Monday, 29 September 2014

Language Zapping

Have you ever started a sentence in one language and finished it in another? Or squeezed another language in to make three?

When you work daily with people of different linguistic backgrounds, say, to take an example from my own experience, French, English, Spanish, Gujerati, Russian there are ample opportunities for this sort of language-zapping.

But why should you do this? Perhaps because in a given situation a particular expression in a particular language seems to better describe what is happening or encapsulates a concept better?

Perhaps because you need to show off your extensive linguistic knowledge and this seems to be a good way to do it? I'm guilty of this sometimes.

I'm sure people who have been brought up in truly multilingual circumstances do this all the time. It feels a bit stranger for those of us who have had to acquire new languages through hard work.

Between the Pages

I was given this 1943 bilingual edition (translated by J-F Angelloz) of Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus by a generous bookseller a few years back.

I like these bilingual editions because, certainly with Rilke, the language is often too dense and deep for my limited knowledge of German.

I did not open the book immediately as one is not always in the mood to read Rilke.

Recently though I have been, and found these flowers in two places in the second and fifth Elegies, and in various sonnets.

My next task will be to try to identify the flowers to establish when in the year they were picked. Dating them would be more problematic but not impossible, though costly no doubt.

Then I can let my imagination run wild and tell the story of how they came to be there.

Monday, 7 July 2014

NCAP Stars Lost in Translation

News (Autocar 2 July 2014 p18) that Renault's Mégane only achieved three stars in the Euro NCAP crash test would be a surprise in itself, considering the efforts car makers put into producing safe vehicles nowadays. But the reason given for the car's shortcomings is even more surprising.

Euro NCAP's explanation is as follows: "the text informing the driver of the status of the rear seat belts was not available in all languages". This mistake, although relatively minor, cost Renault a whole star in the rating. Needless to say the manufacturer must be somewhat embarassed by this episode and will be doing something about it "very soon".

I think we can be certain that Renault will not be skimping on translation again, considering the cost of crash testing. Minor mistakes can indeed be very costly, whether they are the result of a bad translation, or no translation at all.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Coming up for air

It feels like such a long time since I have posted, and, in fact, it is. My apologies to any of you who have been hanging on my every word... You can now stop hanging.

It has been a very busy time, I am happy to say, and time (and inclination) has been limited.  I find that you need to be in a certain frame of mind to write blog posts, or to produce any other sort of 'creative' writing, and I have not been in that particular frame of mind.

It's a bit like golf; you need to be feeling extremely well and relaxed to play well and to enjoy it, otherwise it is spoiling a good walk, as someone once said on the subject.

What you may ask has been so occupying my days? Well, let's see.

A large amount of website translation work (it is a big website!), many audio files. many other assignments on various subjects. In short, a high volume of work demanding my full attention.

Things have slowed down a little, so I am now able to spend time on other things, such as taking a breather for example, or writing here. Unless there is too much to do elsewhere ...