Thursday, 11 June 2009

Over Jeziorki

Today is Corpus Christi, so a day off work. Most offices have shut for Thursday and Friday, including ours. Many people have taken the entire week off. Time for some work-life balance.

Above: A marsh harrier circling over the marshes at the end of ul. Trombity. To get this sequence of shots, I moved deep into the reeds to get closer to where the harrier was hovering. I must have disturbed a hare, no more than ten feet (3m) from me. There was a sudden and rapid movement of a large body away from me through the reeds, betrayed only by a rush of moving foliage. I could not see it at all.

Above: The gold-painted Boeing 737 of LOT Polish Airlines, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the end of communism. Full story here. And it's a story of hope. Here's a state owned company that has actually listened to a creative artist and done something inspired and unusual, rather than the normal reaction: "nie mam pomysłu, ale nie dam szansy komuś kto ma". Opinions as to the aesthetics of the colour scheme are divided within the spotters' community, but me, I like it. On the tail the words 'Wspólna Sprawa' (mistranslated on the other side as 'Common Task' rather than 'Common Cause'

A propos of which: the exhibition in the Polish Parliament marking the 20th anniversary - has anyone seen the English translations of the photo captions? Appalling! Has it not occurred to anyone to run them past a native speaker before expensively printing them?

"On the 3rd of May, 100 thousand Warsawers were showing their support for Solidarity outside the St. John's cathedral when the militia traditionally detained over a dozen of people". Ręce opadają.

7 comments:

Bartek Usniacki said...

they did it in a good cause...

I took the trouble to translate the curious sentence, but in vain - I'm just a Pole. I produced: On 3rd May, one hundred thousand of Warsaw residents manifested their sympathy with Solidarity (movement) in front of cathedral of St John's... and here I got lost - I can't make out what the original version was. The construction of Past Continuous + Past Simple seems to be gramatically correct but sounds awkwardly here...

Over a dozen of people was for sure kilkanaście (lub kilkunastu - nie wiem!) ludzi

What more was wrong? And what is wrong in my alternative translation (I somehow can't believe it can be flawless - I'm just a Pole!)?

with the native at least taken on as a consultant / proofreader you're absolutely right - such exhibition should be or showcase so the ones accountable for it should not mess it up :(

Michael Dembinski said...

"On 3 May, 100,000 Varsovians were demonstrating their support for Solidarity outside St John's cathedral and, as usual, the militia arrested dozen or so people..."

"Varsovians" - not a favourite word of mine; I'd prefer inhabitants of Warsaw but their provinance is not the most important point here. "Poles" would do equally well.

In translations like this, you should deconstruct the sentence to determine its message. Then rebuild from scratch using the simplest English words possible (though no simpler!), taking care to ensure to maintain the natural rhythm of the target language. Now that takes some learning, and doesn't get taught by non-native teachers.

"I'm just a Pole" - hey! don't put yourself (or our great nation) down! You should hear Czechs, Italians or Swedes mangle the English language!

I've met a handful of outstanding Poles when it comes to English; I could not tell they were not natives. But these guys worked hard at it. For example Jacek, who will be teaching at a workshop with me next month, took courses in English phonetics and philology, has over 300 tapes of BBC radio programmes, and worked 10 years in a big four consultancy - his English is very nearly native.

Perfection can be achieved!

Bartek Usniacki said...

of course perfection can be achieved, but takes a lot of dedication and passion - without it even if somebody strives for perfection, they effort are rather likely to be futile... Determination is much more important than aptitude... I think I've wasted a lot of time when I was younger, i.e. before matura, when it comes to linguistic education, but there's still almost the whole life ahead of me to make up for it ;)

Maybe by saying "I'm just a Pole" I'm just falling into place...(?) It wasn't meant ot sound demeaning.

I'm familiar with that technique of translating, translating the word by word instead of converting the whole sentence and rendering the meaning is one of the most common errors of the beginners.
BTW, do you think this piece sounds unnaturally?

I'm just getting round (actually I've been getting round, since a month) to write a longish post about teaching and learning foreign languages in Poland. I hope it appears before the end of the weekend...

PS. What kind of workshop is it going to be?

Michael Dembinski said...

This piece ... I see what the author is trying to say, but the stilted style appears forced, and there's a lack of natural rhythm. No grammatical or spelling mistakes, however. The text could do with a decent edit.

Yet from a business point of view, if I were the publisher, I doubt if the money spent on a first-rate native English proof-reader would make any sense. Now, if this were a marketing brochure for legal services, food processing equipment, protective clothing for armed forces, building materials, fork lift trucks etc - well, NOT spending money on linguistic excellence would mean that money spent on graphic design, photography and quality print would have been entirely wasted.

Workshop - watch the BPCC website (www.bpcc.org.pl/events) - coming soon.

Bartek Usniacki said...

thanks for the advice, the magazine as a whole could do with a native knowledgeable editor... A graduate of English philology who is a chief editor turns out not to come up to the standard...

That was rather the translator's (so guess whose...) fault, however, if you click at the Polish flag, you'll see the original version. Polish also leaves at least a bit to be desired...

But practice makes perfect...

OK, I'll throw a glance, I already keep abreast with BPCC blog, in its peculiar way (for the sake of issues it deals with) it's gripping

Island1 said...

Thanks for the link. I didn't notice this. It was Pawel's post and he's currently preoccupied with exams.

Amazing you caught a shot of the plane. Coincidental? Or where you waiting for it?

Michael Dembinski said...

Coincidental. I'd read about this plane on Polandian and on the Okęcie airport spottaz forum, so when I saw it above me, I knew what it was and snapped.

When shooting planes, over-expose by 1/3 stop to prevent the undersides from being too dark against the sky.