Tuesday, 21 December 2010

"Also, it is an advantage to have a low plugging force"

I was reading some glossy marketing materials very badly translated into English today, and it reminded me of the phrase above, which came from a brochure produced by the firm the CFO worked for the year after we met. The firm made, uh, bits of uh, stuff. I can't be more specific than that except they were small and metallic and our flat often had several of them lying around in places where you might trip over them and break your neck. Goodness knows who they had hired to translate the brochure, possibly a middle manager's fourteen year old child. None of it made any sense, but this was my favourite phrase and is as fresh in my mind after fifteen years as the first time I read it. Poetic.

It also made me wonder if my recent fish translation epic was of similar calibre. I do hope not, but who knows? "Also, in the leisurely hunting of the hakes with the stevedores having of the loops that are great, there is much diminution". Living in the capital of Europe (heh) means that slightly off translations are ubiquitous, so I am hoping that if mine did indeed look like it had been translated into Korean and back using Babelfish, no-one would notice.

I was, coincidentally, rereading "Jesus Shaves", which is my very favourite all time David Sedaris story on the tram yesterday (sneakily, before I gave the book away as a present), and yet again was nearly sick laughing. Anyone who does not already know it by heart should go away and listen, or read. It is about translation, traditions surrounding religious holidays and mutual cultural incomprehension. "Two morsels of lumber". "He go above of my head to live with your father". "The magic dustpan flies in from the North Pole led by eight flying cinder blocks". Oh yes, it's happening again, I have just lost another ten minutes to snickering. I have had that debate myself about how the Easter bells carry your Easter eggs, but someone told me fairly convincingly that they fly back from Rome UPSIDE DOWN, and filled with chocolate, which seemed plausible.

I have very little for you tonight. I am overtired, I have that queasy dread that comes with Christmas shopping that manages to be both inadequate and also far more than you can afford, and I think my liver ressembles that of a foie gras goose. I need to retire to a cave, grow a beard, eat bitter herbs and reflect on human folly, or something. I am however, cruelly cheered by stories of other people's work Christmas parties I have not attended. Intern cabaret, anyone? Dramatised legal rĂ´le playing exercises? Team photos with a man in an orange plush turtle suit? Yes please, all this and more. If you have anything to voice about your own Christmas party, please do so in the comments. You know it's better out than in.


Anonymous said...

Since I don't "work" (at a "job", and I'm doing less & less around the house these days too!), I have NO work Christmas party to attend. My painting class DID get together tonight for a holiday drink. And I realized I need to be stone cold sober to follow anything but the most basic conversation in Dutch (even -- especially! -- after all these years in Belgium). So I smiled a lot.
I LOVE David Sedaris (Me Talk Pretty One Day was my introduction to him). Had missed the "magic dust pan". Still chuckling at the thought.
As for the ads (I was hoping for garish illustrations but nooooo), they began with Christmas "Hurts" (!), a Mallorca break & food hampers to the UK.
wv: yoviabb (kind of how I felt staggering out of the cafe tonight after that last amaretto coffee...)
(whoops!) NEW wv: corcuer (decanting wizard?)

Be of good cheer (as opposed to so-so cheer I wonder!?!)
Pat (in Belgium)

Margarita said...

I also don't technically "work" at a work place so instead I bring it upon myself to create a work party "atmosphere" every night of the week. Going to ridiculous restaurants on a Monday night to get drunk? Check! Beer and chip parties at my place? Check! Ski Sundays with pub-fare lunches? Check! I just pretend to go along with an imaginary group. It is quite normal you see.

Catherine said...

My work xmas lunch has been quite traditionally british - complete with secret santa (given out once everybody was drunk, around 2pm... yes it's a xmas lunch, which usually finished in the pub around 1am). Amongst the usual leopard thongs, table snooker games etc, was a book which I loved: "pop charts", which shows pop lyrics in the shape of graphs. Best secret santa ever - you have to check it out!

frau antje said...

I no longer have to avoid office parties like the plague, but there is a completely shorn tree, the ghost of Christmas past, with an old straw star shoved on top, just to remind me that it is Christmas (forgot to buy red and green m & m 'decorations')...and how nice a real one would look there, cantilevered over the stairwell, taking up a minimum amount of space and yet having a commanding presence, like the love child of Carla Bruni and Gertrude Stein.