Jan 30, 2003

Software Locolization. An overview of what the mermaid do for a living, day in, day out, come rain, come shine, come drizzle, come lightning, come the Merchild trying to knock my door down.

The Hairy Hungarian says I'm fed up with this type of projects and that soon I will be venturing in other areas. But frankly, I don't see it happening.

My mental status bar says: you're acting like an eye doctor who suddenly decides she wants to be a cardiac surgeon.

Let's face it: I'm a specialized mermercenaire. The savants affirm that I rocked as a translator of journalism. Highly commended. I supposed I liked the texts too (although to this date mentions to names such as Larry Rother, Richard Corliss and Diana Jean Schemo provoke a certain malaise). Wait, I think it's safe to say I loved translating this one. But I hated the crushing deadlines and I hated the low pay.

It's truly a dilemma. By now, I know all the software terminology by heart and even backwards. I am pretty confident that I could vroom my way through an online Help even when fast asleep. My output is soaring but my mind is growing number and dumber. And by God I detest those 5 page long instructions sheets.


Jan 28, 2003

Linguabloggers on MSBC. Oyez oyez! We've been mentioned by MSNBC Weblog Central. Let's straighten up the tie and sport a nice smile for the photographers and crowds.

And wouldn't you know: Japanese smileys are evolving differently from your standard fare of Western emoticons.

via geisha asobi

What is lorem ipsum?

via boing boing

Language-related links:
In search of the first language (PBS)
The vanishing verb- the rise of TV-speak (PBS)
The Language of the Vietnam War (PBS)
Review of book Atoms of Language(Human Nature)
Not your father's encyclopedia (Wired)
Wanted by the FBI for questioning: Adil Pervez. Or is it Adel Pervaiz? Adil Pervaz, maybe? (Wired)

And interesting article and news from nonharmful and Der Famose Flämische Blogger (maybe der famose is not the source, I had a couple of pages open, but I can't see how anyone will fail to see the poignancy of this)
Economists tackle US obesity
The Political limitations of culture jamming


The predecessors of the Fantanas. I guess today is one of those days in which I will publish any kind of private joke posts, provided they keep me off my software manual translation.

There is big brouhaha in the Portuguese translators list today on the topic of evaluating the reliability of Web searches. See, the thing is the Web is being used periodically as the mother of all dictionaries by translators and there is a lot of garbage coming out in translations as a result of transgooglification. Who pulled the thread? Danilo Nogueira, who after over a year of absence rejoined the list, bringing Lazarus back from the dead with his sharp observations and unparallelled witticisms.


Jan 23, 2003

Live from the WSF. The famously controversial or controversially famous Hairy Eyeball has initiated live coverage from the World Social Forum, taking place en las orillas del Guaíba, in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

If you don't know that the World Social Forum is about, don't bother reading further. Go to Chicken Head or take a jump in the lake. Or if you're a masochist dinosaur, like me, go translate some financial software strings on clunky TM software that has been discontinued. But I digress.

According to the Mermaid's special envoy to this leftist alka-seltzer of ideas, Elvis, Jesus and even Prentiss Riddle are in attendance of the event. However, so far the Hairy Eyeball has been too mesmerized by the Pentium 4 computers in the Press Room to do any serious reporting.

He even posted a Photoshop-ed memento of his girlfriend on the blog today! Imagine how disastrous if the AF, AP and other agencies correspondents started sending provençale-inspired barcaroles, snapshots of their birkenstocks and description of the scrambled eggs they had for breakfast to the international press.

However, we believe that the Hairy Eyeball is an organ with a mission and that much instantaneous and juicy gossip about the World Social Forum will be posted here in the next few days, only to be captured in Google-cache eternity, for all times, Amen.


Jan 22, 2003

The Bee Project. We've had humming birds poetry and now Renée is proposing bees as a linguablogging meme. I can't remember if there are any bee-related texts of note in Portuguese. But I've found Sylvia Plath's The Arrival of the Bee Box translated into Portuguese by Ana Cristina César and Ana Cândida Perez. More on Plath's Bee Poems here. I think that Renee's idea is to find a text and TIY (translate it yourself). A fun idea for these rainy January days.

Update: The language of bees. Insects in literature. Poems about bees.


Two Worlds and In Between. Jonathan Kiefer discusses the delicate art of translation with Michael Emmerich, English translator of Japanese novelist Banana Yoshimoto.

via bookslut


Jan 21, 2003

The Big Mac as an Edible Sign. I got a chuckle from the link at the bottom of the page. It says: See also Coca-cola.

For the full neuron titillation experience kindly proceed to the front page of the The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs & Body and Language Cues (From Adam's-Apple-Jump to Zygomatic Smile)

Colloquialisms used in Business Settings. "Most of us unconsciously use jargon or slang that doesn't mean much to speakers of English (or even American in this case) as a second language. Over the years I have recorded some common phrases used by my countrymen during U.S.-Japanese business meetings that upon upon retrospect, may have been rather puzzling to the Japanese participants."

Silly me, I didn't know Bifurcated Rivets featured so many language links.

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chiasmus [ky-AZ-mus] (plural -mi), a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. This may involve a repetition of the same words ("Pleasure's a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure" --Byron) or just a reversed parallel between two corresponding pairs of ideas . . . . The figure is especially common in 18th century English poetry, but is also found in prose of all periods. It is named after the Greek letter chi (x), indicating a "criss-cross" arrangement of terms. Adjective: chiastic.

And there is a whole site dedicated to them under the motto Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you.

Serendipity strike: While doing my morning Web wanderings I chanced upon this chiastic quote from Montaigne:

I have no more made this book than this book has made me


Vademecum. Repertorio de comentarios lingüísticos y aclaraciones de dudas sobre el uso de la lengua española, elaborado por el Departamento de Español Urgente de la Agencia EFE: neologismos, antropónimos, topónimos, gentilicios, transcripciones, traducciones, barbarismos, abreviaturas y usos erróneos.

List of countries, currencies, capitals, adjectives etc. (updated September 2002). Languages: EN, DA, DE, EL, EN, FR, FI, IT, NL, PT, SV

Color Names in English - Czech - Hungarian - French - German - Spanish
Color names in French

Firefighting glossary of terms EN, DE, FR

English - Chinese dictionary


Parabéns a você. And today's birthday-blog is yours truly, the Enigmatic Mermaid. As the old Brazilian shampoo commercial used to say: vocês lembram da minha voz, ela continua a mesma, mas meus cabelos, quanta diferença! Thanks to my readers for keeping tuned, even when the commercial breaks are long and the commentary too sparse (need I say that I worship Plep?). My readers are such an unbelievably loyal crowd that I've been even getting referrals from Fairvue lately. To this I can only say that you must be out of your minds! Language Hat beats me hands down in the linguablogging department. Prentiss is way cooler and heavily annotated. Pat is more wacky-cranky in his style, and the Hairy Eyeball is a much more efficient keyword manipulator. And of course, the best design award goes to Glosses.

Speaking of design, this is all I could get out of Photoshop in the way of commemorative banner. Enjoy and link!


Jan 19, 2003

Why Your Waitron Can Serve Brunch but Not Linner. Allan Metcalf, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, argues that you can tell what words are likely to survive by applying a simple formula. (NY Times)

Species and languages flock together. Cultural and biological diversity are highest in the same places. (Nature)


Jan 18, 2003

Saramago and his translators en la Escuela de Traductores de Toledo


Los escritores hacen las literaturas nacionales y los traductores hacen la literatura universal: nos permiten a los que no podemos conocer todas las lenguas que se pueda leer algo escrito en Japón, Rusia, Finlandia...

Los traductores convierten las lenguas en mi propia lengua; por eso seríamos más pobres sin ellos.

Yo he aprendido muchísimo con ellos, he aprendido a leerme, porque a veces se plantean dudas que no sé aclarar.

Todo está claro para mí en lo que escribo, pero no en lo que significa, y tengo que pensarlo varias veces.

Ellos me han dicho que lo que uno escribe en su lengua no es tan fácil de entender

José Saramago

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Jan 17, 2003

Language News.
Cleaning up the Chinglish for the 2008 Olympics
Finding New Ways to Rob Translators Off their Living- Editing of Machine Translations
Language forces sex-assault retrial
Plain English translators would make life easier to understand
Death of Kashmir Language Foretold

Glossary Galore for the Demanding Glossaryte
Terminologisches Wörterbuch
Multilingual Earthen Building Glossary (EN-FR-IT-RU-ES)
The CMU Pronouncing Dictionary (why don't they use the international phonetic alphabet, I wonder?)

For Hardcore Word Nerds
Panace@ Boletín de Medicina y Traducción es la revista de MedTrad, foro internético independiente y plurinacional constituido por profesionales de la comunicación escrita del ámbito de la lengua y de la medicina y de las ciencias biológicas. Featuring this month a glossary of radiation therapy terms and El Mito de la brevedad del inglés.

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Jan 16, 2003

New Translator Blog? Looks like it. He is posting about Jean Hardoin, aptly described as Christian, Scholar, Translator and Kook. In any case, let's throw him a link: Machine Translation - How to program common sense?

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The Mineiro Accent. This is cute and funny and quite a challenge to decode.

Sapassado, era sessetembro, taveu na cuzinha tomando uma pincumel e cuzinhando um kidicarne com mastumate pra fazer uma macarronada com galinhassada. Quascaí de susto, quandoví um barui vinde dendoforno, parecenum tidiguerra. A receita mandopô midipipoca denda galinha prassá.
O forno isquentô, o mistorô e o fiofó da galinha ispludiu! Nossinhora! Fiquei branco quinein um lidileite. Foi um trem doidimais! Quascaí dendapia! Fiquei sensabê doncovim, proncovô, oncotô. Oiprocevê quelocura! Grazadeus ninguém semaxucô!


The Creator of Unwinese. Excuse me but I must steal Quarsan's post.

January 14 marked the first aniversary of the death of Professor Stanley Unwin, who was best known as an inspired mangler of the English language. Here's Stanley's retelling of Goldyloppers and the Three Bearloaders.

There was a cotty; so she went up, all ready with the basket and picked up the butter and all that with a little bit of birch she scrape it off and rub it and down her clothesee. Mum would be cross but... never mind. Clop clop on the door. This little cotty had a jar on the door, so she went in. Nobody there. Three baseload of porry on the tabloid, all slightly steamy huff, and nobody at. She called out: [as though down a cardboard tube] "Anyone home?" Nobody. Folly, folly, and a little hunger was with her, so she falolloped a taste out of the first basel.

You can read transcripts, but you're much better off listening to these clips instead.


Jan 14, 2003

Translation as a Profession. Series of 15 very readable articles by Roger Chriss.


Jan 9, 2003

Online Translators. A lot of people come to this site looking for them. So here's a compilation of some online translation tools, powered by machine translation. None of them are reliable at this point, in fact they are more like gobbledegook generators. So if you're looking for an accurate translator, hire a human translator. There are several translator directories on the Internet, which you can search for free. I recommend ProZ and ForeignWord, but you can also try your luck at the Google Directory or at the Open Directory Project. In addition to the obvious online translators, I tried to include some supporting rarer language combinations.

BabelFish- 19 language pairs. Includes Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Russian. Powered by Systran. URL translation feature.
Google Language Tools. Quality is none the better for being a Google development. URL translation feature.
ForeignWord Translate Now!- automatic translation in 60 languages, from Afrikaans to Welsh. It's basically a one-stop-searching tool, with 60 languages available, how many combinations are possible. You do the math.
PromT-Reverso Online. Powered by PromT-Reverso Technology.
Majstro Old English and Contemporary English. Greek, Yucatec, Esperanto, Faroese and Zulu. Also features a virtual keyboard for Cyrillic, Latin and Greek.
Intertran- Where most of the Translate Now! translations are coming from.
Alsmibar- Arabic online translator.
Poltran- Polish - English online translator. Powered by Ectaco.
Parsit - English- Thai automatic translation.
Alphaworks. Big Blue's jab at machine translation. Simplified and Traditional Chinese available.
Itrans- Not an online translator per se. English-Encoded Text converted to Indian Language Scripts Output in PostScript, GIF image, PDF, or HTML (Latin1 or Unicode) formats. Gujarati, Hindi, Marathi, Sanskrit, Bengali, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu, Gurmukhi, Romanized Sanskrit.
Papiamentu Web Translator. Yep, you read it right.
Automatic Translation Server. Includes Catalan. Registration required.
Ewgate - Quick and free translations between English and assorted Asian languages (such as Malay, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese).
Web Trance. English- Bulgarian translator.
Rikai- English- Spanish and English- Japanese URL translation. Interesting layout, hovering translations. (thanks Mark!)
Free Translation- Includes Norwegian. Accepts up to 1,500 words in the text boox. (thanks Tex!)

If you know another Web translator not included in the list above, please let me know.


Jan 8, 2003

A Melhor Batatada do Ano. The year has barely started and we already found the most likely winner of the Enigmatic Mermaid Translation Howler Award. Here's the scenario (which should almost never be calqued as cenário when you translate into Portuguese). An unknown editor calls for help in understanding a sentence from a software manual. She can't figure out the meaning of the verb to prompt, which to me, is a clear indication that she has never even heard of the MS terminology glossaries and probably hasn't opened her pocket Michaelis, if she has one.


Estou fazendo uma revisão de um texto de informática traduzido por terceiros e não entendo bem o que significa a palavra prompted. Veja que a tradução soa estranho (sic). Seria você não está pronto para o CD do Office?? esquisito!

If you are not logged on as a member of the Administrators group, you do not have sufficient permissions to repair the Office installation in this scenario, and you are not prompted for the Office CD.

Se você não está conectado como um membro do grupo Administradores, você não tem permissões suficientes para reparar a instalação do Office neste cenário e você não é solicitado pelo CD do Office.

We turn a blind eye to the faulty grammar (the conditional tense calls for se você não estiver, blah blah), the use of você instead of the neutral usuário (which is debatable), but "você não é solicitado pelo CD do Office" can't be forgiven. The literal meaning of this sentence in the Última Flor do Lácio is "your presence will not be requested by the Office CD". Or maybe the Office CD wants the user to insert himself in the drive? It's also a possibility.


Jan 7, 2003

Keyboard not detected, press F1 to continue. Site with dumb warnings that defy the common sense of the average doofus.

A rarity: Merde in France, a bilingual weblog. And how come this item is not riding the top of the charts at Daypop? Oh right. Chavez and Castro. South of Rio Grande.

PowerPointlessness. Killing me Microsoftly- best definition of PowerPoint yet: a cognitive veg-o-matic that slices and dices human thought. Absolute Powerpoint:

Before there were presentations, there were conversations, which were a little like presentations but used fewer bullet points, and no one had to dim the lights. A woman we can call Sarah Wyndham, a defense-industry consultant living in Alexandria, Virginia, recently began to feel that her two daughters weren't listening when she asked them to clean their bedrooms and do their chores. So, one morning, she sat down at her computer, opened Microsoft's PowerPoint program, and typed:

Family Matters
An approach for positive change to the
Wyndham family team

Powerpoint links via greg.org. Make sure you drop by In Passing, if only for a passing moment.


Online Library. "Questia is the first online library that provides 24/7 access to the world's largest online collection of books and journal articles in the humanities and social sciences. You can search each and every word of all of the books and journal articles in the collection. You can read every title cover to cover (Mermaid warning: not so. in many cases you will only be able to read the first page of each chapter, unless you subscribe). Anyone doing research or just interested in topics that touch on the humanities and social sciences will find titles of interest in Questia."


Jan 6, 2003

Siren Song. My ramblings continue to attract interesting people to this blog. Ivana Bentes was here today. Among other things, she is a film critic and researcher and a Glauber Rocha scholar. Here is a selection of links with her writings, interviews and miscellaneous goodies.

5 essays
A Cosmética da Fome
Interview on Glauber Rocha (in French)
Cine Brasileño- La sombra de los sesenta (in Spanish)
Cidade de Deus, another example of the cosmetics of hunger?


R.I.P. Lavinia Henderson Cotrim, English translator and interpreter based in São Paulo, Brazil. She leaves one son and one daughter. Mima, as she was affectionately called, was too young to die, too corageous to die. I last saw her about two months ago. It was a chance encounter, away from the conference rooms of São Paulo. G. and I were visiting the waterfalls of Brotas and there she was by Angela's side, wearing a helmet and climbing gear, waiting in line to go down the Cachoeira Cassarova.

When I heard the message on the answering machine last Friday I misheard Denise: "vc sabe da Mima?" instead of "vc soube da Mima?". I thought to myself: "yes I think I know Mima's whereabouts, she is probably at the Chapada dos Guimarães with Angela. Then I reviewed the messages today, and that little verb tense just told me that bad news were on the way.

I feel sad for our Mima with the dry sense of humor and adventure spirit. For our Mima who refused to buy a cell phone in the name of her privacy. I feel sad for the incredible loneliness of the world, and for our blindness in realizing it can engulf our friends too.

Her memorial service will take place on January 08, at Capela do Colégio Américo, São Paulo, Brazil, at 7pm.


The Unsung Heroes of Poetry. Translators barely receive a mention, but they deserve a Nobel prize, says Daniel Weissbort.

via isabella massardo's weblog


Jan 5, 2003

Life is so Unfair. While the Globo Ocular Peludo gets to go to Bahia and drink maracujá caipirinhas I get to go to Bee City and to drink unwanted drops of strawberry juice from the Mermie's sippy-cup. She more or less freaked out when she saw all those beehives and beebuzzing exhibits. But the uterine experience of going inside the giant bee gave her a kick. Speaking of kicks, how about smuggling some Fernando Pires shoes to New York?

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Flores Horizontais

flores horizontais
flores da vida
flores brancas de papel
da vida rubra de bordel
flores da vida
afogadas nas janelas do luar
carbonizadas de remédios
tapas pontapés
escuras flores puras
putas suicidas sentimentais
flores horizontais
que rezais
com Deus me deito
com Deus me levanto

Sublime music: poem by Oswald de Andrade arranged by José Miguel Wisnik and sung by Elza Soares. A tribute to the Zona do Mangue prostitutes.


Jan 4, 2003

Pasmaceira de Começo de Ano. So the holidays came and went and I haven't been doing much except worrying about neverending bills and dwindling jobs, reading some new blogs, like Jesus me Chicoteia. The lack of work is (let's hope) a seasonal problem. However, I remember with longing the stiffling hot days of other months of January when I was bitching because I was too swamped with work to go to the beach. I guess I could use this time for massive blogging and job hunting, as well as for those errands that never get done due to lack of time and my discouragement every time I read the São Paulo traffic reports. It's so much nicer to stay inside my little shell in Oyster Complex.

Number one in the To be Postponed for an Unconscionable Period of Time is getting my Sworn Translator paperwork in order so I can begin translating school reports, birth certificates, articles of association and other deadly boring documents. So that is what I will be tackling next. I will also be benefiting from increased computer use time, now that the Hairy Hungarian has traveled back to Piracicaba, thrilled for having completed his masters thesis and for having downloaded at least 100 MP3 German rock songs (including 99 Luftballoons, so much for calling me Alte) courtesy of WinMx. I had no such luck in downloading the Goran Bregovic music I am constantly looking for.

And since I wrote more than two lines for a change, with barely any use of the CRTL-C keyboard shortcut, have I wished everyone a Happy 2003? Well, here are my belated voeux of happiness and prosperity neatly tucked in this collection of Ukranian postcards.

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Literature Awards. A handy list with the winners of many literature awards in 2002.

Classics Deluxe. Read this interesting post about the Brazilian market of deluxe editions of classic literary works. Then read the comments for some enlightening as to why Brazilian publisher houses are pursuing this marketing trend.


Transnotes. Julio Juncal has jumped on the blogging bandwagon. Hooray!


Jan 2, 2003