Saturday, February 06, 2016

Stephen Clarke on the Absurd Translations That the Telegraph's Expat Has Come Across

Among the bad translations of English noted by the Daily Telegraph's Stephen Clarke is this one from
 … the complexity of the linguistic gymnastics you do in your own head shows how essential it is to get translations right when tourists come to your country and try to do everyday tasks.

An English friend was withdrawing some cash with a UK card here in Paris yesterday and told me he thought that the French machine was surprisingly good at English. He’d understood all the commands, and had only been slightly confused when the cash dispenser informed him at the end that his money was “going to come out”, as if it was about to reveal some great secret about its private life.

This reminded me of the absurd translation you so often get if you try to use a French card to buy tickets or withdraw money in the UK. On numerous occasions I’ve been told to “tapez votre broche” which literally means “tap your brooch”. I don’t usually wear brooches, and would therefore be totally befuddled if I hadn’t worked out that broche is a bad literal translation for “pin”.

Unfortunately, the French verb “taper” does also mean type or key in, so a naive French tourist could be misled into thinking that they need to wear some kind of badge that has to be shown to the CCTV cameras and tapped with a fingernail to prove that it’s metal rather than a plastic imitation. After all, England is a place of weird traditions like playing sports matches that last for five days and using indicators on roundabouts. Why not tap a brooch to get money? Anyway, for the information of any Brits out there whose job involves managing a machine that sells things to French speakers via credit cards, the appropriate phrase would be “tapez votre code secret”.

 … [Translation] has been on my mind most of the summer because I finally gave in to peer pressure and decided to check out why these Scandinavians have such a great reputation for crime writing. Is it just because their nights are so long and dark, except in mid-June? Or could it be because pickled herrings make such great murder weapons? Stuff one of those into someone’s throat and they’ll choke in seconds. (That, by the way, is not a suggestion.)

So I’ve read a few, and jolly gory they have turned out to be. It’s not just the herrings that get gutted and pickled. But what has struck me most of all is that I can feel all the time that I’m reading a translation. There have been so many awkward sentences where it felt as though the translator was too scared to stray from the original. Which I can understand – if these crime writers do to their translators what they do to their characters, I’d be terrified of mistranslating the punctuation, let alone a whole sentence.

I tell the translators of my books that I’d like their version to read like perfectly natural writing in their own language, except where I’m deliberately playing with accents or idioms. But maybe the Scandinavians want their books to sound Scandinavian, even when translated, so we get the full effect of a killer prowling through Norwegian slush or a police Volvo skidding on a freshly dismembered body part.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Points to Ponder in the Same Sex Debate

Instapundit's Ed Driscoll links to an old post of the Federalist's Mollie Hemingway (thanks for the Maggie's Farm link, Bird Dog), who seems to have some important views on recent subjects:
[The] CEO of Mozilla, Brendan Eich … wasn’t hounded out of corporate life because he was wrong. He was hounded out of corporate life because he was right. His message strikes at the root of a popular but deeply flawed ideology that can not tolerate dissent.

And what we have in Eich is the powerful story of a dissident — one that forces those of us who are still capable of it to pause and think deeply on changing marriage laws and a free society.

 … Perhaps there should have been a bit of a burden of proof on those who wanted to change the institution — something beyond crying “Bigot!” in a crowded theater. Perhaps advocates of the change should have explained at some point, I don’t know, what singles out marriage as unique from other relationships under this new definition. What is marriage? That’s a good question to answer, particularly if you want to radically alter the one limiting factor that is present throughout all history. Once we get an answer for what this new marriage definition is, perhaps our media and other elites could spend some time thinking about the consequences of that change. Does it in any way affect the right of children to be raised by their own mother and father? Have we forgotten why that’s an important norm? Either way, does it change the likelihood that children will be raised by their own mother and father? Does it by definition make that an impossibility for whatever children are raised by same-sex couples? Do we no longer believe that children should be raised by their own mother and father? Did we forget to think about children in this debate, pretending that it’s only about adults? In any case, is this something that doesn’t matter if males and females are interchangeable? Is it really true that there are no significant differences between mothers and fathers? Really? Are we sure we need to accept that lie? Are we sure we want to?

Welcome to the mob

“Part of the essence of the post-totalitarian system is that it draws everyone into its sphere of power,” writes Havel. We create through our involvement a general norm and, thus, bring pressure to bear on our fellow citizens. We learn to be comfortable with our involvement, “to identify with it as though it were something natural and inevitable and, ultimately, so they may—with no external urging—come to treat any non-involvement as an abnormality, as arrogance, as an attack” on ourselves.

There’s much to be thankful for in aftermath of the madness of the Eich termination. For one thing, many people have rightly figured out that what happened there is terrifying. It’s not just natural marriage advocates but even some of same-sex marriage supporters most vocal advocates. I’m reticent to point it out but Andrew Sullivan took a break from vilifying natural marriage advocates, a long-time specialty of his, to wonder if maybe things had gotten completely out of controlWilliam Saletan wrote an important satirical piece that noted the absurdity of these types of witch hunts. And Conor Friedersdorf criticized Mozilla’s hypocrisy and worried about the dangerous precedent that was set.

 … Eich’s most important political work was not making a paltry $1,000 donation in defense of natural marriage laws. It was in refusing to recant.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Pro-Castro Frenchmen to Journalist (2 Videos): If You'd Behaved That Way in Cuba, "You Would Be in Prison, You Would Be Dead"

This is supposed to be an argument in favor of the Castro brothers and in favor of the Caribbean island's socialist paradise model?!?!

Members of the ¡Cuba Si! association tell (warn) a reporter what the consequences would be in Cuba if journalists like him had behaved like his television show had:
In Cuba … you would be dead!
There are actually two stories here:

The first story goes as follows: As Raúl Castro pays a visit to France, Cuban state television showed a couple of Frenchmen expressing hearty welcomes to the líder maximo (or to the brother of the líder maximo).

"Bienvenue au président Raul Castro et 

qu'il revienne le plus souvent possible"

Strangely enough, it turns out that the two men supposedly representative of the French people seemingly filmed in two widely different locations of Paris (intercut with images of the Champs-Élysées bedecked with Cuban flags, it seems to take place there) happened to be filmed on… opposing sidewalks of… the same street in the 15th arrondissement, 20 meters away from… the Cuban embassy!

(Sounds like Cuban state TV personnel would have no trouble finding work in the mainstream media of the United States and other countries in the West.)

Le Petit Journal – Raul Castro à Paris : Le... by nonstopzappingofficiel

The second story concerns an update by Canal +, as Le Petit Journal found out (warning: shocker ahead) that the Frenchmen interviewed by Cuban TV turned out to be members of the pro-Castro ¡Cuba si! association.

The journalist proceeded to try to ask them some questions. An aging member of ¡Cuba Si! tells the cameraman of Le Petit Journal's Hugo Clément to cut the camera, after which the conversation continues as follows:

• Hugo Clément: We have freedom of the press in this country, Sir; we're not in Cuba here!
• Moustache: Well, you're lucky that we're not in Cuba, you're lucky!
• Hugo Clément: Otherwise, what would have happened?
• Fellow in the background: They would be in jail!
• Moustache: Don't provoke, it's not worth it. Don't provoke!
• Hugo Clément: Well, you are threatening me, you said I was lucky. Otherwise, what would have happened?
• Fellow in the background: Pff, you would be dead, whaddya think!

Ambiance très tendue entre un journaliste du... by morandini

In French: Le Petit Journal – Raul Castro à Paris : Le reportage mensonger de la télévision cubaine (vidéo):
Yann Barthès présentait lundi soir et comme chaque soir de la semaine Le Petit Journal de Canal+. Et dans l’actualité de ce début de semaine il y avait évidemment la visite en France du président cubain Raul Castro. Un homme pas franchement connu pour avoir ouvert son pays à la démocratie ou à la liberté de la presse, comme l’a confirmé le Petit Journal hier soir. Une séquence que nous vous proposons de retrouver sur notre site Non Stop Zapping.
Décidément les chefs d’Etat reçus par François Hollande ces derniers temps font polémique. La semaine dernière, le président de la République accueillait en effet pour la première fois depuis 1999 son  homologue iranien, Hassan Rohani. Venu parler diplomatie mais surtout gros sous, celui-ci s’était dit déterminé à "tourner une page" afin d’"ouvrir une relation nouvelle entre la France et l’Iran". Mais si cette visite a semble-t-il ravi le gouvernement et les entrepreneurs français, elle a en revanche été beaucoup moins bien perçue par les Femen. Pour contester contre la venue d’Hassan Rohani, l’une des activistes féministes a ainsi simulé une pendaison sur la passerelle Debilly, qui enjambe la Seine et se situe face à la Tour Eiffel. Au-dessus d’elle flottait une banderole avec inscrit dessus : "Welcome Rohani, executioner of freedom" (Bienvenue Rohani, bourreau de la liberté.

"Bienvenue au président Raul Castro et qu'il revienne le plus souvent possible"

Et lundi François Hollande recevait un autre chef d’Etat infréquentable il n’y a pas si longtemps en la personne de Raul Castro, le président cubain. Une fois encore, difficile de dire qu’il s’agisse là d’un fervent défenseur des Droits de l’Homme, de la démocratie ou de la liberté de la presse. En ce qui concerne cette dernière, Le Petit Journal a d’ailleurs pu constater que peu de progrès avaient été faits ces dernières années en décortiquant un reportage tournée par la télévision cubaine à l’occasion de la visite de Raul Castro à Paris. Ou plutôt un micro-trottoir réalisé afin de connaître l’opinion des Français sur la venue du chef d’Etat. Et chose incroyable, tous les Français interrogés semblent être de grands supporters de la politique menée par Raul Castro : "Bienvenue au président Raul Castro et qu’il revienne le plus souvent possible" lance même l’un des interrogés. Sauf que fait amusant, le Petit Journal a retrouvé l’endroit où a été enregistré le reportage. Et comme par hasard, c’est à 20 mètres à peine de … l’ambassade de Cuba. Certains des interrogés seraient d’ailleurs des militants pro-régime cubain. Pas sûr qu’ils soient réellement les plus représentatifs des Français…
Gracias por los links, Fausta y Carlos

Who Wants the Hide of the Republican Party? The Incredible Donald Trump

Coming in March (merci à Francine Girond) is Qui veut la peau du parti républicain ? L'incroyable Donald Trump (Who Wants the Hide of the Republican Party? The Incredible Donald Trump), a softcover book by Jean-Éric Branaa, the author of another 2016 paperback with a question in the title, Hillary : Une présidente des Etats-Unis ? (Hillary: A Female President of the United States?)

Just in case you're wondering whether his latest opus isn't proof of his love for conservative candidates and a concern for the well-being of the GOP, the man's Facebook page seems to show quite a leftist outlook while the writer of the Trump book's preface is a well-known supporter of the Left (I have debated François Durpaire on television several times).

Besides, it is hardly possible to write a school book in France (is it possible in the rest of Europe? In… the United States?!) without belonging to the left.

Jean-Éric Branaa is also author of such school assistance books (combining learning about American culture and English-language ) as American History Made Simple (L'Histoire des États-Unis Facile), American Law Made Simple (Le Droit Américain Facile), American Government Made Simple (Le Gouvernement Américain Facile), and American Civilization Made Simple (La Civilisation Américaine Facile : Problèmes Économiques, Politiques et Sociaux Contemporains).

Monday, February 01, 2016

Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t SPRING FROM leftist policies; It SURVIVED them

When Bernie Sanders was asked during CNN’s Democratic presidential debate how a self-proclaimed socialist could hope to be elected to the White House, he gave the answer he usually gives
notes Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
Socialism has been wonderful for the countries of Scandinavia, and America should emulate their example.“We should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people,” Sanders said.

Liberals have had a crush on Scandinavia for decades. “It is a country whose very name has become a synonym for a materialist paradise,” observed Time magazine in a 1976 story on Sweden. “Its citizens enjoy one of the world’s highest living standards. . . . Neither ill health, unemployment nor old age pose the terror of financial hardship. [Sweden’s] cradle-to-grave benefits are unmatched in any other free society outside Scandinavia.” In 2010, a National Public Radio story marveled at the way “Denmark Thrives Despite High Taxes.” The small Nordic nation, said NPR, “seems to violate the laws of the economic universe,” improbably balancing low poverty and unemployment rates with stratospheric taxes that were among the world’s highest.

Such paeans may inspire Clinton’s love and Sanders’ faith in America’s socialist future. As with most urban legends, however, the reality of Scandinavia’s welfare-state utopia doesn’t match the hype.

 … It was in the late 1960s and early 1970s that taxes soared, welfare payments expanded, and entrepreneurship was discouraged.

But what emerged wasn’t heaven on earth.

That 1976 story in Time, for example, went on to report that Sweden found itself struggling with crime, drug addiction, welfare dependency, and a plague of red tape. Successful Swedes — most famously, Ingmar Bergman — were fleeing the country to avoid its killing taxes. “Growing numbers are plagued by a persistent, gnawing question: Is their Utopia going sour?”

Sweden’s world-beating growth rate dried up. In 1975, it had been the fourth-wealthiest nation on earth (as measured by GDP per capita); by 1993, it had dropped to 14th. By then, Swedes had begun to regard their experiment with socialism as, in Sanandaji’s phrase, “a colossal failure.”

Denmark has come to a similar conclusion. Its lavish subsidies are being rolled back amid sharp concerns about welfare abuse and an eroding work ethic. In the last general election, Danes replaced a left-leaning government with one tilted to the right. Loving Denmark doesn’t mean loving big-government welfarism.

The real key to Scandinavia’s unique successes isn’t socialism, it’s culture. Social trust and cohesion, a broad egalitarian ethic, a strong emphasis on work and responsibility, commitment to the rule of law — these are healthy attributes of a Nordic culture that was ingrained over centuries. In the region’s small and homogeneous countries (overwhelmingly white, Protestant, and native-born), those norms took deep root. The good outcomes and high living standards they produced antedated the socialist nostrums of the 1970s. Scandinavia’s quality of life didn’t spring from leftist policies. It survived them.

 … No, Scandinavia doesn’t “violate the laws of the economic universe.” It confirms them. With free markets and healthy values, almost any society will thrive. Socialism only makes things worse.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

How Winston's Comeback Topped a Devastating Remark

From the world center of wit, the Daily Telegraph has compiled Britain's Favorite Quotes, including a handful from America along with this famous comeback from Sir Winston:
Nancy Astor to Winston Churchill:
"If I were your wife I would put poison in your coffee!"
"And if I were your husband I would drink it."