Mar 27, 2007

Disaster. You come across major stuff in the booth sometimes. This week I'm working on a safety-related assignment and they showed us a video on Piper Alpha. It was kind of cheesy, with renactements that remided me of something you would catch on Discovery Channel on a Sunday afternoon. But boy, what a terrible sequence of mistakes. Tomorrow I think they are showing us Bhopal. And no, it's not the Yes Men at the podium.


Mar 25, 2007

In case anybody was wondering...

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Can You Trust an Iraqi Translator? The Novo em Folha "foca" blog has picked up this thread. Jussara Simões answers: "Just as much as you can trust an American journalist".


Mar 23, 2007


Lawyers say the damnest things. I told my friend L. about the shinto shrine short-circuit and she replied that sometimes it's not something that is too close to home that throws you off. A very unexpected word in a quasi-predictable context can do the trick. She illustrated her point with a little tale.

Once she was interpreting in an arbitration meeting awash with legalese when the speaker casually remarked that "certas decisões arbitrais mais parecem um ornitorrinco". The effort she put into searching her memory for the word platypus- which she managed to deliver without resorting to "you know, that strange animal with duck feet and a bill that is actually an egg-laying mammal"- was so intense that her brain's CPU burned out for the rest of the day.


Mar 17, 2007

Short-Circuit. This is how it happens. You are in the booth, interpreting a lecture on high tech office buildings. You studied the terminology in the powerpoints, had a look at the architecture pages on Oxford-Duden and are expecting transoms, raised floors, HVAC systems, sustainable buildings and even gold collar workers to pop out of your speaker's mouth at any given moment.

But your speaker decides to make a long detour. You to think "how fun, we're going on a ride" as he starts to talk about the collapse of civilizations that were not wise enough to conserve their resources.

From the Mayan Empire to Easter Island and Greenland and you're easily following the track, feeling comfortable and delighted to be interpreting sentences that actually mean something to you. Not only can you understand where he is getting at, you actually have great sympathy for the political statement behind the words you are interpreting.

Suddenly, the world tour veers to Japan and things get a little murky. Maybe statiticky is a better word. You can sense there is some interference, but can't really pin it down to the fact that you're currently reading Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami.

You are still tagging along. Your speaker goes on talking about warlords, the mountainous terrain once covered by forests (your mind beeps at this word, because forests are a big thing in the book, and an image of the forest as you had imagined it while reading the book flashes by; you tense up feeling that the harmless spin around the globe is about to turn dangerous).

And then comes the word that completely short-circuits your brain. Shrine. Shinto shrines, he repeats as an overpowering image from the book impresses itself upon your mind, blocking out all else, including the correct translation for shrine, which is at the tip of your tongue.

While the audience is hanging and some part of your brain processor is looking for the translation for shrine, you remember vividly an important scene in the book. Hoshino, goaded by Colonel Sander's, goes looking for the entrance stone. They meet in a shrine, needless to say. The entrance stone Mr. Nakata wants to find is right there in the woods by the shrine and Hoshino is going to get it for him. You see the entrance stone, you see the woods, you see Hoshino and the shrine.

In the meantime, that part of your brain that is looking for the linguistic equivalent of shrine realizes that if you dwell in that image of Japan, you're screwed. The image is too powerful, too VISUAL and NARRATIVE, and has you spellbound. Trying to save your skin, the processing brain goes into Thesaurus mode, airlifting you from dangerous Japanese soil. You remember that other religions also have shrines and the expression "Are you going to temple?" leaps out of some dusty corner and there you have it.

Templo. It comes to your lips, passes through the interpreting unit and goes into the audience's receivers. In the nick of time.


Mar 14, 2007

Revisora das Traduções Alheias. Eu já devia ter me acostumado. Desde que cresceu minha barba branca e encaracolada e ganhei calo nos cotovelos de tanta janela, as agências estrangeiras preferem me mandar trabalhos de editing.

Dei um chilique como uma delas essa semana e resolvi aumentar minha tarifa por hora para ver se eles largam a mão de me mandar só revisões. Adiantou? Não. Acabam de me consultar para mais uma.

Quando escrevi, a moça da agência topou na hora o aumento, mas disse que a minha tarifa já era a mais alta do banco de dados deles, pelo menos no meu par de línguas. Como pode isso?

Em comparação com outros pares de línguas, e com o que cobro dos outros clientes, ela era baixíssima, se vcs querem saber. Entrei para o time da agência num momento em que o dólar estava nas estratosferas, 1:4 reais, praticamente. Joguei o preço bem lá embaixo para catar serviço sem prejudicar o bolso. Depois me lasquei toda. A agência cresceu e virou um dos meus clientes importantes, e eu lá, xingando cada vez que via o PO e olhava a cotação do dólar.

Lição aprendida. Nunca mais me deixo levar na onda do dólar alto. Mas ainda resta o problema. Se não é a tarifa baixa que determina essa avalanche de trabalhos de revisão, como eu faço para me livrar da barba branca e dos calos cotovelares?


Mar 10, 2007

Do the Needful, originally uploaded by Meanest Indian.

Simply fantastic. Via Dick & Garlick.


Visual Dictionary.
English and French. Covering Vegetal and Animal Biology, Human Body, Transport and Music. Searchable by word or browsable. Very clear images.


A Feast for the Eyes.
One of the most beautifully designed animations I've ever seen. Images so spectacularly rich they make your eyes hurt.

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Mar 9, 2007

Tradutores de baciada. Translators, a dime-a-dozen. Photogragh by Ian Muttoo, found at Flickr.