Navigating the Maize
Spanish makes me think of corn. And by corn I mean maize, the grain classified as Zea mays in Latin. In developed countries, and particularly in the United States, corn is mixed into many food products, almost undiscernibly — for example, in the form of corn syrup, and as the basic dietary supplement of meat products. Due to popular books such as The Omnivore’s Dilemma, corn has gotten something of a bad name, since for many, it tends to represent corporate agriculture and the expanding waistlines of those who consume it. We think of corn and we think of the midwest; we envision swarms of mosquitoes and sticky summers and the mind-numbing sameness of field after field of rigid green rows — similar to the ho-hum, it’s-all-the-same attitude that Susan Remkus, in this issue’s Perspective, says US corporations sometimes have towards Spanish translation.
Or maybe it’s kind of like the grammar drills kids practice. Many, if not most, US students in the public school system have taken Spanish at some point, but few of them seem to come out with more than a vague knowledge that Spanish is all around them, likely permanently, with all the foreign dazzle of a can of cola.
It’s funny, because in the United States we used to think of Central and South Americans as eating a lot of corn — in tortillas, tamales and cornbread, for instance. Indeed, maize spread outwards from Mexico as early as 9,000 years ago, into South America, North America and the Caribbean, where it has been used as a vital food source for millennia.
Corn comes in any number of varieties (not to mention colors), and to help start our focus, Nataly Kelly similarly discusses the world’s many flavors of Spanish, including 38 different ways of saying popcorn. Elizabeth Colón has a larger article on Spanish interpreting nuances, based on these different varieties of Spanish.
Terena Bell showcases more on Spanish interpretation — this time for domestic violence cases. Bell specifically lays out the possibility of having a translation memory for interpreting … precisely because Spanish is not ho-hum, it’s-all-the-same. Luciana Ramos follows her with a call for Spanish translators to unify under the new spelling standards, and Marco S. de Pinto writes about code-switching Spanish and Portuguese. Daniel Vallès finishes out the focus by examining choices made by Spanish translators.
We also have a column on culture by Kate Edwards, and another on place names by John Freivalds. Later, Aaron Marcus, Emilie Gould and Laurie Wigham explain a culture audit for Saudi Arabia, and Renat Bikmatov, Serge Gladkoff, Marina Kostionova and Andrei Kopylev detail a case study on the machine translation engine Moses. Yuji Yamamoto (or Yamamoto Yuji as he is known in Japan) gives us an article on how to create glossaries in UTX. Daniel B. Harcz provides the Takeaway, analyzing the career decision between freelancing and translation agency management.
In our reviews, Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo looks at Latino Link, a text about marketing to Spanish-speakers. Once again, this will have its own nuances, depending on the audience.
Reading through these articles, I’m reminded that even before we start processing it, corn can be crunchy, soft, salty, sweet, bland, white, yellow, ruddy or blue. Just because we have one idea of it, that doesn’t negate its myriad reality.