Alison Hughes Translations

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Fabolous fish and georgeus steaks

A menu funny posted on Facebook this morning inspired me to write the poem. I simply loved "fabolous and georgeus" and had to find a way to use them.

Fabolous fish and georgeus steaks

Please don't adjust your spellcheck,
I find the phrase divine.
And one Croatian restaurant,
too thought that it was fine.

So what was on the menu,
apart from fish and steaks?
Great wine and tasty dishes,
and some hilarious mistakes.

So the restaurant provides entertainment,
even before the food's brought out.
But what if the menu's confusing,
and you get trotters instead of trout.

If you want your menu translated,
avoid Google and Babelfish.
Only a specialist translator,
can aptly describe the dish.

"To the French" and similar descriptions,
are direct results of Google Translate,
leaving the diner mystified,
as to what he'll find on this plate.

The language of menu translation,
is complex and often poetic.
It takes the skills of a translator,
to render the true aesthetic.

Fabolous and georgeus are classics,
so wrong and yet so good.
This restaurant will be remembered,
but not because of its food.

Maybe the owner had a go,
thought he'd save some money,
or a waiter who speaks the lingo,
was responsible for this funny?

So a message to restaurant owners,
who think their English is fabolous.
Keep making your georgeus steaks,
and leave the translating to us.

© Alison Hughes June 2014

Friday, 13 June 2014

Moving away from the source....

After a guest post by Elisa Bonora on Marian Dougan's award winning blog - Words to Good Effect - a Twitter conversation ensued about how we move away from the source text. Here's my method in a little poem:

The (very) creative text

The text is creative, it looks like fun,
I’m used to doing them, just another one.
I know the client, the brochure too,
but this time the author seems to be new.

“What can be different?” I ask myself,
placing my other work back on the shelf.
This one’s urgent, but aren’t they all?
Normally I don’t really mind at all.

I read the first section and scratch my head.
What exactly is being said?
I know it’s poetic and the French reads well,
but what is meant I really can’t tell.

I stare at the screen but words don’t come,
my mind is blank, my brain is numb.
Time for action, I know of course,
I just need to move away from the source.

Moving away doesn’t just mean distraction,
it really is time to spring into action,
to leave my desk, shut the office door,
clean the kitchen or wash the floor.

But all the time the text stays in my head,
going round and round as I look for the thread.
One word comes but there’s many to go,
I need to keep going, it’s starting to flow.

A change of tack, what will I do next?
It’s a little too early to return to the text.
Some gentle stretches that will keep me fit,
warm up my limbs, help me chill a bit.

I lie on the floor, lift one-two-three,
and all of a sudden it comes to me.
The words are clear, it all unravels,
it’s what he encountered on his travels.

The setting sun, the bright blue sea,
the verdant hills, the sway of the tree.
The words are different the concept’s the same,
to confuse the translator was not his aim.

This new author was out to impress,
to please the editor, his path to success.
Simple description won’t get him far,
when using poetry can raise the bar.

But the poor translator, did he think of me?
Certainly not, it’s plain to see.
But that’s my job, my true vocation,
turning 'gobbledegook' into a good translation.

I like a challenge so I’m not complaining,
the whole process is quite entertaining.
It keeps me fit as through the house I roam,
though it’s just as well I work from home.

© Alison Hughes 13.6.14

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Pandas and Penguins

This poem is dedicated to Anne Diamantidis who taught me not to fear pandas and penguins

Pandas and penguins, just cute animals you thought,
Well according to Google, apparently not.
You’d be right in thinking they’re found in a zoo,
But good old Google looks out for them too,

Keywords, keywords, once all the rage,
You’d better not stuff them on your page,
That’s a Panda in case you didn’t know
A website full of them is a big no-no.

So what’s a penguin you may ask yourself?
OK it’s an animal on the arctic shelf.
That’s a fact but did you know
There’s a Google one that can cause you woe?

This time it’s links, with them be frugal,
If you want to appease dear Mr Google.
Too many on the site, it’ll disappear,
Gone, finito, into the stratosphere.

And beware if you’re expanding overseas,
With Googletranslate you’ll get translatorese,
For a penguin penalty your site is wide open,
So please make sure it just doesn’t happen.

Get a Panda penalty and your page is gone.
A Penguin penalty and the site’s withdrawn.
But what’s the solution you need to find,
For SEO and peace of mind?

Meaningful content is your next move,
Because a well-written blog post to Google will prove,
Your site is legitimate and merits a share,
By colleagues and contacts everywhere.

Metatitles are where the keywords go,
And where your website is put on show.
Use them wisely and you could be banking,
On a site that’s near the top of the ranking.

A final word for those who wonder,
If using keywords is a major blunder.
If you use them with care for content that’s clear,
You’ve got absolutely nothing to fear.

Google knows, it’s pretty clever,
And will reward you for your endeavour,
The more you write and the more it’s shared,
From pandas and penguins your site will be spared.

Reap the rewards and watch your site,
Soar up the rankings to an all-time new height,
And pandas and penguins will remain for you,
Those cute little animals you find in a zoo.

 ©Alison Hughes May 2014

Thursday, 8 May 2014

BP14 - the poem

A conference in Budapest, that sounds like fun,
Many on offer but this could be the one.
A conference a year is my ultimate goal,
Good for my business, even better for my soul.

Fast forward some months and it’s fait accompli,
I arrive at the hotel, two colleagues with me.
The rain pours down, the thunder booms,
The man on reception messes up our rooms.

But all is soon forgotten as we head for the city,
And are taken to a cafĂ© that’s really rather pretty.
After a convivial evening, I know one hundred percent,
It’s going to be memorable, money well spent.

The morning dawns, the real work starts,
The focus a profession so dear to our heart.
A job we love, our true vocation,
Of course this has to be translation.

A keynote speech with a panel debate,
The market is changing, so what is our fate?
The overall consensus: we will find our way,
Good translators are here to stay.

Feel and think like an expert, act like one too,
Wise words from Marta that certainly ring true.
Knowledge workers must all join the campaign,
It’s not our fingers, it’s what we do with our brain.

Specialise, stand out, offer something more,
Know what you’re good at, find an area you adore.
Working with others is a viable option,
Nigel Saych has a system ready for adoption.

SEO, branding, Easling, transcreation,
Tourism, medical, quality, collaboration.
The programme is vast, the topics diverse,
Far too many to include in this little verse.

And after the learning there’s plenty of fun,
Time to relax, the hard work is done.
Networking galore, meeting friends new and old,
Business cards exchanged, experiences told.

A cruise on the Danube, the view is divine,
Good food washed down with exquisite wine.
Some translators dance, others entertain,
We all welcome the chance to rest our brain.

After a gala dinner some head to the baths,
Others gather at the hotel to enjoy a few laughs.
As wine bottles are emptied, our sad thoughts we banish,
Our new-found friends are not going to vanish.

With social media we’ll all stay in touch,
United in an experience we enjoyed so much.
And as for the next one we’re relying on one man,
Conference organiser extraordinaire, Csaba Ban.

The ITI conference - a poem

The place is Gatwick, the month is May
The Hilton Hotel is where we’ll stay

The Hilton? What’s the reason why?
It’s this year’s conference of the ITI

Masterclasses a choice of four
Technology, money, could you ask for more?

Working the room is the other choice
Helping translators to find their voice

Drinks and dinner round off the first day
Before the conference gets underway

Soap and drugs, workflow and planes
CPD, export, social media and games

A yoga session to help us unwind
Stretch our limbs and empty our mind

Professional photos taken on site
A chance to get our image just right

Line dancing, whose idea was that?
Yes please I’ll have a sparkly hat

As Sunday dawns there’s lots in store
Quality, patents, contracts and more

Keynote speakers entertain and inspire
Figureheads we all admire

A final break with cakes and tea
Then singing translators with “Stand by me”

At the summary session we take a seat
And soon realise we’re in for a treat

A conference video has been prepared
And we’re the first to see it aired

Next it’s feedback, all positive of course
All in one voice, if a little hoarse

We ate and drank and had some fun
And learnt to look after number one

With knowledge gained at every session
We’ve pulled together as a profession

Hailed a success by all attending
For the conference committee a happy ending


Of course I’ll go, it’s something new
And definitely time my business grew

The event is free so that’s a plus
Networking? Don’t understand the fuss

I’m no shrinking violet, or so I’m told
So what’s the problem for one so bold?

New cards, nice suit and business head
I’m ready for action… what’s that you said?

No, it’s my first, of many I hope
It won’t be easy but I’m sure I’ll cope

Dam and blast it where’s the map?
Not yet a panic, just a bit of a flap

OK I’m not early, but not that late
Just remember it’s not a date

No-one is waiting just for you
But, oh my God, what do I do?

With a beating heart of increasing pace
I scan the room for a familiar face

I’m on my own, there’s no other way
I’ll just have to think of something to say

I approach a group deep in conversation
But stop in my tracks as the topic’s inflation

Deciding I need some time to think
I head for the table to have a drink

I grab a water and down it in one
Desperately fighting the urge to run

Group number two looks a better bet
Just need to do it, no time to vet

‘Do you mind if I join you?’ I say to be nice
It does the trick and breaks the ice

‘My name is Jan’ one says with a smile
Is this your first event in a while?

‘Yes’ I say, ‘well to tell the truth.
First event ever, shaky hand’s the proof.’

‘Only my second so I feel your pain.
But little to lose and lots to gain’

Her words of encouragement are all I need
I join the group and am soon up to speed

Explaining the work of a freelance translator
I discover a client who may need me later

Cards are exchanged and it’s time to move on
Somehow I no longer feel so forlorn

It certainly wasn’t as easy as expected
But a couple more and I could have this perfected.

My new office

Time to extend, house is too small
There’s just no room for eating at all
The bathroom’s tight, I’m sure of that
Definitely no room to swing a cat
And maybe, maybe there might be
A place to build an office for me.
There is, the builder has said ‘yes’
I just can’t wait to move my desk
Into a room that has a door
Something I didn’t have before
A space I can call my very own
Where I can work and be alone
In a busy house it’ll be a plus
Though the boys don’t understand all the fuss
Wallpaper, chandelier and paint
It’s all been bought but built it ain’t
There’s work to be done and walls to come down
In a sea of dust we begin to drown
Simple dinners are perfected
While sink and dishwasher are disconnected
Translations continue but the noise is bad
I’m very close to going mad
And then the bathroom wall’s erected
Making the office smaller than expected
So I wait with bated breath
To see how much space I’ve been left
My plans were grand so it’s quite a blow
I can’t help feeling rather low
But work goes on and I understand
A bigger bathroom will be just grand
The kitchen’s fab with a place to eat
To sit round the table will be quite a treat
And the office, between me and you
It’s actually fine and quite bijou

The new client…

I click on ‘send’ the job is done
Delighted with the new client I’ve won

A bite to eat, then time for class
A yoga session, last on my pass

Paying for five is quite a saving
And I need a stretch, my limbs are aching

Changed, mat in hand, I head to the car
But alas I don’t get far

The ringing phone not yet on silent
Displays the number of my new client

Extra files, what did he mean?
Were there files I hadn’t seen?

How on earth did this occur?
The week’s been long, the start a blur.

No no, these files I wrote this morning,
I do apologise for the lack of warning

I’m afraid they’re urgent, is that OK?
I hoped to have them by end of day

Of course I’ll do them right away,

Well, what else was there to say?

That elusive word…

You know yourself, there’s always one
A word you know that just won’t come

Maybe a break, a little chat
That’s all I need, I’m sure of that

Logged onto Twitter, I clear my mind
Not really noticing I’m getting behind

Some time later, no progress made
I realise I’ve been waylaid

Back to the text, I stare at the screen
Search for synonyms, there are umpteen

But not that word I so want to find
The one that’s stuck at the back of my mind

Put on a washing, that’s what I’ll do
And perhaps a little tidy too

I head downstairs, head on a cloud
Trying to repeat the text out loud

It must come soon, I know it’s there
Only problem is I don’t know where

Oh well, twelve o’clock, it’s time for food
Chicken in the fridge looks particularly good

I settle down, my lunch before me
Two tasty sandwiches, a cup of tea

I turn on the telly to see what’s new
Then suddenly I stop mid-chew

That’s it, that’s it, the battle’s won
I charge upstairs past a startled son

A perfect fit, the search worthwhile
A good translator goes that extra mile

The deadline

Ten thousand words for Friday
OK that should be fine

Two thousand words a day
A good steady pace I must say

Day one and all is going fine
It’s telly tonight with a glass of wine

Day two and a favourite client asks
Would I have time for a couple of tasks?

They’re not too long so I say ‘yes’
I set to work and hope for the best

Then day three my phone goes ‘ping’
A dental appointment I’ll have to fit in

So day four dawns and I’m a bit behind
Tonight there will be no time to unwind

My tooth is sore but there’s pills for that
I can’t stop now, need to work out flat

Tomorrow is D-day and there’s no time to lose
It’ll be late tonight and goodbye to booze

Ten pm and my eyes bright red
I decide it’s time to go to bed

Next day I rise at the crack of dawn
And drag myself to the shower with a yawn

An early start and no lunch today
And I’ll make the deadline at end of day

It’s two pm and all seems just swell
Then the school phones, ‘your child’s unwell’

Panic?... no… well yes… but no
It’s got to be done so off I go

Deep breath, deep breath, that driver’s an ass
Wish I hadn’t missed my yoga class

Back home and child tucked up in bed
I sit for a minute trying to clear my head

Just the final read through to go
And you know what? It’s starting to flow

I look at the clock and it’s just gone four
Looks like I’ll be delivering early once more

As I press send, I think ‘what the heck?’
Here I am a total wreck

What happened to that resolution?
Pacing myself was to be the solution

Well there’s always next time says I
Oh aye, oh aye… and pigs might fly