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Hamster with hazelnuts

Happy hamsters squirrel away supermarket stocks

Hamster with hazelnutsHamsters have been emptying shop shelves across Germany and now seem set to cross borders as other countries take up the telling term Hamsterkauf. Wise advice to stock up on essentials before being confined to home by an anti-coronavirus diktat, combined with an angst attack in the face of a pandemic, has seen runs on toilet paper, pasta, flour and hand gel – snatching away all available wares. The German language term for this buying more than you need is Hamsterkauf, meaning literally hamster buying, or buying like a hamster. The tiny hamster with its puffy cheeks full of nuts is a lovable symbol for sensibly storing what you need for later, like its bigger cousin the squirrel, but neither actually pay for what they accumulate and have never been seen panic buying. Read more

Three unicorns running

Unicorn Bets Set in Race to Carbon Zero

Are capitalists hoping to harness unicorns to lead the charge to a zero carbon economy? Some experts think so and are calling for investment in unicorn incubation programmes with the promise of great returns. Recently the unicorn has lent its name to the elite group of billion dollar startup tech firms, and now looks set to sire a whole new breed of firms focused on facilitating low carbon living. As icecaps melt, sea levels rise, and global overheating threatens human extinction, can a magical horse with a pointed hat save the human race? Some hard-headed technologists are advocating this, so is it time we understood this beautiful beast and its future a bit better?

Three unicorns runningThe unicorn has captured the human imagination since the earliest days of India, appears in the Christian Bible, in medieval bestiary books illustrating beasts of every alleged kind, and has often been harnessed as a symbol. Typically understood to be a forest-dwelling white horse with a single, spiralling and pointed horn sticking out of its forehead, it might initially have been the ancients’ remote misinterpretation of actual one-horned animals such as the ibex or rhinoceros, or of profile representations of cattle, but it developed a mythical presence in the Middle Ages in Europe which lives on to this day.

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Question mark in labyrinth

Translating web pages – easy snap or tempting translation trap?

Could you just translate this web page please? Well…

Spider in spiderwebIt’s easy you say, but a simple request that sounds like a snap can turn into a translation trap. Web pages are where we read these days, so why not start the job there and just translate what you see on the website? Well, web pages are actually made up of not just the words and images you see on the surface, but also technical code you don’t see, and styling you do, so you may regret your words when you find yourself swimming in a simmering sea of alphabet soup. And what if the result can’t be served up in a way that can be readily consumed? So before just jumping in and translating web pages, let’s look at what really is on a web page and how the text there might, or might not, mesh with the professional translation process to deliver a successful result – in a final format translator and client can readily use.
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Bauhaus school building in Dessau

From Bauhaus to Baumhaus to Our House via Oz

2019 sees centenary celebrations for Germany’s groundbreaking Bauhaus design school, whose 14 year lifespan influenced art, architecture and design worldwide throughout the twentieth century and beyond. On 8 September The Bauhaus Museum opens in Dessau, and HE Translations have added the word Bauhaus to our growing list of German words used in English, many of them highly influential terms. Read more

Image of Gears

Germany’s Mittelstand: standstill or foundation of the Industrie 4.0 future?

The German economy owes much of its success to the country’s Mittelstand, a uniquely German term used to refer to Germany’s highly developed and export-oriented mid-sized business sector. Mittelstand is roughly translated into English as SME or Small and Medium Enterprise sector, but the Mittelstand is characterised by more than just the simple number of employees or the size of the annual turnover. Due to its ethos and importance, and focus on manufacturing, the Mittelstand has been the subject of considerable study and discussion, as well as concerns for its future when facing the challenges of technological change and international competition. Clearly it can’t afford to stand still if the German Wirtschaftswunder is to continue, so what is the Mittelstand and where is it going? Can small business and manufacturing survive in a world of globalised giants and the feverish flow of investor funds into speculative startups? Read more