[links] Link salad lazes on Saturday morning

Outer Alliance Spotlight #83: Diversity is Hard

The Last Dollar on EarthScrivener’s Error on, among other things, the latest in the Borders bankruptcy.

Translationese — Some language neepery from Language Log.

Atlantis Rides Into History

What happened to the American flags on the moon?

The World’s Greatest Light Bulb

?What The Bleep Is the United Kingdom — In case you were wondering. (And btw, I am quite annoyed by blogs that use ALL CAPS for their heading, because it makes extra work to post a link. Totally unnecessary.)

Today’s Special at Wal-Mart: Something Weird

Income = Happiness? — Which in turn reminds of me of the bizarre phrase, “Poor but honest”. It seems to me that dishonesty is far more associated with ill-gotten gains than with lack of gains.

Japan’s Kan says nuclear clean-up could take decades

Phone hacking: Police probe suspected deletion of emails by NI executive — So far as I can tell, the penalties for destruction of evidence are often less than the penalties for the crime being concealed. Remember Fawn Hall shredding the Iran-Contra documents while the FBI politely delayed their raid?

It’s Like They’re Proud of Being Ignorant — Ta-Nehisi Coates on Michele Bachmann. And they are proud of their ignorance. Willful ignorance and anti-intellectualism are a cornerstone of Palinite conservatism. C.f. evolution denial as a political issue. Conservative wisdom explicitly says that a regular guy you’d want to have a beer with is more fit to run the country than someone with an advanced education and political experience. That’s pride in ignorance in a nutshell.

White Supremacist StampedeA startling number of white-power candidates are seeking public office. Hmm. I wonder how many of them are running as liberal-progressives?

?otD: Do you support further manned spaceflight?

Writing time yesterday: n/a (too tired)
Body movement: 30 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (interrupted)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord

2 thoughts on “[links] Link salad lazes on Saturday morning

  1. Cora says:

    Regarding the translation post, I completely agree with the (hardly uncommon) observation that machine translation produces crap, but as a professional translator the idea of “Translationese” bothers me. It strikes me as yet another attempt along the lines if “Globish”, the alleged simplified global English – native speakers of English disparaging all other English speakers as lesser. Though the paper in question was written by two Israeli researchers.

    I actually skimmed the paper referred to in the Language Log post. Unfortunately, I can’t access the linguistic corpus used for the study from home, so I don’t know what sort of texts are included and whether the corpus includes both translations and the respective source texts.

    Because in my experience, many translations sound stilted or odd, because they are based on source texts that are – frankly speaking – crap. I mainly do technical translation and a lot of the texts I get are badly written by engineers with a very limited grasp of basic composition, effective writing techniques and sometimes even grammar and spelling issues.

    Of course, it is possible to not just translate the text on a sentence to sentence basis but to completely rewrite sentences and passages, so they will flow better in the source language. And when translating literature, letters and e-mails, marketing materials, etc… where style and flow are important, I don’t tend to adhere that strictly to the original text in order to get something that sounds good and natural in the source language. But with purely technical texts, the main aim is to produce something that is legible and understandable. Nobody cares whether the specification for a buoy layer (to take an example I currently have on my desk) sounds good, the point is that the recipient understands what the buoy layer is supposed to do and where all the parts are to be installed. Completely rewriting a technical text to make it sound better isn’t worth the trouble – never mind that technical customers tend to get cranky, if their translation isn’t entirely verbatim.

    Meanwhile, literary translation (which I rarely do, because the pay is so bad) carries its own set of challenges, because a translator has to keep the balance between the maintaining author’s style and voice (which may not translate all that well) and producing a text that flows naturally.

  2. Cora says:

    Answer of the day: Yes, absolutely.

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