10,000 Steps (International Translation Day)

In recent years, I have celebrated International Translation Day on this day, September 30, here at Living in FIN. Today, I discovered that the overarching theme of this year’s celebration is “Finding the words for a world in crisis.” It is not that I think that the world is not in crisis (or that I thought it was ever not in crisis), but having worked for thirteen years on a much more intense and exhausting online translation project that only this month has, for the first time, passed the ten thousand monthly views mark, I do wonder how much difference translation makes to a “world in crisis.”

More to the point, when you sometimes wait, as I do, for months to get paid for rush translation jobs, that is, for “real work” (not the fun I’m having here) or are offered (as I was the other day) 1,200 euros for translating a six-hundred-page book (which should cost at least 12,000 euros) you feel both inspired and then, just as instantly, let down when you read that translation is a “moral debt,” as I did a few days ago on the Facebook page of a well-known poet and translator.

A moral debt to whom? To people who think that translation is as easy as falling off a chair, a kind of menial mechanical intellectual labor? To people who cannot be bothered to learn to speak any foreign language fluently? To people hostile to the foreign tongues in their midst?

Yes, it’s lovely to share your talents by giving people access to the lives, dreams, sufferings, and joys of other people, sometimes far away, whose languages they don’t speak. But since, I suspect, most translators labor without much in the way of recognition and appreciation (and money) from anyone, including even the people who benefit from their work, it’s better to imagine that, on the one hand, translating is something you’re doing for your own sake, something you’re doing to escape “the heavy bear that goes with me,” as Delmore Schwartz so aptly called his (our) brutish inner self, and, on the other, that translators are workers, too, and should demand good pay for fair work.

So, the hell with “moral debt.” Let’s be escapists instead. Here is today’s installment of Viivi & Wagner.

Panel 1
Wagner: I’m going to circle the bed until I get to 10,000 steps.

Panel 3
Viivi: I’d like to sleep. How many steps have you taken today?
Wagner: Those two just now.

Source: Helsingin Sanomat

Almost Finns have a few pro-tips for dealing with the kaamos, the polar night or the nearly endless darkness of winter nights and days on or above the sixtieth parallel.

Turn on the English subtitles if you don’t speak Finnish. Thanks to Tiina Pasanen for the link.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Finally, it wouldn’t be a Living in FIN party without a few words of gloomy wisdom from the late great Hannu Salakka.

Elämä ei sellaista
kuin lauseiden synnystä saattaisi luulla.
Olen vain hetkeksi karannut tähän miettimään,

Life is not like that
like the way you might think sentences are born.
I’ve just run away for a while to think about it,
to think back.

lapsi opettaa kävelemään
niinkuin vanhaa miestä,
pysähtelemäänkin, katselemaan taakseen.

On afternoon strolls
a child teaches you to walk
like an old man,
even teaching you to stop and look back.

joka ei ole iloinen eikä surullinen,
mutta täynnä tunnetta.

A sound (a voice),
which is neither happy nor sad,
but full of emotion.

Source: Hannu Salakka, Kuin unessa viipyen (Otava, 1990), pp. 419–421. Translated by Living in FIN. Images courtesy of Duolingo, the best thing since sliced bread, especially since it started teaching Finnish.

Couch Potato

couch potato

Panel 1
Viivi: Father and mother are going to marry me off to some rich brat.
Wagner: Great!

Panel 2
Viivi: How’s that?!
Wagner: You’d be rich again. You gave away the inheritance, after all.

Panel 3
Viivi: What about you?!
Wagner: I’ll be lying on this couch as always.

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 25, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)



Panel 1
Viivi: You and father may have a marriage of convenience, but don’t foist such a thing on me!!!
Viivi’s Mom: Take a breath once in a while.

Panel 2
Viivi: Uunnhh!!
Viivi’s Mom: And now breathe out.

Panel 3
Viivi: Whooooh!!
Viivi’s Mom: Have you simmered down?

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 24, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)

Love and Marriage

v+w-marrying for love

Panel 1
Viivi: Mom, you cannot be serious!
Viivi’s Mom: You can’t be with a pig till the end of your life.

Panel 2
Viivi: And you cannot arrange a spouse for me!
Viivi’s Mom: What’s so bad about it?

Panel 3
Viivi: What culture are you really living in?
Viivi’s Mom: Marrying for love is overrated.

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 23, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)

Pig versus Man

v+w-pig versus man

Panel 1
At Viivi’s parents’ place

Viivi’s Dad: Is Viivi still with her pig?
Viivi’s Mom: Wagner.

Panel 2
Viivi’s Dad: Sex with that animal must stop! The scandal could destroy my career.

Panel 3
Viivi’s Dad: You have to look for a spouse for her. A human being. A man.
Viivi’s Mom: ??????

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 21, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)

Open Fly


Panel 1
Viivi: I’m not giving you the inheritance.
Wagner: Who you giving it to, then?

Panel 2
Viivi: To someone who is really poor.

Panel 3
Wagner: Just look at the shape I’m in! There’s a hole in my trousers.
Viivi: Bah, your fly is just open.

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 20, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)



Panel 1
Viivi: Waiter, how much does a refill cost?
Waiter: Nothing.

Panel 2
Wagner: We’re not coming to this cafe anymore!
Viivi: Oh, but it’s such a wonderful place.

Panel 3
Wagner: Do you wan’t to learn to spend or not?!
Viivi: What if I bought tea instead of a getting a refill?

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 17, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)

No Cheapskate


Panel 1
Shop Clerk: These are three for ten euros.
Viivi: Oh, but my husband does not let me buy cheap.

Panel 2
Viivi: It’s hard to find normally priced products.
Store signs: “Sale!” “Sale!”

Panel 3
Viivi: I would fancy some grapes, but these are also on sale.
Store sign: “Now only.”

Translated by Living in FIN. Originally published in Hesari on October 16, 2017. Written and drawn by Juba (Jussi Tuomola)