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Corona quarantine diary
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

expressisverbis
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Cold, snow, bonnets and blankets Jan 10

In Portugal there is saying that goes “From Spain, neither good winds nor good marriages”.
Cold and snow are also passing through here and the worst is that Portugal will be in a total lockdown again for 15 days, after 15th January.
This is not confirmed yet, but I am almost sure this will go ahead.
The Portuguese government doesn't want to close schools during that period, and for that they had a brilliant idea:
Send the students with bonnets and blankets to the clas
... See more
In Portugal there is saying that goes “From Spain, neither good winds nor good marriages”.
Cold and snow are also passing through here and the worst is that Portugal will be in a total lockdown again for 15 days, after 15th January.
This is not confirmed yet, but I am almost sure this will go ahead.
The Portuguese government doesn't want to close schools during that period, and for that they had a brilliant idea:
Send the students with bonnets and blankets to the classrooms, keeping windows and doors open for air circulation.
(It's not their butts that get cold!)
They want to kill the younger population... And then they complain that our population is getting old!
I just hope this silly measure won't take effect.
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Chris S
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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
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Lol Probably saving money. Jan 10

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
Hasn't anyone heard of gritter trucks? Why don't they just salt and grit the roads and streets like everyone else? Mind you, all this is steadily moving up north from the capital, so we'll see how smart we all are up here when that happens.



Ice-melting crystal salt is more expensive, imagine the amount needed to cover all roads and surfaces. So they prioritize and just use it in front of schools, hospitals, on important roads, etc.

Yes, I also heard news and stories along the way:

“The national road service was not prepared and ready with instruments and trucks as they were quite surprised by snow in December”.

Snow in December? Who would tell.


Mervyn Henderson
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Weather Jan 10

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

Hasn't anyone heard of gritter trucks? Why don't they just salt and grit the roads and streets like everyone else? Mind you, all this is steadily moving up north from the capital, so we'll see how smart we all are up here when that happens.


As I read that it's the worst snow in 50 years in Madrid/Spain - and yes, I gather it's going northwards next - I expect they're even less prepared with gritters and other such useful equipment than the UK


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North by north-east (and not north by north-west) Jan 11

I'm doing slightly better titlewise now, albeit only marginally so. It looks as if all that snow and ice, now leaving Madrid, where it's all melting away, is going up north-east and not north-west. We had already learned from the snow and ice experts that snow and ice eventually turn into water when weather conditions improve and it stops snowing and icing.

All this snowmaking and icemaking weather might just drift up over the centre of the Pyrenees and into France. Catalans had bet
... See more
I'm doing slightly better titlewise now, albeit only marginally so. It looks as if all that snow and ice, now leaving Madrid, where it's all melting away, is going up north-east and not north-west. We had already learned from the snow and ice experts that snow and ice eventually turn into water when weather conditions improve and it stops snowing and icing.

All this snowmaking and icemaking weather might just drift up over the centre of the Pyrenees and into France. Catalans had better hope it doesn't hit them, because if what Lingua 5B says about money-saving down around Madrid is true, they can go tootle if they think the authorities are going to spend on them over there. The Catalans have the same reputation as the Scottish with money, except that it's a myth with the latter. The former would say they are "careful" with money. Careful is putting it mildly. Careful on the assets side of the balance sheet, and couldn't care less on the liabilities side is my opinion, having lived there for a number of years.

I can't be the only one who feels that most of the Catalan independence cafuffle has little to do with patriotrism and more to do with dosh, because it's more than likely that the Catalans have been given a bum deal by Madrid for years as one of the State's biggest industrial moneyspinners, so I see it as reasonable, but for strictly economic motives, with considerably fewer flagwaving concerns. Spain is robbing us, they say, Espanya ens roba, and they're probably right, but this is even more irritating for a nation which is "careful" with money. Sometimes I wish the separatist politicians would just come out and say it. I know some people might not want to hear this, but it will ring a bell with them, and with others too.

When I first arrived here, I was more than anxious to ensure that my first customers would pay me in 30 days. With no nonsense. No dud cheques, no unsigned cheques, no accountants suddenly on holiday, no actually-it-doesn't-depend-on-mes, none of that. One Catalan customer was outraged that I had even raised the issue of a dud cheque with him. I should have seen it coming, though - his translation was a series of legal documents in connection with his constant payment-dodging with other suppliers, only for much larger amounts.

Here they all said, "Of course we'll pay in 30 days. But ... why wouldn't we?"

[Edited at 2021-01-11 09:26 GMT]
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Snow joke Jan 13

Oh, those sharp eyes of yours, reader! I know what you thought when you saw the title, too. You thought, Ha, either he doesn't realise he's already used that one, or he's stupid, or both. But no. I have been much cleverer. Or should that be much more clever? ... Tom? ...? I am using it ironically. Yes, so deal with that if you can.

I did have options, though. I could have called it "Snow bloke". TV footage amid Madrid's snow and ice problems recently showed the leader of the opposit
... See more
Oh, those sharp eyes of yours, reader! I know what you thought when you saw the title, too. You thought, Ha, either he doesn't realise he's already used that one, or he's stupid, or both. But no. I have been much cleverer. Or should that be much more clever? ... Tom? ...? I am using it ironically. Yes, so deal with that if you can.

I did have options, though. I could have called it "Snow bloke". TV footage amid Madrid's snow and ice problems recently showed the leader of the opposition - although these days it's anybody's guess who the leader of the opposition is, because there's so much opposition all over the shop - and bearded gnome Pablo Casado shovelling snow on a pavement. Excellent stuff. That's what we like to see, politicians actually working instead of talking about working. No matter that he probably threw away the shovel once all the cameras had gone, and strolled off for a light lunch somewhere. The Spanish Parliament, for example, where everything is much cheaper. But then, cheap or expensive don't matter too much anyway, because it's not so much what politicians earn as what they save on by never paying for it, because the party pays for it.

Nevertheless, I was so impressed I rang the PP's Grey Lubyanka in Madrid to congratulate their leader on his snow-clearing efforts. "Much appreciated, Sir," said a man in a suit. I assume he was in a suit. He sounded like he was in a suit. "Yes indeed, Sr. Casado is working tirelessly for people up and down the realm. As we speak, in fact, he is due to help out in the canteen at a senior citizens' home in Rabotieso, Extremadura."

"That is absolutely marvellous," I enthused. "I wonder if he's coming to Bilbao in the near future? I'm sorry to say we don't have any snow up here yet, but, you see, I'm one of those people he said he was a stalwart supporter of not so long ago, 'the people who get up early to work', I think the phrase was. Well, I'm one of those people who gets up very early to work, and I am so focused on my work that I barely have any time for my household chores. I need someone to clean my toilets, stagger back from El Corte Inglés with the provisions for the week, do a few washes, hang out the washing, bring up the post from downstairs, and perhaps do a little light dusting. Would there be any chance you could find a moment to pencil in ...?"

But the phone had gone dead. Politicians. What a swizz.

[Edited at 2021-01-13 08:54 GMT]
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Superlative Jan 13

Definitely cleverer. And in your case, Mervyn, I’d be tempted to take it up a notch to cleverest. Which clearly settles the issue: nobody ever asked a Sherpa to take them up Mount Most Ever.

And this reminds me of a recent translation conundrum I faced. Yes, shock, horror, he’s writing something to do with translation.

The first line of my first job for a new Danish client, an article based entirely around a quotation from some American investment guru. And it opens
... See more
Definitely cleverer. And in your case, Mervyn, I’d be tempted to take it up a notch to cleverest. Which clearly settles the issue: nobody ever asked a Sherpa to take them up Mount Most Ever.

And this reminds me of a recent translation conundrum I faced. Yes, shock, horror, he’s writing something to do with translation.

The first line of my first job for a new Danish client, an article based entirely around a quotation from some American investment guru. And it opens by introducing this quotation as being selvironisk - self-ironic.

Well, I wasn’t going to fall into that trap. Self-ironic isn’t a thing in English. Except in Translatorworld, and we all know that’s a place we never, ever want to go, however Covid-compliant it might be.

The word in English is self-deprecating. And don’t let the spellcheck turn that into self-depreciating. That would be the opposite of self-appreciating, something normally best confined to the privacy of your bedroom, and even on a slow Wednesday morning my imagination is struggling to come up with what the opposite of that might be. A knaw?

But Houston (the place), we had a problem. Even without being overly pedantic about whether or not the quotation itself could be self-deprecating, rather than its utterer.

Because once I’d tracked down the original English quotation (not that easy since it had predictably been mistranslated into Danish), I found that it simply wasn’t self-deprecating at all.

Now I know some of you are method translators, and if that’s what it says, that’s what you think you should put. But let’s just say I’m the Mick Jagger of translation. I prefer not to be faithful.

It wasn’t self-deprecating. Or ironic. I suppose it was borderline sardonic, and it was mildy witty and quite dry. But more than anything, it was wry. Even in the World’s Richest Language there was no other word for it. Believe me, I checked the full Jurassic Park of online thesauruses. The word was wry.

But how appropriate is this odd-looking word for a global readership mostly with English as a second language?

Perhaps my concern was coloured by my own story. I was well into my twenties before I made the connection between the written word awry and the spoken word awry. I’d happily speak of plans going a-rye when they went wrong. Yet somehow on the written page they always went oar-ee.

On the other hand, I like to think I have a wry sense of humour, and this was a rare opportunity to use the word wry in a translation context. Perfect for someone like me who derives a genuine childlike/childish pleasure from levering the word translate into a translation. (Not quite as much as from weaving subtle innuendos into my economics translations where things are forever swelling and going down, but I shouldn’t digress).

Only I couldn’t actually say wry anyway.

My fear of bamboozling those poor foreigners was compounded by the Danish text actually saying mest selvironisk. Most self-ironic. And this superlative form was integral to the sentence and indeed the article.

Wryest.

It just didn’t do it for me in English. It looks like a typo. I had to check it even existed.

But there was no way of avoiding it. I pride myself on translating freely, liberally and sometimes downright contemptuously. On having developed prodigious copywriting and editing skills and experience over the years. On having the balls/arrogance to cut the crap and give the client what they need rather than what they want. Yet I could find no realistic way of writing round it. The whole article hung on this sentence and on this word.

So I let it sit for a day or two. And then a few more. Oh, the joy of direct clients.

And every time I came back, wryest magically seemed slightly less alien. (As an aside, is there a story behind why more and most get to have the prefix forms -er and -est, but less and least don’t?)

Now I’ve spent a long time building up to the ending and it’s now in sight, so you’re probably expecting quite a punchline. But I’m afraid you’ll have to supply your own.

Because in the end, with a heavy heart, I just thought f*** it and pressed send, and that was that. Does this make me a bad person?
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Wry to the highest power Jan 13

You're certainly tying yourself in knots today, Chris. Watch out you don't end up self-defecating rather than self-deprecating with all that anguished effort. But it's nice to have a good few days to mull over these things, I agree.

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And here comes the denouement Jan 13

I just checked out the finished article online.

The first line is no longer the first line.

Wryest has survived, but the quotation has been changed to a literal English translation of the Danish mistranslation.

It's still not self-deprecating or self-ironic, and now it's not even borderline sardonic, mildly witty or quite dry, but somewhat clumsy and a bit boring. Above all, it's no longer the tiniest bit wry.

My self-defecating was all in v
... See more
I just checked out the finished article online.

The first line is no longer the first line.

Wryest has survived, but the quotation has been changed to a literal English translation of the Danish mistranslation.

It's still not self-deprecating or self-ironic, and now it's not even borderline sardonic, mildly witty or quite dry, but somewhat clumsy and a bit boring. Above all, it's no longer the tiniest bit wry.

My self-defecating was all in vain.

Well, next time that client comes knocking on my door asking for a liberal sprinkling of my translation magic, I shall invite them to do one. Knawers!
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Wry, oh wry Jan 13

Chris S wrote:

My self-defecating was all in vain.


What a 'waste'.

I'm glad I don't work in the same office as you. I think I'd make a stink about certain of your work-related pastimes. 😁


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Results Jan 13

From what I've heard you say over the years, Chris, "clumsy and a bit boring" sits just fine with the Scandos. Apart from the porn, of course.

And ... I just have to ask. Knaw and knawers? I only know what it's not. It's not knaw as in KNAW - Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, because that's the Royal Dutch Wetenschappen Academy, as anyone with half a brain knows. Is it something to do with self-deprecating and glass coffee tables? Is it an alternative spelling to g
... See more
From what I've heard you say over the years, Chris, "clumsy and a bit boring" sits just fine with the Scandos. Apart from the porn, of course.

And ... I just have to ask. Knaw and knawers? I only know what it's not. It's not knaw as in KNAW - Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, because that's the Royal Dutch Wetenschappen Academy, as anyone with half a brain knows. Is it something to do with self-deprecating and glass coffee tables? Is it an alternative spelling to gnaw, in which case perhaps more a case of pillows than coffee tables? Or is it simply something knawty? I think we should be told.
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The Punmaster-General ... Jan 13

... is back on duty, I see!

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On reflection Jan 13

Mervyn Henderson wrote:
I just have to ask. Knaw and knawers? I only know what it's not. It's not knaw as in KNAW - Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen, because that's the Royal Dutch Wetenschappen Academy, as anyone with half a brain knows. Is it something to do with self-deprecating and glass coffee tables? Is it an alternative spelling to gnaw, in which case perhaps more a case of pillows than coffee tables? Or is it simply something knawty? I think we should be told.

Sometimes you just have to take a look in the mirror. Especially if you are a self-appreciator. Maybe with a shandy in your hand.


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This Is The Self-Appreciation Society Jan 13

Got it now!!!! Very slow off the kram this afternoon. What a tarp!

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Back on topic Jan 13

The Covid killed my best friend last week.

Of course, Gareth had a preexisting condition. A big fuck-off brain tumour which didn’t even make an appearance until March but by June had robbed him of the use of the left side of his body and stopped him from pursuing our shared passion of racing mountain bikes down steep hills as fast as we dared.

He probably would’ve died this year anyway. Maybe an even more unpleasant death than spending his final week in hospital ove
... See more
The Covid killed my best friend last week.

Of course, Gareth had a preexisting condition. A big fuck-off brain tumour which didn’t even make an appearance until March but by June had robbed him of the use of the left side of his body and stopped him from pursuing our shared passion of racing mountain bikes down steep hills as fast as we dared.

He probably would’ve died this year anyway. Maybe an even more unpleasant death than spending his final week in hospital over Christmas and New Year alone, his wife and five daughters not allowed to visit. The chemo had knocked out his immune system, and the virus was unstoppable.

So yeah, Gareth was just another one of those people with comorbidities whose deaths didn’t really count because they would’ve gone soon anyway. Along with all the old folk in care homes who were already teetering on the edge. It was only a bad flu. Why all the fuss?

I look back at my attitude of 10 months ago when Gareth was still perfectly fit and healthy, Mervyn was starting to disinfect his groceries, and I was still merrily swimming in the town pool and getting my eyes tested, and see that I was incredibly naive. People can never be just statistics.

I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with this. Make of it what you will. But no sympathy please. No condolences. No sorry for your loss. Not a word. Please.

Just take care y’all, and maybe do try to live each day as though it were your last. Or their last. At least just a little bit. Just in case it is.
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Gareth Jan 13

Condolences? Sympathy? Certainly not, Mr S. I mean, I telled you about this, didn't I? I telled you and telled you and telled you. And the Italians telled us, too, but we didn't listen. On the other hand, I might have been disinfecting those groceries and wearing a mask for the first time when practically nobody else was (and I felt a right prat as I did so, and I think I said so at the time), and ten months later I might not be disinfecting the bananas and chicken any more, but I and everyone e... See more
Condolences? Sympathy? Certainly not, Mr S. I mean, I telled you about this, didn't I? I telled you and telled you and telled you. And the Italians telled us, too, but we didn't listen. On the other hand, I might have been disinfecting those groceries and wearing a mask for the first time when practically nobody else was (and I felt a right prat as I did so, and I think I said so at the time), and ten months later I might not be disinfecting the bananas and chicken any more, but I and everyone else are still wearing the bloody masks.

Still, a tear did roll down my cheek as I read it, Chris, although you'd already mentioned his plight some time ago in private. Best thing you can do, if you haven't already, is to race around on the MB for a few hours, and then go down the Dog and Leek and raise a few glasses of Daff IPA to his memory, and then a few more.

I should point out that sadly I was given a year myself today. But my lawyer reckons we can get it down to six months on appeal, and maybe even suspended. It was all a misunderstanding down at O'Leary's. I was accused of kicking an awful boorish type in the face during the Quadruple Happy Hour, when what actually happened was that he offended my professional honour and then assaulted me. He sneered "Step outside if you're a real translator, then," and he tried to bite my boot, then it got stuck in his mouth, and I had to wrench it out, and that's when he lost the teeth. I'll be raising a few glasses to your friend's memory too, but not at O'Leary's, because unfortunately I'm barred from there for the time being, so it'll have to be either the Swinging Shamrock or the Laughing Leprechaun.





[Edited at 2021-01-13 17:24 GMT]

[Edited at 2021-01-13 17:45 GMT]
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