Oct 22, 2003

Localization News and Jobs.

Electonline and LocalizationWorks.


El lenguaje utilizado en chats y celulares no afectaría el idioma. El presidente de la Real Academia Española, Víctor García de la Concha, afirmó, en un congreso sobre lenguas, que las expresiones empleadas en Internet no influirían en la deformación del castellano.


Oct 21, 2003

What's wrong with What's wrong? Jayme has sent me the document read by Agenor Soares dos Santos on the recent Alumni event. I will copy and paste an excerpt. I also have excerpts from the book he's writing, exciting material, e-mail me if you want more info.

Pergunto: Será que a grande ocorrência da pergunta What´s wrong? já criou um decalque? Primeiro, ponhamos a tradução em contexto: Antes da influência do inglês, as perguntas normais eram, por exemplo, além das traduções acima: 'Aconteceu alguma coisa?' 'De que se trata?' 'Alguma coisa não vai bem?' 'Que foi?' 'Que foi que houve?' 'Por que você está com essa cara? Está me escondendo alguma coisa?' Enfim, há em português inúmeras formas de perguntar se alguém ou alguma coisa não vai bem, se aconteceu alguma coisa, qual é o ponto em que o interlocutor discorda ou o que o incomoda, que mal ele vê em alguma coisa, fato ou ocorrência etc. Em nenhuma delas se sente necessidade do adjetivo 'errado'; parece ser este mais um caso em que persiste o primeiro sentido que a pessoa aprendeu na escola; basta abrir qualquer dicionário bilíngüe e se verá a extraordinária polissemia desse adjetivo. Note-se a distinção: Quando o adjetivo português varia - por exemplo, em 'Há alguma coisa errada?' - a pergunta parece natural. Mas já não parecerá tanto se se antepõe 'de', se acrescenta 'com' e o período não termina aí. Isso se dá tanto em perguntas como em afirmações: 'Há algo de errado com você?'/'...com o seu carro?' 'O que há de errado com ele?'/'...com você?' 'Não, você está enganado: não há nada de errado comigo'. Ou considere-se o with seguido de um gerúndio, para ver as construções canhestras a que o decalque poderia chegar: Como entraria o 'errado' em perguntas como 'What´s wrong with dancing?/with asking him yourself? etc. É visível aqui a tradução preguiçosa, ou a insensibilidade ao decalque.

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Oct 17, 2003


In other news. Gabor and I have rented an apartment in Piracicaba together. Living space for him, weekend space for me, at least for the time being. I am going there this weekend to move furniture around and enjoy the beautiful view of the river.On the following Sunday I leave to Chicago, where I will be on an intepreting job for a week (from Spanish to Portuguese, holy moly!). After that, if the ants in my pants get any itchier, I'll fly to Phoenix to attend the American Translators Association Annual Meeting. The Alumni congress has rekindled my love for translator gatherings!


Of attorneys, homes and physicians. One of Alexis Levitin's side comments was one of the best things in the congress. He said that he has had the opportunity of living with a Portuguese woman for 5 years and that had the common language of his marriage been English, it would have probably had lasted only 5 months.

He said that they used Portuguese and that he doesn't have over it the same command and vocabulary intimacy that allows him to detect that somebody doesn't share his view of the world. It's a matter of word choice.

Freely quoted:

Sometimes I am walking with a friend and I say: "Look at those beautiful houses along the lake shore". But I've heard other people say: "Look at those beautiful homes along the lake shore". Now, for me a house is a house, a home is something you attain after having lived in it for 10 years, after raising kids and above all it's something that is highly personal and demands time and love. If somebody says " Look at those beautiful homes", I know that this person is living in the world of advertising. Home is where the heart is. It's the same thing with doctor. If somebody says to me "I need to see a physician", an internal alarm will go off. This is because if I'm sick, I go to a doctor and if I have legal trouble I go to a lawyer, not to an attorney. Depending on the context they are produced, these words readily identify a certain phoniness or lack of honesty in the speaker, a reluctance in calling things by their down-to-earth name.

I don't know how linguistics or psycholinguistics call this phenomenon. Words are suitcases where values, worldviews can be accomodated...


Oh Alexis. The Alumni Translation Congress ended yesterday. I gave a workshop on software localization on Wednesday. One and hour and a half were obviously not enough for everything I had to say, but I hope that my audience enjoyed it. Clutz that I am I tripped over a cable and almost sent computer and LCD crashing to the floor, but Fuad Assam gave me a helping hand.

Last night I broke away from the current review implementation that I'd been working on for eight hours in a row with such tremendous effort that I think I must have developed cerebral hemorrhoids. And what could be more fun for a burnout translator than attending a translation congress?

So I inched through the crammed São Paulo traffic all the way to Alumni where I met the keynote speakers Alexis Levitin and Agenor Soares dos Santos, figure of myth and author of Guia Prático da Tradução Inglesa.

Alexis is great fun. He announced that he was going to talk Sex in Translation and delighted the audience by commenting on the translation of three rather sensual poems, with repartee coming from Isa, who was sitting by my side. (I have the translations here, they were published by the Amazonian Literary Review, maybe I'll post my favorite later)

Now, what was really odd for me was that Alexis had seen my mom's sculptures on an exhibit at Citibank that very same day. He was raving about her work, about how the woman takes centerstage in her pieces and man was a mere accessory. He said that he could tell a lot about her by the way she casts her bronzes.

Well, if he can tell a lot about her I can tell ten times as much...especially to my shrink!

Anyway, Alexis was so enthralled by my mom's sculptures that he didn't Isa a chance to produce her typical statement that "the Enigmatic Mermaid is the best translator in Brazil".

But she did say it to Agenor, who was surprised at never having seen the name of such a great talent anywhere.

"She is the hidden pearl of technical translation. Her clients will wait for 6 months to have her translate a manual (not true, 6 days maybe). She is known by the initiated as the queen of online glossaries and of the Haut and Bas Egypte."

Well the queen of Haut and Bas Egypte is more interested in finding out when Agenor's new book is being released. He presented us with the table of contents and it's simply fantastic.


I'd translate this one for free


Homer and I. I've recently found out that my main reviewer is called Homero, a haunting name for a reviewer. I've been receiving and implementing these reviews by Name-Incognito reviewer for four years now, without ever exchanging e-mails with him or meeting him. Naturally, my imagination has given him some substance, he can't have floated for four years in my mind as The Reviewer. This disembodied entity who will deliver me from all mistranslation evil. But I have to confess I had tagged him as a Paulo, Sérgio or Marcos, never as a Homer.

I'm working on his last review right now. It struck me as quite unusual, much more focused on stylistic issues than the old technical drivel. I actually asked if they had changed the reviewer, driven by the belief that annotations in pdfs are as reliable an indicator of identity as a SSN. I can't have been working for four years under the scrutiny of Homer without ever suspecting it.

My project manager is away on vacation, her stand-in is just too busy and this question and others, far more pressing, remain unaswered.

Or maybe I am just too impressionable...


Oct 7, 2003

Budapeste by Chico Buarque. Famous composer Chico Buarque has recently released an excellent novel whose backbone is the fascination with a foreign language. This protagonist will go any lengths to learn it.

From an excerpt:

Para ajustar o ouvido ao novo idioma, era precise renegar todos os outros. Segui a recomendação de Kriska, exceto por meia dúzia de palavras em inglês, sem as quais não teria roupa lavada nem um prato de sopa no quarto do hotel. Deliberei por via das dúvidas jamais atender ao telefone, que aliás nunca tocou, e ainda renunciei a rádio e televisão, cuja programação local, segundo Kriska, andava infestada de termos estrangeiros. Assim, depois de um mês em Budapeste, já me soava quase familiar a cadência das palavras húngaras, com a tônica sempre na primeira sílaba, mais ou menos como um francês de trás para diante. Um mês em Budapeste, na verdade, significava um mês com Kriska, porque sem ela eu evitava me aventurar na cidade; receava perder, no vozerio da cidade, o fio de um idioma que vislumbrava apenas pela sua voz.

According to Globo, Buarque never set foot on Budapest while writing the story.

According to the Mermaid, this book is gold to languagephiles. I've been taking peeks at it and can't hardly wait for the Corcovado Cowboy to finish it so I can borrow it from him.


Miniature Essays on Linguistics. A colllection of 120 mini-essays by William Z. Shetter, retired foreign languages and linguistics professor.