Translate Milfy!

vrijdag 8 november 2013

10^Taal voor... Alison Edwards


Taal: wie is er niet mee bezig? Blogs, twitters, tijdschriften, polemieken, ingezonden brieven, boeken. Er zijn heul veul mensen met evenveul meningen. Toch zijn er ook mensen die zich meer met taal bezig houden dan anderen. Daarom vraagt Milfje Meulskens hun mening over taal. Vandaag een primeur: een interview in het Engels! Wereldburger en promovenda Alison Edwards, Australisch van nationaliteit maar woonachtig geweest in Nederland en nu in Cambridge, is naast onderzoeker ook editor en vertaler, en zelfverklaard eurofiel. Ze kán wel Nederlands, maar prefereert toch nog het Engels, en dat leek ons wel gepast, in deze week waarin de verkiezing voor Anglicisme van het Jaar begon.


  1. Wat betekent taal voor jou?
A great deal. It’s the focus of my research and also my livelihood, in that I run a freelance editing and translation business alongside my PhD. Reading and writing were huge parts of my life even as a kid.
  1. Wat vind je van spellingsregels?
People’s attitudes to spelling are more interesting than the rules themselves. People get themselves all tied up in knots when others use apostrophes incorrectly, or in English if they mix up you’re and your or its and it’s. It’s interesting how such details can spark such vitriol.
  1. Erger je je aan het taalgebruik van mensen?
My pet hate is when people write in an obscure way, as if trying to cover up the fact that they have nothing to say. You know those sentences with many big words and little sense? You see this often among bureaucrats trying to be officious, or academics who want to sound clever. As a translator, you have to really scrutinise words and sentences to get to the essence of the message, and this is when it becomes crystal clear if there’s no substance.
  1. Waarom denk je dat mensen zich ergeren aan taalgebruik?
Good question. Many people seem to enjoy posing as beacons of correctness, getting their knickers in a twist about ridiculous things like split infinitives – yet all they are actually doing is demonstrating that they are ill-informed.
  1. Je doet onderzoek naar hoe mensen in Nederland tegen het Engels aankijken. Wat verwacht je dat daar voor conclusies uitkomen?
I’m finding that most Dutch people view English very positively. But at the same time, they also view Dutch in a positive light. This suggests there’s room in people’s lives for both languages – as English makes gains in the Netherlands, this doesn’t necessarily mean losses for Dutch, at least in terms of people’s attitudes. What’s also striking is that my findings go against the common assumption that the Dutch are uninterested in or complacent about language. I think that as a nation the Dutch are inordinately excited by language – Onze Taal is one of the largest language associations in the world, after all. 
  1. Wat is je lievelingswoord?
Gosh, that’s a tough one. In Dutch, I’m going to be childish and say winkelwagon, because to English-speaking ears it has such a cute sound. In English I don’t have a particular favourite, but I go through phases where I’m really into one word or the other. At the moment, inexplicably, it’s adjectives like genuinely and overly.
  1. Heb je een taalwens, en zoja, wat is het?
That prescriptivists either wake up or keep quiet.
  1. Wier of wiens taalgebruik vind jij inspirerend?
I shamelessly try to imitate excellent journalists, like the Economist writers. Anyone who can write about complex subject matter in a clear and engaging way has real skill.
  1. Welke taal zou je nog wel eens willen leren en waarom?
Arabic, Hebrew, Russian, Thai – something with a different alphabet. But for now I’ll stick to working on my Dutch!
  1. Ken je nog een leuke woordgrap, taalgrap of taalspelletje?

I went to a party last week where everyone had to write down the name of a famous person and put it in a bowl. You then pick a name out of the bowl and try to get the others to guess who it is – but the clue you give can only be one word. So for Ringo Starr, you might say ‘submarine’. It can get really cryptic! But I also have a whole bunch of word games that I entertain myself with if I can’t sleep. For example, I try to name five countries for every letter of the alphabet. Luckily I never make it as far as Q or X …

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