Monday, 30 January 2017

The Sounds that Confuse X

I was having a conversation with a fellow who has just started in T & I and a secretary: The secretary mentions that she knows of the existence of Cuckoo, an e-mail service. The fellow who was just starting had very strong connections to the Asian peoples. I then point at my own head and say, Cuckoo, you mean? Oh, well, I say something to that extent. The secretary then says yes, but the young fellow says that it isn't so. That it was Q for Quebec. I think that the girl is probably misspelling and they meant Cuckoo, as the secretary assumed. I then say KuKu, in an attempt to guess what should be, not believing that it was Q. The secretary then completes: She means Q for Quebec indeed. I go, OK, then QuQu. 

Some apparently thought that what I did was an offence, like I could not have rejected the Q as in Quebec that the young fellow said. The young fellow didn't. I think that we don't really have a very convincing explanation as to why we would have Cuckoo and not Kukoo, for instance, in the English language, and sounds do confuse quite a lot. I wrote about K for Kappa before. Whoever read will understand. 

Fellows, regardless of what the others tell you, always bear in mind that mistakes, especially in language, are common, and it is very rarely the case that those that claim to be experts do not commit them. First of all, we do not have a Universal Grammar yet, even though some people, like myself, are trying to put the idea out there (Research Gate, my paper). The rules, if ever making sense, should be the same. It obviously does not make sense to write a comma before because in English when in Portuguese that is a crime of no dimension. It either makes sense or it doesn't. 

We are not walking lexicons, and as such should not be seen. I was just conversing with a client and we ended up talking about a famous Brazilian book, which is apparently still considered mandatory reading in Brazil, secondary school, a book that won many awards. This book has been written by a man and the first pages are absolutely unbearable. She agreed with me that they were. The guy seems to have used the entire lexicon in the first chapter, basically. It is all descriptions and things like that. It is an extremely boring book, nothing pleasant. I told her that I think they got prizes just because a man wrote it. Were it a woman, it would never leave the shelf. What is good about a book? That the author is incredibly eloquent? We want to be able to read the damn thing, first of all. I could never leave the first chapter, since I was feeling like killing myself by the fourth page or so. In Interpreting, mistakes are expected. We get context in translation, like most of the time, but not in Interpreting. When we get the context, the time to interpret has already passed, so that we will have to come back if we got the wrong river, basically. That has to be expected. In the example I mentioned in this blog, on a recent post, a post involving the sigmatoid dummy, it was all very hard: Certain things belong exclusively to the personal lexicon of those who speak, first of all. We are not only allowed to ask questions for clarification, we must do that whenever we have doubts. People do have to accept that. We may think that the person is from overseas and said something wrong, such as a Q for Quebec when she meant K for Kilo or C for Charlie, and we may think it is like that from being tired of seeing people from overseas doing that sort of thing. It may then be a necessity to clarify, to even assume that what they meant is something else, even because in my case the secretary said something different. 

Never feel ashamed of what you have done in those regards: You are not a machine. Sometimes you will decide for the wrong option, but it is precisely because you are not a machine that things can be fixed by yourself on the spot. The machine would have committed many more mistakes, and it does do that, but it fixes nothing, remember that. Each, and every, time you fix a mistake that you have committed, think that you are proving that a human interpreter is way more valuable than a mechanic one. That is the difference: You can notice your own mistakes. You can fix them. You can get to those conclusions and fixings completely on your own. You have beaten the machine once more, basically. 

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