Friday, November 21, 2014

Rhinoceros charging in Great Russell Street

The other day I went so see the Germany: Memories of a Nation exhibition at the British Museum. Somehow I wasn't entirely convinced by it, with doubts similar to those expressed by translator colleague Margaret Marks in a review on her blog. Still, it was interesting, and I hadn't been to the British Museum for ages – the roof is stunning!

I'm also quite impressed (even if I say so myself) by the semi-artistic exhibition poster "mirror selfie" I took outside – hence the title of this blog post, with thanks to translator colleague Judith Hayward, who wrote this comment when she saw the photo: "The photograph should inspire a song – not sure a rhinoceros charging in Russell Street is quite as poetic as a nightingale singing in Berkeley Square, but it certainly shows the British Museum hasn’t lost its charm…".

Anyway, I'm going to catch up with the 30-part BBC Radio 4 podcast that accompanies the series (have only listened to a few episodes so far), and I bought the exhibition book, which should make an interesting read.

Update January 2015:
Reading the very interesting/excellent Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung article by Gina Thomas under the heading "Und plötzlich ist Deutschland ganz anders" made me realise (even more so than I had already realised before I read the article) that I didn't really 'digest' the exhibition properly during my visit and would no doubt benefit from a second visit, but I'm not going to make it before it closes. But anyway, I find the BBC Radio 4 series very illuminating (still haven't listened to all the episodes), and I still have the book to delve into.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Campaigning can feel so bleak when it’s all about "No"

Attended the "space for cycling" demo in Leicester the other day.

See superb blog post by Elizabeth Barner under the heading "What a difference a mayor makes". Note in particular: 'Campaigning can feel so bleak when it’s all about "No"'. On that note, although in a different context, this is one of the main reasons why I'm still so enthusiastic about my pro-renewables and in particular pro-wind campaigning activities after more than 20 years. See 'blast from the past' here and more recent Pro Wind Alliance website.

Coming back to the mayor theme, based on my experience from Germany I'm very much in favour of the concept of elected mayors, and I fully agreed with the editorial on the subject that was published in the Leicester Mercury opinion piece back in November 2010 under the heading "Election for mayor will beat apathy".

Thursday, November 13, 2014

From eggcorns to Lady Mondegreen and Monty Python

A recent Guardian article under the heading "That eggcorn moment" reminded me of an unforgettable "toothcomb moment" resulting from my 2009 article on Linguee (which, in case you are wondering, is an online "translation tool combining an editorial dictionary and a search engine", to quote from the Linguee website).

I decided to start a discussion on this in a an e-group for professional translators, during which I learned about Lady Mondegreen (allegedly common knowledge, but it turned out that several translator colleagues hadn't come across her either – see Google, if you haven't a clue what it is about) and, courtesy of Wikipia, an unexpected connection with Monty Python. Doune Castle is now on my list of places to visit on one of our journeys to or from Scotland.

The discussion clearly struck a chord, as evidenced by the numerous contributions – many positively hilarious – from various colleagues. I have taken the liberty of quoting some of them here:
  • As an American, I had to chuckle the first time I heard a Brit say they had gone over something with "a fine TOOTHcomb" (emphasis for pronunciation). I pointed out that it was "a fine-toothed COMB" (again, for pronunciation) and was told (one again) that Americans change everything. What can you do?
  • What? Are you saying that Americans never have Haare auf den Zähnen?
  • I always thought it was ‘fine-tooth’ rather than ‘fine-toothed’ and have the backing of Chambers Dictionary which shows it as fine-tooth(ed), suggesting that either is correct. Haven’t tried the OED.
  • Shorter Oxford has “fine-tooth comb”. Oxford Spelling Dictionary has “fine-tooth comb” and “fine-toothed comb”.
  • Haven't come across eggcorn before, but you may like to note for future use that Beachcomber, in a spoof Robbie Burns poem, defines a "towmond" as "the edge of an egg in midwinter". Huh?
  • Similarly, 'Christ the Royal Master/Leans against the phone'.
  • I’ve always thought of these mondegreens/eggcorns as “green chairs” – from the hymn “All things bright and beautiful, all green chairs great and small”. Which is what my mother told her father she’d sung on her first day at school.
  • Ah, I see now. With "The National Organisation for Women and others have nothing to offer the average Jane and in consequence, have allowed Sarah Palin and her elk to define women’s issues" for example, some people just don't know it was a moose.
  • ... I heard of a manager in Aylesbury, I think, who dictated a letter saying "ipso facto" and his secretary typed "if so, fax so".
  • My son came home from his first day at school and told me they had said grace at lunch time. It went "For atta too tee, three fat fulls amen". After some deliberation we realised he was supposed to be saying "For what we are about to receive may the lord make us truly thankful, amen"!
  • Or, like when a friend first started teaching in London and asked the class if they knew what Christmas was all about. A small boy very cheerfully replied it was all about Baby Cheeses.
  • When I was little, I believed that the man who handed the "Klingelbeutel" round on an long stick in church said "gets gots". What he really said, was of course, Vergelt's Gott!
  • When I was little I was forever singing "sticky chairs on me" around the bedroom with my sister. I refused to believe that the real lyrics were "take a chance on me". 
  • Similarly, our boys refuse to believe that the Beatles song is Lady Madonna not Beebee Banana...
  • Has anyone mentioned Agathe Bauer (I got the power)?
  • When my father first went on a walking holiday in the Austrian Alps, he was baffled for a time because he thought everyone who greeted him was saying "Great Scott". And as a kid I was mystified by the pop song "Shrimples in the garden" (which turned out to be "Shrimpboats is a-coming"). Not to mention the BBC shipping forecast, where they seemed to keep on about "Margaret to good visibility"... And there is currently an ad on German TV for some cosmetic cream. The first time I only heard it, but didn't see the writing: "Nun auch in Leicht und Explosiv", which sounds a trifle dangerous.
  • This is what they call 'Verhörhammer' at our local radio station Bayern 3.
  • In a recent transcript of a CEO interview, we kept encountering paradise ships = paradigm shifts, and arrows = errors.
  • My 4 yr old son is adamant that Farmer Christmas will be delivering his presents this year.
  • My granddaughter, then aged four, said that another little girl she knew, who has a Polish mother and Pakistani father, spoke 'a different sandwich - Polish and Hairdo.'
  • Here is another one - my youngest, then about three or four, once sang "I was born under a large green stone" instead of "I was born under a wondering star". Later we always laughed when Bon Jovi´s "Bad medicine" came on the radio - we heard it as "Bad venison".  
  • My daughter, when about 5, used to apologise for things by saying "I'm sorry, it was my steak".

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Rosetta space triumph shows what EU cooperation can achieve

The infographic below, taken from the British Influence website, says it all.
One in the eye for UKIP et al, methinks.