Don’t I love technology!

February 24th, 2009

Thank Heavens I translate better than I handle blogging software!

Something had probably been brewing for some time as weird things were beginning to happen when for instance I was writing a blog post and WordPress would refuse to SAVE it (normally you don’t just write blog posts, you also want to save them). And then, about a week ago, I found myself completely locked me out of my own website and blog in a matter of seconds, with a 403 Error message on top of that.

It takes someone with more experience than I have to straighten this, and my friend Charly Leetham from Australia is giving me a helping hand to put it back up.

Charly says these things should be easy to fix. I agree, totally.

I would even venture as far as saying that they shouldn’t even fall apart, for a start.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Le Scribbler

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Watch your language!

February 7th, 2009

I don’t know about you, but I’m following the Carol Thatcher vs. BBC situation with increasing interest.

There are two aspects to the situation, both equally bewildering.

First one is: On what planet has Carol Thatcher been living?
Second one is: Since when has a conversation in a work environment become a ‘private’ conversation?

By the way, this has nothing to do with the fact that the tennis player who was off-handedly dismissed as “the golliwog”, is Jo-Wielfried Tsonga, a French citizen, born in France of a French mother and a Congolese father. I’m sure there are plenty of people over here who would come to Carol Thatcher’s defense. “Ho ho ho, this was just a joke!” But the people who are on the receiving end of such jokes on a daily basis DON’T find them funny, nor indeed do those who think that this is both stupid and immoral.

In case Carol Thatcher hasn’t noticed, or has been asleep all these years, when I was living in England in the mid-70s, before the advent of PC, the people who became some of my best friends were already thinking that the word ‘golliwog’ was offensive. And what about now, with the election of a President in the United States showing us that, yes, the world has changed about us, and we might as well take notice.

But the second question is even more important: Where do we draw the line between private conversations, and conversations that happen in a work environment? I may get on very well with my colleagues, I don’t consider them as belonging to my private sphere. And I don’t belong to theirs. Beyond the moral values that we all try to adhere to, there is something called ethics, and there are laws that are supposed to protect people from sexually- or racially-based discrimination. OK, no law is perfect, and none of these laws are implemented fully, but they are in place.

Furthermore, if you were related to a well-known individual, say a former British Prime Minister, and because of that attracting a lot more of the limelight than the average man in the street, wouldn’t you be *supposed* to use more caution, or at least use a better language? My feeling is that even if this was a (very bad) joke, it’s morally and stupidly wrong to say it in public, whether on a TV channel, or off.

It could be just a slip, in which case the least she could do would be to apologize.

That, or be sent 150 years back in time.

Is writing properly a thing of the past?

January 28th, 2009

As translators we are required to be excellent, which we strive to be.

The bit I’m quoting below is taken from a coupon I received from a supermarket chain that implements a customer loyalty system. Usually, I just check the amount they are refunding me, but this time I took the time to read the rest.


Literal translation into English:

‘It must be used until 03/05/2009.’

I disagree.

Either the original text should read:

Il peut être utilisé jusqu’au (It can be used until) 03/05/2009,

or it should be:

Il doit être utilisé avant le (It must be used before) 03/05/2009.

This sentence makes no sense. Option 1 would be possible only if you were allowed to use it several times, or if you could redeem only part of it, and redeem the rest at another time, before the expiry date. But it’s a one-time ticket, and you lose any amount that you are not using (i.e. if you’re buying something cheaper).

You can guess the meaning of course, because the only important piece of information here is the date itself.

But it’s not as if this had been translated by a poor soul speaking a language with a different grammatical structure. It simply shows that the person who wrote it is unable to follow the logic of a short, straightforward sentence, in his or her own language.

And that’s only a detail. Think about bigger things. Politics. The economy…