Tag Archives: english

saw my teacher on a saturday

2 Jul

london 6.19am 12C rosy sunrise saturday 2016

i am reminded how other people know english so well, even though it is not their mother tongue. this is a german blog posting a english poem, by dave crawley about a school kid being surprised at meeting his teacher outside school.  

the poem is amusing and funny and well written, but what surprised me, (maybe i shouldn’t; i know that joke about the english newspaper headline…’ fog in channel, continent cut off ‘does make me sound like it.) is that it is posted in a german blog… i have to use google to translate the german part of it. 

i only know one language , english, even though english is not my mother tongue, and i have immersed myself so much in english, i just get surprised when someone who is german or french or spanish can speak such good english that they can appreciate an english poem. i know it is a mistaken impression on my part but french german and italian or spanish speakers have such a strong identity with their language, that somehow i got the impression that they cannot also be fluent in english… i thought u can be only fluent in one, but of course that is a wrong thing. i need reminding that other people know english very well, even though it is not their mother tongue.

but i think i am right in saying english seem to be the common language that all these different diverse language groups have in common. am i mistaken in that belief too? that english has become the language to go to for two people with different mother tongues to converse with each other. 

Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

cold day, forecast snow for london

15 Feb

london 7.02pm 5.9C dark now, sunset at 5.14pm. dry. monday 2016

would be nice if we have snow in london. its very pretty when it snows. and usually the temperature rises too, when water turns to snow, it throws out a lot of heat.

now there is a north wind blowing so if u are out, it is a cold wind blowing at you. if u have your neck uncovered, it can be bitingly cold. they say it will be -2 tonight. i shall believe it for london when i see it. haha. lets see what the weather website says tomorrow.

indoors my nhs thermometer says 12C. i think i will be cold only if it is 9C so now, nothing that a hot drink wont cure.

i was on the bus this morning and watching this foreigner , french i think, who pressed his oyster onto the reader, but it did not work. it might not be his oyster card’s fault, because earlier the reader did not register for me. (though the driver was changing shift, so maybe he had not configured the reader yet.)

anyway, he was about to get off when the driver said something, i guessed about his credit card, because he returned and started taking out his cards and i could hear  him asking the driver to take the payment from the card. instead of just pressing it onto the reader,   he put them on the counter one by one,and i could hear the driver talking, but i wastoo far to hear the words.

 maybe the driver was telling him to press it against the reader, so  i expected him to press one of the cards against the reader, but he did not, and i could hear the driver talking again… maybe he does not understand what the driver was saying… anyway he took back his cards and got off.

i dont know why the driver did not mime it, pointing to the card, pointing to the reader and pressing his hands together… but maybe it never occurred to him that the guy dont understand his accent. because lets face it, people here in uk dont speak the queen’s english. just like when u go to another country they too have their accents, even if they speak english. 

i was thinking it is one of the things i dislike when i am in a country where i dontknow their language. this is one case when not knowing the language make him lose the opportunity.

it is very frustrating, if it happened to me. and that is why i dont go abroad anymore. one of the reasons anyway.

it is a minor thing, but it can really ruin your experience of a country. you ask directions or information and get a stream of language from a person, and you know  he is telling u important information but u just dont understand him.

anyway, it is things like this i see that reminds me how glad i am to be in london and not away in some foreign country.  


translating books into english

27 Nov


Currantly I am reading a book by a japanese novelist, ‘I am a cat’ by natsume soseki. it is translated from the original japanese, and i wonder sometimes if what i am reading is truly conveying the nuances that japanese readers would know about when they read him in the original.

This article in the independent today talks about the way each interpreter would take in their interpretation. it quoted one La Fiesta del Chivo (The Feast of the Goat, both would agree) by Mario Vargas Llosa

Brock: “The dark-blue surface of the sea, stirred up here and there in foamy patches, goes to meet the leaden sky at the distant boundary of the horizon.”

Harvey: “The sea, its dark blue surface disturbed by spots of foam, converges with a heavy grey sky on the distant horizon.”

and a google version

 “The dark blue surface of the sea, overwhelmed by patches of foam, will meet a leaden sky on remote skyline”).

At first, I thought the 2nd version was better because it was easier to read, I thought at first the 1st version was very convoluted. but after reading the google version, I think the 1st version more accurately depict the poetic nature of the writing. the image it conjures is more expressive and emotive. 

I know that reading foreign language books translated into english loses a bit of the nuances of the original language. but then, even reading books written in english the reader can miss the nuances, if they are not aware of it either through lack of life experiences, or not reading it carefully enough or not aware of the subtext.