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Dear Editors of Connections
I've just received by airmail a copy of Connections' volume 25,
Issue 1, the first issue sent to me as to the member of INSNA
since July 2002. The back cover page shows how the Editors of the
journal imagine the translations of INSNA into several European
languages. It is a good idea to let the world know in such a way
that INSNA is an international organization, even if only the minority
of its members speak languages other than the official one.
I know to a greater or smaller degree some of the languages
represented in the list. Hence I cannot view this stuff in the same
way as I would look at Chinese writing or all Hebrew alphabet
except alef known to me as a mathematician. That is why I can't
help complaining about too many errors that I traced in few
lines, not only the one on top of the list.
Let me begin from correcting this first item which is in my
mother language. The translation of INSNA into Polish is OK, but the
effect has been spoilt by three mistakes made by the person who
retyped the text with the use of WordPerfect: (1) One syllable
(do) was omitted in the first word which should read
Mi#1,113#dzynarodowa (#1,113# means character #113 in WordPerfect
Character Map #1); (2) two letters were transposed in the fourth
word: it should be "Sieci", not "Seici"; (3) The last word
"Spolecznych" should have #1,153# instead of "l".
Let me show in turn two errors in the French translation of
INSNA: (1) "pour" was mistyped as "piur"; (2) mute "x" is missing
at the end of R#41#seau in its second appearance where the noun
should be in plural. The latter error might also happen to a
native user of French. As regards the first error, I wonder why
it has not been noticed in the country which hosts the
headquarters of INSNA, where in many places the English speaking
citizens can see French inscriptions, frequently containing
pour=for. Leaving this error makes me deduce that no proofreading
was done after the back cover page had been typed and printed.
My purely visual knowledge of Spanish has turned out sufficient
to locate the following errors in the Spanish version:
(1) "Associati#59#n" instead of "Asociaci#59#n"; (2) "Socials"
instead of "Sociales".
The Dutch translation which I recognized from voor=for looks
correct. Probably the European Editors of Connections took care
It seems to me that the Hungarian translation (the one in which
"Network" is translated as "H#27#l#59#zat") is also good.
I can't say the same about the German translation. In spite of
my poor knowledge of this language, I bet the text on the back
cover page also violates some spelling or grammar rules. Let the
German subscribers of Socnet (the second largest group among
European Socnetters) look at this and send the proofs themselves.
As regards other most widely spoken European languages, one of
them is missing. My moderate knowledge of Italian prompts me the
following translation: La Rete Internazionale per l'Analisi delle
Reti Sociali. Let the Italian colleagues (24 names are listed
when REVIEW SOCNET (BY COUNTRY is sent to the list server) say
if this is OK (I'm not sure if there should be "delle" rather
Lastly, let me comment on the line in the Cyrillic alphabet, or
the item which precedes the penultimate one (probably in Welsh
or Gaelic). I suspect that the Russian translation was included
in the list just to mark that the scholars from the postcommunist
East are not excluded from the world community of science. Let
the Russian members of INSNA, if there are any, say themselves
what would make them more angry: the omission of their language
or a translation like that. Myself, I'm shocked by the low level
of language consciousness revealed by the person responsible for
this translation. He or she must have forgotten that every
language is a structured system rather than a collection of
words. If you translate a statement from a typically analytical
language like English into a highly inflected language like Latin
or most Slavic languages, you can't just look up in a dictionary
the counterparts of the words which make up the statement. If you
proceed in this way, the result will be meaningless or ridiculous.
It seems to me even more likely that the Translator (T), did not
even use an English-Russian Dictionary, but asked an accidentally
met Russian immigrant (R) with a pretty poor knowledge of English
to give the counterparts of "international," "network", "for",
I suspect that the dialogue between T and R ran as follows.
T: Can you help me translate into Russian a couple of common
R: Sure, what's the first word?
Comment: Russian words are transliterated here according to rules
used in the library catalogs. Note also that R gave the masculine
form of the adjective <international>; the feminine form is
T: Tell me now what is the Russian word for <network>
R: I'm sorry, I don't know this word.
T: Perhaps you know the simpler noun <net>.
R: Unfortunately, I'm not familair with this word, either.
T: I'll try to describe its meaning. To make a net, you must
weave strings together.
R: Then, I guess that what you mean is called <pletenka> in Russian.
Comment: To explain the meaning of <net> to R, T tried to avoid
any abstract connotations in the hope that this would help R to
find the right counterpart. As a consequence, R translated <weave>
as <plesti>. Hence <pletennyi>, or <woven>, and the derived noun
R: What is the next word?
T: That's all. Thank you very much.
What is wrong with this dialogue? First, the Translator did not
show the whole statement to R. Second, T did not ask R to check
the result. If R saw the text printed in "Connections", the
dialogue could go on as shown below and would end up with finding
the right translation.
R: <Mezhdunarodnyi' pletenka>? This is not grammatically correct,
it should be <mezhdunarodnaya pletenka>
Comment: a noun and adjective must agree in gender (not only in
T: OK, but is the meaning of the statement clear to you after
R: Is INSNA an international group of acrobats specialized in
making nets from their bodies?
T: No! INSNA is an international association which is called a
network because its members communicate and establish ties
among each other.
R: Why didn't you say this to me at the very beginning? Now I can
translate properly the word <net> as <set'> and the whole Russian name
for INSNA will be <Mezhdunarodnaya set' dla analiza
Comment: R has corrected T's translation of <for social network
analysis>, retaining the noun <network> in singular in the second
place. This prompts him to ask the question.
R: What social network is analyzed by the members of this
T: They don't analyze a single network. There are many social
networks and all of them can be studied.
R: Therefore, the correct translation should be: <Mezhdunarodnaya
set' dla analiza obshchestvennykh setei'>.
Comment: R changed singular to plural and put all nouns and
adjectives in appropriate "cases".
T: Thus, what remains yet to be done is to write this text in the
I can do it myself instead of R. Here is the spelling of the key term:
If you would like to correct the Russian version, I can send you
the whole Cyrillic text written in WordPerfect.
The Russian word for "net" and "network" is similar to the Polish
word (sie#1,97#) and possibly to its counterparts in other Slavic
languages, though not all, as I infer from the line having
"Mre()a" (where () stands for a character not recognized by
WordPerfect). Can somebody tell me whether this line (second from
top of the list) is in Slovenian or Croatian. I visited Yugoslavia
in 1987 but failed to get familiar with the basics of these two
languages which I usually do when I go to an alien language environment.
However, my one day visit to Slovenia was not planned in advance.
To conclude, let me take this opportunity to send my greetings to
Anushka and Vladimir whom I met that day in Ljubljana.
And the last question: can anybody translate INSNA to Latin, the
language used by the European scholars before English.
(in Poland: Tadeusz Soza#1,155#ski; "sz" is the counterpart of
English "sh", #1,155# sounds like Spanish #1,57# or "gn" in
French or Italian).
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