Saturday, September 08, 2007

Miscellany, Saturday edition

Listening to Don Giovanni, the soundtrack to the Joseph Losey film. This is one of my many favourite operas, possibly my most favouritest after Wagner. I've heard it many dozens of times and seen it performed live twice, and it never gets stale. The Don is such a wonderful character (well: an extremely nasty, vicious bastard, but you know what I mean); Leporello is the perfect obsequious servant, a worm who dreams of turning; and oh, that final scene with the statue!

Many years ago, I saw a remarkable production in which the Don and Leporello were sung by a pair of identical twins, Herbert and Eugene Perry. They played their roles as the opposite of a split personality: One soul in two bodies. I found it a fascinating, revelatory production (though many disagreed), one of the few cleverclogs-director-productions of any opera which transcended the director's ego to achieve something truly new.

Leporello and the Don are (in any production of the opera) entwined in a relationship of almost incestuous closeness, picking the lice from each other's souls (as Vladimir would have it). Like some married couples, they would be glad to be rid of each other but neither wishes to take the first step. Leporello claims to be appalled by the Don's cruel immorality, but enjoys a comfortable life with him; Giovanni is irritated by Leporello's moralizing, but knows he would never find another servant so willing. They have come to need each other.

Finished translating the second item, which was a set of Powerpoint slides about the institution where Princess is shortly to exhibit some new works, for the annual meeting of its directors and sponsors. Should anyone ever ask you to translate Powerpoint slides, learn from my experience: It is nearly impossible to do this on your own, unless the Powerpointer is the kind of idiot who writes out his entire speech line-for-line onto zig hundred slides. Powerpoint which has been done properly, i.e. as a non-distracting adjunct to a speech, is utterly meaningless on its own! Of roughly forty bullet points, some of which were single words, I guessed three-quarters wrongly because I'd misunderstood the context.

I am now wondering how to charge for this part of the job. Normally translation is charged per word, but done by the sentence or even paragraph (i.e. in semantic units); one seldom has to look up a word in the original language because the context usually makes its meaning clear. In Powerpoint, nobody can hear you scream there is no context—it's given by the speech that you (translator) can't hear. I think I shall treat each bullet point as a sentence, and take the average sentence length from the first document to arrive at a working length and thus at the price.

A new meme is making the rounds. Courtesy of the Little Professor, I give you the Library Meme. It's a very simple one, just a single question: which books do you presently have out on loan from the library?

I've borrowed four books:
  • Elizabeth George, Well schooled in murder
  • Martha Grimes, Inspektor Jury sucht den Kennington Smaragd
  • Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Oskar und die Dame in Rosa
  • Robert Schneider, Schlafes Bruder
and reserved another:
  • Alberto Moravia, Die Verachtung
There, wasn't that just fascinating? Tagged you, you're it.

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Blogger Savtadotty said...

Don Giovanni is my favorite too. I've seen it many times, but never paid much attention to the relationship between the Don and Leporello. The music, on the other hand...yum!

September 8, 2007 at 11:43:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Jenni said...

Books on loan? Just my entire Harry Potter collection - to my mother.

September 8, 2007 at 11:48:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Savtadotty: I hadn't either, until I saw that particular production. It was staged at the Met and filmed for TV broadcast, copies of it are probably to be found somewhere or other.

Jenni: my original formulation of the meme was unclear, it was meant to be books that you are borrowing. Sorry for the confusion. Still, being a library oneself is also a very good thing.

September 9, 2007 at 8:57:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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