domingo, 15 de novembro de 2015


I’ve joined Babelcube early this year, while I was still giving English classes.

It is a relatively new company which operates mostly online, where indie authors and translators from practically everywhere in this world meet for interesting partnerships. The contracted payment for book translations there is based on the sales performance the respective works will attain. I found it a very good idea. Then I joined both as a translator and as an author. My book Poesia Amadora, which I wrote in Portuguese, includes a short sample of translation. There is a page originally written in Portuguese by one of my brothers. I find said page beautiful then I translated it both into English and into French. Now my book is being offered to fellow translators from anywhere for translation into any language. Apparently no one has wanted to do this translation up to now, but translating poetry is really something difficult and no translator should ever wish to get either rich or famous by translating my book. I can understand this universal rejection my book is getting, since I don't feel like translating myself it into any of my languages, despite all freedom of expression I would enjoy under such circumstances. The number of poetry books I’ve at the site is small and that of translations for poetry is smaller still.

I’ve been a translator by trade since 1985. In such a capacity I have already translated practically everything thinkable all along, like technical stuff of almost all kinds, material for internal use in great companies, academic stuff, and so on, including some books.

My average of books translated per year was zero dot something until last year, before I found this interesting possibility, since in thirty full years I had translated, in all, less than thirty books, some of which I never knew whether they have been published or not.

After finding Babelcube, everything changed.

Hitherto, I’ve already signed seven contracts for book translation with them, five of these I have already translated, four of which have already been published, and three of them were rated with five stars by their respective authors.

My very first translation there was an American work titled How to Publish Your Book, by Justin Sachs that I translated into Portuguese. It is an interesting book full of useful tips for writers, like how to write a good query letter to publishers and a lot more. Especially interesting for indie writers who intend to reach the American market, obviously. This translation is still “waiting for publication”, as I still see in my page concerning this book.

Then I picked another American work to translate into Portuguese, The long Cutie, by Dan Alatorre. This has finally been published a couple of weeks ago, to the complete relief of my attendance anxiety. I also liked to see the five-star rating given by this author there with a comment that read: "Great job! Highly recommended". I began to like this kind of tiresome but very interesting game.

Next I picked an Italian author, Roberto Coppola, whose original book is titled Anche Tu Poliglotta. I also translated that into Portuguese and the book is now published as Você Também Poliglota in my translation. It brings lots of tips for self-taught polyglot studies, assesses and suggests some methods to follow and offers an interesting and flexible plan through which any person can reach an upper intermediate level of communication in four languages by studying each for about six months. This author also gave me five stars there for the translation I did.

After this I translated a Spanish author, José Vicente Alfaro, who wrote an interesting novel, El Llanto de la Isla de Pascua into Portuguese. The work was completed within the contracted term and is finally published.

Meanwhile, a Brazilian author called Johann Heyss invited me to translate his book Iniciação à Numerologia, into Italian. It was my first invitation by an author, in the previous works I chose the book and proposed the translation. He is a translator himself and his mentioned book has already an English version (done by himself), plus a French, a German and a Spanish one. Of course he could have invited an Italian translator from those with a Babelcube profile and he doesn’t know me at all outside the Babelcube context. I underwent the whole process, translated a ten-page sample he approved and after this we signed the contract. I’m still working in this book, for which I asked a comfortable deadline and, if necessary, I can always request an extension.

Well, foreign authors also seem to have liked my profile. For instance, an Italian, Demetrio Verbaro, requested my translation of a novel he wrote, Il Carico della Formica into French. Then again, he could easily have chosen a native French translator for this work, but he chose me, and eventually a contract was signed. Now I find myself translating a book from a foreign language into another. Luckily I can count on a francophone girl as a partner to read my translation trough and weed out my misspellings, grammar mistakes and stuff of this kind. Her name isn’t in the standard agreement signed, though; she hasn’t joined Babelcube yet. But we’ve had some previous partnership experiences mainly with translations involving French before and never had any kind of problem concerning either work or money.

The seventh contract I signed this year was for a book of poems written in Spanish by Mois Benarroch. His poems in Esquina en Tetuán are very good to read in the Spanish original. I proposed its translation into Portuguese because I have always wanted to translate poetry and then see the translation published. Everything ran smoothly enough and after getting this last contract I did the translation at a good clip, to my own surprise. Now there is one more book published and I also got my third five-star author rating.

I don’t have the slightest idea of what financial benefits I’ll get from this translation rush I decided and had the opportunity to enter this year. Too early to know and there’s no point in trying any guesstimate. Each new book launched will perform as the Market wishes. No minimum sales guarantee is possible, as far as I know. I believe some of these books stand a chance of selling relatively well, in which case I’ll have my efforts decently rewarded, at long last. My expectations are not unrealistic, however. It is sensible to expect results compatible with my efforts but in fact there is no telling. Even if all my translations end up performing lamely in terms of sales, at least I’ll still have a good number of recent works to bear witness to my stamina, my linguistic versatility and competence, etc., and after all this will serve some purpose, at least by granting me a relative "visibility" as a translator, which no doubt means something already, in business.

I have been spreading the news about this work through internet sites like some social networks, even through my blogs. I know this alone doesn’t represent much of a publicity effort, but I’m convinced some sort of positive effect will end up showing its face.

By the way, you can visit my public Babelcube profile:

quinta-feira, 30 de abril de 2015


In order to resume my readings in philosophy, I recently got two books from a fellow teacher who’s also a polyglot, a writer, a theologian, a translator and a philosopher. One of those books provided a sample of her work as a translator while in the other I could know her as an author as well, all that interesting in its own right.

When I got home with those books, to my surprise, my 20 year old son showed an interest in reading these books himself, too. I lent him the books and told him to read them through first, since I was busy with other kind of stuff at the moment. Still more surprised I got when he told me in short what he read in the preface of one of the books, since it was in French. I simply didn’t know he could understand so well a couple of pages written in French.

The first time I saw my colleague after that, of course I told her this story about my son and her books, and she seemed to find a father’s ignorance of his own son’s ability to read in a foreign language unusual.

Back home that day, I told my son about the interview entertained with my colleague, author of the books he was reading. He just commented, “I didn’t know I could read French, either”.

segunda-feira, 17 de dezembro de 2012

For a Start Again

The very fist post here, of 2008, is back now, that I finally learned how to post videos in my blogs. A revolution is about to break. The original post read:

I'm a newcomer in the virtual world. And a latecomer, in a sense. The leftovers thereof do serve me right. I love them, though. There can be no denying.

This blog is for my English-speaking readers. I already have some, and God knows how many they may eventually become. I have been placing comments on blogs the world over, and those who return my visit usually have to rely on automatic translation to get an idea of what my blog in Portuguese is about.

So, no more guesswork. I'm writing here directly in English now. I hope this intiative will eventually improve my linguitic skills, of course depending on how much return in visits and comments I get.

In order to earn a living, I use to work as a freelance translator. Later on I may share further information about that, principally if I happen to get comments by colleagues from wherever my new blog may reach.

An initial experience I intend to share with you now, for a start, is my attempt at a singable English rendering for a well-known Brazilian song by Suely Costa, who gave me permission to blog it.

"Coração Ateu".

The video already comes with original lyrics. Then my English rendering, which I endeavored to make singable. Stressed syllbles are boldfaced for easier matching:


This godless heart of me got close to believe
In your hand, nothing more than just light goodbye
Brief bird that upon a landing in my hand
Flapped its wings and flew away

My heart went out a certain while in promenade
Into the night and for a garden did it seek
A yellow flower, such a long-attendance flower
Right this old godless heart of me

I speak about myself, not you, in that this very moment
I just bid farewell
This godless heart of me won’t cry and won’t remember
Parts, and goes its way

quinta-feira, 24 de novembro de 2011

Me and My English Across Borders

What news could I reasonably expect for this blog to which I only turn on occasion now, as a rule with light stuff?

At best, some newcomer who'd come across it and say hello here, right?

This best expectation did materialize through Betty.

Betty, an American from (or living in) Baltimore I met by chance in a Linked In group gave me the honor to show up here and not only greeted me but left her comments on a number of old posts, following the timeline. She wrote a book I wouldn’t hesitate ordering, if I were a little better off now. My other readers can check all that for themselves just by clicking where she left comments here.

Other persons I met thanks to internet also took cognizance of my blogging and let me know of it.

Gabriela is a translator from Argentina and she runs a translation office there. She told me that a comment I wrote in a discussion stirred her curiosity and then she came to see my blogs. She knows a whole bunch of languages and is very good at them all, one of them being Portuguese. So she could read from everything I write. She commented through e-mail even on posts of my Bonde Andando. Her first message to me read at its head "Nice to e-meet you". What an opening, isn’t it?

Another colleague from another international list of translators first-named Dorothy came to visit my blogs and told me so. She had seen my introduction there and felt like knowing more. Her own records are impressive, indeed. She is successful as a translator; she travels a lot the world over and was born in France. We began communicating in English and so we kept doing. After many e-mails about translation, an exchange of résumés and this and that, she told me she's going to give me some work to do when something fit comes up. Naturally I'm rooting for that to happen soon. Bills keep coming fierce as usual, don’t they?

Then there's Patty, a very good poet from Poets group, again at Linked In. She accepted some contribution of mine and expressed beautifully her appreciation for my Rights, there. We got virtually acquainted and then I found her at Facebook. We entertained online conversation yesterday. She told me of her impressions this blog gave her in a ten minute chat. Used as she is of reading varied and lengthy written material on a daily basis, she’s really skilled at assessing fast someone’s style, correctness, etc. She told me she likes my English. Oh how good it feels knowing of this from her!

Marna was the first international visitor this blog received. Our interblog dialogue began with my visit to one of hers. I left a comment on sheet music reading then and we began this wholesome interchange of ideas, now extended to Facebook, too.
I think of her now as of a next door neighbor, though I never saw her except in photos and never heard her voice.

Such generously stated and reinforced appreciation I receive from these virtual friends and acquaintances makes me wonder if I really deserve it. I wish I do.

quarta-feira, 21 de setembro de 2011

With naturalness, naturally

Since I’m a Brazilian translator, I'll naturally restrict my examples to the pair English-Portuguese, in either way.

Unnaturalness in translation can be lavishly exemplified, by resorting to anything translated automatically by any of the tools now available therefor. Bad human translators will also contribute a lot of these unhappy examples.

I know a blogger whose stuff is read by too many people from too many places. He has his posts translated automatically. Anyone can see the texts so translated are invariably clumsy, hard to understand, full of absurdities, incoherent, in short, they simply never sound natural. No wonder. Anyone but those who believe something automatically translated is adequate to be ‘served’ to a multilingual readership can see how texts are impoverished by direct machine translation, without at least a competent review.

Delivering the raw translation made by Google Translator, for instance, to readers of another language may seem almost unthinkable to anyone who has the slightest idea of what a well written text is. However, that’s just what some people out there are doing. No kidding. You’ll certainly get plenty of sentences which sound now stilted, now unintelligible, nonsensical and utterly ridiculous.

These automatic translating resources do not work in much the same way as we humans (the ‘natural’ translators) use to. For one, most of them, as far as I know, work for free. We humans also make mistakes, of course. The great difference I see lies in the fact that we, at least, stand a chance of ever feeling ashamed for such mistakes.

Onn the other hand, there is no point in praising a machine translator for an outstanding performance, is there? or in telling it off on account of a shabby, unspeakably ridiculous rendering. It is supposed to react with exactly the same indifference to either the highest praise or the harsher scolding, aren’t I right?

What is the point in expecting any naturalness from a machine? It can’t react to any opinion, it can’t understand anything at all, it can’t make any sensible choice to fit situations or circumstances, it can’t consider what it takes in order to choose how to say what to whom, it can’t translate with minimum taste or expertise. Only we humans, who have the experience of using a language as a tool for real communication, can supply any degree of naturalness in translation.

There is much to be considered when you translate, if you want to sound natural. First of all, you have to understand very well what is being conveyed in the original text, and you should also be able to guess certain intentions on the part of the author. For instance, when an author says/writes something only to be funny - no matter how successfully - if his translator just can’t guess this, and worse still, treats the would-be joke as something serious, something important will certainly be lost in translation. No naturalness will be attained. The language used in a given situation may be full of metaphors that give color to the original, but hell to the translator, unless if it is a machine, who isn’t anyway supposed to care for naturalness, adequateness, taste, etc...

Many a time I saw expressions like ‘How far is far?” translated into Portuguese as “Quão longe é longe?” True, it is a literal, word-for-word translation. The problem is that no Portuguese speaker would ever think of asking such a question this way. It is on the whole unnatural. There are human translators who don’t seem even to suspect how unnatural “quão longe é longe” sounds. These will never be good translators before they manage to make such an obvious realization. Machines will never be good translators at all, in this sense, before they can understand what is being said and react accordingly.

I don’t think a cold machine is likely to make the right decision when ‘good morning’ can be translated literally as ‘boa manhã’ (if that’s what these words really mean, for example, in “I spent a very good morning with them”), or when to translate it as “bom dia”, a usual greeting. As a rule, human translators are.

Expressions like “both A and B are …”, according to my experience, are too often translated as “ambos A e B são …”. Laughable, to say the least.

In order to translate even objective, predominantly referential texts with naturalness, the person (or machine, if it were possible) should possess both a lot of experience with the target language handling and a sound knowledge of the source language. In the absence of both, it’s simply impossible, for either man or machine.

segunda-feira, 5 de setembro de 2011


I'm giving private classes again.
A new friend's wife had picked my phone number somewhere, so he gave me a ring a couple of days ago.
After a short introduction, we appointed a first class which took place at his house.
He is in his early thirties and wants to acquire a working command of the English language for professional reasons. He is in marketing, has a university degree and now he has to learn English, otherwise he will be doomed to stick to his present position in the business.
I had sent him some exercises by email, which were used in our first training session. He began to understand and use basic structures of the language by manipulating them himself in the way I had shown him.
He was glad to see by himself that the whole stuff works.
This kindled in him justifiable hope. He had already tried 'fashionable' methods which are expensive but led him to no progress worth mentioning.
Let's see what comes next.

sexta-feira, 6 de maio de 2011


I'm nuts. Plain like that, I am, and that’s all.
I don’t expect you to believe a word of what I am writing here (even if you are also nuts like me, which I have no reason to believe), despite the fact that I'm talking so shamelessly about myself (not at any rate my favorite subject, however much I resort to it while blogging).
In fact, I suspect my very wording here discourages belief in my nutness, but this won't make me any less nuts, though.
Then my hard-to-believe nutness.
If I want to explain it, it is highly advisable to do so understandably, otherwise in the end I won’t have explained a thing to any possible reader. I suppose I can do this, but the better I explain my own nutness, the harder to believe it naturally gets.
So, whether you believe me or not, I'm stating my nutness here. What the hell am I doing that for? This is something I don’t know myself, which makes good sense if you bear in mind that I'm really nuts.
The strangest fact about my nutness is its intriguing implausibility. Things I say do sound sound, and things I write usually sound still more so. There seems to be no way out.