26 August 2016

St Jerome and transcreation

In July 2016, theology student Lydia Lange's doctoral thesis was published in book form in German by De Gruyter.
Lange, Lydia: Die Juditfigur in der Vulgata. Eine theologische Studie zur lateinischen Bibel. Verlag De Gruyter, 2016. 456 pages, 129,95 Euro. ISBN 978-3-11-048823-4
Her supervisor was Prof. Barbara Schmitz, Head of the Chair of Old Testament Studies and Biblical-Oriental Languages at the University of Würzburg.

The University's online press release, complete with some interesting Germanisms, is entitled 

Lydia Lange (32), Faculty of Catholic Theology, 
Julius-Maximilians-Universität (JMU) Würzburg in Bavaria, Germany
in the library of the chair of Old Testament Studies and Biblical-Oriental Languages

"The Book of Judith is one of the more recent works of the Old Testament; it was written down for the first time about 100 b. C., in Greek"
"Jerome emphasizes Judith's chastity - but the Greek original and the other Latin translations do not mention that word at all",
Jerome may also have used a strategy that is commonly used in theater and literature up to this day: recasting an old story for the present.
The implications for theology, sacred book translation and translation tout court are considerable, to say the least.

20 August 2016

The parlance of pilots

The parlance of pilots is, quite simply, an amazing piece. You can read it on the aeon.co site. It was written by Mark Vanhoenacker, a senior first officer with British Airways, the author of Skyfaring: A Journey with a Pilot (2015) and a regular contributor to The New York Times.

A few quotes:
It’s hard to imagine a system more in need of a common language. And that language is English (or English-derived Aeroese).

I like the word atmosphere, for no other reason than because we so rarely think of the air as a sphere, one that floats just above and envelops the heavier world of land and water.
Each Boeing or Airbus airplane is sold with an entire library of associated technical manuals. They’re all in English, too (a particularly remarkable fact for Airbus, which is headquartered in France). A small number of airlines might translate these manuals – an expensive endeavour, and a never-ending one, as the manuals are frequently updated.
The same is generally true of the checklists that pilots read to one another at key points in a flight. These checklists – a sheet of laminated paper or, increasingly, a display on a computer screen – are a simple but critical component of flight safety (see ‘The Checklist’(2007) by Atul Gawande in The New Yorker).

It’s also worth noting that Airbus and Boeing have distinct dialects of Aeroese. For example, there’s a system on airliners that we can regard as a sort of cruise control (though that’s not a perfect analogy). On Boeings, it’s the autothrottle; on Airbus jets, it’s theautothrust.

Another defining (and simplifying) feature of radio Aeroese is its small vocabulary. Indeed, in addition to callsigns and numbers, the words regularly used in everyday air-traffic communications probably amount to only a few dozen. Even these few words are subject to usage and pronunciation rules designed to correct the shortcomings of quotidian English.
For example, we’re instructed to pronounce three as ‘TREE’ and nine as ‘NINER’, and 25,000 as ‘two-five thousand’ (more specifically, ‘TOO FIFE TOUSAND’), not ‘twenty-five thousand’, because experience has shown that these modified pronunciations are less likely to be misunderstood.
For the technical communicator, translator or journalist, the precision of Mark Vanhoenacker's technical language combined with his sense of style makes every sentence a joy to read. If you don't believe me, just listen to the version on the aeon.co page, courtesy of curio.io. This is the sort of flow that technical writers and translators should aim for. Writing worth listening to is the name of the game.

19 August 2016

Beyond curly quotes

Brit Bitch Berlin is one hell of a name for a blog and The Short and Curlies is one hell of a name for a post ... but the lady (Ms Galina Green) writes both well and wisely.

The Short and Curlies is on:
Quotation marks, double inverted commas, speech marks, guillemets, goose feet, citation marks, duck feet, smart quotes, curly quotes, dumb quotes, whatever you want to call them, we really have to master them in the languages we work in – there’s no goose stepping around it. Oh and then there are the scare quotes and – my favourites – air quotes.
and it's fascinating.

At one point she writes:
Just for the record, the only place you should be using dumb quotes is when you’re coding. Which is probably never.
On this I beg to differ.
The other place is when compiling glossaries and doing terminological work. Why? Because once your efforts have been indexed by an indexing engine, some search engines are liable, when launching a search containing quotation marks or an apostrophe will sometimes miss the curly kind, but never the dumb ones. At least that's been my experience to date.

Her post on  is also very good.

01 August 2016

Preparing Word files for InDesign

As discussed in Workflow for low-tech .doc or .docx to .idml, this workflow requires that the translator carefully format Word files containing text to be imported into InDesign. Today I want to say a little more about adding hard spaces (aka NBSPs) to the said files to reduce the workload when proofreading documents laid out using InDesign.

Thanks to some excellent support by Stanislav Okhvat the developer of TransTools, I now have this excellent bag of tricks properly configured. I have now configured the suite's NBSP Checker to automate the otherwise fastidious task of inserting NBSPs.

Stanislav's procedure to configure this TransTools function is described here.
It took me a while to get my head around a couple of key steps, but it was well worth the effort.

Thanks to Workflow for low-tech .doc or .docx to .idml and TransTools I can now insert hard spaces automatically, more systematically and far more quickly.

For me, the procedure needs to go just one step further. Stansilav, perhaps you could now apply your proven skills to develop a Hard hyphen checker similar to your excellent NBSP checker.

A few hours later:
... And you know what, Stanislav just informed me that he's actually working on a hard hyphen and dash checker. He says it may take a while to finalise, but I, for one, am looking forward to the results.

Transcreating technical journalism, conference presentation

On Saturday 17 June, I at spoke at the TransLisboa 2017 conference organised by Aptrad . My presentation was entitled  Transcreating techn...