Saturday, May 18, 2002

Chouchoot. Cajun Dialect page, complete with .wav files and crawfish backgrounds.

La Malinche. Malinche, Malinztin or Dona Marina, as she was baptized by the Spaniards spoke both Maya and Nahualt and is often credited with playing a key role in the Conquest. Says the Oxford History of Mexico, however, that her importance as an interpreter has been considerably overstated because "the truly crucial linguistic leap was not between two indigenous languages but rather between a European and an indigenous one. This connection was achieved not by Marina but by Geronimo Aguilar, who spoke both Spanish and Maya and accompanied her throughout the Conquest." Ascending to the status of a myth for also mothering the "first" Mexican with Cortés, no less, Malinche's name has evolved into the adjective malinchista, used to describe a person who turns her back on her culture. Her name also designates a volcano in Mexico.

Using the Wrong Language. Palestine TV broadcasts in Hebrew to reach the Israeli public. But even if the language is right the choice of words may be wrong.
Oh, Oklahoma."A petition to make English Oklahoma's official language is unconstitutional, the state's Supreme Court ruled Tuesday. The court ruled the initiative infringes on the right of free speech, on the freedom to petition the government for redress and on the policy-making function of the state Legislature. The proposed statute would have banned state money from being spent on translations of public documents or providing services in different languages."

The Politically-Correct Carmen. "The first scene takes place in a square in Seville. Young factory workers spill into the street for their morning break of fresh fruit. One of them, the dark Gypsy Carmen, sings a lovely habanera, reminding us that love occurs between all genders, races, and body types. Before returning to the factory, Carmen throws a rose to the Basque soldier, Don José. A fight breaks out between two of the young persons in the factory, and while trying to instruct them on the futility of violence, Carmen is arrested. Don José is ordered to guard her, but she convinces him to allow her to escape, explaining that they are all victims of patriarchal oppression."

Buzzword of the Day. TECHNIBAN. A fundamentalist mindset, repressively opposed to ground-breaking technologies that could upset the status quo. Apparently coined by info warrior Richard Forno in a rant about politicians protecting the entertainment industry from new technology that would undermine its current business model.

Austria Proposes Mandatory German Classes for Immigrants and Fines for Failing Fluency Tests. "Under the proposal, they would have to take a 100-lesson course and pay half the tuition of about $315. Those who fail to pass a test showing they have mastered basic expressions would be subject to fines of up to $175; those who don't comply within four years could be forced to leave Austria." This is too awful for words.

Spam Fatigue. Chris Sherman from Search Day recommends Mailwasher for getting rid of spam. "Mailwasher's been literally saving me an hour or more each day."

Verlan. Ever wondered why the French dialect is called verlan? Because it's French à l'envers. BBC, which is turning out to be an aortal feed for this blog as a result of its extensive coverage of languages, has published a brief overview of Verlan a couple of days ago. The link is only slightly dusty. Brush it off and I'm sure you can use it.

Plastigraphics and Dermagraphics. What exactly is this all about? It's a bit mesmerizing in a Mattel kind of way. There is also a basfonds version with a dermaglossary of Russian prison tattoos.
via the very odd gmtplus9

Translation Napster ?"A US software designer plans to harness the brains of the world's computer users to build a multilingual translation database. Brian McConnell believes it could provide a free way to translate the many languages not included in existing online translators." Yada yada yada. Will these scientists ever stop bothering me? "But Paul Rayson, a research fellow at Lancaster University, adds that unskilled translators may confuse the meaning of individual words. 'The problem is you generally need the context to get a good translation,' he says. No shit. I guess that will be translated as "não merda".

Browsing the Web through a Radio. Hey, look at the bright side: no need for pop-up killers on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Ms. Kim, I don't understand what you're saying. Kindergarten--a novel experience in any language--got off to a baffling start last fall in one Schaumburg classroom when teacher Yuri Kim began speaking to her pupils in Japanese.

Poetry in Translation. Just found some good poetry translated by good translators into Portuguese. Unfortunately not all pages display the poem in the original language for comparison.

At MIT, They Can Put Words in Your Mouth. "Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created the first realistic videos of people saying things they never said - a scientific leap that raises unsettling questions about falsifying the moving image."

Some Language Experts Think Humans Spoke First With Gestures. "hat a hairy back!" was Lily Tomlin's candidate for the first human sentence. But whatever the content of that original remark, if Michael C. Corballis is correct, it was expressed in gestures, not words." Well, I am not a linguist either, but it makes sense.

Wanderlust. The ambivalent wanderluster Baudelaire, as quoted in The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton. "'Life is a hospital in which every patient is obsessed with changing beds. This one wants to suffer in front of the radiator, and that one thinks he'd get better if he was by the window.' Baudelaire was, nevertheless, unashamed to count himself among the patients. 'It always seems to me that I will be well where I am not and this question of moving is one that I'm forever entertaining with my soul. Sometimes Baudelaire dreamt of going to Lisbon. It would be warm there and he would like a lizard gain strength from stretching himself in the sun. It was a city of water, marble and light, conducive to thought and calm. But almost from the moment he conceived of this Portuguese fantasy, he would start to wonder if he might not be happier in Holland. Then again, why not Java or else the Baltic or even the North Pole, where he could bathe in the shadows and watch comets fly across the Arctic skies? The destination was not really the point. The true desire was to get away, to go, as he concluded 'Anywhere! Anywhere! So long as it is out of the world!" But he was aware of the difficulties. Baudelaire once had left the leaden skies of France embarking on a journey to India. Three months into the sea crossing, the ship ran into a storm and landed in Mauritius for repairs. "It was the lush, palm fringed island that Baudelaire had dreamt off. But he could not shake off a feeling of lethargy and suspected and began suspecting that India would be no better. Despite efforts by the captain to persuade him otherwise, he insisted on sailing back to France."

Wear lipstick, have a tattoo, belly-dance, then get naked. The making of a virtual librarian. Is the stereotypical librarian nerdier than the stereotypical translator?

"Let us be lazy in everything, except in loving and drinking, except in being lazy"

RTFM. A forum about user manuals, bibliographic artifact for the clueless.

Translating Style. I think Missveen would like this book by Tim Parks. "One wet Thursday, as it were, many years ago, I decided to give a group of students a piece writing in Italian and English. They had to decide which language was the original, which the translation. It was an odd piece and they soon found the four or five places where the texts were different. They opted for the Italian, which seemed all proper and correct. The English was bizarre to say the least. It included the expression 'he shut himself together.' It was D.H. Lawrence. I was fascinated. Infallibly, by finding where translation differed from original, students whose English was far from perfect were able to identify those places where a writer diverged from standard usage. The reason is evident enough. While it's fairly easy to translate content and standard mannerisms, when the meaning of a text lies in the distance between itself and what the reader expected, then it is difficult for translator to follow. Looking at all the ways a translation differs from its original, you can begin to get a good sense of how a writer worked and what his particular take on language and indeed life was. Because for each author who has anything interesting to say, the problems are always different. That's what this book is about."

Pandora's Wordbox. It's a mixture of mythology, medicine, etymology and wordlore illustrated with classical paintings. Sure worth a visit to ponder over sentences such as "Imbibing to ebriety may imbibe to imbecile" and to check out the paintings, which are amazing, sometimes eerie.

Dictionaraoke. Now you can hear the on-line dictionary sing the songs of yesterday and today. Smack my bitch up, highway to hell and rock the casbah among the 91 entries.
via the totemic paganist aka blind tangerine

Japan Pop. "Japan is reinventing superpower—again. Instead of collapsing beneath its widely reported political and economic misfortunes, Japan’s global cultural influence has quietly grown. From pop music to consumer electronics, architecture to fashion, and animation to cuisine, Japan looks more like a cultural superpower today than it did in the 1980s, when it was an economic one. But can Japan build on its mastery of medium to project an equally powerful national message?"
Untranslatable Joke? I suspect so, because Herr Professor's humor is impenetrable to me. Plenty of fun to be had at the Freud exhibit at the Library of Congress, though. Noteworthy: Envelope with prescription and wrapper that held cocaine, ca. 1883; image of hysterics under hypnosis at Salpêtrière, from D.M. Bourneville and P. Régnard and the planche is called Attitudes Passionelles.
Banned Books. You can read them online, but not Lady Chatterley's Lover. Prudes. Enjoy the Decameron or JJ Rouseaus's Confessions, which begins with these remarkably ambitious words: I HAVE begun on a work which is without precedent, whose accomplishment will have no imitator. I propose to set before my fellow-mortals a man in all the truth of nature; and this man shall be myself. I have studied mankind and know my heart; I am not made like any one I have been acquainted with, perhaps like no one in existence; if not better, I at least claim originality, and whether Nature has acted rightly or wrongly in destroying the mold in which she cast me, can only be decided after I have been read.

Verba Volant Quote. An editor is someone who separates the wheat from the chaff and then prints the chaff.
Adlai Stevenson

When President Translates as "Great Supreme Leader".
GOP's intent lost in translation ''I'm surprised that they wouldn't have gone with a professional translator, and if they did, this translator seems to lack experience in this type of translation,'' said Georgia Seminet, a Spanish professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce. ''Honestly, it looks like they grabbed some volunteer and said, `Hey, you speak Spanish, you do this.'''

Bad Translation Protects American Steel. In Portuguese.

Poetry Wednesday. I am going to follow Dave's example and contribute to this worthy cause with a link to Literary Translation, brought to you via Enig and by the British Council, a paper on translating Paulo Leminski including translations by by colleague and doyenne supreme Regina Alfarano, and the following poem, also by the Polish-Black-Brazilian author: Blade Runner Waltz Em mil novecentos e oitenta e sempre, ah que tempos aqueles, dançamos ao luar, ao som da valsa A Perfeição do Amor através da Dor e da Renúncia, nome, confesso, um pouco longo, mas os tempos, aquele tempo, ah, não se faz mais tempo como antigamente. Aquilo sim é que eram horas, dias enormes, semanas anos, minutos milênios, e toda aquela fortuna em tempo a gente gastava em bobagens, amar, sonhar, dançar ao som da valsa, aquelas falsas valsas de tão imenso nome lento que a gente dançava em algum setembro daqueles mil e novecentos de oitenta e sempre More Leminski in Portuguese and in some Spanish translations by Rodolfo Mata.

Singaporean Colloquialisms. "When we are stumped for words, when no literal translation in English will do justice, when the language of Shakespeare, Milton and Dickens cannot convey the nuances of what we think, feel and mean, we dip into our multi-racial treasury of uniquely Singaporean colloquialisms."

Interview with a Big Man in an Invisible Profession. "Häilä points out that when talking about translations it is easy to inspect the commas, but few people realise what an immense job the translator has done when defining the writer's "tone of voice", his or her way of writing. According to Häilä the "mistakes" are just a marginal area, which should be discussed with a slightly different approach. Reluctantly Häilä gives an example of such a mistake he recently discovered in a book he'd been reading. "In Zadie Smith's White Teeth there is a passage where the author colourfully describes gloomy railway yards, dilapidated buildings, littered alleys, and - rather surprisingly - grease-covered spoons. Well, the translator had failed to grasp that the "greasy spoons" in this context referred to cheap and nasty restaurants instead of unwashed cutlery." (Read more)

Translation Pushes Sales of Popular Books. "Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens" by J.K. Rowling is flying off the bookstore shelves in Berlin, while Clive Cussler's "Il serpente dei Maya" has taken Rome by storm and Stephen Hawking's "O universo numa casca de noz" has captured imaginations from Lisbon to Rio. A quick glance of best-seller lists in major cities around the world reveals that many of the most popular titles are translations from foreign languages. (Read more)

Buzzword of the Day. Scope creep: When a project continues to grow after the contract has been signed. In the end, the vendor does more work than it gets paid for. Sounds very familiar...

Analyzing the Language of Globalization. All that glitters is not global. Translation: Non è tutto oro quello che luccica.

HSBC Gets it Right. Instead of the surveillance cam, I'd rather have the popuperatti display HSBC's new branding campaign on my browser since they have to have their wicked ways. Here's the latest on The Economist: Illustration: lemons and chili peppers. Text: India- Wards off evil; Mexico- Wards off Hunger. Headline- Never underestimate the importance of local knowledge Tagline: HSBC, the world's local bank Maybe it's just a half-hearted attempt by a megacorporation to seem less intent on destroying local identities with their big bucks and monolithic business cultures. Notwithstanding the ideological patrolling of my own psyche, what I like about this campaign is that it is the advertising equivalent of a cultural consulting assignment. There was a great design site aeons ago, with multicultural superstitions, proverbs, body language, alas the Web is now too crowded
Language Rights. Here is a Islamabad scholar making the case against English. Caveat lector: Islamic countries don't have a good track record on defending minority languages, as demonstrated by the oppression of the Berber and Kurdish communities. So read between the lines for that anti-American sentiment seeping through. Among other things, Dr. Tariq says that "American Africans (sic) although they do have distinguishing cultural features and speak Ebonics, they look like imitation products of American Western culture. They lack cultural authenticity." Oh pleeaaase! Metablogging note: I find myself thinking about "A Agulha e a Linha", a short fable by Machado de Assis. I hope that by posting this, I am not acting as a needle for a lowly thread.

Art of Simultaneous Interpreting is More than Just Being Bilingual. "Sasae pointed out that it would be difficult for those in the profession to improve as interpreters unless they tried to develop the "something beyond languages." I think that what Sasae is referring to that holistic conference room awareness that allows the interpreter to recognize that 70% of the attendees have succumbed to post-lunch slumberdoom. Time to let the Sarah Bernhardt within blossom!

Machado de Assis, Translator of Oliver Twist. Machado de Assis, greatest Brazilian novelist, left an unfinished translation of Oliver Twist. This year, the publishing house Hedra called on writer Ricardo Lísias to finish the translation. This project and Mr. Lísias have catalyzed heated flame wars at the Portuguese literary translators mailing list, Litterati last year, if not for anything else, because Mr. Lísias is young, provocative and entered the sacred python pit announcing his project and stating that a good translator should: "(...) dive into the literary text, fuck it, fall in love with it, feel what it has to say. Then come, come and come! Kiss the text, fondle it, arouse it, make it feel the irresistible urge to jump into bed with you. The translator has to make the text beg: fuck me, fuck me, fuck me!" Most literary translators almost died of apoplexia upon reading these words. But in the end, Lísias left the list voluntarily, dishevelled but undisturbed with two or more invitations to a cozy dinner under his belt. At any rate, questions are raised by both the Machado de Assis translation (a "belle infidèle" by definition) and the contemporary translator's patches. The eyebrow raiser issue is that Machado de Assis translated Oliver Twist at the turn of the century, under a completely different conception of what a translation should be. And more, how sucessful was Lisias' emulation of Machado de Assis translation style ?

The Writer Everyone Loves to Hate. Who else could it be but the translator? This article is pure gold. Howard Goldblatt vents off many of our frustations and ends with this magnificent statement of love for the profession: I am sometimes asked why I translate, since to many it seems a thankless vocation. Why, they ask, don't I write my own novels, since I have lived (they assume) an interesting life and must by now have an idea of what a novel should be? I can only say that not all translators are closet novelists, and that I do not consider translation to be a lesser art -- one that ought to lead to something better. The short, and very personal, answer to the question is: Because I love it. I love to read Chinese; I love to write in English. I love the challenge, the ambiguity, the uncertainty of the enterprise. I love the tension between creativity and fidelity, even the inevitable compromises. And, every once in a while, I find a work so exciting that I'm possessed by the urge to put it into English. In other words, I translate to stay alive. The satisfaction of knowing I've faithfully served two constituencies keeps me happily turning good, bad, and indifferent Chinese prose into readable, accessible, and -- yes -- even marketable English books. Amen.

Bilingual Multimedia Storytelling. "Fabula is a free software package for making bilingual multimedia stories with children. Using Fabula, teachers, parents and children can combine texts in two languages, images and sounds to make fun-to-use interactive learning resources. You will also find examples of bilingual Fabula stories made by children from across Europe. We invite you to download and explore these stories yourself. But don't stop there. Send in the stories you make with Fabula and show them to the rest of the Fabula community." Not all languages supported, but the idea is neat.
via textmatters via oddsocks

World's Only Women's Language in Dire Need of Protection. "In a bid to save a special language used exclusively by women of an ethnic group in central-south China, a protection zone will be set up in Hunan Province. The language, on the verge of disappearing, is believed to be the world's only women's language. It is used among women of the Yao ethnic group in Jiangyong County of Hunan. The language was usually written on silks, paper fans or embroidery items. So far, more than 1,200 characters have been identified. Less than 700 characters are in common use." (Read more)

Spoonerisms and Malapropisms. "Let's say you're looking out the kitchen window and there is a deer on the patio. (This happens frequently at our house.) You call your wife by shouting, "Come and wook out the lindow!" Or you come into the house, all hot and sweaty from raking leaves, and your spouse says, "Go and shake a tower!" Spoonerisms are linguistic flip-flops that turn "a well-oiled bicycle" into a "well-boiled icicle." Let's say you're looking out the kitchen window and there is a deer on the patio. (This happens frequently at our house.) You call your wife by shouting, "Come and wook out the lindow!" Or you come into the house, all hot and sweaty from raking leaves, and your spouse says, "Go and shake a tower!" Spoonerisms are linguistic flip-flops that turn "a well-oiled bicycle" into a "well-boiled icicle." As for malapropisms, well, they are a bit like bushisms...
via glossblog

The Hardest Natural Languages. Wasted Bits has started a meme by mentioning a paper entitled "The Hardest Natural Languages" by Arnold Rosenberg in which the author attempts to determine what groups of people feel are the hardest languages in the world. "The paper is speckled with lines like "eto dlya menya kitaiskaya gramota" -- which apparently means 'it's a chinese document to me' in Russian, so therefore the Russians think Chinese is harder." The subject has been picked up by generating over one hundred erudite and not-so erudite comments. High feedback level for an article that is not meant to be serious linguistic fodder, according to one of the commenters.

Double Negatives Defined. A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "A double negative forms a positive. In some languages, though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However, there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative." A voice from the back of the room piped up, "Yeah, right."
more language jokes

A Linguablog and Other Stuff. Beautiful Glosses is published by Renée, "the journeyman linguist, featuring coverage of languages, folklore & mythology, Mac usability, nonsense, annotated links and, of course, booklore."
via morfa, a weblog in Welsh
Other recent great finds: sophismata, a mathematical weblog. The author is currently involved in a graph design discussion with patriarch Edward Tufte. Definitely worth a look. nonharmful, a medical weblog. This blog has tons of interesting links, such as research findings about breast-feeding pheromones, the number of germs on the hand that types at the keyboard and a history of heroin addiction. sysblog is not topical in content. But the writing and the life story behind it is very poignant. Posts such as rikki and my morning struck a chord in me. consumptive is a grade A blog on art, photography and the uncanny. There I discover a link to a funny page listing signs you've been living in Japan for too long. Maybe The Brazilians has a similar list?
Mobile Gossiping. "Gossip is not a trivial pastime: it is essential to human social, psychological and even physical well-being. The mobile phone, by facilitating therapeutic gossip in an alienating and fragmented modern world, has become a vital 'social lifeline', helping us to re-create the more natural communication patterns of pre-industrial times."
via glossblog

English it is, but not as we it know."Speaking you Internet? Availability now at the engines of search a means there is for foreign words translated to be. And so a language of newness has been birthed. In factual, this tongue no other like is. His specialness from the two things come. First, he is by computer made, seems it by people who get out much don't. Second, when speaking him, no persons a bloody word you say understanding. So, to exhibition of myself, this article in him writing I am; and, to the judging of envelopes from readers receiving, parts other of this newsy paper being in him written also."

Is the Pentagon onto Something? Three hints: it's bi-directional, it speaks Pashto, Dari, Urdu and Uzbek and getting it to work is proving to be more difficult and complicated than expected.

To Speak or Not to Speak. "To be or not to be? That is the question that never gets voiced in the latest production of "Hamlet" to hit the nation's capital." Do we have an extreme sports Hamlet yet?

Communications are Making the World Less Tolerant. A contrarian's point of view.

Sartre in Araraquara. In 1960, Jean-Paul Sartre visited the sleepy town of Araraquara, Brazil to give a conference at a recently founded university. As befitting, his entourage comprised Simone de Beauvoir and Jorge Amado among other figures of note who descended from the intellectual heights to take a long kombi ride to the venue. Ok, I will make a long story short. There was simultaneous interpreting at the conference. Guess who was moonlighting in the booth? Antonio Cândido and Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Holy smokes!

Ape-English Dictionary, you know you are going to need it.

How Peculiar. "The ancient Greeks and Romans needed interpreters in large numbers because they generally considered it beneath their dignity to learn the languages of the peoples whom they conquered." From a Brief History of Interpreting. More info here.

Intel's Quixotic Quest for the Next Billion Users. "Humanities majors do have a future in high tech after all. In the heart of chip giant Intel Corp.'s research and development group here in the great Northwest is a small cadre of researchers who don't want anything to do with math, physics or chemistry.

They are anthropologists and psychologists who hang out with teenagers in local hostels, young families in their living rooms, fishermen on their boats in Alaska, American Indians on Navajo reservations and the poor in Brazil.

Their mission is to find out how technology can penetrate some of the unlikeliest places and spell potential future market growth for Intel." (Read more)

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?