lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2019

Superfluous Books

I am correcting the proofs of the second volume of my Las mejores citas de pensadores españoles. Whenever I perform this task, the words of the Spanish philosopher José Ortega y Gasset come to mind. Let me quote from memory and translate myself: "The work of charity most needed in our time is not to write superfluous books."
This thought stresses me. Is my book superfluous, needless, irrelevant, unnecessary?  Am I going to add yet another useless and needless title to bibliographies?
But fear not. There are plenty of dictionaries of quotations in every language. Most do not quote Spanish writers. Some may cite Ortega, Cervantes in dubious translations. And to add insult to injury these books never tell where the quotation is coming from.
The Spanish-speaking student of Hispanic Culture can find here the best of contemporary Spanish thought written by writers and thinkers of the XX and XXI centuries. This is a short chrestomathy of XX century Spanish thinking.
I rest at ease. This book will be helpful to many, I am sure.

domingo, 29 de septiembre de 2019

St. Thomas Aquinas and Latin

Image result for feria del libro viejo madrid

Madrid is holding yet another Second-hand Book Fair in Paseo de Recoletos, near Cibeles. I try to visit the stands in order to keep in touch with my literary youth and recollect old books read as a child. Suddenly my eyes discover Emilio Salgari, James O. Curwood, Emile Zola, Rafael Sabatini... and so many others we can no longer find in the few bookstores that are left open.
Yesterday I saw a two-volume set of St. Thomas Aquinas´ Summa Theologica in Latin. The price was 150 euros. The combination of author, title, and language got me to ponder.
150 euros for a title written in a dead language, few can read today, is a hefty sum. St. Thomas Aquinas is no celebrity -he has not appeared on TV recently!- and Latin is not a popular language people are trying to master.
When nationalisms decided to use local languages and do away with Latin, European civilization lost a means of scientific and cultural communication of great importance. Educated people throughout Europe read Latin, and any book written in that language could cross borders and countries.  Latin was a true Lingua Franca.
Alas, Latin is no more. And yet, there are two volumes of the Summa Theologica wating to be bought for a 150 euros at the Feria del Libro Viejo y Antiguo, de Madrid.
I feel both sad and hopeful.  

sábado, 21 de septiembre de 2019

Acrónimos y la lengua inglesa

Me he comprometido a hacer una traducción del inglés al castellano. Parecía fácil -a primera vista todas las traducciones parecen simples- pero la realidad me ha dado una bofetada de mucho cuidado. El original a traducir está plagado de acrónimos:
"Common App and UC app "

"Complete Info for CCO Questionnaire"

"SAT and ACT tests"

"NCAA Eligibility Center"

"FERPA waiver"

"send GPA verification to Cal Grant"

"FAFSA and CSS Profile forms" 
El traductor tiene que averiguar el significado de los acrónimos y luego traducirlos de la manera más clara posible. Esto requiere tiempo y paciencia.   FAFSA = Free Application for Federal Student Aid, aunque lo traduzcamos no va a a tener sentido para un chileno o guatemalteco. Se lo podemos explicar, claro, que ya sería otra cosa. 
Posiblemente que el inglés tenga más acrónimos que ninguna otra lengua del mundo. Afortunadamente con "acronymfinder" podemos medio resolver nuestra perplejidad ante este dilema. Para CCO encontramos más de 88 definiciones!
LOL = laughing out loud, que también quiere decir Living Our Lives, Limited Operation Life, Low Order Language, Labor of Love, Little Old Lady, Life of Leisure... y más.  

Tomorrow I´ll go to N.Y, from L.A. in  a TWA flight to the UN where I'll talk to some TVA officials from MIT and UCLA and later I'll attend a PTA meeting...Y yo creía que esto de escribir era comunicar, simplificar, orientar... ¡Pues, no!