For notifications of new posts on language, translation, energy and culture, you can subcribe to our blog, with comments and discussion of articles very welcome on our social media accounts.
Classic Hetchins bicycle

A journey in language – cycling, TV, and then a degree

How social media partner Mike Gayler cycled into an Open University French degree

By Mike Gayler

I shared this story with an email contact recently and thought it might be interesting for readers of the HE Translations blog to know a little about my journey in language. It’s an unconventional tale, but I hope that you find it interesting, and, perhaps a little motivating if you’ve ‘failed’ in a skill at a younger age.  At school I had a persistent French teacher. I was an enthusiastic but clueless language student, and I failed French ‘O’ levels in both 1971 and twice in 1972!Mike and his bike

I started work for the National Health Service in the autumn of 1972 and the following summer I took my bicycle on the ferry and cycled through France for a fortnight. Being on my own, and staying in Youth Hostels it was very much a case of  “speak French or starve”! I did survive, and the following year cycled round the coast of Brittany. From that point on I was aware that I could ‘get by in French’. And ‘get by’ I did – we took family holidays to France, and I took part in many cycle-tourist events in France and Belgium where my rudimentary language skills came in very handy.

Continue reading full article…

Circa symbol

Circa – circling around the abbreviation of an approximation in translation

German technical texts tend to be liberally littered with the abbreviation “ca.” to indicate that what follows should be read as an approximation.  Usually our preference has been to render this Latin term for “about” or “around” as “approx.” when translating into English.  This can, however,  be awkward, as that may appear too long in tables and other contexts.  Is there an alternative? If we seek an expert opinion,  The New Oxford Style Manual has this to say on the matter:
Circa symbol

“The Latin circa, meaning ‘about’, is used in English mainly with dates and quantities. Set the italicized abbreviation c. close up to any figures following (c.1020, c.£10,400), but spaced from words and letters (c. AD 44). In discursive prose it is usually preferable to use about or some when describing quantities”.

Continue reading full article…

Person absorbing heat of the sun

Alien immission impacts English

Or: Restoring the efficiency of a lost Latin term

A report by TastyWebDesign.com

Following yet another long and interesting discussion on the term ‘immission‘ in a translator network, we decided to give up (at least for the time being) campaigning for its reintroduction into the English language, although we still think it would be entirely justified, not least based on the fact that the term is listed in the Oxford English Dictionary. Anyway, we intend to use ‘environmental impact’ henceforth, although we reserve the right to use other solutions (e.g. ‘exposure’ or indeed the apparently frowned-upon term itself), depending on the context or situation.

Photovoltaic solar panel array installed in field

Why is this word so worth using? The term concisely describes the process that necessarily occurs in a technical context when we translate the eventual destination, absorption, or impact of an emission.  When a source emits an emission, and after its transmission, a recipient receives an immission, for example sound, light or heat.  As an emission is something sent out, so an immission is something sent in.Continue reading full article…

manual coffee grinder and coffee beans

Ersatzkaffee – can drinking substitutes win the game?

A report by TastyWebDesign.com

With coffee being so wildly popular these days, is a coffee substitute a winner or a loser? Anyone who has watched enough World Cup matches has seen a substitute come on the field and decide the match with fresh energy, or else disappoint when they can’t do what the missing star player did. A coffee bean isn’t a football so why even talk of substitutes, why not some other better word? And why do people drink coffee anyway?

Why coffee?

comic book zap text

The Stimulant Effect

People enjoy the rich roasted taste of coffee and many cherish the stimulating effect of the caffeine it contains, a drug which zaps away fatigue and sleepiness and speeds things up. Regular coffee drinking can lead to caffeine addiction, meaning without this stimulant at regular intervals the coffee lover feels tired, with poor concentration, irritability, and even headaches – which are quickly cured by a fresh cup.  Coffee breaks become not just a pleasurable social ritual but a required recharge, part of the grind of daily life.  So why would anyone want or need to drink something else instead?  To replace a drink or a drug, or both?  Or just to respond to the endless cycle of headlines about coffee being good or bad for you?Continue reading full article…

Nur wundern Plakat

Nicht ärgern, nur wundern

Nur wundern PlakatThe German motto “Nicht ärgern, nur wundern” is extremely useful and calming. In many situations it can avoid the need for Baldwin’s Nervous Pills. As long as we don’t start to worry about how to translate it into English! 😂

Personal note: The drawing was produced in 1944 by Herbert’s uncle, Bruno Gutfleisch, who sadly passed away in 1971. It hangs in Herbert’s office and helps him keep calm (and indeed carry on) in stressful translation situations 😇

Extrembügeln

Extreme Ironing / Extrembügeln

As evidenced by the photo (August 2014), our visitors from Germany took their ironing duties quite seriously, in the knowledge that Extreme Ironing was in fact invented in Leicester, and further encouraged by the fact that there was a German Extreme Ironing Section at the www.extremeironing.me website.

Extreme ironing has not yet translated into a professional sport sponsored by manufacturers of irons or ironing boards, although the German language once again demonstrates efficiency by condensing the translation of extreme ironing down to just one word, albeit a compound word.

Weitere Infos zum Extrembügeln gibt es hier.

Extrembügeln

HET logo icon

Vorerst ausschließen?

Das Drama, das sich gestern Abend in Leicester abspielte, wirft auch linguistische Fragen auf. Laut Tagesschau schloss die Polizei “einen Terroranschlag vorerst aus“, was einem in Deutschland ansässigen HE Translations Teammitglied zu denken gab. Zitat:

Als Unbeteiligter an diesem tragischen Ereignis habe ich, bei allem ehrlichen Mitgefühl für die Opfer, dabei jedoch vor allem folgende Frage: Ist die oben genannte Pressefloskel eigentlich eine neu-deutsche Flachsinns-Redensart journalistischer Sprachprofis, oder gibt es dazu auch ein englisches Äquivalent? Oder sind es gar tatsächlich Polizisten, die offenbar weltweit eine seltsame Auffassung vom Ermitteln angenommen haben?
Denn: Seit wann schließen Ermittlungsbehörden Dinge vorerst aus?? Bin ich da irgendwie verwöhnt von unrealistischen Krimis, oder dürfen Behörden nicht erst dann etwas ausschließen, wenn sie sich sicher sind, dass es als Ursache nicht in Frage kommt??
Diese sprachliche Lauluft weht m.E. erst seit begrenzter Zeit durch allerlei Polizeimeldungen in der Presse (z.B. auch bei Verkehrsunfällen), dafür aber umso penetranter.

Der “schwachsinnige” Ausdruck vorerst ausschließen war uns bisher noch gar nicht so recht aufgefallen. Er scheint in der Tat auf deutschem Boden gewachsen zu sein, denn der entsprechende, offenbar mehr oder weniger offizielle englische Ausdrucksweise lautet:

Dass die Medien immer wieder negative Vorkommnisse in den Vordergrund stellen kann als recht deprimierend bzw. ärgerlich und wenig hilfreich angesehen werden. Dabei hätte es in den letzten Jahren so viel Positives aus Leicester zu berichten gegeben:

Engine House in Cornwall in the mist

Fret – but not to worry

Engine House in Cornwall in the mist

Today we undertook another little linguistic research jaunt as a result of the Cornish weather and its sea mists.

An old friend from Yorkshire, (sadly no longer with us), always used the term sea fret when he was talking about the rather eerie and somewhat depressing sea mist on the north coast of Cornwall.

We assumed it to be a northern term, which indeed seems to be the case, with Oxford dictionaries giving the noun fret’s fourth definition as a Northern English term for a “mist coming in off the sea; a sea fog”, mid-19th century of unknown origin.
Continue reading full article…

Madhouse Effect book jacket

Translating the Madhouse Effect into German

Madhouse Effect book jacket

We are currently translating The Madhouse Effect, a popular and very readable illustrated book on climate change, by leading climate scientist Michael E Mann and cartoonist Tom Toles. The book, originally published in 2016, was motivated by the authors’ urgent desire to clear a fog of manufactured and self-interested climate scepticism around the greenhouse effect. The full original English language title is The Madhouse Effect: How Climate Change Denial is Threatening Our Planet, Destroying Our Politics, and Driving Us Crazy. The German translation is a collaboration between Herbert Eppel and project initiator Matthias Hüttmann.

So  far the best working title for the German language translation has been Der Tollhaus-Effekt. The English word madhouse suggests a place of chaos, lunacy and foolishness, as well as clinical mental illness, but not fun or enjoyment. Tollhaus might suggest to an Anglophone a toll-taking station, such as in the book The Phantom Tollbooth, but the German adjective toll actually means “splendid” or “super!” The compound word Tollhaus can indeed describe a madhouse, both in the colloquial sense of a locus of lunacy, and in the technical sense of a mental hospital, but in the present day some businesses are using this word as a name for a themed safe play area or nightclub. That might sound a bit like the innocuous English term funhouse, so in this case the book’s cover illustration may ease the translator’s task by hinting at what sort of madness the book concerns.Continue reading full article…

Dog waste bin Berlin

Translating Trump: are you rising to the challenge?

Donald Trump’s recent description of Caribbean and African countries as shitholes has creaDog waste bin Berlinted a shitstorm in the translation world, with translators and censors struggling to find words to convey Trump’s meaning. The need for a German language translation of the term has seen the media popularise the term Drecksloch, a previously little used noun, which denotes literally a hole of, or for, muck. Technically Dreck does not exclusively refer to excrement, as it may also describe dirt, mud, rubbish, and manure. Interestingly, Drecksloch was previously recognised by dictionaries Dict.cc and Leo.org but not yet by the authoritative Duden.

Continue reading full article…