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yes brain, you can has

April 2015

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The Blogger's Prayer

Lo, there do I see my posts.
Lo, there do I see my tweets.
Lo, there do I see my gifsets and my picspams.
Lo, there do I see the line of my blog, back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place among them on the Internets,
Where the geek may live forever.

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astro_noms: (send in the clones)
I'm trying to find a design for a business card (just a simple calling card, really, something I can hand out to people with my contact info on it), and I can't find anything that I really like. I was looking at moo.com, but it's like, 25 EUR for 100 cards, and if I go with something in Poland, it's like 10 PLN (about 3 EUR). Except that none of them are really catching my eye and yelling "me, me! pick me!" *sigh* I'd try designing my own, but my design-anything mojo is thoroughly dead these days and everything I try to do ends up looking like crap. I should try and get the website up and running before I do up the business cards - so I dunno, they can have some consistency - but every time I sit down to do it, I end up poking at WordPress for a few minutes and then getting distracted by something else. I went on a long-ish bike ride with G. on Saturday, and oh boy, am I ever out of shape. Actually, I'd go so far as to say I have no shape (as opposed to being in or out of one). Add "get out and move some more" to the neverending list of things I need to do. Although I guess it could have been worse - I get tired quickly, especially riding in the sun, which exhausts me no matter what I'm doing, and I'm still having trouble with my throat, so breathing through the mouth = dry throat = coughing = too many stops on the way. I need to take the bike in for a tune-up, though, because right now it's dirty as hell and there's a bunch of things that need to be replaced/tightened/fixed in order for it to be usable in the long run. That and I need to get a gel padded seat, because ow, my ass. On a bright note, I got an e-mail this morning with the billing for March, and it was really nice to confirm the amount that will be coming in in a couple of weeks. Since I'm working with G. these days, we split it 50-50, but it's still a lot of money. Like, almost twice as much as we made in February. April is going to be probably similar to February, but that's the downside of working freelance - you never know how much work you're going to get in a given month, and then you have to wait 45 days before getting paid. I was thinking of trying to find a job right away this summer, but with my mom coming to Poland in August and expecting me to spend time with her, and then the internship in Brussels in October, I'm wondering if maybe it wouldn't be better to stick to freelancing for now and then start looking in the fall. IDK, I have to think about that. There are some translation projects coming our way for the summer, so I think we'll be OK money-wise, but it'd be nice to have something regular and consistent to fall back on. And now, I'm going to go finish the work that's due today and then go to my phys-ed class. Maybe I'll even take my bike there instead of riding the tram across town. :D
astro_noms: (to infinity)
I don't know if it's the changing season weather, or if it's the fact that it's shark week, or something else entirely, but these last few days have been bad ones for headaches. A week or so ago, I had the standard pre-period migraines, and this time it was four days of near constant pain that the sumatriptan didn't really do much for. It'd make it go away for a while, and then it'd start up again, so my backup of pills is kinda dwindled down right now. I need to remember to drop by the pharmacy tomorrow and see if maybe the additional box they were going to bring in for me is still there, or if I fucked up again and left it too long. *sigh* These last few days have been pretty nasty, headache-wise, too, which isn't helping in getting the translation that's due on Thursday. It'll get done, because we're more than half done and it's not too difficult (just really mind-numbingly tedious and repetitive), but it would be nice not to have it hanging over my head.

The meeting with the vice principal (or rather, deputy head of school to use the BrE parlance) went well yesterday, for all that it lasted about 5 or 6 minutes. We talked about what they expect me to do (basically, translating the promotional material for the school and the stuff for their website) and that was it, really. She talked about how the school is in renovations these days, so space is at a premium, and maybe I'd be willing to do the work remotely, which I'd be OK with, but I'm pretty sure that working on-site is actually part of the point of the internship, so the uni people in charge of it probably won't agree. Which doesn't really matter to me - as long as I have a place to sit down and an internet connection, I can work. I guess we'll see what the admin people say. This week is supposed to be for signing the contracts, so I'll find out soon.

My brain is so full of marketing mumbo-jumbo and corpo-speak that I can't think straight. But this job is going to pay quite a bit, so I guess I've got no choice by to sit here and chip away at it until it's done. Bleh. Also, why can't it be spring already? I'm ready for warmer weather and not having to bundle up when I sit in front of a computer. </whinge>
astro_noms: (i shall call him squishy)
I woke up today with a migraine, took half a pill, felt it kick in (or rather, felt the side effects), but it wasn't until I realized I was trying not to cry from the pain that I figured I should probably take the second half. Spent the rest of the morning in bed with the drapes drawn and the cat locked out of my room so I could rest. Which means I'm still a little woozy and mostly feeling wiped, and in absolutely no shape to do any challenging work. Which means that the translation that's due tomorrow morning is going to require extra careful proofreading, because when I'm like this, I'm prone to making lots of stupid typos and errors.

The good thing about the translation work is that I'm getting more jobs these days, and I had an e-mail from one of the project managers stating that she'd like to "establish closer cooperation" with me. I'm not sure what this means exactly, but I'm hoping it'll translate (heh) into more work coming more regularly, which will give me a bit more financial stability.

I also got into the internship program, and I get 120 hours starting in March at a language school as a translator. I'm not holding my breath on the internship turning into a contract for full/part-time work, but maybe I can make some contacts that'll get me some additional freelance work. *fingers crossed*

Ugh. Being an adult is overrated.

Also, if someone could please tell me how to make my cat STFU and stop yowling, that'd be awesome. The pheromone collar doesn't seem to be working anymore, and he goes into the other room from where we are and sits there, crying for attention. But when we try to pet him/play with him, he acts like we're insulting him. #catsareassholes
astro_noms: (cute owl)
Is there anyone reading this who knows Hebrew (or who knows someone who knows Hebrew) who could help me out with this? The three Hebrew fragments are names of God - the first one is, as best as I can decipher, "Eloah, El, Shaddai", and the third is Adonai (please tell me if I've got it right) but I can't figure out what the second one is supposed to be... The rest of the text is in Polish, which I don't need any help with. :D



The rough English translation of everything else is as follows:

Besides the prologue and the epilogue, the word "Everlasting" is not found anywhere in the book, but Job and his companions use the old Semitic words אלוהּ ,אל ,שדי (Eloah, El, Shaddai) “almighty” to indicate God. The word [second bit goes here] (Job 12:9) was most likely added – as old manuscripts confirm – as a result of a copier’s mistake, instead of אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) (cf. Job 28:28).
astro_noms: (winter lights)

Being a Writer and a Translator

Translating literature is basically rewriting it from scratch—you have to take what you’re reading, and rephrase it in a way that’ll be appropriate for the culture you’re translating into. It’s hard to reconcile the inner writer, with the constant “I’d do this differently” thoughts, with the translator’s task of trying to match the author’s original style and not changing the story. The task is made much harder if you’re also a writer, and if the work you’re translating falls outside of the genres you normally read, or if it falls within certain genre conventions that you don’t like.

Do the Legwork on the Paperwork

If you’re like me, and you’ve never had to come up with a contract for a translation job, trust me, ask for advice. If you get advice that says “just Google it, there’s plenty of templates out there,” look further. Ask more people. Do the Google search, put together a contract, and then ask someone to look it over. Ask your friends, ask in forums, get a second opinion (and a third, and a fifth). Don’t just assume that just because it looks pretty good to your untrained eye, it’s fine. If the person you’re signing the contract with makes changes, make sure you get someone else to look them over. I’m speaking from experience here — things I said would fall under my purview in the conversations before the contract didn’t make it in there, and things that shouldn’t be my responsibility did.

Learn from Your Mistakes

If you’re like me, just starting out in the field, you’re bound to make mistakes. Don’t get discouraged. One job that doesn’t go quite the way you thought it would doesn’t mean the end of the world. Get the job done, do the best you can under the circumstances, and carry on. There will be other jobs, other opportunities to do better. Don’t sweep the mistakes you’ve made under the carpet, though. Remember them, learn from them, and keep them in mind so you don’t make them again.

Don’t Give Up

It’s a difficult balancing act—staying involved in the work so you get it done on time, and at the same time remembering to step back when needed so you don’t get discouraged and disheartened and start to dislike the work. Because if you don’t like what you’re doing—and this goes for writing your own stuff, too… hell, it goes for any job you do—it’ll show in the final product, and it’ll affect your ability to work in the future. And if you can’t make it work, well, maybe you shouldn’t be doing the work.

Mirrored from Tangents and Digressions.

astro_noms: (a light to guide you)

I don't think "thrilling Thursday" will become a post theme, mostly because I don't have that many thrilling things to share. Unless I end up using "thrilling" in an ironic way, much like the #thrillingtweets hashtag over on Twitter...


I've been working on the translation, and I'm about 40% done! The English version is turning out to be longer than the Polish one, and I'm not yet sure how much of that is the fact that English just requires more words, and how much is my own tendency towards wordiness. I'm sure a lot of it will come out in editing, which reminds me, I should start looking for an editor for this thing. Oy.


The padding in my chair has become a bit flat lately, so I took it apart this past weekend to see what could be done. I ended up sticking a small pillow in there and putting the seat back together, but now it's all lopsided and crooked, and I'm going to have to take it apart again. I think I'm going to end up having to buy some thick fabric and polyfill batting or something, and basically reupholstering the thing again. The current upholstery is still fine (if in need of cleaning), but it's a pretty small piece of fabric, and if I want to put in more padding, it might not be enough. Besides, it might be nice to have a different color chair for a bit. :) I think having a bit more padding will make the chair a bit more comfortable, and maybe will convince me to sit normally, rather than cross-legged, which I don't suppose is too good for my posture...


 


Mirrored from Tangents and Digressions.

astro_noms: (arrow: green)
So I took the second job. I told the coordinator I'm talking to that I could take pages, but not a lot, and I've got a package of museum exhibit descriptions to translate, which is not so bad. I just need to sit down and google some more terminology, because the whole package is about smoking pipes, and there's some weird stuff in there.

I'm about a third of the way through the book translation, or possibly a bit more. The first part that I'm almost done with is about 40% of the book. Then the first part can go back to the author for a review, and I can go through the notes she sent me on the first bit. One of the differences between Polish and English is that in Polish writing, repeating words, even those like "said" and "and" is considered something you don't do. So if you have a page full of dialogue, all those "saids" are going to get flagged, as will repeated pronouns. Those of us who write in English stop noticing dialogue tags after a while, but for someone who doesn't, they jump out. So I have a file with pages full of highlighted repetitions that are going to get stetted anyway because she herself admits that her English isn't good enough to properly judge, and she's looking at things from another language's point of view.

When I met her back in July, I ended spending the night at her parents' place (she lives in France with her husband and kids, and she was here for a visit and I went to an author signing meeting thing). Once everyone had settled in for the night, we stayed up for a while talking, and I sat there thinking "how do I bring up the 50 Shades of Grey colored elephant in the room. I needn't have worried, because she brought it up herself. She says that she was still writing the book when 50SoG hit it big, and that she hadn't known about it before, and that she was devastated to realize just how many similarities they were. I... have no reason not to believe her, although I'm fully aware how it's going to look should she manage to actually sell it on the U.S. market. Hopefully the "if you liked 50SoG, you'll like this" trend will continue for a while longer, because I really wish this girl all the success she can get. And, well, if she sells it and it's successful, my name will be on it, too, as a translator, so hopefully that'll bring me some good things, too.

I've had this awful pain in my neck for the last 4-5 days. I thought it was a kink from sleeping wrong or something, but it's a completely different, more persistent, more insidious pain that doesn't just stay in the neck, but radiates down into the shoulder and up into the skull. So I've been more or less a complete wreck these last few days, because none of the painkillers I've tried have been working. I took one of my grandfather's tramadol pills last night, and this morning, I woke up about 95% pain-free, but things wore off around dinner time, so I'm sitting here, pondering taking another one. I need to be functional tomorrow, and if this pain continues, that's not going to happen. :| I whined a bit about it to my mom, and she made the appropriate soothing noises, so even though it doesn't really help, it helps a bit.

And now I need to find something to occupy myself with for another hour or so, because it's my dad's birthday, but with an 8 hour time difference, he won't be home from work yet and I want to talk to him tonight. I'm too out of it to try working this late, so maybe I'll watch an episode of something and knit a bit instead.
astro_noms: (external brain cells)

Stephen King's On Writing is one of my favorite books in that oh-so-problematic genre of "books about writing." I love the way King talks about his life and his experiences with writing, and at the same time manages to get across some of his philosophy on the craft he's undoubtedly really good at.

(A Brief Digression That Will Probably Turn Out to Be a Large Portion of this Post Rather Than the Brief Digression It Claims to Be: Stephen King is probably the first writer I read and really understood after I learned English. There was a brief time when I tried reading "age appropriate" things, hence my grade 8 book report on Little Lord Fauntleroy, of all things—meanwhile, half of my class did their reports on Flowers in the Attic, and let me tell you, when I read it a few years later, I was REALLY SURPRISED that the teacher actually let them get away with that, because seriously, that is not a book for eighth graders to be reading, or at least not a book for them to be present IN CLASS. I soon moved on to more challenging things, and through the many garage sales my parents and I visited, I acquired quite the collection of King's novels. If I remember correctly, I actually joined some sort of book club, of the "here are some books we'll send you for free, and then your soul will be ours you'll have to buy this many in the next two years" variety, and one of the books I got was a lovely hardcover edition of the unabridged version of the Stand, which to this day remains one of my favorite books. To make a not-so-brief digression even longer, Stephen King is probably my all-time favorite writer, even though I'm so far behind on reading his books that I don't know how I'll ever catch up—I stopped reading around the time the last Dark Tower book came out, and Mr. King said he was retiring from writing, which, well, was a few years and a few books ago. Anyway, he's my favorite writer, and I'm fairly prejudiced in his favor, hence the possibility that my opinion of On Writing is colored by said prejudice.)

I remember reading it the first time, a hardcover edition of the book borrowed from the Edmonton Public Library. Over time, I acquired a trade paperback copy of my own, and then lost it, and then replaced it with the mass market paperback version that's standing on my bookshelf here in my room right now. I haven't gone back to in in a while, but I've read it quite a few times since that first time, and every time, I end up finding something in it that I hadn't noticed before, or maybe something that resonates in a way it didn't before. As much as I'm wary of books about writing, there's something about On Writing that gets to me. Maybe it's the way it comes across not as a Here's How You Should Do It, but Here's How I Did It, and If It Helps You Do It, Too, Then Good for You instead. Maybe it's just the way King writes. I think that's part of why I find Chuck Wendig's blog, Terrible Minds, so appealing. (Fair warning on that link, if you're allergic to profanity, you probably shouldn't read it...) While Wendig's posts are probably more in the how-to format, he also acknowledges that not every technique works for every writer, which in my book, places him miles above certain other authors, who claim that their way is the only true way to write, and everyone else is just an amateur who's jealous of said other authors' success... AHEM.

Anyway. All of that is just a long-winded way to say that I wish I could someday be a famous enough translator that I could write a book on translation (perhaps, creatively titled On Translation) in the vein of Stephen King's book. Maybe if I was a famous enough translator, I could write a book about the way I work and not have the professional translating world collectively shun me out of the business for setting a bad example. I'm saying all of this on the assumption that, in the event I ever become a famous translator whose book on translation people would actually want to read, my work habits will have stayed the same as they are now. Should they change and become more "professional," I guess the part of the book that deals with the early days of my career will be filled with amusing anecdotes and/or cautionary tales to young aspiring translators.

Mirrored from Tangents and Digressions.

astro_noms: (you sparkle; we should frolic)
So for a while there, there was only the barest trickle of translation jobs coming my way. The translation company in Krakow went silent, and there weren't any big jobs or anything. Then I got the book translation contract, and the author recommended me to a friend of hers who does marketing texts and stuff (and OK, that one is only a theoretical future thing, but it could turn into something). I fell pretty far behind on the book translation while my mom was here, so I'm scrambling to catch up. The contract says November 1 as the deadline, which haaaa, no, but the author has reassured me repeatedly that that date is not set in stone and she's fine with it taking longer. Which is all fine and good, but the longer it takes to finish, the longer it'll take for me to get paid. And then today I got an e-mail from the Krakow company with an offer of getting in on a big translation project for another museum. They want to know how many pages I can take this month with an October 4th deadline and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhh I don't know what to do.

My mom says "TAKE IT OMG!" My grandma says "be careful that you don't take too much on." My brain says "take on a bit, because it'll be money coming in sooner than the book." But I'm starting school in three weeks, I still have to find a place to live, and I need to go to Wrocław within the next 4-5 days, so that's going to be another whole day I don't get any work done in, and lord knows that while my grandparents have finally started to understand the whole "I'm not here, I need to *work" thing and have mostly stopped calling me down for trivial things and distracting me, there's still a lot of everyday things that *do distract me, and I still don't get as much work done as I should be getting, and all of this is starting to get a bit overwhelming and waahhhhh, my life, so hard.

Objectively, I know that if I'm going to make it as a translator, I need to get used to having to work faster and on multiple projects at the same time, and that I can't not take a job because I've got a lot on my plate, because money is money, and as long as I'm a freelancer, I'm not exactly flush with cash on a regular basis. Objectively, I know it's a pretty good sign that the translation company is calling on me with big projects like these, that they know they can rely on me, and that I've built some kind of rep with them. Subjectively, I'm terrified that the book translation sucks, and that I'm going to take on too much and crash and burn miserably and be an utter failure and oh god, school starts in three weeks, and that means I'm going to have to start thinking about a dissertation topic and I think I'm going to go breathe into a paper bag for a while...
astro_noms: (fly away)
Still here. Busy working on the translation, and staying sane dealing with my grandparents' idiosyncrasies. Looking forward to when my mother gets here (whenever that will be, supposedly she was planning on August 3rd, but I don't know it that'll happen), so she can take on some of the dealing with the family duties and I can actually have the time I need to work.

The translation is going well, but it's more tiring than I expected. They told us that conference interpreters, the ones who do simultaneous translation in like, booths at the UN and stuff, work about an hour at a time and then they have to take a break, because they need to rest and refuel. This isn't nearly that difficult, obviously, but it's still thinking in two languages, and translating prose (for me at least) really is like writing the thing from scratch. So I've been working in shorter chunks of time, taking breaks, but then when I take a break and go downstairs, I get distracted by having to help with dinner, or "come sit with me and watch TV," or whatever else. Plus it's been really hot lately, something I don't react well to, and it makes my brain all fuzzy and the work all but impossible to focus on. Going outside to work in the garden doesn't help either, because there isn't really a breeze to cool things down, so it's like sitting in a giant oven, with a really hot computer on my lap. /o\ I'm considering trying to switch to a more nocturnal work schedule, so at least I could think straight and maybe get more work done faster, but IDK how well that would work.

There are some uploads from this week that I haven't posted, but I've been busy with everything else, so... IDK, I'll try to get to that soonishly.
astro_noms: (infinity in the palm of your hand)

So I'm reading this novel right now that I might be translating, and I keep thinking about translations and how the different languages and different styles translate across to various audiences. I'm not a super-experienced translator (which is why I keep bemoaning the lack of more literary translation under- and graduate programs in Polish universities - I know that sworn translation is where the money is, but a little more diversity would be nice), so I can't really judge the technical aspects of the translated books I've read, so I'm speaking as a reader rather than as a translator. Although now that I've studied some aspects of it, it's kind of hard to turn that part of my brain off.


A few years back, I saw the movie Night Watch, which was based on Sergei Lukyanenko's novel of the same title. And I loved it, and wanted to know more about the world Lukyanenko created. Seeing as I was working in a bookstore at the time, I took advantage of my employee discount and picked up the three books in the series that were available at the time. I started reading Night Watch, but I never finished, because the translation read so awkwardly to me that it kept jarring me out of the novel. I don't remember what exactly it was about it that made me stop, but I suspect the translator had attempted to maintain the style and diction of the original language, which just doesn't work for me. I don't really know Russian beyond a few words and phrases, but iirc it's similar to Polish (they're both Slavic languages, but Polish is West Slavic, and Russian is East Slavic, although I expect they have some commonalities) and I imagine that just as Polish sentence structure and syntax don't really translate straight across, Russian wouldn't either. There is a translation of Mikhail Bulgakov's Master and Margarita where the translators specifically said in the introduction that they tried to maintain the original style and diction, and it made for such awkward reading that I ended up finding a different translation (and eventually ended up picking a Polish translation, which read better, possibly because of the similarity of the languages?) (that reminds me, I really should try and finish reading that one of these days).


This one is a romance novel with a strong intrigue subplot, and while it reads similar to other novels that have been pretty popular lately, plot-wise, it's actually quite easy reading. I haven't read enough in Polish lately to be able to say whether it's well written, but as a reader, it's good enough to keep me engaged and turning the pages. It's slightly formulaic, but that doesn't make it a bad read. I've tried to read some Polish translations of less-than-reputable popular fiction, and it was a bad experience all around. Although I guess I have to give kudos to the translator for maintaining the style of the original (which was hard to read not just because of plot/characterization elements, but also because it was badly written).


I don't know. Again, I'm not really experienced enough in translating, so I'm not speaking as a translator, only as a reader. And while I'm sure some of my impressions are colored by what I've studied, and what I've started picking up automatically (ask me about how much I hate watching movies with voice-over translation on TV *shudder*) I think most of my reading experience is still that of a reader. It's sometimes hard to shut off my inner translator, though, so I notice things that seem artificial, like purposefully imposing characteristics of one language onto another, and with the combination of "reader" and "translator," they don't always work for me the way they might work for other readers.

astro_noms: (external brain cells)
I'd been considering applying to the Jagiellonian University in Cracow for their post-diploma literature translation program, but something caught my eye on the program description website, and I e-mailed them for clarification. And it turns out that the program is geared towards translating foreign language literature into Polish. Which means I'm probably not going to be applying, and English -> Polish translation isn't something I'm interested in pursuing. I can't say I'm entirely surprised, although I guess I am a little bit, since this is a UNESCO institute. I'll have to check other unis in Poland to see if any of them have Polish -> English programs.
astro_noms: (the dark tower)
So I deleted my Facebook accounts, both the one I was using and then one I'd made for secretly friending people who weren't family or classmates or work-related people. And then I went back through my e-mail addresses and checked that I didn't have any other ones. My mom sent me an e-mail a while back (after I first deactivated my account) that was all NOOOO DON'T LEAAAAAVE, but yeah, no. The people I actually *want to interact with are on Twitter/Tumblr/DW/LJ, and the main thing Facebook was doing was frustrating me. Plus, I was starting to get dangerously close to some of the streams crossing, and as much as I love my family, my DW/LJ is definitely not something I want them to see.

Cut for thinky thoughts on jobs and school and stuff. )
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