Around the web – February 2019

This month marked an important milestone for me, as a quarter of a century ago (!) on 25th February 1994 I created the company that would eventually become Smart Translate. On a more global scale, February 21st was annual International Mother Language Day. For more on the subject of language here’s a look at the most popular stories about translation and language for February 2019.

“There is nothing like a couple of sentences without verbs or articles to disorient viewers.”

Interpreters are called Tarjuman in Dari, the variety of Persian spoken in Afghanistan

What we talk about when we talk

Potavid

  • Humour: here are 6 hilarious video game voice-over fails.
  • Lastly, colleague Nikki Graham is currently running a survey on translation qualifications. You can participate here.

Further reading:

7 things only those in a bilingual relationship can understand

When people talk about how to learn a foreign language, they always say that you just need to have a relationship with someone who speaks that language. Does it work ? Sure. And nothing is sexier than a cute accent at the start of a relationship, but after a few years you discover that there are some challenges that you just didn’t anticipate.

1. Despite the fact that you could speak two languages, you ONLY speak 1 with your partner.

Much like the first few weeks of marriage are dedicated to assigning certain tasks to each partner for life, for example who takes out the trash, the first few weeks of a bilingual relationship are dedicated to deciding which language you will use… FOREVER…

Even if you eventually learn your partner’s language. Perhaps by living in the country or speaking with friends or family, you will ALWAYS speak to your partner in the original language.

Speaking to your partner in any other language becomes weird…. like putting on a cold wet t-shirt….

2. You and your partner speak a combined 2 or more languages, yet neither of you can remember how to say “[Insert expression/object]” in any of them.

3. Each conversation includes some aspect of taboo, pictionary, or charades. And you are always the loser.

You would think this is an advantage for game night with friends (fantastic movie, go see it), but in reality no; you are constantly spending your time gesturing, explaining, and getting frustrated that your partner doesn’t understand you or that you can’t understand them.

Partner : Can you hand me the laces pasta?

You : Sorry, the ‘laces’ pasta?

Partner : Yeah, you know.. *gestures like tying a shoe*

You : *thinking over the options, tying shoe and laces… must be long and string like*… Ok, *hands over spaghetti*

Partner : No! Not that one! *comes over and takes farfalle/bow tie pasta*

You : OH! Tying a shoe… like bowtie… Well…FML.

 

4. Your partner continues to make small mistakes in your language, but they’re so cute that you refuse to correct them even after many years.

This one is actually fantastic. It’s cute, it’s a reminder of when you first met and everything was just so damn COOL! It makes even the most mundane daily task like grocery shopping a little bit more exciting.

Partner : Can you go get a chariot?

You : Yeah, sure *grinning like an idiot*

When you see on the shopping list “napkings

5. The only things you can say in your partner’s language are : “I’m fine”, “This is delicious”, “I love you” and about 25 different curse words and swears.

The first three you learned at the start of the relationship. When you had visions of both of you becoming completely bilingual. You were eating dinner and felt like adding “this is delicious” in their language just to remind yourself that yes, your partner is foreign and thus 10 times cooler than any of your friend’s partners.

But your learning stopped there. The only other things you will learn in their language over the next 6 months to forever are the 25 different curse words that your partner will use when :

– Their computer doesn’t work

– They’re in traffic with you

– Your cat intentionally knocks the glass off the table

– You forget to put the top on the toothpaste tube the ‘correct’ way

 

6. Every visit to your partner’s family includes the same conversation.

Their family member (in their language) : Hello

You (in their language) : Hello

Their family member (in their language) : How are you?

You (in their language) : Fine, and you?

Their family member (in their language) : Fine… How is the food?

You (in their language) : Delicious…

…..long pause….

Their family member (in their language) : How is your [their language]?

You : *Fuming because you want to explain that you’re not an idiot, that you just don’t have time, that your partner refuses to speak their language with you because it’s like putting on a cold wet t-shirt, and that you HAVE learned something, but that it’s only swear words so you can’t repeat that to them*….

You (in their language) : Meh… *gestures with hand so-so*

 

7. Your partner can never appreciate your super cool cultural references and/or sense of humor and you can never appreciate theirs.

Yes finally the bilingual relationship is not as easy as we thought, but despite all the difficulties your partner is still your better half and you wouldn’t have it any other way. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

This is a guest post by Bryan Le Grand, the founder and head teacher of American Way Formation, an English training center on Réunion Island. Bryan has been an ESL Teacher for more than 10 years and has taught both children and adults of all ages in Asia and Europe. Teaching is his passion and enjoys his job the most when his students reach their English learning goals.

 

 

Around the web – December 2018 & January 2019

Here’s a look at the most popular stories about translation, interpreting, and language for December 2018 and January 2019*.

Karin Keller-Sutter is an alumni of The Institute of Translation and Interpreting at Zurich University of Applied Sciences.

“Toxic”, “single-use” and “misinformation” were amongst the words of the year for 2018.

Ducks gather on the bank of the Yauza river during snowfall in Moscow on December 19, 2018. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

“Insect Day” is more commonly known as “Inset Day”.

* I was away from late December until January (hence the round-up covering two months), and so I’ll leave you with a “translation” I saw on my travels …

close-up of the English

close-up of the French

Further reading:

Most popular tweets of 2018

Here, in ascending order, are the ten most popular* tweets about translation and language that I shared during 2018 on my @Smart_Translate Twitter account:

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

Do you have a favourite article published in 2018 you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments below.

Related articles:

Around the web – November 2018

Here’s a look at the most popular stories about translation, interpreting, and language for November.

Claire Cox: “As a professional translator, I don’t want to work for an outfit that regards me as an interchangeable cog in a large machine”.

Do you know the meaning of ‘Brino’, ‘ERG’ ‘remoaner’ or ‘Maybot’?

Eight tentacles, three plural forms, and only one right way to say it.

Eighteenth-century German linguist Hensel probably had to use second-hand and third-hand transcriptions for languages he was unfamiliar with.

 

Further reading:

Around the web – October 2018

Last Sunday was International Day of Creole. How much do you know about Creole languages? In the meantime, here’s a look at the most popular stories about language and translation for October.

Hermes was billed as “the first online subtitling and translation test and indexing system by a major content creator”

Do you need to see the whole flower or examine the nitty-gritty detail? asks colleague Patricia Lane

  • Acclaimed translator Anthea Bell passed away on 18th October. Read her obituary, and an article about her work here.

Anthea Bell changed the name of Obelix’s small, evil-tempered dog from Idéfix to Dogmatix and named the local druid Getafix. (Photograph: Courtesy of Jewish Museum London)

Part of the reason is that the language in question is not really a single language at all

French protestors accuse President Emmanuel Macron of spreading fake news. (AFP PHOTO / ALAIN JOCARD)

  • In a depressingly regular slot, the language fail of the month goes to Coca Cola in New Zealand who attempted to combine Maori and English. They clearly didn’t check with a native speaker of Maori, so their advertisement “Kia Ora, Mate” translates to “Hello, death”.

Coca-Cola made an embarrassing Māori faux-pas

  • Language use: should you avoid employing the adverb ‘presently’? Stan Carey takes a look.
  • Why does the letter Q almost always need to be followed by the letter U? And what’s the origin of the F-word? Find out here and here.

Q is the second most rarely used letter in the alphabet

 

Further reading:

Around the web – September 2018

Our look at the most popular stories about language and translation for September starts with an article referencing the most important day of the month (year?) for language professionals: International Translation Day!

Why your Latin teacher was wrong

  • While we’re on the subject, did you know that the berry family is a linguistic invention particular to Germanic languages like English? (Other languages like Spanish and French don’t combine the berry family into one group, but have different words).

Why do we call them ‘berries’?

How green is your freelance business?

  • Did you know how different quotation marks can be from one European language to the next? And what are the official languages of European countries?
  • The fact that southern France’s Occitan language is so intertwined with the culture is perhaps why it has never completely faded away.

Occitan: the language the French forbade

 

On a personal note this month has seen the following two items published:

In the podcast I explain what Creole is, its origins, and share how Creole is used on Reunion Island today.

 

Further reading:

 

 

Around the web – July & August 2018

Have you been away on holiday since the end of June? If you were in the northern hemisphere you might well have suffered from the prolonged heatwave. Let’s cool off with a look at the most popular stories about language and translation for July and August.

An emerging translator explores how translating The Lover helped her become “unstuck” at a time when she felt neither fully at home in English or in French.

These are the top ten most popular emojis on Twitter. But what are the least popular ones?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society with a potato peel pie

  • This map shows the (often hilarious) literal translations of Chinese names for U.S. States.
  • Humour: what it’s like to have an imperfect accent in France?

On a final note, nominations are now open for the 2018 ProZ.com community choice awards.You can nominate candidates in translation and interpreting categories here.

Further reading:

Lost Words

A research paper by Cambridge University conservationists found that children are better at identifying Pokémon characters than real animals and plants. In a 2008 National Trust survey, only a third of eight- to 11-year-olds could identify a magpie, though nine out of 10 could name a Dalek. A 2017 RSPB “Birdwatch” survey found that half of 2,000 adults couldn’t identify a house sparrow, a quarter didn’t know a blue tit or a starling, and a fifth thought a red kite wasn’t a bird. In a 2017 Wildlife Trusts survey a third of adults were unable to identify a barn owl, and three-quarters unable to identify an ash tree.

Why am I telling you this? Because yesterday I attended a beautiful exhibition called ‘The Lost Words’ that attempts to “conjure back the magic, beauty and strangeness of the nature that surrounds us”. Devised to take children and adults on a journey through 20 ‘lost words’ from ‘Acorn‘ to ‘Wren‘, each word becomes an acrostic spell written by Robert Macfarlane. Each of the twenty plants or creatures has been painted three times by artist Jackie Morris: first absent from its habitat (e.g. pawprints in the snow or a lone feather), then its return (generally painted on a gold background), and finally in its natural environment (see for example the Kingfisher). Below are some of the poems and paintings:

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

© Jackie Morris & Robert Macfarlane

The other Lost Words not shown above are:  BluebellConkerDandelionHeronRavenWeaselWillowWren.

The book Lost Words: A Spell Book by Macfarlane and Morris was published in 2017 by Hamish Hamilton. The exhibition I saw is in Inverleith House at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh until 2nd September 2018.

Anyone with an interest in nature, words and images, and who wants to explore further some of the ideas and creatures conjured up by ‘The Lost Words’ can download a free explorer’s guide from the John Muir Trust here.

I’ll end with this quote by Macfarlane:   “Language is written deeply and richly into our relationships with landscape and with nature: there as the place-hames on our maps, and the many names of species, common and rare, with which we share our lives “

See also:

Around the web – June 2018

What have you been up to this month? Aside from my usual translation work I was also in a recording studio doing voice-over work, which is something I always enjoy. Anyway without further ado here’s your June round-up of popular stories about language, interpreting, and translation.

  • Colleague Claire Cox has written about the inaugural ‘Translate Better’ event in Berlin, the German take on the ‘Translate In …’ series of French to English translation style workshops.
  • Quartz profiled the US State Department Korean interpreter who made it possible for Trump and Kim to understand one another in Singapore at this month’s DPRK/USA summit.

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Lee Yun-hyang holds her own (EPA-EFE/Kevin Lim/The Straits Times)

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The Vital Work and Challenging Conditions Faced by Japan’s Court Interpreters

  • Continuing her Greatest Women in Translation series, Caroline Alberoni interviewed German to English literary translator Jen Calleja.
  • How can you use your skills as a marketing translator to get more work in travel and tourism? Find out here.
  • If more proof was needed that words matter, this article discussed how the way job adverts are phrased can dictate whether or not people (especially minorities) apply.

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Job ads that use the phrase “coding ninja” are not female friendly (Getty Images)

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The case for renaming women’s body parts

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Ever heard of ‘pleather’?

I’ll see you at the end of August for a dual July/August round-up!

 

Further reading: