Apostrophe Hell – Part 3: Is it all Greek?

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL!

Apostrophe Hell
Dumichka was nearly finished for the day when the phone rang. It was DC Dash from the local police station.

“I was wondering if you can help us with this one, it’s not a straightforward request” started DC Dash, and Dumichka braced herself for another late finish.

Providing translation and interpreting services for the police was an exciting and challenging job, and even though she knew she won’t get to leave work on time today, she couldn’t wait to hear what the request was – to her it was like taking part in one of those detective stories that she liked reading. Besides, if she was late enough, she might just miss all the trick-or-treaters at home…

“What it is, we’ve had two shops vandalised tonight”, DC Dash started explaining. “Both done by what looks like people wearing costumes. Very different costumes – one dressed like a banana, and the other one – like some kind of two-headed monster. What is similar is that in both places, they’ve left the same note, kind of like a graffiti sprayed on the wall. It looks like a word but we can’t make anything out of it, looks like another language, so I was wondering if you can take a look at it for us and see if you can work out what language it is, and what it means.”

“Sure, can you send us a picture of it?”

“Yup, just give me 5 minutes”.

Dumichka waited with growing curiosity for the email to arrive. A few minutes later it flashed in her inbox, and she opened the attachment to have a look at the word.

ἀπόστροφος

She could tell immediately that it was Greek, and was beginning to guess what it means, but had to check with one of the qualified translators first.

***

Apostrophe”, she told DC Dash on the phone a few minutes later, “It’s the Greek word for Apostrophe”.

***

Later that evening, Dumichka watched the news with a sense of achievement as the reported talked about the swift arrest made after two shops were vandalised this evening. The perpetrators were a group of grammar vigilantes who explained that they couldn’t stand it when they saw the sign “Banana’s 20p each”, with an apostrophe in it.

“Bananas are not in possession in 20p each! They are just plural!!!

“And then that department store with their ‘Womens clothing’ – ‘women’ is already in plural, you can’t make it even more plural!!!”

They had then decided to give the shop owners a grammar lesson they will never forget…

Apostrophe Hell – Part 2: Plurality

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL!

Apostrophe Hell - Part 2

Jenna’s first week at the new job was going better than expected. So much so that her manager had today trusted her with the revamp of the women’s clothing department.

She waited until the shop was closed and all customers gone, and set out to reorganise everything according to the plan she had sketched the day before.

Now everything was ready, it was time to put the final touches. She had managed to convince her manager that a new sign was needed at the top of the escalator where the women’s department started, and, being keen and efficient, she’d had the sign designed and printed it herself:

WOMENS CLOTHING

When the sign was stuck to the glass pane, she stood back and looked proudly at her work. Her manager would be impressed, no doubt.

Then she heard the noise.

It was coming from the front door, and she walked over to see what it was, thinking that one of the other shop assistants had probably forgotten their phone or something and was now back to retrieve it. As she was walking towards the door, she could see the shadow, but there was something weird about it, as if they were holding a balloon or something. Birthday? She smiled, preparing to greet them, but her smile soon froze and she let out a terrified shriek.

At the entrance of the shop stood several grotesque figures – they were two headed women! She couldn’t tell how many of them were there as the multiple heads, arms and bodies could barely be separated into individual beings… What she could tell without any doubt was that they were not happy at all…

TO BE CONTINUED…

(story by Svetlana from our sister company, Cintra)

(photo by Carsten Frentzl)

Apostrophe Hell – Part 1: Possessed

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL!

Apostrophe Hell - Part 1Hugh was shutting his shop down for the day at 6 o’clock as usual. It had been a good day. He was really pleased with the sales – putting the sign on the shop window about the promotion on the bananas

BANANA’S 20p EACH

had helped to shift almost all he had in stock and now the cash register was full.

Hugh locked the shop door, pulled down the blind and went through the door at the back of the shop which led, via a narrow staircase, to his apartment above.

He showered quickly, put the frozen pizza into the oven, and soon settled in front of the TV with his pizza and a bottle of beer.

A reporter on the news was covering the events of the day which included another round of negotiations in Brussels, the biggest supermarket chain running out of Halloween consumes, and an orangutan running away from the zoo.

Then he heard it.

At first he paid no attention to the noise. The street was often noisy with the eclectic mix of residents and their matching lifestyles and sleeping patters.

Then he suddenly realised it was coming from the shop below. He jumped on his feet and run downstairs to check. Had he left a window open? Had that flipping cat made its way in again, pushing the kiwis from the shelf? Or could it be a burglar?

Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw when he opened the door to the shop…

A large, yellow and menacing banana was breaking its way into the cash register. Annoyed not to have found what it was looking for, it started walking towards him, a terrifying expression on its smooth yellow face.

“Where is it?” shouted the banana.
“What…” murmured Hugh in disbelief.
“Where’s my 20p???”

TO BE CONTINUED…

(story by Svetlana from our sister company, Cintra)

Sense for sense vs. word for word – St Jerome on translation

St JeromeThis Saturday, 30 September is International Translation Day, which is celebrated every year on St Jerome’s feast day. St Jerome might be one of the most famous historical translators, due to his influential Bible translations in the 4th century.

He was commissioned by Pope Damasus to translate the Bible into Latin; this version later became known as the Vulgate. It was declared the official Bible translation in the 16th century and was in use until the second half of the 20th century.

In addition to his Bible translation and religious notes, St Jerome is also well known for his commentaries on translation. One of the motifs that often comes up in his letters and treatises is the question of verbatim, word-for-word translations. As an answer to his critics who accused him of deviating from the source text, he stated that when translating, he “render[ed] sense for sense and not word for word”. He argues that if he translates “word for word, the result will sound uncouth, and if compelled by necessity [he alters] anything in the order or wording, [he] shall seem to have departed from the function of a translator”.

This is a dilemma that translators still face more than 1500 years later. It is a fine line translators must walk and their decisions are influenced by many factors such as the purpose of the translation, the subject matter or the client’s specific instructions.

There are certain cases when they have to opt for more creative solutions, for example when translating idioms or slang. Also, when working on advertising slogans or children’s books, translators might also need to put snappy solutions above accuracy. In these situations, however, any changes to the source text are discussed in detail with the client to avoid any misunderstandings.

Literal translations are often necessary, for example for medical or legal translations where even the slightest change to the source can have undesirable results.

If you have any questions about a translation project or how we and our translators work, please do not hesitate to get in touch by emailing enquiries@firstedit.co.uk or by calling 01223 356 733.

 

Source of St Jerome’s quotations: http://www.bible-researcher.com/jerome.pammachius.html

“Celebrating linguistic diversity, plurilingualism, lifelong language learning” – European Day of Languages

European Day of LanguagesOn 26 September the European Day of Languages is held for the seventeenth time: its origins go back to 2001 when the first ever European Day of Languages concluded a yearlong celebration of “linguistic diversity, plurilingualism and lifelong language learning”.

We couldn’t agree more with the event’s official statement, which says that “[e]verybody deserves the chance to benefit from the cultural and economic advantages language skills can bring. Learning languages also helps to develop tolerance and understanding between people from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds.”

No matter where you are based in Europe, there are several interesting programmes you can choose from if you’d like to join the celebrations. You can browse the events near you on the European Day of Languages website here.

Let’s celebrate ‘Women in Translation’ month!

August is ‘Women in Translation’ month. Join in and celebrate with us all the awesome female authors whose works are available to English readers through the means of translation.

Did you know that only one third of books translated into English come from female authors? Considering how many great books are out there in the world written by women writers, this is a rather sad figure. Started in 2014 by a blogger, Meytal Radzinski, the aim of ‘Women in Translation’ month is to ‘increase the dialogue and discussion about women writers in translation’, and, simply, to ‘read more books by women in translation’.

If you’d like to take part in ‘Women in Translation’ month, just grab a book and get started! If you need any inspiration, there are some recommendations by the First Edition Team below. Continue reading Let’s celebrate ‘Women in Translation’ month!

Safety first! – Translating MSDSs

GHS pictogram If you deal with hazardous substances at work, then the acronym MSDS is no stranger to you. An MSDS or a Material Safety Data Sheet is a document that includes various information about chemical substances in the occupational environment, such as safe handling, potential hazards, fire safety, first aid measures, storage, etc.

Most countries have their own regulations, and within the European Union, these documents must also comply with EU regulations and official language-specific wording. It’s not surprising that each substance must have its own data sheet in the language of any country where it is used or exported to. Continue reading Safety first! – Translating MSDSs

Tanabata, a Japanese festival of love and wishes

Tonight, as the stars shine bright above us in the dark sky, two forlorn lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi shall finally meet again.

They can only be together once a year – on the seventh night of the seventh month – as Orihime’s father, the King of the Skies himself, Tentei forbade them to meet and so the lovers spend their days separated by a deep river, the Amanogawa.

On this magical night magpies gather and spread their wings wide to form a bridge across the river, the two lovers can cross the river, and finally they are reunited. Continue reading Tanabata, a Japanese festival of love and wishes

The musicians of language

Flute player“My cousin speaks this language, so he translated it for me. Could you just certify it?”

If I had a penny for every time I heard this or something similar, I would be rich. Alright, this might be an exaggeration, but I do hear this quite a lot.

People often underestimate translators and assume that everyone who speaks another language can also translate. Many don’t realise that being a translator requires hard work and dedication. Continue reading The musicians of language

The most economical language – Musings about Bulgarian, information rate and Marcel Duchamp

Marcel DuchampA couple of days ago I had an interesting conversation with Svetlana, from our sister company Cintra, about her mother tongue, Bulgarian. As it turns out it is rather economical. For example, the consonant cluster “sht” often appears in various words, so Bulgarians invented a single letter that represents this string of sounds: “щ”. Clever, ha?

This conversation lead to another one, about the economy of languages and various strategies speakers employ to convey the most amount of information with the least effort. Continue reading The most economical language – Musings about Bulgarian, information rate and Marcel Duchamp