The K Team

We did it. The Swanbourne Endeavour 2014.

We did it… we all ran the Swanbourne Endeavour. Happy to report that there were no serious injuries. The cuts and bruises are starting to disappear but we hope the cash and awareness we raised for the 5 charities lasts a lot longer.

We were 20 people of the 600 who took part. Shout out to star performers Ben who came in 3rd and Dave who was 14th with times of 1h 03mins and 1h 13mins respectively. Truly amazing how they managed to get around so quickly. Well done guys.

Special thanks go to Sam who organised the event and training. And Sheree who organised the fund raising last week. We exceeded our target of cash raised with £900 going to local charities and over a $1000 for Translators Without Borders.

Remember you can still donate up until the 31st of October, although we reached our goal, help us to smash it! As Translators without Borders are based in the USA, we are using Razoo to collect donations in US dollars.  Click the big razoo button and pledge cash in aid of a great cause >>>

Online fundraising for The K Team take on the Swanbourne Endeavour

I’ve put some choice photos below. I hope you get a sense of how difficult the ‘run’ is and how much fun we had (click on an image to open the lightbox).

Will start training again for next year soon :)

Thank you everyone who sponsored us. I know all the charities personally and know that the ££/$$ will go a long way and provide help to people who need it.

The Charities

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA)

A national charity helping and supporting those who currently serve in the British Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and the families of both. The donation went to the Aylesbury Vale North arm of the charity.

The Royal British Legion

They provided welfare to the Armed Services, including ex-Servicemen and women, those currently serving, and their dependents. The donation went to the local Winslow branch.

The Bucks Service Charities

A group of several charities, providing support to Territorial Army soldiers and their families within Buckinghamshire.

Medical Detection Dogs

Their aim is to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human diseases such as diabetes.

Translators Without Borders

Supporting humanitarian work around the world by providing translation for free.


Ebola: Lost in Translation?

Ebola is a horrible disease, and education is crucial to keeping it contained. Unfortunately, however, most educational campaigns to date are missing an important element: translation.

For example, earlier this week in the New Statesman, Translators Without Borders founder Lori Thicke noted that despite efforts to educate Africans about how the virus is spread and how to protect themselves, ignorance about the disease remains disturbingly high:

The ebola communication failure was recently highlighted by UNICEF, Focus 1000 and Catholic Relief Services. In September the organisations reported that in Sierra Leone – one of three West African nations at the epicentre of the outbreak – nearly a third of the people believe ebola comes from mosquitoes, or the air. Almost two-thirds could not identify the ways to prevent the disease.

One big reason for this lack of knowledge? Information, signs and billboards have so far been mostly distributed in English or French, which only a minority of West Africans speak. Fail.

As TWB told the Telegraph:

“People will die because they do not have access to information in a language they can understand. Whether it is the cultural practice of kissing the dead soon after death, or eating bats, or simply a lack of understanding about how the disease is transmitted or treated, this lack of information leading to lack of knowledge is costing lives and facilitating the spread of the disease.”

Even in English-speaking countries, language barriers often prevent accurate language about ebola from reaching the most vulnerable immigrant populations.

For example, according to USA Today, it took a week for the Dallas County health department to get Ebola fact sheets translated into the languages spoken by the mostly immigrant population living in the apartments where the first US Ebola victim was staying. The original announcement was distributed in English. Anne Marie Weiss, president of the DFW International Community Alliance, told USA Today that for the most part, residents of the building “don’t speak English. The health department was too slow to translate the documents. It should have happened immediately.”

We have to do better than this!


K-Team-at-Swanbourne20 members of the team from K International are running the Swanbourne Endeavour on Sunday to raise cash for this cause. We need your help. Please either share the link or make a donation if you can. The link is here > Taking on the Swanbourne Endeavour <.

We’re getting close to our target of $1000 so everything helps. Thank you.


Happy World Food Day!

Today is World Food Day, an annual holiday established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1981. The holiday aims to raise awareness about issues related to food security, poverty and hunger.

World Food Day has a different theme each year. This year, the theme is “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.”  According to the FAO website,  the idea is to

“Focus world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”

It might come as a surprise, but for all we hear about “big agribusiness,” family farms still grow the majority of the food produced around the world. And yet, according to the International Business Times, most food insecure people are farmers. Better logistical and financial support could alleviate their hunger while also allowing them to produce more food for everyone else.

How can you get involved? OxFam recommends raising awareness by inviting friends and family over for a home-cooked meal — and a discussion about issues related to world hunger, family farming and food waste. See their discussion guide here.

Meanwhile, the FAO is requesting that people show their gratitude to family farmers on social media. To participate, take a picture or make a short video that shows your appreciation and post it on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ToastAFarmer.

What will you do to celebrate World Food Day?

Translation interview for Packaging today
Interview with packaging today

Our business development manager, Clare Daley, was recently interviewed by packaging today, a leading European industry magazine,  about the importance of translation in international packaging. She discusses some of the concerns distributors need to address and tips on avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a packaging translation project. You can read the entire article over at the packaging today site and find out more about our specialist food packaging translation service right here.

klingon sign

The Top Five Fantasy Languages

Constructed languages, more informally known as “conlangs,” make fantasy and science fiction more realistic. They also provide a hobby for both amateur and professional linguists across the globe, and a paying job for a select few.

Sometimes, people make up languages “just because.” But in general, there are two main types of constructed languages: languages made for real-world use, like Esperanto, and languages created for fictional worlds. Today, we’ll focus on the second category. Here are the top five constructed languages from fantasy and science fiction:


tolkienIt shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top two spots in this list are taken by languages created by Tolkien.  He was by no means the first author to create fictional languages for his books, but he did put an extraordinary amount of effort into the languages he created and helped to (somewhat) popularize creating languages as a hobby.

In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Quenya is the language of the “high Elves”, the elves who left Middle Earth after its creation to live in the Elven homeland. A large group of high elves later returned to Middle Earth, and spoke Quenya as a second ritual language or in poetry.

Main real-world influences: Finnish, but also Latin, Greek and other languages.

Sample Phrases:

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo.  A star shines on the hour of our meeting.  (A fancy way of saying “Hello.”)

Namárië: Farewell.

Istan quet’ Eldarin.  I can speak Elvish.


MoerbinIn Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Sindarin was the language of the “grey elves,” a group that decided not to leave Middle-Earth to live on the Elven homeland after the world was created.

Main real-world influences: Welsh, Old English, and Icelandic, though it’s also clearly related to Quenya.

Sample Phrases:

Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn. A star shines on the hour of our meeting. 

Novaer. Farewell. 

Pedin edhellen. I speak Elvish. 


KilngonsThe Klingon Language was created for Star Trek in the 80’s by Marc Okrand. It is definitely the most widely spoken fantasy language. One fan even tried to raise his son as a bilingual Klingon native speaker! Alas, the experiment was unsuccessful.

Main real-world influences: Klingon was deliberately devised to sound “alien,” it has some features of Native American and southeast Asian languages.

Sample phrases:

NuqneH. Hello

Hab SoSlI’ Quch! Your mother has a smooth forehead! (Don’t say this to a Klingon who is bigger than you!)

Qapla’! Goodbye!


DothrakiThe most well-developed of the languages constructed for the Game of Thrones series, Dothraki is spoken by the nomadic horse lords of The Dothraki Sea.

Main real-world influences:  Turkish, Russian, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili.

Sample phrases:

M’athchomaroon! Hello, or more literally, “With respect!” 

Hajas! Goodbye. 

Me nem nesa. It is known.


I see youNa’vi was created for the natives of Pandora in the 2009 movie Avatar by linguist Paul Frommer.

Real-world influences: Like Klingon, Na’vi was specifically designed to sound alien, but has a vaguely Polynesian flavor.

Sample phrases:

Kaltxì. “Hello” 

Hayalovay. Goodbye or  “Until next time.” 

Nga yawne lu oer.  “I love you”

Tum Island

Some Useful Polish

Here’s some useful Polish language words and phrases. I hope you are planning a visit to Poland and get to use them soon.

English on the left, Polish on the right.

Polish Phrases

Yes = Tak

No = Nie

Thank you = Dziękuję

Thank you very much = Serdecznie dziękuję

You’re welcome = Nie ma za co

Please = Proszę

Excuse me = Przepraszam

Hello = Dzień dobry Read more


The Origins and Importance of the Spanish Language

The Spanish language or Castilian, as native speakers sometimes refer to it, has become one of the most popular languages used in the world today. Its history is vast and it has spread and developed steadily throughout the centuries.

The name Castilian originates from the Castile region in the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain where Latin mixed with indigenous dialects was spoken after the decline of the Roman Empire. As the kingdom of Castile spread, so did the so-called Vulgar Latin commonly spoken in this region. With the conquest of the southern regions, this northern dialect, by then known as Castilian, spread south, replacing other provincial dialects.

As Castilian became more widespread it adopted vocabulary from Moorish Arabic and was influenced by medieval Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and Mozarabes (the Romance speech of Christians living in Moorish territory). Sadly, these languages died out in the late 16th century as Spanish took over the peninsula. Read more

Dogs need sweets too

Halloween from Around the World

We all know Halloween as an unnerving holiday celebrated on the night of October 31st with the traditional activities of trick-or-treating, bonfires, pumpkin carving and costume parties, but little do we know how it is celebrated around the world? Halloween boasts its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, by which Scottish and Irish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America, initiating the involvement of other western countries.

English-speaking Canadian areas and the USA are the stereotypical places where Halloween is emphasised and celebrated the most in the world. It was not until the 19th century at which the event became a holiday. The earliest known reference to ritual begging on Halloween in English speaking North America was recorded by a 1911 newspaper when children were reported as being rewarded for their rhymes and songs with nuts and sweets as a result of visiting local shops and neighbours. Commercialisation of Halloween did not start in America until the 20th Century but it is now the second most popular holiday, after Christmas – can you believe it? Read more

Richard Brooks at memoQfest

Upcoming Talks from Richard Brooks

I’m giving a number of presentations/talks coming up over the next few months. Will be talking on various topics relating to my professional interests in both within the localization industry and outside of it.

Don’t want to give too many spoilers away so here are some of the key points of each. I do hope to see you at one/some of them and we have the time to talk.

The Business Side

At the TTT Conference in Bled, Slovenia on the 23rd/24th October. I’m off at 9am on the 24th.

I’ll be looking at the wonderful world of localization and giving my perspective of it from the business side. Will be showing some tools and methodologies that I use to help me to build a sustainable competitive advantage and create demonstrable value with our client’s operations. From this perspective both LSP owners and translators will be able to gain an insight into what we do in ‘management’ and hopefully allow them to increase the value of their services.

I’ll cover some basic business principles in marketing, finance, leadership and hopefully show you how to keep your sanity.

The Business Side at the TTT Conference

Also looking forward to seeing the beautiful city of Bled, its been on the list for a long time.

Agile Project Management

Building on the popular GALA webinar on the same topic I’ll be presenting at the tcworld conference 2014. Its on the 11th, 12th and 13th of November at the International Congress Center (ICS) Messe Stuttgart.

Agile breaks a big project down into a series of small development tasks (called ‘sprints’). Teams then work on this sprints. They deliver tangible results and feedback to the rest of the team. Its innovative by nature and all areas of the project have a ‘seat at the table’ at all the main stages of the process, particularly interesting to localization/translation companies.

how teams perform over time

We use it to great success here for software localization and retail localization projects. I have a great case study about a popular retail client in the UK where we managed to scale up quickly and translate their entire food product catalogue (thousands of own brand products), including artwork and legal review.

My own personal take is that project directors have forgotten about the essence of Agile Project Management and its fast paced throughput is often blamed for burning out good project managers. I address this by taking it back to the original manifesto and apply the same philosophy to the project as was intended when the movement started. This puts people ahead of process and puts a much larger emphasis on good leadership and emotional intelligence.

Britain Means Business

On the 19th and 20th November at the ExCeL London we’ll be exhibiting the company to around 3,000 entrepreneurs looking to expand their business aboard. As part of this I’ll be talking about how to take your business international and what a decent translation company can do to help you along the journey. Its being launched in partnership with the Digital Marketing Show and we’re hoping for a busy time.

Britain means business because

For part of their own marketing for the event they interviewed me and asked a load of questions. They asked who my favourite British entrepreuer is, I said Richard Branson. Why? because he builds space rockets.

The T10+ Show

Its a large event (25,000) and celebrates some of the best British businesses around today. It really is an honour to talk at this event. We’ll be part of the T10+ exhibition, that’s for businesses with revenues of over £10M. Our stand is W204 (opposite the global business event).

I’ll be talking at this event as well. It’ll be on the topic of international growth and understanding your (new) international consumers. A professional translation service has some way to go to help to remove the language barriers but that’s not all, the people you choose to partner with to help you must understand the demographics and the forces acting on the new businesses in the new regions.

Next Year

I’ll have a few in the calendar for next year as well… more details will follow nearer the time. I do hope we get to have a talk/beer/coffee.

Take care.


latin facepalm2

A Latin Translation Error, Carved in Stone 

The public library in Moorestown, New Jersey has an admirable motto: “We confirm all things twice.” After the unveiling of their new building this week, the staff there is probably wishing they’d lived up to those words.

The designs for the building included a Latin translation of the library’s motto, carved into two stone medallions on the building. Unfortunately, the translation was  hopelessly wrong, and nobody bothered to confirm it even once.  The error wasn’t uncovered until after the building was complete and the motto was quite literally carved in stone.  In the words of the great philosopher Homer J. Simpson: “D’oh!”

The translation used on the library walls was “‘nos secundus coniecto omnia,” which Google translates as “We second-guess all” and anyone who actually speaks Latin knows is just a jumbled mess.

The building’s designers can’t even blame technology for the error; head architect Rick Ragan admitted in the Daily Mail that the botched translation “was attempted by a staff member who looked through a Latin dictionary.”

Ragan continued:

“We’ve looked at the definition of the words. It says that the verb says, ‘think, include, conclude, judge and confirm. But Google’s version, and I’m old enough to admit that I’ve never translated anything on Google or conjugated (anything). Their version is that ‘We all second-guess.”

The Daily Mail also has an excellent breakdown of all the things wrong with the translation:

“While ‘nos’ can mean ‘we’, it is in fact unnecessary because verbs in Latin contain who is doing them in the way the word ends. Coniecto – the verb in the sentence – in fact means ‘I conclude’ or ‘I guess’. The ‘we’ form would be ‘coniectamus’. Likewise, ‘secundus’ is an adjective meaning ‘second’, but even in conjunction with a verb meaning guess, does not mean ‘second-guess’. The correct way to render ‘we confirm all things twice’ would be ‘bis verificamus omnia‘.”

Ragan’s firm will now be paying for stonecutter to fix the medallions, as well as to correct some missing Roman numerals on other parts of the facade. A quick phone call to the nearest Latin professor would have saved them quite a bit of trouble and embarrassment.

If you’re thinking of translating any of your business communications by “looking through a dictionary,” stop. Do not pass go.  Do not collect $100. Call us and get your message properly translated!