Oct 7, 2002
Oct 4, 2002
Um suíço, à procura de orientação para a direção a tomar, pára o carro junto ao acostamento onde dois portugueses estão à espera.
- Entschuldigung, sprechen Sie Deutsch?, perguntou.
Os dois portugueses ficaram a olhar pra ele...
- Excusez-moi, parlez vous Français?, tentou ele.
Os dois continuaram a olhar pra ele impávidos e serenos.
- Parlare Italiano? Continuaram calados.
- Hablan ustedes Español? Nenhuma resposta.
- Do you speak English? Ainda nada.
Angustiado, o suíço desiste e vai-se embora!
O primeiro português vira-se para o segundo e diz:
- Sabes, talvez devêssemos aprender uma língua estrangeira.
- Para quê?, pergunta o outro. Aquele sabia cinco línguas e não lhe serviu de nada...
Oct 3, 2002
Oct 2, 2002
CNN tries to muscle out Arabic translation engines
Get in step: ‘Ketchup Song’ is catching on
Unlocking lost languages
The advantages of using local languages
The problem with gender- when a possessive pronoun means his or her dog
Seeking Deeper Meaning in the Babbling of Babies
What's in a word? Everything spoken and written
Oct 1, 2002
via language hat via billy clark
Related links: a glossary of translation terms
ten reasons why English is so difficult to translate (just ten?)
Unrelated but relevant:
understanding and planning for translation services
Sep 30, 2002
"Are translators born meek, do they become meek or do they have meekness thrust upon them?"
What a great relief for the traveler to have escaped Tony Last's fate. And if the odalisques didn't wail, they wouldn't be odalisques, would they?
To cure my hangover, the next morning we went to a park nearby, for some walking and reading. At the park, I was greeted by a passing woman with a very baptist "Jesus Loves You", amen, and how can she be so sure? The park was just beautiful, with trees and plants, and chirping birds all the nature fixtures including warm weather and a tiny lake for some skinny dipping Déjeuner Sur L'Herbe style. Of course, as any savvy Brazilian, I had brought my bikini along. There are just too many courses of water in this admirable country. Waterfalls, streams, and tiny lakes in parks like the one we visited, where swimming was verbotten, but who takes any heed of the signs. We didn't. The ripples made by the Hairy Hungarian and the Enigmatic Mermaid can't possibly damage the biomass that much. Oh, it was the most delightful swim, our bodies immersed in the ice cold water which turned warmer closer to the surface and made us feel like giant floating thermometers, with the tip just about to sizzle under the hot sun.
Of course, just as it was getting poetic, with memories of Hungary flooding mein Liebling's imagination and a stream of thermometric metaphors running through my brain, five pamonhazillas arrived with a bottle of wine and a joint and proceeded to take wild Acapulco jumps from the trees into the shallow lake, barely 30 inches away from us. Darned reverie-spoilers.
Sep 27, 2002
Sep 26, 2002
Ever wondered what is the country that produces Powerpoint presentations on Gross National Happiness ?
Dottore eccelso, luminare della Santa Chiesa, beato Girolamo, sto per intraprendere un compito irto di difficoltà, e fin d'ora vi supplico di aiutarmi com le vostre preghiere, affinché io possa tradurre in quest'opera com lo stesso spirito nel quale è stata composta.
Or as translated by Ivone Benedetti:
"Doutor Excelso, luminar da Santa Igreja, bem-aventurado Jerônimo, estou por começar uma tarefa cheia de dificuldades, e desde já vos suplico que me ajudeis com vossas orações, a fim de que eu possa traduzir para o português a referida obra, imbuído do mesmo espírito com que ela foi escrita."
I had an interpreting assignment in downtown São Paulo. I love the Centro, and this time I had some minutes to spare so I visited the Mosteiro de São Bento, founded in 1598. It was lovely and it was crowded at 8.30 am, even though they weren't saying mass or singing Gregorian chants.
After about six hours of interpreting non-stop, I walked straight into the heart of the persian bazaar: to Rua 25 de Março, a chaos of street peddlers, thousands of fashion stores, thousands of people jumping the puddles of rain illuminated by the shimmering lights of fake jewellery. The beauty of quinquillarie is that at 25 de Março you can get an American-flag ornamented belt for R$3.70 instead of the R$124 charged by Acessórios Modernos.
I arrived just before the stores closed, but in time to sneak into Palácio dos Enfeites for some browsing of PowerPuff Girls kiddie party paraphernalia. I explain, the Mermaid Jr. is turning three next week and I fully intend to transform my house into an extension of Cartoon Network to celebrate the occasion. I'll have the Hairy Eyeball play the Macaco Louco.
Sep 24, 2002
Sep 23, 2002
Oh god, Alexander Von Humboldt is the Hairy Eyeball's doppelganger! And he is bearing gifts to his faithful guide Sacaweejja: a little offering of French perfume, which he snatched at the Duty Free Shop. In return, Sacaweeja will escort him to dinner at the Jardins tonight. Should she take him to Carlota or Veridiana after her interpreting assignment ends? All depends on who's paying. Sacaweeja is very very broke.
Update: in the end we landed on the amiable and cheap red-checkered tables of Jardin de Napoli for a pizza feast. The Hairy Eyeball was last sighted boarding A's car and purportedly heading towards a den of vice and iniquity only two blocks away. He was quite mad at Sacawejja for not driving him back to his 1156 dwellings on Cerqueira César. But Sacawejja trusts he was left in good hands and that his scalp remains intact, if not his neurons, which were at severe risk of imminent depletion last night.
English is a strange language.
There is no egg in the eggplant
No ham in the hamburger
And neither pine nor apple in the pineapple.
English muffins were not invented in England
French fries were not invented in France.
We sometimes take English for granted
But if we examine its paradoxes we find that
Quicksand takes you down slowly
Boxing rings are square
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
If writers write, how come fingers don't fing.
If the plural of tooth is teeth
Shouldn't the plural of phone booth be phone beeth
If the teacher taught,
Why didn't the preacher praught.
If a vegetarian eats vegetables
What the heck does a humanitarian eat!?
Why do people recite at a play
Yet play at a recital?
Park on driveways and
Drive on parkways
How can the weather be as hot as hell on one day
And as cold as hell on another
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy
Of a language where a house can burn up as
It burns down
And in which you fill in a form
By filling it out
And a bell is only heard once it goes!
English was invented by people, not computers
And it reflects the creativity of the human race
(Which of course isn't a race at all)
That is why
When the stars are out they are visible
But when the lights are out they are invisible
And why it is that when I wind up my watch
But when I wind up this poem
Sep 21, 2002
Sep 19, 2002
And to think two Portuguese scholars committed this book and I had never heard about it.
During this period, I collided with the enormous differences between the Tanzanian and my own culture. These differenceunfortunately make it very difficult to achieve a mutual understanding and comprehension of each other. Nevertheless, I dare say that after the three months I understood that these cultural differences are not invincible.
With the support, the patience and the courage of several Tanzanians who guided me into their culture, I discovered we are all basically the same, regardless of colour or race.
Only the circumstances we live in -which largely determine us- differ enormously, reinforcing the impression we inhabit different worlds, not one.
As a result of this new understanding I asked a large group of people in my neighbourhood in Dar es Salaam to pose for the camera with a favourite object. I then asked them why they chose this specific object. A selection of these photographs is shown here.
via plep, always the good stuff
"The Cosmetic Spoon was made of ivory in a form of a nude elegant girl swimming with a lotus flower. Her wig is made of black ivory. The cosmetic box in the shape of the lotus - a sacred flower in Egypt - is painted in a soft pink colour. Above the knees on the swimmer's leg there is an engraving of the diminutive deity Bes who was the patron of women, dance and music."
The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts also displays this lovely Renoir. From Egypt to Russia to China in one entry: a great Chinese calligraphy site, complete with English translations.
Sep 18, 2002
The after-lunch business meeting started nicely. The black suits from the New York public relations firm sat on one side. Across the table were the Japanese suits, prospective clients.
Then, during the long pauses for translation, one mind wandered. The lead New Yorker started toying with the lead Tokyoite's business card. Then, almost unconsciously, a convenient corner found its way to the New Yorker's mouth, where a lunch morsel was lodged between incisors.
"I wanted to die, I wanted to get out of that office, I wanted to get out of that building," recalled Peter McKillop, who works in Hong Kong for an American bank. "And he didn't stop. He carefully worked his way around. Upper and lower teeth." (Read more)
Related link: Think in English, E-mail it in French
Sep 11, 2002
anzray: to keep apart from an enemy or wicked company
mokhrob: to express anger by a sidelong glance
zum: to wear or put on clothing for the upper part of the body
egthu: to create a pinching sensation in the armpit
ur: to dig soil (as the swine do), to move curry (while cooking)
khonsay: to pick an object up with care, as it is rare or scarce
gobram: to shout in one's sleep
khanti: to be wounded without bleeding
khale: to feel partly bitter
onguboy: to love from the heart
onsay: to pretend to love
onsra: to love for the last time, to arouse the female oracle for the last time
gasgrom: to search for a thing below water by trampling
dasa: not to place a fishing instrument
goblo: to be fat (as a child or infant)
khar: to smell like urine or raw fish
asusu: to feel unknown and uneasy in a new place
gabkhron: to be afraid of witnessing an adventure
serrom: to examine by lightly pressing
khen: to hit one's heart
bunhan bunahan: to be about to speak, and about not to speak
I was a eight-year old little boy and I tried to reason with them by saying that Osama had picked a bad target, all they were going to hit was Japanese tourists with their digital cameras. I also insisted that that the rock was probably not going to crumble from the impact of the plane, and the international press doesn't care about Brazil anyway. They wouldn't get 24-7 coverage on CNN, except for the Popecide maybe.
A lot of chasing around in my apartment building followed. I was running up and down the fire escape, and eventually fell down from a balcony and broke my neck. The cuter hijacker took pity of the dying boy, the plans for mass destruction of the Pope mass were averted and the Cristo Redentor was saved.
I can also send the Hairy Eyeball on a ethnographic kissing expedition from Oiapoque to Chuí, if he drops his jealousy, finds his passport and promises to report his findings on the barbaric triple kissing custom.
Caption: Holy mother of linguablogging discredited at the end of the two-year ethnographic triple-kissing survey?
Sep 10, 2002
To prevent that, computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University Language Technologies Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are developing new machine translation tools with the Mapuche. Institute director Jamie Carbonell says the initiative, backed by a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, is important both for cultural and scientific reasons. "The minority language or the home language encodes much of the culture. So, you do not want your cultural belief, your cultural tradition [or] your heritage to die with the language. And it often does. If a language disappears the culture that is promulgated [through] that language usually disappears as well. And so we want to preserve it for cultural reasons." (Read more)
It was an innocent mistake: Zyklon means "cyclone" in German, and cyclone is a commonly used product name. But in the English-speaking world, "zyklon" is best known as for its association with Zyklon B, the name of the poison gas used to kill millions in the Nazi death camps. That's not quite the image Siemens wants to project." (Read more)
Sep 9, 2002
Chinese-art.com - highly recommended, as well as this musty old article on Bridging the Language Gap. Here's an excerpt:
The world is multilingual, and it’s going to stay that way. All international enterprises, and many domestic ones, have to address this challenge if they want to succeed. Much has been written on their spectacular failures. (My favourite: Coca-Cola’s “Coke Adds Life” slogan, as translated into Mandarin: “Coke Brings Back Your Dead Ancestors.”) There are several approaches to overcoming the language barrier. Listed in order of effectiveness:
The Apollo-Soyuz system requires each party to learn the other’s language, then use it exclusively. This is both the hardest and the most effective way to overcome language differences, because it fosters cultural insight. To work, no more than two languages must be involved, and both sides must make a heavy commitment to fluency in the other language; the Apollo-Soyuz mission itself failed linguistically because NASA budgeted only 300 hours for Russian lessons. As a result, English became the mission’s official language by default.
Done correctly, Apollo-Soyuz works remarkably well. West African and North American tribes have negotiated and maintained long-lasting treaties using variations of this system.
Robert Henderson also lists the Canadian system, auxiliary languages and machine translation as alternatives to the obvious: hiring a translator or interpreter.