Joined: 30 May 2013
|Posted: Thu Dec 18, 2014 2:34 am Post subject: Don't use the 'Onyx Translations' site.
|I grew up in Carmarthenshire in the 1970s. Most adults over twenty five spoke Welsh as their first language. Often, they did not bring up their children to speak it. I was worse off than most as my adoptive father had had his mind poisoned against the local language by his mother who came from the English midlands.
She believed that her mother-in-law had persecuted her when they had had to live under the same roof by refusing to speak to her in English. It was only when I looked at the 1911 census online that I realised that her mother and father-in-law honestly could not speak English. Only their children, the first generation to be caught by state education, could speak 'both.'
Furthermore, my adoptive mother came from Brentwood in London. I was introduced to Welsh as a second language at school and did well in it until I lost heart and interest, as I always did with languages once the novelty wore off.
As an adult, I felt an emotional attachment to the language combined with an unreasonable resentment of those lucky people who had picked it up painlessly at home. I couldn't bring myself to make a serious effort to acquire it. I was put off by my memories of the fiendish mutations, where the first letter of a word will change to another letter in certain contexts.
If people told me I ought to be able to speak Welsh, and it was a disgrace that I couldn't, I would think impatiently, ''Oh, bugger off!'' But then an emotionally volatile acquaintance, gave me a lot of infuriating anti-Welsh racism. He would aggressively shout, ''Don't you think that if Welsh was a proper language, it would have a word for orgasm?''
I said, ''Don't you think that if English was a proper language it would have a word for orgasm? 'Orgasm' is Greek. If English was a proper language, wouldn't it have words for table, kindergarten, schadenfreude and labia minora?''
He didn't hear what I said and just said the same thing again. A Burmese woman told me that her native language, Chakma, was not a written language. She even believed that it would be impossible to invent a script for it which surely can't be right.
Yet she said condescendingly, ''You haven't got a word for television have you?'' ''Of course we have'', I replied, ''It's 'teledu'.'' ''Oh well, that doesn't count'', she said, ''Because it's a twentieth century invention!''
Yes, it is easy and fun to wind me up. No, she was not doing it. She really was that stupid. She probably really thought that television is mentioned in the Illiad and 'the Canterbury Tales.'
She thought she could have it both ways, slagging off a persecuted language both for lacking new coinages and for having them. Then, there is the hardy perennial, 'Welsh words are made up!' ...unlike words in all other languages which are found under leaves and cushions.
People look confused and gormless when I break it to them. Tell it not in Gath but all words are made up!
The trouble is that although it is easy to demonstrate the fallacy of linguistic bigotry, people who speak oppressed and vulnerable languages often believe the propaganda themselves. This internalising of oppression can hurtle a community towards language death.
Like my sons as toddlers, the best way to get me to do anything is reverse psychology. When I was nagged to learn Welsh I wouldn't. When I was told I shouldn't speak it, I threw myself into it as a form of defiance.
I'm afraid that teaching Welsh in schools is often counter productive. Children often have their minds poisoned against it by their parents or other older people. In any case, languages are taught in a dull, over academic and self defeating way in UK schools.
If you learn a language in a continental school, you will usually be able to speak it after that. But in a British school, you might be able to pass a GCSE in a given language, but you still won't usually be able to speak it or think in it.
I'm thinking of Welsh as a second language, not Welsh medium schools. So I did the online course 'SaysomethinginWelsh' with Iestyn ap Dafydd and his wife Cat. It was miraculous. I learnt Welsh the natural way. My vocabulary is still a bit limited, but I can speak and think in our ancient tongue.
What I couldn't do was read in it easily. How to tackle this? I saw online a Welsh translation of a girly children's classic I had read over and over again as a child. It was the Canadian juvenile novel, 'Anne of Green Gables' or in Welsh 'Anne o Talcenni Gwyrdd.'
My idea was that I would be able to read it more quickly than if I was coming to it blind, as I already knew the story. I wouldn't have to look up much. It would be painless and effortlessly increase my vocabulary.
My heart was set on getting a copy, but strangely, it was not available in Wales. There were a few copies in the USA, France and some other countries. You would have to pay for the shipping. My angelic partner agreed to order it as a Christmas present.
It then occurred to me that classic novels of that era were out of copyright. They ought to be available to read online. I could call any old novel up that I was familiar with and then get an automatic translation into Welsh or any other language.
I did this with a few other Victorian and Edwardian novels. It was fun at first, and I managed to plough through a whole novel like this. But the translation was very faulty. A lot of words were left untranslated. For no obvious reason, some words would be entirely in capitals.
It was not an idiomatic or even grammatically correct translation. It was not consistent either. In one sentence, personal names would be translated, and in the next, they were not. So, you alternated between Iago and Mair and James and Mary,but they were the same people.
A word that had common gender in English would become masculine in Welsh. So a female servant would be a 'gwas' instead of a 'morwyn.' The most ludicrous muddle was when a neighbour who was a Swede was described as a turnip.
It was funny at first but soon set my teeth on edge. That's all you can expect of an automatic translation service. it would not be reasonable to expect any better.
I looked forward to getting a meticulous and idiomatic translation when my book arrived from www.onyxtranlations.com. It came today. To say I was disappointed would not do justice to my jaundiced feelings. my heart had been set on getting a decent translation. Instead, it was crap!
It is obvious that the people at Onyx have no knowledge of languages at all. They just do what I did. They call up an automatic translation done by an uncomprehending computer, just as I did. But they do it professionally.
In this way, they 'translate' classics into all sorts of languages they can't speak and have hardly even heard of from Afrikaans to Zulu. Then they bind this mangled gibberish into covers and sell it to unsuspecting dupes, all over the world, charging them for the shipping.
This so called book has all the faults of automatic translation I have mentioned above. For instance, 'call' is translated 'ffonio' instead of 'galw' in a story set at a time when telephones were probably not even a twinkle in the eye of Alexander Graham Bell or whomever he stole the patent from.
I am absolutely disgusted with this heap of garbage. This is not incompetence. This is fraud. For God's sake, don't order anything from Onyx Translations. If this is a truly representative sample of what they have the audacity to call their works - and I very much fear that it is - they are no better than thieves.
Had it been a transaction in the UK, it would be an offence under the Trades Descriptions Act. As it is, I suppose we've done our money. I will seek advice, but don't expect to achieve anything.
There's not even a name of a human translator on the thing. Of course, there wasn't one. This explains the mystery of why it was not available in the UK. Caveat Emptor. Have nothing to do with Onyx unless you're a masochist who likes paying through the nose for a big steaming heap of shit.
Last edited by marianneh on Sat Dec 16, 2017 11:35 pm; edited 1 time in total