Word Play

June 24, 2008

Cultural Differences

Filed under: "cultural differences" — Hagit @ 5:03 am

I recently translated a press release about a new cellular phone, and one of its selling lines surprised me as it was totally irrelevant to the Israeli, Hebrew speaking audience. It said聽the device is聽“so small you’ll want to carry it everywhere”, and went on to explain that when going out in the evening, your space is limited, but this device is so small, you’ll want to carry it. What I found as strange was the fact that in Israel no one would ever consider leaving their mobile at home, space or no space. I didn’t notice anything different in my travels, so that makes me wonder. Is it indeed different? do people in the US/ Europe leave their phone at home when going out in the evening?


April 23, 2008

Hebrew speakers in the Vatican?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hagit @ 6:14 am

When translating internet sites/forms into Hebrew, I’m always required to translate the list of countries in the world, and it always makes me wonder about those Hebrew speakers in Bahrain. Or Burkina Faso. Or the Vatican.

October 9, 2007

The cheapest family in America

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hagit @ 8:39 am

I just read about them in today’s newspaper.
Weird people are nothing new, the cool thing is their family name: Economides.

September 30, 2007

Hug A Translator!

Filed under: translation — Hagit @ 4:32 pm

Today is the International Translation Day. You can read about this year’s theme here.
Interesting translation related materials for this occasion:

Getting It Right – A Guide to Buying Translations.

Enjoy. 馃檪

September 8, 2007


Filed under: Uncategorized — Hagit @ 2:56 pm

My grandmother was born in Corfu. My grandfather in Turkey. They met in Alexandria, Egypt, and got married. They spoke French, Italian and Ladino. My grandmother also spoke Greek, and they knew a little Arabic, and later on Hebrew, too.

My grandfather would call my grandmother, Rachelle (Rake-leh), the Italian way, and her friends called her Rachelle (Ra-shel), in French. My grandmother called my grandfather Maurice or Maurizio. We called them nonno and nonna, Italian for grandpa and grandma.

At nonna’s house we would drink “Caf茅 au lait”, and hear her say “Basta” and “Toma”, or “Mon cher”. When she would get angry, she would say “Allah!”, and she also used “Ah! Dio santo!” When we would cross the road together, she would squeeze my hand in hers, and say “Shema Yisrael”.

Nonna always laughed, “Il moso tiene otro moso” (my servant has a servant of his own), and said about people she didn’t like, “faccia di pocos amigos”. At her house we ate dukka and pisti, bamia, fideus, aliches, lubia, and avikas, and she would make us jump over her pan of “Behor”, to keep the evil eye away. I owe my nonna my knowledge of French. Until the age of four she took care of me, and it is in her house that I learned all these languages. Even today, there are words I only recognize in their Egyptian accent. It was only a few years ago that I learned the funny expression “Doo Paroo” is actually French, d鈥檕霉 par o霉.

Two days before my ever optimistic nonna died in the hospital, she told me, “mostufa”, a new word I had never heard, and didn’t understand. I asked, and she explained that it’s from the Italian “stufa”, but in Corfioto. She had had enough. Nonno died exactly three years ago, at the age of 86, on the eve of the Jewish New Year. Nonna died this week, aged 87, three days after her birthday. May they rest in peace.

Sento la mano tua stanca
Cerca I miei riccioli d’or
Sento e la voce ti manca
La ninna nanna o’allor
Oggi la testa tua bianca
Io voglio stringere al cuor聽聽聽
From Mamma Son Tanto Felice, here by Pavarotti, who also died this week.

My grandparents, Maurice and Rachelle Rozanes, on their wedding day:

August 28, 2007

Tools I Can’t Work Without

Filed under: tools — Hagit @ 10:06 am

Back in 1996, when I started studying translation, I remember asking a friend whether she thought purchasing a computer is an absolute must.

Well, I’ve come a long way. By now I have my own computer and even legal software, which was not obvious at the beginning, either. Along the way I’ve acquired some new tools and habits, which today, are as obvious for me as having a computer:

Internet. Goes without saying, I know. But not all translators are skilled searchers, so I think it’s worth mentioning. I once heard an interview with someone who was an interpreter for various US presidents (I forget his name, and would be grateful if you leave me a comment if you know who I’m referring to.) He said two of the most important things any translator should have are curiosity and resourcefulness. And internet is heaven if you have both.

Babylon. My language pairs are Hebrew and English. I don’t know about Babylon for other language pairs, but in my language pair it is the one and only computerized dictionary which is this extensive, includes a thesaurus, expressions and user glossaries, and allows you to add languages. The definitions are presented with a click on any word on my screen, so there’s no application/browser window to open, and it’s fast and simple. I use the English<>Hebrew dictionary, and the English<>Italian one too, so with every word search I can improve my Italian a little, Too.

Translation Business Management Tool (Avodat Milim). This is a business management/ accounting tool (Hebrew)聽I developed together with Yariv Habot, a software engineer, especially for translators. Having been in the business a few years, it was time to realize that the fact I can translate doesn’t mean I can run a business. As the invoices, checks, receipts, and deadlines were piling on my desk, Yariv built a system which is now certified by Israeli tax authorities for accounting. So I finally know exactly how much I make each month, when my next translation is due, who doesn’t pay me on time, and when I have to pay my taxes. In 2007 I think an automated accounting system is a must (In Israel most small businesses still use manually written invoices.).

Google Desktop. I don’t know how I ever worked without this tool. Google desktop indexes my computer (including PDF files, and other important file types) all day long. So not only do I have automatic back-up, but my computer is now a super-dictionary containing all the words I’ve ever translated. You know what it feels like when you remember you stumbled upon something similar last week, but just can’t remember the exact word? that’s what Google Desktop is for. No need to start searching for specific files, or remembering too much information. It’s all there. Google Deskbar is integrated into the desktop, and it鈥檚 also a fantastic time-saving tool. It inserts a google search box into my taskbar, so I don’t have to open any new applications when I need to search something (and translators are ALWAYS searching for something).

Trados. Trados is my CAT tool of choice. I’ve been using it for a few years, and recently have also begun enjoying it. It allows me to deliver more accurate and consistent translations, faster, and I love it. My main problem with it is the formatting. Translating into Hebrew, it will change fonts and sizes, bold and unbold words as it wishes, thus creating some formatting work at the end. I wonder whether this happens in other languages as well. Do you need to do a lot of formatting work once you’ve finished translating? If so, what are your language pairs?

聽In addition to these five there are of course word-counting tools, PDF converters, and more, but these five tools are the ones I really must have to start working. What are yours?

August 25, 2007

Context Is Everything

Filed under: bloopers — Hagit @ 6:48 pm

In Hebrew, there are two words than can be used for “scenario”. One聽doubles as “screenplay” (tasrit 转住专讬讟). The other is just “scenario”, Tarxish (转专讞讬砖).

I’m guessing “Hot”, the local cable company that purchased CBS television drama series Jericho, wanted to promote the series with the words “Jericho – Worst-case scenario”. However, they either don’t employ translators, or don’t pay them enough, because they published the following advert,聽announcing that Jericho has the worst screenplay ever.


August 24, 2007

Pronunciation Woes

Filed under: google tips for translators — Hagit @ 8:13 pm

LanguageHat links to a Wikipedia list of names with non-intuitive pronunciation.

Having embarassed myself in the past with transliterating Ree-ding for the city of Reading, and Edin-boorg for Edinburgh, I learned my lesson.

My trick (well, once I’ve identified that there’s some sort of “danger” with the name, because Reading, for example, seems very innocent) is to google the pronunciation. I assume that if a name has a non-intuitive pronunciation, it would appear with its pronunciation in parenthesis. So for Reading, I would search: “reading pronounced” (with the quotes, which lock the two words together), and get: Reading (pronounced Red-ding).

Try it, it’ll save you from mistakes with Reading and Edinburgh, which, interestingly enough, don’t appear on the Wiki list. I wonder, are they perhaps non-intuitive to me, as a Hebrew speaker, but more intuitive to native English speakers? or is it because these cities are聽very well-known, that they are not listed?

Freelancing and Translation

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hagit @ 6:39 pm

That’s what I’ll be writing about. I’m a freelance translator. I’ve been in the business for over 10 years. I think that’s marketing speak for, “11 years”. I love what I do. My mother tongue is Hebrew. My second language is English. I can get away with French. My Italian is even better. I can understand Spanish. I want to learn Arabic. And Japanese. I freelance full-time. I would never go back to an in-house position. I’m curious. I love to read. Anything. I love to travel. Anywhere. I have a blog in Hebrew. Now I have one in English, too!

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