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The Transodyssey
Thread poster: Aurora Humarán
Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 10, 2005

“Sing to me of the man, Muse, the man of twists and turns driven time and again off course…”

(The World Before and After the Wizard Henry Potterer)

Voice from offstage:

ANNOUNCER And on the eighth day, the word was created:

Haka (performed by CLAUDIA, Quique, ANDREA, JL and AURORA).
The actors take the stage and perform a fragment of the famous Maori haka, with gestures, wigs and all!

KudoZ - - KUDOZ
KudoZ - - KUDOZ
… PROZ!!!

[The actors leave the stage.]

ANNOUNCER Once upon a time there was a place called Planet Earth. On this planet there lived, in perfect bliss, the human beings: a peaceful race who communicated in a single language.

Scene 1

ANNOUNCER: It seems that one day they started to build a tower that would reach the sky. A project like this made them very nervous, as it should. The friction began (“pass me that hammer”, “I’m not passing you anything”, “there isn’t enough paint and my brushes are getting stiff”, “the price of reinforced concrete went up”) and they stopped understanding one another.

CLAUDIA, ANDREA and AU appear. They speak among themselves, thusly:

AU: O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend the brightest heaven of invention…
CLAUDIA: voglio entrare per la finestra
ANDREA: hey, Jude, don’t let me down
CLAUDIA: La donna è mobile qual piuma al vento
ANDREA: why she had to go? Now I long for yesterday
AU: Hombres necios que acusáis a la mujer sin razón, hostias…
(they leave the stage…)
ANDREA and CLAUDIA ask each other: Hostias? Hostias? What the hell do they mean by that? (… It is obvious that they don’t understand…)

ANNOUNCER: And thus became necessary the appearance of a new profession: the interpreters. Thanks to them, people could now understand one another. They faithfully explained to some people what others were saying to them in their own language.

Scene 2
Interpreters and translators

CLAUDIA and ANDREA enter; they are talking but they don’t understand each other.

A doctor, please, oops, I mean…an interpreter, please!!!

[Someone gets up from her seat… it’s Vanina Riccardelli!!! She puts on enormous earphones and joins the play.]

VANINA: One, two, three…testing, one, two, three, testing. Here in the control booth, la Malinche [Cortés’ consort and interpreter], do you copy?
CLAUDIA and ANDREA nod yes.

CLAUDIA: Please, tell this lady she is an idiot, a good-for-nothing, a thief, a con artist.
VANINA: She wants you to know that you are a great woman, so useful to our society, such a reliable and honorable person.
ANDREA: Thank you, thank you, thank you for the compliments. But tell her that, in spite of her kind words, I am not going to change my opinion of her, who I think is immoral, incoherent, disrespectful, irreverent, unrepeatable, irreducible…
VANINA: (looking at CLAUDIA) She loves you too….

[They leave the stage; we don’t know if they are very convinced of Malinche Riccardelli’s interpreting]

(CLASSICAL MUSIC in the background)

*** Vivaldi’s SPRING ***

Enter the TRANSLATOR (Quique, in old-style garments), quill pen in hand. He builds his own set, appearing with enormous piles of books. He starts to write, making grand flourishes with the pen.


When interpreters sit down, they are called translators.
In reality, little is known about translators. For instance, everyone believes that all translators know English. (Ah…you translate from the Ukrainian, then you must “know English.” Furthermore, everybody and their brother think they are translators. After all, a couple of years at the Cambridge Institute are more than enough…)
Speaking of interpreters and translators, it may be relevant to clarify that, although all interpreters can sit down and become translators, not all translators can stand up and become interpreters.
The first translators worked in total isolation, or more precisely, in almost total isolation: they were accompanied by their books, their dictionaries, their books, their dictionaries, and … their doubts! Because if there is anyone who has doubts, it is a translator...

Scene 3
Translating B.H.

(AUthor’s Note: B.H. = Before Henry)

[The TRANSLATOR searches, searches, and researches in his dictionaries with a worried face.
He reads three meanings but…his furrowed brow betrays the fact that they aren’t what he is looking for, they don’t work in the context]

He says:
Let’s see, let’s see…”COLDETE”: (he reads aloud)

1) Said of a plant that grows in Chile. …Hm…. Chile? Chile? Does that mean America has already been discovered?
2) Coldete…one of the hind legs of the centipede.
3) “Small crustacean that lives in freshwater rivers"....…

The TRANSLATOR is left with an uneasy feeling.

ANNOUNCER: But the years went by and technology started arriving on the scene…

Music helps us to travel through time at dizzying speed.

There follows a MUSICAL MEDLEY THAT PROGRESSES FROM THE FORTIES TO THE SIXTIES (among others: Mr. Sandman, My Boy Lollipop, Surfing USA, Sugar Sugar)

[Someone hands the TRANSLATOR a phone; we find out that his name is JEROME]

Hi, Antonio, it’s me!!! Jerome, your old classmate. Remember me? Antonio, I need help with a word, do you think you could check out what COLDETE means? Ah…well, don’t worry about it. Yes, I found those same definitions. Looks like we have the same dictionaries. Thanks, man.

Again the music takes us forward in time….

MUSICAL MEDLEY THAT PROGRESSES FROM THE SEVENTIES TO THE NINETIES (among others: Funky Town, Karma Camaleón, Wake Me Up Before You Go-go, Can`t Take My Eyes Off of You...)

Scene 4
Translating A.H.

(The AUthor doesn’t consider it necessary to explain, or maybe she does? All right then, just in case, the AUthor clarifies that A.H. = After Henry)

ANNOUNCER: There once were two men: Guille Puertas and Esteban Trabajos (Bill Gates and Steven Jobs for Hollywood). A plan occurred to Guille Puertas, but everyone discouraged him, they told him he would end up selling apples in New York. But it didn’t go so badly for them and translators begain to glimpse another possible life when the world-wide web arrived. And the Internet was created.....

Two MONITORS appear onstage: E-MAIL (AU) and GOOGLE (ANDREA) with little boxes for their replies. They are as motionless as they can manage to be.

Someone brings the TRANSLATOR a keyboard (a Commodore 64, perhaps?)

ANNOUNCER: The world starts changing for translators. If a translator wants to know if a word exists, s/he writes it and VOILÀ....

TRANSLATOR: Let’s see, let’s see…”automatización” (he searches in the dicitonaries). No, it isn’t in the dictionaries, but let’s look….in GOOGLE!!!

GOOGLE (in a robotic voice): Yes, the word “automatización” exists and it appears 5,725,368 times.

TRANSLATOR: Wow and triple powwow….Let’s see, let’s see…. what is a coldete? ...

GOOGLE: Yes, the word exists (or is used) and it appears 24,586 (and a half) times.

TRANSLATOR (looking disappointed): Oh well…I’m getting closer to a solution. It exists but …what does it mean?

It wasn’t enough…. (the lights go out)

MUSIC – THE PROZIAN ANTHEM written by the at-that-time-unknown author Enrique Cavalito and performed by Flavio Benedetti. The melody is that of Greensleeves.

[If you want to hear it, you can!!! Jason put it online here:" \t "_blank (sorry, emotional outburst from the AUthor, let’s get back to the play)] lives! (music Greensleeves...)

Alas my friend, I´m in again
looking for a word, searching for a term
I left in KudoZ my cry for help
after browsing in vain through the glossary. lives! Such a worthy place,
where I quote for jobs,
where I meet with friends,
where we can enjoy and share
and some day at a powwow I´ll meet thee!

I am ProZian, and in this place
I find tips and jobs, a community,
and all that help that we give and get,
and the fun and the joy of our company. lives! Such a worthy place,
where I quote for jobs,
where I meet with friends,
where we can enjoy and share
and some day at a powwow I´ll meet thee!

ANNOUNCER : Once upon another time there was a magician called Henry Potterer (Henry Potterer, the Wizard, for Hollywood and the friends of ProzwartZ).

Henry Potterer and the KudoZian Hat

ANNOUNCER : One morning he woke up and said: “I have a dream". He imagined all the translators on planet Earth united, helping one another. Someone said to him: "It’s not going to work, because nobody is going to help just for the sake of helping" (how little they knew about translators...)

But it did work, and a new era for translation began....


A new MONITOR appears: (CLAUDIA)

The TRANSLATOR is beaming radiantly…

At last! This is the life! We have tools! Yippee! Klasse! Bravo! Hurra! Great! Sonofa.., this is so good!…

He works happily at his computer, he chortles, he whistles…

TRANSLATOR: Let’s see, let’s see…what do we have here:

PROZ.COM (she reads a little paper that she takes from her little box):
A United States agency is offering a job of 10,000 words at 20 cents a word.

TRANSLATOR: Wow….that’s for me! (he writes speedily and euphorically at his keyboard…we understand that he is sending the bid…he gives a diskette to E-MAIL)

PROZ.COM: Hey! Wait while I look up a reference for you: Blueboard!!! How good is this agency? Hey! Wait while I get a couple of glossaries for you: Glosspost!!!

E-MAIL (bell rings) You have mail (she opens a little envelope and reads a little note)

“Dear Jerome:
Your bid has been accepted and your previous credits as well.
The translation is attached and we are anxiously awaiting it … as anxious clients will”.
Signed: the Client

(E-MAIL puts a diskette in JEROME’s hand)

TRANSLATOR: I got the job!!! There’s no time to lose. I’m starting right now. He writes on his PC at lightning speed, but suddenly he stops… Nooooo!!! … Not again!!!!
He says: COLDETE!!!! Sonofa…, again!!!! The coldetes have been chasing me for several lifetimes, ahhah!!!! He makes a forced attempt at looking in the dictionary, and gives it up. He tries to make a phone call, and gives it up.
He says: PROZ!!! It’s time to ask for help from my colleagues at ProZ.

But….all of a sudden...

Dear Translator:
We want to know if you can speed up the translation and deliver it one day ahead of time.
Thank you,
Signed: The Client

TRANSLATOR: Hmmm…I’d better not answer……and he goes to

He says: KUDOZ, please.
The three MONITORS turn into translators. JEROME moves upstage to get close to the translators.

He tells them: I need to translate a word and I don’t even know what it means; can you help me please: What is a coldete?

AU: A coldete is one of the rear parts of the centipede. (CLAUDIA shows the public and AU an AGREE)
ANDREA: A coldete is a plant that grows in Chile. (AU manifests a DISAGREE: Not in this context, she tells her)
(JEROME asks the public and himself: Chile? But excuse me, has America already been discovered?)
CLAUDIA: A coldete is also a type of crustacean, it would depend on what country your translation is for.
JEROME…how interesting, we are still debating…. (they continue talking in low voices, while taking “agrees”, "neutrals" and "disagrees" from the boxes.) Thanks so much, colleagues. ProZ is a wonderful thing!!!

He returns to his place.

JEROME: How fantastic…if I had only had when I was a Saint…The Latin Vulgate Bible? I would have translated the Vulgate in a week.
Ready, now, to send off the translation…let’s see, let’s see… where is that bee-yoo-ti-ful little SEND button?

When he is about to click on SEND, GOOGLE falls on the floor. The other MONITORS topple behind it in a domino effect.

The scene freezes. The TRANSLATOR remains frozen.

Enter…a virus!!!! The worm (Gabriel Thomas)….who laughs and laughs... He makes a nuisance of himself, throwing foam in the faces of the public. He takes the stage and goes over to GOOGLE, trying to tickle her; he pesters E-MAIL and
But then who should appear but….MORTON!!! (JL) Morton has a virus-killing hammer, he runs after him, he nuetralizes him, he takes him away. All to the music of Inspector Gadget.

GOOGLE revives, PROZ.COM and E-MAIL revive. But they make crazy faces, THE COMPUTER HAS GONE CRAZY!¡!
In desperation, GOOGLE shouts to the TRANSLATOR: Reboot us!

JEROME mutters: GGGggrrrr….I have a mind to boot you, all right!!!
When he says DELETE, the three MONITORS drop their heads. They don’t move.
He is exasperated. This time he shouts: CONTROL - ALT – DELETE!!!
The three MONITORS pop back up with happy faces.

E-MAIL (bell sound): YOU HAVE MAIL

E-MAIL opens an envelope and reads:

No-longer-dear Translator:
Where the BLOODY HELL is the translation?
Signed: the Client (who was from Spain, as is obvious from the zees)

JEROME (annoyed): Okay, okay, it’s on its way…(he writes at the keyboard) So sorry, esteemed client, I have had some computer malfunctions, but now it’s ready, I’m sending it.
He gives the diskette to E-MAIL.

The TRANSLATOR sits down, relieved, and says: “ at last…I thought it would never come"...

And now…I’m going to take a break in the Forums to relax. I’ve heard that the forums are fantastic: to talk about our profession, to know what my colleagues are up to, classy literature....

The three MONITORS have signs that say SPANISH FORUM.

The TRANSLATOR sits near them, they place their chairs in a semicircle.

ANDREA (standing) recites: “The stars in the heavens, the thorns in the field, and in my bosom a can of sardines is concealed.”

The TRANSLATOR looks horrified and asks, with all the diplomacy he can muster: ...Umm… that’s not Cortázar, is it?
They continue talking among themselves; each new “poster” stands up to make her contribution.

AU stands up and says: “I bought some sea monkeys many years ago and they don’t grow, they just don’t grow, does anyone know why? (the others look at her, ANDREA says: but that is totally OFF TOPIC....they move her chair...(AU remains off to one side looking serious, exiled to the off-topic area)

ANDREA stands up and asks for advice: My client is asking me not to charge for the translation of articles or of verbs ending in -ar, is that acceptable?" (the translators talk it over among themselves, looking annoyed, and explain to her that "no," it isn’t proper and blah blah blah....)

From her place in off-topic, AU says: can we talk about adecua and adecúa?.... Did you know that both forms are now considered correct? You can say: yo adecuo or yo adecúo. Yo evacuo or yo evacúo….

CLAUDIA says: Well, I made it (she reunites with the group….they continue talking among themselves )

CLAUDIA stands up and asks (in a childish voice to suggest junior status): A potential client writes and asks me for a sample translation of …let’s see, let’s see …600,311 words, is that too much?

AU: They had you pegged for a…

ANDREA: Now, now, I wouldn’t go that far (she widens her eyes at AU demanding greater diplomacy) but yes, I think they did get a little carried away…

They keep on debating; the TRANSLATOR stands up and says, looking at the audience:

What ever would become of us translators without !!!

The three MONITORS say, in chorus:





La Traducíada(o El mundo antes y después de Henry Potterer)
by Aurora Humarán - July 2004 (A.H. )

The Transodyssey (or The World Before and After Henry Potterer)
Translated by Ruth Henderson - January 2005

[Edited at 2005-02-10 23:30]

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Susana Galilea  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Finally in English...and annotated!!! Feb 11, 2005

Aurora Humarán wrote:
Speaking of interpreters and translators, it may be relevant to clarify that, although all interpreters can sit down and become translators, not all translators can stand up and become interpreters.

Just in case, I've never even tried getting off my chair

Way to go, Aurora and Ruth


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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Je je je... Feb 11, 2005

Susana Galilea wrote:

Just in case, I've never even tried getting off my chair


We are two!


And...yes, Ruth's transltion is GREAT!

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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Once upon a time there was a translator called Bill Greendyk... Feb 11, 2005

Bill sent an e-mail to JL saying he would come to BA to meet with his collaborators here in Argentina. What?!?!?!? Bill?!?!?!? In BA?!?!?!? Then Parrot joined the group, then Paul Roige, Claudia Iglesias, María Eugenia from Chile, David Meléndez, Elena Sgarbossa from USA, Ricardo Martínez and lots of other good friends.

And...the Prozident!!! [(c) Parrot]

For those of you who understand Spanish here is the report of the Megapowwow and some pictures.

Please, don`t miss the ProZian Anthem written by Quique Cavalito (Two-to-Tango) in Flavio Benedetti's incredible voice. Here:"

106 proZians singing together.
Buenos Aires was a party.

[Edited at 2005-02-11 02:34]

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Marocas  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:09
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
Great Aurora! Feb 11, 2005

Thanks for these moments when we feel we are closer and share this passion: the art of translation. You had a great time in BA and I'm having a great time reading The Transodyssey and listening to the Prozinan Anthem (pictures are also great!). I was really stressed when I decided at 10:00 pm I had to keep on working at least until midnight: I spent one hour reading (and re-reading) The Transodyssey and now I only have to work one hour.

An idea: Think about planning "The Powwow of the Americas".



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Aurora Humarán  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thank YOU! Feb 11, 2005

Marocas wrote:

Thanks for these moments when we feel we are closer and share this passion: the art of translation.

That is what our community is about.

An idea: Think about planning "The Powwow of the Americas".


If we can dream about it, we can make it, said somebody.

Why not?


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José Luis Villanueva-Senchuk  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:09
English to Spanish
+ ...
PoA Feb 19, 2005

Powwow of the Americas... I am working on it!

It will be a two or three day event with keynote speakers who are related to our business.


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