Desk-bound, yet free

Sources of Joy – Day 23

Now that I have had the benefit of some quality sleep, I can highlight what brought me joy yesterday, when my workload meant movements were restricted to within spitting distance of my desk.

There is a certain joy which those in occupations which demand imagination, creativity and problem-solving are familiar; it is the sense of satisfaction which comes from capturing the tone of a piece – in my case, the tone of the text I am translating. I am not speaking of the obvious skills required for marketing copy or cool websites; I am referring to something far more subtle found in all, even technical, material.

It is something which goes beyond the strict accuracy of finding an acceptable equivalent in the target language. Before I wax too lyrical, and you confirm your initial impression that I am, in fact, nuts, let me simply say that you capture the tone when you see what lies in the spaces between all the words on the page. Sometimes this is easy because the text itself happens to be in synchronicity with your mood and mentality, and it is well within your ability to convey the meaning of the text. Sometimes, it is hard to place yourself between the web and the weft of the fabric we call the written word. To achieve this you often undergo a process not unlike what a wildlife photographer experiences when waiting for the moment a nocturnal animal emerges from its burrow; it involves patience, silence, and watchfulness.

What is this extraordinarily beautiful text I am referring to? Am I so fortunate that it is a wonderful piece of literature, something championing a cause I am passionate about, or the most inspirational thoughts I have cast my eyes upon all year? No. Wrong. It was two texts; one, a keynote speech for an in-house management conference, the other, the strategy paper on one aspect of the company’s core business. It could have been a contract of sale, or general terms and conditions, or product specifications for all I care. Capturing the tone is as important to me as the decision on whether to use the word “turnover” or “sales” in a business report (same word in German). It means getting in touch with your text, and flies in the face of seemingly contrary ideals such as meeting your hourly or daily target of words translated, or maximising leverage from your CAT tool. I do not always capture the tone, but when I do, I feel it thoroughly and recognise it as such. It is one of the motivating factors of the work I do. Joy.

The text which followed on the back of the two referred to above did fulfil a marketing function. I like to think that some of the centredness achieved in the corporate guff (Yes, I am a cynic.) spontaneously spilled over into this job, which demanded a different type of watchfulness. The contagion of a specific mindset being put to beneficial use such as this is not included in the rate for the job, by the way. It is part of the individual, intangible, and to a large extent, immeasurable. In those respects, it is a bit like joy, I suppose.

Lastly, I learned a new word yesterday: zorbing. I had seen the thing – a zorb – and imagined myself in one. I even knew that this spherical object makes use of that very clever invention, the gimbal. But I did not know that a commercial venture had named it a zorb, from which we get the gerundive noun, zorbing. My mind immediately races to imagined sentences, “I think I’ll go and do a spot of zorbing now”, while I skitter off at a tangent remembering actor Anthony Quinn and Greek dancing. You will be relieved to know that Wikipedia is not my sole source of information.

Today’s image has the shape, but not the substance, of a zorb.

Useful only to practice one's sketching skills. Or as a visual explanation to a child of what a sphere is.
Useful only to practise one’s sketching skills. Or as a visual explanation to a child of what a sphere is.


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