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Il Cane

July 12th, 2011 Comments off
English version

Era il mio compleanno settimana. Avevo dieci anni. Papà e mamma mi ha comprato una bella torta. Volevo una bicicletta, ma papà ha detto che è troppo caro, tutti i nostri soldi dovevano andare alle medicine di mamma. Stavo d’accordo.

Il giorno dopo il mio compleanno, ero in giro per le strade. Tutti gli altri bambini erano a scuola. Vorrei poter andare a scuola, ma papà dice che non me lo permette, perché non sono nato qui.

Un vecchio cane peloso mi stava seguendo. Non importa dovunque sono andato, quanti giri ho fatto, il cane era a pochi passi dietro di me. Ho tornato a casa, e il cane mi ha seguito lì.

“Mamma,” ho detto, “guarda chi ha appena entrato in famiglia”.

Mamma era reposata sul lettino. “Jupe”, ha detto Mamma, “prendere che al di fuori del cane, è tutto sporco.”

“Ma può stare con noi?”

“Staremo a vedere. Chiederemo tuo padre “.

Papà era fuori, in cerca di lavoro. Così ho preso il cane fuori. Ho chiamato il Bianco cane, perché i suoi capelli bianchi lunghi e arruffati e sporchi.

Bianco mi ha seguito fino al fiume, dove le donne andavano a lavare le lenzuola. Ho blandito Bianco in acqua saponata, e lo lavò tutto il corpo. Abbiamo ottenuto dal fiume, e Bianco si scosse di me.

Ho pettinato il pelame Bianco con le mie dita, e ben presto era asciutto e liscio, e setosa. Bianco aveva luminoso, occhi marroni, quasi dorato. Pensavo che mi sorrideva.

Siamo andati al mercato, e ho pregato per alcuni avanzi di carne. Ho detto che era per me, ma siamo andati dietro l’angolo, e l’ho dato a Bianco. Bianco ha mangiato fino, a presto.

Siamo tornati a casa nostra. Papà era lì. “Taci”, ha detto, “tua mamma sta riposando. Si può tenere il cane,” ha detto, “ma devi dargli da mangiare e prendersi cura di lui”. Gli ho raccontato del avanzi di carne, e lui ha detto che sia bene.

Da allora in poi ho preso cura di Bianco, e dormiva accanto a me, sul mio tappetino per terra in un angolo. Ogni giorno andavamo al mercato, e mi piacerebbe chiedere del cibo. Bianco avrebbe mangiato nulla, quasi! Anche le patate!

Un giorno, Bianco ed io sono andati a fare una passeggiata fuori città, verso le colline. Abbiamo camminato e abbiamo camminato. Improvvisamente non sapevo dove eravamo. Mi ero perso.

“Bianco, ci siamo persi,” dissi. Lui mi guardò con gli occhi luminosi, e piegò la testa come per dire: “Tu pensi davvero?”

“Sai la strada, Bianco?” dissi. “Bianco, andare a casa! Vai a casa, Bianco! “

Poi si voltò e trottted giù per la collina. Ho seguito Bianco, e mi ha portato a destra di nuovo alla città e alla nostra casa. Bianco ha gli occhi brillanti e il suo pelame è bianco, come le luci.

Un giorno, Bianco e sono tornato a casa, e papà era lì, con alcuni vicini di casa, e papà disse: “Jupe, mi dispiace. La tua mamma è morta “.

Bianco ed io abbiamo pianto per molto tempo.

Poco dopo la mamma morì, papà ha detto: “Dobbiamo andare ora, Jupe. Non ci lasciano stare qui “.

“Ma perché?” ho chiesto.

“Non siamo da questa terra. Qui non vogliono gli stranieri a vivere. Dobbiamo andare via, prima di trovarci e ci ha messo in prigione. “

Non volevo andare. Ma papà ha detto che dobbiamo. Quella sera, ha imballato quello che avevamo in una grossa valigia. “E ‘tempo di andare,” ha detto.

“Va bene” dissi, “andiamo, Bianco.”

“No, Jupe”, ha detto Papa, “Bianco non può venire con noi. Dobbiamo lasciarlo qui “.

“Ma chi si prenderà cura di Bianco?” ho gridato.

“Io so che cosa fare,” disse Papà.

Così siamo andati fuori di casa nel bel mezzo della notte in modo che non ci avrebbe trovato, e si diresse verso il lato opposto della città, sul grande ponte sul fiume. A metà del ponte, papà ha detto: “Prendete questo cordone, Jupe, e lo mise al collo Bianco. Noi lo legano alla ringhiera. Qui nel centro del ponte, sicuramente qualche  persona gentile vedrà Bianco, e adottare lo proprio come hai fatto. “

Così ho legato Bianco alla ringhiera del ponte. Ho abbracciato Bianco. Bianco mi guardò con i suoi occhi d’oro brillante. Ho pianto.

Era quasi l’alba. Abbiamo dovuto lasciare. Ho detto addio a Bianco, e papà e mi allontanavo. “Non guardare indietro, Jupe”, ha detto Papa, “dobbiamo andare avanti.”

Spero Bianco è felice con la sua famiglia nuova gentile.

Clicca qui per la Conclusione

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The Dog

July 12th, 2011 Comments off
Versione Italiano

It was  my birthday week.  I was ten years old.  Papa and Mama bought me a nice cake.  I wanted a bicycle, but Papa said it was too dear, all our money had to go to Mama’s medicines.  That’s okay.

The day after my birthday,  I was walking around in the streets.  All the other kids were in school.  I wish I could go to school, but Papa says they won’t let me, because I wasn’t born here.

An old shaggy dog was following me.  No matter where I went, how many turns I made, the dog was a few steps behind me.  I walked home, and the dog followed me there.

“Mama,” I said, “Look who just joined our family.”

Mama was lying on the cot. “Jupe,” said Mama, “take that dog outside, it’s all dirty.”

“But can he stay with us?”

“We’ll see.  We’ll ask your father.”

Papa was out,  looking for work.  So I took the dog outside.  I called the dog  Bianco, because his hair was long and shaggy and dirty white.

Bianco followed me down to the river, where the women went to wash their bed linens.  I coaxed Bianco into the soapy water, and washed him all over. We got out of the river, and Bianco shook himself all over me.

I combed Bianco’s coat with my fingers, and pretty soon it was dry, and smooth, and silky.  Bianco had bright, brown eyes, almost golden.  I thought he was smiling at me.

We went to the market, and I begged for some meat scraps. I said it was for me, but we went around the corner, and I gave it to Bianco. Bianco ate it right up.

We went back to our home.  Papa was there.  Be quiet, he said, your mama is resting.  You can keep the dog, he said, but you have to feed him and take care of him.  I told him about the meat scraps, and he said okay.

From then on I took care of Bianco, and he slept next to me, on my pad on the floor in the corner. Every day we would go to the market, and I’d beg some food.  Bianco would eat anything, almost!  Even potatoes!

One day Bianco and I went for a walk outside the city, up into the hills.  We walked and we walked.  Suddently I didn’t know where we were.  I was lost.

“Bianco, we’re lost,” I said.  He looked up at me with his bright eyes, and cocked his head as if to say, “You really think so?”

“Do you know the way, Bianco?” I said.  “Bianco, go home!  Go home, Bianco!”

Then he turned and trottted down the hill.  I followed Bianco, and he led me right back to the city and to our house.  Bianco’s eyes are bright and his coat is white, like lights.

One day Bianco and I came home, and Papa was there, with some neighbors, and Papa said, “Jupe, I’m sorry.  Your mama has died.”

Bianco and I cried for a long time.

Soon after Mama died, Papa said, “We have to go now, Jupe.  They won’t let us stay here.”

“But why?” I asked.

“We are not from this land.  Here they do not want strangers to live. We must go away, before they find us and put us in jail.”

I did not want to go.  But Papa said we must. That evening, he packed what we had into a big suitcase. “It’s time to go,” he said.

“Okay,” I said, “come on, Bianco.”

“No, Jupe,” said Papa, “Bianco can’t come with us.  We have to leave him here.”

“But who will take care of Bianco?” I cried.

“I know what to do,” said Papa.

So we went out of the house in the middle of the night so they wouldn’t find us, and walked  to the far side of the city, onto the great bridge across the river. In the middle of the bridge, Papa said, “Take this cord, Jupe,  and put it around Bianco’s neck.  We’ll tie it to the railing.  Here in the center of the bridge, surely some nice person will see Bianco, and adopt him just as you did.”

So I tied Bianco to the railing of the bridge.  I hugged Bianco.  Bianco looked up at me with his golden bright eyes.  I cried.

It was almost dawn.  We had to leave.  I said goodbye to Bianco, and Papa and I walked away.  “Don’t look back, Jupe,”  said Papa, “we must keep going.

I hope Bianco is happy with his nice new family.

 

Click here for the Conclusion

 

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When to Wend

February 24th, 2011 Comments off

New York Times, Feb. 24 2011:

Currently, there are six lawsuits winding their way through the courts where the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act is at issue, Mr. Davidson said.

No, not ‘wind,’ but ‘wend’.  To wend one’s way means to steer or direct oneself.  From the same old English word stem that gives us the verb ‘wander’.

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A Most Unusual Construction–Kill all the robots!

July 27th, 2010 Comments off

In the Times, July 27, writing about two new cars:

In the case of leases, the leasing company is eligible to claim the credit. Nissan plans to lease the base model of the Leaf for $349 a month for three years with $1,999 because of delivery. The Volt’s $350-a-month lease is also for three years, with $2,500 due at delivery.

Is this a case of mistranslation?  “$1999 because of deliver”, where obviously, as the next phrase shows, it should be “due at delivery.”  A reasonable computer mistake: ‘due at’ becomes ‘because of’ (think of ‘due to’ and ‘because of’).

Wait–here’s what (I think) happened!  Some Japanese publicist wrote a press release in Japanese, and then used some translation software (google translate?) to convert it to English.  The press release was passed on to a writer at the Times, who used cut-and-paste to fill out the story.  Really sloppy journalism, folks.

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Their You Are

August 11th, 2009 Comments off

In addition to this New York Times column on the use of “they”, “them” and “their” as singular pronouns, come these examples from Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter (Gotham Books, New York, 2008)

  • 1400’s, Amadace — “iche mon in thayre degree”
  • Shakespeare, Comedy of Errors–“There’s not a man I meet but doth salute me / As I were their weel-acquainted friend”
  • Thackery, Vanity Fair — “A person can’t help their birth.”

I guess it’s official.

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NYTimes Corrected by Me. ME!

July 5th, 2009 Comments off

On March 26, the Times printed an article on economics in Europe:

Aided by Safety Nets, Europe Resists Stimulus Push

…The program — known as “Kurzarbeit,” which translates as “short time” — and others like it lie at the heart of a heated debate…

I just had to send this correction, as a comment:

I hate to inform you, but the phrase “Kurzarbeit” means “short work”, not “short time”.

To my amazement, I got a responsive email the next day:

Thank you for your comment on Economix. We’ve corrected the mistranslation of “Kurzarbeit.” Apologies for the error, and thanks for keeping us on our toes.
Best…

Ach so!  Two painful years of college German, finally vindicated!  Thank you, Herr Doctor Professor Direktor Karl-Heinz Planitz!

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Clear Days at the NY Times

July 4th, 2009 Comments off

Today’s headline in the New York Times: “PALIN RESIGNING GOVERNOR’S JOB; FUTURE UNCLEAR”.

Whereas at the New York Times, the future is usually bright, clear and easily explicated on Page One.

This almost ranks right up there with the Times’s 1865 headline: “Lincold Reported Shot; Significant If True”.

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Pashto Position

May 17th, 2009 Comments off

Dear President Obama,

I guess you must have missed my blog about the war in Afghanistan: how when you sent 17,000 new troops, you should have 5,000 of them skilled in speaking the Pashto language. How much more warmly they would be welcomed! What a message that would have sent to the entire Islamic community!

But I guess you missed that blog; or maybe it was because my server crashed, and that blog went off line for a while.

At any rate, let me offer the suggestion again: Send Pashto-speaking soldiers to Afghanistan– and to Pakistan, too, in those Pashtun areas.

But from where, you may ask, will come all these Pashto speaking volunteers?

Sir, President Obama — may I call you Barak? No? Okay — Mr. President, here’s the thing: make Pashto-learning software freely available over the Internet. Sure, there are already some programs available; I say, make them ubiquitous. If the programs aren’t up to snuff, get your intelligence guys busy creating really easy to use programs — I believe the term in “user-friendly” — that will be fun to use — like a video game!

Sir, there are millions of young people out there eager to join the world community, looking for a way to contribute. Just think of a mass of young people able to speak the language of the country you want to turn into a model of democracy (is that it?) who are now, because of a down-turned economy, available for the nation-building effort.

Mr. President, please don’t take this suggestion lightly. We need speakers of foreign languages: not French and German and Italian, which are old school (although these are valuable still), but Pashto, Arabic, Hindi and Mandarin, and we need to encourage young people, in fact all people, open their minds to the new ways of thinking that new languages open up.

Your emphasis, Mr. President, on education, can have such a significance, if anyone can get involved, even if they’re not enrolled in a traditional school, college, or university. Through the Internet, everyone can be a student. It needs some work in the server end, some interactivity. But surely the US Government can commit a few resources to making language-learning software fun, enticing, and available.

So that’s my suggestion, Mr. President. What do you think?

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