Sep 30, 2003

Purgatory, in all its nuance. "It isn’t necessarily sidestepping the question “How to chose which Dante [translation]?” if your answer (like mine) is: don’t choose. There’s no need to. Translation, especially in this case, is a form of commentary—each new one endeavoring to reveal something more (or something more nuanced) about the poem. The motivation behind these divergent translations is not simply the hubris of a translator convinced he can do it better than the last guy."


Happy International Translator's Day

And for a balanced perspective, let's pay hommage to Kumarajiva as well...


La Chichonera. Two days before her 4th birthday this little monkey was jumping on my bed. The monkey fell down and banged her head. Thank God to rubber bones she didn't break her head, as confirmed by last night's CT scan. Mood healers for my little monkey: Dora the Explorer and McDonald's delivery. Let's just see how well those fries perform after 30 minutes in transit...


Sep 29, 2003

La Maison du Dictionnaire. Search and browse their catalogue, order online.


Sep 27, 2003

A Century in Shoes. What else but a a shoe exhibit with scenes and ads from ten decades in the 20th century. Not to missed Gaza Browen's creations.


Sep 24, 2003

The old man who lost his horse. A story told in Chinese papercuts.

Near the Great Wall lived an old man, who had a fine horse. One day the horse ran away to the barbarian territory, and failed to return...

Now to make your jaw drop: 108 characters of a novel, each of them minutiously described ... such is the challenge accepted by the Chinese craftsmen who created this incredible set or papercuts. And for the incurably curious: papercutting from around the world.


Translate This!

A translator's log discovered by Margaret. Posts in English and German. He's having problems receiving money from an agency, we sympathize!


Conference Interpreting: Quality in the Ears of the User.

Abstract: What do the recipients of interpretation mean by “good interpretation”? What are the features they consider most important and what do they find irritating? Following a brief overview of user expectation surveys, the paper contends that the target audience is an essential variable in the interpretation equation. Quality of interpretation services is evaluated by users in terms of what they actually receive in relation to what they expected. Consequently, measurements of service quality that do not include user expectations miss the point.

I think I posted it before, but make sure you browse the wide array of articles available at Meta (1966-2001), where this paper was published.


The Importance of Terminology. The distinction between TERMINOLOGY and LEXICOLOGY, TERMINOGRAPHY and LEXICOGRAPHY, among other things.

A large majority of documents today are designed for specialist communication (including business and commercial texts). They are thus written in specialist language, 30-80% of which (depending on the particular domain and type of text in question) is composed of terminology(2). In other words, terminology (which as we have seen may also include non-linguistic items such as formulae, codes, symbols and graphics) is the main vehicle by which facts, opinions and other "higher" units of knowledge are represented and conveyed. Sound terminology work reduces ambiguity and increases clarity - in other words, the quality of specialist communication depends to a large extent on the quality of the terminology employed, and terminology can thus be a safety factor, a quality factor and a productivity factor in its own right.

The communication of specialist knowledge and information, whether monolingual or multilingual, is thus irretrievably bound up with the creation and dissemination of terminological resources and with terminology management in the widest sense of the word. This process is not restricted to science and engineering, but is also vital to law, public administration, and health care, to quote just three examples. In addition, terminology plays a key role in the production and dissemination of documents, and in workflow. Terminology as an academic discipline offers concepts and methodologies for high-quality, effective knowledge representation and transfer. These methodologies can be used both by language specialists and by domain specialists after appropriate training. In addition, they form the basis for an increasing number of tools for the identification, extraction, ordering, transfer, storage and maintenance of terminological resources and other types of knowledge.


Sep 23, 2003

Semantic Primitives. Isabella Massardo has an interesting post on the "61 parole fondamentali del metalinguaggio semantico universale".

In Portuguese they would be:

você, alguém, gente, algo, coisa, corpo, este, igual, outro, um, dois, um pouco, tudo, muito, bom, ruim, grande, pequeno, pensar, saber, querer, sentir, ver, ouvir, dizer, palavra, verdade, fazer, acontecer, mexer, há, ter, viver, morrer, quando/tempo, agora, antes, depois, tempão, tempinho, algum tempo, momento, onde/lugar, aqui, acima, abaixo, longe, perto, do lado, dentro, encostado, não, talvez, pode, porque, se, muitos parecido, parte, gostar.

It's interesting to note the predominance of words related to time and space. Do all languages attach the same importance to these concepts? And are they really equivalenti in tutte lingue?

By the way very=much in Portuguese (same word when translated, not same concept). So my list dropped to 60.



Zizek. The Marx Brother, a profile of Slavoj Zizek by Rebecca Mead.


Rebellious Words. " A tongue twister is defined by its propensity to provoke pronunciation problems for just about anybody who attempts to articulate it. In a sense it is like a virus: it strikes at a collective, provoking the same symptoms in each individual. And as with a virus, a minority seems to be immune!

What I call 'rebellious words' are in my view related to tongue twisters, but have characteristics all their own. I'll start by offering a simple definition of a rebellious word:

A word that blocks the flow of interpreting time and again, establishing a pattern; a word with which one 'has a thing,' as people are apt to say; a word that produces a kind of allergic reaction in the interpreter as soon as she/he hears it.

All other interpreters might find the term perfectly harmless, but when you encounter one of your personal 'rebellious words,' you must intensify your concentration to get through it, dedicating comparatively much more energy to this specific obstacle than to other parts of the discourse that are visibly more technical and difficult. "


Sep 22, 2003

DN on the TJ. Danilo Nogueira writes about pricing in the Translation Journal.

The embarrassment about charging for our work or being considered too much of a mercenary--and what is a free lance but a mercenary soldier?--is pure rubbish. There is no way you can "overcharge" an agency: agencies know the market and cannot be fooled.

There is no way you can overcharge a direct client either: they will ask for quotes from several other people, before making their decision. Of course, you can fool your neighbor into believing translators are paid ten dollars a word, provided the neighbor has not seen your car, but that is a different story.


Professional advance requires a two-pronged approach: you must both invest heavily in the profession and market your services as actively as you can. You may also have to make some difficult choices. For instance, there is no such a thing as a well-paid translator of philosophy books. This may be very frustrating to many of us and, at a certain point of my life, frustrated me too, because of my love for the history of music, which is not exactly a cornucopia of translatorial income. No more. I have come to the conclusion that I want to be a translator, and a well paid one, regardless of the subject to be translated.

This, perhaps, is the first step to climb in the professional ladder...


Sep 17, 2003

More Decor. A Brazilian interior design blog and the online version of Portuguese magazine Interiores.


Sep 16, 2003

Buhssit? De aorcdo com uma pqsieusa de uma uinrvesriddae ignlsea, não ipomtra em qaul odrem as lrteas de uma plravaa etãso, a úncia csioa iprotmatne é que a piremria e útmlia lrteas etejasm no lgaur crteo. O rseto pdoe ser uma ttaol bçguana que vcoê pdoe anida ler sem pobrlmea. Itso é poqrue nós não lmeos cdaa lrtea isladoa, mas a plravaa cmoo um tdoo.


Uzbek Suzani. I've fallen in love with an embroidery style. The underside of the suzani I got lining my bed on a trial basis reads Mockba 80. That a piece of cloth has traveled such a long way to reach Brazil and find in me a worshipper leaves me astounded.

"although belonging to the production of non-nomadic populations, suzanis
(silk embroideries on a cotton or silk ground) often have symbols linked
to the shamanistic iconography of nomads. long strips were woven by different
women and then sewn together. the young uzbek girls had to have at least ten
suzanis as part of their wedding dowry, and as these were neither hereditary nor
to be given away, they had to be especially embroidered for each wedding."

more suzani designs for your visual delight


Preparing Copy for Translation. This extremely interesting article gives tips for technical writers who are preparing texts that will be later be translated into one or more languages. It also includes rules for formatting, use of articles and the following key points:

Keep sentences short

Omit unnecessary words

Order the parts of the sentence logically

Do not change construction mid sentence

Avoid using more than two nouns together

Be clear when using ‘and’ and ‘or’ ie A+B or C - does this mean
[A + B] or C - or A + [B or C]

Avoid ambiguous constructions
Eg. "There are few engines fitted with spur gears instead of helical gears shown in this section"

Consider this sentence - what is shown in the section - the spur gears or helical gears?

The basis for this article is the Systran Instruction Manual. I found it at this page, which also contains links to other documents related to translation metrics and quality assurance.


Sep 10, 2003

From the series "some days I wake up feeling like this"...


O cardápio indigesto do tradutor
(Fritz Utzeri, Jornal do Brasil, de 7 XI 2003)

Tenho o maior respeito pelos tradutores. Acho muito mais difícil traduzir
do que escrever, porque traduzir bem é reescrever, recriar a partir do zero,
sem ser literal, embora permanecendo estritamente fiel à obra. Imagino o
Antonio Houaiss tendo à frente o volume, em inglês, com o início de Ulisses:
''Sobranceiro, fornido, Buck Mulligan vinha do alto da escada...''.
Sobranceiro! Se começasse a escrever um livro, começaria com sobranceiro? E
imaginem um alemão que resolvesse traduzir Guimarães Rosa (o que foi feito,
mas ignoro o nome do herói). Abre o Grande sertão: veredas e a primeira
palavra com que se depara é: ''Nonada''. E agora? Como é ''nonada'' em
O Magu, que anda sumidíssimo depois que o Flor do Lavradio entrou numa
reforma que não acaba, pensou em desistir da profissão de repórter e
suicidar-se depois que teve que explicar para o editor do Montbläat, o
jornal em que trabalha, o que vinha a ser ''subteto do Poder Judiciário''.
Experimentem traduzir ''subteto'' numa língua racional qualquer, como o
sueco, e vejam o que é bom para a tosse.
Para mim, ser tradutor é chegar a um patamar da intelectualidade ao qual
jamais terei acesso. É gente como os Marcos, o Santarrita e o de Castro, o
Leo Schlafman, a Eliane Zaguri e - por que não? - simplesmente o
incomparável Millôr. Tenho uma amiga, Kristina Michaellis, que também se
dedica a traduções. Traduziu pacientemente as cartas de meu pai à minha mãe
pouco antes dele morrer, na Segunda Guerra. São cartas apaixonadas, mas onde
o terror do nazismo se insinua, banalmente, nas providências que ambos
discutiam para que ela pudesse tirar um atestado de pureza racial que
permitiria o casamento de ambos, já que ela era italiana e ele alemão. (Não
foi possível, a morte foi mais rápida do que a burocracia totalitária e
Tentei traduzir uma vez e não fui além do primeiro capítulo. É um livro de
um jornalista francês, Dominique Lapierre, "Muito além do amor". Meu nome
figura (imerecidamente) nos créditos como tradutor com o mesmo destaque de
Ana Maria Sarda, que fez 90% do trabalho. Traduzir é difícil (e em geral
mal pago). Vejam só o que pode acontecer quando burros informáticos
resolvem achar que traduzir é mole e bolam programas de tradução
instantâneos que outros, mais burros (ou sovinas) ainda, usam.
Há alguns meses fui a Brasília e hospedei-me num dos hotéis mais finos da
cidade. À noite bateu a fome e resolvi consultar o serviço de quarto.
Comecei a ler o cardápio, cuidadosamente impresso, e fui ficando assustado.
Onde eles teriam arranjado tal tradutor maluco? Tudo era literal. O
contrafilé, em português, virou against filet. Creme Rachel, um tipo de
sopa, foi traduzido para It cremates Rachel. ''Creme'', substantivo, virou
verbo e a ordem era pegar a pobre da Raquel e metê-la num forno até virar
cinzas. Outro prato era à base de ''nobre corte de contrafilé''. O corte
da carne era nobre, mas o ''tradutor'' achou por bem transformar o adjetivo
''nobre'' em substantivo e deu num prato de canibal: nobleman cuts of
against filet, ou seja, ''cortes de contrafilé de nobre''.
Maminha de alcatra é outro pedaço de carne que pode ser muito traiçoeiro se
for traduzido literalmente. Vejam só. Em português o hotel oferece:
''delicada peça de maminha grelhada''. Maminha foi traduzido, ao pé da
letra, como breast, que em inglês significa seio, mama ou peito, mas jamais
um corte de carne. Imaginem o americano ou inglês horrorizado ao constatar
que pode pedir (e comer) delicate breast pieces griled, ou seja ''delicados
pedaços de seio grelhados''.
Mais estranha ainda ficou uma picanha na ''manteiga ao café de Paris''.
Paris, a capital francesa, metamorfoseou-se no verbo ''parir'', ''dar à
luz''. A coisa ficou assim em inglês (?): butter coffe of you give birth,
algo que - tentando verter para o português - resultaria em mais ou menos
isto: ''manteiga café que você pariu''.
Já imaginaram o gringo tentando entender frutas da estação (da primavera,
verão, etc., season em inglês), traduzidas como fruits of the station, ou
seja, da ''estação'' (de trem)? Tiras finas de carne resultam em fines
ribons of meat. Ribbon em inglês é ''fita'' e não ''tira''. ''Molho de
espinafre'' passa pelo mesmo processo maluco: o molho (substantivo), sauce
em inglês, vira wet, do verbo ''molhar'' e resulta em algo que até parece
inglês: I wet of spinach. A essa altura o hóspede deve achar que se internou
num manicômio e vai ter certeza quando perceber que lhe estão oferecendo
Pitus in coconut. (Continua no próximo domingo.)


Sep 9, 2003

A Pele Mecânica. The Mechanical Skin (see picture below), Arthur Omar's new exhibit opens tonight at Galeria Nara Roesler.


Sep 8, 2003

Luvas de Pelica. I was looking for safety gauntlets on Google images today and ran on poet and translator Ana Cristina César. 97 poemas contains some of her poetry translations in Portuguese.


Sep 4, 2003

A Tribute to the Linear Accelerator

See this unbelievable machine? That, my friends, is what I translate about most of the time. This little chart has some sentimental value to me. I've stumbled on these terms many a time and anew.


My best-loved dictionaries. Here are some books no PT translator can live without.

Dicionário Metalúrgico Taylor

I love this bilingual dicitionary, and most of the time, I trust it with my life. Good design, good and reliable definitions. I get a thrill every time I check that yes! the word I am looking up is listed. There is nothing like it under the sun for translating anything to do with mechanics, metal parts, nuts, bolts, sprockets, brackets, etc. I rarely use it for steel, as I do very little work in this area, but I guess it's just as wonderful. This is considered the best technical dictionary PT<>EN, even if it doesn't cover a multitude of areas such as Antas or Furstenau.

Microsoft Bookshelf 2000

Retro-software that works wonders. Includes the AHD, Roget's Thesaurus and more in one nifty package. I can't find my copy anywhere. So I've just had to reinstall Bookshelf 98, more retro than retro.

Manual da Redação Folha de S.Paulo

You got to choose a style guide and this the one I pick. It has a nice layout and many of its idiossincracies, like the abolishment of umlauts, are offset by its completeness and overall anti-mildew approach to language. Other people may favor Manual de Redação e Estilo do Estado de S.Paulo, but I was put down by its terrible layout on paper. Note to self: it is available online, bookmark it.


Sep 3, 2003

Rata do dia. Today I sent Prentiss and Iggy the URL for a certain song a mile-long trail of private correspondence between myself and the Giant Jalapeno. Oh-uh. 'Too much information! Too much information!'


Sep 2, 2003

I Congresso Nacional de Tradução da ABRATES. To be held in Rio, Sept. 27 to 28/2003.


Sep 1, 2003

and now the comments have enigmatically disappeared...must I meddle with that wretched template again? just keep hanging


Commedia del'Arte, o segredo do riso. The divine Roberta Barni publishes her book. The mermaid failed to attend the book release party but wishes her much success and due recognition for her translation endeavors.