Denglish

My colleagues and I often talk about the fact that speaking English has almost come to be expected from many European non-native speakers, especially from the Dutch and the Germans. Not sure why, though, since we don’t expect North Americans to speak fluent German, Dutch or Spanish. As a matter of fact, we don’t even count on every Canadian to speak French fluently, although French is one of two official languages in Canada (the other being English).

Coupled with the mistaken assumption that being (almost) fluent in two (or more) languages also means that you can translate (written) or interpret (spoken) from one language to the other, we regularly stumble across more or less awkward mistranslations.

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On the occasion of International Translation Day I just have to state the obvious: These minor and major errors could be avoided by hiring a qualified and experienced translator or (conference) interpreter. Professional language service providers are members of provincial/ state and/or national professional bodies. Each professional association has an online directory to easily find someone by language combination. In North America they usually have a designation like “Certified Translator” or “Certified Conference Interpreter.” They can help you communicate more effectively in the foreign language, because they “know their stuff.”

So to all my qualified colleagues out there: Happy translating and/or interpreting!

May all your clients value what you do!

 

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Lost in translation

Hi everyone,

It’s a new year! Hopefully, you also started yours with renewed energy and insights gained from a relaxing break. Recent talk about Google’s latest “neural machine translation,” and A.I. (artificial intelligence) had me reading up on some of the advances and issues that may impact my profession.

Doom and gloom talk of translators (written texts) and interpreters (spoken language) being replaced by computers/machines has abounded for decades. Early on in my career, over 25 years ago, some people advised me against taking this path, arguing that in the near future computers would be able to translate. Well, I didn’t believe it back then, and I still don’t.

Granted, we have come a long way with machine translation (MT) and other language-related computerized systems such as voice recognition. These days, many translators and interpreters benefit from using various computer technologies to assist in translation processes. These technologies do help us to translate more quickly and accurately. But in the final analysis, can machine translation really replace human translation? The simple answer is still “no,”  and here is why: Computers cannot truly grasp meaning, because they lack consciousness. Since they are unable to understand or be conscious of themselves and others in the world, they cannot fully grasp the meaning of written or spoken language.

Good! I for one am looking forward to a productive and interesting year!

For more on this, I recommend this Economist Technology Quarterly article: http://www.economist.com/technology-quarterly/2017-05-01/language

and this December article in the NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html?_r=0

Happy New Year! Your Traveling Translator

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Craftsmanship …

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Hello, friends, colleagues and fellow adventurers,

I hope you are also having an amazing start to your day! My almost new laptop is holding up well, as you can see, and proving very inspirational, too.  Recently the concept of craftsmanship has been on my mind, and not just because memories of glass on Murano in the summer …

Whether as a glass blower or as a translator, good craftsmanship provides a solid foundation for your work and allows you to build a good reputation. Taking pride in one’s craft implies looking beyond and thinking longterm. That doesn’t mean that the result should be the only or main factor, even if it is important. I work on maintaining a focus on process, with a view to longterm outcome and effects.

For example: A translation is likely to be of higher quality, if a qualified translator and a qualified translation editor work as a team to ensure a high standard. Although it means that the business (or the freelance translator) may earn less, since you have to remain competitive. However, longterm, this approach will lead to repeat clients, word-of-mouth recommendations and therefore to more contracts.

On that note, I better take a look at my inbox … I am waiting for my editor corrections of a patent translation…

Signing off for today,

Your Traveling Translator

New year … new laptop …

Hi everyone, colleagues, adventurers and friends,

I hope you’ve all had a good start to the new year. Mine was a bit of a mixed bag — nothing major, mind you, but for one thing my trusty laptop suddenly expired. Grrr…. do I have a backup laptop/ PCImage?! No way! I like to live on the edge, remember?

Well, to be honest, the loud humming sound (approaching airplane ?) probably was somewhat of a warning sign — which I repeatedly ignored. I later learned that the fan was clogged and overheating and that it should have been cleaned. Apparently there are these special air blowers/ vaccuums for just such a thing….

Here is my question, though: Who came up with the brilliant idea to place the fan on the bottom instead of the back/ side in the first place? And why are these things only built to last 3-4 years? (Because we would rather spend our money on new technology than fun trips around the world?)

Fortunately, the data could be rescued and transferred! Major sigh of relief! The computer guy who helped do that shared his favourite three tips about laptop computers with me: backup, backup, backup… ha, ha!

So I decided to buy a used business model laptop with a new hybrid hard drive instead of a new model. A bit risky, I know, but I figured since these things have such a short lifespan, no point in spending too much in the hopes of getting quality. I also chose to go for a “business model” instead of the “personal” model, whatever that means.

It does seem a lot sturdier (and not as “fancy”) and actually has the fan located at the back of the unit. Let’s see, how it holds up. I’ll keep you posted.

Safe travels and happy translating!

Your Traveling Translator

Sufficiency… energy… and the WES oracle…

Hola, friends, fellow adventurers and colleagues,

As you may have noticed, my most recent travels have been occurring on another plane altogether.  No less adventurous, mind you… 😉

This quote by Lynne Twist is informing my approach to work and play right now:

“Sufficiency:….When you let you of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have. When you make a difference with what you have, it expands.” (Lynne Twist)

Hmmmm… Works on a few levels, I think: with money and material possessions, of course. With relationships, too, though. In my last blog I mentioned my WES sisters, remember? And, no… contrary to what my sword-fighting friend has suggested, we are not a band (at least not yet). We are a small group of entrepreneurs (from up and coming to the well-established and in between) who meet once a month to share and support each other in a constructive and positive forum (and I don’t just mean the restaurant). The host & organizer (rotating) presents something like an idea or approach that works, each member shares some of their goals and challenges, and the WES oracle (coined by secret service writer sister, meaning the members of WES) makes suggestions and gives advice.

Here we are, using what we have to come together (while letting go of what we don’t really need, like competition, envy, insecurity, etc.). Each month I walk away with something I receive from the WES oracle: rekindled energy and enthusiam, new ideas and perspective and a sense that helping each other creates more positive for everyone. Thank you to my ich bin ein berliner and healer WES sister and friend and my very funky boston designer friend for the idea.

Signing off for today

Your Traveling Translator

2012 and the Hegelian dialectic

Hi friends, colleagues, fellow adventurers,

Happy new year to everyone! Here we are, it’s January 2012 and … we are still here. Just had to point out the obvious, after all the doomsday scenarious I heard last year (Mayan calendar, etc.) Probably just marked the end of one and beginning of another phase, but more thoughts on that later.

First I’d like to look back a bit to where I left off the last time. I had a longer interpreting assignment in the fall and not a minute to blog at all! Interpreting around the clock, including early mornings and evening functions as well. Exhausting as it was, I had a grate- ful group of delegates and a wonderful trip. The work was exciting and interesting for the most part (which I can’t say about every assignment, let me tell you 🙂

I took these photos with my cell phone, but you still get the idea. This is early morning in Ottawa, with the parliament buildings on the left, taking on my morning walk around the hotel. Nice to have some calm and quiet before interpreting all day.

And this is early morning  in Quebec City; again just around the corner from where I stayed.

Getting back to what I was saying earlier about looking backwards and forward this time of year – while being in the present – brings me to the Hegelian dialectic (by German philosopher Hegel). Apparently, Hegel used a certain formula (dialectic) in his writings. His usual terms for it were: Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis or also Abstract-Negative-Concrete (see Wikipedia).  “In the Logic, for instance, Hegel describes a dialectic of existence: first, existence must be posited as pure Being (Sein); but pure Being, upon examination, is found to be indistinguishable from Nothing (Nichts). When it is realized that what is coming into being is, at the same time, also returning to nothing (in life, for example, one’s living is also a dying), both Being and Nothing are united as Becoming.” (Wikipedia)

Granted, a little lofty so early in the year, but then again, why not start out lofty and see where life will take me this year? I also like this idea of Being and Nothing “synthesized” into “Becoming” – may be a good focus for this year.

On that note… signing off for today,

Your Traveling Translator