MG Communications

Language Translation, Interpretation, and Writing Services
Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota

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SPANISH IDIOM OF THE DAY

Posted by Mary on December 29, 2014 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

To be a square peg in a round hole

Estar como un pulpo en un garaje  (to be like an octopus in a garage.

Watermelon

Posted by Mary on July 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Watermelon –A Descriptive Story OR

What did you do all day?

Summer has arrived, and along with it a great variety of fruits and vegetables on the grocer’s shelves. Today, I stopped by my Aldi store and saw giant watermelons on sale for $2.99. What a great deal I thought! Just think of all the succulent, juicy watermelon I will have for less than $3.00.

I normally do not buy watermelons, I should add, because the rind seems to fill up half of my garbage can. Since I pay by the container, this extra loss of space must be taken into consideration. I also don’t buy watermelons very often because I am a bit lazy in the kitchen. Cutting and chopping a huge watermelon is usually low on my list of priorities.

However, I gave in to the moment and lugged the exceedingly heavy watermelon into my cart, paid for it, and put it in my trunk, along with other groceries. When I got home and opened the trunk, I realized I had plunked the ten-pound (an estimate) watermelon on top of a loaf of bread. Since it was a beautiful day, I did not let a smushed bread loaf impede my happiness. Besides, the loaf would probably slowly inflate itself back within a day.

I brought the watermelon in, put in on the counter, and then wondered what to do with it--leave it on the counter, cut it up, or put it in the refrigerator, which would surely involve moving and redistributing all the other items within?

I decided to cut it up. That was much easier to write than the actual procedure. I stuck the knife into the watermelon, and it seemed like ages before the blade reached the other side of the gargantuan fruit. Luckily, I did not stab myself in the process. Water squirted out all over, and I was finally able to get out on slice. Success! However, more than three-quarters of the melon remained. I carefully cut away the rind, and chopped the fruit into bite-sized pieces. I searched for bowls and containers for to house the endless supply of watermelon. I placed the rind in a bigger bowl, and decided to put all this in a newly created compost pile outside instead of in the garbage can.

I continued to cut and cut. I ran out of bowls and containers. Water seeped all over the counter, and I truly wished I had not decided to undertake this project. However, my better reasoning took over, and gave me the strength to finish my project. After all, if I did not finish, I would have to cut up the remaining watermelon at some time in the future – an even less appealing thought.

I finally completed the task at hand, and the watermelon project was done. It only took about an hour, and in the great scheme of things – what is one hour? Besides, I had many tasty bites of the melon, while I was doing my task, so it was not so bad. Now my bottom shelf of the refrigerator is filled with containers and bowls of the juicy red fruit. I will be eating watermelon for snacks and seeking out watermelon recipes for the next few days.

All in all, it was worth it, and the taste of juicy, ripe watermelon far outweighs the mess and work. Mmmm….

Watermelon

Posted by Mary on July 21, 2014 at 3:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Watermelon –A Descriptive Story OR

What did you do all day?

Summer has arrived, and along with it a great variety of fruits and vegetables on the grocer’s shelves. Today, I stopped by my Aldi store and saw giant watermelons on sale for $2.99. What a great deal I thought! Just think of all the succulent, juicy watermelon I will have for less than $3.00.

I normally do not buy watermelons, I should add, because the rind seems to feel up half of my garbage can. Since I pay by the container, this extra loss of space must be taken into consideration. I also don’t buy watermelons very often because I am a bit lazy in the kitchen. Cutting and chopping a huge watermelon is usually low on my list of priorities.

However, I gave in to the moment and lugged the exceedingly heavy watermelon into my cart, paid for it, and put it in my trunk, along with other groceries. When I got home and opened the trunk, I realized I had plunked the ten-pound (an estimate) watermelon on top of a loaf of bread. Since it was a beautiful day, I did not let a smushed bread loaf impede my happiness. Besides, the loaf would probably slowly inflate itself back within a day.

I brought the watermelon in, put in on the counter, and then wondered what to do with it--leave it on the counter, cut it up, or put it in the refrigerator, which would surely involve moving and redistributing all the other items within?

I decided to cut it up. That was much easier to write than the actual procedure. I stuck the knife into the watermelon, and it seemed like ages before the blade reached the other side of the gargantuan fruit. Luckily, I did not stab myself in the process. Water squirted out all over, and I was finally able to get out on slice. Success! However, more than three-quarters of the melon remained. I carefully cut away the rind, and chopped the fruit into bite-sized pieces. I searched for bowls and containers for to house the endless supply of watermelon. I placed the rind in a bigger bowl, and decided to put all this in a newly created compost pile outside instead of in the garbage can.

I continued to cut and cut. I ran out of bowls and containers. Water seeped all over the counter, and I truly wished I had not decided to undertake this project. However, my better reasoning took over, and gave me the strength to finish my project. After all, if I did not finish, I would have to cut up the remaining watermelon at some time in the future – an even less appealing thought.

I finally completed the task at hand, and the watermelon project was done. It only took about an hour, and in the great scheme of things – what is one hour? Besides, I had many tasty bites of the melon, while I was doing my task, so it was not so bad. Now my bottom shelf of the refrigerator is filled with containers and bowls of the juicy red fruit. I will be eating watermelon for snacks and seeking out watermelon recipes for the next few days.

All in all, it was worth it, and the taste of juicy, ripe watermelon far outweighs the mess and work. Mmmm….

Julie - A chapter from my upcoming book "It's Tax Time"

Posted by Mary on June 19, 2014 at 11:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Julie

I work at one of those tax places where there is a costumed waver on the curb beckoning customers to come in. I am the manager and have two wavers who work for me. One of my waver’s name is Julie and she is one of the strongest people that I have ever met.

I don’t mean strong in the physical sense, although I am sure that Julie could carry twice as much as I could on any given day, and without complaining. I am talking about the mental stamina needed to put up with emotional ups and downs, with a life that has not always been kind, and with challenges that would make most people not want to get out of bed in the morning.

Julie is 61 years old, and rides her bike to tax office on Monday through Friday mornings. While this may not sound that hard of a task, it is exceedingly hard, given the northern climate we live in. Minnesota winters, which span most of the tax season, can be cruel, harsh, bitterly cold and unpredictable. Julie manages to get her bike through any kind of weather without complaining.

Besides working for me from January through mid-April , she works a variety of seasonal jobs - a Salvation Bell Army ringer during the holidays, and a custodian at the State Fair during the last two weeks of August. If Julie can find another job to fill those gaps, I am sure she will. She gets foods stamps and help from the county. She pays for cable TV that her son enjoys through collecting cans. Amazingly enough, Julie pays for the $165 monthly cable bill through cans she finds on her way to work. She transports the cans on her bike. She laughingly told me one day someone called her “the can lady”, and she was proud of the fact.

This year when I hired Julie, we were having a particularly snowy brutal winter. I could not, in good faith, ask Julie to stand outside in below zero weather in an effort to attract customers. I would call Julie and tell her not to come to work until the temperature was about 10 degrees, which it seemed would never happen. When I called her to tell her not to come in, she seemed very emotionless and sad, and simply said “ok, Mary”. I attributed this to the fact that she was not getting any pay during this time, and was a little depressed over the lack of income. I had no reason to believe otherwise. Eventually, the weather warmed up (a term we use loosely in Minnesota) and Julie returned to a more routine daily work schedule.

One day, she asked if she could use the phone at 10 am, as she does not have a cell phone. She went in the back room, but I couldn’t help but overhear her conversation. It was with a county worker who was asking her questions about food stamp eligibility, and her family status.

“No, it’s just me and my son”

“No, he doesn’t live with me anymore. My boyfriend passed away last week. He had cancer.”

I listened, but could not believe the words I was hearing. Julie had worked for me the entire previous week. She had seemed a little sad on days, and I remember asking if she was ok. She always said “Yes Mary, I’m OK’, and went back to her work. I never imagined that she was going through something like this.

When she got off the phone, I asked her what had happened. She told me that she really didn’t like to talk about it, but that her boyfriend of 20 years had died last week. She told me she was going to his wake after work that day. Between saying that she didn’t like to talk about it, she told me how she would go to the hospital every day after work and sit with him during his final weeks. She told me how she felt like crying when she was out on the curb holding the sign “It’s Tax Time.” She told me how she has all his clothes hanging in the closet, but can’t bear to do anything with them. And then she said “But, I’m strong. I can get through this.”

Yes, Julie is truly stronger than most of us will ever be. I gave Julie a sympathy card the next day with some McDonald’s gift certificates, but I don’t know if I will ever be able to show Julie what a wonderful person she is. She never complains, looks on the bright side, in spite of all adversity, and is much stronger than I will ever be. I hope to see Julie next year when tax season comes around. I have learned so much from Julie, and no longer let little things upset me. I smell the roses and see silver linings.

Next time you see a waver like Julie, smile at them, and wave at them. Help to make the world a better place, and look at the bright side of things. Be strong, like Julie.

Spanish Expressions

Posted by Mary on October 7, 2013 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)

Just as English has its "idioms" or different ways of saying things, so does Spanish.Let's look at a few English idioms first:

It's raining cats and dogs.  - A non-native English speaker might be terrified of this expression, thinking animals are falling from the sky along with the rain, when in reality it means that it is raining heavily.

I'm so hungry I could eat a horse.  We don't really eat horses, do we?  This simply means we are very hungry.

Now, you get the picture...... Let's look at some fun expressions in Spanish, many of which involve animals:

 

Tiene más lana que un borrego.

Literally means: He has more wool than a lamb.

The English equivalent is: He's loaded with cash

========================================

Cada quien tiene su manera de matar pulgas.

Literally means: Each has his way to kill fleas.

The English equivalent is: There's more than one way to skin a cat.

 

At that Difficult Age

Posted by Mary on June 6, 2013 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Spanish: Estar en la edad de pavo

English: To be at that difficult age.

Example: Maria ya tiene 13 años y está en la edad de pavo.

Maria is 13 years old already and at that difficult age.

Phrase of the day

Posted by Mary on June 3, 2013 at 10:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Calling in Quits in Spanish.

English:  I'm calling it quits.

Spanish:  Me rindo

OR Me doy por vencido. 

 

Cats get a bad rap in Spanish

Posted by Mary on November 24, 2012 at 4:10 PM Comments comments (0)

For some reason, cats seem to be included in many insults in the Spanish language, as well as placed quite frequently in sentences referring to certain things, most often not in a good way. For example, if you want to say "something is fishy" in Spanish, you would say literally that "there is a cat locked up in here." Aqui hay gato encerrado.

If you want to say "to defend yourself fiercly", the literal translation would be "to defend yourself like a cat with their belly up." Defenderse como gato panza arriba. Somehow, I think that one sounds better in Spanish than the literal English translation.

Whichever way you look at it, the poor cat seems to be seen as sneaky, mean, feisty, or silly. Being a new, first-time cat owner, I tend to agree. A cat's personality is multi-faceted, and seens to change from situation to situation. Obvioulsy Spanish speakers have discovered those idiosyncrasies of the feline species long before I did. I leave you with several other "gato" favorites I have uncovered.

He was conned. They gave him a cat for (instead of) a hare. Le dieron gato por liebre

To pull it off. To carry the cat to the water. Llevarse el gato al aqua.

To complicate things unnecessarilly. To look for three feet on a cat. Buscarle tres pies al gato.

 

Do you need an Editor or a Writer?

Posted by Mary on August 15, 2012 at 2:15 PM Comments comments (0)

I have worked on several projects where I was asked to write a certain article or letter. The client had a specific idea on what I was to write and gave me those notes pertaining to those ideas. I wrote the article and submitted it to the client. Instead of being satisfied, the client rewrote half of my document, and to top it off, in what I considered bad grammar. The client was mad because I did not deliver what was their pre-conceived notion of what the document should be. I was mad because the client had altered and desecrated an article that I had perfected. It was my baby and someone else was dressing it in clothes I felt looked horrible!

 

Needless to say, neither one of us were happy. How could this have been avoided? Here are some pointers to see if you need an editor or a writer. Editing is generally cheaper than writing, so safe yourself some grief and money and choose the right service.

 

You need a writer if:

You have an idea of what to write, but are open to the particular style of the writer.

You have general ideas of what to write, but no specific ideas

You are willing to communicate fully with the writer as to your goals and aims for a particular document.

You need an editor if:

You have an existing document, AND

You have bad spelling, punctuation or grammar

You know what to write, but are not sure it sounds right.

You need ideas of whether your writing is conveying the proper message

You need to reach a target audience and want to change a basic letter to address that segment.

You need someone to take a second look. The editor can do light proofreading for spelling, punctuation or grammar, or give you more in-depth comments.

the demise of the capital letter

Posted by Mary on November 19, 2011 at 3:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I typed this entire blog without capital letters. However, my Microsoft word document automatically puts the upper case letters in. I had to consciously stay away from pressing the shift key, resisting the urge to automatically put that capital letter at the begining of each sentence. This is because I was raised and attended school before the texting days and was thoroughly taught about capital letter usage. I knew that all sentences must begin with a capital letter-- as well as names and places. This probably helps immensely for the present path I have taken as an editor and proofreader. But I have seen changes on the horizon, and truly fear for the younger generation and their capital letter usage.

Well, the world is probably not going to fall apart because people under 20 are deciding that capital letters are not important. In fact, I watched a frontline (should have a capital f !) special in which they discussed how technology was changing the world. The reporters talked about whether these changes were beneficial and what impact they would have on society. An interesting fact was that when the printed word replaced oral tradition, all sorts of things changed. No longer did a person have to remember long oral traditions and histories, as was common in the American indian culture as well as greek society. But according to the researchers, something good came from this. Memory was finished, or diminished, but people were able to absorb and take in so much more information, as well as develop the ability to read, process and write that information.

Will there be some benefits also from the demise of capitalization? Now we are at another crossroads where the written word is being replaced by images, where texting automatically fills in the words, anticipating for us how to finish our sentences. The general feeling seems among the younger crowd is - who cares if the sentence starts with a capital letter? We know what it means anyway.

This is true that comprehensibility is not diminished, but I still believe in standards. I believe that a language should have a set of standards and capital letters are part of that. I teach at an on-line school and tell my students that if their sentences do not start with a capital letter, they are never going to get 100%. Add to that the accent marks and tildes in the Spanish language in which I teach, and the texting generation has to put in a little more effort and hit that shift key. This admonition comes fairly frequently. I would estimate that 75% of my students do not start their sentences with a capital letter. The one-third that is left tend to be very meticulous in their use of capital letters, as well as the accents and tildes. What will become of the one-third versus the three-fourths? Is this the future of the country and what are the implications? And by the way, Microsoft did a pretty good job of capitalizing all these things in this blog (even the word Microsoft, of course.) I’ll try a few more -- google, yahoo, Microsoft, Microsoft windows, Microsoft xp….. well I think even Microsoft could use a lesson in capitalization.


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