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Off topic: "Smiles 'n' tears"
Iniziatore argomento: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spagna
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Sep 12

This is what the Spanish call The Sound of Music. Smiles with all those fresh-faced kids singing their little hearts out for Julie Andrews, and tears when they were running around to escape the murderous goons led by the bloke who had a crush on Big Sis. Well, I think he had a thing for her, but then I'm relying on my memory when it was on TV every Christmas. Before the Bond film.

Anyway, I thought we could use this space to recount all those Translator Moments that led to smiles or tears. The ones where you can still feel the rage rising in your gut as you remember how they fleeced you in some way, and the ones where they made you feel like a person again, and restored your faith in human nature. Or you managed to fleece them instead!!

There's no David Tang to act as agony uncle for you now. Although I suspect he wouldn't have been sympathetic to mere translators.

Tell us about your smiles 'n' tears. No names required (or allowed, in fact). Tell us about a translator's trials and tribulations, trickery, treachery, trauma, travesties and/or trust and triumph. Doesn't have to begin with TR, either.

But PLEASE, no sob stories about the 0.00000001 euro per word they offered you. There's an endless number of endless threads for that kind of stuff.



[Edited at 2017-09-12 18:07 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-09-12 18:39 GMT]


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Nikolaki
Francia
Local time: 11:46
Da Francese a Inglese
Transitory tremble Sep 12

Many moons ago, I was sent one of those corporate communication jobs. I can’t recall what the company was selling (sorry, delivering), but I have an inkling it may have been "exciting new solutions".

Anyway, it was the sort of standardised company presentation stuff of which you can sometimes find whole chunks already translated on the firm’s website, if it has an English version. Always worth checking…

And there it was. And it was remarkably similar to the job I’d been sent. Un cas de conscience ? Not really; I thought I’d just buff it up a bit, rewrite it a bit better here or there, and Bob’s yer uncle, job done.

But I couldn’t. It was too bloomin’ good. I just couldn’t see any way of improving it. "The swine" I thought to myself, "he or she is way out of my class. I could never hope to equal that".

And I got all despondent.

Then I did a quick search of my hard disk, and there it was, from two years back. The offending translator was none other than myself.

So then I got all elated instead.

Then I got to thinking ‘How could I have failed to recognise it? This must be a precursor of Alzheimer’s’. So I went back to despondent again.

But the sense of elation was nice while it lasted.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Oh, all right then ... Sep 13

... I'll show you what I mean. This is the "Tears" category, although there is a bit of smiling at the end:

A long time ago I did some translations in a certain city in this country, not the city I live in now, along with a well-known and well-respected translator with much more experience. We were having more than a little difficulty getting paid by the publisher for a series of illustrated art & architecture books. The usual excuses were wheeled out - accountant on holiday, accountant off work, accountant ill, accountant critical, accountant sadly missed etc.

After (literally) months of reminders and phone calls and the rest, eventually I was told I could go and pick up the cheque. It was late morning on a Friday when I set out to take two buses to get me to the leafy avenue where the publishing house was. The plan was to cash the cheque before the bank closed at 2, and head back down to the ordinary part of town to divide up the loot. I seriously needed money in those days. A struggling translator.

When I got there, the young man-in-suit, the son of the Big Boss, said "Well, here's your cheque ... oh, my, look at that ... it's not signed." "Yes it is", I said. "It is signed. Right there, look." "Yes, but it needs to be countersigned [I had never heard of a countersignature before]. By my dad." There was something about the way he said it. "Well then, can you ask him to sign it?" "Well, yes I would, but he's off to lunch with a client. Won't be back until 3. But you can come back on Monday, can't you?"

No "Sorry about all this" or anything like that, mind. I think that's what annoyed me the most.

He was very close to me, very close. I remember quite clearly thinking for some reason, "Either he loses his teeth now and the police will be called, or I have to start talking about the weather."

I have to wonder what he thought as I looked out the window and said "Cleared up nicely after the rain, hasn't it? A sunny interval." And then left in a rush.

By the time I had taken another two buses and got back to my partner, I was ballistic. Spent most of the afternoon in a bar in a terribly foul, difficult mood. So much so that she refused to let me go back there on Monday, and she went herself instead. They gave her a fully valid cheque on the Monday.

Lessons learned? Best to get the payment end of things very, very straight at the beginning.


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Chris S  Identity Verified
Regno Unito
Membro (2011)
Da Svedese a Inglese
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Does... Sep 13

... having a business contact called Randi Hag qualify as a smile?

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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I'd say so ... Sep 13

... although it may depend on the kind of business that was actually conducted during your contact with Randi.

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TonyTK
Da Tedesco a Inglese
+ ...
Wrong lesson learned Sep 13

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

By the time I had taken another two buses and got back to my partner, I was ballistic. Spent most of the afternoon in a bar in a terribly foul, difficult mood. So much so that she refused to let me go back there on Monday, and she went herself instead. They gave her a fully valid cheque on the Monday.

Lessons learned? Best to get the payment end of things very, very straight at the beginning.


The lesson here is: always let your wife handle the slimeballs.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:46
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Da Francese a Inglese
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A smile ... or a tear? Sep 13

OK then: I was contacted various times by the PM of an agency I work for whose name was Laura Dick. My email system consistently sent her messages to junk mail because of the dreaded word "dick" and prompted me to block her messages. I had to communicate with her via a different PM. I wonder whether she often encountered that difficulty.

P.S. Will Proz block this post for the same reason or is it less prissy?

[Edited at 2017-09-13 16:16 GMT]


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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TonyTK ... Sep 13

... of course, thanks, but on that occasion by "partner" I meant business partner. Couldn't pass the slimeballs. It was a business contact, but like/unlike Chris S, it was a no-contact thing.

As for Transitory Tremble, welcome back to the forums, Nikolaki. Go for the elation, man. Too much pain in the profession not to.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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Hey Jenny ... Sep 13

... I don't think they'll slate you for the Dick thing. Meanwhile, think about poor Laura, going through life as a Dick. Maiden name, perhaps? Maybe she tried to fix it, but only ended up with a man called Bush or Cox.

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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:46
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The lot of womankind Sep 13

Mervyn Henderson wrote:

... I don't think they'll slate you for the Dick thing. Meanwhile, think about poor Laura, going through life as a Dick. Maiden name, perhaps? Maybe she tried to fix it, but only ended up with a man called Bush or Cox.


Indeed, Mervyn, 'tis the sad lot of womankind ... I've often thought how much ex-chancellor Ed's wife must have loved him to be prepared to become Mrs Balls. No doubt that's why she uses her maiden name as an MP herself.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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The Balls Sep 13

Jenny, I had lost touch with UK politics for many years, but I did notice Ed Balls occasionally in the press, and wondered how the hell he went through life with it but - shame on me, because I'm one of many blokes who make a pathetic post-event pretence of being PC - I never once stopped to think how a potential Mrs Balls might have been feeling. No wonder she kept the "Mrs Cooper", because there's no two ways about it - Mrs Balls-Cooper sounds terrible, but in my opinion not quite as bad as Mrs Cooper-Balls. Lucky the maiden surname wasn't Copper. Or Steel. Or Galvanised Wrought-Iron.

Anyway, thanks for your input!! We'll put it down as a Smiles-cum-Tears, right?


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Daniel Frisano
Monaco
Local time: 11:46
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Da Inglese a Italiano
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S&T Sep 14

Tears: the first 1,000,000 words translated from self-taught German, before it started to become second - or rather third - nature.

Smiles: every time I see a sign in a language that I don't speak, but I still can read it by association with one or more known (or half-known) languages.

[Edited at 2017-09-14 09:14 GMT]


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Lidija Klemencic
Serbia
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Da Inglese a Serbo
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Hedgehog and heron Sep 14

While I was working in Bosnia as an interpreter for US Army, I dreaded going to the meetings with one particular chief of police in some small Bosnian town. The only reason for this was because he was probably the only chief of police in the world who was a poet, with published book of poems, and he would regularly recite one of his poems during conversation. Poetry is difficult to translate even in privacy of your home, not to mention in ''live'' translation. So, one day, we had a meeting with him and he didn't recite, everything went smoothly and I was very happy that I didn't have to torture my brain in finding right words to convey his poetic feelings. We were already on our way out of his office, when American captain asked him: '' What do you think of NATO bombing Serbia?'' and his reply was: '' Hedgehog f...s heron and her face dribbles in tears.'' I translated this as he said, congratulating myself that I remembered the right word for heron, but then, I find myself in shear terror, because this sentence has no real meaning, or at least that is what I thought and, to be honest, I still think. Captain looks at him in awe and they shook their hands and off we go to the vehicle. Now I am thinking, well this is it, now he will fire me, he will surely think that I didn't know how to translate whatever was that chief said, and I just poured out first thing that come to my mind and it come out in form of inappropriate sexual relation between hedgehog and heron. At this time I am so sad, that I can't think straight and when captain turns to me, I am already prepared to start crying. He turns with this words:'' What a deep, deep person our favorite chief is.'' Oh, glorious day! Happy, happy, happy. To this day I still do not know what was the real meaning of that sentence and I never heard it again, so my guess is that it was not just some saying but the product of poetic mind of one particular Bosnian chief of police.

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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
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That image ... Sep 14

... of the hedgehog and the heron is mind-boggling. Brings tears to the eyes, which is the point of the thread after all. Maybe not the same kind of tears, though.

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Nikolaki
Francia
Local time: 11:46
Da Francese a Inglese
In tears Sep 14

That discussion about Ms Dick and the Balls couple has brought tears to my eyes. Dammit, I think I can even feel a smile coming on.

As for the Hedgehog and the Heron, totally epic. You can see why it would bring tears to the poor old heron's eyes, too.

Can we have it in the original Serbo-Bosno-Croatian (or whatever it's called) ?


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