Friday, March 18, 2016

Adventures in translation

I've started translating and making English subtitles for a new project: the 1973 French TV adaptation of Flaubert's "Education Sentimentale".

This is the only clip of it I've found so far on YouTube. I was interested in it because it has a Georges Delerue score. I actually like this novel better than "Madame Bovary". I like the contrast between the inadequate characters and the historical backdrop against which they're ineffectually moving. This period of French and European history, the revolution(s) of 1848, is not one that I know much about. We always suppose that in a revolution, EVERYONE is fully involved with the great issues, but in this novel the main characters sort of get momentarily involved, then just drift off to some personal matter, only to brush up against the big historical events a little later. It's almost funny the way their rather shallow lives can go on uninterrupted in large part.

I expect Flaubert must have known from personal experience how big events can sort of jog along with commonplace things like eating, buying clothes, going to the theater, etc. I read an English translation of the novel before starting the subtitles. I have to say, the TV series actually brings out the humor in the novel quite well. There's a part in Frederick's short, dumb political career where he goes to address one of the radical clubs in Paris. The whole scene dissolves into a ludicrous parade of nuts yelling about religion, Marxism, art, money and finishing up with a long address in Portuguese that nobody can understand.

Anyway, just by chance Dean drew my attention to a particularly bad example of Google translate.

Justin Trudeau made his grand entrance on the international stage last week when he visited the White House. As usual, he had to give part of his address in French. For some reason, ABC News wasn't prepared for this, and they resorted to some awful robo-translator to subtitle his speech.

Buzzfeed dissected the speech, and the translation, in hilarious detail:

"President Obama I’d love the log trucks”

Please give them to him, Obama.

I'm not surprised Obama's turning grey in this picture.

Big national broadcaster like ABC: hire a translator. He won't cost much, and he'll do a professional job.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

A work of art

I found this sewing machine at a thrift shop last year, and bought it just because it's so beautiful. The light comes on when it's plugged in, and it seems quite functional, but I haven't tried sewing on it - I just like to look at it.

The name on it is Arrow, model 620. As far as I've been able to discover, this is a post-war Japanese knockoff of a Singer machine. (Although the serial number on mine has a letter K before it, not J as was usual for Japanese-built machines, so I could be wrong about where it was built.) After the war, the Americans helped the Japanese switch over to peacetime manufacturing, and one of the things they started making was sewing machines.

These aren't really collectable as far as I know, but they have a good reputation. They're said to be solidly built workhorses, and when they were made they made a dent in Singer's market because they were a lot cheaper than the original Singers.

The names they went under vary. I've seen a picture of an identical machine (in PINK!) sold under the name Bel-Air. I think Arrow was the name used in Canada, Bel-Air was the USA, and there were probably others. I really like the looks of them - they were making them in cheerful colours, and they remind me of 1950s cars. I once saw a stunning royal blue one that I'm still kicking myself for not buying. (Though honestly, how many sewing machines should a person have?)

This one was $45 I think, with the cabinet, although that's pretty worn and needs to be stripped and refinished.


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My favourite sewing machine

I've just realized that I acquired this machine almost 2 years ago, not just last year as I'd thought.

Anyway, I put a post on Facebook about it at the time, but now I figure I might as well include it here, since I've already put up some stuff on the treadle machine.

This is my favourite, bestest machine, partly because it's so good, and partly because of how I got it. I went to an auction out in Osnabruck Center in June 2014. It wasn't an auction held at a farm, which is what I enjoy most, but it was at an auction hall. I went there because there was a nice Victorian rocking chair that looked very similar to one we'd had in my mother's house. I got the chair, but I stayed to the end of the auction just for the fun of it.

By the end of a country auction, usually the best stuff has already sold, and much of the crowd has left, but you do find odds and ends that can be useful. This little sewing machine cabinet came up, and nobody wanted to bid on it. I'd just peeked under the lid to see there was a Singer machine there, but nothing more. As it was clear that no one wanted this machine, I felt pity for it, knowing that it would probably end up thrown into a mass lot of junk at the end and would probably end up going to the scrap metal dealers, so I bid $1.00 and got it on the spot.

I stuffed it into the van with the rocking chair and a few other things I'd picked up and headed home. The next day I pulled it out and took a closer look at it. Althought the cabinet was scratched on top and the wood had been sunned, it was in pretty good shape. The machine, too, looked nice, with no broken or missing parts. It had a serial number and model number: 201K.
When I went online to see what I could find out about it, I was stunned to read that the 201 was Singer's absolutely top-of-the-line home sewing machine from the time it was introduced, in 1928, until it was discontinued in 1963. (The "K" in the model number means that it was built in Kilbowie, Scotland.) This machine came close to industrial quality, and when it first came out it cost the equivalent of a car today! Singer pioneered the monthly payment system for this machine, so people could buy it and earn money doing home tailoring while paying it off.

My machine is a later model, from about 1956, I think. They'd modernized the design somewhat in the late 1950s, and introduced the beige colour, in addition to the original black. Also, it was no longer made entirely of iron, it had some aluminum in it, but it's still very heavy.

It was in great shape, I plugged it in and the motor just roared. Since I'd gotten it for so little, I decided to take it to the Sewing Machine Hospital to get it professionally cleaned and tuned up. So now it runs like a champion, and I've sewn a good number of garments on it already. It only does straight stitch, and I have another machine to do zigzag if I need it, but honestly, I just prefer using this one for everything, it's so enjoyable to operate.