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Terror cell March 6, 2007

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

I hereby declare my intention to become a fully paid-up terrorist. Though paid-up is something of a misnomer. Indeed, it’s not being paid-up – in fact I’m very down on the payment front – that has compelled me to throw in my lot with the terrorists. Luckily, as I have stated on here many a time, I have no convictions about anything whatsoever, so I can’t really become a terrorist with a cause, and I can’t majorly be bothered with all that hating folk because of their nationality, skin-colour or meat-eating habits.

I’m not properly a lefty or a righty, so I can’t become a one-man terror cell with ‘red’ in its name or cut all my locks off and wear Fred Perry and be in a terror cell with a capital N (though I’d probably have a better chance of meeting my gay brethren in that terror cell than in one with Red/Rouge/Rot in its title. A rather dim Russian gent the Russian and I have met on our sojourns in homosexual establishments here is only a neo-Nazi – so say his friends – because the social aspect of wanting to kill your fellow man provides the best rodding opportunities in town. Too queer). Anyway, red isn’t my colour. And I like having hair.

I don’t hate Jews, blacks, Asians, Muslims, gays. I don’t hate Zoroastrians. I don’t hate women. Or the ordinary man. I don’t hate MacDonald’s. Or Starbucks. The state. The church.

I do slightly hate smoked salmon but it would be embarrassing to blow up fish.

So I’m going to have to become the translation terrorist. This will entail pernicious acts of microterrorism which might well bring about the downfall of western civilisation with the odd misplaced comma but also some wanton acts of violence like sending rude e-mails, playing knock-down-ginger on translation agencies’ front doors and making the odd threatening phone call where I either hang up after an ominous three-second pause or, as Russian school-children do when they want to be naughty, tell them that their premises are mined.

But the translation world is a niche market ripe for a drop of terrorisation. The fact that people ask you to translate anything in the first place is almost reason enough to want them dead. But the fact that people ask you to translate something, even about grid-powered pencil-sharpeners, and want you to starve while doing it by paying you half a florin per year’s work AND THEN PROCEED NOT EVEN TO BOTHER PAYING THAT… well, what can I say? I’m afraid that’s poo through the letter-box, night-time knock-down-ginger and anonymous e-mails saying that their translation software has been hacked and will insert the word ‘jiz’ at random intervals.

I’m going to be the happiest terror cell in town. Don’t try to get me enrolled on some Terrorists Anonymous programme. Or make me try to see the good in my fellow translator. I know it’s a world peopled almost exclusively by the wickedest, dreariest specimens ever to disgrace non-god’s unclean earth. If ever there was a just cause for a bit of a terror campaign, this is it. I’m willing to sacrifice visas to foreign lands. I’ll even go and live in a cave, as long as it’s got high-speed internet access. And I look forward to the day when a war on terror starts against me. I’ll put up a fight. I’ll send mocking videos to the translating powers-that-be. If I go down, it’ll be keyboard blazin’ and the highest deliberate typo-count in history.

Um, anyone wanna join me? All applications (no attachments) indicating price per word depressedly considered.



1. Lukeski - March 6, 2007

Was it not a teenage game at school to enter the word ‘shit’ into essays and see whether your teachers noticed? Maybe it was just a Portsmouth thing. Provincial life, eh…

2. BiB - March 6, 2007

Aren’t you a public schoolboy? We’d never have got away with that sort of thing in my inner-city comp, but it was an inner-city comp with delusions of grandeur. Anyway, you’re about 35 years younger than me. Perhaps shit is allowed now. The ex and I – same school – did once contemplate a bit of terrorism on our school but I think we went home and had a nice cup of tea instead. His cousin once slashed his headmaster’s tyres though, which is almost worthy of a plaque in terrorists’ corner.

3. MountPenguin - March 6, 2007

The in-thing among the modern intellectual terrorist crowd, I gather, is to sneak innocuous misinformation into the Wikipedia. If it remains longer than six weeks it becomes The Truth and may, if you’re lucky, be cited by journalists.

4. BiB - March 6, 2007

Now have you done that, Penguin, you naughty thing? I have no interest in disseminating truth or untruth. Or, truth be told, really in the truth or the untruth. My lifetime’s work, as a beginner terrorist, is to be the harrassment of anyone who employs, ‘for money’, folk to render text from one language into another. I might go and start spamming translation lists right now with shocking e-mails saying things like, “Translation is for losers!” If that won’t have an Apache after me with heat-guided missiles within minutes, I don’t know what will.

5. MountPenguin - March 7, 2007

No, but I know someone (with far more spare time than me) who does, and it’s a fascinating insight into how marketing, propaganda and general manipulation of the truth (or at least the reality as accepted by consensual majority or whatever) works.

Is it the Brits who aren’t paying up again?

6. pleite - March 7, 2007

Brits and Krauts, though the Brits are by far the most likely terror target at the moment. I have, as of about 14 seconds ago, just (sort of) finished the world’s biggest translation, so I can now devote my full attention to chasing non-payers, having nervous breakdowns about unpaid bills and coming up with some of the most dastardly Terroranschläge the translation drearies have ever seen. I’m trying to work out ways to melt a translatrix’s pointy glasses and big hair. I’m off to Lidl to apply for a real job FIRST THING.

7. Mangonel - March 7, 2007

BiB, your blog has become far too intimidating recently. People don’t comment, they write fucking essays, and not all of them even in bloody english. I can’t draw breath without at least 17 comments appearing, rendering redundant, or obsolete, whatever it is I was trying to say. You have comments on comments on comments. This isn’t a blog, its a tesseract. Or a fractal, or some pan-dimensional hive mind. Or something.

I don’t know whether I’m more awed or more terrified.

8. narrowback - March 7, 2007

“pan dimensional hive mind”…love it.

reading and posting at what is an ungodly hour in europe does provide some advantage in terms of getting my two cents in…

BiB, I fired back an e-mail. Hope my schedule meshes with yours tho’ the title of this blog entry and my comment(s) may result in me getting selected for “special screening” at the airport… this is an “inside” american joke that would only be understood by the likes of Mr. Ward and I but I can just see the scene now “Are you now or have you ever been a contributor to a internet blog known as BiB?”

9. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2007

Hello BiB! Glad you enjoyed your break in Poland and glad to have you back and blogging once more.

Have you considered withholding a small portion of the text you are translating and, if payment is not forthcoming on completion of the remainder, sending it to your client, bit by bit, mistranslated, badly punctuated and written in a barely legible scrawl? (I was trying to think of a translating equivalent of sending the severed fingers/toes etc of a kidnap victim. I’m not sure I’ve been entirely successful)

10. pleite - March 7, 2007

Marsha, hello! You’ve been away far longer than I have. How the bugger are you? I’ve clicked on skipto a few times, expecting it might have sprung back into life but, alas, no. Actually, my electronic terror tactics are rubbish, as the rude e-mails, of which I send many, can simply be blocked, or deleted, or left languishing unread. My really horrid non-payers in London – address available to any subcontractee terrorists upon written request – are tricky because, while I’d like to blow them all to kingdom come, someone very dear to me also works there, and it’d be rude to blow him up, as he’s done a lot for me over the years (including getting me this (unpaid) work). But, Marsha, where have YOU been? Have you been on a quick round-the-world trip?

Narrowback, just remember on your Eurovisa application to say that you haven’t been involved in acts of terrorism or genocide. I remember the last time the Russian wanted a UK visa, the application form demanded he admit as much, whereas the first time we applied, back in 2000 (or 2001, but pre September 11th), it was just a simple1-page form (or maybe two). No mention of terrorism at all. Hopefully, him being a close associate of the translation terrorist won’t bar him from future visits.

Mango, whatever you say will never be obsolete or redundant to me. And I’m the only one that writes the rambling essays, which even I never read, so just skip nicely over those and read what your lovely fellow commenters have to say. (But folk haven’t started commenting in foreign, have they? I’ll get a block put on that sort of thing.)

11. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2007

Ah BiB, if only! No, I’ve only been sulking around the fringes of the blogosphere, feeling sorry for myself. I’ve very nearly re-started my blog a couple of times, but each time have decided that, if I can’t have a big, shiny, important blog that has THINGS TO SAY, then I’m going to wallow in self-pity, hugging my feelings of inadequacy tightly to myself. (Boo hoo etc ad nauseam). God, it’s like school all over again.

Anyway, I’m delighted you’re back, not least because, whatever inconsequential drivel I write in your comments section, you ALWAYS reply, which makes me feel all wanted. (Awww etc ad nauseam)

12. BiB - March 7, 2007

Marsha, it’s my only blog policy, to (eventually) (excuse the bracketed split infinitive) answer or react to all comments (and to remedy typos when I notice them). I think it’s lethal not to. Sometimes, if I am drawn back to some old post, I see that I didn’t always used – grammar diversion. Is it ‘didn’t use to’? – to do so. The shame! So I do so when I come across them, which is just a tiny bit OCDish, as it’s not as if the unanswered commenter is going to notice. But, like me having to have the heating or TV volume on a nice round figure/notch rather than just set randomly, middly, if it’ll help me sleep sounder in my bed at night, safe from the terrorists. Oh, hang on…

And, Marsha, what this blog also proves is that you don’t have to have anything to say to have a blog. And your last blog was a roaring success. You had Mango and me on your case straight away. Surely that’s enough! (What do you mean, ‘no’?)

13. Mangonel - March 7, 2007

MARSHA! You’re back! Look, in case it was the disappearance of your spot on my sidebar that gave you the hump, it wasn’t me, it was bloody beta blogger wot ate it.

Twice on one post – I’ve come over all twitchy. I’m going to retire to a safe distance to watch the usual comment explosion.

14. Marsha Klein - March 7, 2007

Aw shucks, you guys!!!


15. BiB - March 7, 2007

Mango, she has been away for an age, hasn’t she? So, Marsha, get your blogging socks back on. You know you want to. Mind you, can I say something bloggingly blasphemous? What with being busy and a holiday to contend with over the last couple of weeks, I haven’t had any blogging windows and – I know this is naughty – it was actually rather nice. But then holidays are nice. Perhaps it was just a required break. So, anyway, Marsha, you’ve had a well-earned rest. Now you’re due back on board. Any old piffle will do. (I desperately wrung my minuscule brains dry thinking of something vaguely of import to write about during my hiatus and came up with bugger-all, so more self-centred nonsense it was.)

16. Taiga the Fox - March 7, 2007

Marsha, I read your blog too and thought it was a shame you gave it up.

17. Welsherella - March 7, 2007

Might it also entail putting rude words in place of proper ones, randomly ,in the middle of bits of text? I think that would be fun. I remember (ah me!) I once congratulated a North Walian translator (I worked for one of the large government agencies in England but the old bilingualism meant I was frequently used to put dodgy translators – i.e. not the kind you are – in their place) who told me they were pregnant, only to realise that they had used the word ‘disgwyl’ (expecting/pregnant in South Walian) to mean “waiting” (for me to find some vital piece of information, probably… I don’t think I would make a very good translaterrorist. Rubbish at translating for a start…

18. Ben - March 7, 2007

Dude, I totally want to join your cell. I’m all about microterrorism. I’d bet by 2010, one could probably even take a college course in it, maybe snuggled between microbiology and microeconomics. Fingers crossed. (Welcome back, btw.)

19. MountPenguin - March 7, 2007

Personally I’ve outsourced all my terrorism needs to a Web 2.0-based social terrorism service. (There, I’ve done it. I’m now probably on every list of people-to-stripsearch-at-airports in the English-speaking world).

@Welsherella: do you mean there are North and South Welsh dialects? There’s more to that language than I had ever suspected. Araf Ysgol!

20. Mangonel - March 8, 2007

The spanish for ‘pregnant’ is ’embarrassed’.

21. narrowback - March 8, 2007

ah glad to see from your comment penguin that yanks aren’t the only ones who suffer a fear of having even the most obcsure connection with the “t” word impacting their travel experience…

and similarly it’s not the grenzschutz i’m worried about

22. Blonde at Heart - March 8, 2007

BiB! I am absolutely joining your translaterrorist cell. That would make you international.

A funny anecdote: the Canadian, whenever he cannot find the word in Hebrew, uses French.

23. Christina - March 8, 2007

I hated my creative writing teacher in high school so I used to write stories, then put them through whatever crazy translator I could find on the internet. She returned my Jive-translated story about killer ferrets with the comment that it was unreadable, I thought it was hilarious.

“Slap mah fro! The madness, rampaging pack o’ wild, killer ferrets, closed in on da paralyzed homeless nig. brace yourself foo’!”

24. pleite - March 8, 2007

Christina, excellent. The naughtiest thing I ever did at school was when James S_ and I were meant to make up some piece of music and we produced a well-known piece of music instead. The teacher was livid and we got 50 lines. “I must not adopt a frivolous attitude to my work.” I might start sending him lines through the post as part of my non-violent microterror campaign.

BaH, is the Canadian’s first language English? My first foreign language is French and when I lived in Paris, and tried, during my work, to rustle up scraps of other foreign languages, French was what always came to mind when I ran out of whatever other language it was. It made me think foreign languages must be in one bit of the brain and the mother tongue in another, which I’m sure isn’t true. Happy to have an Israeli cell on board.

Narrowback, I actually had a vague nightmare last night – though this might have been brought on by some spontaneous boozing yesterday – that my blog was removed by the blog-police for flagrant abuse of the t word. How does one make a copy of one’s posts? I might start worrying properly about that now. (PS. E-mail received and stored safely.)

Mango, the Russian for pregnant is (sort of) burdened. And I’ve got a feeling in Polish it’s something to do with ‘weight’ too. In French pregnancy is (sort of) bigness. Just whipped my trusty dic out to see the etymology of the English word. Pre-birth in Latin, don’t you know.

Penguin, what IS Web 2.0? I asked my fellow homos on the Poland trip to explain it to me and, while I’m sure they explained it properly and fully, we probably got distracted by talk of Dolly Parton or huge lallies and it all drifted away. But I’ll feel a fraud if I subcontract my microterrorism out at such an early stage.

Ben, thank you. I think it’s nice to be back. Actually, I’ve reunderstood the goodness of holidays, having for years thought they were a waste of time. If you get them just right – timing, length, location, company – not only are you glad of the break but you’re also glad to be back. Poland was lovely, and getting back to Berlin was lovely. Which all must bode ill somehow. I expect to be told by the tax office that I’m going to have auditors moving in with me for the next 30 years any second now. AND good idea about the university course. Let’s be positive. Rather than me actually terrorising translators and translations, I’ll do a course in it instead… though I suppose that still means I’ll need some experience.

Welshy, excellent misunderstanding. I’m happy to terrorise in whatever way people see fit. Even inter-Welsh microlinguaterrorism if need be. And does the word Walian exist? Marvellous. If I ever need to use the word Welsh in a translation – don’t think it’s happened yet – I might use Walian instead. You’ll be fascinated to know, of course, that Russian has two words for Welsh: уэльский (uelskij) and валлийский (vallijskij) though the latter is, as you won’t be at all surprised to hear, now obsolete, apparently. While I’m on, are the words Cymru and Cumbria sort of the same?

Taiga, excellent words of encouragement. Marsha should be back blogging with a vengeance in no time.

25. Taiga the Fox - March 8, 2007

I do my best and try to keep my words sort of short and understandable for a while, because they seem to be deleted, possibly because I tend to say things I don’t mean just by accident. Well, I hope Marsha will be back in blogging soon.

Oh, the Finnish for ‘pregnant’ is ‘raskaana’ (to be heavy), as you might know.

26. BiB - March 8, 2007

Taiga, no need to mind your language here. You can say whatever you flippin’ well like and, as it’s International Women’s Day – thank you for reminding me – I’m sure that means you have double the right to say whatever you flippin’ well like and we men will graciously and paternalistically stand by and let you flippin’ well say it, because we’re good like that.

I’ve never had to delete a comment, thankfully. And, luckily, contentious things are rarely discussed on this blog. I’ve deleted myself a few times, though only in blogging terms. I’ve never deleted my actual self, though it would be handy to be able to do so on a temporary basis once in a while.

27. Christina - March 8, 2007

Ah, see, I fully enjoyed terrorizing my teachers in school. Sadly, I have the grades to prove it. I barely passed most of my subjects in high school. But sending your old teacher lines is a brilliant way to make up for your lack of school mischief!

28. Taiga the Fox - March 8, 2007

Well, thank you BiB. I’ve just been bit quiet lately, but I think I might start to be loud again. Actually I might go and terrorize some poor blogger now.

The comment someone, not you, deleted wasn’t even containing anything flippin’ bad language, maybe again a wrong preposition, which actually might have turned it to something rude. Bugger. I have deleted my own comments many times and I surely have wished I could have deleted myself completely of some embarrassing scenes, which just happen to happen around me.

29. pleite - March 8, 2007

Taiga, I’ve mentioned before, both here and on another blog, that Germany is the place to be for a bit of self-deletion. You can go and get your past deleted at official offices. (OK, I only mean the fact that you were christened Lutheran or Catholic, so that you don’t have to pay the church tax.) I still sometimes wake up panting in the middle of the night remembering some cringeworthy past moment – making a best man’s speech at a wedding is the most frequent culprit – but, ultimately, I suppose, all these experiences are important in one way or another. Only regret what you haven’t done.

Christina, I instantly got googling and found my old music teacher! Those lines are in the post. I only just scraped through school too, through a lack of self-discipline and application. Sadly, those attributes are as present today as ever they were then.

30. Welsherella - March 8, 2007

I don’t think ‘Cymru’ and ‘Cumbria’ are the same but ‘Cymru’ and ‘Cambria might be, I think. Some ancient whatnot…

31. MountPenguin - March 8, 2007

Hah, what would we do without Wikipedia: the name for the area derives from its name in the Cumbric language. It is etymologically connected to the Welsh term Cymru, meaning “Wales”. (Cumbria). Although as it’s Wikipedia we are dealing with here, it’s possible someone made that up on a whim because it sounds plausible.

(I lived in Cumbria / Cumberland during my single digit years, hence the interest).

32. MountPenguin - March 8, 2007

And as for Web 2.0, think social networking, social bookmarking, social anything else, blogs, AJAX, wikis, mashups and minimalistic designs in gradient pastel tones.

I always say “if you don’t understand it, it’s Web 2.0”.

33. pleite - March 9, 2007

Penguin, excellent sleuthing. Next I’ll need to know why cambric is cambric… Forget that. Just checked. Nothing to do with Wales or Cumbria after all. And Web 2.0 is now a synonym for the world, as far as I’m concerned

Welshy, I suggest you start a microterrorist movement to have Cumbria incorporated into Wales. Mind you, to make it all contiguous, you’ll have to have similar movements to get Cheshire and Lancashire incorporated too. (Which language did you know first, by the way?) (Have I mentioned before that I vaguely thought of doing a Welsh degree? I have to say I’m equally vaguely glad I didn’t. As much as I loathe translating, I think there’s probably a drop more work (and money) in Russian than Welsh.)

34. MountPenguin - March 9, 2007

One day the Russian oil, gas and vodka fields will run dry, and someone will discover how to convert bracken into oil.

35. pleite - March 9, 2007

I love Wales. I’d probably love Cumbria too, but haven’t really ever properly been to it. It’s my most shameful geographical admission, along with never having been to Cornwall. Except I’ve been through Cumbria. But English and never been to the Lake District. That’s a Schande of the first order, isn’t it? I want to take the Russian to Snowdonia on our next UK trip, in 2084.

Actually, it’s probably bollocks about there being more money in Russian than Welsh. If my Welsh was perfect, I could probably get some translatey job for the government, or BBC, or S4C or something and be raking it in. I’d still hate it, though.

36. MountPenguin - March 9, 2007

As I have publicly stated before on this forum and others, I too have never been to Cornwall, and it is nothing to be ashamed about in this modern day and age.

Cumbria is actually pretty similar to Wales (maybe a little less slate and a little more Beatrice Potter, but comparable levels of sheep, bracken and rain). That explains how I feel quite at home when visiting my parents’ retirment abode in the foothills of the Black Mountains.

37. pleite - March 9, 2007

My mother lives in Twickenham which, while nice enough, can’t compete with Welsh mountains for romance. Though the river is half an inch away, and that’s lovely.

I adore Wales. I know one’s meant to prefer Scotland and, admittedly, I’ve never been to Scotland’s stunning bits, but Wales really does it for me on the mythic-romantic front.

38. Blonde at Heart - March 9, 2007

His first lnguage is indeed English.

39. pleite - March 9, 2007

…so maybe it IS true that one’s foreign languages are all located in one spot and your mother-tongue in another. Or maybe it only applies to French, because all those special sounds need their own brain-compartment.

40. MountPenguin - March 9, 2007

On the other hand Twickenham sounds so much more convenient. For everything. E.g. shops, transport, indeed any non-sheep and bracken-related activities.

41. pleite - March 10, 2007

Just as well my mother can’t blog or do anything computer-related or she’d give you a twenty-minute lecture on the bus routes of Twickenham and the environs at this point. Whenever conversation runs dry once Home and Away’s over, I always mention buses and then she can do a 20-minute monologue while I doze nicely.

42. MountPenguin - March 11, 2007

You should encourage your mother to get an Internet forthwith. It’s full of people who maintain entire websites and fora about bus timetables and the like.

43. pleite - March 12, 2007

I tried to teach her the internet when she visited Berlin in 2002 or 2003, but she was scared of the mouse and we never got very far. “Mum, you can search for anything,” I’d say, encouragingly. “What do you mean, anything?” “Anything. The speck of a hamlet where you were born. Porridge. Your children. The Daily Mirror.” And then she was amazed when ever her hamlet brought up 9 billion links. And then she got rescared of the mouse and we gave up and struggled with bridging the language divide between her and the Russian. Nor has she mastered that I can get an e-mail even if I’m not at home. Still, she does tai-chi and goes to the gym so her life’s properly on a better path than mine, in many ways.

44. MountPenguin - March 12, 2007

I remember when I was first shown the Internet, at university around 1994, that I was amazed how the university could afford all the long-distance phone-calls to the overseas computers. So I can sympathise with anyone who is unable to grasp some of the basic concepts.

Someone needs to design a very simple terminal-like computer which has large, clearly labelled keys (“write letter”, “fetch post”, “research family tree”) and which just works. I forsee increasing demand among the “Generation Silver”, hell I’d like one myself.

45. pleite - March 12, 2007

Sounds like a job for you, or am I overestimating your tech-expertise? Mind you, I think my very basic laptop has an envelope key to open outlook express, but I’ve never dared use it, in case it really means ‘self-destruct’. And there’s some other practical button like that too, whose function I can’t remember (and the laptop’s too far away to check).

Actually, one thing I still don’t understand about the internet, and which I’m sure IS part of your expertise, is what service do internet service-providers provide? I mean, isn’t the internet just there? Do I need it provided? Aren’t they really internet service-hinderers? Or am I missing some vital function of theirs?

46. MountPenguin - March 12, 2007

I don’t do hardware (I belong to the class of people who always end up with at least one screw and one unidentifiable widget after dis-, then reassembling some technical object).

Your ISP provides the connection between you and the big fat pipes which make up the internet backbone, and save you the bother of dealing with border-gateway protocols and peering arrangements, or running a DNS cache. And some of the money you pay them goes towards the construction and maintenance of those big fat pipes, or tubes, so we can all watch YouTube videos at our convenience.

47. pleite - March 12, 2007

Penguin, you need to go into PR or advertising immediately. I have never been sold on anyone deserving my money so quickly and will never harbour bitter thoughts about ISPs ever again. All those clever words you said are scarier than Seamus Heaney.

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