Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

As another year draws to a close, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone we’ve worked with for helping to make 2015 one of the most exciting years in K International’s history. We couldn’t have done it without such great clients or without our team of expert linguists. We look forward to building new partnerships throughout the New Year and continuing our commitment to delivering the best service in the industry.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Enjoy the Holidays!

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Global-Branding - Coke-Can

5 Examples of Powerful Global Branding in Action

Image by Pixabay

In the 1980s, only a handful of brands, such as Coca Cola and IBM, ruled the global stage. However, as the internet continues to lower the barriers to entering new markets, an increasing number of companies are able to achieve this level of influence.

Today, building a global brand requires a lot more than simply translating your website into different languages. The most successful companies understand that consistent and universally appealing messaging has to be combined with an understanding of local culture and tastes – a tactic that’s known as a ‘glocal’ strategy.

Here are five examples of powerful global branding in action. Read more

Which Language Has the Most Words for Snow?

Have you ever wondered which language has the most words for snow?  Last week, Rich addressed the topic of whether or not “Eskimos” (aka Inuit, Yupik and related peoples) actually have 50 words for snow.  But did you know that other languages have even MORE words for snow?

It’s true! So, which language has the most words for snow? It’s probably impossible to say for sure. There are always questions about what counts as a word. For example, how do you count polysynthetic or compounding languages, where one “word” can contain as much information as some English sentences? Nevertheless, here is a list of the top contenders:

Inuit/Yupik Words for Snow: 40-50

This topic never fails to generate quite the controversy in linguistic circles, with some calling it “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax.” Rich cites new research from Igor Krupnik that shows Inuit languages do have around 40 to 50 words for snow, depending on the dialect.

Some examples:

  • Qanik: snow falling
  • Aputi: snow on the ground
  • Aniu: Snow used to make water
  • Maujaq (Nunavik): The snow in which one sinks

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Do the Eskimos Really have 50 Words for Snow?

As Franz Boas travelled through the snowy landscape of Baffin Island during the 1880s on his quest to understand the Inuit people and their way of life, he became fascinated by the number of different words they used for the various types of snow, from piegnartoq, meaning snow that is firm enough for driving a sled on, to aqilokoq, meaning softly falling snow. His claim that there were more than 50 different words for snow was made in his 1911 publication A Dictionary of American Indian Languages and quickly became fixed in the public imagination.

Whether the claim is true or not, it led to a debate that has continued in linguistic circles ever since. Some of the confusion arises from the nature of Eskimo languages. Both Inuit and Yupik, the two main branches of the language, have many differing dialects, but they all have in common the feature of polysynthesis, which allows speakers to add a lot of information to a base word by adding suffixes. Information that would take a whole sentence in English can be communicated in a single (long) word. This makes the definition of words particularly difficult: does a base with various endings constitute different words or is it rather a single idiom with individual descriptive flourishes attached? Many linguists believe that the vocabulary lists compiled by Boas confused the two.

However, recent research undertaken by anthropologist Igor Krupnik at the Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center in Washington found that Inuit and Yupik languages do indeed have many different words for snow. He claims that Boas was careful to include only words with meaningful distinctions in his dictionary. Krupnik and other researchers studied the vocabulary of 10 dialects from both the Inuit and Yupik languages and conclude that there really are many more different words for snow than there are in English. The Inuit dialect of Canada’s Nunavik region has 53 words for snow, including pukak for powder snow that looks like salt crystals and matsaaruti for the slushy snow that is useful for icing a sled’s runners. In the other branch of the language, Central Siberian Yupik dialects have at least 40 such words. Read more

Language and Translation News: 6 Stories To Read Now

What’s been going on in the language and translation world this month? We’ve rounded up 6 of the most interesting stories from our industry. Grab some coffee or a cup of tea, settle in and let’s get caught up!


13 Percent of the New York Times’ Notable Books for 2015 Are Translations

Only about two to three percent of the books published in the US this year are translated from another language. However, this year translated titles made up 13 percent of the New York Times’ list of “Notable Books.” That’s kind of a big deal.

For your convenience, Bustle has a list of the translated titles here. Check it out, there’s something for everyone! Read more

The Welsh Act

The Welsh Language Act

Every public body to which a notice is given under section 7 of the Welsh Language Act 1993 is required to provide services to the public in Welsh, or exercises statutory functions in relation to the provision by other public bodies of services to the public in Wales. They shall prepare their own scheme specifying the measures which it proposes to take, for the purpose mentioned in the scheme as to the use of the Welsh language in connection with the provision of those services.

We fully comply with the requirements of the Welsh Language Act and would be able to provide all of your material in Welsh or advise you on the best possible methodology to produce it.

Proven Experience of Welsh Translation

K International has demonstrated through the Crown Commercial frameworks RM1092, RM987 and through Home Office sponsored agreements 05/GEN/25 and 11/GEN/25 that  we can provide Welsh language services for translation and transcription to the MoJ.

Over the past 5 years we have translated over 30 million words from English into/out of Welsh. This has been mostly for Government agencies but also includes independent bodies and private/listed companies. A large percentage of this work has been driven (primarily) by the need to comply with the Welsh Language Act 1993. Read more

K International Christmas Present Hunt

K International Christmas Present Hunt

Christmas is coming and our social team have been really busy getting ready for everyone’s favourite office event, that’s right you guessed it, it’s Secret Santa! To make sure we didn’t open all the gifts early, the team craftily hid them in and around our website, but with all the excitement they forgot where… Luckily they had […]

The Different Types of English

Who invented the English language? This is a question that is just as complicated and diverse as the language itself. In truth, English can be considered one of the few “melting pot” languages of the world. With far-ranging roots including (but not limited to) Germanic, Dutch, Latin, Old Norman, French and even ancient Greek. It should come as no surprise that English offers an interesting insight into the past.

However, we also need to realise that different regions of the world speak entirely different dialects while the exact same words will have entirely different definitions in regards to where we live. Believe it or not we do localise (or should that be localize) texts for different ‘English’ speaking markets, this is part of our Transcreation Service. Let me show you what I mean and take a look at some examples that will leave you tongue tied at the end of this article.

The USA Vs the UK

Let’s assume that a British citizen is visiting the states and needs some repair work done on their car. Strutting into a garage and asking the employee to take a look under the bonnet would be quite confusing. “Bonnet” is the head covering for an infant. “Hood” refers to a vehicle. Still, the laughs don’t stop here. Many an American has found himself red in the face after referring to his trousers as “pants”. Suddenly, privacy seems to have been thrown out the window. In the same way, an English woman would never be caught dead wearing a “fanny pack” around town for obvious reasons! I blogged about this a couple of weeks ago on the Association of Language Companies’ blog, the link is here – US and UK EnglishRead more

When Translation Backfires: Optus Threatened in Australia 

Speaking your customers’ language is always a good business strategy. However, as Australian telecom company Optus discovered recently, it can be a controversial strategy. The company had to remove Arabic language signs from some locations after a barrage of Facebook complaints and threats against staff.

It Started On Facebook

Starting on November 16, Optus’ Facebook page received numerous comments complaining about Arabic advertisements the company had posted in the mall in Casula, near Sydney.

For example, Chris Cahill posted:

“What’s with the Optus, Casula shopping centre advertisement board, not one word or English on it? Very poor taste considering the weekends events. Your advertisement people would be looking for new jobs if I was running the show!”

Because apparently for some people the Arabic language equals “terrorism.” Obviously, the ads themselves had nothing to do with terrorism. They merely let Arabic-speaking customers know that there were Arabic-speaking employees at the Optus store.

The ads made good business sense. Mobile phone plans can be complicated. When details get lost in translation, customers end up unhappy. According to Buzzfeed, 10.5% of people living in the Casula area speak Arabic at home. As Optus explained to the Sydney Morning Herald,

“In some communities, we actively promote the bilingual skills of our front-line staff. We recognise that sometimes customers find it easier to understand the detail of a phone plan when it’s explained in their first language.”

The Optus social media team made a valiant effort to explain this to the Facebook mob, but the complaints continued.  One woman called the ads (or perhaps the Arabic language itself) “camel spit.” Another asked, ” [W]hat about the other nationalities that live at casula… Specially us english speaking people. Oh and my neighbor who is indian.” 

Presumably, most English-speaking people are already well-aware that English-language services available.

Several threatened to cancel their service, or claimed to have already done so.  Read more

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