Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

Word order matters: An oddly appropriate Halloween post

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Earlier today when I was getting my daily fix of online tabloids doing my vocabulary-building exercises I became fascinated by the following heading:

 

Two-year-old daughter of one of Britain’s richest men found hanged on a blind cord by her mother at their 12 million London home.

 

I imagine it didn’t take long before they heard from the grieving mother’s lawyer. The last time I checked the heading read:

 

Three-year-old daughter of one of Britain’s richest men is found by her mother hanged on a blind cord at their 12m home.

 

Oh well… Sometimes I wonder if the English language might benefit from reintroducing some of the declensions it used to have. In the meantime, a couple of strategically placed commas could help resolve the delicate matter of who did the finding and who did the hanging nicely.

 

But seriously, it’s safe to say the parents have enough on their plate without the added aggravation from hastily-composed tabloid headlines.

Ancient rituals practiced by translators

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

(This story was inspired by something funny I witnessed the other day.)

 

Never ask a translator what a certain word means when you’re in a hurry. Just look it up in a dictionary and save yourself a lot of grief. Because a translator will never give you the answer straight away. Oh no.

 

You see, translation is the second oldest profession known to humanity, so perhaps unsurprisingly some rather elaborate traditions have evolved over the millennia and they are duly followed by translators to this day. If you for example ask your translator what any word means she’s obligated to perform The Barrage, a much-feared and little-understood ancient ritual. What will happen is this.

 

First, your translator will blurt out an intimidating number of possible meanings and translations in rapid succession & random order. Your heart will start sinking at this point. But it’ll be too late for fears and regrets…

 

When she finally gathers her composure and stops hyperventilating, she’ll mercilessly interrogate you about the context, the intended audience and whatnot. Without fail. Go ahead and try it if you don’t believe me. If she’s any good she’ll flood you with questions until you’re swimming for your life, vulnerable and unable to gather the strength to resist this already second unexpected assault from the otherwise probably quite gentle, mild-mannered, perhaps even a bit shy creature. Your desperate attempts to provide her with the context she demands might leave you divulging confidential information. Luckily she’s a pro and knows how to handle delicate stuff.

 

Then she *might* even tell you the translation you need but that won’t stop her from embarking on a lengthy monologue that’ll lovingly explore each possible nuance of every single translation she mentioned in her initial outburst, coming up with many others as she goes on and on and on. She’s sure to explain all those linguistic subtleties only translators are willing to discern or care about. No escape here.

 

(It’s your fault really. You should have known better than to awake The Translator. You see, translators do know a lot about words. And combinations thereof. If you give them the right cue they’ll surely show you just how much they know.)

 

Your muttered pleas and objections having to do with you *not actually needing to hear all that right now, your migraine acting up or your ears starting to bleed* will be ignored throughout the ordeal.

 

In the end you’ll be left standing there, quivering with exhaustion, quietly swearing never to unleash The Translator again and – perhaps for the first time – fully appreciating the true value of a good dictionary.

 

And then your translator will inevitably ask if there’s anything else you’re curious about. Shake your head quietly, do not make eye contact, walk away slowly. Do not ask anything. Failing to do so will result in The Barrage being performed all over again, this time with cross-references to your previous question.

Gotta love buzzwords

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

OMG.

What I’ve just read.

Client-oriented approach.

Generates more revenue.

I bet some business guru somewhere is getting paid to slowly explain this bit of wisdom to a group of nodding managers. No sh*t Sherlock, you earn more once you start giving your customers what they actually want. They could’ve asked me, I’d’ve told them this for half of whatever the guru’s charging.

But seriously. Too many businesses seem to be in the, well, business for some not immediately obvious reasons or at least something much less mundane than money. Otherwise they would’ve dropped the attitude, asked their clients what they wanted and then started selling exactly that.

Davcni vrtiljak? Davcni veseljak!!

Thursday, February 25th, 2010


“Nimamo niti enega davcnega veseljaka, kot jih imajo drugi gradbinci.”

 

Bravo Finance! Brez heca, izumili ste enega najboljsih izrazov evah. Pravzaprav je tako srckan, da se tezko odlocim, kako ga bom uporabljala.

Skoda, da ste ze popravili – mnogo najpomembnejsih izumov je nastalo po pomoti, zato res ni nobena sramota, ce se kaj takega pripeti tudi vam.

 

Kdo ali kaj je davcni veseljak?

Je to drugo ime za vrtiljak, ker imajo nekateri res veliko veselja z njimi?

Je davcni veseljak morda kar lastnik davcnega vrtiljaka, ki je vzhicen, ker ga se niso ujeli ter oglobili in obdavcili od spredaj in zadaj?

Ali pa je davcni veseljak Dursovec, ki je pregloboko pogledal v kozarec?

Bi se lahko davcni veseljak reklo vsakemu Slovencu, ki mu vrnejo prevec dohodnine, on pa jo hitro vrne v obtok v najblizji ostariji?

 

 

Nagibam se sicer k temu, da je davcni veseljak vsak, ki mu uspe zvoziti zivljenje tako, da placa cim manj davkov.