April 24, 2005


This Amritas post about translating reminded me of a class I took in France. I signed up for it because it was called "Communication et Langage", but I didn't realize until I was weeks into the class that it was under the science dicipline and was a course about animal communication (I kept thinking we'd do a bit on animals and then make it to humans: we made it as far as gorillas.) One exciting aspect of the class was that my animal knowledge was pretty poor. I found that I could understand everything in the class except for the names of the animals. So I would write down what I thought I was hearing and then try to guess what animal it was by the description of how they communicate! And then I'd get home and look in a dictionary and go, "Oh, badgers!" It was a funny language learning experience because I knew everything in the sentences except for the key word!

Translating is hard, by the way. When I lived in France, my mother and uncle came to visit me, and we all went to visit my relatives. One elderly relative was very witty and was always making jokes and references to things that happened hours prior, and my mom and uncle always wanted to know why everyone was laughing. Then all the French relatives wanted to know why it took me three paragraphs to explain a one-liner...usually because I had to explain something that had happened two days before that I hadn't translated back then because I didn't think it was important. My brain was so tired at the end of that week.

When we first moved here to Germany, I was hard at work translating a Swedish play. I got twenty typed pages done before I got my job, and I haven't touched it since. I want to finish it after we get home from our vacation; I enjoy translating as a hobby, though I doubt I'm that good at it. I started translating this play because it's so good that I want others to be able to read it, and I can't even find an original Swedish copy, much less one in English translation. So I decided to make my own. I wish I could translate my favorite Swedish book too.

Posted by: Sarah at 04:35 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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April 13, 2005


Teaching 7th grade has made me think a lot lately about parenthood. It scares the bejesus out of me, to be honest. I look at all these kids all day long, and I worry that my kid could be a jerk. I honestly think some aspects of it are luck-of-the-draw. Sergents' kids are jerks and captains' kids are jerks. White kids are jerks and black kids are jerks. Boys are jerks and girls are jerks. I really don't know what it is that makes a kid act like a complete fool, but I am scared to death that my own kid will be a jerk someday. 7th grade has really shut down my maternal instinct.

Posted by: Sarah at 10:53 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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April 09, 2005


I have been thoroughly enjoying the book The Skeptical Environmentalist. It's amazing how things that we've been told our whole lives -- the "litany", as Lomborg calls it -- are not exactly true, or at least not exactly testable. Acid rain? Didn't happen. Exxon Valdez? Not as bad as everyone claimed. 40,000 species extinct every year? Ha. Global warming? Well, I'm just starting that chapter, but so far it's pretty untestable. It's an amazing read because one-third of the book is references and endnotes; Lomborg did his research. I'm disgusted by what makes it into science without sources.

Much of what Lomborg points out is the cost-benefit analysis of environmental issues. Sure we could save ocean-dwelling amoebas by banning fertilizer, but at what cost? Recycling paper might seem like you're helping the environment, but for the cost and effort, it's apparently better to burn the paper and plant new trees. I like Lomborg's approach of balancing nature and cost.

If you're interested, the introduction chapter is available on Lomborg's website. It's a good read.

Posted by: Sarah at 09:34 AM | Comments (8) | Add Comment
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