Notes by Autumn Light

On Hebrew, English, translation, editing, and more—by Jonathan Orr-Stav


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Why do many people from the UK dislike the term ‘British English’ just because they have their own regional dialect or accent?

You’re conflating accent with language.

British English is a legitimate term that refers to the use of English in Britain as opposed to the English used in, say, the U.S. or Australia. But that’s a language issue, not accent.

The term British accent is what causes Brits to roll their eyes, because it usually refers to what is called Received Pronunciation, and there are dozens other British accents.

What Brits really dislike is when software refer to British English as ‘British English’, and American English as ‘English’—as though English had been invented in America, and British English was just a derivative. Case in point:

 

(Originally written in reply to a question at Quora.com).


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How, when, and why did Hebrew abandon its original alphabet for square Aramaic?

To quote (loosely) from my own book on the topic, as far as we can tell, it happened in the late third century BCE, when the original Hebrew script was passed over in favor of the Aramaic script by the Sanhedrin (rabbinical assembly) as its script of choice for the biblical canon then being compiled and transcribed.

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Insights of dictation software

dictation-main

In the past year or so—at the instigation of my elder son, who pointed out to me that one no longer needs specialist software for this purpose—I’ve been using the built-in capabilities of my Mac computer to dictate a first draft of works that I have been asked to translate.

It isn’t suited to all jobs—works of a highly poetic nature that require due consideration to find suitable English equivalents, or conversely obtuse or convoluted writing that requires close scrutiny just to work out precisely what the author is saying, often cannot be translated so easily on the fly. However, for clear and well-written prose, it works very well, and has doubled my productivity in many cases (far more than traditional CAT—computer-assisted translation—tools).

Of course, this is contingent upon the dictation software being accurate in its “understanding” of one’s speech. Thankfully, the built-in dictation capability within the Mac is remarkably accurate 95% of the time (particularly if one adheres to idiomatic English). However, here and there it makes errors.

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If ancient Israel had Quora, what kind of questions would they ask?

Ooh boy—that’s a great question. Here are a few, to titillate the palate:

Post-Exodus:

  • Are we there, yet?
  • Why isn’t God allowing Moses to enter the Holy Land? Isn’t that mean, considering all he’s done?

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Meet Targo—my helper and occasional stand-in

1170401-TargoYesterday, after ten years of research and development at the University of Waterloo—including two years of collaboration with yours truly and a small collection of other selected translators and editors around the world—I took delivery of a device that will allow me to take real vacations (not the kind pseudo-vacations I usually have, where I furtively try and get some work done as Mrs. Autumn Light yells at me to get off my laptop and join her in seeing the sights or just truly taking it easy on the beach).

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