Volume 12, No. 4 
October 2008


Monica Scheer


Front Page

Select one of the previous 45 issues.

Index 1997-2008

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
A Life without Sunday Nights
by Anne Vincent

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
Whistle-Blowing and Language Professionals: The Case of Postville and Professor Erik Camayd-Freixas
by Eileen B. Hennessy
Navigating in a New Era: What Kind of Education and Training for Translators?
by Eileen B. Hennessy
In Love with Words
by Monica Scheer

From the Editor
by Gabe Bokor

  In Memoriam
Henry Fischbach, 1921 - 2008
by Gabe Bokor
Dr. Marijan Ante Bošković, 1939 - 2008
by Paula Gordon

  Translators Around the World
The Serbo-Croatian Language(s) Today
by Michael Walker

  Nuts and Bolts of Translation
O papel das técnicas de tradução no ensino da Tradução Especializada—o caso dos textos turísticos no par de línguas português-alemão
Katrin Herget, Teresa Alegre
The Seven Steps
by Danilo Nogueira and Kelli Semolini

  Advertising Translation
Skopos in Practice: Building an Appealing Brand Image in the Translation of Soft News
by Zhao Ning

  Religious Translation
God's Translators: A Conversation with Ilan Stavans
by Verónica Albin

  Literary Translation
How to Face Challenging Symbols: Translating Symbols from Persian to English
by Mahmoud Ordudari
The Literary Translator and the Concept of Fidelity: Kirkup's Translation of Camara Laye's L'Enfant noir as a Case Study
by Kolawole, S. O. and Salawu, Adewuni

  Translator Education
The Acquisition of Translation Competence through Textual Genre
by V. Montalt Ressurrecció, P. Ezpeleta Piorno, I. García Izquierdo

  Translation Theory
The Translators' Role in Clarifying Some Misconceptions
by Ferenc Kovács,
CILT, MA, Dip Trans in Business, Law and ICT,

  Translators' Tools
Translators’ Emporium
Getting Graphic
by Jost Zetzsche
The Comparable Corpus-Based Chinese-English Translation—A Case Study of City Introduction
by Guangsa Jin

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

Translators’ Events

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal

The Profession

In Love with Words

by Monica Scheer

   have often wondered if there are other people like me that sensually enjoy the single word, enjoy it like a pastry. I have been a translator for 40 years (subtitling for Swedish Television and doing literary translation) so I have had an ongoing love affair with words for many years now.

We are lucky to live in a world with so many words waiting out there to become our friends and companions!
How did it all start? I was fortunate enough to have a father who was passionately interested in words. One of the first foreign words he taught me long before I started school was ORTHOCERATITE. a cephalopod fossil from prehistoric times. And he pointed it out to me, embedded in the limestone steps of our apartment building. I took that word to my heart.

As time went on I learnt several languages (English, French, Italian, Russian, German, and Spanish) and of course that gives you the possibility of getting more darlings to love (not to kill—that's for the writers!). I return to the theme of sensuality: To me, translating English is like eating a loaf of bread, whereas French and Italian taste like pastries. And Russian...the hardest of them all, but such great fun!

So much for languages, now for the words. Or "Now for something completely different," as my favorites, Monty Python, would put it.

I will start with one of the English examples, that I think of nearly every morning. When I make my tea I use a heart-shaped metallic tea strainer, fitted with a little chain used for removing the strainer from the hot liquid without burning yourself. When I let my tea-filled strainer down into the empty pot, the chain is supposed to remain on the outside. But very often it is mischievous and disappears entirely into the pot. And I have to get it out!

To prevent this, every time I let the strainer down, I say to myself : "Stay PUT." I find these two words together are simply delicious, especially the "put," which underlines the perfectiveness of the action, somewhat like a Russian perfective verb. I feel a slight click somewhere near my heart every time I think "put." But I must admit, this form of incantation doesn't always work!

At the beginning of my subtitling career, in the sixties, we had a lot of American TV series featuring courtroom proceedings on Swedish Television. Since I was so new to all this, some words really got engraved in my mind, such as the judge's answer to the objections: "sustained" and "overruled." Wonderful. Just pronounce them—they melt on your tongue!

"I stand corrected" is another phrase I enjoy, especially the "stand." I can't imagine what it's doing there, but it sure gives me a kick!

The Russians sometimes use a way of agreeing that I find exquisite and an economy of words as well. The dialogue is the following:

"Did you understand?"


In transliterated Russian it would be:



That is, they just repeat the question, now as a statement. What elegance! I have loved it since the first day I heard it.

Of course I understand that most of all this pleasure comes from the fact that I am a foreigner. I look at words differently from the way the native speaker does.

In Swedish, when we agree with a statement, we say "Just det"—precisely. In Italian the equivalent is "esatto"; in Russian, "tochno." And the funny thing is that whenever these words were said to me I felt so very, very clever and confirmed, much more than I would have done in the Swedish context (Just det)!

I have been traveling a lot in Europe, mainly for the pleasure of speaking the different countries' languages, but when I got to Greece I didn't have that much to say! My background was two years of classical Greek in high school, but I remembered the alphabet so I tried to read wherever I went.

And the Greek words came up to me and said hello! It was ever so nice to meet all these old acquaintances again.

There were a lot of shops in Rhodes, selling leatherware among other things. I was absolutely delighted when I saw the label on the handbags. "Derma"—that means skin, in this case probably genuine leather. Well, we all know what a dermatologist is!

When I passed the post office, there was a sign "tachydromos." I knew about tachycardia so it should be something quick, "quick way" to be precise. Perhaps not the best description of the Greek postal services!

My conclusion is: we are lucky to live in a world with so many words waiting out there to become our friends and companions! A joy forever!