How secure transcription will help post brexit

How Secure Transcription Will Help Shape Post-Brexit Britain

One of the biggest challenges for the British government and its departments in the months and years following the triggering of Article 50 will be the negotiation of an independent trade agreement.  The goal for this agreement will be to enable the UK to prosper and grow outside the EU. Whatever agreement is reached will shape the economic and political landscape of the UK for at least a generation. A clear negotiation strategy will be key to the success of any talks, which is where secure transcription comes in. Read more


Slang Through the Ages: Can You Guess What These Slang Words Mean?

“All slang is metaphor, and all metaphor is poetry.” – Gilbert Chesterton

When it comes to English slang through the ages, how hip are you? Can you guess the meanings of these historic slang words from the past and present? Take this quiz and find out! Who knows? You might just “take the egg!”

Answers are below the fold. Read more


7 Fun Facts About Click Languages

What’s up with click languages? Did you know that “click consonants” are found only in certain African languages? Do you want to learn more about them? Here are 7 interesting facts about these intriguing languages:

“Clicks” Are Found in Only 24-38 Living Languages

Clicks have nonverbal meanings (like indicating disapproval or sympathy) in English and many other languages. But they’re only used as consonants in 24 to 38 living languages. Why the uncertainty? Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate between a language and a dialect. Regardless, all of these languages are spoken in Africa. There is also an extinct Aboriginal language from Australia that uses them, but it was never used for day-to-day communication.

The largest language family with clicks is the Khoisan “family.” The scare quotes are because linguists no longer believe that all of the languages in this family are actually closely related. Click consonants seem to be the only  thing that ties them together.

Click consonants are the defining feature of the Khoisan languages, but neighboring languages like Zulu and Xhosa also incorporate them. Linguists believe clicks spread to these languages through intermarriage and interaction with the neighboring San peoples.

One interesting theory about how this may have happened is described here:

In the Zulu and Xhosa cultures (less so in some areas now), certain people are not supposed to say the names of certain other people, or even say things that sound like their names. . . . what sound could you use that wouldn’t make it a different word that might mean something else, and would still make it understandable? The Khoisan wives knew just what to use: clicks.

As Khoisan wives used their native clicks to censor themselves, eventually the clicks became associated with polite/formal speech. From there, they spread to become an integral part of the language.

The Taa or !Xoõ Language Has the Most Consonants of Any Language

The Taa or !Xoõ language has 164 consonants, including more than 100 click sounds! For comparison, English has 24 consonant sounds. French has 22, and Welsh has 31. Read more


7 Reasons Your International Marketing is Doomed to Fail 

Ready to expand your business internationally? Not. So. Fast. It’s harder than it looks to successfully cultivate an international audience.  Marketing your product is essential, but international marketing is harder than it looks.

That appealing message and brand image you’ve so carefully crafted might not work as well in another language or culture.  Tread carefully.  Even big brands stumble at international marketing.

Here are 7 reasons why your international marketing campaign might be doomed to fail.

 You Didn’t Do Your Homework

To design a successful international marketing campaign, you have to understand the culture of your target audience, the market for your product, and how your marketing will fit in.  If you don’t. . . well, you know what they say about assuming things.

Starbucks is usually quite successful at appealing to customers around the world.  But their attempt to expand into Israel was an abject failure, because they didn’t take the time to understand the existing coffee culture. Instead, founder Howard Schulz tasted one bad cup of coffee in an Israeli hotel room, and assumed that Israelis would jump for joy at the chance to drink his superior brew.

The problem? That one bad cup of coffee was just that . . . one bad cup. Israel already had a cafe culture.  Starbuck’s marketing in Israel was based on faulty assumptions and so failed to bring in customers. Read more

Learn a Language

The Top Languages to Learn in 2017

Fancy learning a new language this year? Whether you’re still a student or you’re just looking for a way to improve your career outlook, we’ve selected the top languages to learn in 2017.

1. Mandarin


The official language of China, Mandarin is already the most widely spoken language in the world. Per Wikipedia, 955 million people, 14.4% of the world’s population, claim it as their native tongue.  The demand for Mandarin speakers will only grow in the years to come, as China nudges the United States out of the top spot as the nation with the world’s largest GDP. Mandarin is also the second most popular language online. In a 2013 report, the British Council ranked it as one of the top 10 most important languages for the future of the UK.

For these reasons, Mandarin is definitely one of the top languages to learn in 2017.

Read more


The Rainbow in Translation: 7 Facts About Colors in Other Languages 

A rose is a rose by any other name . . . but would it still be red in any other language?  We all have the same eyes, of course.  But different languages classify colors differently, and that influences the way people from different cultures perceive the same color.

Want to learn more? Here are 7 facts about colors in other languages, and how language affects the way we see color.

English has 11 basic color words.248552745_2784c965ec_o

Do you remember making color wheels in art class when you were a child? Those wheels demonstrate how we divide and classify colors. English has 11 basic words for colors: black, white, red, green, yellow, blue, pink, gray, brown, orange and purple.

But a color wheel in another language might look a little bit different. Some languages have more words for colors, while others have fewer.

Some languages have 12 basic color words.

For example, Russian and Greek both see light blue and dark blue as separate colors, in the same way English speakers divide “red” and “pink.” Other languages, like Irish and Turkish, differentiate between different types of reds.

The Pirahã language has only 2 color terms.

The Pirahã language only categorizes colors as “light”” and “dark.” To describe an object’s color in more detail, the Pirahã describe would describe it as being “like” something else.

Other languages notable for having few color terms include the Himba language. According to researchers from the University of Essex (cited in Wikipedia), Himba has only four color terms:

  • Zuzu: dark shades of blue, red, green and purple
  • Vapa: white and some shades of yellow
  • Buru: some shades of green and blue
  • Dambu: some other shades of green, red and brown

Other sources say they have five terms and include the word serandu for some shades of red, orange and pink.

As you can see, a Himba color wheel might look quite a bit different!  Read more


An (Updated) Harry Potter Vocabulary Guide

This year, Harry Potter fans are thankful for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The new movie, released last week, gives fans a chance to revisit the wizarding world. But this time, the action happens on the other side of the pond, in  1920’s New York.

If you have friends who love Harry Potter, you might have noticed them lapsing into “Harry Potter-speak,” even in casual conversation. J.K. Rowling created a rich vocabulary for her fantasy world. But what if you don’t speak the language? What’s a muggle to do?

Read our Harry Potter vocabulary guide, of course! This handy glossary will make it easier to converse with your Hogwart’s-loving friends.

Harry Potter Vocabulary Guide – Words From the Original Series 

Animagus (plural: Animagi): Wizards who can transform into animals.

Auror: A magical detective who hunts dark witches and wizards.

Butterbeer: a favorite boozy drink of wizards, butterbeer is usually served warm and is described as tasting of butterscotch.

Muggles: normal, non-magical humans. This word has actually escaped the confines of Rowling’s fantasy universe and is now listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. According to, Rowling claims the term is based on the insult “mug,” but it was first used as the name for a villain in a short story by Lewis Carroll, and was also used as slang for marijuana back in the 20’s.

Apparate/Disapparate: to “disapparate” is to disappear. After disapparating from a particular location, a wizard can then “apparate” somewhere else, no matter how far away. From the Latin “appareo,” to become visible. Read more

Technical Translation Guide

Get the Best Return from Your Technical Language Partner

A Guide to Technical Translation for Manufacturers: Part 3.

Once you’ve settled on an LSP for your technical translation project, all that remains is the translation itself. That’s not to say that you can just sit back and wait for the completed texts to be returned to you; if the best outcomes are to be reached then you need to be proactive in your efforts to keep track of progress every step of the way. Unlike the previous section, the tips on offer here are by no means unique to translation services – specifics of the translation process aside, an LSP is no different from any other service supplier that you may have dealings with, whether they provide you with raw materials for manufacturing, stationery for those working in your offices, or even the snacks that fill your on-site vending machines. As such, best practice when dealing with those suppliers also applies here. Read more


Fall Language News Roundup: 8 Stories Worth Sharing

Is it just me, or does it seem like fall has flown by? Let’s take some time to relax and get caught up on what’s been going on in the world of language and translation. Grab your pumpkin spice beverage of choice and settle in! Here are 8 language and translation stories worth reading that you may have missed.

When Free Tea Isn’t Free

When is “free” tea not free? When you have to pay for it, of course! According to the BBC, an English-speaking tourist in Japan recently got into an argument with staff in a Japanese convenience store after he grabbed an iced tea off the shelf and started chugging it without paying.

The problem? The label on the bottle said “Free tea,” so the tourist thought it was complimentary. Much to his chagrin, he quickly learned that in this case, “Free” is a brand name.

Social media being what it is, the entire exchange was live-tweeted by Twitter user Akiyama Kojiro. Afterward, Mr. Kojiro offered this commentary on the irony of the brand name, which is meant to imply freedom from stress:

“This tea ended up causing a stressful problem for both the traveller who came all the way to Japan and an honest shopkeeper,” he mused.

This might be a good time to remind you that a good translation agency can help you avoid unintended meanings in your branding and marketing copy. 🙂 Read more

Translating connected packaging

Connected Packaging: The Next Big Thing?

The increasingly complex challenges faced by today’s retail industry have been well documented of late – challenges which are often compounded when exporting.

Brands and retailers need to address rapidly changing consumer behaviours and expectations, as well as respond to the pressures of speedy delivery, regulatory demands and fluctuating exchange rates – just to survive in these unpredictable times.

So the search is on to identify and implement the very best of the latest innovative technology solutions – those which can be scaled up to suit international trading conditions and engage directly with consumers wherever they may be.

One of the routes currently being explored is connected packaging. Here at K International’s Retail Division, we can see some exciting potential uses for our clients, should this become accepted practice… Read more