Derek Thornton on picking cucumbers

Today’s guest blogger, unknown to himself, is Derek Thornton, technical translator, erstwhile bilingual blogger. I don’t know why his website describes itself as außer Betrieb, as the links seem to work. But I think part of the structure is down.

Derek reports (I pinched this from CompuServe, Foreign Languages Forum):

The Daily Reflector, Greenville, North Carolina, reports today some preliminary results of a $250,000 federally-funded study to determine whether farm workers are more uncomfortable picking cucumbers on a hot day than on a cold day.

A Spanish translator played a significant part in the study, testing cognitive impairment by getting migrant Mexican farm workers to count numbers forwards and backwards from 5 am to 5 pm.

I am attempting to obtain funding for a follow-up study to determine whether listening to Spanish numbers being translated backwards in a hot cucumber field is more uncomfortable at 5 am or 5 pm for independent freelance translators or for migrant translation agency serfs.

The design of my study takes account of my observation that translating efficiency is also affected by ambient temperature and that the symptoms of deteriorating translation skills (impaired ability to recite Spanish numbers backwards, headaches, sore throats, faintness and heavy perspiration) are shared equally with exploited migrant cucumber pickers, especially after starting work at 5 am and translating right through to 5 pm.

Object of my study is to help reduce the mortality amongst Spanish translators from heat stroke and unprovoked attacks with cucumber hoes.

bq. ECU-based researchers are collecting the final data in a four-year heat stress study that explores how temperature affects farm workers. The study has gathered information ranging from the impact of buildings near the field to the type of crops workers are harvesting.
….
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the study cost nearly $250,000 for the four-year period.
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After analyzing the data, which they expect to finish collecting in September, the scientists and educators hope to release findings that will help farms improve the health, safety and productivity of the laborers who work their land.
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Because deterioration of cognitive skills is a symptom of heat stroke, Amanda Fields, the 23-year-old Spanish translator working with the study, tests workers’ memories.

2 thoughts on “Derek Thornton on picking cucumbers

  1. I have no idea. He used to contribute to a mailing list I was on, and he was quite active, but then suddenly decided to retire from it. Maybe he is retired in general? This entry is from 2004. I did find a Derek Thornton in Pforzheim discussing some bad English online in 2009, but can’t confirm anything more recent.

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