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Lingua Latina July 12, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Language, Language Study.
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Fascinating language, Latin.

I have always thought Latin to be one of the most beautiful languages. Due to the fact that it was not a living, breathing, evolving language anymore that it was once, learning lingua Latina has not become a priority for me for a long time, whilst remaining a language I flirted with, in quotes only.

veni vidi vici (middle school history class)
cogito ergo sum (first heard it in junior high school)
noli nothis permittere te terere (from one of my favourite blogs)
gaudium de gaea (the joy of gaea, I made this up as a name for my blog)

Later on, however, as I was increasingly exposed to different languages I found out that Latin was not just a dead and buried language. It has evolved into several other languages, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Romanian to name a few. Many countries, including Turkey, have adopted its alphabet. Have a look at this map, it shows the distribution of Latin alphabet in the world. And although English is a Germanic language by origin, majority of its vocabulary is from Latin.


And while it might not be the spoken language anywhere in the world, apart from being the official language of Vatican, Latin in my opinion lives on in many different ways.

Latin terminology is used in abundance when it comes to science; biology, zoology, medicine as well as philosophy and law. It is used to add weight and formality to documents, articles, academic papers, even blog posts. You always see abbreviations of Latin terms in various scientific and literary publications, ad lib, ad hoc, et al, per se, etcetera, etc. Horticulture students sweat over genera of plants. Scientific names for organisms are chosen from Latin most of the time. Latin terms can be seen everywhere in technical context. Various groups, organisations use their motto’s in Latin for a bit of added effect of antiquity, seriousness, formality as well as a bit of romance, perhaps nostalgia.

Latin alphabet evolved from Proto-Canaanite and Phoenician, then Greek and Old Italic.

Proto-Canaanite Phoenician Value and name Descendants
ʼ ʾalp “ox” א Α A
b bet “house” ב Β B)
g gamlthrowstick ג Γ CG
d digg “fish” ד Δ D
h haw / hll “jubilation” ה Ε E
w waw “hook” ו
ϜΥ
FUVWY
z zen /ziqq “manacle” ז Ζ Z
ḥet “courtyard” ח Η H
ṭēt “wheel” ט Θ
y yad “arm” י Ι IJ
k kap “hand” כ Κ K
l lamd “goad” ל Λ L
m mem “water” מ Μ M
n naḥš “snake” נ Ν N
s samek “fish” ס Ξ
ʻ ʿen “eye” ע Ο O
p piʾt “corner” פ Π P
ṣad “plant” צ ϻ
q qup “monkey” ק Ϙ Q
r raʾs “head” ר Ρ R
š/ś šimš “sun, the Uraeus ש Σ S
t taw “signature” ת Τ T

There is renewed effort in Latin’s resurrection, possibly with the increased religious emphasis. It is also offered in the universities, in programs not only to teach reading and writing for the purpose of translating old text into modern languages, but also to teach how to speak it, converse using it. If this is not an effort to resurrect it, I don’t know what is.

It has always been a source of sadness for me, to imagine that a language is no more. Latin, however, is far from being a dead language, a fallen star, which has disappeared altogether as if it has never been. On the contrary, it is a language that influenced in one form or another many others, still influencing many aspects of written form of languages and life, even if not spoken as it was once.

The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that I would one day like to learn Latin. The complexity of grammar does not phase me. For those interested, there are online programs such as the Cambridge Latin Course.

Lingua Latina would also be a valuable asset to those who are set out to learn one of the Romance languages which evolved from Latin.

For a bit of an online read about Latin you can check out Wikipedia here.

A Language a Day Keeps Dementia Away June 30, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Language, Language Study.
7 comments

YES! It is happening! In August I am going back to school to continue undergrad studies. I will be continuing with Russian and German languages. Spanish will be the brand new one this coming term and will have the duty of keeping me on my toes, as a beginner all over again. And I am so very excited about it, I feel like I should start studying right this second!

Over the years, I have been exposed to many languages. I usually pick up the grammar and vocabulary with the speed of lightning and can converse within half a year. When I say converse it is general daily chatter, not discussions over mechanical engineering.

I have studied German at high school for 3 years; learned Norwegian when I was living in Norway as an AIESEC student exchange; and I have taught myself Korean alphabet and how to read words during a 2-week trip to Korea. Some 15 years ago I used to be able to conjugate almost any verb in Italian.

The problem is, I never seriously pursued these languages with a view to add them to my translation portfolio, in the professional sense. This was the case until I enrolled at Macquarie University. You would think the rest is history. Well, yes and no. Russian was easy to pick, but there are so many languages available at Macquarie I didn’t know which way to go. German seemed the right choice as I had some schooling on it in the past.

I thought maybe Chinese or Japanese, or even Korean. Naturally, this will have to wait till I have completed my European Languages degree and actively started translating from Russian into English and Turkish.

I find that learning a language is just the right exercise for my forever inquisitive and challenge-loving mind. It keeps me thinking, asking, practicing. Then of course the fun of watching international films with the English subtitles, what a great and entertaining way of practicing! In every way languages have proved to be a passion for me and I am hoping in the distant future they will help keep dementia away, keeping my mind sharp and alert.

Next post: Few thoughts on Latin. Still beautiful even though it has been dead for centuries.

Impossible Deadlines and Adrenalin Rush June 27, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Translation, Translation Companies.
2 comments

Please find the source document attached. We would like to receive the translation latest by yesterday afternoon.

In her entire career as a translator, how many times will a translator experience such assignments of extreme urgency, I wonder. How many of these possibly impossible assignments have I been sent, I have never counted. I should have though, for schits and giggles, and mainly to satisfy my appetite for statistics.

I never blame the translation agency for sending me the translation with such near impossible and insane deadlines. I think it’s the lazy clients who leave everything to the last minute. Of course I am not completely leaving out the legitimate emergencies; urgent correspondence and communiques, breaking news needed to be broadcasted in another language.

And yet, most of the time, the urgency stems from a document sitting on some one’s desk until the last moment when it needs to be reproduced in a different language to submit somewhere important to do something important with it. The level of importance is a relevant issue naturally, but I can assure you every one’s business is most important to themselves.

My question then becomes “Why not treat this quintessential part of any business, which is conducted in an international level or involves at least some form of international contact, with the respect that it deserves?” Why send off a 10,000 word document to the translation agency at 5:49pm and demand that it is translated, proofread, formatted and submitted by 8am the next morning? Was it not known two days ago or even this morning that the translated version of this document had to be submitted to the High Elven Ministry of Health latest by 9am tomorrow morning?

I have to say, there is one good thing, actually a great thing about impossible deadlines: The stress, the intensity and the associated adrenalin rush. The sense of accomplishment and joy which follow upon the successful completion of the translation within the given deadline – after even having traveled back in time. Enjoying the triumph; laughing in the face of the impossible HA! HA! And ripping it apart, wrenching the prefix im-, which is a variant spelling of in- from the rest of that despicable, hopeless word and giving it hope and encouragement. Transforming it into the beautiful, positive word that it all along secretly desired to be.

So what, if the stress has billed you for half an hour out of your life expectancy. A breakfast full of anti-oxidants and everything shall be fine again.

So what, if you have another falling out with your self who claims you have no life. The excitement and thrill from tasting the unknown, the adrenalin rush, and the triumph. It’s all worth it. All worth it.

Myth or Fact ~ Translators Have No Life June 23, 2008

Posted by Fantastic Four in Uncategorized.
10 comments

Why don’t we go get pampered today? It’s been a while. Manicure, pedicure, hair…
I am so sorry we can’t. I have to finish a translation. Deadline tonight.
Ok, not to worry. How about tomorrow night? Out with friends…
Sorry no can do. I have a proofreading to do, which I need to submit the next morning.
Seriously, you have no life!!!
Hmmm. Better save this before something goes wrong. *pause* Sorry, what were you saying?
… Nothing… I rest my case.
Are you practicing being an ugrateful self again?

This is my first post on my new blog. I want my first post to talk about what I do for work, the theme for this blog.

Every profession has its very own pros and cons. I have always been a translator, full-time, part-time, freelance; You name it – I have done it. I worked as a consecutive interpreter also, but that’s been pretty much on and off over the years.

I love my job! For starters, if I want to, I can work in my pyjamas (I say pyjamas, you say pajamas). I don’t even have to get out of bed thanks to the laptop and mobile internet technology. Or I can sit outside and enjoy a bit of sunny Sydney winter. Even the printer is connected wirelessly. Don’t you just love technology? Wouldn’t you want to be in my shoes? Or should I say, in my slippers?

And then there is the flexible work hours. Unless it’s an urgent translation I can choose when I want to work. If I want to be a night owl I can sleep during the day and work at night. I can get up early and work in the quiet hours of the day.

A special mention has to go to the low cost of maintenance. No office so no pressure to get dressed up to impress the boss and the colleagues. No transportation costs, no waiting in traffic, no road rages, no petrol consumption.

Last but least, I learn so much while I translate. I get to experience the joy of brain overload with information on plants, cars, internet, games, finance world, a whole variety of topics. Even in the areas I have specialised, I continue to add new terms to and expand my vocabulary. I learn specific terms in a broad spectrum of topics. It’s just brilliant!

How much longer will you be on that thing?
That thing? You mean the computer? I am writing in my blog.
Which one? Ah, the new one. The translation one.
Bingo! Ok, now if you just leave me to it for a few more minutes *voice trails off*
Actually, Helen sent an e-mail, she’d like to catch up this weekend.

This weekend? Impossible, I am expecting a new project. It’s on sustainable living. How cool is that?
Someone needs to talk to YOU about “living” though…
Shhh!

So where was I? Ah yes, the pros of being a freelance translator. The list is not a short one, believe you me.

The cons? I seriously can’t think of one. I guess eyes could be strained for looking at the screen for many hours at a time. There is a simple remedy for that; take frequent breaks and rest your eyes. Drink plenty of water and hydrate. Easy stuff.

Ok, how about “life”?
What do you mean “life”?
You know what I mean. You don’t have a life.
Now that’s a myth.
No, it isn’t. When did you last go out with your boyfriend?
Uhm…
When was it last that you went out to see a movie; enjoyed it over a popcorn and a drink of your choice?
Well…
You were planning to go to the pool and swim regularly. How’s that going?
It’s winter, too cold. Ok, can I finish this post? I have to get back to translating.
Sure. Just ignore me why don’t you? I know you know I am right.
What’s up with you? Is it pre menstrual? I am just going to write the end of the post. Hang on.
… *sulk*

Geebus, that short self-rant just reminded me of a single-handedly crucial disadvantage of working as a freelance translator from home. Your best friend, the one with whom you share your life 24/7, happens to be yourself. Don’t ask why. It just happens that way, you become a translator and one day you start having conversations with self. It’s actually quite a rewarding relationship. But on a fateful day, when yourself turns against you; starts complaining and back-chatting, that’s when the going gets tough. Freelance translator’s life can prove to be difficult if the relationship with self is strained due to work load. There isn’t really much that can be done about it though. My suggestion to anyone else experiencing it, is to basically just put up with it, ignore if need be and threaten if nothing else works. And one day self might just stop complaining and claiming that you have no life.

Peh! “Translators have no life,” says self. That’s an utter and complete myth. Truth couldn’t be any further from it. I’ll prove it to you by simply putting forward myself as an example. I have a life! I have my computer, my internet connection, my blog, my blogmates, and *drum rolls* my very own virtual real-friends database. I even have a green patch, which my real-friends look after for me on my virtual real-friends database. I have just watered my purple lilly and saved two centimetersquare rain forest about half an hour ago. Thanks to my virtual real-friends database, my bad memory problem is no more a problem. They all get a virtual real-friends database message from me on their birthdays. What ever else can I ask for? I have everything I need. I am far from being greedy; the wanting to go out on picnics, to cinemas, to meet and hang out with friends, the need for pampering… None of that thanks. Unlike my.. self… I am quite self-sufficient (ha!) and happy with my life.

That will do for today. Now that a myth is completely destroyed, I’d better go back to my translation.

Tomorrow will you write about self-denial?
Hmm? *mumbles* No I told you. Have a proofreading job. Oh, and I need to hit Ebay for a bit, too.
Why, what are you buying online now?
I will check out the auctions for a new self-best-friend.
You wouldn’t! … *whimpers* would you?
Try me…
*silence*


In The Beginning September 25, 2007

Posted by Fantastic Four in Uncategorized.
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