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Do you think something is missing from your Spanish translations?

Charles Eames said it best: The details are not details. They make the product. And yet so many translations are like signs with missing letters: sometimes sad, sometimes unfortunate.

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Filtering by Tag: english

How did we end up writing in a way that sounds like inexpertly translated French?: International Art English (IAE), a hilarious analysis of art writing

IAE has never had a codified grammar; instead, it has evolved by continually incorporating new sources and tactics of sounding foreign, pushing the margins of intelligibility from the standpoint of the English speaker. But one cannot rely on a global readership to feel properly alienated by deviations from the norm.

The IAE of the French press release is almost too perfect: It is written, we can only imagine, by French interns imitating American interns imitating American academics imitating French academics. Scandinavian IAE, on the other hand, tends to be lousy. Presumably its writers are hampered by false confidence—with their complacent non-native fluency in English, they have no ear for IAE.

Can we imagine an art world without IAE? If press releases could not telegraph the seriousness of their subjects, what would they simply say? Without its special language, would art need to submit to the scrutiny of broader audiences and local ones? Would it hold up?

[International Art English - Triple Canopy, via The Morning News]

Richard Mabey on the art of giving species their common names

Common names are a kind of time capsule, a record of the powers of observation and literary inventiveness of ordinary people. They log resemblances, uses, sounds, mythic associations, smells, seasonal appearances, kids’ games, superstitions, habitats. They’re witty, concise, evocative, sometimes even satirical.

The litany of moths whose caterpillars feed on species of willow (aka withy, sallies, saugh, popple, cat’s-tails) reads like a found poem about sensual pleasure: angle shades, autumn green carpet, canary-shouldered thorn, coxcomb prominent, dark dagger, dingy mocha, engrailed, flounced chestnut, pale brinded beauty, ruddy highflyer …

The Guardian

Imagining a world without standardized spelling

The 275 spellers who gathered in Maryland this past week for the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee are top-notch orthographic athletes, able to rattle off, in order, the letters of words such as “tchotchke,” “schottische” and “aryepiglottic” without a second thought.

Such battles don’t happen everywhere. Speakers of quite a few other languages inhabit a world without correct spelling. Spanish, Italian and German have much more regular orthographies — and not coincidentally, don’t have national spelling bees.

There’s a certain satisfaction to sticking the landing on a difficult word such as “silhouette” or “subpoena” or “surreptitious.” English spelling is messy and difficult. As this past week’s spelling bee competitors understand, that’s what we like about it.

After the spelling bee, imagining a world without standardized spelling