January 12, 2008

Writing and painting in English and Albanian

Filed under: general — cohn17 @ 2:35 am

I have started working for DAI, a USAID-funded consultant, as an editor under what is called a Personnel Services Contract. This means that I am employed on a temporary basis, for a fixed amount of money at an hourly rate. I’m editing their quarterly report, which was written piece-by-piece by the Albanian staff under the direction of the (American) Chief of Party. While the Albanians’ English is fairly good, most of them can’t write in any language. The report is full of run-on sentences, redundant language, and poorly structured paragraphs, in addition to the expected mistranslations. It is painful at times to parse through the material, but I realize that I may be able to fill a niche in the consulting community of, essentially, meta-translation: fixing the English both as translation and as content.

Also, I’ve started painting at the Academy, but the “painting” consists of painting boxes of primary colors on paper with watercolor. My teacher says that I’m doing this for two reasons: to improve the steadiness of my hand, and to truly understand the primary colors. I can buy the first argument, but the second – that, in essence, I cannot use yellow if I haven’t fully immersed myself in yellow – defies understanding. We discussed this in a combination of Albanian and English and it didn’t make sense in either language. However, insofar as I do need to develop a more-controlled hand with the paintbrush, I’ll suck it up for now.


  1. Bout time you started pulling your weight.

    Comment by LAE — January 15, 2008 @ 9:00 pm

  2. Congrats on the new job! Sorry I haven’t commented on the postings but I’ll try to do better now.The new job could prove interesting for future posts — the inadvertant translations and miswordings should prove humorous…As for the primary colors — it reminds me of Caddyshack: “Be the ball” — or in this case, “Be red or blue or yellow”.

    Comment by dan — January 23, 2008 @ 12:56 am

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