Happy Bastille Day

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Bastille Day, the French national holiday, commemorates the storming of the Bastille, which took place on 14 July 1789 and marked the beginning of the French Revolution. The Bastille was a prison and a symbol of the absolute and arbitrary power of Louis the 16th’s Ancient Regime. By capturing this symbol, the people signaled that the king’s power was no longer absolute: power should be based on the Nation and be limited by a separation of powers.

Although the Bastille only held seven prisoners at the time of its capture, the storming of the prison was a symbol of liberty and the fight against oppression for all French citizens; like the Tricolor flag, it symbolized the Republic’s three ideals: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity for all French citizens.

It marked the end of absolute monarchy, the birth of the sovereign Nation, and, eventually, the creation of the (First) Republic, in 1792. Bastille Day was declared the French national holiday on 6 July 1880.

 

Happy Bastille Day to all!!!

Translators are Superheroes

Isn’t it odd? In the last seven years,  I have heard a lot that we, translators, are invisible. A lot of people do not even know what is translation and what does a translator do? We are also made to believe that it is just a short-time hobby and not a recognized profession. But never once I heard that we are superheroes.

For all those skeptics and for my colleagues who love translation as much as I do, this post will be highly motivating – Translators are Superheroes.

 

“French Kiss” in French

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For centuries, there’s been no official French word for the sloppy Gallic export “to French kiss” — though that certainly hasn’t stopped any citizen from doing so.

Now this oversight has been finally rectified. The one term verb “galocher” – is one of the new entries added into Le Petit Robert 2014 dictionary.

Laurence Laporte of the Robert Publishing house says “We always had many expressions to describe ‘French-kissing,’ like ‘kissing at length in the mouth,’ but it’s true, we’ve never had one single word”.

The term “French kiss” — once also called a “Florentine kiss” — is popularly considered to have been brought back to the English-speaking world by soldiers returning from Europe after World War I. At the time, the French had a reputation for more adventurous sexual practices.

The term “galoche” was a slang term that has been around for a while which means “ice skating boot /cheap old shoes”.

However Canadian French speaking people have been using the verb “frencher” for “to French kiss”. Also, many native people have stated that they have been using the verb “se rouler une pelle/un patin” for the same for ages.

Whatever be the verb, it still doesn’t change the intention behind the question: Voulez-vous galocher avec moi?

Managing life

I do not like the concept of time management. It is foolish to save precious minutes when we are wasting our life away doing many things we should not do. Time management is like damage control. It only solves  urgent problems which need quick-fix solutions, it does not alter anything in your life and does not even guarantee that you won’t get stuck in the same situation again.

That is why for the past few years I have been using a life management approach which I have found to be very useful and effective – especially for translators like us. As per my perception on the life of a translator is concerned, it is very unpredictable. When a project comes to an end, I do not know from where my next project would come, holidays are never planned; whenever I get time, I take the week-end (and some more days) off and head to a place where I am far away from my laptop, e-mails, etc. My only objective at that time is to just discover the place and enjoy. And when the project comes, my life revolves around it with an objective to complete it successfully.

Sometimes, I feel that our lives are more like those of “fire-fighters”. Whenever the alarm rings, we have to be there, no matter what. It becomes the most “urgent” and “important” thing at that time. Therefore, when this tug-of war between “urgency” and “importance” occurs (and it often occurs), I follow the approach read in a book by Dr. Stephen R Covey, A. Roger and Rebecca R. Merrill.

Every activity we do in our lives falls into one of the following four quadrants:

Q1: Urgent and Important: Important, significant activities which require our urgent and full attention. For e.g.:

  • Rush hour projects
  • Last minute changes in translation, suggested by the client
  • Sudden shift of deadline by the client
  • Urgent client meeting on site

Q2: Important but Not urgent: Important activities which, when carried out effectively, would help us stay out of problems 90% of the time. For e.g.:

  • Further studies for improving our mental abilities and skills
  • Terminology building
  • Lead creation
  • Network building
  • Taking backup of our work
  • Reading (in our Source and Target language)
  • Spending quality time with friends and family
  • Effective blogging

Q3: Urgent but Not Important: Activities which do not foster growth in our life, but still we are inclined to do them out of a sense of urgency. For e.g.:

  • Answering unwanted phone calls
  • Other distractions coming our way like unnecessary e-mails, going to a friends’ house to delivery a CD, etc.

Q4: Not Urgent and Not Important: As the name suggests, not a useful quadrant.

  • Unnecessary TV watching
  • Unproductive relaxation

As a translator, one should always try to strike a balance between Q1 and Q2, for living a quality of life.  I know that Q3 and Q4 cannot be completely avoided, but can be minimized to a great extent in order to achieve our goals.

I know that the above-mentioned matrix is not something I invented, but used and found really useful and life-saving. Although it would not completely prevent you from getting stuck into a new problem, but it would make you armed and ready so that you can tackle it immediately and solve it quickly and ensure that it never comes back to haunt you again.

Journey to a new wor(l)d.

Fifteen years back, in a classroom with 35 students, having no idea whatsoever what my future had in store for me, just waiting for my French teacher, pondering over my books, flipping pages, understanding nothing but smiling at the cartoons and caricatures and color coded pages………the feeling was new, pure and different.

Nothing has changed in the last fifteen years though. I still feel the same whenever my Outlook icon pops up on my computer and wow…………a new project, the same excitement and the same curiosity engulfs me. I think this is the magic of words. The same 26 alphabets (in case of French), just written differently and pronounced vaguely and a new world comes right at your doorstep, waiting to be opened, explored (I am still exploring). The more you know, the more you realize you do not know and thus you want to know. This is why I named this blog as a journey, an exploration and an adventure, without any destination (as of now).

So, hop on…..you are in for an exhilarating ride.