Donnerstag, 22. Oktober 2009

an open letter to hip-hop artists

(translated from German blog Jessica Sagt)
Dear Hip-hop artists,
Look out! It could be that you are not prepared for the swiss public. When you say "put your hands up!", Swiss people (perhaps people in all German-speaking nations) will only "put up" a finger. Try as you might, they will not show you their palms. It's also this way in schools. Americans may think that Swiss children mean "we're number one". It's probably something to do with nazis, or perhaps one finger reaches higher than I hand. I don't know.

Instructions in general are dangerous. Although the majority of the audience understand english, it's difficult to understand, perhaps it's the stage or a dialekt thing. "Are y'all ready?!" is more or less understandable. "We gonna need an Ambu-LANCE" is more difficult, especially with a haitian/New Jersey accent (Wyclef Jean, I'm looking in your direction). Instructions should be short, sweet and to the point.

Speaking of understanding, at least half of your audience can barely understand your lyrics. Additional commentary (especially culturally-specific commentary) will not be understood. If you say something about chains, the audience will raise their chains. It's not that they don't care but that they don't understand that you've just said something negative about chains.

Lastly, I want to warn you. Don't be afrain, but be prepared: At the end of your set the assembled crowd will make a strange noise - a groan really. In addition to that, they'll stamp their feet. Surprisingly then they open their hands, so that they can wiggle their fingers at the ends of their forward-reaching arms. This is not evil. They are not trying to put a curse on you. It's not some strange helvetian MoJo. That's just the way they request an encore.

I'm always glad to see my favorite musicians. I hope that this info is helpful and that you'll come again soon.

Your fan

Home is not only where one hangs one's hat

(translated from German Blog Jessica Sagt)
The Switzerland of my childhood was made up of clichés. The ingredients were Ricola advertisements, the film "Sound of Music" and a misunderstaniding of current events. The image was one of green medows, massive Alpenhorns, and a gigantic mountain on which a log-cabin full of politicians was perched.

I've lived in Switzerland since 2006. That's longer than Athens, San Diego, Groton, Fairfax and Philadelphia. When I return to places I've lived before, I notice that a part of my heart still belongs there. Of course, Zürich is much differeint. I remain a foreigner and certain things are still foreign to me, but I've still slowly begun to feel at home. Which means of course that it is time to move again.

2009 will be our last year in Switzerland for a while. Perhaps that is why we've been finding ourselves in the company of tourists recently. This summer we saw a Alpenhorn concert and were present at the Alpabzug (the decent of the cows from the Alps)This winter I will properly snowboard and maybe even return to the Zwieblemärt (Onion Festival) in Bern, or visit Luzern's Basel's Fasching for the first time. I want to take every opportunity to enjoy our home.

For most of my friends and some of my family, Switzerland is San Galen. We married there and that's where they spent most of their time. Zürichers find that entertaining and so do I. What's really funny, however, is when my half-siblings tell me something about Switzerland that I've never experienced. They spent a couple of days in Luzern, a city that the day before yesterday, I'd never seen. I'll never know all of Switzerland, but I look forward to learning more and more about it.

When I've ridden through Washington DC, I still feel bound there somehow. That's actually why there is no question that Ivo and I will return to Switzerland. A few people have voiced their concerns. They should know that our hearts are big enough. We have room enough for new cities and new friends without pushing Zürich into second place.

Mittwoch, 21. Oktober 2009

more mulling from Switzerland

I've begun my translation courses and am continuing my language courses and have never heard the words "One-language Dictionary" so often in my life. When it comes to French, I still very much require a two-language dictionary for French, but neither of the two languages are my native language, so that must be good. One thing that I dislike from my courses at ZHAW, is the term "Neue Deutsch". I don't care how tounge-in-cheek it is, that isn't ANY kind of Deutsch! That's ENGLISH!!

So, I'm here in Switzerland and I'm a foreigner and am unable to vote. Ivo totally empowers my opinions when I have them on all things votable, so I feel represented, but I have no legal vote. Meanwhile in the states (until next year) I have a very limited voice in politics. I have no congress person to whom to write. I imagine that when we are raising young children I will be able to be more civicly involved. I'll be operating as a foreigner, however, even if I should become more enfranchised. I come from a country where my mother's was not the first generation to get the vote. I've had some experience breaking news to kids about the imperfections of the world with which we live, but I don't know how I will feel when it is not immediately my world in which they live.
I have become more acutely aware of this problem very recently. I'm all about being supportive of equal rights in the states. I'm excited about politically active in the states while I'm there. I'd love to be more actively supportive in marriage rights. Here in Switzerland everyone's got the same rights to the same marriage statue. Know what I just discovered? The concession that was made in order to get same-sex marriage was giving up on the right to adopt. This is killing me. I'd never heard about this before and am beside myself. I don't know what to do. How does one get politically active in a country where she has no poliical clout? As I get excited about starting a family in the future with the person that I love, how can I not want to be involved in equal rights?

Freitag, 16. Oktober 2009

'ow do you say......nervous?

I'm headed to my first translation class and I'm a bit nervous. Partly because it's a whole new environment, new things to learn, new people. I've never been in a Hochschulekurs in Switzerland before and have nothing to compare it to . Something else that is nervous-making, though is the actual translation. Last night at dinner with my in-laws I was again reminded how individualistic translation actually is.
"I would describe the charachter as dispeptic. How would someone say dispeptic in German?"
There was a back and forth and 'round and 'round that lasted 15 minutes. Everyone had more than two cents to contribute. Instead of listening to the word I wanted to use, Ivo and his dad began throwing in their own adjecties, which they thought better described the Chrachter I would be describing. "Pitbull", "Bitchy"....
One thing that is comforting is that when I heard the word that I will use, it was a gut reaction. That was right. That felt good. "sauerlich" like a sour stomach. Like a dispeptic personality.
Alright, so that felt good. But what about the words like Järzorn? Words where the translation is a few words to describe the one German word. I can't help but feel that that is inadequate. I don't know if my course will teach how not to feel inadequate. I don't even know what I want exactly from this course. I guess that I want it to make me feel confident in my translations.
The innuit don't really have 100 words for "snow" they just have a 100 words for the 100 types of snow that there is: slushy snow, wet snow, dry snow, fluffy snow....... I guess that we need adjectives isn't a bad thing. Just a different thing. I guess the key is knowing which one fits where. Like Konicki's "snizzle", for flurry. I think that I can trust having a good feel for German now and knowing what feeling I want to create with it's English translation. Is that what it is? A feeling? So then what are they going to teach us in translation?
I'm nervous