Top Gear in Milton Keynes

Top Gear are filming in Milton Keynes… literally just next to where our offices are. With F1 cars from Red Bull, Williams and Lotus. Jonny is kicking himself because he wished he brought his camera in.

Here’s a video.

10 Language songs for the Translation Industry

Here’s our top ten language industry related songs.

#10. 99 Red Balloons from Nena (in German – obviously). Nothing to do with translation but I love this song and remember the first time hearing it in German.

#9. The Cure – Speak my Language

#8. We No Speak Americano – Yolanda Be Cool Vrs DCup

#7. The One AM Radio – I Didn’t Speak The Language

#6. Laurie Anderson – Language is a Virus From Outer Space

#5. Nipsey Hussle – Speak My Language

#4. Morphine – You speak my language

#3. Flight Facilities – Foreign Language

#2. Smiley Culture – Cockney Translation

#1. Flight of the Conchords – Foux Da Fa Fa

Have any of your own? Let us know in the comments below…

memoQfest 2013

Last month 200 or so people from all over the localization industry convened in the Gundle Restaurant in Budapest to participate in the 5th memoQfest. It was an absolute honor for me to be the keynote presenter.

Kilgray have put some photos from the event on their photo stream on their facebook page. And the video summary came out today… great memories of a great time in one of the best cities in the world.

Thomson Translator Service for Holidaymakers

My fellow Brits are infamous for their lack of language skills abroad; so much so that Thomson the holiday company are claiming 18% never even attempt basic phrases such as hello and thank you.

While in popular British hotspots abroad, usually someone speaking English is on hand somewhere, the majority of holidaymakers get by on the locals knowledge of basic English phrases that have learned to cater to the trade, rather than linguistically lazier Brits who favour the hand gestures and pointing approach.

But in case of an emergency and one of your party needed medical care, or lost their passport, or even getting arrested, communication is key.

And Thomson have clocked on to this, with websites such a trip advisor scrutinising destinations over the lack of English speakers, holiday makers and tourists are often favouring the safer option to sticking to tourist hotspots ‘just in case’. The resolution? A 24/7 holiday telephone translation service to all their customers. When fully rolled out, it will be available in 157 languages just a phone call away.

Their research also showed a staggering 40% of holidaymakers claimed they would struggle to find a doctor and a third of travellers don’t bring basic phrase books, which means if the worst was to happen, it could very quickly develop into a holiday from hell.

How about your holiday communication? Are you part of the 25% that enjoys trying to speak another language, the 18% that feels too embarrassed? We’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Language Learning Apps – Worth the Hype?

Living in an increasingly globalised world, language skills have never been more popular. Whether you are considering learning a brand new language inside and out, or simply learning a few phrases to get you by on your holiday, chances are you aren’t the only one looking to pick up some tips.

The smart phone generation has given us endless technology at out finger tips, and with 4g set to give the UK faster internet speeds, idle thumbs will have even more time to update their twitter, ping some birds at pigs, or pester your friends with snapchat selfies.

Apps that teach you a language are becoming increasingly popular, especially free apps. From holiday makers to those looking to increase their language skills but not commit to either a physical class, or teaching packages such as Rosetta Stone, or to those just wanting to pass time of the trains (or waiting for your candy crush lives to refresh).

And it isn’t just apps that are cashing in on those looking to explore over the language barriers, but phone makers themselves, one of the Galaxy S4’s new features included a talk to text translator for 9 languages at present.

But can a phone or tablet really teach you another language, or does it just teach you key phrases? Some come pretty close, Duolingo teaches you the basics, then mark you as you practise on real content, and Keewords uses flashcards to help you build your vocabulary, but with levels and points, are they ultimately just an education game rather than a learning?
So to throw out the question, have any of you had any luck with Language Learning Apps? Or even better, seen anyone trying to use them in public?

Parlez Vous Anglais?

Immigration is a hot issue right now for many Brits, but politics aside, it is a fantastic opportunity to explore more languages?

Many children are now growing up in the UK bilingual; some schools are now even teaching in Polish, Russian and more typically non-traditional languages for schools in immigration hotspots to get the children to interact and help alleviate social tensions from a preschool age.

While French, German and even Latin are more traditional options, are they the most relevant? The Brits abroad stereotype suggests most holiday makers assume that they’ll speak English at their destination, learning the basic ‘Parlez vous Anglais?’, ‘Hablas tu Ingles’ or ‘Miláte angliká and hoping for the best, and then fumbling through travel books or translation apps on their phone if not!

And all on home turf, Eastern European restaurants and supermarkets are growing increasingly popular for a variety of nationalities, which begs the question, should Brits be learning the language too?

Alongside the benefits of knowing what food you’re about to tuck in to (vegetarians and fickle eaters take note), learning a second language not only increases memory and logic skills, but can fight dementia in the long run. Not to mention the increased career prospects!

Without getting into the rights and wrongs of immigration, the time to learn a new language and put your knowledge to the test is now. When learning French or Greek, most may only use it for two weeks a year whilst on holiday, whereas Lithuanian or Latvian literature, newspaper and radio shows are readily available in the UK, as well as people to talk to.

So the question to ask is, are Eastern European languages more beneficial in today’s economy in Schools than French, German or Spanish?

Attack of the Memes

So the good news, your business is gaining international exposure, countless website hits and signs from your building are circulating around blog sites and social media. The bad news, it may have been due to a slight translation glitch.

The blogosphere as well news sites such as the Huffington post have jumped on this hilarious phenomenon that have many Western tourists visiting the East and snapping away at traffic signs, supermarket products, directions, menus and more (which is probably rather amusing for the locals to observe too).

The term ‘Engrish’ has even been coined to describe badly translated East Asian texts into English, or ‘Japlish’ to describe to describe Japanese translations, Chinglish to describe, you get the drift.

While a few misdemeanours may be down to a few translators having a giggle, many are down to poor online translations tools or individuals overestimating their English ability, Japanese to English and vice versa is a notoriously difficult one to grasp. Plus, as a nation that is being increasingly saturated by English words, it is possible they are being picked up and put back into language in the wrong places, which is probably why so many swear words make their way into everyday translations.

While for low level businesses that have been struck with an Engrish sign, chances are a few pictures of your sign on a Facebook page thousands of miles away won’t cause too much inconvenience. For bigger companies looking to expand globally, the importance of professional translators which is fluent in both languages is imperative, as the credibility of your business could depend on it, unless your business is offensive novelty badges, in that case you are probably on to a winner.

Borrowing Words in Language

Language was never meant to be rigid, or we would still be speaking in Shakespearian dialect, or worse, grunting like cavemen. Any now with the ease of travel and global media, it’s fair to say we are trading words with our international friends left, right and centre.

Most of it we aren’t even aware of, yet alone deeply offended, but that hasn’t stopped one Japanese man attempting to sue NHK, Japans national broadcaster for 1.4 million yen for emotional distress caused by excessive use of borrowed English words during one of their broadcasts.

The man in question is a member of a campaign group that is pro Japanese language, and heavily against American and European influences on the language. He has branded NHK irresponsible for Americanising their language, by forming American words that adopt the phonetic structure of Japanese ones.

Not Just English

But branding it an ‘Americanisation’ implies that American or English words are gradually seeping into other languages and will eventually take over, rather than it working as a trade of language. Hundreds of Japanese words have also been borrowed by Western society.

I did it my waaaaaaaayWords such as karaoke, ninja and tycoon all have Japanese roots, they have been borrowed purely because they are the best fitting linguistics for cause. Imagine if instead of fruit ninja, the popular game was called fruit person skilled in ninjutsu, or to be pedantic as fruit person skilled in Asian arts. Doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

National language should be preserved and studied, but as the world becomes a smaller place, the lines between cultures and nations are beginning to blur, but not necessarily for the worse.

What are some of your favourite words from other languages? Or better, what words do you think should be borrowed?

Idiom Translation a Hard Nut to Crack

One of the biggest mistakes to make while translating documents isn’t always getting the words wrong or poor grammar or sentence structure, but it can also be the altogether feeling on the conversation.

Brits are well known for being a bit kooky, our language is full of idioms such as ‘piece of cake’, ‘sleep tight’ and ‘let the cat out of the bag’, which when you think about them, are quite nonsensical.

To translate these literally, you’re probably going to come across a little barmy. Imagine giving directions which are relatively simple, before ending on a proclamation of their uncle’s name (which if it isn’t Bob, you are going to seem rather peculiar, and if it is Bob, you are going to appear like a stalker).

Because idioms are rooted deeply in to culture, history and even TV in the case of ‘sick as a parrot’, they can be a nightmare to translate, so instead transcreation rather than translation is often the best step forward. Instead of literally translating the text to something which would most likely bamboozle an international audience, a translator will find the colloquial alternative.

Although transcreation isn’t just a about dealing with colloquial phrases, but more about incorporating the entire feel of a document, a brand or a company, and make sure the same message is conveyed through each nationality it touches, rather than literally translating the words and hoping for the best.

What are some of your favourite bonkers idioms? We’re going with ‘talk the hind legs of a donkey’ but the list goes on and on.

The Wings of a Dove

The Wings of a Dove

As some of you know… We’ve had some strange noises in the roof the last couple of days and saw a couple of white doves trapped up there. We’d tried to get them out but couldn’t so had to call the local bird catcher to do what he had to do. He was going to come in at the weekend and put some traps in the roof. Read more

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