Note: I agonised over whether I should share this post at all, especially on my work blog – but I decided it is better to talk about these things. I also stressed over what to call it, but decided anything else would be a euphemism.
This is a post I’ve been meaning to write for a while. I haven’t done it before partly because I didn’t dare to admit weakness, and partly because I felt too inert to actually crank out the words.
For those who know me, online or in real life, that part about inertia might seem unlikely, I know. I run an editorial business. I mentor other editors. I have two children, and do my fair share of looking after them. I write short stories and novels in my spare time. I’m studying part-time for an MA. I blog. Sometimes I manage to vacuum the stairs…
A new document was created and published earlier this month that offers descriptions of linguist roles, i.e. translators, interpreters and terminologists. A BIG THANK YOU to the five professional associations and the industry professionals (see at the end of this post for the names) who worked on and supported this project, which is a valuable resource to all linguists and their clients.
You can download and read the document in PDF format here.
I wanted to highlight the Translator description, which also includes a description of what certified translators do.
(from ATA’s website) “Translators work with the written word, converting text from a source language into a target language. This is far more than replacing one word with another. The translator must also convey the style, tone, and intent of the text, while taking into account differences of culture and dialect. Often, the finished document should read as if it had originally been written in the target language for the target audience. But this is not always the case. Highly specialized content may require the translator to retain elements of the source language culture in the target language translation. A professional translator will have the expertise to know the best approach for the translation.”
Translators must be familiar with the dialects, registers, and terminology needed for the type of translation project they are responsible for. When working in teams, translators may be responsible for editing, proofreading, summarizing, localizing, and transcreating.
(from the Interagency Language Roundtable website)
Translation “is a complex skill requiring several abilities. Consequently, extreme care must be exercised in hiring translators or assigning translation tasks to them. To do otherwise entails the risk that imprecise or even wrong information will be conveyed. Competence in two languages is necessary but not sufficient for any translation task. Though the translator must be able to (1) read and comprehend the source language and (2) write comprehensibly in the target language, the translator must also be able to (3) choose the equivalent expression in the target language that both fully conveys and best matches the meaning intended in the source language (referred to as congruity judgment).”
Certified translators can provide documentation indicating the certifying or assessment body, any subject area expertise, the proficiency level, the specific language combination(s) assessed by translation testing and the direction of translation permitted (see US Federal Coordination and Compliance Section, Procurement Series Translation and Interpretation. What Does It Mean to Be a Certified Linguist?). Certified translators maintain their certification through continuing education credits and are bound by a code of professional conduct. When translation certification exams are not available for a particular language pair, sample translations reviewed by highly-qualified third parties may provide an acceptable practical alternative.
This post is in response to a photo I saw today. One that has gone viral, one of a little girl putting her hands up to a journo with a DSLR. She thought it was a weapon. A Syrian girl. The BBC is calling this “the photo that broke the internet’s heart” What a load of codswallop. It breaks peoples hearts. YES. It does. LOOK LOOK at this girls eyes and then ask yourself why you as a good person can’t get together with other billions of good people on this planet and do something about this.
Anyway I blog about my life – this photo has affected me. If you don’t like it don’t read it. It has also highlighted some issues of life here in wonderful Sri Lanka. “Real issues”:
There maybe issues in lots of countries…I have friends globally from the UK, Germany, Russia (yep even those buggers) to Nigeria to Fiji (and obviously Holland). Most complain. Nowhere is perfect. Holland may seem idyllic – oh except for the fact that Pim Fortuyn was assassinated during the 2002 Dutch national election campaign for being a racist asshole basically. And good riddance. At least we have a cute Royal family. And orange rocks and cheese and heaps more.
Sri Lanka is of course paradise, only it had a bloody 30 year civil war, with possible war crimes still pending – one will see. And while one waits the presidents brother dies in an axe attack. A local politician was shot in my home town days ago.
People are nervous, I am. Not just for my beautiful life here but for the world at large.
It is Friday lunchtime, nearly weekend! I fancy something filling to eat so I decide to have an Uitsmijter. It is a Dutch dish similar to the German Strammer Max, but transformed with Dutch ingredients. There are many variations (see below) but traditionally it involves: Dutch brood (bread), kaas (cheese), ham (ham), and spiegelei (fried egg). It’s not only filling but damn tasty too 🙂
The Uitsmijter. The name makes you take note, the Dutch word evokes images of strength, courage and forceful endings. According to the Dutch Table blog the word “uitsmijten” itself means to “forcefully throw out” so “uitsmijter” means “out-thrower”, i.e. somebody who throws something or somebody else out, and does indeed also refer to a bouncer at a nightclub. However, in the food world, it’s the name of a scrumptious open-faced sandwich with meat (although optional), cheese and fried eggs. It’s not a little snack or for those on a diet or with small appetites. The Uitsmijter addresses your hunger, your craving. It’s good…
In the south of Holland, where I was born, Uitsmijters would be served as the last “one for the road before we get thrown out” meal after a night of partying. Hence its name. Another theory says that, because the dish is made so quickly (all you have to do is fry the egg and make the sandwich), it is basically thrown out of the kitchen or the pan. It can be served quickly!
An Uitsmijter is often eaten for breakfast, brunch or lunch in Holland. Being a full meal, the sandwich is eaten with a knife and fork. Because you can decide what bread, what cheese, what meat etc. to use and how you like your eggs fried (most restaurants give this option too) it really is a win-win dish.
Usually ham is the meat used (I like a good smoked ham), but Uitsmijters can also be served with roast beef, bacon, salami, turkey, chicken, bacon or just with cheese and perhaps a tomato. Other things which you can add are pickles, pesto, mustard, mushrooms, bacon bits sprinkled on top…
The eggs are usually served sunny-side up, with the eggs still runny. If you order an Uitsmijter for breakfast in Holland it is served as it comes. As a lunch item, it usually comes accompanied with a small salad and frieten (chips) on the side or some greens to spruce it up in a more fancy restaurant.
2 slices of bread (toasted if desired)
Butter (GOOD quality REAL butter)
2 slices of smoked ham (or whatever you fancy)
4 slices of cheese (decent cheese such as Gouda, Edam, Cheddar, Emmental and so on. No processed cheese please)
1 sliced tomato
Plate up two slices of bread (or toast) and butter them. Put the slices of ham on the bread, then the tomato, then the cheese. Add butter to a frying pan or skillet and fry the eggs. Some fry their ham (or bacon) too – entirely your choice. When the eggs are done to your liking slide them on top of the cheese on the sandwich, add some salt and pepper and dig in!
Dutch is a very challenging language to learn, because the constant adjustments in the ‘official’ spelling of Dutch words make for a chaotic and inconsistent linguistic environment.
A short blog but I need to keep going. I have been busy with translation work and this issue has been bugging me, hence the post. More recipes and Sri Lankan ramblings soon 🙂
All languages evolve, and words evolve too. This is normal and natural. However, the Dutch aren’t exactly normal in this respect: They more or less carry out what’s jokingly known as a ‘spring cleaning’ of the language and put out a new edition of Het Groene Boekje, aka the ‘Green Book’ or Word List of the Dutch Language. This book is released by a committee of Dutch Language experts in both Belgium and the Netherlands. It’s not a dictionary because here are no word definitions, but just a list of words and their new, ‘accepted’ spelling.
The initiative is meant well: They want to keep the language fresh and up-to-date, but still consistent and official. An honourable goal. However, they never seem to see the real consequences of these changes. Instead of promoting consistency and precision, confusion is the result.
The problem is simple: The Dutch-speaking world simply doesn’t pay much attention to Het Groene Boekje. Nobody enforces it. Unlike the French, where maintaining the French language is a Government objective, backed by laws and policies, in Holland this is just a polite suggestion from academics. In practice, nobody really gives a shit.
Every time a new edition of Het Groene Boekje appears, the Dutch speakers react. Some people complain about some of the decisions and others support them; newspapers and writers tend to ignore it (wisely in my view). On the other hand, schools usually adopt the new spellings. As a result, spelling in Dutch is annoying.
So, if you’re planning to learn Dutch, be prepared: forget sense and semantics. Good luck with the spelling!
Dutch is a difficult and challenging language that has some odd unexpected surprises, such as phrases from other languages and extremely difficult spelling.
Dutch & Other Languages
You may be surprised to learn how many Dutch words are borrowed from other languages. French used to be considered the height of elegance in the Dutch-speaking world, leading to a lot of French words being adopted into Dutch, such as paraplu (umbrella), bureau (desk or office) and horloge (wrist watch) etc.
Almost equal in the number of borrowed words is Hebrew, which is often perceived as strange until you consider the large Jewish populations in Holland from the Middle Ages onwards. The Jews developed their own versions of local languages (e.g. Yiddish) but also contributed to Dutch by process of linguistic osmosis. Today most of the Hebrew words are part of the ‘street’ or slang language in Amsterdam, such as bajes (jail), jatten (to steal), and kapsones (arrogance).
Dutch is a curious language in three main aspects that make it look most odd to native English speakers (or, frankly, natives of most other countries except for Dutch speakers!).
For one, Dutch is very hard to pronounce. It contains a lot of very hard consonant sounds that can be very rough on the throat. When you first start learning Dutch, it’s not unusual for your throat to start to hurt as you try chewing through words like Scheveningen (beach resort town in Holland). If you think German is a tough language to pronounce well, prepare yourself, because the Dutch hit those hard consonants even harder. The difference is great enough that in World War II the Dutch would identify German spies by the way they pronounced Dutch words.
Dutch also contains some extremely long words. More than thirty letters isn’t uncommon, like the word for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: chronischevermoeidheidssyndroom. Yes, whereas English uses three words, the Dutch simply have one enormous word. Not only are these words long, but many Dutch words also have a lot of consonants, which can make for difficult reading and speaking. Take slechtstschrijvend (writes the worst) for example. After trying to learn and pronounce words with nine or more consonants in a row, you’ll need a drink to soothe your throat (quite possibly a stiff one!).
So, if you have always thought us Dutch were somewhat odd….you’re not far off!
What is GTT? Actually, it is just the acronym of Google Translator Toolkit, a feature of Google that is especially designed to help you translate texts and that is actually VERY different from our old friend (or enemy?!?) Google Translate. Of course I do not want to advertise Google products and denigrate other softwares, but I think that GTT is an easy way to give you a brief insight into the world of CAT tool (Computer Aided Translation) and how they work.
All you need to do is signing in with a Gmail account and then you can have fun! I find the interface very interesting because it is actually quite similar to those of the most used translation softwares such as SDL Trados and Atril DéjàVu. You have the source text – the text you have to translate – in a column on the left, whereas the target text…