The Vine Book

Follow the links as you read what follows:
Asides have been highlighted in green.

You can tell that I am a serious person from Eve Corbel‘s useful editing guide above. Or I take myself seriously. One of the two. Maybe both. I am also constantly amused and quite often silly.  I am seldom silly when I ought to be serious or serious when I ought to be silly. Seriously speaking, that would be just silly. The duality of the serious and the silly is not something I am going to explain.

I shall refer you instead to the abundance of tragedies and comedies brought forth by humanity ever since we passed the Ug phase. There are fancy words for that and I happen to know a few of them but since anyone reading this who has been even vaguely acquainted with B.C. comics will know what I mean, I shall refer to this period as Ug. It is easier to spell than the other ones.

I am doing well today because I have used only one comma in each of the above two paragraphs. This is because I have gone through the mill lately.

Let me explain. As life would have it I have spent more time translating German than any other language into English. Perhaps this is partly the reason for my fundamental happiness.

OK, enough philosophy – except to ponder briefly on why there is a whole Brazilian website devoted to quotations of Hegel (Don’t they just have beaches and Carnaval there?), not to mention what fun it would be to trace them back to the original German then translate them into English oneself before validating whether someone else already did so 150 years ago, say, then argue the point during the course of three days or so on an internet forum for professional translators about whether the usual rendition of this quotation is in fact an ever so slight mistranslation after all.
Now the Blogger spellcheck has put a red wiggly line under “mistranslation” above. Happily, at least in Blogger Land (sounds awfully rude) there is no such thing as mistranslation. I’ll be bloggered if I am going to change it. So.

Oh yes. My point is that when I referred to my translating “za Vine Book” those who know me well enough assumed I was referring to the translation from German into English of a book on wine, despite the fact that I have made it a point since a very funny secondary school classroom occurrence involving a German girl and her misunderstanding of the aforementioned definite article, “za” (“the” for monolingual English natives with no grammar), to refrain from speaking English in foreign accents to poke fun at the nationality concerned. That is not true. We went for an Indian curry dinner a fortnight ago. I am very definitely lying.  And Nelson Mandela turned 93 years old yesterday (Viva!)  No, no. I do. And if I have been translating from German for too many hours in a row, I start speaking English with German word order involuntarily, and with a slight accent. Seriously, I do.

So about three months into my four and a half month Vine Book experience – after having fielded endless well-meaning comments about how everyone hoped I was going to be able to guzzle all the samples (Aside: Privately-owned Peanut Gallery [POPG]: What? Whilst actually in the process of translating, which I take very seriously indeed? You must be joking!) – I revealed the actual title of the work in question: Vine Atlas of Spain and PortugalHistory, Terroir and Ampelography. Someone asked me whether I was serious. Then the joke was on me. I was stumped momentarily when asked, “So it’s not actually about wine, then?” The best reply was to mimic that fellow on The Vicar of Dibley and stammer, “No, no, no, no, no – yes!”

In short, to satisfy your curiosity, it has been an extraordinary journey during which time I have come up with a number of practical solutions to alleviate numbness in my rear end. The most wonderful relief came about one month ago (POPG: No – I have finished talking about my rear end, I am being serious now.) when I had the very great pleasure to meet a being after my own heart: the publisher’s proofreader.

Relief indeed, after months of relative seclusion (apart from weekly trips to the proofreader I had engaged myself for sanity preservation purposes, with print-outs of my translation tucked under elbow). What joy! We met on the phone. My first words to her, believe it or not, referred to what a relief it was to have an English native doing the proofreading. (FYI: In linguistic circles, this could be taken humorously, but once again, I was being serious.) This, of course, after a brief discussion of what “label” the Portuguese publisher gave her and what precisely this meant in English which lasted well over five minutes. So, dear readers, gratuitous commas and numerous another anomalies have been fixed thanks to a sharp eye and keen discernment on her part and mine combined with a joint desire to get it right. The proofreader came with the added benefit of being fluent in (Portuguese and) Spanish which enabled to her spot quite a few of the placename errors I had missed and one not so amusing instance of my assigning the wrong gender to a cited Spanish viticultural specialist. I thoroughly enjoyed this phase of the process. The feeling of satisfaction, however, was all too brief.

The penultimate part of the process might as well be in the comic books. The design and layout fellow for the Vine Book is Portuguese. All editing remarks, therefore, had to be in Portuguese. The dichotomy between the serious and the truly ridiculous assumes Cheshire Cat proportions. Needless to say, I have learnt a lot more Portuguese in the last fortnight. I may also have confused the hell out of Carlos. I hope grammatical errors and misplaced accents in my editing remarks made him laugh.  I hope we will both be smiling soon. We shall see. I get the final, final mark-up soon. My one regret is that I cannot share the little cartoon above in its original form with him. Não faz mal (never mind), it can be translated.

Allison

The word in bold appeared in the previous post.

P.S. If anyone spots a typographical error, please let me know in the interests of my preserving professional integrity. Comments will be particularly appreciated in Spanish, or Dutch, or any other language where you feel I might understand less than roughly 40% of any written content. Ta.

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