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.

Of course, let’s not forget the professional translators and interpreters who worked hard behind the scenes, without the benefit of press coverage!  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!

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Export Guide to Belgium

Export Guide to Belgium

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

Belgium’s market offers a range of opportunities to UK businesses looking to export their goods and services overseas. This affluent, multicultural country is within easy reach of the UK and offers a highly competitive marketplace for UK exporters. With a population of more than 11 million, the country offers strong purchasing power in an environment that is receptive to UK goods.

This Belgium business culture guide takes an in-depth look at business, linguistic and cultural considerations for companies looking at expanding abroad. Read more

UK Business Guide to China

Export Guide to China

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

With a population of 1.4 billion, China is the world’s most populous country. It has more than 160 cities with a million or more inhabitants. China is also one of the world’s largest economies, ranking second only to the US in terms of its nominal GDP. In terms of its global competitiveness, China ranks 28th in the world.

Companies seeking true global success need to crack the Chinese market. For UK companies looking to export to China, this means learning to take account of a range of cultural differences in the way that they conduct business. Chinese translation services are also key to succeeding in China, as this business cultural guide explains.

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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

Customer Satisfaction results for 2017

Customer Satisfaction Survey 2017

It’s been over a year now since we first launched our monthly customer satisfaction survey, we are proud to say that in that time we have received 436 responses from 348 individual contacts spanning more than 250 different clients. K International are dedicated to providing premium levels of customer service, so with that in mind, we are extremely happy to present the latest results from our survey. You are welcome to take a look at more comments from our clients over on the testimonial page.

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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

Guide to exporting to Italy

Export Guide for Italy

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

This Italy business culture guide is provided to support UK businesses considering exporting to Italy.

Italy imports a wealth of resources and transforms them into finished products. These are then sold both domestically and internationally. This presents some excellent opportunities for UK exporters, with the Italian government offering investment incentives at a local, regional and national level.

With a flight time of under 2.5 hours from London to Rome, Italy provides a close, convenient location for UK businesses looking to expand their international operations. It is also an attractive country to visit, with The Economist reporting that Italy enjoys the eighth highest standard of living in the world.

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UK business guide to Switzerland

Export Guide for Switzerland

Translation and localisation support plays a major role in a successful export strategy so K International is producing a number of country-specific export guides to provide your business with some helpful information. You can read the introduction and view other guides as they become available right here.

According to the World Economic Forum, Switzerland is the world’s most competitive economy – a position it has held for the past seven years. The maturity and diversity of the Swiss economy present a plethora of business opportunities for UK companies looking to do business in Switzerland. As such, this business culture guide looks at the dos and don’ts of doing business in Switzerland, along with some key details for companies looking to export their products for Swiss consumers.

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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