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 »  Articles Overview  »  Art of Translation and Interpreting  »  Translator Education  »  123 Waymouth St: So it does not?

123 Waymouth St: So it does not?

By Marcia Pinheiro | Published  01/6/2013 | Translator Education | Recommendation:
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Marcia Pinheiro
Da Inglese a Portoghese translator
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Interesting that the differences that shock do not stop popping up. Basically, there is no comma in English between the number on the street and the name of the street.

One may not believe how things work for those who have not been born in the culture of their target-language, but, perhaps, with a lot of texts like this, they may start having an idea.

The Portuguese language seems to be much better structured than the English language for people like me: There are rules for all in what regards punctuation, plurals, connecting the elements of the sentences, and others. That is why we realize that there is a huge problem in the teaching of the English language: It is obviously the case that the same sort of rules that exist for the Portuguese language also exist for the English language. Even though my studies on human history are now way behind in time, I still recall that the Anglo-Saxons (those who are most of the time told to be responsible for the appearance of the English language), told to me to be barbarians when I studied the topic, invaded the UK before the Portuguese people reached Brazil, what happened by 1500 because of a mistake (they were aiming at the lands of the Indians but simply ended up in Brazil). That tells me that the English language should be better structured than the Portuguese language since we would have had more time to fix its problems.

I am not lying if I tell you that I have studied the English language formally for more than ten years before I come to Australia. Yet, I have not learned a single rule that helps me with syntax, for instance, from any of my teachers (different teachers, different school years, different establishments, etc.) or their adopted books. But my teachers must obviously know those, is it not?

This but that I have just used, in the last paragraph, irritates me profoundly, by the way, and I will let you know why of all this very soon… .

Basically, I have also studied the Portuguese language formally for more than ten years, and I got to know the structure of the language in my first year of studies.

But, if used like in the paragraph that I criticize in this very text, has the sense of however, is it not? Do you agree? Well, in good Portuguese, that should then have been however, and we should have typed comma right after it. This is not what most irritates me, in terms of use of the language, when I read Tipping Point, for what most irritated me was but being used in the sense of mas, that is, in the adversative sense of it, and starting sentence. In good Portuguese, when the sense is of the adversative type, we do not start sentence with but (mas) because we assume that we have a coordinate couple of sentences, that is, a case in which we can split one from the other, what then will make us use a comma before that but.

In the same way, good Portuguese demands that we insert a comma between the number of the construction on the street and the name of the street, what just makes sense: number on the street and street where we live (for instance). In good Portuguese, the comma exists also to replace the word and, so that it is actually easy to know when to use it or when not to use it in at least a few cases.

Well, I then, believe it or not, had kept in my mind that the addresses in the English language were communicated in the same way that they were communicated in the Portuguese language. It was when I was teaching English to an overseas student in Australia that I noticed my mistake, and only then. Basically, nobody uses a comma between the number on the street and the name of the street in the English language (all those books that I read in the English language and yet I had not, not even once, read the addresses of the publishers (on their covers!) for real!).

There the beauty of Psycholinguistics lies: Our minds can influence our perception of the world so completely that they can make us believe, even for a lifetime, that things are different from what they actually are in terms of language. Basically, my conscious mind would not only not acknowledge the difference, but would also not accept it. As my student pointed out to me that there was no comma between the number on the street and the name of the street in the English language, I still insisted that I was the one who was right.

One of my virtues, however, is humility, so that I always have excellent ears for the other people’s discourses, not mattering what I am going through. I also always believed in God, what I keep on saying helps us all, in all levels, for, in my case, I am continuously living under the paradigms only God does not commit mistakes, only God knows all, etc.

Back then, I decided to double-check.

It was all like a curse: Each and every book that I opened had no comma between the number on the street and the street name (and I simply could not believe it!).

My gosh, so they actually do not put a comma between the number on the street and the name of the street in the English language? What a shock! Why not?

It is really interesting when you start connecting things… . We must remember that who created the object-oriented language (computers) was the Americans.

Nobody who thinks linearly can extrapolate that far, I theorize.

With the object-oriented language, you basically pick whatever address you want on the screen (literally) with your own hands and do whatever you like (or whatever the program lets you do).

Well, their minds then see my physical address, of where I am right now, as a unique block, a singleton, so that we need only one instruction (computer instruction) to select exclusively my physical address.

Notice that if I do things in the Brazilian way, let’s say, I have two keys to deal with (name of the street, number), but, if I do things in the American way, let’s say, I have only one key (the number with the name of the street). That is interesting because we obviously reduce the amount of system corruption and illicit intrusions doing things in the American way. On the other hand, doing things in the American way increases the weight of the databases tremendously since crossing data obviously saves space/memory.

I then notice that it is probably from my culture/upbringing saving memory: There is realistically nothing that I can dump that I will not dump, in terms of memory. My RAM capabilities are almost universally known… . Basically, I never make any effort to keep knowledge in my mind that I am not currently making use of when I am teaching. The character that I most liked from the so few Brazilian soap operas that I have watched in my life (find them truly disgusting and with horrible brainwashing power) was of this girl who would forget even who the boyfriend was, so that at least sometimes she would go after him and end up kissing quite a few other guys until she had the same sensation or whatever… . We do not really immediately notice why we like this or that, however, and sometimes it may simply have to do with subconscious association of some trait of the character we watch with our own set of traits in what comes to human-made spectacles.

That is when we are obliged to applaud diversity.

If we can understand the Asian concept of Yang-Yin, we can also understand that true development and true vertical progress (towards God) can only happen when we put our diversity to work in favor of human kind.

Professor Dominic Hyde and all his fellows in research had been struggling with The Sorites Paradox for millennia before I come from Brazil, hear about the problem for the first time (2000), find it absolutely ridiculous, and solve it in a first go. Because I solved it for good (lots of people have presented theories that were told to be solutions but those were, later on, proven not to be such), I am suffering crimes for more than one decade, true atrocities, as a reward, like so much nobody on earth expected, or wanted, me to do it.

Well, it is possible that the same Hyde, with the same fellows, would visit Brazil, hear about their ancient unsolved problems, find them all ridiculous, and solve them at once, is it not?

And why was it not possible for Hyde to see things in this way? Why was it that he, instead of supporting my professional career, became part of the mass of crimes that I suffer since back then?

I reach the conclusion that we are indeed small people, like the author of Who moved my cheese? thought. In reading his book, I understand that he thinks that all human beings live their lives like rats, and are eternally running after the cheese that others have produced, disputing amongst themselves the cheese that they will never be able to produce themselves and that they have never earned the rights to have… .

Coincidentally, the book is written by a psychologist and they keep on telling me, since I took notice of them, what happened really early in my life, that we live in a schizoid world, a world where nothing that we actually do, or very little, in terms of society, is coherent with what we preach or advertise that we are doing (like officially).

The last paragraphs appeared just because it occurred to me that we advertise ourselves, and that happens in Australia, as societies that praise multiculturalism and diversity. Notwithstanding, nobody that matters could accept my contribution to Science, which has to be a result of investment in cultural or background mixture.

We should obviously turn our minds to what is positive about all these mixtures, as I am trying to guide us to do.
At the same time, we should study the implications of having the same rules for writing everywhere on earth, for every language.

It occurs to me, as I write this text, that diversity, also of rules, may lead to more progress, may make of us something more complete, when considered as a single race, but it also occurs to me that we can only progress together if we simplify communication, so that I currently experience a dilemma of the most interesting type as possible.

Some of the sources for this text:
• http://web.eecs.utk.eeh/~huangj/cs302s04/notes/oo-intro.html
(All accessed on the 5th of January of 2013)

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