More Than a Feeling-

More Than a Feeling: Untranslatable Emotions

Having trouble putting your feelings into words?  Try another language! Emotions are universal, but the words we use to describe them are not.  To prove the point, here are 17 words for emotions with no direct English translation. Read through this list of untranslateable emotions, and see how many times you find yourself nodding in recognition.

Forelsket (Norwegian)- That walking-on-a-cloud feeling you get when you first fall in love. Like so:

Gigil (Filipino)- The uncontrollable desire to squeeze or pinch something cute.

Waldeinsamkeit (German): The peaceful, transcendent, contemplative feeling you get when you’re walking alone in the woods.

Schadenfreude (German): The pleasure you take from someone else’s misery, as illustrated below by Homer Simpson.

Ei viitsi (Estonian): That feeling you get when you can’t be bothered to go anywhere or do anything. Read more

french spelling

French Spelling Fracas: New Rules Spur Protests 

French speakers, take note: new spellings are coming for thousands of French words, and not everyone is happy about it. The spelling changes are an attempt to simplify the written language and make it more consistent, but language purists and politicians alike have been flocking to the virtual “streets” of social media in protest.

What’s Changing: Does An Oignon By Any Other Name Still Make You Cry?

The changes affect approximately 2,400 French words, and most of them fall into one of the following categories:

  • Some vowels will be dropped from certain words, like the i in oignon (onion), which will now be spelled ognon.
  • Missing hyphens, as week-end becomes weekend and mille-pattes (millipede) becomes millipede. 
  • The circumflex accent will disappear from the and in most words in which it doesn’t indicate tense or affect meaning. So, maîtresse will become maitresse, and disparaître will become disparaitre.
  • Hyphens will added in some words, and some accent marks will change. For example, réglementaire will become règlementaire.

The reforms are designed to make French spelling easier to learn. For example, as Chantal Contant, a French linguist and professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal told The

Ognon already once existed in the dictionary and now they are bringing ognon in line with trognon de pomme (apple core), grognon (grumpy) and rognon de veau (veal kidney).”

These new spellings have actually been in the works for the past 26 years, but everyone felt free to ignore them until last week, when it was announced that they would be integrated into new French textbooks and curriculum. That made people upset. Very upset. Read more

5 Translation Industry Predictions for 2016

5 Translation Industry Predictions for 2016

To quote Bob Dylan, times are changing…and the translation industry is changing, too. Every year, the world grows smaller, better connected and more technologically advanced. What will 2016 bring for the translation industry? We’ve dusted off our crystal balls to give you a sneak peak into the future!

Companies Who Take Translation Seriously Will Reap the Rewards

Ready to expand into new markets? If the borders of your home country are starting to feel a little small, there’s never been a better time to conquer the world.  Especially for e-commerce and other web-based businesses, translation represents a tremendous opportunity to get in ahead of the competition.

For example,translation company Smartling recently polled 150 US marketers and found that 48 percent were not marketing outside of the US at all. Even fewer companies were taking advantage of the unique opportunities created by localisation, as 86 percent admitted to simply translating English language content without customising it to the target market.

Meanwhile, according to research from Common Sense Advisory:

When looking across sectors, we found that company size, website popularity, and brand value all show positive correlation to the number of languages found…Yet one out of three websites (37%) visited turned out to be monolingual.

So, companies that are willing to take their foreign language customers seriously and make an effort to craft marketing content for them in their own languages have a tremendous opportunity to get ahead of the competition. Will you let it pass you by? Read more

can you trust Google Translate-

Google Translate Mistakes: 6 Times Google Went Rogue

On the surface, Google Translate might seem like a simple, free translation service for businesses.  But don’t be deceived. Machine translation systems make all sorts of mistakes that a human translator could easily avoid. Still, it’s free. What’s the worst that could happen, you ask? If you choose to use Google Translate, don’t be surprised when it goes rogue and:


Insults Your Customers

Last January, online GLBT activist group All Out started an online petition against Google Translate. The problem? The service was suggesting a number of offensive slurs as synonyms for the word “gay.” According to All Out:

“500 million people use Google Translate every month. That’s a lot of people being taught hateful words and insults…Google already has the technology to filter out hateful language: typing “female” doesn’t throw up sexist words.”

It’s easy enough to understand how this could happen. Basically, people are jerks. The words they use to describe certain classes of people may not align with the words your business (or, you know, decent humans in general) wants to use. Google Translate basically guesses at word meanings by comparing documents and web pages in different languages. This causes translation errors that Google then has to manually fix, as they did with this particular bug. Read more

Translation News

Translation News: 5 Stories to Keep You In The Know

Can you believe we’re already one month into 2016? Neither can we! Life moves fast. Here are five language and translation news stories you may have missed.

boromir google translate

Google Translate Fail: Russia is “Mordor”

We’re not even out of January yet, and already Google Translate has made a high-profile (and hilarious) error. The online translation service’s algorithms somehow decided that when translating from Ukrainian to Russian, “Russia” should be translated as “Mordor.”

Additionally, the service translated  Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s name as “sad little horse.” No word on whether Putin became “Sauron” or not.

The error was probably caused by online chatter from Ukrainians about Russia, which took a turn for the dark side after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Google released a statement on the matter which almost perfectly demonstrates why you should think twice about using Google Translate for your business:

“Google Translate is an automatic translator – it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead. This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations. We always work to correct these as quickly as possible when they are brought to our attention.”

Read more

French Government Demands Better French Keyboard

French Government Demands Better French Keyboard 

France’s language ministry is demanding a new revolution…in French keyboard layout.

In the English-speaking world, most of us learned to type on the QWERTY keyboard. However, QWERTY was designed with English in mind. Travel to countries where English isn’t the predominant language, and suddenly your touch-typing skills are rendered useless by unfamiliar keyboard designs.

The QWERTY keyboard itself has come in for quite a bit of criticism. Its design is riddled with inefficiencies. For example, according to Wikipedia, “The QWERTY keyboard has only one vowel (the letter A) on the home row, even though most English words contain a vowel, forcing the fingers to travel off the home row for most words.” Additionally, the layout puts right-handed people at a disadvantage, since a majority of the most commonly used letters are typed with the left hand instead of the right.

However, dissatisfaction with current keyboard layout options is not limited to countries where QWERTY predominates.  In fact, France’s culture and communication ministry just issued a statement that basically blames the decline of French language on the country’s venerable old AZERTY keyboard layout.

French Keyboard Layout Makes It Hard to Type French

Nobody knows exactly who invented the AZERTY keyboard, but it’s been in use since the 19th century. The layout is based on the QWERTY keyboard, so perhaps it’s no surprise that it’s not optimised for French typists. It’s just one more reason to blame America for ruining the French language, I suppose. Read more

choose translation

How to Choose a Translation Company

Choosing a translation company is an important decision, and it’s important to get it right. The right translation company allows your business to clearly communicate with customers and stakeholders in other languages.  Choose poorly, and you could face a number of unhappy consequences, including embarrassment, lost customers and even regulatory compliance issues.  What to do? Learn how to choose a translation company with our detailed guide! Here’s what to look for:

How to Choose a Translation Company: Learn More About The Translators

A translation company is only as good as its translators. So, the first step in evaluating a translation company is to learn more about the people who will be translating your content.  How many languages can the company source translators for? Are all the translators native speakers of the language they’ll be translating? How much experience do they have?

How to Choose a Translation Company: Experience and Reputation

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with choosing a newer company, using a well-established provider with years of experience gives you one more level of security.  Different industries have their own terminology and translation requirements. So, in addition to general experience, you should look for a company with experience in your industry.

For example, medical translation and legal translation are specialised disciplines that require subject matter expertise in addition to fluency in both languages.

While experience is important, we all know age is just a number.  You want a translation company that is not just experienced, but also has a reputation for quality, integrity and good customer service.  Any translation agency you work with should be able to provide you with case studies, testimonials and references from previous clients. Read more


6 Star Wars Languages and Their Real-World Counterparts 

What would an alien language sound like, anyway? In the Star Wars universe, it might sound like Indonesian, or maybe Finnish. Here are some of the most interesting Star Wars languages, along with the real-world languages that inspired them:


In the real world, the Quechua language family is an indigenous language spoken in the South American Andes. It was the language of the Incas, and currently has 8.9 million native speakers.  In the Star Wars universe, however, it sounds an awful lot like Huttese, the language of the Hutts.

When sound designer Ben Burtt was trying to come up with dialog for the bounty hunter Greedo, he drew inspiration from a Quechua language tape. As a result, Huttese shares sounds and even a few words with Quechua.

For example, tuta means night in Quechua. It appears to mean from in Huttese, as in the phrase “Sebulba tuta Pixelito.” Read more

languages gender

Why Do Languages Have Gender?

Why do languages have gender? For an English speaker, grammatical gender is one of the most vexing aspects of learning a new language. As Mark Twain once wrote in reference to German:

“A person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it! A person’s nose, lips, shoulders, breast, hands, and toes are of the female sex; and his hair, ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees, heart, and conscience haven’t any sex at all…”

Doesn’t seem to make much sense, does it? And yet many, if not most, languages across the world divide nouns up by “gender,” often in quite arbitrary ways. Here’s a quick primer on this interesting language characteristic, along with some tips and tricks to make learning gendered languages easier.

Grammatical Gender Vs. Natural Gender

It’s important to distinguish between grammatical gender and natural gender. Natural gender is simply the gender of a person, animal or character. Grammatical gender is a way of categorising nouns; it doesn’t necessarily match up with the “natural gender” of the person or object being described.

In some languages, grammatical gender is more than just “male” or “female.” Some languages have a “neuter” class, while others have different genders for animate versus inanimate objects.

Languages also have different ways of assigning gender. Some languages go by the physical characteristics of the object in question. Often, mythology and cultural views on gender come in to play, too. For example, in the Alamblak language of Papua New Guinea, the masculine gender “includes things which are tall or long and slender, or narrow (e.g. fish, snakes, arrows and slender trees).” Hmmm. I wonder why? Read more

geeks guide edited

A Geek’s Guide to Fictional Interpreters

Good science fiction and fantasy stories take us to new universes with new cultures…and that usually means new languages, too. That’s why invented and constructed  languages are on the rise. In these fantasy worlds, interpreters and translators often play an important role. Here are some of our favorite fictional interpreters:

Missandei, Game of Thrones and A Song of Ice and Fire

“Eleven years of age, yet Missandei is as clever as half the men at this table and wiser than all of them.” — A Dance with Dragons 

Interpreter Missandei is a compelling character in both the A Song of Ice and Fire books and the TV show.  That said, she’s almost a different character in the books than she is in the show.

In the books,  Missandei is very young, only ten years of age when Daenerys overthrows the “Good Masters” of Astaphor.  She speaks at least three languages: the Common Tongue of Westeros, High Valyrian and Bastard Valyrian.  She is a slave, serving as interpreter because of her linguistic skills.

Despite her age, she quickly becomes one of the queen’s closest confidantes and advisors, serving as her herald and interpreting when needed. After Daenerys disappears, she helps Sir Barristan Selmy overthrow Daenerys’ shady Meereenese husband to rule in her place.

In the show, Missandei is quite a bit older and played by Nathalie Emmanuel. She speaks 19 languages fluently, helps save Daenerys from an assassination attempt, and helps Grey Worm and Tyrion govern Mereen after the queen disappears.

Which version of Missandei do you prefer? We think she’s awesome either way! Read more