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The Goggo effect

Déjà Vu is an advanced Computer-Assisted Translation (CAT) program, which was introduced in 1993 and became know as the Ferrari among CAT tools. It was developed by the ingenious Emilio Benito of Atril, who sadly is no longer with us. Quote from his obituary by Michael Benis:

A fond goodbye to the king of CAT – It was with great shock and sadness that the translation community learned of the death of Emilio Benito on Sunday, February 8, 2004 at the age of 56 from complications arising from cancer and its treatment. Emilio earned himself a great many friends in the industry due to the innovative strengths of the Déjà Vu translation memory software system he created, his constant willingness to listen to and act on feedback and his indefatigable support for any users experiencing problems, sometimes nothing to do with the software itself, at any time of the day or night, seven days a week.

The term Goggo effect dates back to October 2007, when the Director of HE Translations, who is a long-standing user and indeed fan of Déjà Vu (you can read Herbert’s testimonial here), experienced performance issues, which, as all computer users know from experience, are inevitable with any software from time to time. Here is a quote from the pertinent message he posted in the Déjà Vu user forum at the time:

Déjà Vu is known as the Ferrari among TM tools. However, some of you may remember that I have a serious performance issue relating to my large terminology database that makes Déjà Vu feel more like a Goggomobil  (I remember them well, because my uncle used to have one, and I had a pedal-powered model) than a Ferrari!

Readers who are not familiar with the (hi)story of this classic example of (non-Audi) ‘Vorsprung durch Technik‘ will find the corresponding Wikipedia page illuminating. A 50-year Goggomobil anniversary tribute published in Der Spiegel in 2005 even mentions Ferrari and Goggomobil in the same article! The possibility that this article provided inspiration for the term Goggomobil effect or Goggo effect, as it became known, cannot be ruled out.

The quasi-technical term has has since been used quite regularly in the Déjà Vu user forum in situations where users experience performance issue with the usually outstanding Déjà Vu software. By analogy, the term can, of course, also be used for performance issues with any software, operating systems or indeed other IT-related issues such as internet access. For example, this blog post was prompted by the subject line of a recent message in an IT forum for translators: “Internet Goggo effect despite superfast broadband 😵”

Incidentally, although one of Herbert’s uncles used to be a proud Goggomobil owner, his father had developed an affinity for Italian technology, as evidenced by a Lambretta scooter, followed by a memorable Fiat 600, shown here with Herbert in the driving seat 😂

Peace, prosperity and friendship

A passionate debate has erupted over the grammar of the wording on the new 50 pence ‘Brexit coin’ due for release by the Royal Mint on Friday, January 31 2020. It was prompted by a tweet from high-profile author Philip Pullman last Sunday:

“The ‘Brexit’ 50p coin is missing an Oxford comma, and should be boycotted by all literate people,” he said. Readers who are unfamiliar with the Oxford comma can read the Wikipedia entry here. It makes interesting reading in any case, and has been known to contribute to translation headaches.

Technically speaking, Roslyn Petelin, designer and convenor of the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) WRITE101x – English Grammar and Style at The University of Queensland, has a point when she says Philip Pullman’s Oxford comma ‘rage’ doesn’t go far enough to sort out the problem with the quote, as explained in The Conversation here.

Incidentally, one can’t help wondering why the Oxford comma pontificators didn’t make a fuss before? After all, there was plenty of opportunity, bearing in mind that, long before the previous coin batch with the premature October 2019 date was melted down, a technical prototype batch with the even more premature March 2019 date had to be melted down – see here.

That said, presumably one wouldn’t be too surprised if it turned out that the coin designers were of a ‘closed disposition’ – for explanation see the relatively optimistic assessment of the Brexit situation by Stephen Bush (New Statesman) here – and may have chosen the wording deliberately (or at least subconsciously) to indicate that peace, and in particular prosperity, are mainly intended for the UK, in the spirit of making Britain great again. In which case Roslyn Petelin’s questions: Does “Peace with all nations” make grammatical sense? and Does “Prosperity with all nations” make grammatical sense? would be a red herring.

Except that, according to Wikipedia, the UK is an exceptional case and an unusual example of a nation state, in that it has been described as a “multinational state”, consisting of four nations, i.e. England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Oh dear – back to the grammatical / linguistic drawing board? No wonder Her Majesty is not amused!

Perhaps all this fuss about the ‘Brexit coin’ grammar could have been avoided by using the simplified – and eminently unobjectionable – version of the motto shown below. Simples!

Peace, prosperity and friendship

Question mark in labyrinth

Translating web pages – easy snap or tempting translation trap?

Could you just translate this web page please? Well…

Spider in spiderwebIt’s easy you say, but a simple request that sounds like a snap can turn into a translation trap. Web pages are where we read these days, so why not start the job there and just translate what you see on the website? Well, web pages are actually made up of not just the words and images you see on the surface, but also technical code you don’t see, and styling you do, so you may regret your words when you find yourself swimming in a simmering sea of alphabet soup. And what if the result can’t be served up in a way that can be readily consumed? So before just jumping in and translating web pages, let’s look at what really is on a web page and how the text there might, or might not, mesh with the professional translation process to deliver a successful result – in a final format translator and client can readily use.
Read more

Bauhaus school building in Dessau

From Bauhaus to Baumhaus to Our House via Oz

2019 sees centenary celebrations for Germany’s groundbreaking Bauhaus design school, whose 14 year lifespan influenced art, architecture and design worldwide throughout the twentieth century and beyond. On 8 September The Bauhaus Museum opens in Dessau, and HE Translations have added the word Bauhaus to our growing list of German words used in English, many of them highly influential terms. Read more