Thursday, December 30, 2010

Humour in Translation

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My Russian vocabulary has grown leaps and bounds during the process of translating the 20-page survey that I'll be administering to Russian college students as part of my thesis research.  I've spent hours consulting English-Russian and Russian-English dictionaries and thesauri, even Russian business articles and trade magazines, trying to find the best translation for the English expressions and nuances in my survey.  Fortunately, I've enjoyed translating stories and documents ever since my first Spanish class, a decade ago. So although this has been a lengthy and focus-intensive process, it's been fun.

I especially love finding the humour in strange, odd, or otherwise unexpected translations. Hence my past blog posts on "Untranslatable words from around the world," "The German word lippenflattern," "Language shapes how we think," "Words that don't exist in the English language," and "French words that have no direct English translation" -- to name a few.

Today I happened upon Google's translation for the Russian word определенную (say it o-pre-dyel-len-noo-you) that might be the funniest (if not completely accurate) demonstration of Russian's propensity to use many more letters than a situation seems to warrant.
Here's the translation Google Translate gave me for this 12-letter word:






Thursday, December 23, 2010

No Journey Wasted

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I received a Kindle (Amazon's wonderful wireless reading device) last week as a pre-Christmas gift, and ever since I've been immersing myself daily in books that have been on my "to-read" list for ages. I've named my Kindle "Oscar," after Sesame Street's "Oscar the Grouch," because when it arrived in the mail I immediately looked for a dark, cozy, small place to curl up and read. 

Oscar and I have become great friends. He can hold up to 3,500 books, can you believe it? Perfect for travelling. And the books I buy on Amazon are delivered to my Kindle in under 60 seconds. Amazing. 

My second pre-Christmas gift from this very good friend was the autobiography published this year by the one man I would consider my "celebrity role model."  I first read Huston Smith during my third term at Rogue Community College. I was young -- I had just celebrated my sixteenth birthday -- but devoured the assigned reading for my Intro to World Religions course more vigorously than most of the older students. Concurrently enrolled in an Intro to Anthropology course, I was enthralled with the connections I could draw between the two courses, and reveled in the discovery of parallel theories. I had uncovered one of my true passions: the study of world cultures.  

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Taking a break, Predators style

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I haven't posted in the last week or so, mostly because breathing and sleeping are a little higher on my priority list.  I've been under the gun every day to meet another just-announced deadline.  Fortunately, I've finished developing my thesis survey and submitted my research application to the Institutional Review Board on Wednesday.  I'm going to be piloting my survey very soon (probably next week), and I would really appreciate you taking it and giving me feedback on how it goes.  It's important that we minimize respondent fatigue and make sure the directions are adequate.  More details to come on this.
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