Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ah words, words, words!

IN MY WORLD of graphic design we do a lot of advertising. We do it often for people who are less than initiated in advertising (Read my last post to see how well I interface with the uninitiated). These same individuals are also less than initiated at many other things, such as aesthetics, and... speech, actually.

Let me back up. Among the Deitsch speaking population, there are always words that get translated badly, whether from Dutch to English or vice versa. A good example of this is the common phrase "Mahs un goodah dag!" or in English "Have a good day!" These don't directly translate. The dutch text becomes "Make it a good day!" and the english text becomes "Hab un goodah dag!" which seems to imply that a good day would need to befall you by chance, or by a roll of the dice, and you would have to catch it and pin it down.

There are hilarious examples of these transliterations. A popular one is as follows: 2 little Amish boys are having a conversation. In English, it might sound like this:

Boy 1: "To get to town, you have to go down the road to the bridge, and turn."
Boy 2: "Oh, I know where the bridge is, my dad used to get water for his horse there!"

Because of word order and some dutch words sounding awfully much like english words ("bridge" in dutch is "brick"), that conversation has been comically rewritten like this:

Boy 1: "For to the town come, you go the road down to the brick, and turn over."
Boy 2: "Oh, I know where the brick is, my dad used to drink his horse there!"

Recently, a fresh new word has come to my office by way of an overzealous Amish man trying out a freshly crafted word: "I like most of de ad, but I chust wanna change some of dis verbage."

We're all fairly certain this man didn't know the meaning of the word "verbiage" which is used to insultingly describe a body of text that is wordy or overly technical. The great thing is, this one customer was not the only man to use this term! 2 customers, but men, both furniture makers, both likely acquainted with each other, have used this word copiously. We all love it, and find cause to use it over and over in a days work.

"Dat was some quality verbage, I sink."

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Getting back at it.

If you'll look closely to the date on the post directly below this one (and do me the favor of not reading said post), you'll note that it was written within a few days of 3 years ago. It wasn't the last post I'd written, though, I had managed to post at some point near the end of 2006. A curious thing happened to cause me to be interested in posting again. A friend, Matthew, WhenElephantsMuse, sent my wife and and I a rather nice christmas letter through which I discovered he had a blog. Cheers, Matt, and thanks for the beautiful pic of the kids! You're a wonderful photographer.

Bottom line is, I'm suddenly struck with the beauty of writing all over again. I haven't written in a long while. Back in the day, when I was young and rather more thoughtful (read: more filled with thought ;-) and philosophical, my musings tended to be rather unwieldy texts.

I'm a bit smarter now, by one semester of college (including an English Comp class, fortunately) and a few years of real life which included getting married and now I'm on the verge of becoming a father. That real life has also included the death of a friend, which lead to a strange, wonderful calling from the Lord to follow Him through College and Medical School.

Hopefully, now, when I write, it will be worth your while, and not so heady, high-societal, or ponderous. That's not to say that it won't be arcane occasionally.


"Bloeks dih net?" My friend asks curiously whether or not it bothers me to see a surgeon's knife slice through human skin. We're standing side by side atop the printing press he runs for a living; I'm dressed in khaki pants and a dress shirt that sharply contrasts with his ink-stained clothes.

"No, it isn't a big deal really," I reply, patiently bearing this question yet again. A dozen uninitiated people ask me this every week, it seems, and after a dozen operations I'm too calloused for my own good. I don't interface well with the uninitiated, just ask anyone. Wonderful, well-meaning people who are genuinely interested in my life all seem to ask the same questions and crack the same stupid jokes.

"Let Nic cut that pie, he needs practice with knives, right?"

"I'm a freshman in college, for crying out loud", I think as I pass a practiced smile in the direction of the jokester. "Don't take me to the bank just yet, man."

"Hey Nic, I better be nice to you cuz I don't wanna end up on your OR table with you having a grudge against me!"

"How many people do you know that operate on their relatives?" I fume.

But folks really do want to see me succeed. Dissidents hardly exist, which is fortunate. Surprising, even.

I was once in the presence of a really accomplished surgeon when someone wisecracked to the whole group "I was kind of frightened when I saw the surgeon walking around with a big, sharp kitchen knife, but finally he set it down so I was OK."

I asked the Dr. afterward "What do you do with that kind of thing? Don't you just get tired of it?"

His reply was a classic understatement. "The way I see it, a person is just trying to show his interest in you, that's all. Yeah, it gets old, but finally you realize, Hey this guy really likes me and wants to tell me so."

You know, I've really had to change my attitude after starting to associate with physicians. What seemed like major annoyances for me start to fade dramatically when a I see the disturbances that plague all physicians.

“Things cannot always go your way. Learn to accept in silence the minor aggravations, cultivate the gift of taciturnity and consume your own smoke with an extra draught of hard work, so that those about you may not be annoyed with the dust and soot of your complaint.” - William Osler, MD

That quote single-handedly changed my life. In hindsight, I realize that I often didn't react well to my circumstances in photography at Carlisle Printing. "Stupid Amish furniture makers with no idea what art was" constantly "plagued" my life, I thought. Now I realize the truth. I could have been more convincing and successful had I dealt with them like a good physician. "Here's a client with an excellent product who needs to sell that product. What's the best way to do that?"

Anyway, enough retrospect. Enough writing, for now. Happy New year all.