Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Following Update (Berlitz Edition)

OK, let me see if I can get through this without causing an international incident.

I'd like to welcome caterina serra, who may also go by the names "Stella" and "Star". More about that in a moment.

Regular readers of this blog know that I usually welcome new followers, as I did in the above paragraph, and add their web site to my "List of Blogs" as long as I don't find find it objectionable, which to date hasn't happened. This time around, something happened that almost did keep me from adding a blog. Nothing objectionable, just perplexing.

Ms. Serra is Italian. Or at least she lives in Italy, and her various blogs are written in Italian, a language I unfortunately do not speak. I did take about two weeks of Spanish, a language I'm told is closely related to Italian, in the 9th grade. Unfortunately, I couldn't seem to master the whole thinking-in-one-language-while-talking-in-another bit, and the teacher suggested I drop the course (speak a language from early childhood, as was the case with me and English, and it's easy to forget it's a learned behavior. It seems instinctive, like breathing, doesn't it?) None of this is Ms. Serra's fault, but the problem remained, how do I read her blog? Blogger doesn't seem to provide any way to translate a blog written in another language. They've got more important things to do, like redesigning the sign-in page.

Here's what I ended up doing. I went outside of Blogger, and googled Caterina Serra, and the title of one of her blogs. Just as I had hoped, the blog came up, with this written right next to it:

Translate this page

I translated.

Here's something interesting I came across. When I originally looked at the Italian version of her blog, I noticed the name "Stella". From repeated viewings of A Streetcar Named Desire, I've always assumed the name Stella was, um, American. And so I wondered, why would an Italian have such an American name? Once I read it in English, I saw my mistake. Her name was Star! Apparently, Stella is "star" translated into Italian, and probably Spanish and every other Romance language out there. Did you know that? Did Stanley Kowalski know that? Actually, it makes sense now that I think about it. You've heard the phrase "interstellar travel", haven't you? Well, stellar-star. Get it?

OK, I've lingered on the name game long enough. Warp-speed ahead.

Once I had the English version of her blogs, I decided to add one of them to my blogroll. As I usually do, I copied the "http://...", went back to Blogger, clicked on "Design", pasted it in, clicked "ADD", and was immediately informed that it wouldn't post! I tried it a second time, and still no go! I didn't want this poor woman in Italy thinking I was snubbing her. How's that for being an Ugly American? Finally, I went back to the Italian version of the blog, copied that web address, and, viola, it worked. Unfortunately, if you go to the blogroll and click it on now, you'll see the Italian, and not the English, version. For that reason, I chose a blog--she has four--that focuses mostly on photos of nature, with very little text. If you're curious about the other three blogs, just go the the Follower section, and click on the little picture. If you're curious but can't speak Italian, do what I did, and google the title of the blog and "caterina serra", and then the translation. The other three blogs look interesting. One seems to be photos of the Italian countryside, one is about UFOs, and the the third is about archaeological mysteries (that's the one I originally tried to add to my sidebar.)

One other monkey wrench has been thrown into the search engine. Ever since I added her blog onto my sidebar, I'm not allowed to read the English version as long as I'm still logged into Blogger. If I try, this is what I see:

Internet Explorer has modified this page to help prevent cross-site scripting.

Cross-site scripting? I don't want to cross-site script, just cross-site read. Oh, well.

Say, look how much I've written! Usually these Following Updates are only a sentence or two. I got a full-blown essay out of this one. Good ol' American know-how! Either that, or good ol' American groping in the dark for the light switch.

Again, welcome Caterina. Stella, too.


  1. in spanish, star is "estrella."
    i love languages. i was a spanish major in college, took italian too. portuguese is close to spanish, but with a much softer sound.
    i had much more difficulty with polish. any language that is predominately consonants breaks my brain. i know how to count to 2 and say "what is this" in polish. that's all folks!
    i think everyone should be required to learn another language. it fosters connection, expansion, understanding. we need to think outside of our own cultures.

  2. I love you, Kirk! What Rraine said: my ancestral language is Welsh, and Rraine shared a Welsh language comic strip with me today. We ALL need to expand in every possible way. That is the answer!

    Hey, Rraine, come to my office to share a lunch from some cuisine other than Polish or Welsh . . it's on me!

  3. what rraine and Leslie said, another alternative is to use tht google toolbar with the translate page extension, I will usually provide a reasonable translation in a matter of seconds and by clicking on the google translate logo you can translate your replies back to italian for a conversation. I use Google Chrome. I'm not sure that IE has a similar extension but I would guess so.

  4. I have a few non English blog followers. When I visit their sites I have been lucky so far that they have the translate tab on the blog. I keep thinking I must add that to my blog but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

    I love your very convoluted trip to or through blog land !

    cheers, parsnip

  5. rraine--I'm Polish on my mother's side. Her grandmother never learned English, even though she spent most of her life in the USA. You could do that in the first half of the 20th century. I once asked my mother, if your grandmother lived in the US all those years, how did she manage? According to my mother, all the street signs and store signs and what have you in the Cleveland neighborhood where she lived were in Polish. It was as if she had never left the old country! Because my mother lived with her grandmother as a child, she knew Polish, too, though it was never her first language. By the time my mother reached middle-age, she had largely forgotten it. Use it or lose it, I guess.

    @Leslie--Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think they even speak Welsh in WALES these days. I know it's a celtic language, like Gaelic. Isn't that song they sing on New Year Eve Welsh? Let me check.

    (Kirk furiously googles Aud Lang Syne. He returns to the comment section a moment later)

    OK, it's actually a Scottish song. But, like I said, Scottish is a form of Gaelic and Gaelic is a Celtic language. So, you recognize any of the words?

    @Mike--I just now checked the IE toolbar. It does have a language thingee (translate THAT word), though it's not immediately obvious. Thanks for telling me about it. If I had known about it yesterday, I would've had a lot shorter post (and my comments would probably be a lot shorter)

    @parsnip--In the Formatting section, there's some sort of Taranslation option, but the one time I tried to use it, my blog was in another language that I couldn't read, so I switched back. I was unaware of a translation tab that you can add onto your blog for readers to use, but Blogger adds and changes things so much, that I have a hard time keeping up, except when something breaks down. On my site meter--the one I put in myself rather than the one provided by Blogger--I've seen my blog written in Arabic. I assume that's not a phonetically-based language, as "Kirk Jusko" appears in English (actually Roman) letters amongst all the Arabic symbols.

  6. I forgot to add a @ before rraine's name. It must have got lost in translation.

  7. No, Auld Lang Syne doesn't speak to me. And believe me, I don't speak Welsh. However, the first time I went to the UK (1989) there was a move on to require the language to be taught in schools and for students to be required to take some years of it. It was/is a dying language and is beautiful and I hope it gets preserved. Man, the street signs in Wales! Even if it's just "Public Toilet", it's romantic. And, yes, I recognize "Public Toilet".

    WV= ingentle. Ingentle Wales I dreamed . .

  8. Glad yu found it, I like using it when communicating with Gabriela. Now what I need is a proofreader. Wordpress has one built in for blogging but not for the comments section.
    WV crotcher - Michael was a lovely man but in his 50's he turned in to an old crotcher and had to be put down for the peace of mind of the neighborhood children.