Jun 30, 2011

A ♥ for Language Blogs

Judy and Dagmar Jenner, the translating twins behind the Translation Times blog, recently suggested that fellow language bloggers post a list of their "ten favorite" language-related blogs and offered their own favorites. I find it hard to pick ten since there are quite a number in the two languages I read well which I enjoy for diverse reasons, but since the motivation behind the suggestion is to give exposure to interesting writing which might otherwise be overlooked, I shall deliberately omit any favorites I have found posted elsewhere under this title to date. Except Mox's Blog, which I described in a recent post. That brilliant little strip about our profession can be considered necessary comic therapy for any serious translator who reads English and deserves all the promotion it gets and more. Here are my recommendations for eleven (well, twelve actually, or a lucky 13 counting Mox) interesting, unique language blogs in German and English, grouped by language:

  • 300 words by Susanne Schmidt-Wussow (@frenja). I love her concept: as a writer with an overabundance of vocabulary, she disciplines herself to make a relevant point with each post in 300 words or less. God help me should I ever try that.
  • Über-Setzer-Logbuch by Gabriele Zöttl. A friend of mine in Munich sent me so many links to brilliant, thoughtful essays here that I became besotted with the blog and its author before I realized it. Not for the weak-of-German but always worthwhile for a mental stretch and linguistic massage.
  • Fidus interpres by Fabio Said. A trilingual blog (English & Portuguese too) with a very large following by a Brazilian translator based in Germany. I've enjoyed and benefited from his posts for years and once learned a lot about traffic analysis from its author. My only regret is that I can barely get the gist of the Portuguese content, so I know I'm missing a lot.
  • A Pragmatic Eye by Charlie Bavington. The author is an irreverent Brit who translates from French to English and has great good sense as well as an unerring nose for bullshit, both of which make him a suspicious character in a ProZian world.
  • Language Mystery by Victor Dewsbery. I became aware of Victor about a decade ago, possibly earlier, because of his many helpful contributions on the Yahoogroups dejavu-l list. He has a rare, thoughtful competence and solid professional ethics, and his occasional well-informed commentaries on his Christian faith are interesting and enjoyable even for a Richard Dawkins fan like me.
  • Words Matter by Doug McCarthy, a thoughtful linguist based in Paris. The blog is only a few months old, but Doug's points are well considered, well expressed and carry real weight. Words do indeed matter there as do the ideas.
  • Financial Translation Blog by Miguel Llorens. Don't let the tile fool you: most of the content hasn't a thing to do with finances. Miguel takes on and exorcises the major demons of today's translating world, including MT, Lionbridge and content farms. He's possibly crazier than I am, but he's right more often and more entertaining.
  • Diary of a Mad Patent Translator by Steve Vitek. Steve also has a range well beyond patents and brilliantly deconstructs the bullshit behind MT (which he uses for some of his work), rate issues and many other topics of current interest for translators. Even when he's trying to explain some obscure linguistic point about Japanese I find his contributions interesting, and even if they're not I enjoy the music videos on every post (and occasionally emulate this when the mood strikes me). I disagree with nearly everything he has to say about translation tools but still like to read it.
  • The Greener Word by Abigail Dahlberg, a German to English translator from the UK, now based in the US. She writes a lot on waste management and recycling topics (her specialty), and I often learn a lot from her posts.
  • Translating Berlin. Since author Sarah Vilece took a day job her posts have been far less frequent than they once were, but I have always enjoyed them for their content, local relevance (I live near Berlin) and their beautiful style.
  • Translationista by Susan Bernofsky is a recent discovery from another world - literary translation. The great thing about reading her blog is that I can enjoy the insights regarding the translation of literature without having to engage in the field's usual habit of starvation. And the writing is good. She also has a good culture blog about Berlin.
Addendum: I see that a number of others have joined the effort inspired by Judy and Dagmar. I'll list links to these posts in no particular order as they come to my attention. I'm particularly pleased that there are few redundancies, and a number of blogs I enjoy but omitted from my own list for no good reason are to be found in these others.
I've also noticed that various scumbag spamming content scrapers have taken some of the posts above as well as my own, changed some words and tried to use the content to draw traffic. Apparently they haven't heard the latest fatwa that makes the perpetrators of such actions fair game....


    1. Kevin, thanks for listing my blog among such good company! And thanks for mentioning highly interesting translation blogs that I hadn't been aware of. I liked 300 Words a lot. And don't worry about sounding loquacious. Your in-depth articles are always useful and fun to read. :-)

      You might want to check the link to "Diary of a Mad Patent Translator" again, as it is pointing to blogger.com, not to the Mad Patent blog.

    2. Wow, thanks for the mention! I feel really flattered, especially since I'm still a total newbie to this whole blogging thing. I knew most of the other blogs you listed, but not all of them, so I'm off checking them out. :)

    3. Thanks for the tip on the bad link, Fabio, not sure how I managed that. It's fixed now.

      Susanne, the first couple of times I read your posts I was utterly dense, overlooked the blog title and wondered at the word count at the bottom. You might say I was a little distracted. But I always enjoyed the short essays, and when I finally realized what the idea was behind the short pieces, I was quite tickled. If we really want to carry this to extremes, though, we could have a blog post content in haiku form.

    4. Many thanks for including my blog in your list, Kevin. I truly appreciate your posts (all the more now I've made the leap and bought MemoQ). There are a few more great blogs that I haven't seen on anyone's list so I will have to follow the crowd and write my own post tomorrow.

    5. Just noted that only two blogs from your list are not publishing their RSS feeds in full text. While some might argue that publishing post excerpts shows understanding and respect for readers' time in a world where time is money, that is not a good practice at all. And that is because of the exact same reason: time is money (that is, for readers who do not like to visit and load ANOTHER website just to read something that they might as well be reading on their RSS reader without being distracted by the website's other content such as pictures, extra columns, ads, color & font configurations etc.). If you have a good blog, forcing a blog reader to visit it in order to read the content in full (thus generating visitor stats) feels like manipulation. But then I can imagine that many people are not even aware of the fact RSS feeds CAN be configured. Some are not even aware that they might be putting readers off with the decision to publish summarized RSS feeds, and other simply do not care (these are mercilessly scratched from my feed reader).

      I wish all good blogs had their RSS feeds published in full text. Please...

    6. Kevin, you just gave me an idea for a whole new blog... :)

      Fabio, since I'm still new to blogging as I mentioned, I don't think I even set an RSS feed for my blog. *blush* But I'll keep your commment in mind and try looking into it one of these days!

    7. Keine Sorge, Susanne. Die Feeds werden automatisch erstellt für alle Blogs, auch wenn Blogger nicht davon bewusst sind. Man kann sie natürlich konfigurieren, aber dein Blog-Feed ist perfekt so. Du darfst mich zu deinen begeisterten Feed-Lesern zählen. :-)

    8. @Susanne: But haiku already fits within your 300 word limit :-)

      @Fabio: I feel like a bit of a dinosaur admitting that I've never really gotten the hang of RSS feeds. I used to try, but the readers I used were not stable it seemed, and I gave up. Anything I might have done correctly with an RSS feed on a blog is an accident. Anything I haven't done is ignorant omission.

    9. Kevin, as I said the RSS feed is an automatic function, so you don't have to do anything. But if you want to, configuring a RSS feed is very simple. You obviously use Blogger.com with a custom domain name, so configuration would look like this for you:
      > Settings
      >> Site feed
      From there you can control whether you want your posts feed & comments feed to be full, short, none etc. You can also add a post feed footer (for example, with information on who you are and what you do etc.). Really not a big deal.

      For those who have a self-hosted wordpress.org blog like mine, here's the path starting from the admin page:
      > Settings
      > For each article in a feed, show: (x) full text, () summary
      Also very simple.
      The beauty of self-hosting and using Wordpress.org is that you can install free plugins that add interesting functionalities such as a feed footer. I use a plugin called "RSS Footer" to include a short bio in English and Portuguese telling casual readers who I am, with the added value that my customized RSS feed is now syndicated to many web sites together with my bio and links to my translator profile.

      As for RSS readers, I like Google Reader, which I can access from anywhere, regardless of the computer or device I am using. But you can read feeds using an email client like Thunderbird.

      I think I will write a post about that as soon as I get rid of the batch of financial texts I am translating right now.

    10. Fabio, I don't know if it's a valid concern, but I do sometimes worry when I edit an existing post to add links or correct errors that I might somehow be spamming people through some channel, RSS or otherwise. I really hope not

    11. I liked your list - and I love any blog that generates loads of reader comments! :)

      I also wrote a post for Dagmar and Judy. Mine looks at conference interpreting blogs only. If you want to check it out, feel free: http://theinterpreterdiaries.com/2011/06/30/a-%E2%99%A5-for-language-blogs/

      I'll be posting a link to this one on my Facebook page, now, if you don't mind - alongwith all the other "A ♥ for Language Blogs" posts I've found so far ...

    12. www.patenttranslator.wordpress.comJuly 02, 2011 12:08 AM

      Hi Kevin:

      Thanks for mentioning my blog.

      As far as our differences regarding MTs are concerned, I really think that these are tools that are largely useless to some translators, such as patent translators or literary translators, although they may be very useful in other translation fields.

      Since I started writing about this issue, I have seen my theory validated by quite few commenters.

      I also want to say that I really enjoy reading your blog.

      Best regards,

      mad patent translator

    13. Steve, I don't disagree with you about MT at all. Your comments on its use and what you do with it make good sense. Where I differ is on the matter of translation environment tools. I translate quite a few patents myself and find that a tool like Déjà Vu or memoQ, because of the way it allows terms to be managed and differences to be displayed when a fuzzy match occurs, saves a lot of time and improves the quality of the result (reduces errors such as omission of reference numbers). I also do a lot of concordancing (using the electronic function) with my patents, as my brain can no longer hold all the obscure terms I may have researched or invented for a company's patents over a span of years. Other tools (like classic Trados) were largely useless for this kind of work. Recently I had some very stressful, short deadline revisions for pleadings in a patent dispute with bizarrely broken sentences in the citations, and the ability to combine segments across paragraph breaks and use TM-driven segmentation in memoQ were all that enabled me to meet the deadline without a disaster.

    14. Kevin,
      What a list! I swear, this Love of Language Blogs tour is opening up a whole new world of all translation specialties and perspectives. It's wonderful, yet overwhelming at the same time as there are so many new blogs I'd like to keep up with!
      Thank you for including a link to my own literary translation blog. Much appreciated.
      I look forward to reading your future posts and skimming through your old ones!

    15. Hi Kevin!

      Thanks so much for adding me to your list! I've really enjoyed getting to know a whole host of language blogs out there!


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