Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category

Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus

November 25, 2015

It’s Thanksgiving Eve, so we’re about to embark on the official season of Christmas songs and Christmas shopping (though both have been upon us for some time, and Christmas decorations have been up for some time as well — at the restaurant Reposado in Palo Alto they went up right after Halloween). Periodically I post about about Christmas music, especially weird stuff; my daughter Elizabeth, grand-daughter Opal, and other friends feed me great stuff. In 2012, among my Christmas music postings was “The multicultural Christmas playlist, mostly Jingle Bells”, where I mentioned in passing the Latin translation of the song that I learned in high school, nearly 60 years ago. The part I still recall is the chorus:

Tinnitus, tinnitus, semper tinnitus
O tantum est gaudium dum vehimur in trahā

(There are other translations into Latin out there.) Now to look at the Latin.


Follow-up: Heino

November 1, 2015

In my posting on things Rosamunde, I provided a video of the German singer Heino performing the hymn to beer-drinking “Rosamunde”. Now more information about the man, from Wikipedia:

Heino (born 13 December 1938 as Heinz Georg Kramm) is a German singer of popular music (Schlager) and traditional Volksmusik. Having sold a total of over 50 million records, he is one of the most successful German musicians ever.
Known for his baritone voice and trademark combination of light blond hair and dark sunglasses (which he wears due to exophthalmos [bulging eyeballs, from Graves’ disease]), Heino resides in the town of Bad Münstereifel, where he owned a cafe until June 2012. His interest in music started when his mother gave him an accordion in 1948, although his family could barely afford it.


The racy ATM

January 19, 2015

From the BBC site in October (the 28th), this cash machine story:

A cash machine outside Tesco Express in Aberystwyth has been promising customers “free erections” after a translation error.

Above the ATM at the new store in west Wales it said “codiad am ddim” which would translate colloquially as “free erections.”

A more correct version would have been “codi arian heb dâl”.

The Welsh noun codiad translates as ‘rise, increase’ in a number of senses, including the rising of the sun, and is not in itself racy (the plural is codiadau, by the way); am ddim is ‘for nothing, for free’. But apparently in colloquial usage codiad can also be used for a penile erection.

The BBC story’s version, codi arian heb dâl, translates roughly as ‘raising money/cash without charge’; codi arian am ddim would have done, or even just arian am ddim ‘cash for free’.

(The story was picked up by a great many sites. The BBC version came to me through Sim Aberson.)

Once more on background knowledge in the comics

October 10, 2014

Two of today’s cartoons — a Bizarro and a Zippy — bring us back to recurring questions on this blog: what do need to know to make sense out of what’s going on in a cartoon, and then what do you need to know to see why it might be funny? It’s all about background knowledge.



#1 brings back the clowns from an earlier posting on background knowledge. #2 is more intricate.


In style

June 4, 2014

This morning’s Bizarro:

The diner is asking for eggs in one of the handful of standard named American styles — scrambled, poached, fried (over or sunny side up), boiled (hard- or soft-) — and not in some “fancy” style, whether in French (eggs/oeufs à/a la Florentine), in English with postposed modifier (eggs Florentine style, eggs Florentine), or in English with preposed modifier (Florentine-style eggs, Florentine eggs).


Two cards

May 29, 2014

On Tuesday, Ned Deily and I were investigating the workings of my scanner, after it had behaved  oddly for me on several occasions (garbage on scanning some black-and-white images, very odd colors when scanning some Jane Austen colored cards). The problem was traced back to some scanner settings I hadn’t known were there, so we re-set those and tried scanning one card of each type, using items I’d gotten in the mail (from Chris Ambidge). Herewith the results.


A Zippy Czech

October 12, 2013

Today’s Zippy continues the traditional Czech triplecoat theme from here:

Though there’s an asterisk on that bit of Czech, suggesting that there’s a translation somewhere, I haven’t found it (though Oh, bože is ‘Oh, God’) — but a commenter on the Zippy site suggests ‘freak’ as a translation of śilenec, and Google offers ‘madman’. So, roughly: ‘Oh God, a crazy!’

Vocabulary surprises

May 17, 2013

For some purposes, you can function fairly well with material in another language, so long as the topic stays within domains that are familiar to you — like linguistics, say. But when you wander into other domains, especially those that are closely tied to sociocultural conventions, things get messy, even if you stick to nouns; there’s just so much to know about cultural artifacts and customs, for example, and a huge vocabulary to acquire in these areas, in the names of animals and plants, etc.

I can deal pretty well with technical material in French, for example, but I’m easily stumped when it comes to artifacts, animals, plants, and the like. By way of illustration: my daughter gave me a big box of postcards on The Art of Instruction, with images of school materials from the 1950s, from mostly French but also some German sources. The German items have no text, but the French material (from Éditions Rossignol — the name is great; rossignol means ‘nightingale’) is heavy with text. For animals and plants, much of the vocabulary is technical teminology from zoology, anatomy, or botany, and that’s fascinating, but I can’t be expected to know these expressions. However, there are also the common names for animals and plants, and they contain many surprises.

That brings me to the tadpole.


The wonders of spam

December 28, 2012

I get huge amounts of spam, both in e-mail and in blog comments, so I mostly don’t even look at the stuff. But here’s one (lightly edited to remove links) that caught my eye as I was deleting spam from my mail:

The Better Business Bureau has been recorded the above mentioned plaint from one of your users as regards their business relations with you. The information about the consumer’s uneasiness are available at the link below. Please give attention to this issue and notify us about your glance as soon as possible.

We amiably ask you to click and review the [Grievance Report] to respond on this grievance.

We awaits to your prompt rebound.

It has been coming in multiple copies, with small variations in form. The text looks like it’s inexpertly translated from another language, but whether that effect is inadvertent or intentional I cannot tell.

I am, however, considering using “We awaits to your prompt rebound” in my own writing, or possibly working it into a piece of light verse.

Wong Huang Butterfly Hwang

November 13, 2012

A rerun of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit went past a little while ago, featuring BD Wong as forensic psychiatrist George Huang. That gives us Wong and Huang so far, but then on to Wong in his breakout role as Song Liling in David Henry Hwang’s play M. Butterfly on Broadway.

Then D. H.  Hwang turned up in the NYT Magazine on Sunday, in Alex Witchel’s profile, “The Man Who Can Make Bruce Lee Talk: For his next feat, the playwright David Henry Hwang reimagines an icon”.



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