I can't, Aunt Mäthilda (TM-1)

OK... OK... Very much OK (TM-2)

The marked dispersion of values (TM-3)

I don't feel like working today (TM-4)

Night call (TM-5)

Friends (TM-6)

Let's start (TM-7)

But it's a tad technical (TM-8)

The lamp is flickering again (TM-9)

Don't (TM-10)

A totally figurative idiom (TM-11)

This marketing text for translation (TM-12)

How come you never tell me how lovely I look today? (TM-13)

Today's translation (TM-14)

Halloween (TM-15)

Piece of cake (TM-16)

Today's one of those days (TM-17)

The delicate fragrance of moist earth (TM-18)

Our intrepid translator (TM-19)

<i>Quite</i> ahead (TM-20)

The original subtitled version (TM-21)

Great care (TM-22)

Santa Baby (TM-23)

Void (TM-24)

Void II (TM-25) (↑)

I'm back! (TM-26) (↑)

Laconic (TM-27)

Grommet (TM-28)

Dreaming (TM-29)

Klingon with your client (TM-30)

Total control (TM-31)

You have the flu (TM-32)

Run out (TM-33)

Wheels turning (TM-34)

Massively oversleeping (TM-35)

A 6K ED for 3/26 EOB PST (TM-36)

Equivalent terms (TM-37)

Origins (TM-0)

Some readers have asked me where Tina and Mouse comes from, so this post expands a little on my initial answer to "Why the blog?", which was simply that writing these comic strips is fun. Those who asked about Tina and Mouse's origins already know what follows. For those who may wonder, here it goes:

I love cartoons. I grew up with Mafalda, Peanuts! and The New Yorker. I love the pitch-perfect, intelligent wording; the deceptively simple drawings that capture with a few strokes every action and emotion; the out-of-this-world creativity and imagination; the unexpected twist in punch lines; the often irreverent, thought-provoking or funny-in-a-strange-sort-of-way funniness; the references that need to be recognized for the cartoon to actually work. I even love "head-scratching cartoons"*, those that are just too sophisticated, or too unusual or unexpected, and challenge us to think and rethink things before we go "Oh, I get it, that's good!".

Against this cartoon-loving background, sometime ago I stumbled upon an advertisement on a translation-related LinkedIn thread. It was so impossibly absurd I started laughing, until I realized it wasn't a translation joke some fellow linguist had posted for our enjoyment, but a real-life, dead-serious advertisement. The next second, the idea and characters for the first Tina and Mouse comic strip were born**. Being decidedly ungifted for drawing, all I could manage was the very limited artwork you see in this blog ("minimalist", a friend of mine* called it, which sounds so much better). I thought that would be that, but I kept having new ideas for additional strips and having fun writing them. I showed them to a few translator and PM friends, and they laughed. "You should start a blog", one of them suggested.

So this is it. Cartoon lover. Absurd advertisement. Tina and Mouse. The blog. I hope you're enjoying it. Thanks for visiting!

* I discovered Gary Larson through my friend Jaime, comic addict and Tina and Mouse fan (thank you, Jaime). In his introduction to The Complete Far Side, Larson's editor Jake Morrissey writes about "head-scratchers, those readers who didn't quite understand The Far Side every day". I've borrowed the concept from him.
** No, the first Tina and Mouse strip I wrote hasn't been published yet.

This isn´t happening (TM-38)

A subtle distinction (TM-39)

I wonder how I would have fared as an astronaut (TM-40)

What are you doing under the table? (TM-41)

Our intrepid translator II (TM-42)

The translation's finished (TM-43)

Hermitical, isolated, deafferented, incommunicado (TM-44)

Why do they bother (TM-45)

In awe of myself (TM-46)

Helmetting (TM-47)

Unhelmetting (TM-48) (↑)

Jabberwocky (TM-49) (↑37)

All set (TM-50)

Tornado Mouse (TM-51)

An ode to coffee (TM-52)

We nuance (TM-53)

Another glorious and exciting day (TM-54)

Tinaless (TM-55)

Best holidays ever (TM-56) (↑)

Repetitive strain injury (TM-57)

Exclamation marks (TM-58)

Words pending (TM-59)

Translators (TM-60)

I should exercise more (TM-61)

Done! (TM-62)

Even Yo-Yo Ma (TM-63)

The most beautiful word in the world (TM-64)

Build up your concentration skills (TM-65)

The same universal language (TM-66)

Please excuse brevity and typos (TM-67)

A raging fever (TM-68)

The afterbabelian challenge (TM-69)

Our intrepid translator III (TM-70)

The weirdest dream (TM-71)

Top New Year Resolution (TM-72)

Gone Wilde (TM-73)

Perfectly identical synonyms (TM-74)

TransAce-IT Translation Solution Elite Premium Freelance Plus (TM-75)

The absence of context is to be lamented (TM-76)

Pouring out there (TM-77)

Couldn't you take on the project anyway? (TM-78)

Inspire yourself (TM-79)

Binary (TM-80)

She should stop already (TM-81)

Grip, gripe, grab (TM-82)

Not coffee (TM-83)

Worried about you (TM-84)

Yet again (TM-85)

Freezing and lagging (TM-86) (↑)

The art of baking (TM-87)

Your isolation-overload syndrome (TM-88) (↑TM-44)

The verdict (TM-89)

Her last cactus's fate (TM-90)

Squeegee (TM-91)

Changes have been made (TM-92)

An end to this (TM-93)

Perfect choice (TM-94)

Our intrepid translator IV (TM-95)

The worst word (TM-96)

Mens sana in corpore sano (TM-97)

Just a translation (TM-98)

A serious case (TM-99)

Staring at the source text (TM-100)

The news today (TM-101)

Next sentence (TM-102)

Dear all (TM-103)

In voltage veritas (TM-104)

Fatal system error (TM-105)

He insists we meet (TM-106)

One hundred percent behind you (TM-107)

Green prairies (TM-108)

Two-year anniversary of Tina and Mouse

This past September marked the first two years of Tina and Mouse’s existence. I’d like to thank you for all your visits, comments, likes, tweets, retweets, pins, scoops, blog posts, Facebook posts, and inclusions in forums, newsletters, and blogrolls.

Thank you also for all your emails with questions and thank-yous. It’s been a lot of fun writing these comic strips and sharing them with you, so thank you for visiting and for writing to me.

A few facts about these first two years of Tina and Mouse:
  • 100 posts.
  • More than 90 countries visiting.
  • 99 comic strips, most of them related to the world of translation, but quite a few not really, so a more accurate tagline to the blog might be “A minimalist comic on translation and other stuff”.
  • Main translation topics covered: deadlines, le mot juste, source text, target text, abbreviations, difficult clients, isolation, grammar, spelling, punctuation, word people, and coffee (totally a translation topic).
  • Main not-really translation topics covered: concentration-enhancing techniques, procrastination, time management, emails, physical exercise (or the lack of it), neglected cactuses, and lonely computer mice.
  • Top five comic strips viewed: We nuance (TM-53), Please excuse brevity and typos (TM-67), A totally figurative idiom (TM-11), The translation’s finished (TM-43), and The worst word (TM-96).
  • Top page viewed: All.
  • Top five countries visiting: United States, Germany, France, Spain, and United Kingdom.

What I’ve learned in my first two years of blogging:
I’ve learned that there are a lot of people out there who, like me, enjoy focusing on the humorous side of things. As a nice colleague from Finland wrote to me (thank you, Susan), “We can all use some laughter in our days”.

What I haven’t learned in my first two years of blogging:
I haven’t learned to draw: there’s been no improvement whatsoever in my drawing abilities, so I don’t think I’ll be removing the word “minimalist” from the blog’s tagline anytime soon!

No more wallpaper monitor (TM-109) (↑107)

This new year (TM-110)

Unextendably deadlined (TM-111)

Going for a walk (TM-112)

Words. Tons. (TM-113)

Forlorn, forsaken, forgotten (TM-114)

Cease and desist (TM-115)

My heart sinks (TM-116)

We should probably cancel (TM-117)

Overobsessed (TM-118)

Sort of ambiguously (TM-119)

Not much typing (TM-120)

Top priority (TM-121) (↑108)

Life-cycle end (TM-122)

I'm going to do it (TM-123)

Constrained to decline (TM-124) (↑)

In the zone (TM-125) (↑)

That heavenly sound (TM-126)

Staring at the screen (TM-127)

Translator stuff (TM-128)


  1. Awesome! As a fellow translator, I really enjoy your strip.
    Keep 'em coming... on those eerie hours of the night with no pressing deadlines.

    1. Thanks for visiting and for your comment, SRuusunen! Btw, few three-word combinations sound as beautiful to a translator’s ear as “no pressing deadlines”!

  2. This is the BEST thing I have read possibly ever about our lonely life as translators :) Keep them coming! And keep nuancing :)

  3. Thanks, you keep nuancing, too!

  4. Love the strips! Very relatable, too, I might add!

  5. Thank you, Pavel! Sound quite familiar to us, don’t they?

  6. I nearly missed an early deadline as I kept reading until the end of the page. Then I only commented very later at night because the muse of industriousness and diligence lost me at some point during the day, and as I don't speak to any object in the room, I had to seek human contact in the real world to reawaken my abilities. I can relate too!

  7. :) Thanks for visiting and for commenting, AnLor. Happy that you enjoyed the strips, not happy at all that you almost missed a deadline because of them!

  8. "You have to keep her on a tight leash. Otherwise she’ll just compulsively check her email every other minute." thank god I thought I was going mad!! But it actually seems quite normal for a translator ;)

    1. :) It could be worse: you could actually be checking your email EVERY minute!
      Thanks for visiting and for commenting!

  9. Ergonomic keyboard and trackball saying hello to Mouse! Thanks for the accurate portrayal of our lives as peripherals of dedicated translators!

    1. :) You are welcome, ergonomic keyboard and trackball!
      Thank you for your comment and for your visit!

  10. Excellent and so true :-) Reflexion about the emailing time is so great! Thanks

  11. Really excellent. My favourite is the one about gimbling the borogroves, And the grommet!

    1. Thanks, Billy! I love the Jabberwocky, so I just had to write a Tina and Mouse strip about it!

  12. Thank you very much, Regine! Yes, emailing time investment is quite mind-boggling when you think about it, isn’t it?

  13. Dear Elena, your comics are a masterpiece! I translate health-related texts from English into Russian for many years, and I am a medical doctor by education. So we are colleagues. I would like very much to put a link to your blog to my blog healthtranslate in LiveJournal. Would you mind?

    Thanks for terrific strips!


  14. Hi Vladimir, we are indeed colleagues! Glad you like the comic strips, and certainly, happy that you include a link to my blog in your blog!