Interesting & varied language stories from all around the world, curated by our dedicated writer. From the topical to the absurd, the grand and the obscure, it’s all here for you to enjoy.

german translation service guide

German Translation Services: A Beginner’s Guide

Is your company in the market for German translation services? German translation offers numerous benefits for international businesses. For example:

  • German translation makes your business accessible to 95 million German native speakers around the world.
  • German is the most widely-spoken language in the European Union, and the German economy is the 4th largest in the world.
  • Almost 84 million Internet users speak German. Studies show that even if these Internet users can read English, it’s easier to sell to them in German.

Want to learn more? Read on for six essential facts about the German language, German translation services and marketing in Germany!

German is an official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, and Lichenstein.german translation services map

It’s also officially recognized in South Tyrol, Italy, and parts of Belgium.  Additionally, it’s an official language of the European Union and one of the three working languages of the European Commission.

And while German may be one of the most important languages of continental Europe, its influence isn’t limited to one continent. For example, German is still frequently used in Namibia, in Africa. German dialects are officially recognized in some parts of Brazil. Read more

Funny Expressions for Sickness from Around the World 

It’s winter in the Northern hemisphere, and that can only mean one thing: you and everyone you know are either sick now,  just getting over being sick, or about to be sick. Maybe you have “a cold,” or a “frog in your throat,” or you’re just feeling a little “under the weather.” But have you ever thought about how strange those phrases might sound to someone who didn’t grow up hearing them?

And have you ever wondered how people describe being sick in other languages? Take a look at these metaphors and expressions for sickness from around the world.

Expressions for Sickness in English

Feeling “under the weather?”  This expression has nothing to do with the weather forecast.  In fact, it’s an old nautical term that made its way into common use. During long voyages, sick sailors and passengers would be sent below deck– literally “under the weather” – to recover.

Do you have “a frog in your throat?”  This phrase actually comes to us from 19th-century American English. It spread across the pond when an American company began selling their popular “Frog in Your Throat” cough lozenges in England.

Fun fact: No frogs were harmed in the making of “Frog in your Throat” cough lozenges. However, in the 17th century, holding a live frog in your mouth until the frog died was believed to cure a sore throat.

Perhaps a bout with the flu has left you “sick as a dog?” This phrase dates back to the 18th century and is probably derived from the familiar canine habit of eating random objects and vomiting them back up.

Oh, did that last bit leave you feeling a little “green around the gills?”  Where did that come from, anyway? People don’t have gills! Well, not anymore. However, in earlier centuries, English speakers sometimes referred to the lower part of the face as the “gills.” Read more

7  Fun Facts About Translation at the Olympics In 2018

Since the birth of the modern Olympic Games in 1894, the event has grown from a mere 24 countries to over 200. As you might have guessed, the linguistic challenges involved are tremendous. Preparations are underway for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. To celebrate, here are seven fun facts and interesting stories about translation at the Olympics.  Enjoy!

The 2018 Games Have 3 Official Languages: English, French and Korean

The Olympics always have two official languages: English and French. The others are assigned based on the languages spoken in the host country. This time around, that’s Korean.

Korean is the official language of both North and South Korea.   It is spoken by 80 million people around the world, making it the 17th most common native language in the world. Korean is either a language isolate or a member of the small Koreanic language family. It all depends on whether you consider the Jeju language, a local language spoken on the Korean island of Jeju, to be a language of its own or a dialect of Korean.

Much of the 2018 Winter Olympics branding was inspired by the Korean alphabet

Korean is written in the Hangul script, and the shapes of the Korean alphabet inspired many of the visual branding elements for the 2018 Winter Games.

For example, the emblem for the Games is a stylized version of the hangul letters ㅍ (p) and ㅊ (ch), for the initial sounds in “PyeonChang.”

Even better, the left symbol represents heaven, earth, and humanity and the right symbol represents ice.  It’s a great example of the opportunities (and potential pitfalls) that come with translating into a non-Western script, where letters may carry additional meanings beyond just sound.

Need help translating your marketing materials? We can help! 

This Year, As Always, the French Are Watching

Pity the Francophiles! Unless the Olympic Games are being held in a French-speaking nation, the French language seems to get the short end of the stick when compared to English and the language of the host country. Every year, the International Organization of la Francophonie observes the games to make sure that French gets its due. They also appoint a language watchdog called le Grand Témoin, which translates to “the Great Witness.”

This year, le Grand Témoin is Fleur Pellerin, former French Minister of Culture and Communications. Pictured at left, she was born in South Korea but raised in France.

It’s PyeongChang, Not Pyongyang

South Korea would like to remind you that the 2018 Winter Olympics are being held in Pyeongchang, not Pyongyang. Pyongyang is the capital of North Korea. And yes, one person has already gotten the two cities confused.  In October 2014, a Kenyan man attending a UN conference in Pyeongchang accidentally booked a ticket to Pyongyang instead.

According to NBC News, the indigenous people’s rights advocate was “held in North Korea for more than four hours, forced to pay about $500 for a plane ticket out of the country and ordered to sign a pledge saying he would never return to North Korea without a visa.”

Harsh! And given the current level of tension between North Korea and almost everywhere else, it would probably be for the best if this didn’t happen again.

To that end, Pyeongchang is changing its name to PyeongChang for the Winter Olympics.

South Korea Sought Out 2,100 Volunteers for Translation at the Olympics

Although the winter Olympics are smaller than the summer Olympics, translation remains a top concern. This year is no different. In preparation for the 2018 Olympic Games, South Korea sought out 2,100 volunteers with language skills to act as interpreters and translators for athletes, delegates, and the press.  Read more

Learn a Language

The Top Languages to Learn in 2018

Fancy learning a new language this year? As one of the UK’s leading translation service providers, we’re in just the right place to give some tips on the most useful ones to pick. 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 2018.

1. Mandarin

Guanhua

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.  According to Bloomberg, as of November 06, 2017 the Chinese economy is projected to overtake the United States economy in 2028.

Meanwhile,  China is busy constructing a “New Silk Road” to connect the Chinese mainland with Europe, the rest of Asia, and emerging markets in Africa. 

Mandarin is also the second most popular language online. And according to Statista, while the US will probably remain the largest economy overall for a few years yet, by the end of 2018 China will be the largest digital economy in the world. 

When you look at the facts, it’s easy to see why the British Council ranked Mandarin as one of the most important languages for the future of the UK.  If you’re learning a new language this year and you’re up for a challenge, Mandarin is definitely one of the top languages to learn.

Want to learn more about the languages of China? See our beginner’s guide to Chinese translation services!

Read more

Why I love the UK

Why I love the UK

Back in the summer of 2004, I left my beautiful homeland of France behind for the prospect of a year in the damp, grey UK. I know what you’re thinking “Why on earth would you do such a thing?” well… picturesque countryside, fantastic hospitality and a pub on every corner (probably called the Red Lion or the Crown), yes please, why wouldn’t I! Now then, I forgot to mention that I came to Milton Keynes, the one and only city in the UK that, well, looks more American than British (or so I’ve been told). But, hey ho, you can add roundabouts to the list of things I love about this place, so there! Read more

6 Major Shopping Days Around The World For International Business

In the United States, the holiday shopping season officially started on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday is one of the biggest shopping holidays in the world, but it’s certainly not the only one, or even the biggest one.

If your business is marketing to international customers,  you need to know the days they plan to shop. With that in mind, let’s take a look at 6 of the biggest shopping days around the world. Read more

3 Reasons We Really Did Need a New Translation of The Odyssey

Homer’s Odyssey is one of the oldest and most influential works of Western literature. Before this year, it had been translated from Greek to English no less than 60 times. And now, there’s a new version available, translated by Emily Wilson.

So, did we really need yet another translation of The Odyssey? Here are 3 reasons why the latest version is worth your time:

This is the first English translation of The Odyssey by a woman.

Emily Wilson is the first woman to translate The Odyssey into EnglishBut does that matter? Yes, because the process of translation is rarely as straightforward as an outsider might think.  Often, there’s not a single correct word or phrase to use. Instead, there’s a series of trade-offs in finding the closest match, something that conveys as many of the original shades of meaning as possible, without losing the rhythm and mood of the original text.

And sometimes, a translator’s own beliefs and biases can affect the final product. Read more

Chinese Translation Services: A Beginner’s Guide

Is your business looking for Chinese translation services? The potential benefits are tremendous:

Chinese translation can also help you reach communities of Chinese speakers closer to home.

But while the potential benefits are real, the potential pitfalls are, too. To avoid mishaps, read our beginner’s guide to Chinese translation services for businesses.

What language do they speak in China, anyway?

If you answered “Mandarin,” then you only get partial credit. Mandarin (often called Standard Chinese or Putonghua), is an official language in China, Taiwan, and Singapore.  But it’s not the only language people speak in China. Far from it. According to Ethnologue, there are 299 living languages spoken in China today.  Around 70% of the Chinese population speaks Mandarin, although the government would like to increase that to 80% by 2020.

The bottom line? It’s important to know your audience.  Depending on the content you’re translating, the medium you’re using, and the audience you’re trying to reach, Mandarin may be sufficient. But in some areas, like Hong Kong, it’s important to show respect for local languages like Cantonese, too.

And referring to standard Chinese as “Mandarin” is, in itself, a bit of an oversimplification. “Mandarin” also refers to a group of dialects used across northern and southwestern China. When spoken, these dialects are not all mutually intelligible. Read more

8 Horror Novel Translations to Curl Up With This Fall

Halloween is over. But there’s still a month of fall left, and I, for one, am not quite ready to start celebrating the winter holidays just yet.  So, join me in keeping the Halloween spirit alive a little longer by curling up with one of these 8 horror novel translations.

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Translated from the Swedish by Ebba Segerburg

First published in Swedish in 2004, Let the Right One In is a classic vampire novel that’s been made into a movie. If you haven’t read it yet, there’s no time like the present!

The Crimson Labyrinth  by Yusuke Kishi

Translated from Japanese by Camellia Nieh

Did you like The Running Man? Then you’ll like this novel from Yusuke Kishi, in which unwitting contestants are forced to compete to survive the deadly Mars Labyrinth.

From The Hunger Games to Doctor Who, this premise has become quite common in our reality-TV obsessed era.  But this is an especially well-done example, with 4.5 stars on Amazon and 3.7 stars on Goodreads.

And Unbound Worlds recommended it as one of the best novels for readers who are just beginning to dip their toes into Japanese horror.

Read more

Dracula in Translation

Dracula in Translation

It’s almost Halloween! That means it’s an excellent time to reread your old horror favorites like Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Most cultures have some sort of indigenous vampire mythology. But Stoker’s novel helped spread the modern, Western image of the vampire around the world.  What dark, supernatural powers made it so influential?

The power of translation, of course! Here are 6 facts about Dracula around the world that you might not have heard before.

Dracula is available in at least 29 languages.

Dracula has been continuously in print since it was first published in 1897. During that time, it has been translated into at least 29 languages. That’s not quite Translation Hall of Fame material but it’s not too shabby, either.

Dracula’s origins are lost in translation.

Many people think Stoker based Dracula on the historical Wallachian ruler Vlad III, or Vlad the Impaler. But this is likely a myth. There are certainly some similarities between the two figures. For example, some English speaking texts call Vlad Tepes “Voivode Dracula.” And the Count talks about fighting Turks as a mortal. But there’s not much evidence that Stoker modeled his fictional vampire on Vlad the Impaler. Read more

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