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The girl at the Hellschreiber

Hellschreiber – or the devil’s writing

Article by HE Translations marketing representative Mike Gayler

Those of a certain age will remember both telexes and fax machines. If you are a mere youngster, let me try to explain:

Telex was a way of sending typed messages from one ‘typewriter’ to another (please tell me you do vaguely know what a typewriter is? No? OK – let’s say from one keyboard to another).
The sending operator typed the message into his keyboard and it was sent through the phone system to the receiving keyboard, where the message would be printed out. How, you ask, did it get to the right place? Every keyboard had its own identification – originally not a number, but a name. Names like ‘Interflora’ , ‘Interpol’ or ‘Insurance’.Continue reading full article…

X-ray

Röntgen, Roentgen & X-Rays, or should they be called Lenard Rays?

Article by Dr Fred Starr PhD, FIMMM, FIE, MIMechE, CEng

Professor Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays, and the formation of the British National Health Service changed my life. Although it took another fortuitous discovery, almost forty years later, for me to understand why, and what had happened to me as a very young infant.

Who discovered X-Rays?

But first, let’s get back to the history of X-Rays and the peculiar title of this piece. There cannot be one German citizen who hasn’t had a Röntgendiagnostik and knows what it is about. Over here, it’s same with X-Rays, although not one in ten thousand would connect the name Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (or Roentgen as we tend to spell it in Britain) with the discovery. A discovery which not only revolutionised medical practice, but told us that there are just 92 naturally occurring elements, and transformed my own subject, the high temperature corrosion of metals.

X-ray

There is something of a shaggy dog story to what I found about the discovery, and why one might suggest that another German scientist, Philipp Eduard Anton von Lenard, should get more credit than usually acknowledged. Rontgen is commonly thought to have discovered X-rays by accident. This is just not true. But he was lucky. He just happened to be using a sheet of paper that had been saturated with barium platinocyanide, that turned out to be one of the best detectors for X-Rays. And it just happened to be lying around, waiting to fluoresce when the X-rays struck.Continue reading full article…

Storm throwing debris in the air

Shitstorm travels to Germany

Article by John Morrish

Storm throwing debris in the air

Words travel, and sometimes in surprising ways. An English slang term has been enthusiastically adopted by the Germans. It has been embraced by the business and political classes, appeared in big headlines in the serious press, and been accepted by the Duden dictionary, an important work of reference. Angela Merkel has been known to use it. Nothing so unusual in any of that, except that the word is “shitstorm”.Continue reading full article…

Masked doctor with hypodermic for injection

Boos, boosts and booze infuse German news – English word boostern wins a prize

Masked doctor with hypodermic for injectionThe English word boostern has just won a coveted prize, unexpectedly being chosen as Germany’s 2021 Anglicism of the year after going viral in Germany – despite not being an English word. How did this happen?

The English verb to boost means to assist or encourage something to grow or rise, and also serves as a noun meaning something which, usually deliberately, helps something else increase or rise. So the space race saw the introduction of booster rockets, and child car safety regulations saw the introduction of booster seats to raise small children to the minimum height for safety belts. But boosting also has a more political and ambiguous dimension dating to nineteenth century North America, yet resonating in the scandals in the UK in 2022.Continue reading full article…

Diagram of the Agile method

What is agile today ?

How agile are you? Or rather, how agile is your company, and what does that mean today if you are not professional steeplejacks?  It is curious how this term became such a ubiquitous buzzword, as some find themselves thinking they need to race to catch up with a speeding trend, rather than risk being left behind and seen as clumsy or unbalanced.

A Management Today Words-Worth piece by John Morrish examined the question and indeed the word itself:Continue reading full article…

Whitby harbour

Ode to Yorkshire

YORKSHIRE – IT’S GRADELY!

Whitby harbour

A guest blogpost from Anne Hayto, folk music enthusiast and co-founder & Secretary of the Aylestone Meadows Appreciation Society

When planning holidays, as a Yorkshire lass born and bred, my thoughts usually turn northwards and this year it was an August week in Whitby, mingling with the scarily dense crowds of people who obviously had the same idea as me. What is it that brings people back time and again to the lands of their birth and childhood? I grew up in Wakefield, once part of the West Riding, but I left there in my early twenties to seek a life away from ‘the dark satanic mills’. I’ve spent most of the rest of that life wishing I had returned, but of course, the mills are now apartments and the coal mines which surrounded my home town are no more. I have remnants of family still in Wakefield, but most of them are gone now. Yet still I return even though I’m a stranger in the old town.Continue reading full article…

flame rising from Bunsen burner

Robert Bunsen – his burner and its impact on the gas industry

flame rising from Bunsen burner

A Bunsen burner

Article by Dr Fred Starr PhD, FIMMM, FIE, MIMechE, CEng

When thinking of key German Scientists, I recollect our Chemistry Lab, at my school in Stockton-on-Tees, where adorning the polished benches, was, in a sense, the greatest of all scientific devices, a set of Bunsen burners. Artifact of every Mad Scientist movie. The first real job for our aged, silvery haired, and distinguished Chemistry master, Mr Dee, was to show us how this amazing device worked. When the slider was closed, flame was luminous and wafted around in a lazy manner. True magic came with the opening of the slider, when the burner was noisier, and although now a transparent blue, was obviously hotter. “Never allow the flame to light back” he proclaimed. “The gas that’s produced will kill you!”
Continue reading full article…

Home office or work from home?

Thoughts on working from home and the term ‘home office’, by HE Translations director Herbert Eppel

Like many language service providers, I have been working from home for many years now, as described in the Leicester Mercury article from 2009 under the heading “Home work – we love it!”, which is available for your delectation here. Although the article didn’t foresee corona, it could perhaps be regarded as rather prescient in that it described a growing trend towards home working and envisaged a future in which this could become the norm, rather than an exception.

During the corona pandemic the term Homeoffice (alternative spelling: Home-Office) found its way into the standard German Duden dictionary – see here. Intriguingly, and perhaps mildly entertainingly, when Germans say or write Homeoffice, more often than not they refer to the activity (e.g. “ich mache Homeoffice“, literally translated as “I am doing home office” but indicating “I am presently working from home”), rather than a physical space.

Continue reading full article…

Person staring into distance on beach

Naming that indescribable ache to be somewhere else: Fernweh in days of lockdown

magical misty seascape

Dreaming of faraway lands

Many of those locked away in long days of lockdown feel an indescribable ache to be someplace else, not just anywhere, somewhere nice and new and interesting. The German language already has a precise word for that aching far away feeling, and the German word has lately been been filling a void in the English language: Fernweh.

Fernweh isn’t just a case of “Get me out of here” or “Beam me up Scotty” or a desire to be nowhere at all, it’s a longing for faraway places that erase the ache and relieve the longing, and so the word is used in German travel adverts and even printed prominently on brands of activity clothing.Continue reading full article…

Fred Widmanstatten pattern

Widmanstatten meteorites

Article by Dr Fred Starr PhD, FIMMM, FIE, MIMechE, CEng

In an earlier posting I mentioned the barely explicable Widmanstatten structure, seen in the iron-nickel Marburg meteorite, which was found by local people as result of Alfred Wegener offering a reward. Although a good deal is known about the Widmanstatten pattern or structure, I want to explain, why, in my view, there are some unanswered questions.

Fred Widmanstatten pattern

Etched section from part of a meteorite discovered near Muonionalusta, northern Sweden

To see the Widmanstatten structure one must take a slice from the meteorite, grind and polish the surface so it gleams like a mirror, and then gently etch it using a weak solution of nitric acid, dissolved in alcohol. The underlying structure is then visible to the naked eye. It has the appearance of a pattern consisting of fine strips of paper laid on top of one another. Sometimes the strips are at right angles. Other times they can be at 30° or 60°.

The German Professor, Fritz Heide, published the “Kleine Meteoritenkunde” in 1934, one of the first books on meteorites. It was subsequently brought up to date by Frank Wlotzka and translated into English in 1994. Although missing more recent accounts of meteor phenomena, and in situ investigations of the asteroids and planets, it remains one of the standard works on the subject. Nevertheless, this book, and what I have read on the internet, doesn’t really tell us where Widmanstatten meteorites come from. Heide and Wlotzka were more interested in the stony meteorites, that are much more common.Continue reading full article…