Me Word Good Now

In the wake of the truly heinous things happening where I live, I feel a bit silly publicizing my latest article for Slate, which is about the scourge of right-click Thesaurus — let’s just think of it as “comic relief,” OK? OK. Yeah. 

 

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4 thoughts on “Me Word Good Now

  1. This is my favorite Friends quote along these lines (and yes, my tv references are all pre-2000s, or what I call BGS-before grad school).
    joey: it’s smart. I used a thee-saurus.
    chandler: on every word?
    joey: yep!
    monica: what was this sentence originally?
    joey: oh, “they’re warm, nice people with big hearts.”
    chandler: aaand that became, “they’re humid, prepossessing Homo sapiens with full-sized aortic pumps.”
    joey: yeah, and hey, I really mean it, dude.
    chandler: you shouldn’t worry about sounding so smart, just write from here – your full sized aortic pump!

    And then signed it “Baby Kangaroo Tribbiani”

    Also: you’ve not had a good time til you’ve been paid to translate a document from English to another language when said document is full of facilitative leadership and Bottom Lines and synergistic cooperation.

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    1. P.S. I welcome things that are silly when all I see is tragedy, so it’s not bad to promote things like this in times of tragedy.

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  2. This reminds me of a famous article by Italo Calvino, where he ‘translates’ everyday language into the language of bureaucracy (in this case, a police report). With apologies to those that do not read Italian, but if you do, it is fun; and if you don’t, you could run it through gooogle translate, I am sure it will be even more fun).

    Il brigadiere è davanti alla macchina da scrivere. L’interrogato, seduto davanti a lui, risponde alle domande un po’ balbettando, ma attento a dire tutto quel che ha da dire nel modo più preciso e senza una parola di troppo: “Stamattina presto andavo in cantina ad accendere la stufa e ho trovato tutti quei fiaschi di vino dietro la cassa del carbone. Ne ho preso uno per bermelo a cena. Non ne sapevo niente che la bottiglieria di sopra era stata scassinata”.

    Impassibile, il brigadiere batte veloce sui tasti la sua fedele trascrizione: “Il sottoscritto essendosi recato nelle prime ore antimeridiane nei locali dello scantinato per eseguire l’avviamento dell’impianto termico, dichiara d’essere casualmente incorso nel ritrovamento di un quantitativo di prodotti vinicoli, situati in posizione retrostante al recipiente adibito al contenimento del combustibile, e di aver effettuato l’asportazione di uno dei detti articoli nell’intento di consumarlo durante il pasto pomeridiano, non essendo a conoscenza dell’avvenuta effrazione dell’esercizio soprastante”.

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  3. My favorite example actually involves misuse of a German dictionary. A student managed to go from English “the” to German “die” to English “die” to German “sterben,” and so the resulting essay seemed to be laced randomly with death threats: “Stuttgart hat einen großen Zoo. STERBEN Tiere leben friedlich da. STERBEN Menschen kommen und sehen STERBEN Tiere.”

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