left a translatorial note there and only later did I realize that I could also have mentioned that back in the days when I was a scuba diver (aha, new secret revealed), I dived once in a town that was sunk as the result of the building of a dam.

It was a very strange dive. I was not used to diving in fresh water and my belt seemed to weigh a ton, the water was freezing and my fins were too close to the dam(n) floor and raised this awful murky mud. But at certain moments I could make out weird stuff, like a truck tire and a house. Not the most exciting dive in the world, I guess. But we took pictures and the Mergulhar magazine published a story and a photo on our dive. I must have the clipping somewhere.
The Newz. I haven't posted in a while, completely caught up in my byzantine translation projects. Here is the newz you're craving for.

Breadth of content on Web could improve translation technology. (the author has a point there, not your usual yada yada. let's align the Web, tanya)
Translation software lowers language barrier for soccer fans
Make War for Love. (ok it's just a play I'd like to see in line with the seven wonders of the globalized world)
Fermin Guruza, Basquing in Glory. (and a CD I'd like to listen)
FIFA Website Huge Success Story. (they are churning out translations into 6 languages 45 to 60 minutes after the final whistle)

Jun 24, 2002

Some Poems. Doug Robinson, organizer of the anthology Western Translation Theory From Herodotus to Nietzsche, has a page with his translations of poems from several languages, including Russian, Spanish, German and Finnish. My favorite are the Serbian poems with variations on the theme "grant me, God, may my honey be hard!" Which I roughly translate as que meu homem esteja sempre em riste (e eu sempre úmida para o meu homem). It's not in the book of common prayer, but it should be. By the way Tangelo where is the translation of Hilda Hilst's naughty witch poem? Also, don't forget to check out his page of translator resources.

Jun 23, 2002

ForeignWord Linguablogs. There are two. One is staff-maintained and the other is fed by articles posted by users of Xanadu (neat little software by the way).

Creative Writing E-Workshop. "Neste site você pode entrar em contato com a literatura nos seus mais diversos níveis -através de jogos, atividades criativas, fóruns, salas de bate-papo, entrevistas, palestras e uma agenda cultural dos principais eventos literários do mês.

Você também tem acesso a textos clássicos e outros criados pelos próprios internautas. Pode conhecer pessoas interessadas em literatura e escritores(as) iniciantes. Encontra espaço para expor seus escritos e, se quiser, terá condições de submeter seu texto à apreciação crítica de escritores já consagrados.

Aqui você pode também encontrar-se quinzenalmente para bate-papo on line com personalidades ligadas ao mundo literário. E tem oportunidade de participar de uma oficina literária virtual, coordenada por João Silvério Trevisan."

They also have weekly chat sessions, every Thrusday from 10pm to midgnight at GMT-3.00 and a metaphor clothesline and a create your poem Flash game.

Jun 21, 2002

Confide in Me. I can see how this site could be devastatingly addictive. No sooner had I arrived I was already distributing my wisdom at random like candy on Halloween. Se conselho fosse bom não se dava, vendia.

Now that I've linked let me confide in my readers. Isa has just sent me the article she is translating for the Valor Econômico newspaper on the topic of blogs. I'm not sure if it's Eco or FT.

Guess who they talk about all the time. It begins with Insta. I won't link even if threatened with a horrific death being dragged by monster trucks through the hickvilles of Tennessee. And meanwhile, Limited Inc. writes about Angola starting off with a dilacerating Pasolini quote.

Blind Tangerine is quite mad today and offered to marry me (again?) because he wants to move to Brazil before the end of the Festas Juninas. He says that any antipodean who knows the meaning of sybarite deserves a chance to love him.

confide in me via technoerotica all the rest via my self-referential self
Translating the @. Via Glosses I find a page with a myriad translations of the @ sign and a blog maintained by a Professor of Linguistics of Blogaria University.
A Hybrid of Silicon Valley and Granada. That's the analogy that popped in my head to describe a convention center where I interpreted recently. It was kind of gorgeous, with a beautiful patio area with running streams and fountains and a cozy Italian restaurant 10 steps away. In such pleasant surroundings, I began toying again with the plan of hosting a translation congress in São Paulo. The venue is just perfect, valet parking and Italian wine on the premises. All I need now is to get the sponsors, the speakers and the audience. The powers that be say they're serious if I am serious.
Voltamos logo após nossos comerciais. I'm running a promo at GlossPost with our Greek correspondent, Alex Seidanis, from TranslatorBuyingGroup. Soon he will be the Costco of the translation world, the Trados 5.5 packages are selling like hot cakes. I suggested that in addition to software he begins offering Elsevier dictionaries. I'd love to save some pennies on those. We'll be back right after our commercial break.

Translator Group Buying Trados 5.5 + Multiterm iX for $495
Pra Frente Brasil. I know that soccer is not one of the subjects covered by this blog. I'm more interested in papers on translating Jabberwocky and in pages with links to Jabberwocky translations in a thousand languages (via Dave). We also pretend to be not interested in the September 11 translation blunder, but Saint Jerome knows we are quite taken by the news, only not fast enough to blog it before the Hairy Eyeball did.

But I must touch tangentially on the subject to confirm that yes, soccer is the national mania, and to desmistify any people who might doubt that the whole country lies awake at three o'clock in the morning to watch Brazil playing against England in the World Cup. We do. Or rather, most of us do.

Some lay in bed, counting the explosions of fireworks and wild screaming and feeling sleepily invigorated because Brazil scored a goal. Others go to nightclubs to watch the game on big screen TVs, dance, make out with some stunning stranger and have breakfast at 7am wearing the crumpled yellow and green shirt.

You'd have to furrow into a nuclear and biological shelter with no TV or Internet not to be touched by the contagion. Walk into a school classroom this morning. You won't see any kids wearing uniform, everybody will be clad in Ronaldinho's t-shirt. We cut ourselves a lot of slack, we're not in the appropriate frame of mind to bother about the rise in our country risk rate. Nobody will be scolded for coming into the office late this morning, after all, bloody Korea is so many time fuses away and the body must rest after expending so much adrenalin.

Brazil doesn't have much in the way of reasons for national pride. Our politicians are insufferable, our technology achievements non-existent, our contemporary literature is bland, opaque. Our music is outstanding, that must be granted. But let's not forget that crime and poverty are rampant, driving the rich to live in terror in their intercom-powered, heavy-security golden cages. We hang on to this one belief. Soccer will deliver us from all evil.

Congratulations, Brazil, for making it into the semifinals.

Jun 19, 2002

Coincidence. Last night I had dinner with my friend Camilla at a Vila Madalena gay bar. I always like to unwind (read get some booze in me) after an interpreting assignment and my sluggish way home through hellish São Paulo traffic, and yesterday was one such need-to-unwind occasion. This is frequently the case when the expression "fair and thoughtful performance evaluation" comes up on a post-merger meeting.

When Camilla went to the loo (distastefully decorated with a spider and a snake to mark pissing territory for girls and boys respectively, that's Raul Seixas lesbian innuendo for you), I noticed that there was a map hanging from the wall right above our table. Further inspection revealed it was an old map of London.

Cool, I said, let me see where exactly the county of Surrey is located, because I just read Atonement and that's where the Tallis family used to live, the Tallis family being the axis around which the story revolves. To my surprise, the pictorial representation showed that Surrey is or was located just south of London, much closer to the city that I had imagined. In fact, it was just inches away from the mapmaker's name, the mapmaker's name being John Tallis.
Phrases Useful for the Workplace. Tamara sent me these oneliners over e-mail and since I am still in my translator's outfit with no blogging inspiration, I'll post them here for your enlightenment.

Thank you. We're all refreshed and challenged by your unique point of view.

The fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.

I don't know what your problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.

Any connection between your reality and mine is purely coincidental.

I have plenty of talent and vision. I just don't give a damn.

I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.

What am I? Flypaper for freaks!?

I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.

I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth.

Ahhh...I see the fuck-up fairy has visited us again...

I will always cherish the initial misconceptions I had about you.

It's a thankless job, but I've got a lot of Karma to burn off.

Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.

No, my powers can only be used for good.

How about never? Is never good for you?

I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.

You sound reasonable...Time to up my medication.

I'll try being nicer if you'll try being smarter.

I'm out of my mind, but feel free to leave a message...

I don't work here. I'm a consultant.

Who me? I just wander from room to room.

My toys! My toys! I can't do this job without my toys!

It might look like I'm doing nothing, but at the cellular level I'm really quite busy.

At least I have a positive attitude about my destructive habits.

You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.

I see you've set aside this special time to humiliate yourself in public.

Someday, we'll look back on this, laugh nervously and change the subject.

There may be no "I" in "team", but there are two in "idiot".

The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant.

The careful application of terror is also a form of communication.

Someone who thinks logically is a nice contrast to the real world.

I have seen the truth and it makes no sense.

Jun 18, 2002

Have a Latte When You're Late. So I am so late for my analysis that I will have to skip it altogether to make it to my interpreting assignment this afternoon. I might as well have some blogging and latte.

I delivered my files yesterday only to hear the staggering news that the new version is already in the pipeline. It is to be localized tout de suite as the previous version undergoes linguistic testing. It's huge, I hear. About 70k non-match words in the Help only. I guess this pretty much destroys any vague notions of taking two weeks off in July.

My new toy is called Ryze.

A sour e-mail from the Giant Jalapeno pops in the mail. He's not coming to Brazil in July or August as promised. Reason for sorrow: The weather is humid in Florida. Reason for joy: Over here the day is gorgeous and I'm wearing my favorite interpreter's outfit. A sleek gray pinstripe dress which had fallen behind a drawer two years ago and was only salvaged last week. Reason for sorrow: Sao Paulo is one huge traffic jam decorated with tall buildings on its flanks. Reason for joy: I had a yoga class this morning.

So, how's that for a balanced scorecard ?

Jun 17, 2002

Impressive. ProZ.com is a force to be reckoned with. Just read this trailer on the bottom of their June newsletter.

Activity at ProZ.com continues to rise steadily, with the overall number of registrations eclipsing 36,000 this month. In May, a total of 1047 jobs were passed, and 580 kudoz questions were answered per day. The ProZ.com glossaries now contain 461,635 entries.

I'm skeptical about the WWW distributed translation program and other initiatives that aim at tearing down Babel. But I believe that ProZ.com through the KudoZ system is rapidly creating a translation layer on the Web. Something I don't understand is ProZ's poor Google rating for queries "translation marketplace" and "online translation". What gives?

The ProZ staff have also introduced a new feature this month: adding rates to your profile. It's neat but scary because it can be used as a filter by the onepenny-a-word translator-seeking agencies. The good thing is that you can compare your rates to the average rates being charged in your language pair and thus find out if you're a crack whore or a prima donna and act accordingly.

Instructions to Wreck your Laptop. Take a two year old child and put her in a home office where her mom is working on a desktop and a laptop simultaneously so she doesn't have to toggle between the source text and the target text all the time.

Have the child drink a glass of water because she just came back from the park and be completely distracted with the editing, barely looking at her, even though she is gargling with the water and doing other cutesy stuff to attract your attention. Have the child squirt the full contents of her mouth directly on the laptop keyboard. Be very angry at the child because computers cost money and money doesn't grow on trees and goddamn it now you have to take this damn thing to Dell which means a trip in hectic Sao Paulo traffic.

Don't turn off the computer immediately nor turn it around to let the water drain out of the circuits because you're unaware that's the standard procedure . Instead, go to lunch at your parents and enjoy a very nice lunch with Bourgogne wine and imperial prawns and ovos nevados ao limão for dessert. In one of the polite conversation blanks, think back to the time you first acquainted yourself with the word English squirt.

After lunch, drive back home to finish your work. Marvel at the workings of the brain which cause the term sump oil with the translation óleo de cárter to be propelled with Peircian iconicity into your lips as you drive by a gas station where a car is having an oil change. Wonder where you put your mechanical dictionary.

Turn the laptop on. The keyboard will be acting dingy. Meditate on the attachment to material objects and consider your looming deadline. Mentally recalculate your financial commitments to see whether you could a afford a new one if all goes to drek. Meditate on the topic of whether or not immaterial objects can exist. Get to work with a sigh, toggle between windows with resignation.

Jun 15, 2002

Quasi-Linguablog. Pohadka is a linguablog of sorts, also covering Information Architecture, odds and ends. There I find a list of foreign words for concepts that would require paraphrasing in English. The list is an excerpt from the book They Have a Word for It : A Lighthearted Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases. Today I discovered that I'm considered eccentric and erudite. Cool. And since I'm not feeling particularly hungry, I am thinking of ordering from the Featured Menu Items at the Existentialist's Café tonight.
Cryptology: Using Navajo Codetalkers to Confuse the Enemy. "It is the most romantic story in American cryptology. To keep the Japanese from getting American secrets in World War II, Navajos --among the original Americans -- spoke over the radio in their native tongue." (Read more)

Jun 14, 2002

Dictionary in your Mailbox. Supercalifragillistic service delivers word definitions to your mailbox and is described with the finest verve and irony by Leuschke.org who is also praising beautiful Glosses this week. Try it and make sure you write

define yourword

on the subject line. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back.
The Chevy Nova That Didn't Go. This most cherished example of the need for adapting brandnames to the local culture is just a urban legend, says this site.

By the way, shouldn't this blog be written in Latin? Via Morfablog.
Searching Tricks for Finding Translations on the Internet.Tanya Harvey, the indefatigable creator of WWW Search interfaces for translators has put up a page with searching tricks at Multilingual.ch. The material is based on her Internet Search Techniques Course for Translators given at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Winterthur.
The Challenges of Developing Multi-lingual Content Structures. To read later. Article from a UN information architect who developed the knowledge architecture for a multilingual agricultural thesaurus in Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, and other languages to come, conforming to ISO 5964:1985.

via my tattered jotbook

And since we're speaking of challenges, here's an article by my colleague Dr. Lucia Singer on Why is it so difficult to do accurate and fluent biomedical translations? Good reading for everyone, even subgeniuses.

Jun 13, 2002

Virotic Images. A new era of virus infections has just started and the first mutant is called Perrun. From CNN:

"The malicious program is the first ever to infect picture files, though it is not currently attacking computers. Called "Perrun," it worries researchers because it is the first to be able to cross from infecting a program to infecting data files, long considered safe from such threats." (Read more)

Blogues D'Alem Mar. I am not sure Alem Mar is over here or over there but these choice Iberic Portuguese blogs are just a click away.

A cadeira
A janela do meu quarto
A gata das pantufas
Jornalismo digital
Ponto media
Rosa Leonor

Childhood Amnesia and Language. Here's a super interesting link from Fabulousness.

"Psychologists may have found a clue to why people tend to have a very hard time remembering things from very early childhood -- a phenomenon known as "childhood amnesia." New research suggests that children can only describe memories of events using words they knew when the experience occurred.

Gabrielle Simcock and Harlene Hayne of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, visited 2- and 3-year-old children at home to play a game with a device they called the magic shrinking machine. They showed the child how to operate the machine by pulling down a lever, which activated an array of lights on the front. A researcher then placed a toy inside and turned a handle on the side, which produced a series of unique noises. When the sound stopped, the children were shown how to remove a smaller but identical toy from inside the box. The researchers also tested the children's vocabulary.

When the researchers returned a year later, the children easily remembered how to operate the device, but the children were only able to describe the machine using words they knew when they first learned how to operate it."

"In no instance did a child verbally report information about the event that was not part of his or her productive vocabulary at the time of encoding," the researchers wrote in the May 3 issue of the journal Psychological Science. "We conclude that language development plays a pivotal role in childhood amnesia."

Article abstract here.

Jubilee Movement. Jubilee Movement International (JMI) was established at a conference held in Mali in April, 2001, soon after the ending of the millennium-oriented Jubilee 2000 campaign. Delegates from more than 50 countries - overwhelmingly from the South - gathered in Bamako, the capital of Mali, at the invitation of Sada Diarra, a leading figure in Jubilee 2000 Mali. They resolved to organise themselves into a network that would campaign

"to lift nations and their peoples out of foreign debt bondage; and to struggle for global economic and social justice".

Quite a propos, considering Brazil has just requested 10 billion from the IMF loan. It's the Lula effect they say.
Gustave Flaubert: Petit Dictionnaire. With quotes from his correspondence. Here's a good one:


"Autre loi mathematique a decouvrir : combien faut-il connaitre d'imbeciles au monde pour vous donner envie de se casser la gueule ?"

A Louise Colet. 7 juillet 1853.

Jun 12, 2002

Ex-Gorbachev Interpreter Writes Book. As Mikhail Gorbachev's interpreter, Pavel Palazchenko was the Soviet leader's trusty assistant in his campaign to end the Cold War. Now he is fighting to rid the world of another wedge dividing East from West: bad translation.

In "My Unsystematic Dictionary'', published in Moscow, Palazchenko tackles the things they don't teach you in language class - such as "to go postal'' and "no-brainer.'' (Read more)

No Time for Multi-Slacking. I've got a lot on my plate work-wise and technically the precious moments devoted to this post should have been spent editing a certain browser's Help files. But I can't resist directing my readers, all 38 of you, to some beautiful language poems unearthed by Glosses.

Or mentioning that I got a very nice e-mail from Marcial Soto, who translated Di Giovanni's La Leccion del Maestro into Spanish. It's very Escher. The translator of a book written by a translator about his experiences with Borges who also wrote the essay The Translators of the Thousand and One Nights.

My mind is reeling and I also have to steal a couple of free moments to advance on Atonement, which is far more engrossing than anything McEwan has ever written.

Other than that, I would also love to spill the beans on a certain focus group assignment I've been doing this week for a cable network. But I can't because the corporate ghouls hang out at the Panopticon as well. I am bound by secrecy vows. Oh shoot. Can I just say this:

Now the real shocker for me was seeing how watchers reacted negatively to films shot in 35mm. Every time a program shot on 35mm was on they said that the image looked "old" and that the pace was too slow, and therefore the content looked "not as real" as when it was shot in video. The world is turning completely videotic.

Mark Sloboda also writes in with this query.

"Perhaps one day, if you have time, you can answer the following question on your website: Hunter S Thompson once said

'writing is like sex: only amateurs enjoy doing it.'

My question: if writers are as Hunter S Thompson suggests, what are translators?"

Jun 10, 2002

Les Coupes de Langue de la Grand Rousse. Cybercarnet d'une appassionata de la langue de Moliere. It's a linguablog.
Decoding the Language of the Bureau. A guide to common F.B.I. phrases, complete with their English-language translations.
Pet Peeve. The media for headlining every article on the topic covered by this blog with the words 'Lost in Translation'.
Transcribing Arabic into the Roman Alphabet. From the blurb: Transcribing Arabic into the Roman alphabet is fraught with difficulty. And in an age of electronic text, search engines and databases, the problem is only going to get worse, writes Brian Whitaker

"Arguments about the ideal spelling of Arabic names go back at least to the early 1920s when T E Lawrence ("Lawrence of Arabia") sent his 300,000-word manuscript of Seven Pillars of Wisdom to be typeset.

A sharp-eyed proofreader complained that it was "full of inconsistencies in the spelling of proper names, a point which reviewers often take up" and asked Lawrence to sort it out.

Among other things, the proofreader noted that "Jeddah" alternated with "Jidda" throughout the book, while a man whose name began as Sherif Abd el Mayin later became el Main, el Mayein, el Muein, el Mayin and le Muyein.

Lawrence, who relished such vagaries, told his proofreader to get lost. "Arabic names," he replied, "won't go into English exactly, for their consonants are not the same as ours, and their vowels, like ours, vary from district to district
." (Read more)
Cinderella's Glass Slipper: Deliberate Invention or Translation Mistake? "The story of Cinderella is familiar to us all; it is part of mankind's common cultural heritage and its plot delves deep into our shared subconscious. The tale has been found as far away as China and Tibet, and over 500 versions have been recorded in Europe alone. Whether the heroine is called Aschenputtel, Cinders or Cenerentola, the action essentially follows the same pattern, though some of its best-loved and most fanciful elements can be traced to a single version, that of Charles Perrault (1697).

For along with the fairy godmother, the animal servants and the pumpkin carriage, it is to Perrault that we owe the glass slippers. An improbable material for footwear, perhaps, but for many readers the glass slipper has a sparkling ring of truth, a poetic and crystalline perfection. Fairy-like and fragile, it symbolises feminine grace and conjures up a world of enchanting fantasy. Dare one add, too, the appeal of glass today over other, more practical materials: it is transparent, involves no animal cruelty and is eminently recyclable.

But, or so one theory goes, 'glass' may have been a simple translation error, vair being mistaken for verre. Among the first to argue in favour of la pantoufle de vair was Balzac. According to the novelist, the term had so fallen into disuse that numerous editions of Perrault's Contes described Cinderella's slipper as de verre." (Read more and more)

A Morning's Worth of Web Wandering. How did I end up in Rene Wanner's poster page? Let me retrace my steps.

I set off at the movie title screen database, posted at the Globo Ocular Peludo. There were a lot of Tarkovsky movie titles, but few Fellini images. From there to Google Images where I ran a number of queries on Nights of Cabiria, stumbling briefly on a Fellini interview, and some more consultations on La Dolce Vita, which revealed some sharply contrasting posters, and at least one that had me hypnotized with snake-like power.

To narrow my results, I had added the keyword poster and on page 2 of Google Results I immediately teletransported to the previously mentioned poster page and from there to a collection of Iranian posters. All in all, a very satisfying and pointless surfing experience.

Jun 9, 2002

Exotic Dancing Down in Bananaland. I guess it is just one of these synchronicity things. I'm supposed to meet C.H. an astrologer of certain fame at a community center way out there in downtown Sao Paulo for a belly dance presentation prior to the grand theatrical gala where Isa Mara Lando will play a Russian peasant, I'm referring of course to Fiddler on the Roof.

On Friday it was flamenco, three overskinny dancers, a guitar player and tocador de tamborim, doing the best they could in hommage to my mom, sculptor of certain fame. There is something a little defeating about seeing your mom's name on billboards 3 meters high on the most important avenue of Sao Paulo. She is undeniably a potestade.

There was a brief moment of unease as I was talking to one of the potestade's friends, whom I hadn't seen in a long time. She asked me how my husband was doing. Ahem. There hasn't been one in a while. It gets worse. She actually thought the little Mermie was the fruit of my matrimony with the Prussian General, whom I consider my first husband even though officially there hasn't been a second.

Anyway, at some point it became clear to me that our accomplished garden party thrower and sculptor has probably been playing on omissions and misinformation to give her friends the impression that I am still married to the Prussian General and therefore remain a respectable woman. Wouldn't you know.

Coincidence or not, the next day I decided my hair was to be cut very short and sexy. And so it is.

Jun 8, 2002

L'Oeuf et la Poule. Incidentally, Geradon proposes three answers to this age-old dilemma. Mix and match according to your philosophical inclinations.
Interview with Norman Di Giovanni, Translator of Borges. A unique case of collaboration between writer and translator, the story of Borges and Di Giovanni has been memorialized in the latter's book La Leccion del Maestro, which is going straight into my list of books to read. In the meantime, here's a fascinating Clarin interview with Di Giovanni.

Jun 7, 2002

Russian Lawmakers Try to Stomp out Foreign Slang. "Aroza by any other name ... may soon be banned in Russia. Concerned that an invasion of foreign slang, including an estimated 10,000 English words, is corrupting the Russian language, the State Duma is considering a legislative crackdown.
A bill drafted by the majority United Russia Party aims to corral the roaming Russian language and purge it of sloppy, obscene, and alien elements that have been picked up during the loose years since the Soviet Union's collapse. It would set terms for punishing offenders who work in the media, in schools, and in government offices. Fines and administrative penalties are proposed for the most part, but serious offenders could have their broadcast or publishing licenses revoked." (Read more)

via plastic

Repeat After Me: The Bomb is on the Table. The FBI is completely clueless. This editorial in the NY Times was written by a linguist who sat the exam to become an Arabic translator with the Bureau. This is appalling:

The Arabic-language test -- copyrighted in 1994 by the Defense Language Institute, according to the back of my exam booklet -- was solely in Modern Standard Arabic, the Arabic most frequently studied at American universities. This is the form used for official speeches and in the news media in Arab countries -- but almost never in conversation. It differs substantially from the spoken varieties of Arabic in vocabulary, syntax and idioms -- enough so that a non-native speaker who learned only Modern Standard Arabic would not be able to understand Arabic speakers talking to one another.

Is that how America is supposed to win the war on terror? By expecting terrorists to talk like a textbook ?
An Intellectual Odyssey. One day they are watching Teletubbies and the next thing you know the magic of interrrogative pronouns starts. 'Why do you have nails?', the little mermie asked me yesterday as I was clipping her toenails. Is 2 and 8 months a good age for the onset of empiricist quandaries? How long before she starts wondering about the sublime and the beautiful or asks me the meaning of locum tenens or reveals a penchant for astronomy or mathematics?

The little Mermie was a late talker. And I confess that her silence acted as perpetual fuel for motherly anxiety. I took her to a neuropediatrician and stopped short at beginning speech therapy sessions when she finally said mamae at age 2. Now she is communicating her curiosity and has me drooling with pride at her inquiry about the physiological function of nails.

Jun 6, 2002

O Maximo. Readers of Portuguese rejoice. The only decent Brazilian commentary site is back as No Minimo. By the way, why can't I use diacritics anymore? Damn Blogger. And have I already posted World Wide Words? Ginko Biloba to the rescue. Translators are the draft horses of culture. Eia! And Pat the clairvoyant linguist is now predicting my postings.

Jun 5, 2002

Index Translationum. "The INDEX TRANSLATIONUM data base contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about a hundred of UNESCO's Member States since 1979 and totalizing some 1,300,000 notices in all disciplines: literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history and so forth." And it works very well.

via gmtplus9, teeming with Russian constructivism posters to die for and many other splendid trouvailles
DefFind. Our man in Siberia announces that hitting the DefFind button at Transhub will detonate an explosion of pop-up windows with translations in up to 13 languages. Don't even try it if you're running low on memory. Thanks Michael!
Software Manuals. Wired is running an interesting story under the very crude title of Read the F*** Story and then RTFM on localizing software manuals. The article has juicy anedoctes on using naked girl pictures to illustrate scanning techniques (in Italy and France but not anywhere else in the world, except Brazil) or minding your language so that Italians don't feel they are being bossed around or attempt to do precisely what the manual warns you not to do at the risk of damaging your machine. But there is a misconception in the lead because indeed three are the people who read the software manual from beginning to end: the writer, the translator and the editor.

I've read and translated a huge number of software manuals and at some point I began growing fond of them. They are so unassuming and clunky looking, so formal and repetitious. And above all, nobody reads them. There is a chance you're going to look up a topic in the Help when you're completely stumped, but who has the time or the patience to follow the tutorial lovingly prescribed in page 237 of the documentation? I feel for them the same kind of compassion I used to feel for my aunt Helena, who was always wearing the same moth-smelling tweed jacket and repeating the same tales of her youth in Barcelona, only everybody else was too busy to pay any attention to her, especially after she went moderately gaga. There has got to be a poetics of software manuals yet to be written, and at least a dozen masterpieces awaiting recognition.
The Linguistic Equivalent of the Egg and Chicken Controversy. Heated debate over at Sua Lingua. Did the Portuguese bring the word Arigato into Japan by way of Obrigado or was it the other way around, and more importantly, who cares ? Only the breed of people who have to watch out for brukarawakas and wakarawakas will feign a little interest.

Puzzled about the two words? Read on...

Two interpreters are in the booth, at a hotel in Miami, for a Human Resources conference. The speaker, Mr. Tomodashi from Tokyo is at the podium. He has sent a message before his arrival advising the organisers that he will address the conference in English and that no Japanese interpreters will be necessary; that his English version need only be translated into Spanish for the Latin-Americans in the audience.

His subject: Relationships between workers from different castes in Japan.

He smiles, clears his throat, takes a sip of water and speaks:

"Sank you werymoch. Ai mos provai you wi' a detaiurld (detailed) espranation of urelashoship betooeen brukarawaka and wacarawaka in Japan."

In the booth, the interpreter who has the microphone considers this first phrase and begins to interpret:

"Muchisimas gracias. Debo proveerles una explicacion detallada sobre la
relacion entre los." (aqui hace silencio y se pregunta: Que carajo es un brukarawaka y, ya que me lo estoy preguntando, que mierda es un wacarawaka!!!???) No hay tiempo para decifrar lo que pudiera ser. Su colega en la cabina ofrece sólo aquella mirada de labio inferior caido, hombros encogidos y palmas hacia el cielo, que dice "A mi que me registren!!!"

The speaker continues and is by now describing the daily, practical difficulties that HR managers in his country face when it comes to
brukarawakas and wacarawakas.

The interpreter has to make a decision, time is of the essence and his/her
short term memory is being tasked to its limit as he/she stores the information the speaker has uttered since the appearance of the
brukarawaka/wacarawaka brick wall. In fact, the speaker has not stopped speaking and is hurrying on with his dissertation.

Numbers, names of cities and governmental agencies roll off his tongue like bowling balls thrown by professionals at the world bowling championship trials. He has Power Point slides by the dozen, but none that would help the
interpreters decipher his meaning of these two fateful words. He barrels along, not at a clip, not at a considerable speed, but with abandon. A suicidal helter skelter, headlong rush towards self-immolation by verb conjugation. For all else, his presentation is complete, informative and well researched. He is very good and very fast.

"You mus unastan, brukarawaka urive this pa' Tokyo (points to the right). Wacarawaka urive this pa Tokyo. (points to the left). Brukarawaka haf much purobrem wi' Porice an wacarawaka, wer. no so much purobrem wi' Porice bot
much domesic wiorence."

At this point, the interpreter has decided, by default, that the brukarawakas and the wacarawakas are two ethnic groups in Japan who, to this date, were unknown to this interpreter. There can be no other explanation. Light! Illumination! Of course. O.K. Let's get to work, thinks the interpreter: The interpreter releases the cough cut button and issues this

Deben comprender que los brukarawaka viven en esta parte de Tokyo y los wacarawaka viven en aquella parte de Tokyo. Los brukarawaka tienen muchos problemas con las autoridades de policia y los wacarawaka, no tanto
problemas con la policia, sino mas bien problemas de violencia domestica."

The interpreter continues using this rendition for brukarawakas and wakarawakas throughout the speaker's address almost to its conclusion, but then, from another conference room at the same venue, a colleague stops by to say a quick hello to his friends. He stands behind the booth and listens to the rendition above. Brukarawaka, wacarawaka, Kobe, Hokkaido. He suddenly realises that his colleagues have mis-heard the speaker, that they been confused by a strong accent, and he quickly whispers a correction:

"No, no!!!" he whispers urgently, "Not brukarawakas and wacarawakas. It's Blue Collar Workers and White Collar Workers!!!".

There is nothing to be done for the gaffe. It's too late! The damage is done by now. All that is left is for the interpreter to let the audience know that a mistake has been made and that they should be advised that brukarawaka and wacarawaka should be understood to mean Blue Collar workers and White Collar workers. But, alas, the interpreter chooses the least appropriate moment to apologise to the audience for the error. The correction is made as the honourable speaker is leaving the stage and walking towards the steps. The listeners hear the interpreter say:

"Con el permiso de los asistentes, solicitamos nos disculpen por un error cometido y en lugar de brukarawakas y wacarawakas, sepan que el caballero se referia a trabajadores manuales u obreros, conocidos como trabajadores de cuello azul y a trabajadores de cuello blanco. Ofrecemos nuestras mas sinceras disculpas, gracias."

The audience, having sat through the presentation with the gravest of expressions on their collective faces, as if understanding what they were hearing through their recievers, for the last 30 minutes "the brukarawakas this and the wacarawakas that" a la "Emperor's New Clothes", realise the fools they have been and, all at the exact same time, burst into a loud, conference room-wide guaffaw. They're rolling in the aisles, laughing primarily at themselves. They slap their thighs, they wipe tears from their eyes and look at each other and laugh even louder than before.

The speaker cannot understand. 150 HR managers after having quietly sat through his dissertation, some even taking notes, all suddenly find his presentation so hilarious. He is irate and confused at the same time. His breeding does not allow expressions of outrage. Still wearing the lapel microphone, he asks the next speaker approaching the stage for an explanation. "Why dey uraf? Wha' so fonny??". No answer but the drooping lower lip, the shrugged shoulders and the palms to the sky. There is nothing to be done.

As the Beatles were fond of saying: 'A Day in the Life".

Or as the Mermaid says: People call me Weird, but I take it as a compliment.

Limited Inc. Roger Gathman has put in some kind words for the Enigmatic Mermaid, complete with a narcissistic disclaimer and a Nietzsche quote. I feel very flattered and even a bit jealous of his Turkish lady friend. I also would like to take this opportunity to announce that there was no foulplay by the arbiter in the Brazil x Turkey match. It was a clean win.

Admittedly, I know very little about Turkey, except for one linguistic quirk that always boggles my mind. In Portuguese the animal turkey which Americans like to eat at the pious Thanksgiving dinners is called Peru, which in turn, is a country in South America obviously not bathed by the Bosforus. So there you go. One animal, a change of language two different countries, cultures, hemispheres. Too much for my mind to fathom.
Dictionary of Symbols. It could come in handy for the makers of the ever more interesting Hairy Eyeball. Holy Moly, they even have a sign for the Minotaure. And one for mafiosi!
Google Searchers. What a strange brew. To the many lost souls who come to this blog looking for "sex+mermaid", allow me to draw your attention to one particularity of the mermaid genus. They have a tail instead of legs and hermetically sealed scales instead of a crotch, in case you haven't noticed.

Endless tomes have been written about this creature of fable and hysterics and most authors concur: the reason why mermaids are hell bent on charming men so that their boats crash against the rocks and sink is that they can't have sex and are therefore creatures of frustation. Ariel craves for a pair of legs to walk with the humans onshore, and the accompannying acessory so that she can do the deed of joy. All in all, I find it quite unfair, because the centaurs were well known for their sexual prowess, veritable nymph-chasers, but the fate of the mermaids is Victorian before its time.

And why am I discussing this? I don't know. Call it my little jab at the Movement for Reinstatement of the Bad Reputation of Mermaids in the Post-Ariel Era.
Que Bueno, Bush. The NYT may give him high marks for trying to speak Spanish, but if Paulo Francis were alive he would surely say that George Bush is neither a poliglota nor a monoglota. He is an aglota and an idiota in any language.
Monsoon Wedding. Tolstoy said that all happy families are alike, but all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way, I guess this applies to happy occasions as well, regardless of culture.

I watched Mira Nair's movie last night, with a pinch of the vicariousness that afflicts former brides who endured the same festivities and reveled in exhilariation as daddy's money burned in the pire of social convention. A wedding is a costly tearjerker of a business, but the merriment provided is rarely surpassed.

Mira Nair who has some good movies to her name directed this film that portrays the four days leading to the wedding of a young Delhi beauty who is marrying the traditional way, that is, a man chosen by her parents.

This is a movie made to neutralize the cynic within with hefty doses of beautiful actors, declarations of family love, bright colors and rhythmic music even though suspension of disbelief was pretty hard to attain in the unmasking of the pedophile uncle. You just get this feeling that it is not the way things go in real life and that it would take a Dogma director to give that scene the dilacerating overtones required.

Anyway, Monsoon Wedding beats the hell out of my own wedding video and the glimpses of chaotic New Delhi were cinematic proof that the movie was partially shot in the vicinity of Rua 25 de Marco, in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Ok I confess. My cynicism is only skin deep. I loved the movie. Go see it. In the meantime, I will be heading over to Prentiss Riddle to see what he thought of the movie.

Jun 3, 2002

Letters of Transit. Andre Aciman's essay Shadow Cities is one of the most wonderful things I've read on exile, memory and the pleasure of remembering. It begins with these lines borrowed from Out of Egypt, A Memoir.

Why spurn my home when exile is your home?
The Ithaca you want you'll have in not having.
You'll walk her shores yet long to tread those very grounds,
kiss Penelope yet wish you held your wife instead,
touch her flesh yet yearn for mine.
Your home is in the rubblehouse of time now,
and you're made thus, to yearn for what you lose.

Ludwig King of Bavaria Calls the Enigmatic Mermaid. My trendiest, hippest, how-does-he-do-it friend called me last Saturday out of the blue skies of Bavaria. Ok, not exactly Bavaria, but Palmital en route to New York for the weekend. A. said he now has a dog and challenged me to guess his name, which I got right off the bat. Elementaire mon cher Ludwig! He didn't mention anything about his matchmaking plans for the Mermaid L'Enfer C'est Les Autres, but did repeat that I am welcome any time at any of his stately apartments in Paris, London or Berlin. Blind Tangerine says: pick all three!

On the phone, A. complained I am very fickle and innacessible, that he is going to give up his attempts to keep our friendship alive because I am such a prima donna and that last time he had to convince another translator into giving him my phone number. The truth is that since all of the S.Paulo phone numbers changed in the last three years, we had lost contact, and every time I came home to news that A. had called and not left his phone number my desire was to jump in the Tiber, ok, not exactly the Tiber but the Tietê River.

Other random news: the giant jalapeno is coming to Brazil (socorro!) in the end of June. B. probably arrived from Geneva this morning to sort his love situation and Isa Mara the Great is performing this weekend at a 20 year celebration of the staging of Fiddler on the Roof, which she translated. The gay parade in S.Paulo attracted 400 thousand people among gays, lesbians and sympathizers, as we call them in Brazil. My Amazon order has finally arrived, with Coetzee's Disgrace, which had me turning pages compulsively to the bitter end and several other goodies such as Letters of Transit (more on that later).

I may have an interpreting assignment on Friday and I am hoping it's not going to be confirmed because the Little Mermie is having her second Festas Juninas party and I wouldn't want to miss it for the world, but I will have to if they pay me to be elsewhere. Money is a cruel mistress. No more HBO. Time to rock and roll.