Few of this blog’s readers might know that last Monday 9th of June the radio station of my hometown, Ràdio Vilafranca, broadcasted an interview to me in the magazine Penedès gamma extra.
Carla Sanmartín and Daniel García Peris interview bloggers from my hometown area or who write about related topics, e. g. wine, since Penedès wines are well-known. They focused on the Catalan version of the blog, but they are quite the same. Here’s the audio in Catalan, but panic not, for you can find an abridged translation below:
Download the interview
C – Here’s another edition of Penedesfera with Daniel García Peris to meet our bloggers. Good morning, Daniel.
D – Good morning. Today we’ve got Òscar Aznar Alemany, with his blog Traduquímica et al.
C – Welcome, Òscar.
Ò – Good morning.
C – We have to introduce Òscar as a translator, corrector and chemist, which is an explosive combination. He’s a man who can both be an environmental chemist at CSIC [state lab] and work with Termcat [centre of terminology]. Congratulations because you fly high in the two fields.
Glasses of the magazine [source]
Ò – Yes, I started studying Chemistry at university and then joined the Translation and Interpreting school thanks to a friend. That’s how this started.
C – And you seem to keep yourself active in both fields.
Ò – True. Lately, I had been focusing in collaborations with Termcat, on scientific texts, combining both. However, I got an offer for a PhD with a contract at CSIC and I felt like going back to the lab.
C – And what do you do there?
Ò – I analyse marine pollution, especially a kind of pesticides called pyrethroids.
C – So you’ve got a lot to do.
Ò – Well, it’s funny to be an environmental chemist because you want to find pollutants in your samples to draw conclusions…
C – But if you do you feel bad, right? I understand. How can we classify Òscar’s blog, Dani?
D – He’s got a very personal blog, but it’s quite educational in his areas of expertise. Sometimes he even mixes them, like in that post about the thin space.
Here I learnt most of my chemistry, but nothing about the thin space [source]
Ò – I find these things very interesting because, as a scientist, you’re not taught linguistic related stuff you need for the documents you’re going to produce.
C – So, how do you plan the topics for your posts?
Ò – I try to write about language because that’s something everybody can use and sometimes publish posts on simple chemistry or the chemical research process. I don’t want to overload people with excessively specialised matters. I also write about books and my trips, but from a cultural or linguistic point of view as much as possible.
C – What got your attention of his blog, Dani?
D – This duality and his will to communicate and help us avoid typical mistakes.
C – So, what bothers you the most, linguistic contamination or environmental contamination?
Ò – Ha, ha! It depends on how serious they are. I’ve recently analysed salmon from supermarkets and pesticide levels are a thousand times below the accepted limits. That doesn’t bother me.
D – I guess you analyse all kinds of materials, don’t you?
If they are that clean, someone’s not working [source]
Ò – Indeed, in the lab there’s people analysing all sort of compounds. I also work with flame retardants. These are used in everything, for instance computers or chairs in theatres, in order to avoid or weaken fires. These compounds are constantly released by these objects, but you’ve got to choose between a possible cancer at an old age or to have people dying in fires every day.
C – Well, if you add this ‘at an old age’ bit, maybe… But it scares me anyway.
Ò – But that’s the lesser of two evils. Ha, ha! The other option is not to use computers or chairs.
C – Well, I’ve been there. Without computers I mean, not chairs. But yes, there’s been a huge progress in our lifestyle, technology and also chemistry.
Ò – Sure. I fight this war, and sometimes write about it, trying to decriminalize chemistry. You see ads selling soap with no chemicals, as if soap flowed from a spring on a mountain.
C – But lots of soaps have unnecessary chemicals, right?
Ò – Sure, but the word chemistry evokes things like cancer, radiation, death, acid…
C – Ha, ha! Wow!
Ò – There’s a dark side to chemistry, indeed; but we owe it a lot.
Does this look familiar?
C – Of course. We are chemistry. It’s just; sometimes we could use it less. Do we agree on that? Ha, ha!
Ò – Sure. Ha, ha!
D – So you focus on language because it’s more for all audiences than science.
C – But science on the media is becoming more popular lately.
Ò – From my point of view, common people are more likely to use the linguistic tips because not everyone has access to a lab.
D – On the Internet it’s easier for someone interested in that to find it, though.
Ò – That’s true. My colleges from university or the lab find it interesting too sometimes.
C – When did you start this blog? And was it your first?
Ò – I started four years ago because I took a course on presenting TV programmes and…
C – To become a presenter?
Ò – Yes, it was a short course.
The Catalan counterpart to this blog
C – That’s interesting because, talking about science becoming more popular, that’s thanks to good communicators. And we need people like this.
Ò – Right. So, a man had been recording and interviewing us throughout the course and gave us some advice at the end. He thought I had a funny way of telling things and making stories appealing even when they weren’t and encouraged me to start a blog. And I saw it as a way to practise my writing and learn in the process. And that’s my aim, to learn, not to get lots of readers. Of course, if someone likes it and learns something, that’s even better. So, I started a blog in Catalan and a bit of Spanish and its twin in English.
D – Maybe another option between TV and blog is YouTube.
Ò – In fact, I’ve thought about it. But I’d rather have a solid base and be really proud of my blogs—which I am, quite—before adventuring into something new.
C – So these are two actually different blogs we’ve seen today.
D – Indeed. Different because of this uncommon combination of topics and here we’ve got the exponent.
C – Fantastic. Thank you very much, Òscar. It’s been a real pleasure meeting you and talking about your work.
Ò – Thank you.