Around the web – June 2020

Not surprisingly given the current news context, many of June 2020’s articles and stories about language and translation focused on inequalities.

Criticism of tone is generally a distraction strategy

  • “Girl boss”, “mompreneur” “she shed” … Are (previously neutral) words that have been made feminine patronising or empowering?

The origins of the term “she shed” are a bit murky, but it seems to have first appeared around 2015

When a speaker uses “dog-whistle” language they’re often passing a message which they intend listeners to hear, without saying things explicitly

In the US, ‘buzzard’ is another name for the turkey vulture, while in British English it’s used for birds of the genus Buteo.


Further reading:

Translators: specialists or experts?

In his book Wordpower, Edward De Bono says:

The difference between an expert and a specialist is that a specialist is looking forward in a certain well-defined direction, and an expert is looking backwards in the same direction. A specialist goes on narrowing their field in order to increase their concentration of knowledge in an area. An expert is satisfied that they know all there is to know and is trying to widen their field on the assumption that their expertise will widen with it.

Although “expert” and “specialist” tend to be used interchangeably, based on De Bono’s definition I would say that as translators we are specialists, specialists who produce expert translations. (Bearing in mind that anyone can call themselves a specialist, however they may produce inexpert translations).

When we translate in a certain field (be it technology, law, medicine, or marketing) it’s generally because we have specialist knowledge of that field, through study and/or previous employment. We can often prove this specialisation through tangible, objective criteria such as qualifications. It can be difficult to say the same for an expert; we may be experts as well as specialists, but ‘expert’ is generally a title bestowed upon us by others, who recognise our expertise for what it truly is.

What are your thoughts on the subject?


Around the web – May 2020

Do you know how the month of May got its name? It may (pun intended) seem a simple word, but the origin is actually fairly complex and interesting. We could say the same about several articles listed here in the May 2020 round-up of this month’s most popular stories about language, translation and interpreting.

was Maia a Greek or Roman goddess?

Off-colour and on the mend

Esther Kim interviews the translator of “Friend”, Immanuel Kim

#ThatTranslatorCanCook week 41: Sausage Rougail


Further reading:

Around the web – April 2020

Just like last month, I’ve divided this round-up of April’s stories about language and translation into two sections: links that are either related or unrelated to COVID. Take your pick, or read both parts!


  • During lockdown you may find yourself at a loose end (if you’re in the UK) or at loose ends (if you’re in the US). Lynne Murphy took a closer look. She also examined how the expression “on the up-and-up” means different things in the two countries.

Are you at a loose end or at loose ends?

Things that don’t change? Leopards and their spots

Have you found your ‘power song’?


What has a hamster got to do with pandemic parlance?


Further reading:

Around the web – March 2020

Although we were all aware of COVID-19 when I posted my last round-up on 29th February, I think few of us could have imagined the situation we’re living through right now. Today, instead of listing articles by order of popularity as I normally do, and in case you’re fed up of hearing about the coronavirus, I’ve divided this blog post into two sections: links that are either related or unrelated to COVID. It’s interesting to note in this (longer-than-normal) post that the majority of March’s most popular articles were actually the latter.

Links unrelated to COVID-19:

A message to our sponsors

A senses of vastness

Many see “social distancing” to be the greatest pandemic-era addition the vernacular yet.

COVID-19-related posts:

When language goes viral

What’s the difference between “quarantine” and “isolation”?


Further reading:

Around the web – February 2020

Although February is a short month even in a leap year, there were plenty of language-related news stories and articles. Here’s your round-up of the most popular:

Interpreters work in a booth in Singapore.

How do you say “quidditch” in Yiddish?

Boiled eggs, British (left) and US style

Hare’s breath or hair’s breadth?


Further reading:

Language podcasts

A recent request from a colleague on Facebook looking for interesting podcasts to listen to got me compiling the following list. I’ve listed podcasts that are about language, translation and/or interpreting, but none about language learning (there are plenty out there if that’s what you’re looking for). Depending on how much time you have available you might want to listen to all of a podcast’s episodes or just cherrypick here and there. The list is in alphabetical order and, with one exception, only includes podcasts in English.

Other language podcasts*:

  • ATA also has a more general podcast
  • The History of English is a chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language
  • Lexicon Valley is hosted by linguist John McWhorter
  • Lingthusiam by Gretchen McCulloch and Lauren Gawne is enthusiastic about linguistics
  • Three Percent podcasts is a weekly(ish) conversation about new books, the publishing scene, international literature in translation, and many other random rants and raves
  • Caroline Alberoni hosts the TradTalk podcast (mainly in Portuguese)
  • Troublesome Terps is subtitled “The podcast about things that keep interpreters up at night”. Also by Alexander Drechsel along with his  fellow interpreters Sarah Hickey, Jonathan Downie, and Alexander Gansmeier as well as the occasional guest
  • Long-running A Way With Words looks at language through family, history, and culture

*podcasts that I don’t or no longer listen to, mainly due to lack of time!

Further reading:

What language-related podcasts do you listen to? Let me know in the comments!


Around the web – December 2019 & January 2020

Here’s a round-up of popular articles about language and translation you may have missed over the past two months:

Triumph and ovation are two other words from Ancient Rome

How young queer people are identifying their sexual and romantic orientations is expanding—as is the language they use to do it

The political struggle over impeachment involves both emotive vocabulary and the legalistic kind

Un point médian, un seul, et c’est toute la phrase qui se casse la figure.


Further reading:


Around the web – November 2019

Here’s your round-up of the penultimate month of the year’s most popular stories about language, translation and interpreting.

It is hard to tackle a problem you are afraid to name.

In 2019, dozens of emojis showed up in legal cases.

Icelander Kristjan Asgeirsson lost $68,000 in an online scam. The people of Iceland are no longer protected from online fraud because of their linguistic isolation.

What does “milkshaking” refer to?

Further reading:

Around the web – October 2019

October 10th marked a minor milestone for me, as I celebrated the 10th birthday of my Twitter account. Partly based on results from my Twitter feed, here’s your monthly round-up of October’s most popular stories about language, translation and interpreting.

A collection of Native American utensils and weapons. (source: Getty)

The polarisation of politics has led to a new lexicon of insults

Going greener in your office

Could Brexit translate into a comeback for the French language?

Further reading: