The Language Factory https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk Translation Made Simple Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:52:28 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/cropped-TLF-logo-only-32x32.pngThe Language Factoryhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk 32 32 5 translations that changed the worldhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/06/26/five-translations-that-changed-the-world/ Wed, 26 Jun 2019 08:46:44 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=4529 Five of the most important translations in human history.

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5 translations that changed the world

Translations happen all over the world, all the time. But only now and then does a translation get to change the course of history or define a culture. Here are five which we think did just that.

 

1. Hittite-Egyptian Peace Treaty

This was a few years ago but it really set the ball rolling. It is the first known written translation in history: the Hittite-Egyptian peace treaty.

After a long war between the Egyptians and the Hittites, the two parties signed a peace agreement, the Treaty of Kadesh (also known as the Eternal Treaty). It was recorded in both the Egyptian and Hittite empires. The Egyptian version was inscribed in hieroglyphics in two temples dedicated to the Pharaoh, while the Hittites jotted theirs down on baked clay tablets.

 

2. Cuban Missile Crisis 1963

“Don’t wait for the translation”.

Strictly speaking, this phrase was not actually part of the translation but, as such a large part of such an important verbal exchange, it couldn’t be left out. Don’t wait for translation (Cuban missile crisis 1963). Tensions were running high in 1963 after the US became aware of USSR mid-range missiles being transported into Cuba: just 90 miles from the US mainland and within reach of major US cities.

In a heated exchange at the UN Security Council, American Ambassador, Adlai Stevenson, asked his Soviet counterpart Valerian Zorin if he would deny their existence. As the USSR representative grew increasingly obtuse, Stevenson grew increasingly frustrated, finally demanding “Don’t wait for the translation, yes or no?”.

Given that just about everyone in the free world, and everyone one in the room, had seen the pictures, it was always going to be a tough one for the Russians to deny. The missiles left Cuba.

 

3. Life on Mars?

In this case, it’s a mistranslation, but it got everyone on planet Earth asking, “Is there life on Mars?”

In 1877, Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli noted seeing what appeared to be ‘canali’, on the surface of Mars. Some years later, in the translation of his work, ‘canali’ was taken to mean ‘canals’.

Enthused by the prospect of planetary navigators beyond the earthly realm, scientists scrambled over one another, espousing theories of which civilisation could have completed such feats of engineering. Presumably equipped with shovels.

One man, Percival Lowell, made Mars his life’s work – and revenue stream. His books, Mars (1895), Mars and Its Canals (1906), and Mars as the Abode of Life (1908) were best- sellers. Martians were big business.

Over time a huge sub-culture of books, films and fervent believers developed. From Jules Verne to David Bowie, the world wondered, is there life on Mars?

But it all came to nought. ‘Canali’ is actually a general term to describe channels, which can be part of the natural world and not purposely created. No canals. No Martians. A fact confirmed by NASA’s Curiosity rover which took a spin over the planet in 2012.

Sorry Ziggy, but there is no life on Mars.

 

4. Hiroshima Bomb 1945

An atomic decision…

Translating is not always black-and-white. Multiple outcomes are often possible, influenced by context and opinion. In this instance, opinion led to an outcome of atomic proportions.

Tokyo, July 1945. The Pacific war was drawing to a close and it was only a matter of time before an allied victory. The Japanese, however, had vowed to not go quietly and Washington feared a protracted island-by-island.

Hoping to force a swift conclusion, the US government publicly issued the Potsdam Declaration: a request to Japan demanding unconditional surrender or risk “prompt and utter destruction”. Then waited for a response.

The Tokyo media hounded Japanese Premier Kantaro Suzuki for a statement of his government’s intent. Finally, Suzuki called a news conference and said the equivalent of, “No comment. We’re still thinking about it.” Suzuki used the word ‘mokusatsu’ as his “no comment” response.

Unfortunately, “mokusatsu” can also mean “we’re ignoring it in contempt,” and that was the translation relayed back through the media, to the US. Ten days later, and still with no formal reply from the Japanese, the US followed through on their declaration and dropped the Hiroshima bomb.

 

5. Donkey Kong

The story of ‘Donkey Kong’.

Throughout the 1980s, amusement arcades throughout the western world rang to the sound of a small man jumping over barrels thrown at him by an angry ape. And everyone playing that arcade game wondered where the name ‘Donkey Kong’ came from. Several stories persist. Our favourite involves a contextual mistranslation.

The game’s creator, Shigeru Miyamoto, wished to convey the idea that the ape in the game was big, and a bit stubborn, and a bit ‘goofy’. Aware of King Kong as a big ape, he chose Kong as part of the name. Unsure of the English equivalent of ‘stubborn’ he flipped through the dictionary and landed on the word ‘donkey’ to convey the other half of his meaning.

When Miyamoto first suggested this name to his company, Nintendo, it was dismissed, but gradually the contextually questionable translation began to stick and ‘Donkey Kong’ became the global pseudonym for the game’s big, stubborn ape.

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9 Qualities of a Great Translatorhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/22/9-qualities-of-a-great-translator/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 09:39:06 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1902 Translation is a complex skill, which is honed over years.

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The 9 qualities of a great translator

 

Translation is a complex skill which is honed over a number of years. Being a freelance translator can be a highly rewarding job, but not everyone is cut out for it. See the nine qualities we think are most important when it comes to being a great translator.

A passion for language

This goes without saying. You have to care about languages and translating high quality material and take pride in your work. If you don’t have a natural passion for languages the work will quickly become dull and will affect your output and quality.

Mother-tongue speaker

For high quality, consistent translations it isn’t enough to have studied a language. A non-mother tongue speaker is likely to be unable to convey the nuances in the source text, for example slang words, regional dialects and words and cultural differences, which will affect the final product.

Research skills

Translators must have the readiness and ability to research. Often the client will provide notes to guide the translator but extra research is regularly required in order to translate documents to a high quality.

Self-discipline

It can mean the difference between completing a job and missing a deadline. However there is no clocking in and clocking out like there is with many jobs. Successful freelancers are self-motivated. They must also create a schedule and stick to it. 

Translation qualifications

Being bilingual does not automatically mean you are a good translator. A bilingual individual is someone capable of expressing their own ideas in two different languages. A translator is a skilled professional with qualifications and experience in accurately expressing someone else’s ideas in a language different from the one in which they were originally issued. 

Project management skills

A good project manager in a translation agency will take away much of the need for this however a translator is in charge of managing their own workload. They must be able to effectively manage their different projects and always meet the timeframes they have committed to.

Ability to say no

This goes hand in hand with project management skills. The idea of the extra money you’d get for a job may seem alluring but if you take on too much work and miss a deadline the opportunity cost can be significant. Agencies don’t mind translators saying no; they would rather that than be let down by a translator or be delivered a poor quality translation. 

Specialisation in a subject

Having knowledge and comprehension of the subject you translate is a key asset.

A translator working in the medical field for example does not need to have a degree in medicine, but they would have to know how the human body works, the name of each disease in their target language and how various pharmaceuticals work in order to provide an accurate translation.

It is a good idea to choose a specialism relevant to them and something they are interested in. Learning about it will become much easier and don’t forget they’ll be translating this subject area day in, day out so it helps if they actually find it interesting. 

Experience

Here at The Language Factory we only accept translators with at least five years’ experience in translating. A translator starting out may be good but experience will turn them into a great translator.

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Culture: Germany and Britainhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/22/cultural-differences-between-germany-and-britain-2/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 09:33:53 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1898 Exploring the cultural divide: such as the 8 minutes extra sleep ...

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Cultural differences between Germany and Britain

We love reading the daily tweets by so very British, as they seem to strike a chord with me every time. With 824,235 followers, it appears that other people feel the same way as me too.

Their tweets all come under the hash tag #VeryBritishProblems, and give a typical phrase that a British person might say, along with its perceived translation.

For example: Fancy a quick half? = Fancy going to the pub for as long as possible?

From reading these, it appears that there is a well documented stereotype that British people tend to say one thing and mean something completely different! As a result, I began thinking about whether German people have common stereotypes too and whether we share any common traits.

There has actually been a considerable amount of research done on the cultural differences between the British and Germans. We’ve listed the most common differences below from both the British and German perspective.

Common German stereotypes

Common British stereotypes

German people are direct/abruptBritish people are polite and take a long time to get to the point
Germans have a hard exteriorBrits are very open and welcoming
Germans aren’t very good at small talkOverzealous British small talk can lead others to question how genuine they are
Germans are perfectionists and want to get things right with everything they undertakeThe British are quick-witted
Germans are efficientThe British can be devious

  

Other differences between our cultures

A study on sleep patterns has shown that Britons sleep an average of eight minutes longer than Germans and spend an extra five minutes in bed, whereas Germans rise straight away and get on with their days. This could be a reason (coupled with their efficient nature), why German people are always faster at setting down their towels next to the pool whilst they’re on holiday! 

 

Does one nation communicate better than another?

We certainly cannot say that either country has superior communication skills as each is completely unique, has its own rules and patterns of behaviour that are neither right nor wrong. Every country has wonderful differences between them as a result of their unique histories, politics and culture. I’ve listed a few facts about both countries below that I hope might be new and interesting to you.

 

Interesting facts about German culture

 

  • Germans are the second largest beer consumers in the world, after the Irish.
  • The most popular German surname (Nachname) is Müller. 
  • There are 35 dialects of the German language.
  • 65% of the Autobahn (highway) has no speed limit.
  • JFK saying “Ich bin ein Berliner,” (‘I am a jelly doughnut’), rather than ‘I am a citizen of Berlin’ seems to be an urban myth. Many German people say it would have sounded odd if Kennedy had have said ‘Ich bin Berliner’ in his speech, as he had an American accent and wasn’t from Berlin. Instead, what he said, was spot on and translated as ‘I am one with the people of Berlin’.

Interesting facts about British culture

  • The British drink more tea than anywhere else in the world.
  • Chickens outnumber humans in Britain.
  • There are over 30,000 people with the name ‘John Smith’ in Britain.
  • Britain has the highest rate of obesity in Europe.
  • Britain brought the world soccer, rugby and polo.

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Seven tips for HR translationhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/22/7-best-practice-tips-for-getting-the-most-out-of-your-employee-training-and-hr-translation-2/ Fri, 22 Mar 2019 09:24:53 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1893 Do you work in global HR? If so, this scenario may sound

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7 tips for HR translation

Do you work in global HR or employee training? If so, this scenario may sound familiar.

HR at HQ has been tasked with creating a new employee-focused e-learning platform. Everyone is excited and itching to dive into the project. The plan is to Research – Create Content – Build – Test – Launch locally – Translate and ultimately Roll-Out globally.

In this scenario translation is the penultimate step. It could be several months away. Which could also mean that, at the project’s concept stage, when so many other tasks lay ahead, it’s a step that will be considered later; a bridge to be ‘crossed when we get to it’.

At The Language Factory we’d advise something just a little different. If you know in advance that you are likely to translate your training programme into various languages, it’s a good idea to have requirements of that translation process in mind at the outset, when you create your original content.

Here are 7 suggestions to help ensure that when you do roll-out, your training material is understandable, unambiguous and on-message in every language.

Be concise

Ikea can guide you through the most complicated flat-pack wardrobe assembly without even a single written instruction. We find that often, less is more. On balance we suggest erring on a modest use of words. They translate easier.

Use plain speaking 

Unambiguous descriptions of processes and procedure translate more clearly and succinctly than editorialised content. Although your source writers may consider this dull or even a little boring, you are creating technical and business literature here, not writing a best-seller.

Avoid colloquial expressions

At The language Factory we enjoy a Toby Jug of Rosie Lee and slice of Holy Ghost as much as the next man. [A mug of tea and slice of toast, in Cockney]. But it’s a difficult phrase to translate into another language – even English. Where possible, we find it’s best to avoid using colloquial or regional expressions.

Consider platforms space vs character count

Any Star Trek fan will tell you that “space is the final frontier”. When it comes to online and e-learning translations they are not wrong. Translations often require more (or fewer) characters than their source language. For example, written German might need 30% more characters than written English. How might this impact the screen layout of an e-learning platform or page setting for an online training module?

Limit company speak

Ever Googled the phrase ‘Definition of HR’? You could have as many as 88 definitions come back; and who’s to say which is most correct. Most companies have their own ‘short-hand’. If your source material contains terms or phrases that are ‘company speak’, please make allowance for your translators to be made aware of them and their precise definitions, as you perceive them. And if possible, include a glossary.

Share your tone of voice with us

Arguably the trickiest element to convey. Your company and employees are familiar with ‘how’ you say things. Sharing previous translations and other company documents with your translators helps ensure a match to the tone of voice your company wants to put across.

Allocate points of contact 

The best HR and employee focused translations are achieved when the company and translators have an ongoing dialogue. Best-practice is to have your documents’ author and an employee familiar with the source material, available for queries and confirmations. This expedites the project and really helps get it right, first time.

If you need translation services for your own global HR and employee training, please contact us at The Language Factory. Our dog and bone number is +44 (0)1727 862722

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When not to conduct market researchhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/21/when-not-to-conduct-market-research-in-2019/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 20:12:47 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1884 International public holidays which may affect your in-field surveys.

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When not to conduct market research

Our clients appreciate advice on how international public holidays may affect the fielding of their market research surveys in particular countries, and even impact the likelihood of holding a successful business meeting.

Our interactive infographic details national, and prevalent local, holidays throughout 2019 in some of the most regularly surveyed countries. Periods when, for best survey results, it’s perhaps best to NOT carry out your survey.

We hope you find this useful. (Please note this is a guideline only).

When not to conduct market research in 2019

Slide over the image to reveal dates & details.

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Latin American languagehttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/21/1874/ Thu, 21 Mar 2019 19:16:06 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1874 An in-depth look at languages used across Latin America.

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Useful facts about Latin American language

 

Latin America refers to all the countries that once belonged to the empires of Spain and Portugal during the discovery of the American continents and as such can be characterised by speaking languages classified as romance languages, those derived from Latin.

Taking the term in its strict sense, results in 20 countries to be considered Latin American:

Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras,  Mexico, Nicaraqua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruquay and Venezuela.

Spanish is spoken as a first language by about 60% of the population, Portuguese is spoken by about 34% of the population and about 6% of the population make up a large variety of different languages.

 

Spanish

Spanish is the official language of most of the countries on the Latin American mainland, as well as in Cuba, Puerto Rico (where it is co-official with English), and the Dominican Republic.

The Spanish spoken in Latin America is not the same as the Spanish spoken in Spain. A lack of connection with Spain and the huge influence the native speakers had on the language in Latin America has impacted it to make two different dialects. However the Spanish spoken in Latin America and Spain is not so different that they would have difficulty understanding each other.

 

Portuguese

Portuguese is spoken throughout Latin America, but there is only one country where it is recognised as the official language, Brazil. Although Portuguese is the official language of only one country, Brazil is the largest and most populous country of Latin America.

 

Native American languages

Native American languages are widely spoken in Peru, Guatemala, Bolivia, Paraguay and Mexico, and to a lesser degree, in Panama, Ecuador, Brazil, Columbia, Venezuela, Argentina, and Chile amongst other countries. Mexico is possible the only country that contains a wider variety of indigenous languages than any Latin American country, but the most spoken language is Nahuatl.

In Peru, Quechua is an official language, alongside Spanish and any other indigenous language in the areas where they predominate. In Ecuador, while holding no official status, the closely related Quichua is a recognised language of the indigenous people under the country’s constitution; however, it is only spoken by a few groups in the country’s highlands.

In Bolivia, Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní hold official status alongside Spanish. Guaraní, along with Spanish, is an official language of Paraguay, and is spoken by a majority of the population (who are, for the most part, bilingual), and it is co-official with Spanish in the Argentine province of Corrientes.

In Nicaragua, Spanish is the official language, but on the country’s Caribbean coast English and indigenous languages such as Miskito, Sumo, and Rama also hold official status. Colombia recognises all indigenous languages spoken within its territory as official, though fewer than 1% of its population are native speakers of these languages.

 

Other languages

French is the primary language of Haiti and French Guyana. English is not a primary language of any Latin American nation but is widely spoken in areas that are popular tourist destinations.

Dutch is the official language in Suriname, Aruba, and the Netherlands Antilles. As Dutch is a Germanic language and these were not part of the Spanish or Portuguese empires, these territories are not technically considered part of Latin America.

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Ten tips to a perfect translationhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/03/11/how-to-achieve-the-perfect-translation/ Mon, 11 Mar 2019 09:16:59 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1325 The best translation outputs come from well prepared inputs.

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How to achieve the perfect translation

1. Bring translators in as early as possible

The best translation outputs come from preparing source content for international readers and making sure that the initial text is easy to translate. Once the stage is set for translation, you can focus on the translation process itself and further refine content to suit different audiences.

If you know in advance that translation is likely, bring your translation team in early, as you create your original content. They can provide guidance and advice (or even just a sanity-check) on your content’s style, tone and structure which will ultimately give your communication clarity, impact and understanding among your target audience. 

2. Try to be concise

Ikea can guide you through the most complicated flat-pack wardrobe assembly without a single written instruction. We find that often, less is more. On balance we suggest erring on a modest use of words.

3. Plainly speaking, it’s best to speak plainly

Unambiguous descriptions of processes and procedure translate more clearly and succinctly than editorialised content. Although your source writers may consider this dull or even a little boring, you are creating technical and business literature here, not writing a best-seller.

4. Avoid local dialects, if you can

At The language Factory we enjoy Rosie and Sexton Blake* as much as the next man, but it’s a difficult phrase to translate – even into English. Where possible, we find it’s best to avoid using colloquial or regional expressions.

5. Go easy on the acronyms

Most companies have their own ‘short-hand’. If your source material contains terms or phrases that are ‘company speak’, please make allowances for your translators to be made aware of them and your precise definitions.

6. Consider space

Any Star Trek fan will tell you that “space is the final frontier”. When it comes to publishing, print or onscreen, it often is. Translations often require more, or fewer, characters than their source language. For example, written German might need 30% more characters than written English. Chinese, Japanese and Arabic are written and read differently to western languages. Your page designers may like to know about this in advance.  

7. Share your tone of voice

Arguably the trickiest element to convey. Your company and current employees may familiar with ‘how’ you say things; others may not be. Sharing previous translations and other company documents with your translators helps ensure a match to the tone of voice your company has, and wants to, put across.

8. Allow some leeway

Your translation agency won’t remodel your copy, but it might be a good idea to let them suggest some retouching. For example, if you require formal boardroom style, at The Language Factory we would focus your translation on, and infuse it with, very proper corporate vocabulary. We’ll comb its hair, straighten its tie and ensure that it says ‘business’.

If however you need shop-floor informal, we would ruffle its hair and loosen its tie. The focus would be on using translated day-to-day style text. We’ll make sure you speak plainly.

9. Use just one term to identify a single concept

Synonyms get in the way of clarity. Write the same thing, the same way, every time you write it. Finding different ways to write a single concept will affect the consistency of a translation and may lead to decreased quality, increased cost and increased turnaround time.

10. Be confident and proud

Use the active voice rather than the passive. It’s more direct and better understood. For example, if ‘the software was upgraded by the user’ it was done passively. But, if ‘the user upgraded the software’, that was active.

*It’s Cockney for ‘tea and cake’

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Danishhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/02/28/danish-translation/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 08:37:59 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1240 The post Danish appeared first on The Language Factory.

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Danish

 

The Danish language is spoken all across Europe and America. With over 2.4 million speakers over the world, it’s a sizable demographic for businesses and professionals. An accurate English to Danish translation service is vital to ensure you engage with your target audience.

The relationship between Danish and other Scandinavian languages is interesting. Danish, is a mutually intelligible language alongside Swedish and Norwegian. This means that speakers of one each language can often understand one another.

Yet, Danish is still a unique language and native Danish speakers are important to ensure your translation strikes the right chord.

 

The importance of bespoke English to Danish translation 

Your audience is more likely to consider your message if you use their language. The Harvard Business Review found that 56.2% of consumers rated engaging with content in their own language over price. Using mother-tongue speakers for your English to Danish translation keeps your message on target.

 

What makes Danish different?

English and Danish have West Germanic origins. This means there are many similarities in the building blocks of both languages.

Danish has nine vowels: A, E, I, O, U, Æ, Ø, and Å. Å did not exist until 1948 when it was created to replace ‘aa’ usage in words.

Like German, Danish often uses compounding to make new words, for example, computerproducent (computer manufacturer) and markedsundersøgelse (market research).

Danish has a different set of rules for nouns than other languages such as German and French. Rather than having masculine and feminine nouns, they have common and neuter.

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Turkishhttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/02/28/turkish-translation/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 08:36:32 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1238 The post Turkish appeared first on The Language Factory.

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Turkish

 

Turkish often extends words to add more detail to their meaning, or to change it, as happens in English when possible is modified to impossible. The result is that a typical Turkish word is often significantly longer than its English counterpart – but its English counterpart might really be multiple words. For example, masmavi doesn’t just mean blue, it specifically means bright blue, and is a compound of the word for bright and the word for blue.

However, the length of a Turkish word to which this process has been applied can be markedly longer than that, with a choice example coming in the sentence Dilde birlik, ulusal birliğin vazgeçilemezlerindendir.

This sentence as a whole says that a united language is required for a united culture; the final word, around half the total number of characters, would roughly mean ‘impossible to do without’, not what you would expect to see at the end of an English sentence with the same overall meaning.

Interesting facts about the Turkish language

  1. There is no definite article in Turkish. The word ‘the’ is instead implied within the ending of the relevant noun.
  2. Turkish is a gender-neutral language. When gender distinction is necessary within the context, Turkish uses simple locutions such as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ in front of the noun. For example, brother becomes ‘boy sibling’ (erkek kardeş) and sister becomes ‘girl sibling’ (kız kardeş).
  3. The Turkish practice of combining words to enrich and add meaning has led to some word constructions we would find curious entering the language. For example, their word for Monday is Pazartes, which actually means ‘after Sunday’.
  4. Turkish has only used the alphabet we’re familiar with since 1928, when Atatürk did away with the Ottoman Turkish alphabet. One result of this is that spelling in Turkish is much more standardised than in a language like English which has seen many more words evolve since their first introduction to the written form.
  5. You can compare modern spellings of Turkish words to those set down by visitors going back to 1635 at least, though often these slightly contradict the nature of the words the listener is hearing, with compound words rendered as two words instead.
  6. To encourage non-native speakers to engage with their language, the Turkish Language Olympiads have been held yearly since 2003, with 150 countries in attendance at the 2014 event. The competitions encourage entrants to show their skills in grammar, poetry, the language’s connection to its culture, singing, theatre, and many more.
  7. Turkish literary traditions span the last 1300 years, with the folk tradition dominant in shaping the culture until the Ottoman Empire’s sponsorship of written poetry began to change this, as well as to bring the two streams together in a way that had never been the case before. The folk tales of Keloğlan are some of the best loved early stories in this tradition. 

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Cantonesehttps://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/2019/02/28/cantonese-translation/ Thu, 28 Feb 2019 08:33:34 +0000 https://thelanguagefactory.co.uk/?p=1236 The post Cantonese appeared first on The Language Factory.

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Cantonese 

 

All of our Cantonese translators are specialists in their chosen field. They all have a minimum of five years’ experience and hold a Diploma, BA or MA in translation.

This ensures that whether you need a translation of medical notes, legal documents, manufacturers’ specifications, or any other high-priority, high-importance document, we will capture both technical jargon and nuance accurately so you can be confident that your meaning is accurately conveyed.

 

Things to consider in Cantonese translation

Like other forms of Chinese, Cantonese is almost invariably written in ideograms: small and stylised pictures which denote a particular word or concept. There are two basic groups of these ideograms, traditional and simplified, which are used by the languages grouped together as “Chinese”.

Cantonese is the primary dialect in much of Guangdong province in southern China and, in particular, in Hong Kong. It is the dialect most likely to be encountered outside China itself, thanks to Hong Kong’s historic role as a trading gateway. It is also the dialect of Chinese used in Macau.

In Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, traditional ideograms are still used, while elsewhere in China, simplified ideograms are favoured. The set you wish to be translated into will depend on what demographic or demographics you intend to read your text.

Because of the nature of ideograms, a translation from English to Chinese will usually result in around 30% more text. This should be taken into account when laying out your brochure or website. Similarly, Chinese documents translated into English will be significantly shorter in terms of numbers of characters or words, though not necessarily the amount of space used.

One of the things that keeps Cantonese alive is its lively and evolving use of colloquial slang. A native translator is required to ensure that this challenge is correctly navigated.

Interesting facts about the Cantonese language

  1. Cantonese may also be referred to as Guangdong language, Guangfu, and Metropolitan Cantonese.
  2. Cantonese popular music, commonly known as ‘Cantopop’ is so popular throughout Chinese-speaking Asia that Mandarin pop singers are encouraged to learn the dialect to performance standard in order to increase sales.

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