A selection of articles specifically written by our dedicated team of translators, project & account managers. Here you will get an insight into the folks at K International, with articles about their experiences and project work.

Translation’s role in times of crisis

Translation’s role in times of crisis

Recent tragedies have highlighted the important role communication has in supporting victims of a crisis, both during and after an incident, not to mention the responsibility placed upon it in terms of prevention and reducing the overall impact when such an event is unavoidable. Given the diversity of local populations, particularly in cities, this is an important consideration in modern times. For example, 22% of London’s population – equating to 1.7 million people – don’t speak English as their first language. In fact, according to the 2011 Census, some 320,000 of the capital’s residents speak little or no English at all. While such diversity brings with it many reasons to celebrate, it can also create challenges for the authorities in supporting those in need during a crisis.

In this article, we take a look at three recent examples and consider how translation, or lack thereof, has affected the people caught up in an incident. Read more

Translation in Video Games

Translation in Gaming: You Must Defeat Sheng Long

Video games have come a long way in the past 30 years. The cinematic masterpieces offered today bear little resemblance to the pixelated classics that so many of us remember fondly from our childhood.

Gaming has become a huge global industry. There are believed to be up to 2.6 billion gamers in the world, with an estimated industry value of $128.5 billion by the end of 2020. The revenue from international video games surpassed that of the international film industry some years ago. Indeed, by 2013 it had reached more than double the revenue that the film industry commanded.

Video game translation

Video game translation plays a key role in the international sale of modern video games. Game producers’ enhanced budgets mean that they can afford top notch translation services in order to ensure that their offerings are word-perfect around the world. However, that wasn’t always the case, as one of the gaming industry’s most famous hoaxes reveals. Read more

Avoiding Poor Sales due to Flawed Label Translation

Avoiding Poor Sales due to Flawed Label Translation

This is a guest post from the team over at Globalvision Inc. They produce specialised software solutions for managing the packaging creation and artwork process.

As global sales opportunities continue to increase, in part due to the growth trend of emerging markets, companies continue to benefit from investing in international advertising and product exports. As well as adhering to packaging quality control regulations, which are often not clearly defined in developing countries; companies have to pay attention when adapting their offerings to the cultural and social customs of their international customers, as well as language use and verbal expressions. This is an extremely important factor when it comes to both branding and label translation.

Famous brands such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Milka, and The American Dairy Association have all learned about this the hard way. Due to an inadequate translation process and careless research, these companies have all suffered huge product recalls and sales losses at some point in their localisation history.

So, new brands hitting the global market should learn from the lessons the big guys taught us, instead of trying to promote and sell brands and products as you would within a domestic market, it is imperative to understand the cultural differences between countries that tend to prevent this from being a successful strategy. Read more

BELFRIT Supplement Industry

Why the BELFRIT Project Is a Step Forward for the European Food Supplements Industry

You’ve probably heard of the Bendy Banana Law before: it’s an EU regulation that bans bananas that have a curvature beyond a certain standard. EU detractors have often used it as an example of how intrusive the European Commission can be in the lives of its member citizens.

Although this claim has been exaggerated (there is no ban for overly bendy bananas), there is indeed a regulation that sets specific quality standards for green bananas (colour, measurements, etc.) and restricts circulation of those with an “abnormal curvature.” The Bendy Banana Law is intended to replace national classification and grading systems by a common set of rules, resulting in a complex law for what you would think is a straightforward fruit!

Certain botanicals can be cures or poisons, too, which makes classification and application beyond colour, curvature or measurement more controversial. The law should protect consumers from ingesting harmful biotoxins – stating the obvious! – so how can we make clear rules for operators that want to inform consumers of the benefits that popular botanicals such as Aloe veraGinko biloba or Panax ginseng may have?

The clarity and vagueness of the EU law on food supplements

Foods are categorised by the role they play in our diets. Some countries classify foods with medicinal properties as food supplements, whereas others consider them medicines. According to Directive 2002/46/EC, the EU states that food supplements are “concentrated sources of nutrients or other substances with a nutritional or physiological effect”, whose purpose is to “supplement the normal diet.” Read more

Translating gender identity in a non-binary world

Translating Gender Identity in a Non-Binary World

Translation, in its simplest context, involves converting words from one language to another, in order that the same information can be shared with audiences of different nationalities. However, translation is rarely that simple in reality. Messages that are acceptable in one culture can cause offence in another. The same is true of individual words. This can cause headaches for translation companies in many areas of their work, from general marketing documents to the translation of information on more sensitive topics.

Read more

Translation & Interpreting in Sports

Translating sport into global success

Translation and interpreting have long played a role in the global sporting industry. The international nature of a great many sporting competitions brings together athletes, trainers, coaches, judges, sponsors, fans and more from all corners of the globe. All of those participating need to understand the rules of the competition, local regulations, safety announcements and a myriad of other details. Meanwhile, those attending the event as spectators need to be able to understand the practical details of the venue (where to find exits, toilets, food and so forth) as well as associated information such as the event schedule etc.

Translation in sport is key to facilitating international competitions such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup. However, that is far from the only role of applied translation when it comes to the sporting industry. Read more

Translating a brand - china vs the world

Translating a Brand: China vs. the World

When it comes to cultural and linguistic differences, few regions stand as far apart as China and the Western world – the US in particular. One is a communist state that prioritises cooperation and collectivism, the other a democracy that sees itself as a paragon of meritocracy. While both may fall short of their ideals (which country in this world can truly live up to its values across all parts of its society?), this does not change the vast differences between their fundamental principles.

When it comes to population size, China dwarfs the US, with 1.38 billion citizens, versus just 326 million in the US. Nevertheless, the US reigns supreme when it comes to GDP – at least for the moment. The US economy is worth $18.5 trillion, accounting for 24.5% of gross world product. China has the second largest global economy, at $11.3 trillion.

Linguistically, too, China and the West are very different. Mandarin, is a tonal, analytic language that uses a subject-verb-object word order and topic-prominent organisation. It is written using logograms known as hànzì. The English language, on the other hand, is a Germanic language that uses a Latin script, modal verbs and the palatalisation of consonants, though it does share the subject-verb-object order of Mandarin.  Read more

Difficulties of translating books

The Challenges of Translating Literature

Literary translation is the translation of creative and dramatic prose and poetry into other languages. This includes the translation of literature from ancient languages and the translation of modern fiction so that it can reach a wider audience.

Why is literary translation important?

Literary translation is of huge importance. It helps to shape our understanding of the world around us in many ways. Reading Homer and Sophocles as part of a classical education in school helps to build an understanding of history, politics, philosophy and so much more. Meanwhile, reading contemporary translations provides fascinating insights into life in other cultures and other countries. In a fast-paced world so rife with misunderstanding and confusion, such efforts to share knowledge and experiences across cultural boundaries should be applauded.

The history of literary translation

An entire history of literary translation is far too big for the scope of a single article. Indeed, The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English runs to five whole volumes, such is the depth and complexity of the subject. Suffice to say that literary translation has been taking place for thousands of years.

History has seen countless translators come and go. Many of their names we will never know, but some – King Alfred the Great and Geoffrey Chaucer, for example, who both translated Boethius from the original Latin – had the power and influence to ensure that their translation efforts were not lost to the sands of time. Read more

The history of Machine Translation

Machine Translation – A Potted History

The concept of machine translation has existed for centuries, but it was not until the early 1950s that it began to become a reality. Since then, machine translation has advanced hugely, though it still cannot yet compete with the skill and finesse that a human mind can apply to translating a document.

The birth of machine translation

In 1949, Warren Weaver of the Rockefeller Foundation put together a set of proposals on how to turn the idea of machine translation into reality. He blended information theory, code breaking lessons learned during the Second World War and the principles of natural language to pave the way for machines to translate one language to another.

One of the earliest machine translation successes was the Georgetown-IBM experiment. In 1954, IBM demonstrated at its New York office a machine that could translate Russian sentences into English. Though the machine could only translate 250 words (into 49 sentences), the world was delighted by the idea. Interest in machine translation around the world saw money being poured into this new field of computer science. The Georgetown experiment researchers, bursting with the confidence of their initial success, predicted that machine translation would be mastered within three to five years. Read more

Food Packaging Translation - A Serious Business

Food Packaging Translation – A Serious Business Indeed

We place a vast amount of trust in the veracity of the information provided on food packaging. For those with food allergies, their lives can depend on the information that the packaging provides. For those who are dieting (whether for personal or medical reasons), ingredients and calorific values both have to be spot on. Then there are the cooking instructions – a mistake in the details of how to cook products such as pork or fish could have fatal consequences. That’s why there are so many rules and regulations around food labelling. It’s also why translating food packaging is such a serious business.

Food labelling – the legal context

Food labelling requirements differ from country to country. In the UK, the law requires that food and drink products must have labels that are permanent, easy to read and understand, easily visible and not misleading. The label has to include the name of the food, a ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ date, quantity information and any necessary warnings.

These warnings include allergen information and a range of specific warnings relating to certain ingredients or preparation methods. For example, foods and drinks with more than 150 mg/l of caffeine must state that they are, “Not suitable for children, pregnant women and persons sensitive to caffeine.” Meanwhile, raw milk must state that “This milk has not been heat-treated and may, therefore, contain organisms harmful to health.”

Where a food product has two or more ingredients, these must be listed on the label, with the main ingredient first and the others following in weight order. Common allergens must be highlighted as part of the list. Read more

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