2011年12月29日 星期四

Thoughts about another thing I hate: Romanization system disasters

It’s one thing to not know how something is pronounced. It’s one thing to pronounce a foreign word in a certain way because of quirks in your language and culture. It’s another thing to be a native speaker of of the foreign words in another language and not know what the meaning of a romanization system is.

In the land of Taiwan there is a hostility towards coming to grips with how English and Mandarin relate to each other. This WILL continue forever into the future barring a teaching of kid Pinyin (in any form) to children. I have no doubts about this.

Taipei is the exception that proves the rule. That p is not a p. It is a b. Yes, I know it is technically not a b, but it is a b. Writing a p out in roman letters will NEVER inspire a reader of the romanization to sound out a b. Therefore it should go. It is a failed romanization system. If the goal of a romanization system is not inspire the reader to pronounce the word as accurately as possible, or it will never reasonably achieve that, than it is a failure. You might as well romanize 台北 as flabberjock if you don’t care about getting things right or as close to right as possible.

Given all that, Taipei is the exception that proves the rule. If people have heard of Taiwan in the world, the one place they might possibly have heard of is Taipei. And that’s Taipei with a p. In that sense it has become fixed and I have no serious qualms with it staying, though like Peking I do think it should be abandoned in favor of what is unambiguously a better alternative.

台中 is often romanized as Taichung here. It is sounded out as something that rhymes with lung. There is no reason native speakers should do that.

高雄 is a city most people in the word have never heard of and never will hear of. Its common romanization is the famously inscrutable (read: horrible) Kaohsiung. If you’re a native mandarin speaker and you drop a K in your speech, I don’t know what you’re doing. I do know what you’re doing. You’re saying that there’s a k in the front of that romanized word so you better pronounce a k. Wrong. But you can never explain this to someone or it’s a hassle or whatever.

But you know what? It’s a big important city and you don’t have that many other foreign words you’re going to have to use in English (or other language that requires the romanization) so you might as well just do it right.

Taoiseach is an important word. You don’t get to pronounce it like an idiot just because it’s hard to say and or markedly different than how you might sound it out.


Romanization should be be transparent to the reader. There are reasonable allowance you’re going to have to make. If someone wants to pronounce Shanghai with their a’s a certain way that’s seemingly forgivable. Tell them the a’s are another way and they’ll understand. But no one will ever understand why a ch is a zh/j sound or why a k is really a g. Those are just pure, unfixable failures. Continuing to promote those is just horseshit. If some native mandarin speaker wanted to condescend and humor (or pronounce it like an idiot because they have ZERO concept of what romanization means, or whatever other reasons there are out there!) others by pronouncing Xi’an (Xian to the lazy and or apostrophically disabled) as “ecks” e on, you would slap them in the face(except that would never happen in China where any kid over the age of 4 can read and understands pinyin and basically can never forget it. Only some horrible misinformed or whatever Taiwanese or other person might try something like that). That’s what it’s like to hear Taichung or Kao whatever the fuck people say. It’s not a national tragedy or a horrible fucking shame but it’s pure shit. Ma Ying-jeou and Wu Den-yih are still around, but they’re actually the ones who would fix this crap. Maybe if the names weren’t as ugly and inscrutable as those two piles of poo people wouldn’t be running for president as Annete or Frank. Did you guys not get the memo? No one in the world does that! It’s Sony, not Acer. Samsung, not Asus. Even China doesn’t pull their (and Taiwan’s) backward-ass theories about translation and localization into reverse like Taiwan. You get Haier, not Foxconn.

I resist the urge to write posts like this all the time. Sometimes they leak out. Apologies in post.

2011年12月24日 星期六

Tired thoughts

Sleepy is not a word in the English language. It’s the name of one of the dwarfs from Snow White. It’s one of those “kid” words that even kids don’t use. At a young age they are already using “tired” to describe that feeling as kids are too full of energy to ever actually be “tired.”

Sleepy is one of those poppy sounding words that makes it into Mandarin as a “loan word” in the sense that it’s not a loan word at all, but rather an English sound or collection of letters replacing the Mandarin concept (see: happy, joy, etc.)

But even as kids you never know that word. The adults use tired and occasionally the frighteningly odd “drowsy,” but even refrain from using the “kid” word on you, a kid.

In other words, it’s a barrel-full of inauthenticity.

Tired, on the other hand, is a delightful word, stretching across all the lethargic emotions and floating across to the critical realm where it stands in contrast to the overused and devoid-of-meaning commendatives (tour-de-force, masterpiece, etc.) Nothing is more cool (in the good, detached sense) than critically calling something tired.

That writing is so tired.


Moving on, here are some more thoughts about tiredness.

Unlike English, which allows a range of emotional complexity to be displayed with the smallest of vocal inflections or spelling variation, Mandarin is stuck on a much more stern taskmaster. 語氣詞 offer some escape routes, in addition to some vocal variation, but heavy lifting is often done by word choice itself. Word choice that others often note is absent in English. Well, the word diversity may be missing, but the translations need not suffer. Here are some examples to put that this thought on display. (without 語氣詞 in Mandarin to save some time.)

我好累 = I’m tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired.

我挺累 = I’m really tired.

我很累 = I’m tired.

我蠻累 = I’m beat.

我累得不得了= I’m unbelievably tired. I could sleep all day.

累得要命 = desperately, dangerously tired. My life may be in danger if I don’t get some sleep quickly.

相當累 = I’m quite tired.

非常累 = I am spectacularly tired. I am tired in a way that would be difficult to explain.  I am TIRED!

特別累 = I am especially tired.

累死了 = I’m dead tired.

累透了 = I’m pooped. (NO emails about this one, you hear me!)

真累 = I’m seriously tired.

太累了 = You do not have a good command of Mandarin.

and of course 累及了 = It’s as if I’ve been saving up all my tired just for this. (NO emails about this one either!)

Interesting suggestions in the comments may be added to the list after careful consideration.

And no, commendative is not a word but you can figure out what it means so I’m using it.

2011年12月7日 星期三

Translators, again

Just ask them if they want to start calling one fifth of the population by names Samantha Yellow, Bill Forest, Zedong Red. Or perhaps it should be Pond East Hair. That sure would be swell. I’m sure we could even add a bunch of hyphens in too! Can’t wait for those names with 之 in them.

So are you still sure your “stomach is hungry?” Cuz last time I checked it seemed more like your brain was the one with problems.

2011年12月1日 星期四

Some early, preliminary thoughts on more of what happens at Paper Republic

For some time now I’ve had it in my mind that what some people say about criticism, that the best way to criticize others is to do something better yourself, is in fact correct.


It’s not that I find the recent forays into publishing to be uninspired (in fact, I’m pretty sure I commented on either their comment section or the comment section of another site about how people should publish or get off the pot) but rather that I find them to be uninspiring.


I suppose I could write a post about niching (burrowing deeper into your own niche) but I think I said plenty of relevant things about universes in a recent post. And then there’s that quote from Franzen which I really detest, a version of which goes something like this:


"To keep giving people, the single-digit percentage of people, books they’d value and enjoy.”



So, I think it’s best if I keep my distance and let them remain an enemy at the gates.


小團圓's get you small victories. It can sometimes be hard to think big, especially when you have to think galactically big, like at the size of a universe.


For something just slightly more inspiring, there recently was a podcast which discussed “higher-resolution experiences.” It can be found here:


It still seems set on going down with the ship of “books,” but some of the ideas in there are smart if they can be liberated from dead-as-a-corpse models and thinking.


In other words, literary translators take objects “sometimes” prepared for people and make them “readable” to other people. Translation and interpretation, however, is about fueling communication and interaction. A lot of things rightly labeled transfer are mislabeled translation and interpretation, when their real goal has little or anything to do with what real people would identify as interaction and communication. Interaction as in Human-Computer Interaction or communication like communicating with Siri, but not inter-action or really “communicating with Siri.”

(God, how did that last paragraph sneak in here? Let’s hope I take it out before I publish this. Guess it stays.)

2011年10月31日 星期一

I don't care about books

I don't care about books.

Most people don't either.  And the ones who do should probably know better.

And I don't just mean "paper" books.

There's nothing like having the future smack you in the face while insisting on closing your eyes forever.


That was easy.

2011年10月24日 星期一

The gloves finally come off


It’s as simple as 優 and 不佳.

2011年10月17日 星期一

Aristotle’s theory of tragedy

China’s never had a problem with individuals, or even individualism. Such criticisms are simply not relevant to the only important question: whether or not you matter, i.e. whether or not you are elite. What’s been important is not a rejection of individualism, but an affirmation of class.

2011年10月14日 星期五


There's a reason all those old men wear 藍白拖. It’s not because they’re poor or have a poor fashion sense. Every time you find a pair of sandals that you like, even if you buy two or three or four pairs, you can sure as hell bet that whenever you do wear them out (a mere matter of time), you’ll never find them or anything close to them ever again. You’ll be stuck with crappy ones that you’ll go through till you find a new one after 4 or 5 tries that isn’t as good as the old ones. I guess everyone is always finding ways to innovate and avoid commodification. Even of 3 dollar sandals.

I’d have to say the biggest thing that stays with me is that I never ever recall seeing women wear heels on crappy motorcycles (scooters are the netbooks of motorcycles) in America. A place about a half-inch away from having a female president. That’s what I call diglossia.

2011年9月6日 星期二


(No one is as upset with the closing line of this piece as I am. I apologize in advance AND after.)

Going back through a long list of saved and unread articles I came across the “Right to Rewrite?” article from my old alma matter, (no, not literally) the China Daily, and thought, '”Is it possible that they could possibly be missing the point any more than they are?

(Yes, I write this way on purpose.)

Outside of the babbling on about minutiae and “literature” and whether to say “goose-egged” (oh, how important!) and the usual dickishness (a generous term, to say the least) from Kubin and the eternal “I’m not responsible for anything, I have editors” nonsense from Goldblatt, there’s not really much there.

The problem China has, and Chinese as well, is that it’s not written well enough. And no, I don’t mean that in a Kubin/racist kind of way. I mean that in a screenwriting kind of way, a Game of Thrones kind of way because ultimately, that’s what China (and Chinese) is competing with in this world. Other places, other languages and cultural products are competing for time, attention and money with everything else that is out there. For giant superstructures like China, Chinese culture or Chinese languages, serious competitors aren’t Singapore (a weekend retreat) or “books” from other languages/places, but rather other superstructures that offer engrossing, rich, interesting worlds (universes) that take up time, attention and money. Sure, old favorites like France or Japan are competitors, but the real competitors are sports, ESPN, and drilling further down, the entire universe that grows around a single “sport”, like professional wrestling. And they’re not limited to sports, but rather also include individual book series, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, or the entire niche of jumping from one sci-fi/fantasy/mystery universe to another: Dune to Star Wars to James Bond to Game of Thrones. And then there’s the 20-500 hour console and computer games that began as one-player quests and now have transformed into literal virtual worlds, a la WOW. And while it’s true that you may learn a lot from these things and connect with real, individual people, it is also true that these things are not the world. These things are not the manufacturer of the device you use to experience these things, nor the parent yelling at the kid for being home all day doing this stuff, nor the pollution outside, nor the political repression or freedom all around that self-enclosed space.

If you don’t bring Paris with you, you’re not going to find it there.

What China (et al) lacks, and what these universes (ESPN, pro wrestling, game of thrones, etc.) have is the quality of being well written.

When you find something that sucks you in, that’s engrossing, you know immediately that you’ve found something special. You can tell that the things fit into place in that universe just as well as the laws of physics hold together in ours, even though that final bit of glue to make everything appear seamless is probably done by the audience, with the cracks only revealed on careful examination (an visible boom mic in a shot of pro-wrestling only seen by someone not paying attention to the match, or CPT violation observed at CERN only after the 1000th try.)

Despite what the haters say about Japan’s anime and manga culture, the visual and artistic distinctiveness and innovation, the clear presence of a unique element in the work and the ability to resonate issues universal, addictive, and engrossing is why Japan is in the public imagination. It’s not that other factors don’t account for this, but it’s that there’s something to dream about there’s something in people’s heads that doesn’t pop when you think about Korea (Samsung) or China (Tiananmen square guy). The depth of the rabbit hole hinted at and brought forth in the anime/manga world in Japan is just staggering. It bleeds into everything else. It is the Paris you take when you get there. Sure, you find out that everything is a bit more dull, the Parisians aren’t actually that rude, and the magic isn’t really there most of the time, but once in a while you’ll take a wrong turn down a dark alley and spot that little totem that links in to all that imagination bubbling up just under the surface of your mind and puts that little aura around everything you were sure was there all along, but were slowly coming to believe was all in your mind. This is how you make kids eat vegetables. It’s slow and doesn’t always work, but the read your 道德經 school is never going to get anyone very far. And that’s what the Hollywood movies have done for America (in the way anime and manga have done for Japan), they’ve written an engrossing and attractive story of the country/people/language etc. Sure, most of it’s bullshit or exaggerated or not true, but you’re not going to get many people to go pick up the Federalist papers or learn about Hip-Hop lyrics without a well-written story. Maybe they’re written into that story, subtly, like a Dickens character someone loved for 50 pages and was never heard from again, or maybe after Games of Thrones people actually want to go read up and really get more into the history and life of that time. It’s not that this can’t be done: the rich history and culture that something like Dune or Star Wars or Game of Thrones (or even baseball) is something that China (et all) can compete with. Maybe not every country can, maybe Estonia can’t, but China certainly can. And it won’t be one Steven Spielberg collabo flick, or a good adaptation/showing/translation of Condor Heroes or Dream of the Red Chamber shown on western television. We don’t live in a single-event world anymore (if we ever did). We live in an event-driven world that is typified by streams of everything. There’s four major sports (ok, hockey doesn’t actually count) in America that push it to the fore during all seasons, but ESPN is way ahead of them, putting 4 different sports on each season and expanding to new channels exploring the past, the celebrity, the funny, the everything. There’s wrestling channels to keep you up all the time, combined with communities online whose ranks grow and deplete as new fans come and go as they age. But if you turn on your television you won’t find a Chinese channel. You won’t even find good Chinese stuff slipped into Adult swim like anime or British sitcoms slipped into BBC America. In fact you won’t find it on the internet either. There’s literally nothing. A new dark continent, opaque all the way down. Sure, you’ll find a Chinese channel, with people in suits stiffer than a wall reading the news at you in a range of accents from FOB to not good to I know I look Chinese, but I my family has been here for 150 years, I have no connection to the culture, oh, by the way I was your neighbor and probably dated your brother during high school and I myself wonder why I have this job. But of course, a hipster (or really anyone under 40, 50?) stumbling across this station could only watch it ironically (like wearing a vote McCain t-shirt) or laugh at how stiff and serious the people were and how equally stiff and serious they imagine their audience to be. There’s an entire world out there for you to compete with, CCTV, you’re doing it wrong. To compete with the world, you first have to decide you have to be part of the world, and that may be the barrier to break through before we can even begin to talk about being written better.

That brings us back to the point here. You’re losing. You’re losing to that kid who dumps 200 hours into that SNES game which means a lot to him. And the next 10 where she tries to replicate that experience and find that deepness and richness of that universe repeated. For every 200 hours dumped into that, you have 200 hours not dumped into learning a language, or getting involved in your country/culture/people/languages, even obliquely. You have to be a time sink and you’ll never get there with government marketing push alone. If you think kids are smart, then you must know adults are even smarter. Letting a thousand flowers bloom guarantees I never have to think again about getting angry about some random translator thoughts about goose-eggs or abdicating responsibilities to editors. That’s the translators invisibility, getting the audience to the place they want to be, that rich engrossing world that is pulling them in. I can’t name the thousands of translators of the anime I’ve seen or read. Sure, now that I translate myself I have criticisms of styles and quality, but they all more or less got me there because the universe they were mediating over was powerful enough that even they couldn’t mess it up. Think the bible. Only stuffy fucks are still bitching about “with child” and other drugs. The rest of the world is busy getting their Christ on. So, China, I think you’ve got what it takes to have a larger percentage of the world get their China on. Maybe not Bible sales, but maybe Japan sales aren’t too far out of reach mid-term. You’ve just got to do a better job writing yourself, because the video games and the novel/movie universes and the MMORPGs and the Sportstravaganzas and Hollywood and anime are written really, really well, and they’re totally kicking your ass. So get off of your ass, especially whatever ass thing you think literature means, and go Git-R-Dun. (No one is as upset with this closing line as I am. I apologize here, one more time.)

2011年9月4日 星期日

兩在卡夫卡 and Epinephrine

甲 The writer Paul Adler

‘What is his profession?’

‘He has none. He has no profession, only a vocation. He travels with his wife and the children from one friend to another. A free man, and a poet. In his presence I always have pangs of conscience, because I allow my life to be frittered away in an office.’

- Conversations with Kafka By Gustav Janouch

Two: From the Wikipedia (where would I be without you?)

James Hawes argues many of Kafka's descriptions of the legal proceedings in The Trial – metaphysical, absurd, bewildering and "Kafkaesque" as they might appear – are, in fact, based on accurate and informed (although exaggerated) descriptions of German and Austrian criminal proceedings of the time, not well understood by many British or American people, who were familiar with an adversarial rather than inquisitorial system of justice.

A fascinating read which explains this. Highly recommended:


Love and other drugs

Though a lot of people seem genuinely baffled at times as to why people do the things they do, any first-semester psychology student with a passing grade could explain it to you in 30 seconds. Epinephrine (adrenaline) like any good drug, is a dumb drug. You get a shot of it whether you get punched in the face or win the lottery. And like any good drug, when you get off that high that it gives you, you sometimes do whatever you can to reproduce that situation that gave you the rush. Your body associates the action with the response, which you want, however horrible the action is. It’s why you run back to the scene of the accident, or why that violence that you saw and didn’t like is somehow something you want: because it made your heart race like that girl with the streak in her hair  that you saw for the first time, but would set off the sense whenever you saw it again, hoping, like the first time, it would give you that thrill. A lot of people try to use religion to find their ways out of this. Sometimes the natural high of group inclusion and kindness can be enough to replace what was lost. Sometimes it’s the coldness of a rock that you can lean on, that helps to block out and dull natural responses. If you hold your fists tight and close your eyes tight enough for a long enough time everything may just disappear. But it’ll probably always be there: last in our dreams, but first on our hearts.

2011年7月15日 星期五

Mark Ma to Ma Ying-jeou

But Sir, in Project Mayhem, we have no names.

Now you listen to me, this is a man and he has a name. And it’s Robert Paulson. Ok?

Robert Paulson?

He’s a man and he’s dead now because of us, alright? Do you understand that?

I understand…In death, a member of Project Mayhem has a name. His name is Robert Paulson.

2011年6月28日 星期二

It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer.

Why we fight: we’re trying to make cricket bats.

-“In my view, emotion in a reader derives from reception of a clear rendering of primal human experiences: fear of death, desire, loss of love, celebration of being. To spark emotion, a poet must strive to attain what Aristotle called simple clarity. The world that the reader apprehends through his or her senses must be clearly painted, even if that world is wholly imaginary…” again, Mary Karr, Against Decoration.

Sticking to words in the name of some sort of belief about what translation is leads only to balls. Balls, that is:

(The following is from Tom Stoppard’s The Real Thing.)

ANNIE: You’re jealous of the idea of the writer. You want to keep it sacred, special, not something anybody can do. Some of us have it, some of us don’t. We write, you get written about. What gets you about Brodie is he doesn’t know his place. You say he can’t write like a head waiter saying you can’t come in here without a tie. Because he can’t put words together. What’s so good about putting words together?

HENRY: It’s traditionally considered advantageous for a writer.

ANNIE: He’s not a writer. He’s a convict. You’re a writer. You write because you’re a writer. Even when you write about something, you have to think up something to write about just so you can keep writing. More well chosen words nicely put together. So what? Why should that be it? Who says?

HENRY: Nobody says. It just works best.

ANNIE: Of course it works. You teach a lot of people what to expect from good writing, and you end up with a lot of people saying you write well. Then somebody who isn’t in on the game comes along, like Brodie, who really has something to write about, something real, and you can’t get through it. Well, he couldn’t get through yours, so where are you? To you, he can’t write. To him, write is all you can do.

HENRY: Jesus, Annie, you’re beginning to appall me. There’s something scary about stupidity made coherent. I can deal with idiots, and I can deal with sensible argument, but I don’t know how to deal with you. Where’s my cricket bat?

ANNIE: Your cricket bat?

HENRY: Yes. It’s a new approach. [He heads out into the hall.]

ANNIE: Are you trying to be funny?

HENRY: No, I’m serious. [He goes out while she watches in wary disbelief. He returns with an old cricket bat.]

ANNIE: You better not be.

HENRY: Right, you silly cow —

ANNIE: Don’t you bloody dare —

HENRY: Shut up and listen. This thing here, which looks like a wooden club, is actually several pieces of particular wood cunningly put together in a certain way so that the whole thing is sprung, like a dance floor. It’s for hitting cricket balls with. If you get it right, the cricket ball will travel two hundred yards in four seconds, and all you’ve done is give it a knock like knocking the top off a bottle of stout, and it makes a noise like a trout taking a fly… [He clucks his tongue to make the noise.] What we’re trying to do is to write cricket bats, so that when we throw up an idea and give it a little knock, it might … travel[He clucks his tongue again and picks up the script.] Now, what we’ve got here is a lump of wood of roughly the same shape trying to be a cricket bat, and if you hit a ball with it, the ball will travel about ten feet and you will drop the bat and dance about shouting Ouch! with your hands stuck into your armpits. This isn’t better because someone says it’s better, or because there’s a conspiracy by the MCC to keep cudgels out of Lords. It’s better because it’s better. You don’t believe me, so I suggest you go out to bat with this and see how you get on. [quoting from the play] You’re a strange boy, Billy, how old are you? Twenty, but I’ve lived more than you’ll ever live. Ooh, ouch! [He drops the script and hops about with his hands in his armpits, going Ouch! ANNIE watches him expressionlessly until he desists.]

ANNIE: I hate you.

HENRY: I love you. I’m your pal. I’m your best mate. I look after you. You’re the only chap.

ANNIE: Oh, Hen… Can’t you help?

HENRY: What did you expect me to do?

ANNIE: Well…cut it and shape it…

HENRY: Cut it and shape it. Henry of Mayfair. Look — he can’t write. I would have to write it for him.

ANNIE: Well, write it for him.

HENRY: I can’t.


HENRY: Because it’s balls. Mary’s part is the least of it — it’s merely ham-fisted. But when he gets into his stride, or rather his lurch, announcing every stale revelation of the newly enlightened, like stout Cortez coming upon the Pacific — war is profits, politicians are puppets, Parliament is a farce, justice is a fraud, property is theft… It’s all here: the Stock Exchange, the arms dealers, the press barons… You can’t fool Brodie — patriotism is propaganda, religion is a con trick, royalty is an anachronism… Pages and pages of it. It’s like being run over very slowly by a travelling freak show of favourite simpletons, the India rubber pedagogue, the midget intellectual, the human panacea…

(end passage)


“I don’t think writers are sacred, but words are. They deserve respect. If you get the right ones in the right order, you can nudge the world a little or make a poem which children will speak for you when you’re dead.”

(end quote)

Yes, the words are sacred, the words your audience is reading, not the originals. You can’t get the new ones in the right order if you’re too scared to touch the sacred original ones.

2011年6月27日 星期一

Flights to quality

The meteoric rise of Apple represents a flight-to-quality, but not a flight to quality.

The idea that there’s this pent up demand for “quality”, and that all you need is a charismatic leader to smack you upside the head to make you realize it is nothing but wishful thinking.

Apple doesn’t win on quality, arranged against a sea of undistinguished, cheaper competitors. It wins by giving less risk and making things more simple. It didn’t even used to charge its mark-up as a symbol of quality and status, it did so because it really couldn’t get lower costs in comparison to its competitors. Its new products actually do benefit from enormous scale, and it does have relatively lower prices on some products, but maintains a relatively high price on many simply to maintain its status as a premium brand.

Apple gives you answers, lies of course, but definitive answers that are good enough so that you don’t have to think anymore. That’s how you sell anything, not by dripping out little things and saying it’s kinda good or whatever, and is what it is, and stands by itself, etc, etc. Those days, if they ever existed, are gone. Marketing: this is what this is, this is all there is, all you need to know, and how it’s going to help you. Done.

What I’m saying here is that we’re selling records and you don’t sell many records by not selling them. This is selling records. It’s about reach and relevancy, and pretty ain’t got nothing to do with it. Otherwise, well, y’know.

Seems to be a Wikipedia-heavy day. Should really get back to actual translation contributionisms.

2011年6月17日 星期五

Paid to look pretty

People like to look at pretty things. There’s a market for the makeup artist and the model, but I’m beautifully confident there’s no market for the “authentic.”

At the same time, there’s a market for mirrors, or as the kids call it these days, “filters.” Now some people may tell you the yearning for difference is a yearning for the authentic, but they are lying to you. People want Game of Thrones because it tells the exact same story as all the other stories, with a filter (an occasional trill, pseudo old language, “oldish” costumes.) But have no doubts, Game of Thrones is 90210 with all the sex and violence you always craved. And in 10 years you’ll get even more of the sex and violence you’re missing now.

So the next time you’re thinking about trotting out your version of the “real world”, think about how many successful ad campaigns have been based on reality in the past 60 years. How many used models without makeup? How many didn’t use models?

Translation is a catch-all. In a non-command world, people need to have a reason to keep on reading or listening, market or not. Actions and results speak louder than the occasional call from the wild about “authenticity.”

I wish I could remember what I wanted to write about ‘strongly-typed languages.’ I’m pretty sure I had more and more interesting things to say about that.

2011年6月2日 星期四

The booger king


著 九把刀


Animal was my best friend back then, and his family had a lot of money. He’d always have a new copy of the Youth Express each week which he’d let me look at. We’d read about Super Saiyans and Frieza and whatever new things were happening in the Blast Limit Saga. I knew that stuff cold, just as well as he did. Where my confidence came from, however, always remained a mystery.

He lived in a small town in Lugang. After class we’d read comics together while we waited for the bus.

“You’ve been talking to Jiayi a lot recently,” Animal said, sitting under a tree, looking up at the sky.

“Yup,” I said as I kept on reading his magazine.

“You don’t think that’s a little weird? I mean, what do you even talk about?” he said, still looking up at the sky.

He was always staring up at the clouds. It eventually got me thinking something’s just not right with people who do that.

“You know, whatever,” I said, making a face before getting back to the magazine.

“I mean, she’s got really good grades. What could she possibly want to talk to you about?”

You’d think his neck would get sore eventually.

“Animal,” I said, picking my nose without putting down the magazine.

“Goin’ fishin?” he said, still entranced by the clouds.

“You know, I’m not just some ordinary guy,” I said, admiring the snot on my finger.


“Yeah, really. Sometimes I even scare myself with how incredible I am,” I said, placing the booger on his blue backpack.

“原文” http://giddens.twbbs.org/story/21girl/s_girl03.htm

2011年5月28日 星期六

Vanity Plates

If you really cared about cross-cultural communication you’d swallow your pride and become a tour guide.

2011年3月21日 星期一

It’s a good thing I’m not from Singapore.

It’s a good thing I’m not from Singapore.
by: Long Yingtai
China Times, Oct. 10, 1994
撰 龍應台

I’d like to tell you why I feel so blessed to not be from Singapore.

Back in September, twenty-two foreign ministers from Europe and Southeast Asia met in Germany. At the meeting, the foreign minister from Singapore felt compelled to lecture his European colleagues, “In Asia, we have enough money and technology to sustain long term economic growth well into in the future…since the end of the Cold War, Europe has tried to get us to buy into their cultural values. While we can accept some aspects, we cannot buy into everything. Together we need to learn how to respect our differences.”

That bold statement seems to place all of Asia under its umbrella. German papers noted what they say saw as important news with the headline: “Asian and European cultures clash.” Of course, Samuel Huntington was quoted there as well, “Western culture, with its concern for freedom and personal dignity is confronted with an Asian culture that stresses authority and collective interest.”

So is there anything wrong with what the minister had to say? At first glance, the answer would seem to be no. Europe has been exporting its culture for far longer than the end of the Cold War. If we start counting at the beginning of the Opium Wars, Europe has been in China for over 150 years. In truth, it’s about time Europe starting learning a bit from others.

However, what bothered me about the statement is that Singapore has taken to going around and talking to the West as the spokesperson for Asia. Every time they open their mouth it’s “our Asian values this” and “our Asian values that.” Incredibly, the Western media goes right along with this, parroting the same phrases in chorus as if Singapore actually represented Asia and Singaporean cultural values indeed were the cultural values of all of Asia.

When exactly did Lee Kuan Yew (李光耀, Lǐ Guāngyào) become my spokesperson?

In September, right after the caning incident involving Michael Fay, Singapore executed a drug dealer from Norway. As most of Europe had already abolished the use of the death penalty, this caused quite a stir. I don’t have much sympathy for the Norwegian as he knew what he was doing was illegal. Nor do I think Singapore had any reason to show extra-legal leniency just because the criminal was from Europe. However, I don’t think Singapore has the right to be arrogant. At the very least, they don’t have the right to represent this through and through Asian who happens to be from Taiwan.

I don’t approve of the death penalty. Nor do I approve of tying up those on death row and then taking their picture. I don’t like seeing those who litter humiliated in public by the police as their legal punishment. I don’t like people telling me whether or not I can chew gum. I can’t accept not being able to buy the foreign magazines I want to read. Nor am I willing to let anyone tell me what books I’m allowed to read. I can’t accept any group of people telling me what to think, what to say, how to live, who I should fuck or how many kids I should have. And I won’t accept a bunch of people who think they’re smarter than me telling me what my cultural values are. All the economic growth, political stability and government efficiency in the world couldn’t get me to budge an inch on the issues of freedom and dignity.

I’m not the only one who feels like this: people in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and plenty more places feel just like I do. There’s also quite a few in perfect little Singapore who feel the same way too; it’s just hard to hear their voices on the outside.

Singaporeans have every right to live according to whatever values and rules they see fit, just as it should be for every country. However, the next time you have to cane or hang some Westerner, try to speak on behalf of Singapore, not all of Asia. I’d appreciate it if your statements didn’t include us supporters of personal dignity and liberty from right here in Asia.

I guess it’s a good thing I’m not from Singapore.

原文: http://bbs3.nsysu.edu.tw/txtVersion/treasure/study-group/M.907880897.A/M.935321533.A/M.935494316.A/M.988725928.C.html

2011年3月5日 星期六

Maintaining social harmony and stability

By: Ren Siwen

With the annual meetings of the NPC and the CPPCC beginning this week, all eyes are once again focused on Beijing. Representatives from the entire country have arrived here in the capital to work on our country’s 12th 5-year national development plan.

Currently, our country’s economic growth is excellent and the bright future for our people’s incredible revival is before our eyes. After the hard work that went into implementing the previous 5-year plan, the economy has grown to become the second largest in the world, our country has grown stronger, people have seen their standard of living rise and our country’s standing and influence around the world has ascended to new heights. Together with the country as a whole, Beijing has itself entered a new historic period in its evolution. The look of the city is constantly changing and every aspect of people’s lives there is improving. Despite all this, recently there have been some unusual situations which must command our vigilance.

Since the end of last year, great unrest has emerged in multiple Middle Eastern and North African countries. Social order in these countries has collapsed, depriving individuals of any guarantee of safety. With all aspects of life thrown into incredible turmoil, the unrest has brought nothing short of a disaster to the peoples of these countries. With this in mind, what we must be vigilant about is the individuals, both domestic and foreign, who are attempting to bring this unrest here to China. Using the internet, these individuals are attempting organize illegal demonstrations. They hope to cause trouble through this their use of “street politics.” The overwhelming majority of people emphatically disapprove of this behavior. The small minority who are attempting to organize these activities will find their demonstrations to be little more than comedies, written and performed exclusively by themselves. International media outlets have even gone so far as to label these demonstrations performance art. Those believing they could manufacture news like what has been seen recently in the Middle East have seen their hopes fall short.

Leading the previous 30 years of economic reforms, the CCP, together with the combined efforts of the all the country’s ethnic groups, has made our politics more stable and our economy more developed. The Party’s caring policies have followed the wishes and desires of the people, winning their wholehearted support. They are giving the people what they yearn for: a more stable, safe and developed country. The people also know full well that stability is a blessing and unrest is a curse. Without stability, nothing can be accomplished. It is because of this that the will and aspiration of each person is the continued maintenance of stability.

It is always the case that some individuals from here and abroad will attempt to use some problems during the course of our development to sow discord. This is a reality we must accept. However, we must also never forget to cherish our incredible achievements, maintain harmony and stability, take advantage of the strategic opportunities around us and continue along the path of scientific development. Through this we will not only make China’s future brighter, but also continue to improve the quality of people’s lives.

原文: http://www.bjd.com.cn/10jbgd/201103/t20110305_664250.html

2011年2月4日 星期五

Free speech: Translation as crime

“All media nationwide must use Xinhua’s reporting on the Egyptian riots,” read a directive issued last Friday, referring to the state run Xinhua news agency. “It is strictly forbidden to translate foreign media coverage,” the order said, warning that websites that did not censor comments about Egypt would be “shut down by force.”


which apparently is “管理不力的網站將被強行關閉”

“by force.” lazy evaluation.

2011年1月29日 星期六

the capacity for guilt

Uninformed people might think something like, you’ve got to be kidding me. People who know better say, hmm, makes sense.




Al Jazeera, Real Player? Really? Real Player?