Sunday, September 29, 2013
Saturday, May 29, 2010
So I made my friends sit through Baaria even though the subtitles were horrible. In the end the subtitles were so bad that I had to rewrite them using Subtitle workshop (an excellent program that I recommend). You can find them at opensubtitles.org.
Translating the film posed several difficulties. First, I couldn't find a copy of the film with the original Sicilian dialogue, just the dubbed into Italian version. Granted, this made translating easier since Sicilian dialect dictionaries are rare outside of certain FBI training programs. Still I don't like the idea of doing a translation of a translation.
Another big issue was the expletives and put-downs. Here's an incomplete list of them and their clearest translation:
ignorante: ignorant person
vastaso: ill-mannered person (comes for the word for "porter" for some reason)
cornuto: literally, to have horns. Used to mean "cuckold".
faccia di porco: pig-face
camurria: an annoyance
craistuneddu: craistu means "kid goat" and eddu is the negative diminutive so this means "bad little kid goat"
vergogna: shameful act. also, shame itself.
morto di fame: literally, dead from hunger. Used to mean "poor person" or something like that
schifo: disgusting thing
fottere: to screw someone over
coglione: balls, ass, or dick. It's not clear. Often used in the construction "scazzare i coglioni" which literally means "to wreck someone's balls/ass/dick" but which isn't accurately translated as "bust your balls" since that phrase mostly means to give someone a hard time verbally.
Most of these don't have simple one word equivalents in English and when they do they don't carry the same amount of vulgarity: either too much or too little. Consequently in my translation the grandma has a bit of a potty mouth even though she doesn't really in the Italian version.
This brings us to the most difficult word of all: Minchia. This means penis in Italian but is used as an all purpose expletive. Where American's would say "oh shit" or "damn!" or any other one-word expletive that opens a sentence (e.i. "Fuck, that's big!") Italians use "minchia". They will also shorten it if they have nothing to express other than astonishment: "mi....!". In one particular case I wrestled with how to translate a particularly difficult usage of minchia for two days before I settled on "no shit". And this doesn't even go into trying to translate all the variations used like "minchiata" screwed up situation, "che minchia" which means something like "what the hell?" and "minchione" which my dictionary gives as idiot but whose construction renders is more like "big fat dick".
Besides the curse words I didn't run into many idiomatic issues. An interesting exception is that at a certain point someone says that a medicine makes him see "green mice" which I translated as "to see pink elephants". I couldn't resist the opportunity to translate one idiom with another of such similar construction even if my friends didn't know that pink elephants was an actual English idiom and not just a Dumbo reference.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I'm halfway through my first week of work and so far things have gone pretty well. I checked in my first batch of code today and although it was a simple task it was nice to know I could get up and running so quickly.
Between quitting my old job and starting my new one I had two weeks off so I went down to San Diego to visit my family and friends. My mom and I watched Baaria, the film about my parent's hometown. Also, Communists. But not bad Communists, Italian ones.
This film has a memorable scene involving a traditional kind of over-sized top that you spin with a long string so it goes really fast. In Italian it's a "trottola". In Sicilian, "strummula". After the film my mom remembered that she had my strummula from when I was a kid so she fished it out for me.
I had to buy a new string for it since the original is lost but this afternoon I had a chance to attempt throwing it. I couldn't get the hang of it though and it kept landing off it's point and crashing. To be completely honest, I never really learned to throw it correctly even as a kid. You're supposed to hold it upside-down in your hand when you throw (see this video) but I always held it right-side up for which I was derided for holding it "girly-style"*.
Eventually I decided to give up on girly-style and try throwing it the traditional way. And what do you know, I got it to work! Now, all I have to do is relearn how to get it to spin on my hand.
*In Sicilian «comu 'na fimmina».
Friday, January 01, 2010
I thought I'd write a blog post since I've been neglecting this poor old blog. I guess everything's moved to facebook now. Even my quixotic debates with conservatives (libertarian and otherwise) have moved there.
It's been a good decade for me. I've got a girlfriend and married her too. I learned to program well and got a good job. My Italian speaking skills have gone from embarrassing to "abastanza bene per un straniero". And I'm now able to sight-read sheet music reasonably well and play things in different keys. I have a lot to be grateful for and I am... very much.
WARNING: BORING PARAGRAPH AHEAD
I woke up yesterday very sick with a vision of a programming language where every variable except local ones were immutable. And returning a local variable from a method would make it immutable. The language would keep track of which methods mutated internal state and would only allow them to be called from the constructor or from a method where the object was local. Furthermore, it would have dependency injection built in. Also, duck typing. Probably someone has already invented a language like that. I should really learn more about language features. I'm to java-centric.
Ok. Enough of that. I was going to make waffles but we have no milk and the food-hole (re: Whole Foods) doesn't ope for another hour.
Posted 8:06 AM
Sunday, November 08, 2009
While we toured a lot of Sicily we did spend some time in Bagheria, my family's home town. While there my sister told me a story she had just heard that had to do with home my family came to live in San Diego.
It all started many years ago when a daughter was born to a family that lived on Corso Umberto (main street) right by the old Villa Palagonia. As she grew everyone in the town recognized her as the most beautiful girl in the village. Now, Bagheria isn't a big town I'll grant you. But even people outside the town agreed that she was the fairest. My sister explained that this woman was considered beautiful for three things: she had dark dark hair, light light skin, and big boobs.
Every week this most beautiful girl had a new fiancée. Partly this is because every man wanted her as his own but partly because - to this day - Italians will describe as "engaged" any couple that has gone out more than two times in a row. At any rate, this woman's heart was finally tamed by an visiting ex-pat that had immigrated to the US years before. After a quickie engagement he whisked her away to America.
Now at the time the US immigration laws stated that you could only become a citizen if you were related to a citizen and lived in the US for 9 months. So after she became a US citizen she brought her brother over who was my uncle by marriage. Once he became a citizen my father's sister could became one and then finally my father and mother. (It's the kind of story that would make Lou Dobbs mad if only my family spoke Spanish.)
I asked my sister if I had ever met this lady and she said that I must have. I don't remember her though. No doubt by the time I saw her time had taken it's toll and she was just another old Italian lady that I'd see at holidays and social gatherings.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
I've put off writing about it but it's been a couple weeks since we got back from our two week trip to Italy and I suppose I ought to write about while it's fresh in my mind.
Though Lisa got to visit Italy when my sister got married we thought we'd swing by to meet with all my relatives who couldn't make it to the wedding.
Since we'd have to transfer at Rome, and since Barbara had never been to Europe we decided to spend a couple days in Rome checking out the sites. It was quite fun and we got to see the Colosseum, Palatine hill, the forum, the Sistine chapel and all that. It was pretty cool although it involved a lot of walking.
It was raining so hard when we arrived Palermo's airport that they shut down shortly after we arrived. Though I had never driven in Italy before we rented a cute little Fiat Panda and made our way to Bagheria, my family's home town.
Despite the rain the town was all aflutter because of the premier of Baarìa, a film about the town directed by native son Giuseppi Tornatore. By that time all of my relatives had seen it more than once and since Lisa and Barbara wouldn't be able to understand it we put off seeing it ourselves till it comes out here in the US. It looks like it'll be awesome though.
Oh no, this is turning into one of those posts that is so long no one reads it. I will continue it later.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
WARNING: Exciting philosophy/physics talk ahead. If you fail to read on I will not take it personally, even if you are my friend.
Photoshopping by Lisa S.
So here I am, reading a Hominids, a sci-fi Lisa recommended and trying to not write boring things about materialism, dualism, and consciousness when I stumble upon this passage of a character talking about consciousness:
No matter how many times you placed a trilobite at the same fork in the road, it will go the same way. A trilobite doesn't think; it doesn't have consciousness. It just processes the inputs of its senses and does what they dictate. No choice is made.Though it's a great book in other respects, this passage is the kind of stuff I just can't stand. Like time-travel in the Back to the Future films - it only makes sense if you don't think about it. Humans are conscious and unpredictable because we tap into quantum mechanical magic!
what we think of as intelligence, as sentience, doesn't arise from some biochemical network of neurons, or anything as crude as that. Rather, it arises from quantum processes. Specifically, [Roger Penrose] and an anesthesiologist named Hameroff argue that quantum superposition of isolated electrons in the microtubules of brain cells creates the phenomenon of consciousness.
Now, I have no problem with fiction taking flights of fancy. But what we're talking about isn't being proposed as fiction. Roger Penrose is a real guy who - the internet informs me - actually wrote a book seriously proposing that human consciousness rests on quantum effects and that indeed - that free will requires Quantum Mechanics since everything else is just "deterministic".
I know this may come as a shock to most of you, but Quantum Mechanics is deterministic. Yes, quantum effects require spawning parallel universes, but the number and composition of these parallel universes is completely determined by what came before. The future seems unpredictable to us only because predicting "the future" doesn't make any sense when multiple futures awaiting multiple equally valid yous.*
The most ridiculous part of this whole line of thinking is; even if QM wasn't deterministic the argument would still fail. If the universe isn't deterministic, than the rules that govern it has some randomness. Well, big whoop. A trilobite doesn't seem any more impressive to me if it employs a random number generator to make decisions. Human free-will would not inspire more wonder if it employed a tiny roulette wheel in the brain.
I'd also like to say that as a student of physics I take offense at someone trying to use the well-deserved respect which Quantum Mechanics has earned in an effort to lend credence to their obviously amaterialistic - and thus unscientific - belief.
*I'm relaying QM as explained by the many-worlds interpretation. The rival theory, termed the Copenhagen interpretation, is pretty silly and posits a magical observer induced wave-form collapse to preserve a single world. Needless to say I see no reason why we ought to accept that.