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.
A brown squirrel on a tree with an acorn in its mouth

From eggcorns to Lady Mondegreen and Monty Python

A recent Guardian article under the heading “That eggcorn moment” reminded me of an unforgettable “toothcomb moment” resulting from my 2009 article on Linguee (which, in case you are wondering, is an online “translation tool combining an editorial dictionary and a search engine”, to quote from the Linguee website).
A brown squirrel on a tree with an acorn in its mouth

Eggcorn is the term coined by linguists to describe the error that results from a mistaken analysis of commonly heard words and phrases.

I decided to start a discussion on this in a an e-group for professional translators, during which I learned about Lady Mondegreen (allegedly common knowledge, but it turned out that several translator colleagues hadn’t come across her either – see Google, if you haven’t a clue what it is about) and, courtesy of Wikipia, an unexpected connection with Monty Python. Doune Castle is now on my list of places to visit on one of our journeys to or from Scotland.

Read more

difference between logo

Tell the difference between an icon and a symbol

If the difference between icon and symbol is obvious to you, you can ignore this blog post. If not, this page on the DifferenceBetween.com website seems to describe the difference very well.

difference between logo

In essence (quoting from the DifferenceBetween.com page):

  • Both symbols and icons represent other things, but icon is a pictorial representation of the product it stands for whereas a symbol does not resemble what it stands for.
  • A symbol represents products or ideas, whereas icon represents only items that are visible.
  • Icons are restricted to graphical representation of objects and one can easily understand what they stand for. On the other hand, one has to learn what a symbol stands for, as it is not similar to what it stands for.
Chez Herbert Cafe

Chez Herbert

An old school friend, who is a Francophile and usually spends the summer in southern France, had a summer holiday in Reunion Island this year and sent this photo with the caption “Die Folgen des Brexit” (Brexit consequences).

Chez Herbert Cafe

Positive Psychology

Anyone suffering from symptoms of post-Brexit depression would probably be well advised to avoid reading the horror scenario described in an article by Tobias Stone with the title History tells us what may happen next with Brexit & Trump.

The Plague
La Peste di Firenze, Marcello 1348

Read more

Word of the day: monomaniacal

Although HE Translations specialise in technical documents, inquisitive translators are always keen to expand their general and other specialist vocabulary. The latest word of the day is “monomaniacal”, spotted in an article at PoliticsHome.com (previously at www.politicshome.com/news/uk/political-parties/conservative-party/news/76895/tory-leadership-hopeful-andrea-leadsom-under).

OED entry for monomania

OED entry for monomania

Abbreviation (initialism) of the Day: UKCS

According to the comprehensive documentation on the Development of UK Oil and Gas Resources, published by Data by Design Ltd, the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) comprises those areas of the sea bed and subsoil beyond the territorial sea over which the UK exercises sovereign rights of exploration and exploitation of natural resources. The map below shows the UKCS has been extended since the mid 1960s. The exact limits of the UKCS are set out in orders made under section 1(7)of the Continental Shelf Act 1964.

UK Continental Shelf Designations. Source: www.dbd-data.co.uk

Quote of the Day

When a translation job, for which the green light was supposed to be given by EOD yesterday, failed to materialise, one of my team members stoically commented: “Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come“, which apparently was one of Wayne Dyer’s favourite phrases.

It actually goes back to Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, known as Rumi, who said:

Don’t grieve for what doesn’t come.
Some things that don’t happen
Keep disasters from happening.

Rumi
Artistic depiction of Rumi. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Today’s CPD reflections: “hard-worked”

A recent e-newsletter for language professionals contained the term “hard-worked”. It made me pause and reflect, possibly because at first glance I may have read it as “hard-working”, and I’m tired of politicians going on about “hard-working families”.

Further ‘research’ seems to indicate that the term isn’t particularly common, although – not entirely surprisingly – there is an entry in the Oxford English Dictionary (see screenshot below), as a subheading under the very long entry for “hard”. Note in particular the oxen example in the OED. Read more

“spelt” vs “spelled”

Interesting discussion re “spelt” vs “spelled” at English Language & Usage Stack Exchange, which, incidentally, is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It starts with the question:  

In the following sentence, should I say spelled or spelt:
You spelt/spelled “Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis” [!!!] wrong.

See below for apparently authoritative conclusions from grammarist.com.

per cent or percent?

%

Across the board, dictionaries suggest that percent, written as one word, is American English, whereas per cent, written as two words, is British English. The European Commission (Directorate-General for Translation) English Style Guide concurs, although it is not prescriptive and notes that per cent is normally [blog author’s emphasis] written as two words in British English. Wikipedia even goes as far as describing the frequency of use of the two-word form in British English as “sometimes”. In any case, the online free dictionary suggests that the use of the two-word form is diminishing. No evidence is given for this statement, but it would be in line with the (in many case entirely ‘sensible’) trend of compounding. Not to mention the fact that, from a German Prozent perspective, the one-word form simply ‘feels more natural’.