Here Comes Halloween: Traditions and Translations from Around the World

It’s Halloween! How will you celebrate? Here are some traditions and translations from around the world.


Halloween in Ireland

Many of our Halloween traditions come from Samhain, the ancient Celtic harvest festival. So, it’s no surprise that Ireland is one of the world’s biggest Halloween hotspots.  On 31 October, everyone dresses up in scary costumes and celebrates. Children often go out “guising,” going door-to-door to beg food and candy. This tradition dates back to 16th century Samhain celebrations, but the phrase “trick-or-treat” is a relatively new American import.

One thing sets the Halloween festivities in Ireland apart from the rest of the world: Fireworks, and lots of them.  In Northern Ireland, the city of Derry has a street carnival parade that ends in a massive fireworks display. Fireworks are prohibited in the Republic of Ireland, but that doesn’t stop people from setting them off anyway.

Irish Halloween Words

  • Trick or Treat:  iCleas nó cór or Tabhair féirín dom, nó buailfidh mé bob ort! 
  • Happy Halloween: Oíche Shamhna Shona Duit
  • SkeletonCreatlach
  • Costume: Culaith
  • Bonfire: tine cnámha

Read more

K International Spooktacular

K International Spooktacular

So it’s that monstrous time of year when the K International team let their professional hair down a little and get their fangs deep into Halloween.

Here’s a few ghoulish pictures of the staff, organised by our gruesome #Ksocialteam, Sherrien Collins & Sajeda Al-Nashash. Read more

K International Vs. The Gadget Show

K International on the Gadget Show

If you were sitting down to watch the Gadget Show on Channel 5 last night (26th of October 2015), you will have seen a couple of our linguists featured in the show. First up, Monica Bloxam took on presenters, Amy Williams and Jason Bradbury, in a Human Vs. Machine translation challenge. Read more

Medical Translation Gone Wrong: 4 Devastating Examples

“First do no harm” is a difficult promise to keep when language barriers interfere with communication between doctors and patients.  Medical translation and interpreting can break down those barriers, but quality is of the utmost importance when lives hang in the balance. These four examples of medical translation gone wrong show why it’s important to use highly skilled and specially trained medical translators and interpreters.

Willie Ramirez and the $71 Million Dollar Word

Willie Ramirez was only 18 and out with friends when he suddenly developed a splitting headache. By the time he got to his girlfriend’s house, he was barely conscious.  He was rushed to the hospital, but when he woke up he was paralyzed. He will never walk again.  A brain bleed left him a quadriplegic for life.

But it didn’t have to be that way. The haemorrhage should have been treatable, but the Ramirez family did not have access to a Spanish interpreter. So, when they told the emergency room doctors that they believed Willie was “intoxicado,” he was treated for a drug overdose. As Health Affairs explains, “intoxicado” is not the same as “intoxicated:”

Among Cubans, “intoxicado” is kind of an all encompassing word that means there’s something wrong with you because of something you ate or drank. I ate something and now I have hives or an allergic reaction to the food or I’m nauseous.

The haemorrhage was only discovered after days of improper treatment, and by then it was too late. The hospital, which should have provided a professional interpreter, is liable for a settlement of approximately $71 million dollars to pay for Willie’s care for the rest of his life.  Read more


Documentaries About Language

We’re so lucky that language is at the centre of everything we do at work. Let’s take a moment to stop the clock to appreciate how beautiful it is and maybe even look back at what inspired us at an early age to take a career in the language industry. To help here are my favourite documentaries of all time about language.

The Story of English

I am biased but it’s a fact that English is more influential than any other language. The first episode of this documentary sets out to provide evidence of that and to explore how the language has evolved. The story begins with an English language rock concert in Russia; the English influence was so strong that it even managed to break through the Iron Curtain. Further images show English as the universal language of air-traffic control, computer data, newspapers, telegrams, international trade and world news. American English is the original language of the movies, and the world of music is dominated by English-language songs.

The tour of the English language takes viewers from elite-Public-School English to the BBC wireless broadcasts that sent that very English over the airwaves and into the homes of people from all classes. For the first time, the Queen’s English was now considered by many to be the correct English.

Decolonisation removed Britain’s political influence from around the world, but the English language remained behind. India, Ghana and Nigeria are all countries that have English, or a form of English, as a link language. It’s the common thread in the midst of the diversity that comes with multi-language countries.

In all of the ex-colonies, English has evolved, and each country has its unique form. In fact, language is never static. As interviewees provide definitions of modern-American-slang terms, that fact becomes increasingly obvious. The idea of one correct form of English is set aside in favour of acknowledging the diversity. Read more

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