From foe to friend 

At Blue Lines, the word ‘terminator’ used to conjure up an image of a cyborg assassin from the future who, weirdly enough, spoke English with an Austrian accent about as thick as his biceps. But that was until our friends over at com&co changed everything – forever! 

It all started on our Facebook page, where for the past ten years we’ve been sharing a whole bunch of language-related funnies under the common denominator ‘Language humor, priceless!’ 

Whoa! Did I just drop the words ‘terminator’ and ‘denominator’ into the same blog post? Sci-fi geeks, mathmos and word nerds’ brains everywhere are probably fritzing out right now. Okay, I admit it! Mine made ‘determinator’ out of them.

How it actually went down – the backstory! 

Anyhow, this is how it went down. Our com&co friends came up with this character – a language freak who answered to the name of ‘taalminator’. Yeah, right! We didn’t think much of that name, either. Even once you get that ‘taal’ is Dutch for ‘language’, it still doesn’t translate very easily. And it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in any language. But the basic concept kept coming back to haunt us, or should I say, hunt us? 

‘I’ll be back.’ 

Well, just like in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, he did come back. And second time around, he was on our side. Phew! Thankfully, he returned with a better name, an all-important hashtag and guns blazing. Nevertheless, we felt he needed a weapon upgrade if he was going to be battling for Blue Lines! So, we kitted him out with a pair of our editors’ ink guns – one locked and loaded red, the other blue.

What’s lurking behind that tough facade? 

So, what code’s he got running on the kernel behind that tough cyborg facade of his? Well, he’s still the linguistic Übermensch that com&co originally dreamt up. Even the slightest hint of spurious spelling, grotty grammar or fuzzy phraseology and he’ll start reaching for his red-ink gun, and it’ll be ‘Hasta la vista, baby!’ 

Oh! And take cover fast when his sensors detect translatorese (native or non-native), machine-translated humdingers or any one of countless other copywriting crimes. Because his red ink will start splattering uncontrollably as things spiral into a scene straight out of a Quentin Tarantino movie. 

But he’s got other subroutines running in his code, too. Surprise him with an on-point translation or some crafty copywriting, and he might even crack a smile. Slip in a few nifty turns of phrase, some captivating copy or a poetic choice of words, and you might just melt his metallic core. 

We swear we actually saw him shed a tear recently when he came across the Japanese word ‘hanafubuki’ (cherry blossom blizzard). And who’d blame him, right? 

He’s here to stay 

Yep, you guessed it! There’s a little bit of #terminator in all of us working here at Blue Lines. 

‘We’ll be back!’