29 October 2015

sdc logo

With the help of a 'free' online design service, I (how can I express this?) brought about the design and have now adopted the following logo:


Does it suggest communication, linked source and target (languages), etc.?

'sdc' initially stood for Steve Dyson language Consulting, now it's just a three-letter whatever.

Glossarismo, dtSearch, IntelliWebSearch and more

Glossarismo is one of many great sources of mono-, bi- and multilingual terminology now readily accessible to translators thanks to the internet. @Glossarissimo receive regular tweets ensuring prompt access to the latest sites, site updates and events.

But how can freelance translators make the best use of these resources? There's no one answer, so let me explain my approach, just in case some of it is of use to others.

I begin with the assumption that you already are or aim to become a subject specialist. Clearly, you begin by searching for relevant terms plus glossary, terminology, dictionary, lexicon, etc. This is best done using IntelliWebSearch (see my post entitled dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch). If, like me, you prefer local resources to online resources, you then download the most useful looking documents and index them using an indexing engine like dtSearch.
See Term mining pioneer and, again, dtSearch + IntelliWebSearch.

Here are the two main reasons that I prefer local resources to online resources:
  1. faster, more reliable access
  2. good resources are sometimes withdrawn and thus no longer available on line. 
But (and this is the main issue I aim to address today), what do you do when you find a good resource organised as separate webpages for each letter of the alphabet and no provision for single-file download?

Two options:
  • use a tool like HTTrack website copier to download the relevant pages or the entire site
    (HTTrack is a free (GPL), easy-to-use offline browser.)
  • download each page manually (placing the set in a suitably named folder for easy access).
When Glossarismo pointed me to
(EN) – Military Terms & Definitions | http://militaryterms.net/
and
(FR) – Lexique des termes techniques | CCFA : Comité des Constructeurs Français d’Automobiles
I was pleased to discover resources that were more comprehensive and more up to date that those in my archives. The only drawback was that both are organised as separate webpages for each letter of the alphabet with no provision for single-file download?
Having downloaded all the relevant pages, I can forward them as zip files to anyone who happens to be interested but doesn't feel up to following either of the download options explained above.

28 October 2015

Towards gender-neutral pronouns in English

The Terminology Coordination (TermCoord) website of the European Commission's DG Trad has posted an article entitled Video fix: Gender neutral pronouns are there, get used to them!complete with a video entitled Gender Neutral Pronouns: They're Here, Get Used to Them by Tom Scott, a British ‘geek’ comedian, linguist and programmer.

Good article and a very good video.

Conclusion
Scott proposes to spread the use of ‘they’ as a neutral singular pronoun in English, considering that ‘it’ is dehumanised. Facebook has started using it, but Shakespeare beat them to it!

If you find this topic interesting, visit our selection of glossaries on gender terminology here.

* Written by Ana Escaso Moreno, Communication Trainee at TermCoord, Journalist & Social Media manager

27 October 2015

Stop the haze

The Stop the haze (#stopthehaze) campaign is one of many initiatives protesting about the massive smoke pollution and associated haze and smog attributed to forest fires started by palm oil plantation operators in Indonesia.

Despite SickBubble's obvious commercial aims — SickBubble is the best way to find & discover healthy, sustainable business in your area  and notwithstanding the decidedly odd name, the
5 Powerful Things You Can Do in 5 Minutes
campaign makes some good points.



But I am intrigued by the term 'haze'.
Hence the following email just sent to SickBubble:
Your campaign is called "Stop the haze"
But why use the euphemism 'haze' when the topic is actually 'air pollution' or 'smog' or worse?
Why not find out and then tell us who started calling it 'haze', where, when and why?
(I suspect the work of a spin doctor working for one of the governments ...)
Surely the correct identification and naming of the problem is part of the challenge?
Hope you find these language questions useful.
Best regards from Lisbon, Portugal, where we are currently enjoying sea breezes and relatively pollution-free air.
Please share your insights.

And here's the reply I received from SickBubble campaigner Lee Maingot:
Thanks so much for writing in and asking some great questions.  I have to say I could go for some Portugese sea breezes right about now!
Haze immediately resonates with the local populations, but the connotations behind it are changing rapidly.  When we got here, "haze season" was just another bit of "weather" that happened around here according to the locals.
This year, however, has been much different; people have started to realise that this is a hell of a lot worse than any bad weather...and they're pissed about it.
Our #stopthehaze article's focus isn't on the education of what's happening per se, but more of a call to action that is simple to be a part of and using the language that the population is familiar with.
Education is incredibly important as well, and we are in the midst of our next piece which addresses more of the underlying issues. Check out our piece on one of the key underlying causes in another article.
These are what we've deemed as the most major ways to address the challenge, but I do like the point you've brought up about the origin of the potential "spin" to hide what the haze really is.  I'll have to do some research and see what I can find.
Thanks again for writing in, and always feel free to do so.

The Language of Food

On 26 October, under the occasional rubric The Art of Persuasion, FT columnist Sam Leith signed a piece entitled Restaurant menus can teach you how to project confidence. Sam is also the the author of You Talkin’ to Me?’ Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama.

As usual, Sam raises fascinating questions regarding language and word choices. And, while he writes in English about language and word choices in English, most translators will quickly see how relevant every point is to improved insights into why original-language documents are written the way they are and how to translate them more effectively into their target language.

Restaurant menus can teach you how to project confidence reviews Dan Jurafsky’s The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu.

Some quotes (my bold):
How was that sandwich? Handcrafted with unpasteurised aged cheddar from grass-fed heritage cows and accessorised with ripe heirloom tomatoes and fleur de sel butter from Normandy? Or was it a doorstop sarnie on thick-cut white bread with real mayonnaise and juicy, fresh sliced tomatoes just the way you like it? Or was it, y’know: essentially a cheese sandwich.
“Filler words” — such as tasty, mouthwatering, scrumptious, zesty, rich, golden-brown, crispy, crunchy, ripe and real — infallibly garnished the menus of mid-priced chains while absent from Michelin-starred gastro-joints. Why?
Restaurant language also bears on what rhetoric-heads call ethos, aka the way a speaker positions him or herself with an audience.
Menu-writing is a branch of persuasion like any other. Food is deeply involved with social status, which is deeply involved with ego. The appeal to the gut — a visceral form of persuasion — is a microcosm of the importance of word choice and, through it, positioning of the speaker, in a persuasive strategy.
 From the website on The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu:
Why do we eat toast for breakfast, and then toast to good health at dinner? What does the turkey we eat on Thanksgiving have to do with the country on the eastern Mediterranean? Can you figure out how much your dinner will cost by counting the words on the menu? In The Language of Food, Stanford University professor and MacArthur Fellow Dan Jurafsky peels away the mysteries from the foods we think we know. 

21 October 2015

El watan is watermelon

No. Not El Watan the Algerian French-language newspaper, but Homeland (el watan, or وطن, in Arabic) the US television series currently screening on Britain's Channel 4.
(The translation in Arabic script was copied from Google translate, with no guarantees.)

On 21 October, FT language columnist Michael Skapinker published How to avoid ‘Homeland’-style translation tricksters based on a longer piece with photographs and explanations entitled “ARABIAN STREET ARTISTS” BOMB HOMELAND: WHY WE HACKED AN AWARD-WINNING SERIES.
(Sorry about the all-caps. Their heading style, not mine!)

Skapinker begins by informing us that the FT has a standing procedure to check photographs the newspaper plans to run that involves (a) locating people who can reliably translate any written messages, and (b) answer the question: Do protesters’ banners or background graffiti include any obscene or embarrassing words?

He then points out that:
The makers of Homeland, the US television series, failed to take this precaution.
Some more quotes form Skapinker's article (my bold, italics and single quotation marks):
In a 2010 paper, Myanna Dellinger of the University of South Dakota law school told the story of a Danish construction company that had won the contract to build the Manhattan offices of an investment bank.
An instruction in Danish that the walls should be a graphite colour was translated as “graffiti-painted walls”.
Claude Piron, a veteran United Nations translator, once described the difficulty of working with English texts written by non-native speakers. He was asked to translate this sentence into French: “He could not agree with the amendments to the draft resolution proposed by the delegation of India.”
What had the Indian delegation proposed — the amendments or the draft resolution? Because one is plural and the other singular, it would have been clear in French, and he thought a native speaker would have written it to avoid the ambiguity in English.
Google Translate is improving, but it is still not good enough for business use.
Piron wrote: “You cannot translate 'Swiss government' by 'gouvernement suisse', because the French word gouvernement has a much narrower meaning than the English one . . . In French, you have to say le Conseil fédéral or la Confédération suisse according to the precise meaning.”

... companies should deal with experts — people who have something to lose if they get things wrong.
Homeland’s translators had nothing to lose. Indeed, their trickery has won them plenty of admirers.
Now a quote from the Herbaamin article:
The series has garnered the reputation of being the most bigoted show on television for its inaccurate, undifferentiated and highly biased depiction of Arabs, Pakistanis, and Afghans, as well as its gross misrepresentations of the cities of Beirut, Islamabad- and the so-called Muslim world in general. For four seasons, and entering its fifth, “Homeland” has maintained the dichotomy of the photogenic, mainly white, mostly American protector versus the evil and backwards Muslim threat. The Washington Post reacts to the racist horror of their season four promotional poster by describing it as “white Red Riding Hood lost in a forest of faceless Muslim wolves”. In this forest, Red Riding Hood is permitted to display many shades of grey – bribery, drone strikes, torture, and covert assassination- to achieve her targets. She points her weapon of choice at the monochrome bad guys, who do all the things that the good guys do, but with nefarious intent.
Photo and caption from the Herbaamin article:


Homeland is watermelon (al watan bateekh) ('watermelon' is often used to indicate that something is a sham or not to be taken seriously) (photos courtesy of the artists).

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate and support the taggers' initiative​.
And  having just read Outside the Whale by Salman Rushdie after it was brought to my attention in timely fashion by today's The Browser  I am more convinced than ever of what is now my last sentence but one for today.

12 October 2015

Test your 'tightening up' skills

It's often easier to talk about one's 'tightening up' skills than it is to practise what one preaches.

Here are two sites that not only practise what they preach, they allow you to test your own skills to see our they compare with those of industry leaders.

For French, take a look at Dominique Jonkers' Facebook page entitled Des pépites sur le bout de la langue. Here is what Dominique has to say about the omnipresence of « permettre de + infinitif » in French. To test your own skills stop reading after you've copied and pasted the challenge into, say, a Word document. Work on the challenge yourself, then compare you best effort to Dominique's.

In English, go to Writing.Rocks and try your hand at Marcia Riefer Johnston's latest Tighten This! [writing/editing game], currently at Challenge sentence #19.

Enjoy.

Challenge sentence #18 was:
To the extent that MegaCorp operates under the auspices of these contracts, MegaCorp has an affirmative responsibility to meet its contractual, regulatory, and statutory requirements when acquiring goods and services to be used in the performance of its government contracts. 
My entry read:
All MegaCorp contracts to acquire goods and services for government contracts are subject to contractual, regulatory and statutory requirements.
The winning entry read:
When acquiring goods and services to execute government contracts, MegaCorp must obey applicable contracts, statutes, and regulations.

09 October 2015

Reviews of 101 Things

For reviews of of 101 Things a Translator Needs to Know see:
• Corinne McKay's (Thoughts on Translation) here.
• ATC's (Association of Translation Companies) here.
• Kevin Hendzel's (Word Prisms) here.
• JAL Translations's here.
• Marian Dougan's (Words to good effect) here.
• Judy and Dagmar Jenner's (Translation Times) here.
• Nikki Graham's here.
• Miriam Hurley's here.

NavDefGloss devient NavTechGloss

Je viens de publier:


Il s'agit d'une nouvelle édition du ebook que j'avais intitulé auparavant
A French English Glossary of Naval Defence -- Glossaire Français Anglais De La Défense Navale
avec ses horribles majuscules imposées par les règles de l'édition sous format ePub et par certaines plate-formes de distribution.

Même contenu, mêmes avantages (interrogeable et indexable), même prix (€7,90).

Achetez-le à la boutique Lulu.


08 October 2015

NavTechGloss: new title

I have just published

This is a new edition of what was previously entitled
A French English Glossary of Naval Defence -- Glossaire français-anglais de la défense navale.
The new title and absence of a subtitle overcome the limitations in this area imposed by some sales platforms.

Same content. Same price. Same features (searchable and indexable). Great value. Buy it form the Lulu store.

06 October 2015

FT feature article on translation

On 6 October, Andrew Jack published a feature article entitled Translators: Publishing’s unsung heroes at work under the FT's Emerging Voices report.

Here are some excerpts of special interest to translators:
A shift in the style of translation towards fluency and accessibility may also have helped. Specialists talk of a “domestication” of translations into an English that provides a smooth read rather than reproducing the quirks of the original. “There is a noticeable trend to try sounding like the living language as spoken,” says Cullen. (John Cullen translated into English from French the Algerian writer Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation , one of the African novels on the longlist of the FT/OppenheimerFunds Emerging Voices fiction award.)
Robin Moger, who translated Women of Karantina, by Egyptian writer Nael Eltoukhy, argues that there has been a particularly distinguishable shift in translations from Arabic, which was long dominated by a small group of university specialists.
“It was very academic, carried out by people on the mature side of middle age, who came from a place where literature is not read but consumed in academic circles as teaching aids,” he says. “I got a review from one who didn’t like the fact that the book reads fluently. But you are translating many other things apart from the work or the syntax. You are trying to relate enjoyment, tone and voice.”
“People don’t realise that apart from grappling with the grammar, you are stepping into a whole different culture. The reader shouldn’t feel it’s a translation, just that they are being taken somewhere else.” (says Melanie Mauthner who translated Scholastique Mukasonga, shortlisted for the Emerging Voices fiction award from French into English)
“Often it’s not the original language that makes translation difficult, but trying to work out what it will sound like in English,” she says. “It’s primarily about music — trying to make the music of English echo the music of the original.”

05 October 2015

So you think you know what "I understand the meaning" means do you?

Lucy Kellaway's Hands up if you can say what your company’s values are — subtitled Seventeen of Britain’s 100 best companies get along fine without listing corporate traits — is, IMHO, a brilliant example of what a brutally honest review of the odd custom of defining and promoting corporate values. Along the way — and probably of even greater interest to translators and other wordsmiths — is the way Lucy reveals that, at least where abstract words for corporate values and traits are concerned, it is very easy to feel that you understand what the words mean without actually understanding very much at all.

If you have the time and access to the FT, please read the whole article. If you don't, here a long excerpt of the main points of interest to wordsmiths (her links; my bold):
... all corporate values are much of a muchness. Maitland, the financial PR company, has just finished an audit of the values of the FTSE 100, and found that three words — integrity, respect and innovation — crop up over and over again.
What a splendid trio they sound. Alas, all are duds. Integrity is particularly feeble. It makes no sense to assert integrity as a value, as no one would ever dream of asserting the reverse. Respect sounds good, but is meaningless unless it is made clear (as it never is) who is meant to be respected. Some people deserve respect; others do not. And innovation makes its way on to the list more as a wish from frumpy companies to be seen as a little groovier.
Part of the trouble with values is that it isn’t clear what they are supposed to be doing. You could say they are there to tell the outside world how the company behaves (or would like to behave) and how that is different from other companies. This is a fine aim, but it doesn’t work for three reasons.
First, self-describing is always dodgy. If someone goes out of their way to tell me they are honest or creative, I immediately conclude the reverse. Second, far from being a point of difference, values make every company look the same, as there is only a finite list of desirable corporate traits. And third, public professions are a hostage to fortune. Volkswagen must be ruing the day it made “sustainability” a core value.
So how should the thinking translator respond when requested to translate a set of dud corporate values and their often pompous descriptions? Well, if you're on really good terms with someone high up in corporate communications you might try to open a conversation and refer your contact to Lucy's piece. This may even be mandatory if a value word used by the client is particularly difficult to translate or does not carry comparable connotations.

Otherwise, all you can do is translate the values and descriptions as best you can while bearing two points in mind. If translating into English, note first that the value words may gain weight if they are a degree or two less abstract and pompous; and second that the descriptions will definitely benefit from the same treatment.

03 October 2015

Orwell for interpreters and a ramble on translating technical journalism

Mary Fons I Fleming has posted an excellent piece entitled Orwell for Interpreters on the aiic website. Mary's selection of Orwellian quotes includes this gem for serious journalists and writers:
If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences, since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be euphonious ... By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself ... [Ready-made phrases] will construct your sentences for you — even think your thoughts for you, to a certain extent — and at need they will perform the important service of partially concealing your meaning even from yourself.

Orwell is followed by few TJs

The styles adopted by most technical journalists and in most of their work — and I stress the word 'most' in both instances — are less ambitious and less noble. Why? Because most TJs — apart from the odd flash of creativity reserved for headlines, subheadings and kickers — make frequent use to stale metaphors, similes and idioms while exploiting the rhythms and euphony of ready-made phrases. As Orwell says, these strategies save much mental effort. The price, as Orwell also points out, is ready-made thoughts that conceal a great deal from authors and readers alike.

Nor easily applicable to TJT

When the TJ's original is as just described, any TJ translator aiming higher than the straight-forward translation of the original's style and devices faces a challenge. By 'aiming higher' I mean striving for metaphors, similes and idioms in the target language that are less stale but not so innovative as to distract busy skim-readers. After many years' work in this area, I regretfully acknowledge that familiar devices and chunks have — despite the shortcomings pointed out by Orwell — save mental effort for all concerned (i.e. TJs, translators and their respective audiences) while offering rhythm and euphony.

With few TJs prepared, IMHO, to follow Orwell's demanding work ethic, it is hardly surprising that few TJ translators are able to produce target-language versions that scale these easily stated but nevertheless impressive heights.

As mentioned towards the end of Translation by emulation, take #1, acronyms and short-form terms, among other devices, also contribute to rhythm and euphony.

Such is the lot of TJ translators and the methods explained in Translation by emulation, take #1 and take #2.

Note: I use the abbreviation 'TJ' to mean either 'technical journalist' or 'technical journalism' and 'TJT' to mean 'technical journalism translator'.

Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit

Following the two posts below ( Night Jasmin and L'arbre de nuit ), my colleague and reviser Graham Cross wrote: Just out of interest...