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taifwa: I think this counts as one of the saddest and stupidest things I’ve been told in my entire life. Worse than my old piano teacher, who told me repeatedly at nine years old that I would amount to nothing — at least that was an opinion of me rather than a statement of principle.

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Re: “Native language”

[the following is a reflection in response to a friend’s article; read that one first ]

A rule of thumb I have sometimes heard in the world of translation is that you should only really attempt to translate into your “mother tongue” or “native” language. My friend Anne, a professional translator both from English to French and French to English, recently posted on this topic, highlighting her particular situation of not having one sole “native” language, but rather two. She quotes a passage from a book by David Bellos:

What matters is whether you are or feel you are at home in the language into which you are translating.

In this way, bilinguals can asses their own ability to perform translations to their chosen languages.

Whilst this is fine for general conversation and personal satisfaction however, business is another matter, and I do not doubt that some persons of lesser ability may still bill themselves capable of the bidirectional feat — how then does a customer to such service then shape their yardstick?

I myself feel quite capable of translating freely between English and French, having been brought up in English for the first 9 years of my life by a language and poetry-loving father, and then in French for the ten years that followed that (albeit in an international school, so my street jargon might not be totally up to scratch in either dialect). But after having worked in a support role in both French and English, acting as a translation pipe between our American engineers and our French/Belgian/Swiss customers, the limits of my ability became quite apparent in the highly specialized world of I.T. and business. Process jargon and turns of phrase, managerial talk, technical speak, and the oh-so-French habit of turning one’s nose up at loanwords in preference of natively French terminology make for some jarring live translation, and lengthy deliberations on how to word emails.

So whilst I am very much at home talking in French, doing business in French, and even doing some creative writing in the langue de Molière (and you wouldn’t know I wasn’t 100% French, if that even means anything in this context), I could not allow myself to claim the ability to translate from English to French at a professional level. French to English however – fine. I would even tackle poetry translation in that direction.

Which raises another point – it is not sufficient for a person to speak a language to claim mastery over it. I know of many, many English-speaking persons who couldn’t paraphrase an idea in their own language properly, let alone express themselves in another language (it is also said that proficient foreign students of a language often fare better grammatically than the native speakers, but I digress). Ultimately then, it really doesn’t matter how “native” a language is to the translator. What really matters is how much time they’ve spent trying to use it properly and variedly.

So if a good translation comes from a good translator; and a good translator has studied their languages diligently; and you do not need to start out as a native speaker to go on to study a language diligently; then it follows that you do not need to be a native speaker of a language in any sense to professionally do professional translations – quod erat demonstrandum, and I rest my case.

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Kara – by Quantic Dream Aside from the technological capabilities of the PS3 (Sony does it again – w00t), this video is very interesting from a more… philosophical standpoint. I’m what one would call a “fan” of Ghost in the Shell, a Japanese anime series, iconic in the world of robotics geeks and cybernetics nuts.

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This appeared on my facebook timeline just now. I suspect it’s one of those YOLO-esque statements, which many people on the comment thread seemed to be interpreting as “In a perfect world, there are no limits.” The “no limits” interpretation does not fit: the mathematical expression for such a statement is:[x->c] lim f(x)=∞ The original

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tessaviolet: blua: #IT’S REAL AND LOOKS TINY BECAUSE OF THE SHORT FOCAL LENGTH I can’t brain this. They look like miniatures. The focal length has nothing to do with this effect at all. At great focal lengths, focus blur can still exist – the key is the proximity of the subject to the lens. Typically,

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As you approach the shiny building it disappears! How things change… How maps aren’t sync’d!

Rasterbator – Print huge, preserve quality, save ink!

Rasterbator – Print huge, preserve quality, save ink!

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What’s so special about this photo? It’s taken in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, around 01:00 (middle of the night), NORTHWARDS. There is no light in the sky in the South. None in the East Nor in the West. Only in the North is the sky lighter. It’s coming from the sun, on the other side of

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Tai-tai Chow Mein

I’d like to keep note of a particular stir fry that I recently “came across” (by which I mean, I threw things into a wok somewhat arbitrarily, just obeying my own rules). It’s a sweet and tangy chow mein that can be served up in about 20min from start to finish.

You’ll note that I do not specify any measures. I’m also a bit meh on the actual ingredients. I only list what I myself used. Please do experiment. I’ll leave that up to you. Suffice to say on the ingredients:

a) Seq A = a little goes a long way. Just be sure to comfortably be able to coat all the contents of Seq B.

b) Seq B = stuff that’s going to need some cooking. For potatoes and beans, you may want to consider par-boiling.

c) Seq C = any veg that needs little to no cooking at all. Chop small-ish (but not too small).

d) Seq D = your carb representatives. Could be noodles, could be rice, could be couscous… could be fries. Only requirement is too cook them before adding to wok.



[Seq A]
-sesame oil
-vegetable oil
-chili oil/paprika
-oyster sauce
-dark soy

[Seq B]
-Chicken thigh/dark poultry, cut thin (4cm girth)
-any long-cook veg, diced small.

[Seq C]
-spring onions
-ginger in syrup, or fresh chopped ginger (and honey??)
-any other quick-cook veg you want, chopped coarsely.

[Seq D]
-egg noodles


1a) Boil some water.

1b) Chop the chicken thigh into pieces no more than about 2cm/1inch in girth. I specify chicken thigh as it is fairly tasty in itself; if it has some fat still on it, all the better. You could also use duck; or chicken breast, with extra chicken stock added along with the noodles later. Not sure what would happen to venison/game in this recipe…

2) Heat in the wok the ingredients in “Seq A” (ref ingredients list). Mix them around when sizzling, make sure the wok is fairly hot – but don’t burn these spices! I used cinnamon and turmeric in this recipe because they are fairly light. If you decided on a game or a more musty-flavoured meat, maybe try cumin and fennel or cloves – id est, more fragrances with a bit more punch of their own.

3a) When the wok is hot and the above contents are sizzling vivdly, add the chicken (and any tough veg that needs long cooking). Stir these around and distribute the pieces evenly. Finally, bring to a medium-hot flame/heat (we want brisk cooking, but nothing too intense).

3b) Cook the noodles. This should be fairly quick and easy.

4) Get to chopping your spring onions and ginger, whilst stopping to stir the chicken every 20 seconds or so – frequently what what.

5a) When you are satisfied that your chicken is mostly cooked (but maybe not totally), add the chopped spring onions and giner (and any veg that cooks quickly) and bring the heat back up. Stir frequently – we’re trying to sear and heat these veggies.

5b) The noodles should be ready by now, if not before! Turn off the heat. If you need the noodles to rest whilst the rest of the process happens, drain them, but leave some hot water in the pot and cover. This allows the noodles to remain hot, but also to not dehydrate.

6) Add the (drained) noodles to the wok. Mix everything around. You’ll probably find that if the noodles are still a bit damp/there’s still a smidgeon of water left along with the noodles, you can stir things around a bit longer an mix the flavours better. Avoids that burnt taste.

7) Turn off heat, serve.

A short interview with Bastien Vivès, in which after explaining his technical approach to drawing, he expounds on how he sees his illustrative works as… not illustration.

“Il ne faut jamais oublier que c’est un dessin narratif, donc il a pour but d’aider à raconter une histoire et une fois qu’il arrive à faire passer l’émotion ou le sentiment qu’on a envie de faire passer, ça ne sert à rien d’entrer dans les détails de perfection: le lecteur ne restera même pas une seconde sur le dessin. Je me concentre sur les personnages, je n’ai pas des décors monstrueux. La technique me permet d’aller vite et surtout de tenir; si je passe plus de 2 ans sur le même truc ça commence à devenir difficile.”

“Dans un art narratif le plus important c’est la narration, le dessin est là pour être un outil par rapport à cette narration […] je me considère plus comme un metteur en scène quand je fais des bandes dessinées qu’un illustrateur.”

Below is my translation:

“You mustn’t forget that it’s a narrative drawing, so its goal is to tell a story, and once it has been able to communicate the emotion or feeling, it’s pointless to start refining the details: the reader won’t stay for more than a second on the drawing. I concentrate on the characters, I don’t have extremely detailed settings. This technique allows me to work fast, and most importantly to hang in there; if I spend more than 2 years on the same thing it starts getting difficult.”

“In a narrative art the most important is the story telling, the drawing is there to be a tool for this storytelling […] when making comics, I consider myself more of a storyboard artist than an illustrator.”

This is most interesting as Bastien Vivès is the author of a virtually textless and highly stylised graphic “novel” Le goût du chlore.

Simplicity is key.