vendredi 27 février 2015

No more translations from Jacques Guilbaud

I was sad to hear that Jacques Guilbaud died this week. I didn't know him well: indeed it is only today that I have had the pleasure of perusing his website, which bears impressive testimony to his many interests other than that of being a sworn ("assermenté") translator and interpreter in French and English within the French legal system.

But it was this official status which meant so much to me back in 2010 when I was just starting out as a professional translator. He, presumably over-committed, conferred a set of adoption papers to me, for rendering into English. The job–about ten pages–was notable for being delivered by hand, and I recall that it served as the justification for my first ever purchase of OCR software. (After geeking out on the reviews I opted for ABBYY FineReader, which is... fine). The files that ensued were saved as .odt in OpenOffice (as then was) and thence passed smoothly into OmegaT for segment by segment translation.

Though I say it myself, this was pretty cool and efficient, as I then had little work to do formatting the English version when the translation was completed. The job was equally delivered on paper, and Jacques was kind enough a few days later to judge the translation "immaculate"; quotable praise that was deeply appreciated at the time, as was the cheque which arrived with commendable promptness.

Jacques was old school–he gained his official status in the French system back in 1979, when the idea of a personal computer was an obscure Californian passion, the translator a master of recondite knowledge in communion with a collection of dictionaries, and possibly, if successful, a dictating machine and a secretary. The transcriber of such a tape would have heard a soft Canadian English, with its discernible vestiges from the Scottish highlanders who made northern America their home in centuries past; this I always found entirely delightful to listen to, quite apart from the variety and interest of substance in any conversation with Jacques. He will be sadly missed.

samedi 21 février 2015

No more tracks from Geoffrey Carnall

Geoffrey Carnall 1 February 1927 - 20 February 2015

My father died yesterday aged 88. Much will be said in his memory in the coming days and months by the many who knew him, but the contribution I can uniquely make here is to highlight his brief career as a dub recording artist. At the time he was making fairly frequent visits to various London libraries, researching his biography of Horace Alexander. This meant that I had the pleasure of his company on several evenings. As my great passion at the time was creating tracks in a little digital recording studio I had set up in my front room, it was only natural to offer me dear ole pop a turn at the mic.

Part parlour game, part digital experiment, working under a poster that read "Trust me, I'm an artist," I'd quickly diddle a basic dubtrack into existence, before my father proffered his vocal improvisation, in a single take, ministry of quaker-style. Much more might be said about the detail of the process, but it's perhaps only important to note that the tracks were produced for instant online release on my weblog at the time, entitled "dougie's blog." Edits were light, decisions instant, regrets few, and there's a freshness and spontaneity to these tracks that I still enjoy to this day, besides the obvious satisfaction of immortalizing my dad's voice.

All who knew him are invited to the funeral (483kB pdf): Mortonhall Crematorium in Edinburgh at 1500h, Friday 27 February 2015. No flowers; donations to the Peace and Justice Centre, St John's Church Crypt, Princes Street, Edinburgh