Asking vs Thinking when Translating

I’ve been putting up past projects and labeled tool diagrams on my Esperanto woodworking blog, Ligneroj. As I translate some of the woodworking terms, sometimes I get stuck.  What’s more is that sometimes none of my dictionaries are of any help, I have at least half a dozen, plus a few online sources. When this happens I have the choice of thinking harder, or of asking around of other Esperantists.

The problem is that the other Esperantists don’t tend to be of a technical or hands on mindset so I usually either get something that doesn’t fit the purpose, or a back wash from the way-too-jargon-ish Esperanto picture dictionary. I’m trying to do the write ups for my old woodworking projects in such a way that non-woodworkers have a chance of knowing what I’m saying.  I don’t want to call the threads on a rod ‘helicaj kaneletoj‘ (helical little channels) I want to call them ‘ŝraŭbaĵoj‘ (threads of a screw).

It reminds me of when I took a course in AutoCAD. The text book gave a very techy explanation of what a circle was like ‘a line inscribed a certain distance from a fixed point.’  Most of the time I just needed an answer like ‘a circle is round.’

So today I realized that I needed an Esperanto name for a Thumb Piano.  It’s also called a kalimba.  I had two choices, bring ‘Kalimba’ into Esperanto via the 15th rule of grammar, making it ‘Kalimbo’ or thinking harder for something more descriptive.

Doing some research, I found that the thumb piano came exclusively from the continent of Africa.  More research showed me that a similar instrument, a jaw harp is already named in Esperanto (buŝharpo), thus reinforcing my idea that a ‘Harpo‘ in Esperanto isn’t absolutely restricted to large triangular objects with plucked strings. I always say that Esperanto is a poetic language mistakenly labeled as logical. Calling it ‘Logical’ brings to mind emotionless Mr. Spock. It’s truer to say the language is regular in its grammar.

So I decided the Thumb piano would best be named an African Harp, ‘Afrika Harpo‘.  At least it’s better than the total head scratching that would be brought on by calling it a ‘Kalimbo’ out of the blue with no further description. If  I’d asked others, I’m sure eventually the answers would devolve into how that musical instrument actually has about 15 names depending on where in Africa you were.

A Thumb Piano, or Kalimba which I made for my wife. In Esperanto it is called a 'Afrika Harpo'.

A Thumb Piano, or Kalimba which I made for my wife. In Esperanto it is called an ‘Afrika Harpo‘.

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