Around the web – November 2017

Here is your round-up of popular news stories about language and translation for November.

Kazakh Facebook users have adopted the carrot example to express their views on the alphabet change


From The Red Lion to the Bucket of Blood, how did your local get its name?

Now that really takes the biscuit.

Why do the French exclaim “Oh la vache!”?

Further reading:


Around the web – October 2017

Here is your round-up of popular news stories about translation and language for the month of October.

Photo from the Facebook post that mistranslated ‘good morning’ to ‘hurt them’

  • Why is Argentinean Spanish seemingly so different to a lot of other dialects of Spanish? Find out here.

Buenos Aires market (Credit: Michael S. Lewis/Getty Images)

EU flags outside the European Commission building on October 24, 2014 (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

HSBC’s “Assume nothing” slogan was translated to “Do nothing” in several countries before a costly rebranding.

  • What are the (inflated) origins of the word ‘blimp‘?

A blimp is a non-rigid airship that takes its distinctive shape from – and is, of course, held aloft by – the gas inside its envelope.


Further reading:

Around the web – September 2017

Despite International Translation Day being celebrated by the International Federation of Translators since 1953, this year marked a milestone as it is the first since the 71st United Nations General Assembly declared September 30th to be the official UN International Translation Day, celebrated across the entire UN network, and unanimously adopted a resolution recognising the role of professional translation in connecting nations, and fostering peace, understanding and development. Without further ado, here is your round-up of popular news stories about language and translation for the month of September.

  • The European Commission has published an updated English Style Guide for its authors and translators, which is available for download.
  • Do you talk about a ‘glossary’ when you actually mean a ‘list of terminology’? Find out here.
  • K International has updated their list of favourite books about translation – covering both fiction and non-fiction.
  • Often a bugbear for French to English translators, why do the French use the umbrella term ‘Anglo-Saxon’ so much?

Not just American or British, the Anglo-Saxon is a mirror to Frenchness: the country’s alter-ego and most feared enemy

  • Blog posts comparing US and UK English are always popular, and Lynne Murphy published two this month: one about ‘sorted‘, and another about sightedness (as in far-, short-, long-, and near-).
  • This podcast episode by looked at how accents evolved, and why American and British accents are so different.

Your accent tells others where you’re from, who you identify with, and maybe even where you’re going.

You dirty lobster!

  • Here’s a list of 19 literary translations from Arabic being published this autumn.
  • In the UK, the pro-Brexit newspaper The Sun decided to publish an editorial in German on its website, justifying its position. Problem – it seems to have used Bing Translate, with predictably disastrous results.
  • Did you know that the word ‘tall‘ originally has nothing to do with height?

Tall originally had nothing to do with lattes either


Further reading:

Around the web – July & August 2017

As I was away in Australia (attending the FIT congress) for part of July and August, I’m doing a combined round-up of interesting stories about language and translation that you may have missed over the past two months, especially if you’ve also been away travelling.

  • Talking of Australia, what is the real story behind some of those Australian slang terms like ‘grommies’ ‘tea bags’ and ‘esky-lidders’?

‘Budgie smugglers’ have become synonymous with speedo-style swimwear (Credit: Stuart Westmorland/Getty Images)

You Say Melon, I Say Lemon: translator Deborah Smith as a brilliant sous chef who attempted to recreate the original chef’s recipe abroad with ingredients not found in her country.

John Trumbull’s Declaration of Independence (via Wikimedia Commons)

The plaque shows the lyrics of Galway Bay and three translations into Irish, Latin, and French

Photo of a page of « Jambonlaissé » (Davina Sammarcelli)


Further reading:

Around the web – June 2017

June 9th saw the announcement of the results of’s 2017 Language Lovers competition, and I was delighted to come 2nd * in the Twitter category! (Full results here). What else has been happening in the world of language and translation during the month of June?

What country is this, and where does its name come from?

A cuckoo, from whence the etymology of cuckold

Bugles were originally made from the horns of oxen

Recep Tayyip Erdogan takes a new step in his campaign against foreign influences


On a final note you might like to check out my latest podcast for English language learners, which is on a rather unusual subject (there are video and audio versions).

* Another milestone this month was the fact my Facebook page reached 1000 followers!


Further reading:

Around the web – May 2017

The major translation-related news this month has of course been that during its 71st session on 24 May 2017 the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 288 recognising “The role of professional translation in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding and development“. Without further ado, here’s your May round-up of popular articles about translation and language.

  • Is the translation sector “undergoing a wrenching change that will make life hard for the timid”? asks Lane Greene in The Economist article Why translators have the blues.
  • In the Financial Times, prizewinning translator Deborah Smith writes about the pleasures and pitfalls of literary translation.

A copy of La Tour’s ‘Saint Jerome Reading’ (c1636), depicting the priest known for translating the Bible into Latin. © Getty

“Gift” means “poison” in German. This may lead to confusion.

Noah Webster portrayed in an 1886 print
(via Wikimedia Commons)

On a final note, don’t forget to vote for your favourite language-related blogs, Facebook pages, Youtube channels and Twitter accounts in’s annual Top 100 Language Lovers competition. I’ve been nominated in the Twitter category for the 5th year running. You only have until June 6th to vote (which you can do by clicking the red logo at the top right of the page)!

The 3 Phases of the Top 100 Language Lovers 2017 Competition: Nominations, Voting, Results


You might also like:

Around the Web – April 2017

Easter fell during the month of April this year and I found out that the Hungarian word for the holiday is húsvét, which literally means ‘meat-taking’ (with reference to the end of Lent). Anyway here’s your April round-up of popular articles about language, interpreting, and translation.

Translation platforms cannot replace humans

Three little letters, 645 meanings.

The term double-headed has sometimes been part of the lexicon of duplicity, much like double-hearted.

  • There’s still a week before the second round of the French presidential election, which will be followed by the country’s legislative elections on June 11th and 18th. If you’re not fluent in French, here’s a handy guide to some terms used in the elections.

How do you say ‘fake news’ in French?


Further reading:

Around the web – March 2017

Did you know that the Finnish word for Marchmaaliskuu, is believed to come from the word maallinen in the sense of “earthly”, because snow begins to melt and first spots of bare earth can be seen? Anyway here’s your March round-up of popular articles about translation and language.

In 2006 Alitalia listed $39.00 for a business class fare from Toronto to Cyprus instead of the usual $3,900. Estimated cost to the carrier: $7.7m.

Now you can say ‘mansplaining’ in 35 languages

Does the available vocabulary for sex leave something to be desired?


Would you use these solicitors?

Humour en français :

  • Quand quelqu’un ne connaît pas un métier cela donne lieu à des demandes totalement insolites (ici des demandes faites à des agences web).

Further reading:

Most popular tweets of 2016

Here, in ascending order, are the 10 most popular* tweets about translation and language that I shared during 2016 on my @Smart_Translate Twitter account:

Example of an unpronounceable word; 'unpronounceable' is the opposite of its meaning

Example of an unpronounceable word; ‘unpronounceable’ is the opposite of its meaning

Is 'languid' a word that describes itself? [Lady Lilith, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti]

Is ‘languid’ a word that describes itself? [Lady Lilith, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti]


Some of the 250 translations into different language of "Le Petit Prince"

Some of the 250 translations into different language of “Le Petit Prince”

Do you have a favourite article published in 2016 you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments below.

* ‘most popular’ = most clicked on, according to Hootsuite.

Related articles:

Around the web – November 2016

November 2nd-5th saw ATA‘s 57th Annual Conference held in San Francisco, and colleagues Paula Arturo and Claire Cox have both blogged about it. The list of future ATA conference sites and dates is here. Anyway here’s your November round-up of popular articles about language and translation.


Simon explains how to get clients to come to you


“It looks, especially if you speak British English, as if Clinton was making a claim about the sanity level of Jeremy Corbyn”

The Norwegian Mr Bump.

The Norwegian Mr Bump.

  • Finally a quiz: Do you know these 25 Scottish words and phrases?


Further reading: