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.

kindness around the world

World Kindness Day: 5 Ways People Show Kindness Around the World

13 November is World Kindness Day.  World Kindness Day has been celebrated since 1998, and this year I daresay we need it now more than ever. 2018 has shown that intolerance knows no borders.  It’s easy to forget that kindness is ALSO universal. Every culture has its own customs and traditions of kindness, compassion and hospitality. Here are just five of the endless ways people show kindness around the world.

Southern Africa: Ubuntu

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:  An anthropologist tries to get a group of African children to run a “winner take all” race with a basket of fruit as a prize. It doesn’t go as planned. Instead of racing each other, the children all hold hands. They cross the finish line together and share the fruit. When the anthropologist asked them why they cooperated instead of competing, they said “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

I hate to be a spoilsport, but I can’t find any confirmation that story actually happened as described.

However, ubuntu as a cultural concept is real. As a philosophy, it was made famous by South African leaders like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But it’s much older than they are. Ubuntu is an idea that’s common to many of the cultures of Southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, the Shona call it unhu. In Malawi, it’s called uMunthu. In all of these languages, the meaning is constant: “I am because we are.”

This philosophy encourages kindness in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sharing resources.
  • Taking care of each other.
  • Caring for children as a community.
  • Taking care of travellers. For example, according to Nelson Mandela, “A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu …”

Read more

What to do if your products are stuck at the border

What To Do If Your Products Are Stuck At the Border

Selling your products in another country sounds like a fantastic opportunity. In most cases, it is. However, it’s also more complicated than selling goods in just one country. Multilingual labelling is particularly tricky. Different regions have different requirements, and if your labels are found wanting, your products will likely end up stuck in limbo at the border.

Obviously, the potential business impact of such a mishap is enormous. If your products are stuck at  the border, they aren’t selling. If they aren’t selling, you’re losing money.

So, how do you get them moving again? The exact steps you need to take will vary depending on where your products are stuck, and why they’ve been barred from entry. That said, we’ve put together a guide to common labeling problems and solutions to get you started. Here’s what to do if your products get stuck at the border.

Common Labeling Issues

Labels matter. Here are 3 reasons your product labels might be rejected at the border.

Missing allergen information

Food allergies are a hot topic these days. Their frequency and severity seem to be on the rise, as is media attention on the subject. Food labelling regulations give allergy sufferers the ability to do things the rest of us take for granted. Like going to the shop, buying a chocolate bar, and eating it without going into shock.

When allergens aren’t labelled, tragedy can result.  For example, in the UK, two people died recently due to incorrectly marked sandwiches from popular ready-to-eat chain Pret A Manger. One victim, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, was only 15 years old and allergic to sesame. She read the label on the sandwich she picked up at the airport. Unfortunately, it didn’t list the sesame seeds baked into the bread. Under the current “fresh foods exception,” it didn’t have to.  She collapsed on the plane and died a few days later.

Incidents like these generate new labelling laws that can vary by country. The “fresh foods” loophole is likely to close soon in the UK, with the expected passage of “Natasha’s law.” Read more

audiovisual heritage

How Transcription and Translation Preserves Our Audiovisual Heritage

Did you know that 27 October was the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage?  The goal of this observance is to “raise general awareness of the need to preserve and safeguard important audiovisual material for future generations.” “Audiovisual heritage” can include anything from movies to TV to radio broadcasts. UNESCO calls these “the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries.” However, these records are more fragile in some ways than the journals, letters and newspaper articles of years past. For example, UNESCO notes that “sound recordings and moving images can be deliberately destroyed or irretrievably lost as a result of neglect, decay and technological obsolescence.”

Around the world, digital archivists look for strategies to preserve these pieces of our shared history. Much of the work involved is technical- trying to find ways to keep original media intact and accessible or copying it into a digital format. However, translators and transcriptionists also have a crucial role to play in preserving these materials.

Transcribing Audio

Transcription is one way to preserve the content of an audiovisual resource.  Digital transcriptions also have the advantage of being easily searchable. However, transcriptions are no substitute for the original content. Nor is transcription a replacement for proper storage and digitisation. The magic of actually hearing voices and seeing images from the past is irreplaceable.

That said, transcription is still an essential part of the preservation process. For example, the US nonprofit organisation LYRASIS recommends that all recordings be transcribed and indexed, with multiple copies of the transcription saved in different formats.

Translating Content for Wider Distribution

Translation has always played a vital role in the preservation of knowledge. For example, Arabic translators helped preserve the work of ancient Greek philosophers when Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages. Likewise, translating audiovisual content can help ensure its survival. Even more important, translation makes the content understandable to a wider audience. As UNESCO notes in its publication on Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles, “preservation is never an end in itself: without the objective of access it has no point.”

UNESCO also notes that there’s an opportunity for translators to help make both audiovisual resources and media scholarship available worldwide:

[T]his wealth of knowledge is not equally available to all. To the extent that much of it is written in English, non-English-speaking professionals are at a disadvantage.

Clearly, translation has an important role to play in making this knowledge more accessible to everyone. Read more

technology and security at K International

Technology and Security at K International

Every time you turn around, it seems like there’s another data breach in the news. Even tech giants like Facebook and Google are affected. To protect your business, you have to keep security top-of-mind. Since language service providers often deal with sensitive data, that means you need to choose an LSP that follows strict standards and procedures to keep that data safe.

At K International, we treat information security as the serious issue it is.  Our clients trust us with their sensitive data. Here’s how we safeguard it:

Technology and Security at K International: ISO 27001 Certification

We are proud to hold full accreditation of information security management standard ISO/IEC 27001 from the British Standards Institute. “That sounds great,” you might be thinking, “but what does it mean to me?”

The answer, in 3 words: “peace of mind.” Since we’re ISO 27001-certified, you can have confidence that all of the procedures we use to protect your company data meet security standards set by the International Organisation for Standardization (ISO).

Before we could even apply for certification, we were required to complete the following steps:

  • Systematically examine our operations to identify security risks, with an eye for threats, vulnerabilities and potential impacts.
  • Create and put into a practice a “coherent and comprehensive” set of information security protocols and procedures to mitigate these threats.
  • Create and put into a practice a management system that ensures these standards continue to provide suitable protection over time.

To become certified, we also had to pass an independent compliance audit from the British Standards Institute. Furthermore, to maintain our certification, we have to complete an audit from an external management consultant every month, and additional inspections from an independent international quality management specialists twice a year.

Our ISO 27001 accreditation proves that we’re not just mouthing pretty words where security is concerned.

Security Clearances

Information security is of paramount importance to both government and business clients. However, government clients often have special security requirements, and K  International is pleased to be able to fulfil them.

Every single person on our staff is CTC (Counter Terrorist Checks)-cleared or better. We regularly handle sensitive documents, and we have a pool of pre-selected, specially cleared linguists available for government clients. If you need a specific security clearance for your project, ask us.

We also offer security-cleared transcription services with four levels of government security-cleared transcribers, ranging from CTC to Security Checks (SC) and even Developed Vetting (DV).

Non-disclosure agreements protect your information

At K International, all of our contracted freelancers (and occasionally, their pets) sign non-disclosure agreements to keep your business information confidential, as it should be.

Secure Document Handling Procedures

Need to send a paper translation request? No problem. To safeguard paper documents that may contain sensitive information, we never use PO boxes. All materials are delivered directly to our headquarters. When we aren’t translating them, they are kept securely in one of our fireproof safes.

We’ve been in business for over 30 years, we’ve handled over one million documents for the UK government, and we’ve never lost a single document. Whether you work for the UK  government or not, that demonstrates how seriously we take security.

Machine Translation Used Appropriately In a Secure Environment

This should go without saying, but at K International, we never use Google Translate or any other free online machine translation platform. That’s not just because the results are prone to errors- it’s also because online machine translation comes with extra security risks.  For example, last year, Norwegian oil company Statoil suffered a major scandal when journalists found quite a bit of the company’s sensitive information available freely online.

What happened? This particular data breach wasn’t caused by hackers, rather by Statoil’s own employees. They had been using the free machine translation service to translate internal documents., in turn, had been uploading the translated text into the cloud. And there it remained, publicly available. The data included everything from staff termination letters to employee performance reports!

At K International, we use machine translation only when it’s appropriate for the project, and only in our own secure environment. This approach ensures your company’s data stays where it belongs. (Bonus: it also ensures more accurate and effective translations!)

The bottom line is simple: Finding the right language services partner is crucial to protecting your organisation’s sensitive data.  With decades of experience, a verified set of information security procedures, secure document handling and a trustworthy, vetted staff, K International is uniquely positioned to be that partner. For more information on how we can help you talk to the world, take a moment to review the services we offer and contact us to discuss your next project.

project managers and freelancers

Project Managers and Freelancers – Working Together to Make Your Project a Success

“If you want something done right, do it yourself.”

You’ve no doubt heard that saying before, but when it comes to language services, it’s a recipe for disaster. Savvy businesses know the value of outsourcing complex tasks that are outside their core competencies. In most cases, language services like translation and localisation are best handled by a team of experts. These projects are complicated. Doing them right gobbles precious time and resources.

Meanwhile, taking shortcuts often leads to costly errors. (We’re looking at you, Google Translate!)

However, if you outsource to a language services provider, you don’t have to worry about any of it. Instead, meet your new best friend: your project manager. LSP project managers work with a team of freelance translators to make sure that your localisation projects are successful. Here’s how they do it.LSP project managers freelancers


Project managers get new translation and localisation projects started off on the right foot.

The project manager’s work begins long before a single word is translated. It’s their job to review the project requirements and create a project timeline. They also prepare clear, easy-to-follow instructions for the other professionals who will be working on the project, and they get all the relevant files ready to send off.

Project managers work to understand your industry.

A good LSP project manager knows the ins and outs of your industry (or is willing to learn), so they can offer you relevant advice and the best possible service.

Project managers find the perfect translators for your project.

There’s a reason we advise against buttonholing a bilingual employee or friend and asking them to translate something important. Not everyone who can speak two languages can be a good translator. Translation requires native-level proficiency in the target language, fluency in the source language, and training in the art of translation. Plus, some projects require additional knowledge and experience. For example, industry-specific terms are often puzzling to laypeople.

A project manager can source freelance translators for all desired target languages, ensuring that they have the experience and qualifications necessary for the job.

Project managers act as single point of contact for clients.

Translation and localisation projects are a team effort, and often, that team is large and scattered over many different time zones. There are freelance translators, editors and proofreaders. Depending on the type of project, other professionals may need to be involved, too. For example, you may need graphic design help to ensure the final product looks just as good in the target language as it did in the original.  For audio content, you’ll need multilingual voiceover artists to read the translated script.

Project managers act as a liaison between clients, freelancers, and all of the other professionals involved in the project. They coordinate everything, from the initial translation to the proofreading to the quality control process.

Meanwhile, freelance translators translate your content into the target language of your choice.

In most cases, this is not a simple matter of substituting one word for another. Languages vary when it comes to word order, grammar, and vocabulary.  The translator’s job is to understand the source text and reproduce it in the target language, coming as close as possible to the original in meaning, style and tone.

For marketing and advertising, transcreation is often the best option. The original text may need to be recreated from the ground up to take cultural variations into account so that the result has the same impact on the target audience that it did in the original language.

If the translators have questions or need clarification, they’ll come to the project manager for help.

Project managers coordinate review, proofreading and editing of translated texts.

A project manager’s job doesn’t stop after the initial translation. Even the best translators make mistakes, so quality control is essential. The project manager will coordinate the editing and proofreading process. If an in-house review is necessary, they’ll coordinate that with your team members, too.

LSP project managers maintain all of the glossaries and translation memories to streamline future projects.

With so many people working on different aspects of the project, you’d think it would be difficult to keep a consistent style for translated content.  No worries, your project manager can build and maintain a style guide and a glossary to keep freelance translators on track. Project managers are also responsible for maintaining translation memories so that you never have to pay twice to translate the same words or phrases.

The project manager delivers the completed project and gets feedback to ensure continuous improvement.

Once every “i” is dotted and every “t” is crossed, the project manager delivers the complete project to the client for approval and feedback. If you’ve chosen an LSP with a great project management team, you can expect your experience to keep getting better the longer you work together.

At K International, we have a fantastic team of project managers with the skills and industry experience to make your next project a success. Put them together with our international team of qualified, vetted linguists, and you have a winning combination. Want to learn more? Take a look at our language services and contact us with your next project. We’d love to hear from you!

consistency in translation

How We Ensure Consistency in Translation

We’ve been in business for over 30 years, and in that time we’ve built a reputation for providing consistent, quality work even on short notice. You might be wondering how we do it. How do we deliver error-free translations with fast turnaround times? There are three secrets to our success: Processes, people, and technology. Here’s how we use each of these elements to ensure consistency in translation.

Processes: the backbone of our quality assurance program.

No matter what business you’re in, you need a robust set of processes to rely on.  At K International, we’ve developed a workflow that ensures quality and catches errors early, so we can correct them before we return the project to the client.

We hold ISO 9001:2015 accreditation for quality. All of the processes that make up our workflow meet this standard. Our internal Process Manager audits all of our operations regularly, and external auditors visit quarterly. We document any noncompliance found in these audits and deal with it appropriately so that it never becomes a pattern or impacts our clients.

How our quality assurance process sets our team up for success

Our Quality Assurance process begins with the source copy before we start translating. We systematically review the source copy for accuracy, and to identify any ambiguities, cultural issues or terms that may be difficult to translate. We then bring these back to the client and develop a plan to move forward.

After the initial review, we create language packs for all our linguists, including a glossary, a style guide, and any special instructions.  After the linguists finish their translation, the result is checked first by the Project Manager and then proofread by another linguist. The proofreader and the original linguist will work together to address any issues found until both are satisfied. Then, it’s off to the Project Manager for another QA check.

The translation team continues to perform quality checks during the typesetting and design process, catching and correcting any typos or errors that might creep in. Once everyone involved has signed off on the translated document, it goes back to the Project Manager for a final QA check before we deliver it to the client.

Every aspect of this workflow has been carefully designed to set our linguists up for success and to ensure that we catch mistakes quickly. For a more detailed visual representation of our QA process, see the diagram we ensure consistency in translation

People: our team is the secret to our success.

Processes are important, but people are even more so. So, we’re careful to recruit only the most qualified linguists to work on our clients’ projects. Our baseline requirements for translators include the following qualifications:

  • Must have been awarded a degree in translation, NVQ level 6 or a recognised postgraduate qualification in translation.
  • No less than three years of proven experience as a professional translator.
  • Translators may only translate into their mother tongue.
  • All translators must be able to pass our training and competency testing.

Of course, there are often additional requirements for specific projects. For example, all of our Welsh translators are members of Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru; the association of Welsh translators and
interpreters. Also, some projects may require industry experience to ensure the translator is familiar with all of the relevant terminology. If the work requires translators to hold specific security clearances, we’ll verify those as well.

Technology: improving efficiency and adding another layer of protection for clients.

We use two critical pieces of technology to support our quality control processes and to make our teams even more effective at what they do:


MemoQ is a unique computer-assisted translation software suite. We use it to implement translation memories, glossaries, and terminology lists for all of your projects. These features not only help control costs, but they also preserve your company voice and ensure that all of your projects maintain a consistent style and tone.

MemoQ’s automated QA tools check spelling, punctuation, terminology and more. This does not replace thorough quality checks by our professional linguists and project managers, of course. However, it does help them do their jobs more efficiently, and it provides one more fail-safe to catch errors. By requiring each person involved in the QA process to sign off, MemoQ also helps ensure that no steps are missed.


Tracklingua, our bespoke translation management system, makes it easy for you to order projects and track them throughout the translation process. But that’s not all it does. It also makes it easier to communicate with our translation team. By cutting out messy email chains, Tracklingua makes it easy to share information that will improve the final product.

Are you looking for a reliable language services provider that delivers consistent quality you can count on? Take a look at our language services and contact us for your next project today.

how we price your project

How We Price Your Project

How much do our language services cost? It depends. Each project is different, so we create customised quotes for each one individually. When we price your project, we consider several factors to come up with a price that’s fair for everyone involved and allows for quality work.

Since projects vary so much,  we can’t offer a set list of prices on our website.  That said, for transparency’s sake, here’s the inside scoop into how we price your project and the factors we take into consideration.

Step 1: Examine the project requirements

The first step in our pricing process is to examine the project requirements. What type of content is being translated? Are other types of work involved? For example, some projects may need to to be redesigned or reformatted to accommodate the destination language. Read more

How to choose a language services provider

How to Choose a Language Services Provider (LSP)

Whether your business goals include entering new markets overseas or reaching more people in your own backyard, it’s essential to choose the right language services provider.

Like any good partnership, your relationship with your LSP will only get better with time . . . as long as you’ve chosen the right provider. Choose poorly, however, and your relationship will soon disintegrate under the pressure of issues with translation quality, deadlines, and project management.

Much better, then, to choose wisely the first time. If you’re not sure how to choose a language services provider, our helpful checklist will walk you through the key factors involved.How to choose a language services provider

✅Does the LSP have the right people on staff to meet your business needs?

The strength of a business lies in its people, and LSPs are no exception. Before you select a language services provider, make sure they have the staff to handle your business needs.

More specifically, here are some questions to ask: Read more

5 Ways Translators Are Helping to Preserve Cultural Heritage Around the World

This Sunday, 30 September, is 2018 International Translation Day. This year’s theme is Translation: Promoting Cultural Heritage in Changing Times.  So, what is cultural heritage, anyway, and how can translators help promote and preserve it?

Cultural heritage “is the legacy of physical artefacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and preserved for the benefit of future generations.” Language is a type of “intangible culture.” Beyond that,  language also preserves other bits of intangible culture, like values, traditions, and folklore.

In many places, cultural heritage is under threat from conflict, poverty or just a world that’s changing more rapidly than ever – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are five ways translators are helping to preserve cultural heritage around the world.

Translators without Borders – Gamayun, The Language Equality Initiative

We love Translators Without Borders. You may know them best for their work in providing vulnerable people with the information they need to survive the aftermath of conflicts, crises and natural disasters. On top of that, they are also gathering data to bring twenty underserved languages online during the next decade.

Machine translation, while far from perfect, does allow people to access information that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. However, machine translation relies on data. For many languages, that data is scarce. Translators Without Borders aims to bring voice recognition and text translation to languages like Kiswahili, Bengali and Hausa.

Read more about this project and contribute here. Read more

thank you around the world

How To Say “Thank You” Around the World 

Friday, 21 September is World Gratitude Day. To celebrate, we’ve put together a guide on how to say “Thank You” around the world.  Here’s how to express gratitude to someone in 50+ languages, including the top 50 spoken languages to cover over 80% of the world’s population.

How to Say Thank You In the UK 

English: Thank you! 
Irish: “Go raibh maith agat” which means “May you have goodness.” 
Welsh: Diolch

How to Say Thank You In Scandinavia

Danish:  Tak, tusind tak (thousand thanks) or Mange tak (Thank you very much!)
Swedish: Tack,  tack så mycket (thank you very much) or tusen tack (thousand thanks).
Norwegian: Takk. Avoid “takk for alt” (thank you for everything), and Takk og farvel (thank you and goodbye) as these are used at funerals.
Finnish: Kiitos or Kiitos paljon! (thanks a lot!) Read more

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