Jul 31, 2002

Translating the Kalevala. "I have done translations before, Shakespeare, Molière, and seem to be able to manage different metres. I have even translated opera texts, and usually say that opera translation is the worst there is. It makes the translator sweat blood. But now I have learned something else: namely that the Kalevala is worse." (Read more)
Oh del mio dolce ardor. The Aria Database is a diverse collection of information on over 1000 operatic arias. Designed for singers and non-singers alike, the Database includes translations and aria texts of most arias as well as a collection of MIDI files of operatic arias and ensembles. More opera arias and libretti here. Added bonus: the interactive database of Jewish song in Yiddish, Hebrew and Judeo-Spanish.

Jul 30, 2002

Word Origins. For etymology lovers, geeks and non-geeks alike.
Translating for the EC. Ever wondered what it is like?

Meanwhile in the corporate world, DaimlerChrysler partners with Systran for some gobbledeegook machine translation. Ok, granted. For their purposes it makes sense. On a related note: where do translators fit into machine translation?

Jul 29, 2002

Please Welcome. More linguablogs. Other Languages and Billy Clark's blog are two fascinating reads that are going straight into my left bar. My posting has slowed down to a crawl lately, but please bear with me. I was interpreting last week and now I am translating furiously as a deadline looms in the horizon. Not to mention that I have been quite busy going out with friends, eating vareniks and falling in love in the past two weeks. Valhei-me Iemanjá, he calls me Marika.

Jul 25, 2002

Encore. The Little Mermie has just requested an encore of The Seven Deadly Sins (Die sieben Todsünden, I must brush up my German) playing on my CD player this morning. And I am taking Fermin Muguruza's Dub Manifest to the office. The Basque CD has just made the long trip from Wales to Brazil together with a lovely card and lovely scribblings by fellow linguablogger Nic Dafis. Thanks Nic. I love it!

Jul 24, 2002

Technological Breakthrough: Mammographs by Satellite

Available Only for the Portuguese Women in Messines.

If this is true it's the best prank ever played on Portuguese women.

The translation into English of this astounding piece of news is provided courtesy of The Globo Ocular Peludo Translation Services and Snarkiness Unlimited. Pat has also translated the whole article and has more links for those interested in tracking down this meme.

Jul 16, 2002

Court Interpreting Code of Ethics. For an overview of the challenges involved in court interpreting, take a look at this Code of Ethics.

Three Degrees of Separation. Word association can link just about any two common words in the English language using an average of three steps, says a team of scientists in Arizona. The semantic links between English words make the thesaurus a 'small world', much as the network of human social interactions connect us all by six degrees of separation, find Adilson Motter and colleagues at Arizona State University in Tempe. The researchers expect languages other than English to have the same properties, even if their syntactic structure is very different. (Read more)

Jul 13, 2002

Linguists Back Tongyong as Symbol of Independence. "Criticism by opposition politicians of the Ministry of Education's decision to adopt Tongyong Pinyin as its official Romanization system is misplaced, linguists claim, saying that the experiences of other countries show that convenience and relevance to the rest of the world should not be the only criteria in deciding such a contentious issue. Other countries have frequently gone their own way in deciding on how their languages are used, supporters of Tongyong Pinyin say." (Read more)

Jul 12, 2002

Jul 11, 2002

My Mother's New Nose Fell Off During the Night, And the Culprit was Durian. Maybe you came looking for language and translation links, but I cordially invite you to read about nature at its foulest.

Well, if you insist, take a look at these:

The many languages of the Internet- with an overview on some online translation resources.
Cool down the rhetoric about English - The English as a Lingua Franca conundrum and a balanced opinion on the status of English in Japan
F U Cn Rd Ths, So Can Translator - text messaging language is on the rise.

Three Months Ago, My Mother's New Nose Fell Off During the Night. Not really. I've found that a great repository of regional accents is available the British Library. And there is a talk on regional US accents on NPR. Stan also offers you some sound samples with accents from the Northwest of England. And my trivia-hungry brain cells were satisfied to know that birds also have regional accents. Now, what I am really looking for is a sound sample with a speaker from Wisconsin, thank you very much.

Jul 10, 2002

My Featured Pro Collection


Proz.com Founder

Jul 9, 2002

Would you like a jusu with your hambaga? It has been going on for centuries, but now the government says it has gone too far. The Japanese language is being invaded by too many foreign words.

By the way, how do you say 'mouse' in Kannada?

Or translate 22 math and science textbooks in only 5 months?

I know the answer for that one. Very fast.

And should anyone be surprised to find that English is harder to learn than several Latin origin languages?

But the crowning jewel is this one: Harry Potter Shanghaied.

Of Paramount Importance on my Mind Today. Can you tell whether a person is ugly or not by just listening to his/her voice? Or in other words. If Rade Serbedzija had monstruosly nasal vocalization instead of his deep voice and sexy Balkans accent would I still find him hot?

Other than that: is malice a false cognate or is Danilo the bearer of a translatorial revelation?

Jul 8, 2002

More Like This. Proof of incestous linking practices. More Like This and Language Museum, via Fabulousness, via Pat.

The History of the World According to Student Bloopers. Posted in the Proz forums.

The Enigmatic Mermaid never willfully infringes copyright. But she doesn't keep up much with patenting activities. This post has been defenestrated. If you want bloopers, consider this book.
Live from Merlandia. Just got an invitation from A. V. to become a correspondent at Transref. Time to repurpose my blog entries!
Scottish Poetry Library. "Do you recognise any of these quotations? If you can help us identify the poet or the poem, write everything you know in the box below. We will be eternally grateful."

"A swan and cygnets nothing more
Background of silver, reedy shore,
Dim shapes of rounded trees,
The high effulgence of a summer sky."

Jul 6, 2002

The Guardian's List of Choice Blogs. For the past month, readers have been sending us the URLs of their weblogs. We'll soon be publishing a more comprehensive guide - but until then, here is a list of some of the blogs we liked, with brief notes. If you have a blog, please mail us at weblog@guardianunlimited.co.uk.

I've checked and give my mermological sign of approval to:

english usage news
americans for a third way

BTW, congratulations Prentiss and James, you're in the list!
Things to do and Foods to Eat in São Paulo. Here's a very complete list of things to do and places to go to in São Paulo. It's an off-the-beaten track and very interesting compilation of all the best São Paulo has to offer. For some visual stimulation, don't miss the graffitti shots of Vila Madalena and other hoods posted by the Girl in Boots.

Jul 5, 2002

The Mermaid Jr. as a caipirinha.
Tongue-Tied Companies.Here is an article by David Bowen published yesterday at the Financial Times. Subscription required but copy and paste courtesy of the Antipodean Mermological Data Mining Survey. By the way, the Mermaid doesn't endorse this statement: Yes, machine translation produces clunky and sometimes farcical results - but if you want to communicate with a prospective Portuguese customer, it may be better to offer bad Portuguese than good English.

Almost half of the UK's top 100 companies do not have any foreign content on their websites, according to a study by SDL*, a language specialist. Should we be appalled? Not really.

For one thing, translating a big website is expensive. If a company decides the cost outweighs the benefit, that is a reasonable commercial judgment. For another, the commercial web is still in its infancy; and there is evidence that companies are trying, even if they have not got far yet.

What is worrying is that few organisations have a consistent language policy on what is, after all, the worldwide web. Too often, the result is a mess.

Let's start with the exceptions. Some of the big technology providers have created massive multilingual sites based on a common template. Try International Business Machines (www.ibm.com), Xerox (www.xerox.com) or Microsoft (www.microsoft.com). Vodafone (www.vodafone.com) has an effective approach, too. An eclectic bunch of local sites - in Albanian and Romanian, among others - are grouped in a Vodafone.com frame.

Electrolux (www.electrolux.com) shows that organisation, rather than translation itself, is the key. Most, though not all, national subsidiaries use the same template but have modules of translated content dropped in as relevant. This is localisation, not just translation, at relatively low cost.

I would expect the big travel operators to be fluent in other languages. Some are. Most airlines have a range of non-English sites, though among the giants Delta (www.delta.com) and American Airlines (www.aa.com) reinforce prejudices about American monolingualism.

And why are the big hotel groups so hopeless? The only non-English site I could find was a Japanese one from Marriott (www.marriott.com). "Business users are three times as likely to buy when addressed in their own language," SDL tells me.

Upmarket global brands should surely speak to their wealthy clients in their own languages, yet hardly any do. Even the best efforts, such as Jaguar's (www.jaguar.com), have gone only some of the way. While Japan and big European countries have fully translated sites, Latin Americans have to cope with English, while Scandinavians are offered an Anglo-local hybrid.

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars (www.rollsroycemotorcars.co.uk) has a remarkable multi-language search engine for second-hand Rollers (search in Italian for a car in Belgium), but lacks non-English material on new cars. Burberry (www.burberry.com) is in English only, Le Creuset (www.lecreuset.com) adds English material to its French site but all other material is in English, while Bang & Olufsen (www.bang-olufsen.com) is entirely in English. It is intriguing that non-Anglophone companies often feel that producing a site in English only (B&O is Danish) is sufficient internationalism.

The lack of language policy is even more clear on corporate sites. While many offer plenty of non-English material, it is inconsistent and - just as confusing - inconsistently presented. So GlaxoSmithKline (www.gsk.com) takes us to sites in many different countries from the home page - but clicking on El Salvador, we find nothing in Spanish.

Like GSK, BP (www.bp.com) and HSBC (www.hsbc.com) use intermediate pages to introduce sites for specific countries. Not only are these pages in English but the use of language is also inconsistent. HSBC, "the world's local bank", has an English-only site in that most Francophone African country, Ivory Coast. Unilever (www.unilever.com) has no links to non-English material but if you replace .com with .de you find yourself in a German site. The same trick works with other European suffixes though not, strangely, with .fr.

Final proof that large corporations have yet to get to grips with the language issue comes from the normally impeccably thorough General Electric. The point about this site is that you can find any product or service you want from the home page (www.ge.com) - unless, that is, you want to know about it in a foreign language. Click on "healthcare", and you are sent to an all-English home page. But type in www.gemedical.com and you find an immaculate multilingual offering.

One company that has got it right is Electrolux. It started work on localisation several years ago and developed its own process to allow copy to be translated locally using a split screen. In other words, it has a mass production system whereas the other giants are still largely in the costly age of hand-building.

Where does the expense of translation leave small organisations? Well, they should at least consider machine translation. Yes, it produces clunky and sometimes farcical results - but if you want to communicate with a prospective Portuguese customer, it may be better to offer bad Portuguese than good English.

That is what Queen Ethelburga's school in York (www.queenethelburgas.edu) does. It provides eight languages, including Korean and Japanese, to lure prospective parents.

"This is a computer translation of the original web page," it says. "It should not be regarded as complete or accurate."
Fair enough - though it perhaps would help if the warning itself were translated.

* For more info: SDL International Multilingual Content Survey of FTSE 100 Companies.

Ok, now I would like an Economist article on the gastronomic performance of different polpetone eaters at the cantina Jardim di Napoli.
Maybe I will provide an account myself, that is tomorrow, after my Português para Tradutores course. Look at it like this: you can never know too much Portuguese or have too much sex. Or too many dictionaries and glossaries.

Jul 4, 2002

La Lección del Maestro, Part 2. I just wanted to thank with all my heart Marcial Souto, translator of La Lección del Maestro and writer, for sending me over snail mail a copy of the book. This account of the relationship between Jorge Luis Borges and his friend and translator Norman di Giovanni has just hit the bookstores in Argentina and hasn't been translated into Portuguese yet.The book is just beautiful and Marcial Souto's translation is hailed as "magnífica" on the jacket. Who needs a wishlist when one has such wonderful people among one's readers?
Baby Names as Language Parsers. "New evidence shows that babies may use familiar words such as their names to break sentences into smaller parts and understand language." (Read more)

Sigmund Freud Complete Works in New Translation. Next month, the first major translations of Freud's work for over 30 years will be published by Penguin. Under the general editorship of Adam Phillips, the 15 volumes will include Freud on the unconscious, on jokes, and on dreams and hysteria. This large endeavour of scholarship prompts serious questions about the nature of Freud's contribution and his legacy. (Read more)

via glossblog

The Wondrous and Astounding Linguablogs Webring. It's in the making. "And Hermes and Thoth, the gods of language, will run screaming from their browsers, as they realize their stranglehold on all things linguistic has been upended by a ragtag fleet of language nerds." Thanks Pat!

You are a Translator if...

a. You are miserable unless you can get up at 11 a.m. and go to bed at 3:00 a.m.
b. Your working wardrobe consists of jeans (shorts) and sweatshirts (t-shirts), which you store conveniently on the floor of your closet.
c. You are prone to carpal tunnel syndrome and backache.
d. You are alone with a computer all day; when you are with other people you tend to jabber.
e. Your bathrobe is what you are apt to be wearing at 2 in the afternoon.
f. You are sick of looking at four walls all day and are dying to go out to dinner.
g. You know many words in your second language that you do not know how to pronounce.
h. You have met most of the professional colleagues you know through e-mail or Internet chat rooms (or at conferences.)
i. At home you are always working or thinking about work, so the best way to spend quality time with your family is to travel together.
j. You struggle not to gain weight from spending all day sitting on your duff and the constant availability of your refrigerator and your work leaves you little time for exercise.
k. You stay up half the night stewing about how you'll translate a term the next day.
l. Your favorite dictionaries are battered from the rough treatment they get on your desk when you are in a "term - search frenzy."
m. It drives you nuts to be asked if you ever did
'simultaneous translation' for a celebrity.
n. You are chronically tired and short of money, and you suspect that the world underrates how hard you work and how much you contribute.

You are an Interpreter if...I got this checklist from Terry Crispin. And while I don't get annoyed if somebody calls me a simultaneous translator nor travel as much as I would like to on the job, all the rest is pretty accurate.

a. You can rise at 6:30 a.m. many days in a row.
b. Your working wardrobe consists of suits, which you keep wrapped in plastic to avoid wrinkles and expedite packing.
c. You are prone to sore throats and foot problems.
d. You talk all day; in your leisure time, you frequently just want to be quiet.
e. Your bathrobe has been to hotels all over the globe and in half the cities in Brazil. You are sick of hotel and restaurant meals and are dying for home-cooked food.
g. You know many words in your second language that you have never seen written down.
h. You have met most of the professional colleagues you know on interpreting assignments (or at conferences.)
i. You are always traveling and long to be at home more so you can spend quality time with your family.
j. You struggle not to gain weight from constant exposure to banquet and catered meals and your work leaves you little time for exercise.
k. You stay up half the night stewing about the way you interpreted a term.
l. Your favorite dictionaries are battered from rough treatment by baggage handlers.
m. It drives you nuts to have the work you do referred to as 'translation'.
n. You are chronically tired and short of money and you suspect that the world underrates how hard you work and how much you contribute.

Jul 3, 2002

Oh Canada. I'm working for Canadians in the booth this week. I have a hard time discerning the Canadian accent from some varieties of American speech. But one thing I noticed. They say about funny. Again, I've received enormous praise for my accent, especially because, according to my speaker, I sound Canadian!! He asked me if I used to live in Toronto. Anyway. The Canadians are fun and they bring us tokens of peace, such as keychains and maple sugar, and on Monday they sang the Canadian anthem because it was Canada day.

On Monday I was kicking myself too. Somebody said "Vou dar o meu pitaco" and it didn't occur to me fast enough that the bestest, most idiomatic translation for this expression was "Here's my two cents". Necessity is the mother of paraphrasing.