Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reverse translation and interpretation

If you’re reading this blog you may already know things about translation and interpreting and therefore this post might be obvious for you. Or maybe you don’t know anything about these subjects, because you’re a “dancing reader”.

Anyway, I am here to write about reverse translation and interpretation. You know, it’s this thing when you write a translation or produce a speech from your mother-tongue into one of the languages you have learnt during your life. In my case, this would be reading in Spanish and translating into English, French, German or whatever. And the same when it comes to interpreting: I listen to a speech in Spanish and I talk in French or English (I can’t even think of German in this case).

I just want you to know that… this thing exists, and it has a name, but it shouldn’t. Translators and interpreters work with their mother-tongue as an active language, and the rest are their passive languages. This means that they should always translate and interpret into their own language (in my case, into Spanish). I am fully aware that this is not exactly how the real world works, but I also know that it is what happens in most cases.

Why am I telling you this? Well, because, as a student of Translation and Interpreting, I have been asked more than once to translate things into English or French. Or even worse: FROM English TO French. My first reaction to this is usually something like: “wait, you want me to do WHAT?” and then I explode in rage, saying that I can’t do that, that it is impossible and blah, blah, blah. My “client” would say things like: “but why not?! You’re almost a translator, aren’t you?” So my second reaction is: “oh, ok. You don’t know WHY I can’t do that!” Because I DO speak many languages. I do, and you know it. You know I can read books in other languages. You know that I can go to a foreign country and speak with the people and that I can listen to the radio in there and understand it! Yes, I can. Wow, that’s awesome, yeah! Well, let me then explain why I can’t do the work you’re asking me to do.

  1. When you're doing a reverse translation (or interpretation) you are never completely sure of what you are writing (or saying). When you’re writing your own essay in a foreign language, you will surely find difficulties, but you can overcome them by writing something different or by not writing anything at all. But wait! What happens when it is a translation? You can’t change what the original text said, and obviously eliminating sentences is not advisable at all! So what do you do? See? You have to find a way to solve the problem, and it can obviously not be the best option. Actually, and using my little experience, I can almost assure you that it WON’T be the best option. From a native’s eyes, there is always room for improvement!
  1. If you really care about doing your translation properly, you will have to check EVERY SINGLE SENTENCE out. I have read a ba-zillion novels in French and I am pretty sure I can speak and write it quite well. But still, I need to check out everything I write. I have to make researches of frequency simply to make sure if I’m right. Even in those (rare) cases when I KNOW I am right, there’s always a tiny, minuscule possibility of being wrong. What do I do? I google!
  1. You will never, ever be able to know a foreign language as well as a native speaker. They grew up with it. They read their first books in that language and their parents and teachers taught them everything using that language. They will always be able to find this “something” in your text which just doesn’t “sound right”.
  1. Oh, and the culture! What is the culture you know best? Yours, isn’t it? And you don’t even know everything about it. Haven’t you heard some days ago an expression in your own language that you had never heard before? Well, I have. Many of them, actually! And I also learnt a word that people use in Extremadura, but not in León. Translation and Interpreting are about expressing ideas in other languages, not just words. You have to be perfectly capable of understanding your own culture. What if there is a sentence without connotations in a language but you know it will surely offend someone if you keep it with the same words in the target language? Or even worse: what if you DON’T know that it will offend someone?
  1. This one is related to interpreting. The situation is even worse when you are interpreting, and so much worse when it’s simultaneous interpreting. People with more than one first language are very rare. If you have two, it means that you have the same level of knowledge in both languages. And if you are an interpreter, you have to know your first language(s) very well, so you should be able to speak in different registers without much trouble. If you only have one active language (like normal people who are not interpreting gods), it will be very difficult for you to produce a correct speech in a foreign language, because you won’t really have time to wonder if what you’re saying is completely right or not!
  1. And finally, translators are not human dictionaries, ok?! So stop asking them how to say lenocinio, palimpsesto and oclorancia in English; because they might not even know that they are in Spanish! They are not human dictionaries: they are humans that know which dictionaries to use!

I hope things are clearer now!

PS.: I’m not even going to tell you how many times I have used the dictionary or Google to write this blogpost. And I know there are mistakes. I’m so sure of it! ;)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Big Ballet Dilemma

I have been faced with this dilemma for more than two weeks, I still don’t know what to do and I have to find a solution like NOW. I know that the decision should be mine, but I’m in desperate need of advice.

As you know, I’m studying in Salamanca. This is my last year of university, and therefore it is also my last year of ballet in this studio with this Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher. I had a ballet class for beginners today. I felt so much ahead the rest of the class. I’m not swaggering; it is a fact. We did a new barre and I could remember all the steps and I performed them pretty well. I didn’t get any corrections from the teacher. Only things like “very well, Nerea! You’re doing fine!”

Well, it seems that I have a pretty much pretty and amazingly cool life. What is the problem, then? The Problem is this:

Class finished and Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher told me that she didn’t know why I still was in that class with the beginners. She had spoken with intermediate ballet teacher (with whom I have had an intermediate class and two hours of pointe. That equals three hours), and this second person had told her that I could totally get enrolled in intermediate class. She said I was doing well; I just needed to have a little more agility at the centre.
So I told Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher that I didn’t feel really confident in intermediate level. She answered that she was sure I was ready and intermediate ballet teacher thought the very same. I hesitated for a second and Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher shouted: “come on!!! It’s always me! I always have to push you guys to do new things! Come on, Nerea! Go to intermediate level!!! You can do it!!! I know you can!!”

So, these are my options:

  • Stay in ballet class with the beginners, with Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher, 2 hours a week + 1 hour of flamenco, also with Amazingly Awesome and Adorable Ballet Teacher.

  • Go to intermediate level with Not-So-Awesome-Ballet-Teacher. This means 2 hours a week + 1 hour of pointe shoes with her… And not flamenco at all, because, you know, my budget has its limits.

The first option means that I will focus on the basics again; on very easy things that I can already do, which can be nice… or not so nice, and of course, staying with lovely teacher. Second option means, of course, something like: “bye, bye, Amazingly Awesome and Adorable Ballet Teacher, forever and ever, and hello, stressful ballet classes in which I learn so much and I can actually dance like a ballerina, but where I don't really know if I'm performing correctly!”

There are other options, but certainly less advisable, like giving up flamenco, staying with the beginners in ballet class and going to intermediate pointe class. Or going to intermediate ballet classes, giving up pointe and going to flamenco with Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher.

Should I repeat that Amazingly Awesome Ballet Teacher absolutely wants me to go to intermediate level, because she thinks I have some kind of potential?
My head is a total mess. Any experienced advice?

Oh, and if I choose option 2, I will dance like Tamara in a few years. Yeah, sure... ;)
Look at that super AWESOME winged foot!!!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twitter talks pointe class

Going to ballet class. Excited. Je vous vois dans trois heures, tweeps!

This is how I said goodbye on Twitter last Thursday. Three hours went by, I got home, and this is what I wrote:

Back from ballet class... with GREAT NEWS. OH-MY-GAWD, OH-MY-GAWD, OH-MY-GAWD, YOU GUYS.
My teacher has invited me to JOIN TOMORROW'S BALLERINA CLASS, aka POINTE CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I haven't been to a pointe class since I was 13. So I've just (re)joined the club of people who like to mangle their feet on purpose!!!

Please note my mental breakdown. It might be serious. Later that day I also had my sentimental moment:

I just wanted to say that... I love you all, ballet tweeps. I'm so happy to be a part of this community where we can share our impressions.

And then, another mental breakdown. This one is a little milder, as I was starting to assimilate the news:

Sorry if I'm a little annoying, but I can't help jumping and shouting in joy! I AM EN POINTE, YOU GUYS.

It seems that when your ballet teacher invites you to try pointe class, you feel everything. Fear, of course, is the order of the day:

But I'm a little worried, because pointe class won't be with my regular teacher. The other one seems a little harsh (?).
Oh my God. I am going to suck so much this afternoon at pointe class.

Then, I got ready (see feet here) and went to pointe class.
And this is the result of it:

Advanced pointe class is serious business, guys. It felt good, but I was doing pointe with 15-17-year-old girls far more talented than me, who could do piqués en tournant without problems. But the good news are that my feet weren't hurting at all!!!
I will go to the academy on Monday again. I will talk to my pointe teacher and to my regular teacher and we'll see what they think about me.
Oh my, I'm dehydrated!!!
I guess my teacher was right (they know us better than we think). I was prepared. I didn’t break my ankles in pointe class.
The problem was the technical level. They should give a pointe class for beginners, because I simply couldn’t follow the steps. Seriously, how the hell do they want me to do a hundred piqué turns EN POINTE in my first class in 8 years? I can't even do them properly in slippers!
Definitely, I could totally go to that pointe class during barre and port de bras. But the diagonals were too much. TOO. MUCH.

Oh, and by the way... I think my ballet teacher just promoted me to intermediate class. Maybe I did something well today, after all? =)

Nope, I hadn’t done anything well THAT day. This is what hapenned yesterday when I went to talk to her:

My ballet teacher had spoken about me with the intermediate teacher before the academic year started.
She told her I was strong, had a good posture, a very fast evolution and could perfectly fit into the intermediate class (and pointe shoes).
She said that last year she could tell I had danced for many years before. In her (translated) own words: “I just had to polish you up a little bit, but now you’re ready”.
So she has definitely invited me to try intermediate level. She said I could be a little lost at the beginning, but she believed I was prepared.

And also sad, because that means that I am probably going to class with another teacher. And I like Mrs. C so much, you guys. Because she’s lovely.

My super old pointe shoes, which look less crappy with their new ribbons!


Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Day when it happened

Today I went to my second ballet class of the year.
The first one, on Tuesday, was fine, but there were some new people, so it was slow. I have no problem with that, as we’re starting again after three months and I believe it’s better not to start with a full variation at the centre.

But I am here to write about today, which is going to be known as “The Day” from now on. Because, nice reader, “The Day” was good, so good. Barre was very simple; I did the exercises without much trouble, except for a: Nerea, try not to move your body so much when rond-de-jambe-ing with your left foot. Because, you know, Left Side is evil. It’s the Dark Side of ballet. I am such a disaster with my left part of the body, seriously.
Also, I could finally keep my balance for many seconds while doing a passé relevé, which is a huge achievement for me, due to my weird hips and knees.

Later we started with the diagonals, which consisted in walking. Yep, it was simply walking as ballerinas in first position. Mrs. C asked me not to be “so correct”. She said that my walking was technically perfect, but I should be more relaxed. I can’t help being tense; I haven’t danced in three months!

So when ballet class finished, a friend of mine asked the teacher about the possibility of attending pointe class this year. It was a private talk, actually, but when I finished putting my flamenco clothes on (because “The Day” wasn’t over yet), I joined the conversation. I said I was also interested in that, but Mrs. C thought it was maybe too early because we had been doing ballet for less than twelve months. She said that we shouldn’t join “Pointe Class” anyway, mostly because it’s for advanced people. There’s no pointe class for beginners right now. Nice reader, that is a shame, you know. She also said that she would try to arrange a thing on the timetable to make us come half an hour before our normal class to be able to do some barre work en pointe. BUT, that would be next year. NEXT YEAR, or as soon as in March, April or so. That is a total disaster. A total and absolute disaster, because next year I will be a graduate and I will not be in Salamanca for ballet class after June. But that was her last word.

Then, flamenco class with my flamenco classmates started. We’re currently dancing some beautiful alegrías, but I’m not comfortable. I’m, you know, used to delicate movements and tense body; I’m more classical! And that doesn’t have anything to do with the fiery steps of alegrías. So we’re doing a nice step in which you have to move your right foot forward and with it… you also have to move your right hip. Well, I can’t do that. I keep doing a tendu. And that’s not it. And of course, Mrs. C has realised, because she ALWAYS realises. She said she had the same problem when she started with flamenco after so many years of ballet. Ha! I’m not the only one! She suggested me to relax my body and to forget about ballet (which is not easy at all). So I guess I can say that the bad news are that I am not good enough at dancing flamenco because I am too ballet-y. Oh wait… are those bad news? I don’t really know.

Class finished and I got dressed normally to go back home. I was kind of sad. Or disappointed, or something. Mrs. C was at the reception when I was about to leave. I was determined to let her know that I had some pointe shoes at home which I wanted her to see if we were ever going to do some barre work, even if it was in April. I think I sounded a little desperate, actually, haha. No, but seriously, I told her that if she was going to teach us half an hour or so in April, I wanted to show her my old and crappy pointe shoes in case she didn’t like them and wanted me to buy some new ones. Because they are really crappy, guys. Really, really crappy…
And this is where magic begins!
The conversation was something like:

Mrs. C: Oh, but you already did pointe?
Me: Yes! I did a year and a half of pointe, a long, long time ago!
Mrs. C: I knew it! You have very strong legs and feet. You can do it! I just don’t want the rest of your classmates to injure themselves because of my decision. But you can do it!
Me: B-b-but…
Mrs. C: You can go to pointe class tomorrow. Speak with the teacher, she’s there.
Me: But… it’s an advanced level!
Mrs. C: You can do it. Go, have a look and try it. Hey, Mrs. M! Nerea took pointe class a long time ago!
Mrs. M: Ok, she can come then!
Me: B-but my pointe shoes are old… and… crappy!
Mrs. M: No problem, just bring them! I will see you tomorrow, Nerea!

And I stand there, open-mouthed. I take a deep breath and utter a shy “see you tomorrow, then!”
I leave, and while "The Day" comes to an end, I take my mobile phone and call my family with tears in my eyes.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

I can do it, guys!

So a month and a half ago I wrote this post about ballet being French, in which I said that when I was a little girl I was very proud of my grand écart. I also stated that those were happy times and that now I couldn't do it anymore.

But guys... I don't know how or when it happened, but now I can do it! I CAN DO IT!
When I was trying to do some pirouettes -by the way, I'm getting better at those-, I said to myself: "let's see if you are closer to the ground when doing the splits!" And I tried... and went down, and down, and down... and this is what I got!

Ha! And it's not a fake one! A little painful it is, but not fake!

See? I can do it, I can do it! *Happy dances*

Anyway, I still don't understand it. I really don't. I haven't stretched that much these days, and I haven't done much ballet during summer. I guess even if it's just a little bit, stretching works. It really does! And that is the proof you were looking for!!!
So... stretch, guys! STRECH!