Archive for the ‘Translation’ Category

I’ll Show You Mine


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

I have finally got myself a language exchange partner.

Sadly not the 6ft, raven-haired, dark-eyed hunk of unruly Italian masculinity that I had been hoping for; more a 4ft10, brown-haired, dark-eyed slip of Italian womanhood, but very welcome nevertheless. Especially in light of the fact that I seem to get away with conversing in Italian far more than she gets to practise her English.

Being single girls, and of roughly the same age, most of our conversations in both languages so far have been about boys. She has been giving me the low-down on Italian men – confirming most of what I had originally suspected, and I have been making stuff up about British ones.

Not having been anywhere near one since I was eighteen, my fictional Brit seems to have taken the middle ground somewhere between…

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A Translator Very Good Am I


Tired Old Tales for Tuesdays!

Status Viatoris

status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

For a few days I fielded some rather odd questions from Fiona;

Fiona: Would you say ‘a sea borough’ or ‘a sea district’?

SV: What the…? Let me have a look at that.

Fiona: No, no. It’s ok. I’ll get you to check it afterwards.

I struggled to concentrate as she redirected her strange questioning to an Italian colleague, X;

Fiona: X, would you say ‘the San Marco palace is made revived on the will of the Filippi’s family’ or ‘the Filippi’s family made will the San Marco palace to revived’?

X: Ummm… I think the second one.

SV: ?@!*!@*?!

Needless to say, the document ended up on my desk, and after tearing my hair out over it for less than a day, I was treated to the following haranguing;

Fiona: Why are you taking so long to…

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Popping Out From Behind the Fandango…


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

… to say HAPPY NEW YEAR!

A bit late, I know, but I wanted to see Mallorca through to its natural conclusion before breaking the spell 😉

I imagine the sudden change in subject from Current Life in Italy to Distant Past in Spain may have come as a bit of a surprise to some, especially as I chose not to usher it in with even the smallest parp of a fanfare.

In fact posting the book chapter by chapter on Status Viatoris was an idea that came to me in the dead of night whilst I was mulling over a lack of success in locating my blogging mojo; and in typical SV fashion, no sooner had the thought popped into my head than I found myself seated expectantly before the computer in my pyjamas…

Although I had long since resigned myself to never making a peso from An English Fandango (unless the clamour for an e-book reaches intolerable decibels, natch), I find I do regret choosing the point of lowest reader traffic in my blogging journey so far to launch it into the bogglesphere.

It feels as though I’ve let it down somehow, and, despite the relief of finally having made a decision about its destiny, I can’t help but worry that I am ill-prepared for the possibility of seeing my little creation sink into oblivion without even a small flurry of bubbles to mark its passing…

Oh the ego is a terrible thing, so it is!

So, 2012 has been and gone since we last spoke, and I for one was a little sad to see it leave.

Because without causing a flap or creating a fuss, it turned out to be a pretty fabulous year for me (poorly Pooches notwithstanding): the house, all bar the leaky roof, is finished; I seem to have landed myself with a highly entertaining business venture; English-teaching is turning out to be a lot more satisfying than I found it nine years ago; I have spent the last two months being paid to translate descriptions of thrilling things to do in Kenya; An English Fandango is slowly being released from the prison of its word document; my relationship with Tigger is growing – although the last time I wrote something similar that part of my life temporarily went tits up – and my previously incorrigible itchy feet are now made conspicuous only by their absence.

Challenged and yet content, ferociously busy and yet fulfilled: it’s only taken thirty-five years for me to be able to cautiously stick my bonce over the parapet and declare that I might, just might, be settled.

And as I doubt very much that I would have been able to reach that point without the increase in confidence gained from the writing of this blog, and most especially from the encouragement and affection of so many of its readers, I want to thank you all hugely for sticking  with me over the last thirty-three months and 328 posts.


This is Status Viatoris, wishing all SV readers, their families, friends and loved ones much health and happiness in 2013 – take care of each other and make every day count, in Italy.

P.S An English Fandango – Granada will have its first airing on Monday 14th January. Don’t miss it!



status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

“The French are just bad-tempered Italians” said Jean Cocteau somewhere back in the mists of time, and the phrase was give a fresh airing this Friday when I was called upon to translate for a French couple venturing into the minefield of Italian real estate.

But in this instance at least, Cocteau’s utterance was certainly not applicable; possessing, as these two  did, natures sunny enough to rival the innate joviality of any Italian.

They remained unfazed throughout the predictably tedious and long-winded process of opening an Italian bank account:

“Sign here, and here, and here, and here. Initial here. Sign here. Initial here. Sign here and here. Initial here, here and here… Oh! Whoops. No, not there. Hold on a minute while I reprint everything so we can start all over again…”

They managed to keep their brilliant smiles whilst the notary explained all the issues involved with the property they are trying to buy:

– Due to issues of inheritance it was owned by six different people when the sale was set in motion.

– It is now owned by seven different people because one of the six died and that particular section was passed to two new beneficiaries.

– One of the beneficiaries is a Russian living in Russia (original beneficiary married his Russian carer before dying, she then inherited his section but  it passed to her brother upon her death) and has only just been tracked down.

– Each beneficiary owns a different percentage of a different section of the property.

– Each beneficiary will have to be paid separately by the buyers on completion.

– The property has been added to extensively over the period of about a century and no longer corresponds to any official plans.

Meanwhile I was busy coming to terms with the fact that  verbally translating  technical real estate Italian into technical real estate French at the speed of light  is not something I excel at…

Nevertheless, being paid for the privilege of assisting some of the nicest bad-tempered Italians I have ever had the fortune to meet is not something to be sniffed at, especially as they have promised me a barbecue in their new pad should this most convoluted of sales ever reach the desired conclusion.

Mercy buckets lay fronsay!

This is Status Viatoris, not convinced she can be called a linguist if she can’t actually get any of her four languages to work in tandem, in Italy.

To Rist, or not To Rist


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

An area whose economy relies heavily on tourism can be rather strange place to live. And I seem to have lived in rather a lot of them: the Cote d’Azur, with its summer influx of sun-worshippers, the Scottish Highlands with their hill-walkers, salmon-fishers and dram-tasters, and Granada with its Moorish architecture-devotees and its flamenco-enthusiasts; to name but a few.

Naturally, all these places have something to offer. Of course they do; otherwise who in their right mind would bother hopping on a plane/bus/train or into the car to go and visit them?

Who amongst us wouldn’t also relish the idea of making their permanent home in one of these little corners of paradise?

Hmmm. Well… cough cough. There is such a person, and that person would happen to be me – fairly ironic bearing in mind that since 1995 I have been merrily and regularly uprooting my life in order to move it from one tourist trap to another.

My motivation for choosing such locations above more sleepy spots? Employment.

For where there are holidaymakers, there is almost always an accompanying need to assist said holidaymakers in communicating with everyone else: whether it is coaching a family of Italians through a Scottish pub menu, advising Brits how to throw their money away on characterless apartments in the South of Spain, or organising yacht insurance for a rich Arab with a German insurance company based in Monaco; languages do talk.

But employment opportunities and superficial charms aside, I do sometimes find myself wishing I could live somewhere a little more normal.

Somewhere whose roads do not get blocked for three months out of every twelve by aimless drivers who are unable to comprehend that not everyone is on holiday.

Somewhere whose roads do not get blocked for three months out of every twelve by terrified city drivers, who think that the only way to tackle hilly bends is by driving down the middle at under 40kmph and not letting a soul pass.

Somewhere you do not have the constant threat of being surreptitiously absorbed into the local ex-pat community hanging menacingly over your head.

Somewhere whose carparks do not get clogged for three months out of every twelve by people who, despite being on holiday, still want to park as close to their accommodation as possible; forcing locals into a 3km trek to make it from vehicle to home.

Somewhere that is not so quaint that you have a  daily battle to fight off the hordes of people trying to peer in through your front door every time you open it “to see what those cute little village properties look like inside”.

Somewhere you do not have people asking you ten times a day for an in-depth run down as to what it is like to actually live there.

Somewhere you do not have people asking you ten times a day for directions/bus times/business hours when you are in a non-holiday hurry to get to B from A.

Somewhere that does not lose 50% of its population for nine months out of every twelve.

Somewhere you do not start resenting your tourism-related job just because it involves you working surrounded by oodles of fortunate and idle holidaymaking bastards.

Somewhere whose holiday vibe is not so strong that you are hard pushed to remember that you yourself are not on holiday, and should instead be finding the motivation required to explore additional ways of making a living.

Oh my life is hell, believe it.

This is Status Viatoris – Moaning Minnie seeks money-making ideas; will pick holes in the very fabric of paradise for a small fee or a plate of pasta… 🙂 in Italy.

Arriverderci Blighty!


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage


SV and Pooch are on the move again.

This time the mothership is coming along to supervise, so we shall endeavour to watch our Ps & Qs, limit our junk food intake, employ more complimentary language when addressing other road users and above all, not run amok on the ferry.

Being risponsibul is sooooo boring.

If this morning, at around 9am GMT, you hear a ginormous bang, do be sure to take cover. I will have squeezed just one last indispensable item into my crammed-to-the-gunwales Fiat Punto, and it will almost certainly have been an indispensable item too far. The resultant shrapnel of  twisted Italian banger and indispensable items will be enough to annihilate the population of a small market town.

This two-day journey is the first step in my brand new and exciting life; a life that will involve the successful and problem-free exchange of largish property in a  small French village for a smallish property in a larger Italian village. Subsequent to that will be the neat and orderly regrouping of my worldly (and indispensable) possessions into just one apartment, as opposed their current and chaotic scatterdom over three different countries. By that point I will have slimmed down to about 50kilos…

…unrealistic? You think? You’re probably right; there’s no way the supercilious turd French notaire will allow me a problem-free sale. Oh well, a girl can dream.

So I’m probably best concentrating on those things in my brand new and exciting life that I do have some control over; work, for example.

And thanks to a wonderful lady who very kindly dangled this blog before suitable eyes, I have been offered some regular freelance writing work. It will be for a currency exchange company that also writes blogs, articles and property guides for British nationals moving or purchasing abroad. I will tell more as soon as I know more, but it seems to be a wonderful opportunity and I am greatly looking forward to getting started. Thank you Gianna, Kim and  Becks!

Another potential source of income may lead from a recent approach by a translation agency in Milan (PLEASE NO BOOKS, ARTICLES, WEBSITES, PAMPHLETS, OR INDEED ANY SINGLE WRITTEN WORD PERTAINING TO A RELIGION (organised or otherwise), SPIRIT WORSHIP (except the liquid sort) OR  ANY PREHISTORIC CLAPTRAP DESIGNED TO PERPETUATE IGNORANCE, TO MORALLY ENSLAVE, OR TO REMOVE A HUMAN BEING’S ABILITY TO DRAW HIS/HER OWN CONCLUSIONS, THANK YOU), so I am hopeful that a few secular translation scraps will also been thrown my way.

Any time left over not spent in bare-knuckle combat with supercilious turd, will be taken up plodding through the (distinctly cobwebby due to lack of attention) journalism course. Then, and only then, will I at last be qualified enough to regurgitate uneducated, misspelt, bigoted, grammatically-ambiguous, celebrity-obsessed bile at a page, and flog it to that most esteemed of rags; the Daily Mail.


Ummmm… Mummy, sorry to fuss, but is any of this likely to topple over and cwush me?

This is Status Viatoris, riding along in her automobile, Pooch jammed so tight he can barely squeal… See you on Thursday, Italia!

UPDATE: I never did finish the bloody journalism course.

Spinning That Medicine Wheel


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

Sixty-three thousand eight hundred and thirty words.

Two and a half months.

I have finished the translation.

I am exhausted.

It was a surreal experience, not least due to the subject matter. Spirit guides, dream bodies, power shields and trips to the fifth dimension are topics that would usually have me rolling my eyes in derision, so trying to write about them with the intensity and conviction of the original author was extraordinarily taxing.

There were moments that felt as if I was making what could only be a doomed ascent to some unreachable peak; just a lonely demise, preceded by a touch of digit-severing frostbite, to look forward to.

But then, with a final push, not much sleep, endless cups of tea and a lot of rude words muttered at the computer screen (or the dog, as he hovered anxiously in the hope that somebody might one day notice him again), it was over.

Am I pleased with the end result? That is a difficult one. But I do know that despite my total lack of knowledge/belief in the subject, the vagaries of the writing style, and the fact that I was supposed to be translating into American English (hopefully trash, hemorrhoids and y’all will cover that one 😉 ), I did the best I could.

I can now switch the television back on,  participate in fun stuff and even make the occasional plan on a whim, all without the now familiar feeling of guilt threatening to rise up and choke me.

I am free. Free from misplaced commas. Free from sentences the length of newspaper articles. Free from visions and power animals. Free from shamanism.

Whoopee blooming do!

This is Status Viatoris, fingers firmly crossed that the next translation is a little more edifying, in Italy.

D’un Livre, to a Book


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

After over a month of dilly-dallying (another of my specialities, but one that I most certainly did NOT inherit from my “time and tide wait for no man”, “he who hesitates, is lost” and “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” father) I am finally making significant headway with a translation project I have taken on. Terrifyingly, it is an entire book.

It is a funny old process.

I have done quite a lot of translating over the years; tourist guides, menus, Curriculum vitae, websites, business correspondence, commercial contracts, a language school prospectus – even a doctoral thesis on Spain’s export of olive oil to Japan, but never before have I been entrusted with the responsibility of converting someone’s obra maestra into a literary and commercially pleasing format.

It is a nerve-racking prospect, and possibly accounts for why I tiptoed around it for so many weeks.

Climbing inside the head of an author was never going to be straightforward, but it becomes even more tricky when the subject matter is completely alien to me. As a ‘non-spiritual’ atheist, trying to be the voice of somebody who lives by and writes about the native American Indian shamanic traditions is rather like translating from a language I don’t actually speak, to another language I have only ever read about.

But it is getting easier; frustration with the French partiality to excessively long sentences and overly elaborated language aside. And as I sit at my keyboard, the book balanced in front of me, I feel rather like a piece of a machinery in a meat processing factory; flowery French being posted in through my eyes, whizzing round my brain a few times, before being spat out of my fingertips as rather more prosaic English.

And if secretly I feel that the end result is rather like a cheap sausage – masquerading as the product of quality cuts of meat, when it’s actually mainly bollocks – I sincerely hope it is not apparent in my writing… 😉

This is Status Viatoris, who has recently noticed that words, palabras, mots and parole are now the mainstay of her existence, in Italy.

A Translator Very Good Am I


status viatoris – being ‘on the way’/being in a state of pilgrimage

For a few days I fielded some rather odd questions from Fiona;

Fiona: Would you say ‘a sea borough’ or ‘a sea district’?

SV: What the…? Let me have a look at that.

Fiona: No, no. It’s ok. I’ll get you to check it afterwards.

I struggled to concentrate as she redirected her strange questioning to an Italian colleague, X;

Fiona: X, would you say ‘the San Marco palace is made revived on the will of the Filippi’s family’ or ‘the Filippi’s family made will the San Marco palace to revived’?

X: Ummm… I think the second one.

SV: ?@!*!@*?!

Needless to say, the document ended up on my desk, and after tearing my hair out over it for less than a day, I was treated to the following haranguing;

Fiona: Why are you taking so long to proofread that 6,000 word (totally un-work-related tourist guide) document?

SV: Because it is gobbledygook and I’m having to rewrite it.

Fiona: But I don’t understand, Y translated it.

SV: Yes, but Y is Italian.

Fiona: But she speaks English.

SV: Y spent one year in England two years ago. That does not a ‘translate into English’ translator make.

Fiona: And I proofread it myself, with the help of X.

SV: Yes. I heard.

Fiona: Well can’t you just skim through and make corrections?

SV: Sigh. Let me put it to you like this. When you have a 6,000 word document composed of sentences of approximately ten words each (for argument’s sake), of which four of the words in each sentence are in the wrong order and the other six are just plain wrong, would you call the necessary adjustments ‘corrections’ or ‘rewriting’?

Fiona: Well. I don’t understand. We did a similar translation for the same man last year without all this palaver and he was perfectly happy.


Fiona: Huffle gruffle stomp. Well just hurry up and finish it will you.

It was necessary to spend nearly 15 hours re-translating about 90% of it from Italian in order to render it comprehensible. When the man came to collect it, Fiona introduced him to the colleague who had done the French translation – cue lots of back slapping and ‘grazie milles’.

My name, however, was curiously absent from the conversation.

Hey ho.

There is a rather laissez-faire attitude to general translation in many countries. Something that can lead to some fantastically humorous moments in restaurants especially; such as the other day, when the menu asked me to choose between a pizza or an ‘overcoat in a cream sauce’ (I kid you not). But also in hotels, tourist attractions and many other public arenas, the hysterical laughter often outweighs the useful information conveyed.

I lay the blame squarely at the door of Google translator – unmitigated crap. And Giuseppe’s cousin Giulia who once spent a week in London on a school trip.

These tools are all very well when you just want to gain a small inkling into the meaning of some foreign-language text, but are beyond useless for serious translating.

I’m not a certified translator (properly trained translators and interpreters have to study for four years or more), but I have done quite a bit of it over the years. There is a definite knack, not automatically guaranteed by just being able to speak the target language. I limit myself to translating into English because although correct usage of grammar and vocabulary are indispensable, making the text flow and ensuring that the language is not obviously stilted by lack of mother-tongue ability is primordial (certified translators learn how to mimic that, even if they are not mother-tongue themselves).

A translator spends a lot of time surrounded by dictionaries, but also knows how to use them properly. Do you use the first word listed, or should you trawl through the different translations to ensure that you have the required architectural/medical/scientific term? If you are still in doubt, you must then cross reference with other dictionaries or articles on the web, to make absolutely sure that the terminology fits. An incorrectly translated word can render text meaningless.

A translator is prepared for the fact that different languages have different word orders within sentences. The subject, object, verb, noun, adjective, adverb combinations vary hugely from language to language. Sometimes an incorrect word-order will simply make for a clumsy read, but often it will alter the meaning of the sentence completely or leave it incomprehensible.

There are many other skills involved, but I cannot lay claim to knowing them all. They are the domain of those brave souls who have spent years at university perfecting the art of seamless language conversion –  (just to have some ridiculous Italian English teacher who can barely speak English thinking she is equally qualified).

Coming across shoddily translated menus, signs, leaflets and websites makes me cringe because of the obvious ignorance and carelessness involved. However, if I am to be honest, it also winds me up for another reason. Every Spanish, French or Italian document shoved through Google translator, or thrust in front of Giuseppe’s cousin Giulia’s nose, is one less document that I could earn a few pennies from translating more competently.

I know, I know. Mercenary self-interest is a most unattractive trait in a laydee!

This is Status Viatoris, who chose the pizza in case you are interested, in Italy.

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