Off topic: The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy (II)
Thread poster: Mervyn Henderson

Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 10, 2007

The Little Translator claws his way back:

The Little Translator goes for the Big Lie:

The Little Translator meets the Mob:

The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy:

What an eye-opener I had with the Brookesduddys that evening. That’s not a typo, by the way, I do mean the Brookesduddys in plural (or perhaps it should be Brookesduddies) - not, of course, because it was a husband-and-wife bash since, as those of you who have been following this occasional tale for a while are fully aware, I had already established, tested and fully proved what one might term the Academic Conference Intellectual Leg-over Hypothesis right from the start. The thing is, there were more of them. A lot more.

I had hardly sat down at the naughty pair’s table when a man who was an absolute dead ringer for Karl Marx came loping up to us. I swear to Christ I momentarily thought Karl had managed to exhume himself from Highgate Cemetery and materialise in the Basque Country for a post-mortem harangue on the dictatorship of the proletariat. The man’s resemblance to one of the fathers of socialism was just that, though – resemblance, spoiled only by the large trilby he was wearing. And a three-piece suit, too. He certainly didn’t speak English like Karl Marx might have done, though, and I quickly learned his emergence was not so fortuitous.

“Gad, saperlipopette! Brookesduddy, old buddy old pal!!!!”, he shrieked across our table, all gesticulations and crazy hair and whiskers and protruding teeth and quivering, slaver-streaked lips. “I say, and ill met by moonlight proud Titania, I’m bally sure too!”, he cried lecherously as he gave Vicky’s foremost charms the once-over. You know, initially I thought he was just putting on this upper-class twit accent, but as he continued I realised no, he really did talk like that all the time, like he was on loan from a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

Just as I was being introduced to “Doctor Halliday-Spiffington, Head of Languages at St. Something-or-Other College” (“call me Doc Halliday, old boy”, he chirped excitedly, “everyone does”), I saw he had a real cracker of a girl in tow as well. I just hadn’t noticed her before, for she had been blocked out somewhat by the Doctor’s expansive gestures. A brunette this time, and about 40 years his junior, like Vicky to Brookesduddy.

Yvette, her name was, she told me, from Toulouse. We spoke English, though. “I am ze Doctor’s, erm, well, …”

“… his assistant?” I said helpfully, venturing a wild guess.

“Yes, zat is it”, said Yvette. “You see, we go to zee conference, and zen he gives me zee, how you say, draft report, yes, and I put it on the computer. But tonight”, she smiled, looking around at Doc, who had already weighed into a fresh bottle of laughter liquid with little moans of appreciation between sips, “I do not theenk he will give me one”.

Yes, this unfortunate utterance was merely the product of a perfectly understandable ignorance of certain English idioms, but I nevertheless sniggered like a child when I clocked it. “Don’t you be so sure about that, Yvette”, I told her gaily, once more sad that Freud was not on the guest list that evening. From the point of view of harmony and aesthetics, Sigmund would have fitted in well, too, because he had a beard and was fond of wearing three-piece suits, and both these features seemed to be compulsory requisites for the intellectual gang that got together in the Bukoi that night. Perhaps it’s something they need for the job. “Vacancy for University Professor. Own beard or beard experience essential. Preference will be given to demonstrable background in three-piece suits. Vaguely implausible name an advantage.”

As I was realising that they all seemed to know each other from previous hoe-downs, since Yvette and Vicky had started talking animatedly to each other as Doc Halliday and Brookesduddy were busy swapping Latin maxims, another oddly-matched couple breezed in to join what was rapidly becoming the most crowded table in the Bukoi, and another, and then more of them. There was Professor Dermot Q. O’Houlihan from one of the Dublin universities, Gambini D’Ambrosio or something like that from Naples, Hans-Friedrich von Something carrying the flag for the Black Forest, and a few others. Every bloody one of them had one of these academic beards, and every one of them had an “assistant”, too. There was a professor who even arrived with one on each arm. Another had a muscle-bound young man in a pink suit on hand as secretary, even.

They were all here for a conference organised by the Basque Government in Bilbao. I forget the title of the thing now for it was a mile or so long, but you won’t read about it in the press, take my word for it. I started to calculate what this little junket must have been costing the European university system, for we’re talking about some 20 people all staying in hotels, and not precisely the lower end of the hotel scale from what I gathered, then add in the flights, the spread, the booze, the mini-bars, the blow-up dolls, taxis and whatever, and then you wonder why students have no dosh. I stayed around for an hour or so tucking into all the eats and nice wine I could, and left them to it rather early.

The thing was I had a job to finish, and so it meant not becoming too fuzzed by the demon alcohol and being capable of doing 1,000 words or so the following morning for an afternoon delivery. This was the end of about 5,000 words I was doing on creep forces in rail vehicles. Railly creepy stuff, too, ha (I permit myself this little joke, for there were very few laughs in that text, let me tell you). They had told me on the phone: “There’ll be a lot more of this, Little Translator, so we’re looking for your best price here”.

Why DO they say that, “your best price”? I know it’s basic commercial parlance, but best for whom? For me? Hardly.

“So you want a lower price because there’ll be a lot more of this?” I replied. “I’ve got a better idea. How about we just wait and see, but meanwhile we just use my regular non-best price? When these hundreds of additional jobs come rolling in, THEN we can talk about a discount, what do you say to that?” I suggested sweetly.

I must insist once again on applying this to other situations. You walk into a bar. The same barman as last time is there, busy as ever, people shouting orders at him left right and centre. You call him over. “Oh no, not you again”, he says, three or four bottles clutched to his chest with one hand, and pouring out with the other. “No, no”, you say, “it’s different this time. I know exactly what I want. Pour me an orange juice, will you? … except that, you know, I really like this place, and in the future I’m planning on dropping in a lot more, perhaps with my wife, my friends, and so on, and so, er, with all the business I’d be bringing you, perhaps we could talk about a discount for this orange juice …”

You know, Prozians, I feel I’m really getting into the spirit of the translation profession. I’m sure nobody gripes about their graft like we do.


Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:50
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Muahahaha - what about a discount if I read 'em all? Dec 10, 2007

I really love these stories, thanks a lot for providing a new one.


ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:50
English to French
+ ...
You've done it again Dec 10, 2007

Now I know why there are not enough computers for everybody in computer-assisted translation courses... Maybe the university asked the computer dealer for their best price?


Lia Fail (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:50
Spanish to English
+ ...
thanks again:-) Dec 10, 2007

...and for the links .. I discovered I'd missed a few:-)


juvera  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:50
English to Hungarian
+ ...
The most relaxing moments of the week Dec 14, 2007

when you turn up. You are a gem, Little Translator.icon_smile.gif


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The Little Translator runs into Brookesduddy (II)

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