National Pet Day

Cats inspirational qoutes about cats(1)

Today is #NationalPetDay on Twitter. What better way to celebrate the friendship and love they give us by posting some pictures of my cats and chickens.

hens napping

kimi

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rasky posing

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I don’t think I could live without a cat in my life. They are wonderful creatures that only trust you when you deserve it. If you truly love a cat it will reciprocate and be your friend forever.

author photo B&W

Always respect a cat’s privacy

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Mess with a cat and be prepared to face the consequences.

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Ignore a cat at your peril.

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Happy Nation Pet Day everyone.

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Victory is MINE!!

Hello and Happy Easter!! 

Clippy with ears

I thought I would share some good news with you all.

In my last post I talked about Amazon putting a warning up on one of my books, Whisper Gatherers because someone made a complaint that there were a lot of typos in it. The book has been for sale since 2015 with no complaints. The ‘Errors’  Amazon say are there are in fact not typos but the slang-based language I use to create a futuristic world. Rather like George Orwell does in 1984.

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Anyway, after a week of several emails explaining this to them, they have just emailed me to say that they have taken down the warning sign. I am very pleased about that. They did not apologise, however, but hey, whatever.

If you want to take a look at my book without the nasty warning sign, click on the links below the image.

Have a wonderful Easter!

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What if your last day at school turned out to be your first day as a rebel warrior?

Amazon US:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00YMSP1UA

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00YMSP1UA

Can cats and chickens become friends – part two.

In my previous post, you can see it here:

https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/…/can-cats-and-chick…/

I talked about my cat Kimi and how she has bonded with our new hens.

kimi hen 4

I also mentioned that the chickens are kept away from our other cats, who aren’t as easy going as Kimi. Well, one of our feline friends got sight of our poultry for the first time and had a rather strange reaction.

storm yawn sideways

Mind you, if I were the size of Storm, the cat above, I would be a little frightened by these rather large birds with their massive feet and intense gaze.

gabriel

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Just as well they have separate gardens to hang out in. Calypso and her brother, Rasky, have a more relaxed approached to these big birds.

Calypso 1Rasky copy

On another note, my bee garden is a success. It looks so pretty and is attracting all kinds of bees and other fertilising insects. It is also kept well away from the marauding chickens.

cornflower-bee

bee garden 2

bee garden

Buck-buckaww folks!

Can cats and chickens become friends?

We recently acquired four hens.

hens trees

hens napping

They are lovely creatures, making cute clucking sounds and pottering about the garden, they love nothing more than to dig, eat, lay eggs, follow us around and, oh yes, hang out with our cat Kimi.

kimi hen 2

Now, we have several other cats, who live in a separate enclosed garden well away from our nearly flightless fowl, and we would never allow them near  these vulnerable birds. But Kimi? Well, she is different. Everyone likes Kimi.

Kimi is unique. She loves other creatures, especially other cats – except for Katya.

 

katya table

They have a pact. ‘I don’t bother you, you don’t bother me and we’ll get on just fine.’

We were tentatively sure that Kimi would be okay with the hens. She had a stroke a couple of years ago and still can’t get around all that well. She is also deaf and at thirteen, is getting a little bit old, so we didn’t envisage her pouncing on our birds.

kimi

 

What we didn’t expect was how the chickens reacted to her.

kimi hen 7   kimi hen 4

kimi hen 5

As you can see, they seem quite smitten.

I guess the answer to my question is, yes, cats and chickens can get along. It all depends on the cat.

kimi trixie

Have you heard about Mattia D’Agostino? – A translator in the making

 

You probably haven’t heard about Mattia, I didn’t know who he was until he contacted me to ask if he could use my book Echoes from the Lost Ones for his thesis. Here is the initial email:

Hello Nikki !

First of all, congratulations on your work! I’ve recently read the Song of Forgetfulness series and I enjoyed it very much. I’m a university student currently writing my bachelor’s thesis. I chose Echoes from the Lost Ones as subject because of its particular language. I initially wanted to translate a chapter or two into Italian, but then my supervisor suggested that a linguistic analysis would have been more interesting.

The general idea is that of choosing a few linguistic phenomena, counting the number of occurrences throughout the novel, analysing the syntactic context and then suggest a possible translation.

So I would like to ask you for your blessing on this project and if maybe you could answer a couple of questions if you have time. Please find attached a picture of my cat

Best regards

Mattia D’Agostino

arles

How could I refuse, especially when I saw his gorgeous cat! I am a hopeless cat fan, by the way, so expect more photos of felines throughout this post. Oh look! There’s one!

boris and my fingersThis is Boris, my feral cat.

Mattia was featured in my post The Secrets to Translating Books – http://bit.ly/1SKf6Hn and I thought it might be a nice change to spotlight someone other than an author on my blog. Translators, or in Mattia’s case, potential translators, are a vital part of publishing and I don’t think they get enough credit for the hard work they do. Some are better than others. I believe Mattia could be one of the best, simply because of his enthusiasm and attention to details.

So, without further ado, let me officially introduce you to Mattia D’Agostino!!!

20140123_161203Mattia with his cat Aries

Plus cats!!!!

20150819_115920Mattia’s kitten  Bruttino – which apparently means ugly. In an affectionate way

Aries again.
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 Mattia, tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m 24 years old, I live in Milan and I recently received my bachelor’s degree in Cultural Mediation from the Università degli Studi di Milano. I am very much a cat person. My girlfriend and I, we have in all, four cats, of which three were rescued.

I like drawing and films, and drawing film characters from the films I liked. My passion for foreign languages started around the age of 12, when the English teacher let the class pick a song to translate. The fact that after translating it I could understand the lyrics just blew my mind. Until that moment, I used to only care for the tune. Of course, I knew that the words meant something, but they didn’t register into my brain, as their meaning was unintelligible for me. From then my interest in all things English sparked.

However, by the time I was 18 I had not been once to any English-speaking country. It was when I went on a two-week field trip to Bristol that I fell in love with Britain. After that, I’ve only been back to Britain once. I really look forward to coming back, one day or another

 Why did you decide to train as a translator?

Actually, I studied something called Cultural Mediation. Translation is just one side of it. Anyway, around the age of 14 I realised I was better than my classmates at learning English, so I decided to change schools and I went to a place where they taught you three foreign languages instead of just one. I had to repeat the year, but it was worth it if it meant doing what I liked. That was the point where I sort of erased many possible careers from my mind (I’ll never be a mathematician for instance). I would have loved to study anything in an English university, but the cost was far too prohibitive. So I chose to study Cultural Mediation because it gave me more options career-wise as opposed to just translation.

What is the most difficult book you have tried to translate?

Well, Echoes is actually the only book I tried to really, methodically translate. Aside from that, I like in my free time to read passages in the original language, translate them in my mind and compare them to the actual translation.  Keeping that in mind, I’d have to say Melville’s Moby Dick. A couple of years ago I started reading it and I tried to translate lines as I read, but it was so difficult that it took all the fun away. So I settled for just reading it once, and then try the translation game later, but I gave that up too. So far Moby Dick is the only book that I gave up reading because of how difficult it was. You could say that it’s my literary white whale. I’ll have to make up for that as soon as possible.

DSC05813.JPGBruttino’s official name is Brugola. 

Do you have a favourite book written in English?

I do. My favourite book is Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting.

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I had seen the film before reading the book, but I decided to read it anyway because I was interested in Welsh’s transposition of the Scots accent. And I have to admit, he really does wonders with language. Not only the Scottish accent is extremely well rendered, in general, every character has his/her own specific idiolect, which makes them that much real. I actually laughed out loud at certain bits, while I found others to be very dark. There’s also a fair bit of wisdom in it.

Do you have a favourite author that you would like to translate?

I’m part of the generation that started reading because of Harry Potter. When the fifth book came out I was around eleven or twelve and I remember having the Harry Potter book hidden inside a textbook so as not to get caught reading it at school. I read it in five days. To this day, I still have a particular connection with that series, as I’m sure many other people my age do.

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The Italian translations, while not being bad, are not exceptional either. The whole series has recently been retranslated, but according to reviews, not much has been fixed. Aside from the peculiar names, what the Italian translation lacks is the linguistic characterisation of the characters. The Italian Hagrid speaks as an average Italian adult would.

Also, I feel like the Harry Potter series grows with the reader. As the characters age, their feelings become more complex and the unsheltered world outside the school gets more and more into their lives. In order to describe these sort of things, Rowling’s language becomes more articulated the further you get in the series. I believe there is much to be learned as a translator from working on the Harry Potter series.

Calypso, my cat, agrees with you, Mattia.

calypso

Does a translator have a duty to faithfully interpret a book, even though that book may have language that is colloquial/slang-based to that particular country?

I do, even if I understand it’s tricky to translate a book like that. When all else fails, you could simply translate everything into the standard target language (in my case, standard Italian) and eliminate any form of slang or colloquial language. You would lose the characterisation of the individuals and many shades of meaning, but you would have something at least.

Alternatively, you could translate such a book using a dialect or your country. For example, the Scottish groundskeeper in The Simpsons has become Sardinian in the Italian dubbing. This, of course, becomes an issue when there are clear references to Scotland, which sometimes are left as they are, while other times they are Italianised.
The best course of action in such cases is to pick random regional linguistic features for the translation, coupled with archaic or even invented words. In doing so, you can preserve the feeling of otherness. Depending on the translator’s skill, such a translation may or may not do justice to the original text, while in some cases it may even enrich it.

Time for another cat photo.

20141219_115046Bufalo and Elvis – Mattia’s girlfriend’s cats

 What are your future plans?

At this time, I intend to continue study and get my master’s degree. As of now I’m meticulously researching and classing all the available degrees the neighbouring French-speaking countries. I’ll send my applications as soon as possible and from then it’s fingers crossed I guess.

I’d really like to study linguistics, be it English, French, Italian or general. I would also love to research the countless English or French dialects, their structure and the peculiar view of the world each of them expresses. In the long run, I’d like to find an occupation doing linguistic research, maybe coupled with teaching. My girlfriend, on the other hand, is very determined to become a professional baker, so I may be looking at a future baker’s helper career.

DSC04637Mattia and his girlfriend outside Prague Castle

Mattia would like this opportunity  to say a huge Thank You to his college lecturer. ‘Thank you’ on my part to my supervisor, professor Heaney. His help has really been paramount, especially for what concerns the traditional language of folk songs underlying the whole thesis.’

And, thank you Mattia, for a wonderful insight into your life and work. Best of luck with your future career. (Please, please, please, let it be translator)

Finally – More Cats!!!!!

storm 3My cat Storm

 

 kimi close upThis is Kimi – she is half Tasmanian Devil – I swear!

For more information about Echoes from the Lost Ones please visit the website:

http//:www.thesongofforgetfulness.com

Pottering about with a Polaroid

Boris polaroid

I was given a Polaroid camera today. Lovely present. I haven’t used one of these things since the late 1990’s. I always found them very difficult to use, in that the viewfinder is tiny and far away from the lens, so trying to compose a picture is tricky, especially when photographing something close up.

storm polaroid

With the photo below, what I saw  through the viewfinder didn’t exactly match up with the final version. Still, it makes a nice B&W photo of a sleepy cat.

kimi polaroid

I had a lot of fun using the Polaroid camera, and will get the hang of it eventually. Pity the film is so expensive though.

I scanned the photos into my computer and fiddled around to create some different effects.

Katya polaroid

Katya polaroid-2

Rasky polaroid

Does anyone else have a Polaroid? If so, do you use it regularly?

Any tips on how to get a decent exposure when using it outside?

Versatile Blogger Award

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I am very honoured to be nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Many thanks to Karen Einsel for nominating me.

You can check out her wonderful post here: http://karensdifferentcorners.wordpress.com/

So, here are the rules for the Versatile Blogger Award – kindly given to me by Karen:

Thank the person who nominated you. In my case it was Karen.

Include a link to their blog, as I have done above.

Nominate 15 bloggers you think deserve the title Versatile Blogger. Mine are at the end of this post.

Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself. And that’s it!!

Okay then – 7 things about me:

I do not enjoy talking about myself. I never know what to say and often come across as very silly indeed. I suppose being an actor for so many years was a wonderful way of hiding behind a character, but now that I am an author, I get asked all sorts of questions about ‘who I am’. Maybe I just don’t know.

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I experiment with the visual image and the written word. I love to take photographs of insects, especially in close up and macro. I like the patterns and textures of insects they are so varied and colourful. I find beauty in spiders and beetles and things that make most people go Yeuk!

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sacophage-2                                                sacophage

I am very disorganised. I have papers strewn all over my desk and floor in my room. Despite having shelves put up by my husband to store my files and folders, I still throw stuff around. Important things I do try to keep in order.

 

I use food to make poetry. I make soup out of nettles. It is really quite delicious. Nettles are full of good things, such as iron and potassium and other minerals. When asked what it tastes like, I can only say, “Green.”

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I like to stand outside and look at the sky. I especially enjoy watching thunderstorms. Where I live in the countryside, we have terrific storms with lots of thrilling lightening and booming thunder.

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I have lots of pyjamas. I get at least two pairs every Christmas. I wear them after I have a bath in the evening and would wear them outside; only I think people would take exception to my dress sense – or lack of it. Especially since I work in schools a lot.

 

I am always rescuing animals. Mice, voles, rats, birds, snakes, insects, and of course cats. I have lots of felines and can’t imagine my life without a cat or six.

kimi

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And here is my list of bloggers:

http://themirrorobscura.wordpress.com/

http://janedougherty.wordpress.com/

http://sfoxwriting.com/

http://russelrayphotos2.com/

http://jwpatten.wordpress.com/

http://jenningswright.wordpress.com/

http://donschlising.com/

http://photonatureblog.com/author/photonatureblog/

http://ryan.boren.me/author/ryan/

http://steviet3.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/my-fifth-novel-no-sex-please-im-menopausal-is-publi

http://terraverum.wordpress.com/

http://theopeningsentence.wordpress.com/

http://aewallaceblog.wordpress.com/

http://guyaldous.wordpress.com/about/

http://deidraalexander.com/