T.G.I.M. (Inspired by Nora Torres – Translartisan)

We are the lucky ones.

T.G.I.M. by Translartisan
T.G.I.M. by Translartisan

Sometimes we forget about the treasure we hold in our hands. It’s easier to complain rather than thank for what we can do everyday. I know, it’s a habit and it’s useless to say, but maybe even harder to accept. I’m sure that anybody is in denial, but it’s a true fact. I usually create ecards about Mondays. So, we complain for our bad Mondays when there are people outside without a job, looking for inspiration, and trying to find their way. Yes, we are freelancers and we face hard times as well; our happiness is closely related to our attitude towards clients, in order to get an assignment.
Eventually, we work. We have a job, something we put a lot of effort in. We are a proud group of people from all over the world; we do what we love; we share our thoughts and fears; we try to help each other (until it’s possible – because I know “we are not alone”, and we live on this planet together with bad creatures, who try to bring us down in many different ways).
Yet, we are a big family living in the social media world. We reply to posts and tweets to feel like we are co-working, all together, in a digital open plan office.
As far as I’m concerned, I feel very lucky, because I’m surrounded by precious ladies and men I can talk to, while I am completing those assignments and managing schedules and agendas.

We are the lucky ones. I want to thank God for my dreadful, but very lucky Mondays.

[Repost] Accents and dialects: a thorny issue for translators by Hayley

Accents and dialects: a thorny issue for translators

Cf. original post http://www.languageinsight.com/blog/2013/01/24/accents-and-dialects-a-thorny-issue-for-translators/

January 24th, 2013 by 

translation, book, literature

Translation is a tough enough discipline at the best of times, but when accents and dialects are factored in it becomes a real test of a linguist’s skills. Anyone hoping to use free software to translate something where accents are involved should give up now.


You may think that producing translations where the source includes a variety of dialects is something you’ll rarely be called upon to do, but everything from classic works of literature to Disney films make use of accents as a way of fleshing out characters. By simply wiping this out and making all of the characters speak a standardised version of the target language, the translator significantly alters the way the character is perceived by the reader.

Tackling dialects

document translation, book translation

Literature and translation lecturer at the University of East Anglia BJ Epstein has written an interesting paper on the translation of dialects, focusing primarily on The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. The book was published in 1884 in the UK and a year later in the US and is one of the first works of literature to be written in the native dialect of the narrator. It also features a variety of different dialects among its characters; a feat Twain himself said he worked on “painstakingly” to get right.

Rather than speaking in the standardised American-English of the time, the characters in Twain’s novel speak in numerous different dialects. However, when translating this into another language, these dialects can prove difficult to handle.

In her research, BJ Epstein examined seven passages of text in 15 Swedish translations of the novel. In 60 per cent of cases, language standardisation was the preferred method employed by the author. This means all the characters in the book speak the same common form of Swedish no matter where they are from or what their background. Unfortunately, this can strip away much of the texture from the book.

Another option is to assign different Swedish dialects to the various characters. Yet because The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’s source language originates from the American South of the early 19th century, Epstein concludes it would “probably have been odd” to replace this dialect with a regional Swedish one, given the reader knew it was set in America. However, she suggests that the translators could have employed a greater use of non-standard spelling and grammar along with errors in the characters’ speech that mirror the original. By not accounting for how the characters speak and instead focussing on the literal meaning of the words in the text, Epstein concludes some of the atmosphere has been lost.

Another issue she came across was how translators dealt with individual characters and their way of speaking. The narrator of the novel is Huck himself. Despite the character being only around 13 years old, and living like a vagabond, Huck’s narration is translated into standardised Swedish in 73.3 per cent of cases. His father is also seen to speak standardised Swedish in the majority of translations (53.3 per cent), although he is described as being so anti-education he makes his son leave school. However, the dialect spoken by Jim, the slave that Huck runs away with and the novel’s main black character, is only standardised 6.67 per cent of the time.

Rather than being given a foreign accent or a regional Swedish accent, Epstein claims that in many of these translations Jim is made to “seem deficient” as a result of how he talks in the target language. This is particularly the case in the earlier translations, although many of the more recent editions standardise Jim’s dialect. In the original, Jim’s dialect is defined as an African American Language, and reflects the different history, social standing and peers of the character, rather than suggesting he is mentally “deficient”. However, the way it is handled by some translators has the unwanted effect of making him appear less intelligent than the white characters.

How to handle accents

document translation, book translation, localisation, translator

Accents used in literature can cause just as many problems for translators as dialects. Let’s for a moment consider how many accents there are in the UK alone that could feature in an English language novel. From Cockney to Brummie and Scouse to Glaswegian, Britain has a wealth of accents. Indeed, it’s not unusual for people to struggle to understand one they’re not familiar with as much as if they were listening to someone speak a foreign language.

Take Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting, the 1993 cult novel adapted for the movie starring Ewan McGregor. Most of the book is narrated by someone with a thick east Scotland accent, while much of the dialogue is even stronger. Even someone whose mother tongue is English will find it a challenge to get to grips with this book, leading some to claim it is untranslatable.

Choosing how best to handle accents when you’re producing a translation is something of a minefield. Giuseppe Manuel Brescia, an Italian literary translator, reveals in his blog Smuggled Words that it is common for authors to use accents as a way of describing characters, by altering the spelling of their speech so it can be read phonetically – such as Welsh does in Trainspotting. So how does he tackle translating them?

“First of all I translate the character’s lines correctly, given that any accent, twisting single phonemes, will obviously affect different words in English and Italian,” he explains. Brescia adds: “Then, in order to determine which ones, I simply start sounding off that character’s lines with the relevant accent, and change the spelling accordingly.” The linguist credits his talent for accents as the key to his success. Essentially, he puts on the accent and says the character’s lines in Italian, before working out how to spell the dialogue in a way that reflects that accent.

This is a technique Brescia uses when describing the accent of a character with a different mother tongue to the others in the book. However, on the subject of tackling regional dialects he admits it can be trickier. In answer to a reader query, he says: “[In the case of uneducated or working-class characters I use] a variation of the standard language which is determined by social factors, as opposed to the geographical factor defining a dialect. It is a massive loss, but unfortunately an inevitable one.”

Because accents and dialects are so often used as a way of portraying the character’s social standing, using the standardised form of the target language in a translation can remove much of the texture of that character. Yet, when you’re worried about misleading or even offending the reader this can seem like the only option.

Have you had to tackle an accent or dialect when producing a translation? Why not share your tips below? You can also find out more about document translation here.

[Repost] 7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical (by Arika Okrent)

7 Sentences That Sound Crazy But Are Still Grammatical

filed under: grammarLists

Martha Brockenbrough, founder of The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar, started National Grammar Day in 2008. Since then it has been held every year on March 4th, a date that also happens to be a complete sentence (March forth!). It is celebrated in various ways: There is a haiku contest, an anagram unscrambling contest, and even an official song.

That’s all good clean fun. Some people, however, like to use the holiday as an excuse to engage in what Kory Stamper calls “vigilante peeving.” Stamper, a lexicographer at Merriam-Webster who knows from good grammar, dreads the way the holiday seems to encourage the shaming of others for their mistakes, or, as she calls it, “asshattery in the name of grammar.” (Read the whole thing. It’s worth it.)

This Grammar Day, let’s not look at grammar as a cold, harsh mistress. She can also be a fun, kooky aunt. Here are some tricks you can do to make crazy sounding sentences that are still grammatical.


Take advantage of the fact that the same sentence can have two different structures. This famous joke from Groucho Marx assumes that most people expect the structure of the first part to be

One morning [I shot an elephant] [in my pajamas].

But another possible, and perfectly grammatical, reading is

One morning [I shot] [an elephant in my pajamas].


Make a garden path sentence. In this one, we think we’ve reached the main verb when we get to “raced,” but instead we are still inside a reduced relative clause. Reduced relative clauses let us say, “the speech given this morning” instead of “the speech that was given this morning” or, in this case “the horse raced past the barn” instead of “the horse that was raced past the barn.”


Another garden path sentence, this one depends on the fact that “complex,” “houses,” and “married” can serve as different parts of speech. Here, “complex” is a noun (a housing complex) instead of an adjective, “houses” is a verb instead of a noun, and “married” is an adjective instead of the past tense of a verb.


Make a sentence with multiple center embeddings. We usually have no problem putting one clause inside another in English. We can take “the rat ate the malt” and stick in more information to make “the rat the cat killed ate the malt.”  But the more clauses we add in, the harder it gets to understand the sentence. In this case, the rat ate the malt. After that it was killed by a cat. That cat had been chased by a dog. The grammar of the sentence is fine. The style, not so good.


Another crazy center-embedded sentence. Can you figure it out? Start with “anyone who feels X is likely to agree.” Then go to “anyone who feels if X then Y is likely to agree.” Then fill out the X and Y. You might need a pencil and paper.


Buffalo! It’s a noun! It’s a city! It’s a verb (meaning “to intimidate”)! We’ve discussed thenotorious buffalo sentence before, but it never stops being fun. It plays on reduced relative clauses, different part-of-speech readings of the same word, and center embedding, all in the same sentence. Stare at it until you get the following meaning: “Bison from Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison in their community, also happen to intimidate other bison in their community.”


This sentence takes advantage of the versatile English –ing. The author of a 19th century grammar guide lamented the fact that one could “run to great excess” in the use of –ing participles “without violating any rule of our common grammars,” and constructed this sentence to prove it. It doesn’t seem so complicated once you realize it means,

“This very superficial grammatist, supposing empty criticism about the adoption of proper phraseology to be a show of extraordinary erudition, was displaying, in spite of ridicule, a very boastful turgid argument concerning the correction of false syntax, and about the detection of false logic in debate.”

Not only is this a great example of the wonderful crazy things you can do within the bounds of proper English, it’s the perfect response to pull out the next time someone tries to criticize your grammar.

Sources of sentences: 1. Groucho Marx; 2. Bever (1970); 3. Wikipedia; 4. Chomsky & Miller(1963); 5. Chomsky & Miller (1963); 6. William Rapaport; 7. Goold Brown (1851).

Primary image courtesy of NationalGrammarDay.com.

March 4, 2013 – 10:06am

[Repost] 10 things you should NEVER say during presentations

10 things you should NEVER say during presentations
October 24, 2012 on LinkedIn by Boris V

At our TNW Conferences we see a lot of presentations and I have given a fair share of presentations myself. I often see people making the same mistakes and cringe when I hear the same excuses or basic mistakes when people get on stage. The easiest way to lose an audience is to make a mistake in the first minute, and that is exactly where most mistakes are made. Here is my list of 10 things you shouldn’t say during presentations:

1: I’m very jet-lagged, tired, hungover
Not sure where this comes from but one in 5 presentations at any conference will start with an excuse. ‘They only invited me yesterday’, ‘I’m really tired from my trip’ or another lame excuse that the audience really doesn’t want to hear. We, the audience, just want to see you give it your best. If you feel like shit and can’t give it your best than maybe you should’ve cancelled. Take a pill, drink an espresso and kill it!

2: I’ll get back to that later
If you happen to stumble upon an audience that is eager to learn and interact you should always grab that chance and enjoy it. If someone has a question that you will address in a later slide just skip to it right away! If someone is brave enough to raise their hand and ask you a question you should compliment them and invite the rest of the audience to do the same. Don’t delay anything.

3: Can you hear me? Yes you can!
This is how a lot of people start their talk. They will tap a microphone three times, shout ‘can you all hear me in the back’ and then smile apologetic when it becomes clear that, yes, everybody can hear you but nobody raises their hands. It isn’t your responsibility to check the audio. There will be people for that. If you speak into the microphone and you get the impression just relax, count to three, and try again. If you still think the sound isn’t working just calmly walk to the edge of the stage and discreetly ask the moderator to check for you. Smile at the audience and look confident. Assume it all works until the opposite has been proven, then stay calm and wait for a fix.
4: I can’t see you because the lights are too bright
Yes, when you are on stage the lights are bright and hot and it will be difficult to see the audience. But they don’t have to know about all that. Just stare into the dark, smile often and act like you feel right at home on there. Feel free to walk into the audience if you want to see them up close. Don’t cover your eyes to see people but politely ask the lights people to turn on the lights in the room if you plan to count hands or ask the audience a question. Even better, talk to the lights people in advance so they are prepared when you are going to ask them.
5: Can you read this?
The common rule is to make the font size on your slides twice the size of the medium age of the audience. Yes, that means that if you expect the audience to be 40 on average you are stuck with a font size of 80 points. You won’t be able to fit a lot of text on the slide that way, which is a good thing, and brings us to the next point.
6: Let me read this out loud for you
Never ever ever ever in a million years add so much text on a slide that people will spend time reading it. And if you do, make damn sure you don’t read it out loud for them! The best way to lose your audiences attention is to add text to a slide. Here’s what will happen when you have more than 4 words on a slide; people will start reading it. And what happens when they read it? They will stop listening to you! Only use short titles on your presentations and memorize the texts you want them to read. Or, if you MUST include an awesome three sentences quote, announce that everybody should read the quote, then shut up for 6 seconds so they can actually read it.
7: Shut off your phone/laptop/tablet
Once upon a time you could ask an audience to shut off devices. That was a long time ago. Now people tweet the awesome quotes you produce or take notes on their iPads. Or they play solitaire or check Facebook. Times change. You can ask if people turn their phones to silent mode but apart from that you just have to make sure that your talk is so incredibly inspiring people will close their laptops because they don’t want to miss a second of it. Demanding their attention is just not going to work.
8: No need to write anything down or take photos, the presentation will be online later
It is really cool that you will upload your presentation later. But if it’s a good presentation it won’t contain too many words (see point 4) it won’t be of much use to them. For a lot of people writing something down is just an easy way to memorize something you’ve said. The act of writing down a sentence also embeds it in your brain and who knows, they might be really inspired and come up with something they’ve heard in between your lines that might change their business. Allow people to do whatever they want during your presentations.
9: Let me answer that question right away
Of course it is awesome if you answer a question right away, but you need to do something else first! Very often the question an audience member will be very clear to you but not to the rest of the audience. So please say “I’ll repeat that question first so everybody hears it and THEN I will answer it”. Make it a habit to repeat questions also because the extra time it takes to repeat it gives you extra time to think about an awesome answer.
10: I’ll keep it short
This is a promise nobody ever keeps. But a lot of presentations are started that way! The audience really doesn’t care if you keep it short or not. They’ve invested their time and just want to be informed and inspired. Tell them ’This presentation is going to change your life’ or ’This presentation is scheduled to take 30 minutes, but I’ll do it in 25 minutes so you can go out and have a coffee earlier than expected”. Now all you have to do is keep that promise, which brings me to the last point.
Bonus tip: What, I’m out of time? But I have 23 more slides!
If you come unprepared and need more time than you are allowed you’ve screwed up. You need to practice your presentation and make it fit within the allotted time-slot. Even better, end 5 minutes early and ask if anyone has questions, and if they don’t invite them for a coffee to talk one-on-one. Giving an audience 5 minutes back will earn their respect and gratitude. Taking an extra 5 will annoy and alienate them.
Conclusion: come prepared, be yourself and be professional. The audience will love you for being clear, serious and not wasting their time.
[Repost from a sharing by Rainylondon on fb]

[Repost] 10 Ways to become a better proofreader (by Daphne Gray-Grant)

10 ways to become a better proofreader

become a better proofreader

by Daphne Gray-Grant

Cf. original: http://www.publicationcoach.com/become-a-better-proofreader/

If you can afford to outsource your proofreading, do it. If you can’t here are some tips that will help…

Do you clean your own gutters?Change the oil in your own car? Bake every birthday cake from scratch? I’m guessing you don’t do many — if any — of these things. And you shouldn’t proofread, either.

Proofreading is a specialized job requiring someone with talent and training. I’m not a natural proofreader myself, but I know how to hire excellent ones. They should cost about $40/hour.

But if I must proofread, I can do it using the following tricks. You can use them, too:

(1) Allow some time to pass after you finish writing/editing and before you start proofreading. We all make unconscious mistakes and they are hard to spot because our brains “fill in” the correct word. You may have meant to write trickier but somehow it came out as tricker. The trouble is, if you’re familiar with the story, you eye will glide right by the error. If you take a break, however, you’re far more likely to catch the problem.

(2) Print out your text and proofread on paper. In part, because using a computer shines a light in our eyes, we all read material onscreen much more quickly and less carefully than we do in print. Try to print out your work before proofing it.

(3) If there is some reason that prevents you from printing, use a distinctive typeface and dramatically increase the point size before proofing. When I am forced to proof onscreen, I like to use Papyrus or Candara18 point – this makes it easier to spot errors.

(4) Pay particular attention to names (people, books, movies, songs), addresses, titles and dates. Be aware the single most common mistake is to mismatch days with dates. (For example: saying Monday, Feb 12, when in fact it is Tuesday, Feb 12.)

(5) Check what I call the “ big, obvious yet somehow invisible” stuff.By this I mean logos, company names, and extra-large headlines. Ironically, the bigger the type, the more likely you are to miss a typo.

(6) Start at the end. Professional proofreaders often read at least once backwards. No, I don’t mean they read the words backwards. I mean, they read the last sentence first. Then the second last sentence, then the third last sentence…until they work their way back to the beginning. This forces them to read each sentence in isolation – breaking the familiarity with the piece that might cause them to miss errors.

(7) Put a ruler under each line as you read the text. This forces you to work much more slowly and stops your eye from jumping ahead to the next line.

(8) Consider what you might have left out. For instance, if the piece requires an RSVP, it needs a phone number or e-mail address to which someone can respond. It should also have the date of the event and an address.

(9) Make a list of your own common spelling or grammar errors and check for those specifically (do you mix “affect” and “effect” for example?)

(10) Read your work aloud at least once. You’ll catch a lot more errors this way.