Donald Trump’s recent description of Caribbean and African countries as shitholes has created 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.
Or how to buy a place in the good book – a report from TastyWebDesign.com
The Oxford English Dictionary has recognised a new phrase imported into English from English by an animated cartoon character who appears to be a wealthy Russian rodent trading in insurance protection, though a meerkat is in reality a mongoose and eats rodents. Simples? What does that mean? You might ask that if you don’t watch UK commercial television, and even then you might not know that it took expenditure of over £90,000,000 to get this word into the OED. Read more
Observations from HE Translations linguist and researcher Chris Mawer
Having been a lover of, and visitor to, Cornwall since childhood holidays throughout the 1960s, the decision to retire to the end of the land (I now live less than a mile from Land’s End) seemed a natural choice.
As a linguist the Cornish language has always been of interest to me; over six decades many words now seem very familiar and relatively easy to understand, with similarities to other languages e.g. eglos and église – apparently Breton and Cornish fishermen in the 18th century could converse in their respective languages and understand each other.
Although Dolly Pentreath, who died in 1777, is often cited as the last known person to speak Cornish as a first language, Cornish persisted as a local dialect through the 19th century. Despite this, the language was officially declared “extinct” in the early 21st century. However, there was a gradual and growing movement to revive the language, and indeed a conscious investment in keeping it alive, with the result that Cornish was recently reclassified as “critically endangered“.
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.
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.
Did you know that name/symbol for pi/π, one of the most important numbers in maths, was ‘invented’ by William Jones, who was born in 1674 in the Welsh parish of Llanfihangel Tre’r Beirdd, and that the symbol wasn’t adopted universally until as late as 1934?
Read all about it in a fascinating Conversation article by Gareth Ffowc Roberts, Emeritus Professor of Education, Bangor University.
It’s extremely important to us to offer great customer service. Delivering on that can be a bit of a minefield. Doing business in the modern world means focussing on customers, not just in each transaction but as a means of developing new products or refining services. Read more
Over the past 23 years we have worked with dozens of clients and met many more. Good customer service is a priority for us and it starts from the first contact.
When we first make contact with a potential customer we believe it’s important to find out what they really want. This might seem old-fashioned – after all ‘give the lady what she wants’ originated back in 1887! Discovering a customer’s expectations isn’t always straightforward but it avoids problems later. A bit of research on both sides can reveal whether our services are a good fit for the client’s project. We usually start by agreeing a mutually suitable rate. Then we can move on to the details. Read more
How are your language skills? Do you have a team of bilingual or multilingual employees to represent you when it comes to communicating with clients and new contacts overseas?
It’s easy to believe that in a modern economy everyone will speak English, but that isn’t necessarily the case. New and emerging markets across the globe may take the view that they should be able to communicate in their own language. Read more
When we first started thinking about this article, the UK’s exit from the EU was certain. Article 50 had been triggered and there would be an incumbent Conservative government to steer the negotiations until 2020. Now of course we have a general election to think about. There are also rumblings that, should a new government seek to withdraw our notice, we may be accepted back into the EU fold.
However, let us return to thinking about the course we’re currently on. Britain’s notice to leave remains in place and, come 2019, we will have left the EU whether there’s a deal in place or not. We will need to form a new economic relationship with the EU, and our trading partners further afield will take on additional significance. Read more
Our Recent Blog Posts