The Multilingual Response to Tropical Storm Harvey

A few weeks ago, Jonny wrote a post about translation’s role in times of crisis. And now, unfortunately, there’s another example to add to the list: Tropical Storm Harvey.

This storm has dumped unprecedented amounts of water on the US city of Houston, Texas. It’s turned freeways into rivers and low-lying residential areas into lakes. So far,  at least 38 people have died. And at least 30,000 have had to abandon their homes for shelters due to rising flood waters.

Relief and rebuilding efforts are going to take years . . .  and since Houston is such a diverse city, they’ll have to be multilingual. Here’s how translation has been and will be needed to help Houston recover from the impacts of this devastating storm. Read more

K-international.com is 20 today

K International.com is 20 years old today!

Today marks another milestone in K International’s digital journey: it’s been 20 years since we launched our very first website. Rich (our glorious leader) covered some of the history and the various designs we’ve been through a couple of years ago for our 18th, you can check out that post right here for some nostalgia. It’s been nearly 4 years now since we migrated to WordPress and I’m pleased to say we’ve gone from strength to strength since that day back in December 2013.

Read more

Spanish Around the World: The Different Types of Spanish and Where They’re Spoken  

With 405 million native speakers,  Spanish is the second-most commonly spoken language in the world.  But while all of those 405 million people might speak the same language, they don’t all speak it the same way.

So, let’s take a look at the different types of Spanish, where they’re spoken, and what that means for organizations doing business in Spanish-speaking countries.

How different are the different types of Spanish?different types of Spanish

There’s not as much variation between the various Spanish dialects as there is between dialects in other languages. Most Spanish speakers, no matter where they’re from,  can understand each other simply by speaking more slowly, listening carefully and using context clues for unfamiliar vocabulary.

That said, here are some key facts and statistics about where Spanish spoken and how it differs from place to place:

Spanish in Spain

Number of Speakers: 46.6 million
Where it’s spoken:  Spain

Spain is the motherland of the Spanish language, of course. But these days, Spanish speakers from Spain are greatly outnumbered by Spanish speakers from other places.

Latin American Spanish

Number of Speakers:  More than 418  million 
Where it’s spoken: The United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America 

90% of Spanish speakers are Latin American, though indigenous languages are also spoken throughout Mexico, Central, and South America. In the Latin American market, the largest Spanish-speaking countries are:

  • Mexico.
  • Colombia.
  • Argentina.
  • The United States.

Read more

8 Important Facts About Pidgin Languages and Creoles 

The BBC  just announced that it will now be broadcasting in Pidgin for the West and Central African markets. But wait, what’s Pidgin? Is that even a language?

In fact, pidgin languages and creole languages can be found all over the world. Most them have historically been treated as the bastard children of European languages – denied recognition and looked down upon. But just as in Game of Thrones, it would be foolish to write off pidgins and creoles because of their parentage.

With that in mind, here are 8 things you need to understand about pidgins and creoles.

Isn’t Pidgin English just English with a heavy accent?

Nope. Pidgin languages are makeshift languages that arise whenever multi lingual groups have to communicate on a regular basis without a common language. This can happen because of trade, or as a result of slavery or colonization.

What’s the difference between pidgin languages and creoles?

Pidgin languages are generally simplified and flexible, with a limited vocabulary. Nobody speaks a pidgin language as a first language. But, over time, that can change. If a pidgin language becomes widely used, its vocabulary may grow and additional grammar rules may develop. Children may begin to grow up speaking it from birth. At that point, it’s considered a creole.

And just to make things confusing, since creole languages evolve from pidgins, many languages with “pidgin” in the name have actually evolved into creoles, like Tok Pisin, one of the official languages of New Guinea. Read more

Student Translation Internship

K International’s Student Linguist Program

Here at K International, we pride ourselves on our commitment to supporting the next generation of linguists, to achieve this we set up a comprehensive student placement scheme that lasts between 3 & 6 months. The aim of this program is to give language students a competitive edge in the job market. We offer future linguists the opportunity to immerse themselves in a professional translation environment, where they can put the skills they’ve learned into practice. The placements also provide students with the opportunity to develop key industry knowledge in areas such as project management, CAT tool operation and insights into the day to day workings of a modern Language Service Provider.

In addition to these core skills, K International places great emphasis on developing the student’s personal attributes such as ethics, self-discipline and team work.

Our latest student, Valentine Madignier, has just completed the program. Valentine is a student at the Université Catholique de Lyon in France and this is her feedback on the K International placement scheme… Read more

Solar Eclipse Myths From Around the World

Today, the United States will experience a total solar eclipse. It’s a once-in-lifetime astronomical event, and people are going crazy with excitement. But it wasn’t always this way. Historically, eclipses have fueled myths and superstitions in many different cultures, and some of them are quite terrifying. So, in honor of the 2017 eclipse, here are 8 solar eclipse myths and superstitions from around the world.

Solar eclipse myths from China

As Griffith Observatory director E.C. Krupp told National Geographic,  “the earliest word for eclipse in Chinese, shih, means “to eat.” The ancient Chinese believed that solar eclipses were caused by a giant dragon eating the sun, and they sometimes tried to scare the dragon away by beating pots and pans.

Eclipses were a bad omen for emperors, but they were an even worse omen for the emperor’s astrologers. In 2134 BC, two astrologers lost their heads as punishment for failing to predict a solar eclipse.

Solar eclipse myths from Scandinavia

In Viking mythology, eclipses are caused by a wolf named Sköll, which is Old Norse for “treachery.” Sköll chases the sun through the sky. When Ragnarök comes, he will catch the sun and consume her completely. So, each solar eclipse is like a preview of the apocalypse. Comforting, no?  Read more

8 Facts Businesses Need to Know About Languages in India

Earlier this week, on the 15th of August, India celebrated its Independence Day.  In the 70 years since it was founded, India has made itself into one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing economies. To celebrate, let’s take a look at 8 things businesses need to know about languages in India.

English is an official language in India . . .  but that doesn’t mean your organization can get away without translation services.

English and Hindi are the two main languages used by the Central Government. But even when you include people who speak English as a second language, only 12% of India’s population speaks it. So, if you want to reach more than just a small percentage of the people there, you’ll need to translate into some local languages, too.

Hindi is the most commonly spoken language in India.

With as many as 551 million total speakers, Hindi is the most common language in India. It’s also the 4th most common language in the world in terms of native speakers. Even so, translating your content into Hindi will only make it accessible to 53% of the population.

That’s because . . .

India has 122 major languages and up to 1599 other languages.

India is a vast country, and it contains multitudes, of both people and languages. According to the 2001 Indian Census, there are 122 “major languages” spoken by more than 10,000 people.

That said, some of these languages are more commonly spoken than others.

India has 22 “scheduled” languages.

Obviously, different languages predominate in different regions. So, while Hindi and English are the languages used by the central government, the states also have the power to set their own official languages.

The Indian Constitution recognizes 22 of these languages as “scheduled languages”. These languages are used by state and local governments. Additionally, the Indian government is required to protect them and encourage their development.

The 22 scheduled languages are: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Odia, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Read more

The importance of translation to the legal system,

Translating justice: the importance of translation and interpreting within the legal industry

Just over a year ago, figures from the UK Ministry of Justice (MoJ) revealed that more than 2,600 court cases had been adjourned due to failures in interpreting services over the previous five years. The news focused on doubts about the viability of outsourcing firm Capita to fulfil the MOJ’s requirements in terms of legal translation and legal interpretation services.

The case highlighted the essential role that court translation plays in ensuring that justice is delivered. The then-Liberal Democrats justice spokesman, Lord Marks QC, summed it up when he stated that “the government must ensure effective and efficient attendance of high-quality interpreters at court to enable justice to be delivered.”

This backs up the affirmation in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which specifies that interpreters who are used in criminal proceedings must be fully competent to the task assigned. Read more

9 Books to Read for Women in Translation Month

Did you know that August is Women in Translation Month? If you’re wondering what that means, let me explain.  Women in Translation Month is a month to highlight translated works by female writers. In the world of literary translation, women are seriously underrepresented.

How underrepresented? You’re probably familiar with the statistic that only about 3% of published works in the US and the UK are translated from other languages. Well, of that 3%,  only about 30% of new translations into English are books by women writers.  Books by female authors are translated at a lower rate around the world, even in Europe.

With that in mind, here are 9 books to read for women in translation month. Read the ones that pique your interest and you’ll soon start to wonder what else you’re missing out on!

Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was


Author: Angélica Gorodischer, translated by Ursula LeGuin

In a 2016 interview, Meytal Radzinski, the scholar behind Women in Translation Month, called this book her “go-to first choice for just about any type of favorite book these days! It’s such a special book, gorgeously written and so utterly magical.”

Kalpa Imperial: The Greatest Empire That Never Was is the history of an imaginary nameless empire, as told by multiple storytellers.  Translator Ursula Le Guin is an acclaimed fantasy author in her own right.  So it’s not surprising that publisher Small Beer Press boasts that “Rarely have author and translator been such an effortless pairing.” Read more

Using translation test pieces

Translation Test Pieces: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Translation test pieces may seem to be a simple concept on the surface, but they can be a surprisingly complex subject. There are both pros and cons to translation test pieces, which can make it difficult for companies looking to use them as a means of assessing the quality of a Language Service Provider (LSP).

What is a translation test piece?

A translation test piece is a brief, trial translation that businesses tend to use to gauge the level of service provided by a translation company. By assigning a test translation, your business can assess the linguistic skill of a given translation company in theory. These test translations are usually around two or three pages long.

How to use translation test pieces

Usually, a business that is looking for a translation service will approach several LSPs and/or translators at once, asking each of them to provide a quote for the project in question. Asking for a test translation in order to select a preferred partner is a fairly standard way to proceed as part of that process.

When it comes to how to use translation test pieces, the potential client makes judgements on the translator’s grammar, punctuation and style. The translation agency’s customer care and response times can also be reviewed in light of the service provided during the translation test process. Read more

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