5 Halloween Foods From Around the World

Happy Halloween, everyone! Time to get dressed up, carve pumpkins, possibly trick or treat, watch horror movies…and indulge in your favorite Halloween foods. Here are 5 traditional options from around the world, recipes included:

America: Candy Corn

This orange, yellow and white candy is shaped like a corn kernel and is typically only available around Halloween, though candy companies have tried to market other color and flavor variations for other holidays.

Candy corn was invented in the 1880’s by George Renninger of the Wunderle Candy Company.  For some reason, people have been buying it ever since. It’s mostly made of corn syrup and fondant, and it tastes about like you’d expect: not much flavor other than sugar. Apparently some people actually like it.

This year, candy manufacturers are expected to produce almost 9 billion pieces of the stuff, though it’s not clear how much of it will actually be eaten versus how much will go stale at the bottom of trick-or-treating bags across the country.

If you can’t obtain candy corn where you are and I can’t dissuade you from trying it, this recipe from Alton Brown should do the trick.

Ireland: Colcannon and Barmbrack

Colcannon, made of mashed potatoes and greens like kale and cabbage, is a traditional staple for Halloween night in Ireland. Chew cautiously on Halloween, when it’s traditional to bake in a ring, a thimble, and small coins or other little prizes.  Getting the ring means you’ll get married in the year to come. Get the thimble, and it’s the single life for you. Coins signify wealth, as long as you don’t choke on them.

Barmbrack is an Irish version of fruitcake. Traditionally, charms were baked into the cake for purposes of divination, similar to colcannon.

Trying to determine what the next year will bring? This page has recipes for both colcannon and barmbrack.

Various European countries: Soul Cakes

“Soul cakes,” or little round cakes meant to commemorate the dead, used to be common in various European countries. The cakes would be left in offering to the souls of the dead on All Hallow’s Eve, and then given out to children and to the poor who went door-to-door offering songs and prayers for the deceased on All Soul’s Day.  The practice, called “souling,” is a prelude to the modern-day custom of trick-or-treating.

Here’s a recipe for traditional English soul cakes. 

Italy : Fave dei Morti, or “Beans of the Dead”

In Italy, Fave dei Morti are served on All Soul’s Day. These creepily-named almond cookies (also referred to as Bones of the Dead) are shaped like fava beans, and they taste a bit like biscotti or a macaron. This traditional recipe includes booze.

Mexico: Pan de Muerto

Pan de muerto is traditionally eaten alongside altars made to deceased family members, or at their gravesites. This sweet bread is an essential part of Dia de Muertos’ celebrations, and is often festooned with decorative “bones” made of dough.  This recipe features orange zest and anise.

Image Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Free Flower

NPR Highlights Medical Translation 

In the translation industry, quality counts, and that’s especially true in fields like medical translation, where lives are quite literally at stake.  Today, an article on NPR highlights what can happen when medical translation and interpreting goes awry.

The article begins with the story of Willie Ramirez, an 18-year-old who was hospitalized in Florida in 1980. Ramirez was already in a coma when he arrived at the hospital, and his family only spoke Spanish. Due to an interpreting error, the hospital initially attributed his systems to a drug overdose; by the time he got treatment for the brain bleed he actually had, massive irreversible brain damage had already occurred. He was left quadriplegic.

Even now, over three decades later, US patients have trouble accessing services in languages other than English. Some states, like Oregon, do have laws that require the use of professional interpreters, but even in these states patients are still underserved.

In-person medical interpreters are rarely available, so doctors and patients rely on either over-the-phone interpreters or on English-speaking family members, often the patients’ young children.

Medical interpreter Helen Eby told NPR that using family as interpreters can create problems:

“You know, you’ve got a 10-year-old in a gynecology appointment,” she says. “Is this where you would normally take a 10-year-old? Not likely. Or [you’ll] have a child — an adult child even — interpret a parent’s cancer diagnosis. That’s got to be highly traumatic.” And the chances that important medical details will be misunderstood increases significantly.

Telephone interpreting services do have interpreters available in a variety of languages, but they have problems of their own. For starters, the interperters may not be trained to interpret in medical situations. Additionally, having to use a telephone creates obstacles for many patients,  according to Oregon doctor Dr. Angela Alday:

“One problem that I run into with the translator phone is a lot of our elderly patients seem to be kind of confused by it. You know some of them don’t hear very well so that can be a problem with the phone translator. And then, particularly if the patient has dementia, sometimes using the telephone translator is confusing. They don’t know what’s going on.”

Hopefully, the situation in Oregon and the United States as a whole will improve in time.

Good medical translation protects patients and organizations. Learn more about K International’s experience in the medical translation field and our quality control process here. 

Photo credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by phalinn

Map Shows Chinese Translation of European Place Names

Start your weekend off with something awesome: this map of Europe showing the literal Chinese translations of European country names.

Here are some of the more amusing, if bizarre,  translations:

  • Norway: Move Prestige
  • Sweden: Very Lucky Soldiers
  • Finland: Orchid Fragrance
  • Portugal: Grapetooth
  • Italy: Meaning Big Profit
  • Latvia: Pull-off Via
  • Belgium: Billy Time
  • Ireland: Love Your Orchid
  • Hungary: Hun’s Tooth Profit

 Wow. The map was made by Haonowshaokao, who is learning Chinese, and his Chinese wife. He explained why they decided to make the map to Buzzfeed News:

“This is not a serious translation by any means – I’ve translated the names in a pedantic, literal way, character-by-character, which wouldn’t make sense to most Chinese people.

I don’t want to make fun of Chinese people or the Chinese language, it’s just a funny way for me to remember the names of countries as I learn the language. Chinese people don’t really think of America as Beautiful Country or the UK as Brave Country any more than we think of Turkey as a bird. Any language unlike your own looks strange from the outside, but I hope people can use this as a stepping stone to learning Chinese rather than laughing at it.”

Also, as Buzzfeed notes but I’d like to second, go read the comments on the original map! There are several interesting, in-depth and very-much-worth-reading discussions of Chinese history and how the various countries got their names.

This map is a lot of fun, but it also demonstrates why translation is such a difficult art. Literal, word-to-word translations of text often come out awkward at best and meaningless at worst.  If the material you are translating matters at all – to your business or to your customers – you need to hire a reputable, professional translation service.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” Chinese Translation Fail 

You’d think that if you were distributing one of this year’s biggest blockbuster movies in a market the size of China, you’d be willing to spend the money to get a good Chinese translation.

Or not. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” was released in China last week, and apparently the subtitles got lost in translation. China Daily called reception of the film “lukewarm,” citing poor translation as one reason:

Weibo user “Gudabaihua,” who has become popular for uploading and subtitling video clips on social media, said he hasidentified at least 80 translation mistakes in the Chinesesubtitles. “Aside from a lot of mistranslations, the subtitles failedto show the original feel of the movie, such as jokes, puns andhomophones. We cannot help but doubt the professionalism of the translator.”

A few of the highlights, via The Mary Sue:

  • When other characters insult Rocket by calling him “weasel” or “rodent,” the Chinese subtitles merely say “small raccoon.”
  • “We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, b***!” was translated “We’re the Guardians of the Galaxy, slut!”
  • “Turd blossom” became “big face.”
  • “Pelvic sorcery” became “rhetoric sorcery.”
  • Instead of teaching people how to dance, Kevin Bacon teaches them how to “twist a**.”

Humor, jokes and puns are all notoriously difficult to translate into another language and another culture. However, it’s certainly not impossible. And when your product is entertainment, you can’t afford to have your translators miss the punchline.  Despite the errors, Wikipedia notes that China is the third-highest international market for the film — but how much better would it have done if Chinese viewers felt properly catered to?

Marketing messages, product packaging and other business communications can suffer from the same sorts of problems. That’s why it’s so important to get the job done right the first time. At K International, our experienced, professional translators translate your company’s voice into your customer’s language, so they can laugh with you (when applicable), not at you!

Photo Credit: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by theglobalpanorama

Improving Efficiency without Sacrificing Quality

A Guide to the Medical Translation Process

For medical translation projects, there are two competing concerns: efficiency and quality. Clients want a fast turnaround for as little money as possible, but the life-or-death nature of medical translation makes even minor errors unacceptable. How can we design a medical translation process that minimizes time and cost to the client, yet still meets regulatory standards and ensures accuracy?

Balancing these goals takes careful consideration and planning during each stage of the medical translation project. No computer program can ensure your message comes across clearly and accurately as well as a skilled human translator can, but using technology appropriately at each stage can streamline the process.

Read more

The K Team

We did it. The Swanbourne Endeavour 2014.

We did it… we all ran the Swanbourne Endeavour. Happy to report that there were no serious injuries. The cuts and bruises are starting to disappear but we hope the cash and awareness we raised for the 5 charities lasts a lot longer.

We were 20 people of the 600 who took part. Shout out to star performers Ben who came in 3rd and Dave who was 14th with times of 1h 03mins and 1h 13mins respectively. Truly amazing how they managed to get around so quickly. Well done guys.

Special thanks go to Sam who organised the event and training. And Sheree who organised the fund raising last week. We exceeded our target of cash raised with £900 going to local charities and over a $1000 for Translators Without Borders.

Remember you can still donate up until the 31st of October, although we reached our goal, help us to smash it! As Translators without Borders are based in the USA, we are using Razoo to collect donations in US dollars.  Click the big razoo button and pledge cash in aid of a great cause >>>

Online fundraising for The K Team take on the Swanbourne Endeavour

I’ve put some choice photos below. I hope you get a sense of how difficult the ‘run’ is and how much fun we had (click on an image to open the lightbox).

Will start training again for next year soon 🙂

Thank you everyone who sponsored us. I know all the charities personally and know that the ££/$$ will go a long way and provide help to people who need it.

The Charities

Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA)

A national charity helping and supporting those who currently serve in the British Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and the families of both. The donation went to the Aylesbury Vale North arm of the charity.

The Royal British Legion

They provided welfare to the Armed Services, including ex-Servicemen and women, those currently serving, and their dependents. The donation went to the local Winslow branch.

The Bucks Service Charities

A group of several charities, providing support to Territorial Army soldiers and their families within Buckinghamshire.

Medical Detection Dogs

Their aim is to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human diseases such as diabetes.

Translators Without Borders

Supporting humanitarian work around the world by providing translation for free.

Ebola: Lost in Translation?

Ebola is a horrible disease, and education is crucial to keeping it contained. Unfortunately, however, most educational campaigns to date are missing an important element: translation.

For example, earlier this week in the New Statesman, Translators Without Borders founder Lori Thicke noted that despite efforts to educate Africans about how the virus is spread and how to protect themselves, ignorance about the disease remains disturbingly high:

The ebola communication failure was recently highlighted by UNICEF, Focus 1000 and Catholic Relief Services. In September the organisations reported that in Sierra Leone – one of three West African nations at the epicentre of the outbreak – nearly a third of the people believe ebola comes from mosquitoes, or the air. Almost two-thirds could not identify the ways to prevent the disease.

One big reason for this lack of knowledge? Information, signs and billboards have so far been mostly distributed in English or French, which only a minority of West Africans speak. Fail.

As TWB told the Telegraph:

“People will die because they do not have access to information in a language they can understand. Whether it is the cultural practice of kissing the dead soon after death, or eating bats, or simply a lack of understanding about how the disease is transmitted or treated, this lack of information leading to lack of knowledge is costing lives and facilitating the spread of the disease.”

Even in English-speaking countries, language barriers often prevent accurate language about ebola from reaching the most vulnerable immigrant populations.

For example, according to USA Today, it took a week for the Dallas County health department to get Ebola fact sheets translated into the languages spoken by the mostly immigrant population living in the apartments where the first US Ebola victim was staying. The original announcement was distributed in English. Anne Marie Weiss, president of the DFW International Community Alliance, told USA Today that for the most part, residents of the building “don’t speak English. The health department was too slow to translate the documents. It should have happened immediately.”

We have to do better than this!


K-Team-at-Swanbourne20 members of the team from K International are running the Swanbourne Endeavour on Sunday to raise cash for this cause. We need your help. Please either share the link or make a donation if you can. The link is here > Taking on the Swanbourne Endeavour <.

We’re getting close to our target of $1000 so everything helps. Thank you.

Happy World Food Day!

Today is World Food Day, an annual holiday established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1981. The holiday aims to raise awareness about issues related to food security, poverty and hunger.

World Food Day has a different theme each year. This year, the theme is “Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth.”  According to the FAO website,  the idea is to

“Focus world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.”

It might come as a surprise, but for all we hear about “big agribusiness,” family farms still grow the majority of the food produced around the world. And yet, according to the International Business Times, most food insecure people are farmers. Better logistical and financial support could alleviate their hunger while also allowing them to produce more food for everyone else.

How can you get involved? OxFam recommends raising awareness by inviting friends and family over for a home-cooked meal — and a discussion about issues related to world hunger, family farming and food waste. See their discussion guide here.

Meanwhile, the FAO is requesting that people show their gratitude to family farmers on social media. To participate, take a picture or make a short video that shows your appreciation and post it on Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #ToastAFarmer.

What will you do to celebrate World Food Day?

Translation interview for Packaging today
Interview with packaging today

Our business development manager, Clare Daley, was recently interviewed by packaging today, a leading European industry magazine,  about the importance of translation in international packaging. She discusses some of the concerns distributors need to address and tips on avoiding the pitfalls that can sink a packaging translation project. You can read the entire article over at the packaging today site and find out more about our specialist food packaging translation service right here.

The Top Five Fantasy Languages

Constructed languages, more informally known as “conlangs,” make fantasy and science fiction more realistic. They also provide a hobby for both amateur and professional linguists across the globe, and a paying job for a select few.

Sometimes, people make up languages “just because.” But in general, there are two main types of constructed languages: languages made for real-world use, like Esperanto, and languages created for fictional worlds. Today, we’ll focus on the second category. Here are the top five constructed languages from fantasy and science fiction:


tolkienIt shouldn’t come as a surprise that the top two spots in this list are taken by languages created by Tolkien.  He was by no means the first author to create fictional languages for his books, but he did put an extraordinary amount of effort into the languages he created and helped to (somewhat) popularize creating languages as a hobby.

In Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Quenya is the language of the “high Elves”, the elves who left Middle Earth after its creation to live in the Elven homeland. A large group of high elves later returned to Middle Earth, and spoke Quenya as a second ritual language or in poetry.

Main real-world influences: Finnish, but also Latin, Greek and other languages.

Sample Phrases:

Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielvo.  A star shines on the hour of our meeting.  (A fancy way of saying “Hello.”)

Namárië: Farewell.

Istan quet’ Eldarin.  I can speak Elvish.


MoerbinIn Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, Sindarin was the language of the “grey elves,” a group that decided not to leave Middle-Earth to live on the Elven homeland after the world was created.

Main real-world influences: Welsh, Old English, and Icelandic, though it’s also clearly related to Quenya.

Sample Phrases:

Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn. A star shines on the hour of our meeting. 

Novaer. Farewell. 

Pedin edhellen. I speak Elvish. 


KilngonsThe Klingon Language was created for Star Trek in the 80’s by Marc Okrand. It is definitely the most widely spoken fantasy language. One fan even tried to raise his son as a bilingual Klingon native speaker! Alas, the experiment was unsuccessful.

Main real-world influences: Klingon was deliberately devised to sound “alien,” it has some features of Native American and southeast Asian languages.

Sample phrases:

NuqneH. Hello

Hab SoSlI’ Quch! Your mother has a smooth forehead! (Don’t say this to a Klingon who is bigger than you!)

Qapla’! Goodbye!


DothrakiThe most well-developed of the languages constructed for the Game of Thrones series, Dothraki is spoken by the nomadic horse lords of The Dothraki Sea.

Main real-world influences:  Turkish, Russian, Estonian, Inuktitut and Swahili.

Sample phrases:

M’athchomaroon! Hello, or more literally, “With respect!” 

Hajas! Goodbye. 

Me nem nesa. It is known.


I see youNa’vi was created for the natives of Pandora in the 2009 movie Avatar by linguist Paul Frommer.

Real-world influences: Like Klingon, Na’vi was specifically designed to sound alien, but has a vaguely Polynesian flavor.

Sample phrases:

Kaltxì. “Hello” 

Hayalovay. Goodbye or  “Until next time.” 

Nga yawne lu oer.  “I love you”

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