Wednesday December 12, 2018
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Edit with a KISS!

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credit: www.mindfultitle.org
credit: www.mindfultitle.org

By Akash Shukla

The maxim for editing can be explained with no better acronym— KISS. The ‘Keep it Short and Simple’ mantra helps the editors and reporters alike to wade through the quagmire of trash writing and long-winded write-ups.

Some of the funny quips from the reporter’s domain are as follows…

  • The case would be cracked in transparent manner and the culprits would be dealt with iron hands.
  • The instructions of Chief Development Officer to provide about 50,000 Above Poetry Line(APL) ration cards and Below Poverty Line ration…
  • As pleasurable winter is going on that make my mood full of Masti.
  • I feel like lingering with my boyfriend my parents are familiar with but because of interference of civic and police I am petrified of coming in limelight.
  • The thieves not even burgled the house of jeweler, but they also made picnic there as well. They prepared edibles and relished it with the chilled cold drinks that were kept inside the refrigerator, which indicated that the city’s law and order situation has gone worsened.
  • While Pooja turned into a fire-ball, Mehtab fled from the spot.

The above-stated examples reflect the obnoxious yet the obvious language disparity when a person chooses to codify a Hindi Muhavara into an English idiom. Reporters tend to transliterate one language to the other.

It is a common misnomer that grammar of one language (Hindi) would adopt the rules of the other (English).

While aspiring print journalists penned the K-word for further reference, the media educationist spoke of hand-subbing in the line of fire, popularly known as the ‘deadline’. What people don’t know is that rapid editing becomes a far cry when errors pertaining to word power and misplaced usage eat their way into the editor’s efficiency.

Have a look at some of the most common gaffes that an Indian editor grapples with on a daily basis…

  • The Panchayati Raj department has decided to lighten the streets in the villages by installing solar streetlights in the district villages.
  • Health department of Kanpur Municipal Corporation collected food samples from half-a-dozen hotels to ensure adulteration on Monday.
  • He claimed that the perpetrators sketches must be made with the help of Chote Lal who was a lonely eyewitness.
  • Not only people but the health department staff are living in panicky
  • ….makes one believe that this year the event would prove to be a rocking block-bluster

All of these anecdotes are a good read for an English learner but they are hazardous for the editorial desk when the work is being taken care of at the eleventh hour. Reporters and editors share a symbiotic work balance. It is equally ridiculous for both to imagine their work survival without the other.

Poor constructions and jumbled facts predominate reports of various beats, namely, crime, business and page three. A learner can get a hang of it in bits by going through these examples:

  • Taking whiskey, vodka, beer, rum, gin, vine, champagne and even tequila shots is very common in girls and would certainly leave the boys turn their heads.
  • The flooding Short Messages in mobile and emails in inboxes dwindle the sale of greetings.
  • The network congestion throw cold water on the emotions of several people.
  • All the station In-charges in the city are making gruelling efforts to praise the god and goddess by offering them lucrative offers to avert the chance of the first FIR lodged at their respective police stations on the new year 2010.

From medical exigency to financial emergency, from on-the-border reportage to on-the-line interview, layer by layer subbing is the master key to jimmy all locks.

Since the speaker wasn’t a dullard, he didn’t disappoint with a drab harangue. He addressed the active-passive issue in the formation of headlines for English newspapers in India. Shooting instances from his mainstream days, he summarized and spoke of:

Headline 1: Cops canecharge mob

Headline 2: Irate mob batoncharged

Semantically, there is no difference between the two. But syntactically, headline 1 pegs the importance on the word ‘cops’ while the headline 2 treats the same news differently and gives the same importance to a different word ‘Irate mob’. Headline 1 being active in nature speaks of cops in action in present tense, therefore, highlights immediacy. Headline 2 is the passivised form of headline 1. It speaks of an occurred event, a thing of recent past. Headline 2 weakens the event of occurrence.

credit: mywebtext.com
credit: mywebtext.com

Another example:

Headline 1: Farmer killed in dispute

Headline 2: Dispute causes farmer’s death

Though headline 1 employs ‘ed’ form or the past form of the main verb ‘kill’ yet it is better if compared to headline 2 because it fits in less space and serves the purpose if there is space crunch on the page. Although both headers employ four words to bring out the meaning, headline one does it in a more dignified and concise manner.

“None of the days are same. No two stories have the same treatment. And, no two mood swings of the boss are easy to survive. Everyone presses the panic button when an idea fails to fall in place on the page layout. The top bosses are harried if they can’t keep the ‘sacred cow’ out of the harm’s way. A dexterous sub-editor edits his way out of these pot-boilers,” said the insightful media educationist.

For the first time, we realized that even 50 shades of malevolence were possible. The K-rule in editing not only helps in the removal of chaff from grain but it also helps us with the discipline of language in such a way that we must not write to impress but to inspire.

Since language is arbitrary and we twist it to our purpose for desired meanings, the one who reaches the closest to the latter is called ‘the gifted’ or ‘a good copy editor’. But all this dexterity or bliss from God cannot rule out the perennial and reinforced use of KISS mantra. How else can one connect and shape the views of the layman in the impoverished democracy of India? Keeping it short and simple helps the reader with easy and prolonged retention.

Simplicity is not only the charm of life but also of those with meagre livelihood. We had a task at hand to prod the young and old and ask them about the most important news that they had encountered in their life till now. Babri Demolition, Sikh Riots, and Aarushi Murder Case were some of the most voiced and strongly-opined answers. All and sundry claimed that since the coverage was not jargonistic, they remember a lot about it. Some of them even uttered headlines which were printed a decade ago.

The amusement that the activity drew does not seek refuge in the language but in the treatment of language instead. The KISS factor determines not only the language but also prunes and pegs the view that needs to be tabled everyday for the common man’s reading.

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Facebook Adds A New Language, Inupiaq From North of Alaska

Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.

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Facebook expands tool to connect users to local news. Pixabay

Britt’Nee Brower grew up in a largely Inupiat Eskimo town in Alaska’s far north, but English was the only language spoken at home.

Today, she knows a smattering of Inupiaq from childhood language classes at the school in the community of Utqiagvik. Brower even published an Inupiaq coloring book last year featuring the names of common animals of the region. But she hopes to someday speak fluently by practicing her ancestral language in a daily, modern setting.

The 29-year-old Anchorage woman has started to do just that with a new Inupiaq language option that recently went live on Facebook for those who employ the social media giant’s community translation tool. Launched a decade ago, the tool has allowed users to translate bookmarks, action buttons and other functions in more than 100 languages around the globe.

For now, Facebook is being translated into Inupiaq only on its website, not its app.

“I was excited,” Brower says of her first time trying the feature, still a work in progress as Inupiaq words are slowly added. “I was thinking, ‘I’m going to have to bring out my Inupiaq dictionary so I can learn.’ So I did.”

Facebook users can submit requests to translate the site’s vast interface workings — the buttons that allow users to like, comment and navigate the site — into any language through crowdsourcing. With the interface tool, it’s the Facebook users who do the translating of words and short phrases. Words are confirmed through crowd up-and-down voting.

 

facebook language
Britt’Nee Brower shows an Inupiat coloring book she published and she talks about the new Inupiat Eskimo language option now available for Facebook bookmarks, action buttons. Alaskans made the option a reality through the social media giant’s community translation tool, Anchorage, Alaska. VOA

 

Besides the Inupiaq option, Cherokee and Canada’s Inuktitut are other indigenous languages in the process of being translated, according to Facebook spokeswoman Arielle Argyres.

“It’s important to have these indigenous languages on the internet. Oftentimes they’re nowhere to be found,” she said. “So much is carried through language — tradition, culture — and so in the digital world, being able to translate from that environment is really important.”

The Inupiaq language is spoken in northern Alaska and the Seward Peninsula. According to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, about 13,500 Inupiat live in the state, with about 3,000 speaking the language.

Myles Creed, who grew up in the Inupiat community of Kotzebue, was the driving force in getting Inupiaq added. After researching ways to possibly link an external translation app with Facebook, he reached out to Grant Magdanz, a hometown friend who works as a software engineer in San Francisco. Neither one of them knew about the translation tool when Magdanz contacted Facebook in late 2016 about setting up an Inupiatun option.

Facebook opened a translation portal for the language in March 2017. It was then up to users to provide the translations through crowdsourcing.

Creed, 29, a linguistics graduate student at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, is not Inupiat, and neither is Magdanz, 24. But they grew up around the language and its people and wanted to promote its use for today’s world.

“I’ve been given so much by the community I grew up in, and I want to be able to give back in some way,” said Creed, who is learning Inupiaq.

facebook language
Phrases From The Language. Flickr

Both see the Facebook option as a small step against predictions that Alaska’s Native languages are heading toward extinction under their present rate of decline.

“It has to be part of everyone’s daily life. It can’t be this separate thing,” Magdanz said. “People need the ability to speak it in any medium that they use like they would English or Spanish.”

Initially, Creed relied on volunteer translators, but that didn’t go fast enough. In January, he won a $2,000 mini-grant from the Alaska Humanities Forum to hire two fluent Inupiat translators. While a language is in the process of being translated, only those who use the translation tool are able to see it.

Creed changed his translation settings last year. But it was only weeks ago that his home button finally said “Aimaagvik,” Inupiaq for home.

“I was really ecstatic,” he said.

So far, only a fraction of the vast interface is in Inupiaq. Part of the holdup is the complexity of finding exact translations, according to the Inupiaq translators who were hired with the grant money.

Take the comment button, which is still in English. There’s no one-word-fits-all in Inupiaq for “comment,” according to translator Pausauraq Jana Harcharek, who heads Inupiaq education for Alaska’s North Slope Borough. Is the word being presented in the form of a question, or a statement or an exclamatory sentence?

facebook language
An Inupiat Boy. Flickr

“Sometimes it’s so difficult to go from concepts that don’t exist in the language to arriving at a translation that communicates what that particular English word might mean,” Harcharek said.

Translator Muriel Hopson said finding the right translation ultimately could require two or three Inupiaq words.

The 58-year-old Anchorage woman grew up in the village of Wainwright, where she was raised by her grandparents. Inupiaq was spoken in the home, but it was strictly prohibited at the village school run by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Hopson said.

Also Read: AI at Facebook Improves Urdu to English Translation

She wonders if she’s among the last generation of Inupiaq speakers. But she welcomes the new Facebook option as a promising way for young people to see the value Inupiaq brings as a living language.

“Who doesn’t have a Facebook account when you’re a millennial?” she said. “It can only help.” (VOA)