Oct 21, 2002
I had one glass of chilled Spanish wine, lovely, under the 150-year old massive fig tree that gives the restaurant its name. The tree is is such an impressive matron, very Carlos Saura. And to keep the flies away (outdoor eating in Brazil doesn't come without its tropical perils), they sprayed the patrons with a very fine mist of citronella.
While visiting the waterfalls of Brotas this weekend, G. and I were discussing a single statement that may come as a shock but it's 100% true. The wealthy have a better life in Brazil than the wealthy in any other country in the world. Or in other words, opulence is more opulent in Brazil, probably with less money too. Maybe it's magnifying effect of cheap labor. Where else in the world, would the rich have one-hour long exclusive appointments with a physician to discuss their minor ailments? Or five live-in servants to cater to their every whim?
But mind you, poverty is poorer in Brazil too. A researcher was telling me on Sunday at U's house, how she felt devastated with guilt for finally buying her own car and of how bad it felt to wade through the street peddlers, most of them kids barely tall enough to tap on your windshield to offer you candy or beg or steal your stereo.
I'm not a very political person by nature. G. pokes fun at me for choosing my candidates 5 minutes before I sit at the electronic voting booth (that's another Brazilian contradiction for you). We are very high-tech and jumento-tech simultaneously. Some live in the lap of luxury, others "eat the bread the devil has knead". Others still, just stare wide-eyed at the contrasts and wonder if synthesis can ever be achieved.
Oct 17, 2002
But when this time of the year comes, I am reminded I live in Brazil and that our trees are simply gorgeous and that even São Paulo can be lovely at the right time of the year.
Last August I spotted an ipê branco in rare bloom, as if announcing the feast to come two months later.
My neighborhood is exploding in colors: the violet from the jacarandás, the bright yellow from the guapuruvus, the dark green from the lush foliage of these tall trees.
Even the tipuanas are shedding their flowers and covering the sidewalks with their tapestry of petals.
The 'monsoon season' hasn't started yet. All we've had is suffocating heat sprinkled with light showers. The plants seem to love it though. Long live October, it's my favorite time of the year.
Eco was scheduled to discuss his new novel Baudolino, but instead delivered a humorous talk on the difficulties of translation, saying that he had not been informed of the lecture’s topic." (Read more)
On a visit to the United States, Charles de Gaulle was honoured at a banquet in the White House. Seated beside his wive was an official who spoke no French, but who tried to engage her in conversation by asking
"Madame de Gaulle, what do you think the most important thing in life is?"
"A penis", she replied.
Overhearing, her husband said gently "I believe, my dear, that in English it is pronounced 'appiness."
Oct 16, 2002
And what do you make of a mermaid that glumly announces that she is too busy to blog and proceeds to post three articles that very same day? Louca de pedra.
SOFIA (AFP), le 11-10-2002
Des chercheurs bulgares ont mis au point un algorythme de codage numérique de la parole humaine permettant à des personnes parlant des langues différentes de communiquer, chacune dans son idiome, au téléphone ou sur l'internet.
Koïtcho Mitev, un ingénieur de Roussé a mis au point ce système qui, explique-t-il, consiste en une "traduction de pensées entières formulées dans des phrases".
Selon ce système, les mots de chaque langue sont codés par un ordinateur qui les classe en verbes, noms, pronoms, adjectifs, etc... Cette différenciation permet à l'ordinateur d'effectuer une analyse syntaxique de la phrase pour formuler, dans une autre langue, la pensée exprimée. (Read more in French, English version here)
Today I was up at 5.30 am, catching up on overdue e-mails and a bit of cultural consulting. I also downloaded this healthy and cute baby. I can't help but feel a little proud.
Next week I will also be hanging out in the posh surroundings where the filthy rich loiter. I will try to strike my best nonchalant pose and dress smart.
Oct 11, 2002
Book of translations reveals intellectualism of England’s powerful Queen Elizabeth I
Romania of wall-posted dictionaries
Cyberlingo slips into classwork
Uncommon method of teaching languages
Art beyond translation
Farewell to purple Proust (more info on the new English translation of Proust, better than the other article)
Translating devices may be enlisted in Iraq invasion
Lithuanian Authors Feted at Book Fair
Oct 10, 2002
Oct 9, 2002
I hope I still remember how to put those chunky English business articles in my linguistic blender and spew them out as smooth and creamy journalistic pinas coladas.
If my consecutive interpreting gig this morning is any indication, translating and interpreting must be hardwired in the mermaidian brain. It's been at least six years since I last did consecutive, and I was so good I almost tapped myself on the shoulder. I would've if I could've.
Since I can't, I left the cu do mundo where I live to go celebrate with the Hairy Eyeball and Angie at Piratininga. He was drinking caipirinhas and I was drinking manhattans, a token effort to promote multiculturalism.
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