Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Inertia and Productivity, "Death of a Guinea Pig" (v. 1.0 complete)

92 pages, roughly, with an interesting breakdown, roughly.

First 23 pages: November 18-December 31
Second 23 pages: January 1-21
Third 23 pages: January 22-26
Last 23 pages: January 27-31

So that's splits of forty-five days, twenty-one days, five days, and five days for each quarter of the collection. (Yet another reason why I'm obsessive over recording dates. Now I'm recording locations as well; it therefore takes a step closer to being a journal, albeit one that's 99.5% translation.) The weird part was how this was unintentional, at least until the 22nd or 23rd of the month, when I realize I could marshal myself for a push that would make the end of the month and the end of the collection coincide.

And here we are.

So do I start another book tomorrow, or do I begin the process of transcription? I mean, I enver let myself get more that 1,500 to 2,000 words behind in Europe, but now I'm a good 30k back. Better to have too much to do than not enough. And bought my tickets for Providence; I'll be there from the 17th-19th. Hopefully with a harcopy of something to edit on the bus...

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Status Report:

Burner of Corpses (novella): ALMOST FINALIZED
Death of a Guinea Pig (collection): ~70% DRAFTED
Mr. Theodor Mundstock (novel): NOMINAL

I hope to visit Providence in three weekends, by which time I should have a finalized version of Burner of Corpses and a draft of my planned paper providing translations/comparisons a brace of Fuks and Vyskočil short stories, to the extent I am able to properly compare without recourse to, say, university libraries and Czech-language bibliographies.

Also, have been averaging more than a page a day in translation since the New Year and have translated, even if only a sentence, most days in that span. If I am permitted a bit of hyperoptimstic extrapolation, by the end of 2006 I could have a novel and two collections of short stories in handwritten drafts, in addition to the novella I already have more or less finalized. Hence the status report above. I will certainly settle for, and not doubt actually achieve less, but as long as I can keep up the pace, I will. The transcription, and editing, on the other hand...still, I'm producing something. At least partially-effective time management? Who would have thought?

Friday, January 20, 2006

A little research at work later (working with people of varied ages from varied locales comes in handy--I don't know why I hadn't used the co-op for ersatz linguistics research before:

A brief recap from memory:

Most of the people my own age (up to about 28 years old) had never heard of the term "make-work" before, and this included people born and raised in Columbia, S.C., southern New Jersey, Memphis, Tennesee, rural Iowa, and Portland, Oregon.

However, everyone older, including my 29 year-old friend from the Bay Area, had heard of it--one guy from Chicago, a woman originally from coal country in PA, and a woman originally from Albany, in my limited sample. All identified it as something that members of their community had been known to use (the woman from Albany excluded, as she wasn't sure where she'd heard it), but in all cases the word was either singled out as rare or a feature of the speech of the elderly. So, in my limited research, it does not appear to be a regionalism so much as a word that's a bit on the archaic side, or rapidly becoming so.

Further input is requested and welcomed.

Also, the coal-country woman (with whom I empathize, my Slovak forebears having more or less wandered from Ellis Island to Nesquehoning, PA around the first world war) also provided me the link to this site with a link to the "Coalspeak dictionary," an entry of which is provided as a sample:

"mango : green bell pepper. To the rest of the world, a mango is a tropical fruit. In the Coal Region, a mango is a green pepper. I don't know why this is."

The Devil's Dictionary it's not, but it's not without its charm.
Also, last night I discovered that not everyone uses the term "busywork," and that for some people, "make-work" is considered an acceptable substitute.

My interlocutor had the opposite problem.
Still translating and flossing every day, so at least several inadvertent resolutions are holding.

Today: interesting books in unexpected places! I was helping a friend get a mattress and a box spring at ReCycle North on the cheap, wandered over to a bookcase by the front counter, and, thirty seconds later, had three books: "A History of the French Language," and copies of two journals put out by SUNY-Stony Brook in the early 1980s, with, respectively, contemporary Polish plays and Yugoslav short stories. So wow. I should have taken Nick there, as they have all manner of wonderful items, including a larger book section in the back that I didn't have time to go to, as we were somewhat pressed for time.

Nevertheless, I may go back there tomorrow. Maybe pick up a coffeepot too? The addiction goes apace, and I have so much to read and so little free time, especially with all the writing. An unexpected benefit of mild caffeine addiction is that it seems to help me regulate my sleep more efficiently--in any rate, on nights before I work both jobs I'm more likely to get six hours' sleep than my customary four and a half.

I should go write now, but this Rickard book (the French one) is proving tempting, especially in light of my discovery of a bunch of papers I'd printed out second semester senior year, including some of Robert Hall's owrk on proto-Romance in the 1950s. So little time, so if I may be permitted a bit of code-switching... [for those who don't mluvit in a česky way, the following means "to it!" in the sense of "Attaboy!" or "Go go go!"]

Do toho!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Blood donation and translation today. It was the phlebotomist's first day drawing blood. Not only that, but I was her first actual blood drawing in the field, as it were. They were kind enough to let me know beforehand and give me the option to demur, but I decided that I could be brave through this. Also, I've always been told I have nice, stable, and prominent veins, and that I am a fast bleeder. (Note: this is really, really, really only a positive thing when donating blood, but *shrugs* not much I can do about it, anyway. More Vitamin K, maybe?) So I let her have a whack at it, and she did splendidly, so that was fine.

Then, to the library for more translation fun!

Today's interesting find was the description of an old man as a "slaměný vdovec," which my big Czech-English dictionary translated as what was for me an unparsable unit, "grass widower." This, according to my the big English directionary upstairs, means something like "one who lives away from his spouse or whose wife is always away for business or pleasure," and is itself a calque of the German "Stroh.witwer."

So what I seem to have discovered for myself is two different calques here; both English and Czech having translated the elements of a German idiom, rather than the Czechs having borrowed an English expression, as I first assumed. Of course, it could have gone into English and then from English into Czech (or vice versa, theoretically, but we're not talking about "pistol," "robot," or "dollar" here) but Czech's historically close contact with German and high frequency of German borrowings and calques lead me to believe it's a case of independent borrowing.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Another vaguely accomplishful day.

Signed up for the Penguin Plunge today. Translated a few paragraphs of one story, transcribed 1,500 words or so of another.

Also, I finally registered to vote. The Voter's oath was empowering, and it really was about damn time. Looking forward to Town Meeting Day in March. Vermont, bastion of old-school town-level democracy, baby. In any event, it's been a buoyant last four or five days, for the most part. Two quotes seem to have weight for me at the moment, which I will herewith record.

"The suspense is terrible. I hope it lasts." ( Oscar Wilde by way of the original "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory")
"For you will still be here tomorrow/but your dreams may not" (Cat Stevens.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

I said something last night to the effect that I would have laughed in my own face could I have described the events of the second half of December to myself in advance.

I spent my New Year's Day hiking Camel's Hump, to a summit that was bitterly cold, ice-encrusted, and completely devoid of views...and then slid down a third of the mountain using my nylon pants as a sled. It was the most fun I've ever had on a mountain, I think, sweat and bruises aside.

Sweat, bruises, adrenaline and laughter. Let's hope it's an omen for 2006. I hope everyone else's started in at least roughly similar fashion.

Back to work.