This is the first time I have visited this blog this year. Why? I’ve been incredibly busy. Translation is a famine and feast business and we are in the feast part at present. But I have also started the last module of my Post-Graduate Certificate in Family and Local History at Dundee University. Following on from the very enjoyable English Palaeography course I did this time last year I am now doing the Scots Palaeography course. This has been very interesting, apart from any thing else, because it has introduced me to a new language: Scots. I have added a Scots dictionary to my bookshelves, full of interesting words. The course has also given me the opportunity to tackle some more Latin documents and to become more familiar with the Latin abbreviations. This is going to keep me occupied until May.
I have just returned from ten days in Spain, and as usual spent much of it in front of my laptop, translating. I was there for the Carnival (a kind of Mardi Gras, where people dress up) and Andalusia Day.
Right now I am preparing to go to China for two weeks to improve my Chinese. It is not easy to progress beyond a certain point in this country, without travelling to London each week. With the cost of train fares and the cost of travel time (and consequent potential loss of working time) I am reluctant to do this, although I have my eye on a specialist course for next year if I can get my vocabulary up to the required level. Some reactions to my decision to go to China to learn Chinese have been quite surprising, from the “everyone speaks English so why bother to learn another language” to the “why not just get a course on an iPad”. Yes, a lot of people “speak” some form of English, but proficiency levels vary tremendously. There is a world of difference between holding a basic conversation and writing fluent native speaker level English and this is where the translator comes in. We have all chuckled as some of the results of non-native speaker translations into English. As for buying a course on an iPad, well, frankly, I’ve gone beyond that. I want exposure to the native language, I need to increase the number of characters I recognise. Of course, although I am a language junky, this is not just a hobby, but I am intending ultimately to add Chinese to my portfolio.