memoQ has a handy little feature as part of its QA check which warns you whenever you double up a word in the target language. I’ve had it catch numerous little and ands and to tos which slip into my work on occasion. However certain combinations of doubled up words are fairly commonplace, which can lead to this feature producing lots of unnecessary false errors. A classic example in English might be two hads in a sentence like ‘I had had enough,’ but that pales in comparison to a language like French, which sees plenty of doubled up words in pronominal verbs (nous nous lavons,vous vous souvenez etc.)
One way to fix this is to make use of the relatively new regex feature built into the QA check. Untick the option to check for duplicate words in the target under the Consistency tab. Then under the Regex tab we can replicate this functionality, while including our own exception to the rule. Add a new rule of the type Forbidden regex match in target, give it a relevant description, and then add this target regex:
When active, this rule will continue to highlight any duplicate words in the translation, including all the usual punctuation marks, but ignores any occurrences of nous nous or vous vous. Obviously these exceptions at the front can be replaced with whatever is required in the target language. The rule isn’t by any means flawless, and will for example also complain about repeated sequences of numbers, but it can help to reduce the number of false positives without having to abandon the check altogether.
Imperfection is part and parcel of how we communicate, and one of the beautiful things about the evolution of language is how little imperfections can create entirely new constructs, as words and phrases are misheard, misunderstood, misinterpreted and misstated. One of my favourite examples in this regard is the ‘mondegreen’, a term normally used to denote a misheard song lyric, although it originated with a line of poetry:
The poor victim Lady Mondegreen was in fact Sylvia Wright’s interpretation of hearing the true line: And laid him on the green.
However, aside from causing amusement and consternation, there’s only so much a misheard lyric can contribute to the language. But a word I came across today covers a much broader spectrum for when people mishear words and parse them through their own filters to make sense of the noise: eggcorns. The word itself has a cute origin: when you’re told for the first time that the egg-shaped seed in your hand is an ‘acorn’, thinking you heard ‘eggcorn’ seems a natural enough assumption.
Here’s a great list of some of the more common eggcorns around. It’s particularly interesting when more archaic words end up being given a new lease of life, such as when talking about testing your metal, or transforming the Spanish cucaracha into the more familiar cockroach.
In the weird and wonderful world of words, which world of words is the weirdest? And if we replace ‘weird’ with ‘hard’, we find one of those eternal questions facing language learners: which language is more difficult?
What is it about the theory of evolution which makes it so difficult to comprehend? Why does it require a leap of faith for many people to understand? And why do they feel they need to believe in evolution in a way they never would with, say, gravity?
Having finally got around to reading The Blind Watchmaker this year, one remark really stuck in my mind, when Dawkins turned to describing the human experience in terms of units. The way we perceive the world around us is intrinsically bound to the way we encounter it. We consider time, for instance, within a fairly specific range. Once we go beyond that range, our natural, indeed evolutionary faculties are incapable of perceiving the world outside those bounds with any degree of accuracy. That’s not to say we hit a brick wall when we step beyond that range. We’re still perfectly capable of contemplating the meaning of extremely long or short timescales, for example. We can measure them, compare them, calculate them; we can analogise and use metaphors. But we are far from being able to really grok what they mean.