07 September 2006

Lost in Translation?

A good bit of today's activities (There weren't many, as I worked last night) centered around doing a bit of translation & interpreting for David. The positive aspect of this is that it's good practice for me. The negative side is that it serves as a reminder of how little I get to use my Spanish. Of course, it doesn't help when I'm talking to someone in Peru who is speaking both softly and rapidly - I often find myself hard-pressed to understand even English in such a situation - but when a language isn't used readily, it begins to deteriorate. This was brought home to me when, as a student in Spain 18+ years ago, I began forgetting common English words.

I have been speaking Spanish for over half my life now, so most of it is unlikely to fade away, but some words I was asked to translate - "inbox", "handfeel" - were never part of my vocabulary as a student to begin with. E-mail was, for all practical purposes, nonexistent in 1988, and textiles were not part of my training. Add to that the effect of regional dialects, and it becomes a tricky path to navigate. Fortunately, I thought to try changing the language for my G-mail account and found "inbox" translated as bandeja de entrada ("tray of entry"), which I shortened to bandeja for an e-mail message David wanted to send. For "handfeel", David told me that he often receives e-mails from Peru referring to it as "touch", which is a much easier translation to tacto.

Murine Prolificacy

My wrist was behaving fairly well yesterday - enough so that I was able to crank out four more mouse skins. That brings my total up to around 20. I'm hoping to get at least another 30 or so done before Rhinebeck, in hopes that all will sell so I can do some serious stash enhancement. I may even consider a new wheel.

I've kind of been looking at the Hitchhiker from The Merlin Tree. Cate, I believe, has one, and I know she enabled JoVE into buying one this year at NHS&W. Aside from being extremely portable, they're also wicked cunnin' and personalizable.

Steve Irwin

I'm not going to elegize - others can do that. To be honest, for as much as I share his enthusiasm for and love of the world around us, I found him kind of annoying. Still, it was an incredibly freakish way to die, and I feel badly for his family, particularly his 8-year-old daughter, who is old enough to grasp the enormity of what she's lost. That he didn't have a lingering, painful death is probably little consolation to her.

I think what has struck me the most, though, is how upset people are over his death. Had he not been a celebrity, would anyone have noticed? The completely bizarre circumstances might have merited mention in News of the Weird, but his fame is what has made this story.

Maybe those folks in Darfur just need to get a TV deal.


Anonymous said...

I know how you feel about using your Spanish. I'm the same way with my German. I spent 20 years getting really good at it, and now I feel like for the past ten years I'm slowly going downhill. I can still talk fine in German when I need to, but I find that when I write I doubt the gender of words, etc. That never used to happen. We're going to spend two weeks in German and Austria next spring, and that will freshen things up.

As you said, talking on the phone is sort of a world onto itself, too. It's cool that you get a chance to do that, though.

Dena said...

Ruth's wheel is extremely cool! It almost makes me want to go out and get a wheel, and I don't even spin.

Anonymous said...

Even I, as an Australian, found Steve Irwin annoying. The media seem to be turning him into another Princess Diana, yet it is not that many months since they castigated him for entering a croc enclosure with his baby on his arm.

I wonder if it is because we live in such a secular world that some people need to (almost) canonise an extroverted self-publicist.

JoVE said...

On the translation front, be assured that if you put yourself in a situation where you need it, it will come back. Probably fast. Maybe this is a reason to take a South American or Spanish holiday regularly.

And in french e-mail is "courriel" a shortened form of "courrier electronique" (or at least it is here in Canada; who knows what the folks in France do; Québecois joke about their spelling of site-oueb.) I say this because the folks in Peru might have come up with a similar form.