Archives for Language - Page 2
Speculation about the role of the Scottish National Party after Election Day on 7 May has got me thinking about how a higher profile for Scottish MPs at Westminster might just benefit the translation and interpreting sector. For a start, we might find some new untranslatables making an appearance:Movie A Dog’s Purpose (2017)
Dreich is the Scots shorthand for dark and dreary days of bleak, cold and depressing rain. That should work well for English and Welsh voters too! Smirring is an altogether gentler rain although responsible for some real bad hair days. Most women could make good use of a (printable) word to describe that fine, drizzling wet you can’t quite see, that comes with a powerful frizz action.
When you give something a shuggle you shake it about, or loosen it up a bit. Perhaps a new, post-election coinage might encapsulate politicians shuggling along together in coalition?
For all those voters who keep changing their minds, there’s swithering, which is almost onomatopoeic. And lastly, there’s my particular favourite: wabbit, a unique mix of tired and exhausted, defined by a Glaswegian friend as feeling ironed to the bed sheets. A fair few politicians might find that a useful term come May 8.
So, I’m looking forward to an injection of vividly descriptive new words for our translators to get their heads round. Can we also anticipate a run on our localisation services? After all, whatever the precise outcome of the election, it’s a fair bet that many of the new MPs, regardless of party, will have a worldview and familiar cultural references very different from the current Westminster bubble.
As someone who pays close attention to just how connected politicians are to the electorate, I can’t help wondering where the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon gets her messages? In Scotland, when people talk of getting the messages, they’re not talking focus groups and hard-working families. No, in Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews and Fort William, getting the messages means you’re just popping off to Tesco or the Co-op, not taking in the kind of electioneering designed to persuade us that our politicians really do know the price of a pint of milk!
This carefully localised message was crafted for a British audience by me, Tess Wright, Cintra Translation’s CEO. Our translators and interpreters are experts in localising your marketing materials wherever in the world you do business.
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Let’s imagine we’ve had a busy morning and are on our way to grab a cup of coffee together. With us is a colleague who speaks three European languages, including English, but is a native Russian speaker.
We’re doing what you do in narrow corridor: walking fast, talking, gesticulating and twisting around. Just in time, I spot a pool of liquid up ahead.
In a split second, and ever mindful that 28% of the 77,593 non-fatal workplace injuries reported in 2013/14 were slips and trips, I throw a warning over my shoulder to you and our Russian-speaking colleague.
OK, you’ve been there. You can picture the scene. Now, let’s run the soundtrack. But hold on a minute – which of the 17* ways of saying, ‘Careful, someone’s spilt their coffee, don’t slip!’ will I plump for?
One of the great strengths and delights of English is the sheer number of words in the language: every time I open my mouth or put pen to paper I’ve got a working vocabulary of around 35,000 words to choose from. And I’ll keep adding one new word a day until I’m well into middle age.
Non-native speakers living in the UK work hard to keep up. They add between two and three new English words to their working vocabulary every day. But, by any count, building up a good store of health and safety speak is going to take them some time.
Non-native speakers aren’t only up against it coming to grips with our mix of idiom, dialect and regional accent. We love our catchphrases culled from sport, pop, TV and film. And don’t forget to factor in trending slang, and even perhaps the odd workplace obscenity. It’s no wonder that making assumptions about the language we use to warn of danger is fraught with danger.
English is rich and can be very precise, but for the non-native speaker working in the UK, our colourful, colloquial, idiomatic language is often more like a trippy, slippery minefield of misunderstanding – in other words, it’s an accident just waiting to happen.
*You can probably think of even more.
We’re working with an increasing number of companies to translate their Health and Safety policies and procedures into the languages their workers speak and read fluently. Companies and HR managers employing us to translate everything from policy documents to induction packages and factsheets report strong business reasons for investing in quality translation services. We can also provide interpreters in over 100 languages so that you can communicate with staff and customers who speak languages other than English.
The second in Cintra Translations’ series on how to research new customers and markets abroad focuses on the ways your local Chamber of Commerce can plug you in to a hugely valuable international network of expert advice and practical support.
First stop is the British Chambers of Commerce international trade website, ExportBritain. For companies at the early stage of evaluating opportunities and researching target markets, the British Chambers’ Overseas Market Intelligence services offer regularly updated market snapshots sharing data and insight.
Use the International Directory to get in touch with British Chambers located overseas in just the markets you’re considering.
Your local Chamber of Commerce will already be running regular events highlighting opportunities for export. There’s real depth and breadth to seminars and workshops exploring potential growth markets. Over the next couple of months alone, the Norfolk Chamber is assessing opportunities in Kuwait; Surrey is looking at doing business in Brazil’s massive marketplace, and Cambridgeshire is planning an event with the UKTI to help businesses find out more about what wealthy Saudi Arabia can offer UK exporters.
Find out more on the events page at Export Britain: http://exportbritain.org.uk/events/ You’ll also find webinars you can attend from your desk or your iPad. Expert-led discussions on prospects in India and China, and in niche sectors such as agri-business opportunities in Colombia on are on the current schedule.
Are you ready to export? While you’re looking at how ready and receptive overseas markets will be for you and your products, how prepared are you to take the leap? Have you got the staff, skills, resources and logistics in place to make a go of it? Probably not – at the moment – but chances are, it won’t take much to fill the gaps. Find what they are and how to get in shape via the Chambers’ Export Readiness Assessment service.
Seeing the wood for the trees You’ll have realised by now that figuring out if export’s for you and where to focus your efforts isn’t going to be a journey you make on your own. It’s clear there is plenty of support out there for SMEs. In fact, there is some criticism that there’s so much on offer, businesses feel daunted and can’t see the wood for the trees.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
To provide an encouraging and genuinely supportive, and yes, we have to say it, joined-up, approach very much in mind, the British Chambers of Commerce, the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have been in formal partnership since 2012. They’re also working with businesses like us here at Cintra Translations to help businesses find the extra skills and professional support services they need to get into those new markets on the front foot. As an example, take a look at the package of services and benefits for exporters on offer from the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. We’re proud to signpost you to our contribution to their Global Membership package – including exclusive discounts on Cintra Go Global translation services! Find out more
We’re working with an increasing number of companies to translate their Health and Safety policies and procedures into the languages their factory workers, warehouse staff and field hands speak and read fluently. In a sector where margins are slim and employers and recruiters are traditionally wary of any additional costs, the companies and HR managers employing us to translate everything from policy documents to induction packages and Slips, Trips and Falls factsheets report strong business reasons for investing in quality translation services.
1 If safety was just common sense, UK companies wouldn’t have lost £2.9bn to health and safety failings in 2012/13 – the last year for which figures are available. Like other aspects of culture, attitudes to health and safety at work and what’s an acceptable level of risk vary enormously between countries.
At the very least, bear in mind that people panic in emergencies. It’s hard enough following first aid instructions or emergency shut down procedures in English when you’re under pressure. Asking workers from overseas to translate and understand before they act wastes valuable seconds and could cost lives.
2 Fines and custodial sentences for companies and individual managers and directors guilty of health and safety failures are getting tougher in 2015
Regardless of the size of the company, or the nature of its business, managers and Directors are increasingly held personally accountable for the safety of all their employees.
New sentencing guidelines proposed by the UK’s Sentencing Council complete their consultation phase this week (18 Feb 2015). The new guidelines will come into force later this year and will cover offences ranging from workplace accidents, and dangerous products that cause death or serious injury, to near misses where there was a culpable risk of injury even if no one was actually hurt. Once confirmed, guilty companies and managers can expect longer terms of imprisonment and fines in the region of £2 – 10 million.
3 OHSAS 18001 is out: ISO 45001 is coming in
The introduction of a new, improved international safety standard – ISO 45001 – by October 2016 puts considerable emphasis on enabling businesses ‘to proactively improve its OH&S performance in preventing injury and ill-health’. Experts expect auditors will want to see real evidence of continual improvement to preventative practices. Read more at http://www.shponline.co.uk/ask-professionals-iso-45001/
related post: 17 ways to slip up on health and safety
She says that the Foreign Office is launching the Diplomatic Academy, essentially a finishing school for diplomats, to help them through these social and cultural minefields and make them the best in the world.
Of course, it’s not just diplomats who need this sort of knowledge – it’s everyone in business who wants to export their products to other countries or has a multicultural workforce. As Jenni puts it:
‘How many of us know that Finnish acquaintances should never be hugged or kissed; that two or three-minute pauses in conversation are common and should not be interrupted, and that a careless British phrase such as “We should have lunch” will be taken as a solemn invitation when all we mean is: “I like you but I may well never see you again”?
‘Or that the Dutch get down to frank business negotiations immediately and will proceed fast once consensus is reached, whereas the Portuguese expect several discursive meetings before any clear results? That the French would prefer you to blow your nose in private, that Americans expect brief questions and answers in social situations and get uncomfortable if anyone holds the floor for a long time; that you should not show anger or attempt to tell jokes in Singapore? That Turks will be deeply offended if the sole of your shoe faces them? Or that in some Asian cultures, by advancing on anybody with your arm outstretched, insisting on eye contact and saying: “Hello, I’m Bill”, (or Jane), you might be offending on three fronts at once?’
Our Go Global product includes notes on culture for each language you want your documents translated into – and of course, we can translate documents and provide interpreting for your workforce too.
You can read the full article here (paywall)
Tess Wright Chief Executive
image credit: Henkster www.free.images.com
One in four people worldwide understand English at a useful level.
Three out of four don’t.
Let me introduce my cousin Tina. She’s a primary school teacher living and working in Bielefeld. Naturally enough, German is her first language. Fortunately for her monoglot British relatives though, Tina is one of the 1.75 billion people worldwide who use English very effectively as a second language. While my German was not so much taught as inflicted by teachers drilling grammar by rote, Tina had fun singing along to the Rolling Stones and watching American films. No prizes for guessing that when we get together I’m doing the usual British thing, squirming with embarrassment because I can’t switch between languages as she does.
Skilled as she is in English, though, there’s a limit to Tina’s patience, vocabulary and conversational comfort zone. She would not be impressed by the sales director I met recently at a trade show and who declared unequivocally, “English is the international language of business. Why should I communicate in anything else?”
The short answer is that most of your customers aren’t in business, and whatever they are doing, they most probably aren’t doing it in English. Just like Tina when I’m not visiting, your customers are getting on with their own lives – in their own language. Tina’s got two children and elderly parents to care for. Like all customers everywhere, she’s got a life, and she lives it in her mother tongue.
So while Tina is happy chatting with me in an English punctuated with a little German and some sign-language over lunch in a Bielefeld bistro, when it comes to spending her hard-earned cash, she, quite reasonably, prefers to weigh up the pros and cons of features, benefits, price, quality and delivery options in her own language, thank you very much.
Six more reasons sticking with English will lose you export sales.
Or – why my cousin Tina – who could be your next customer – prefers to buy in her own language.
- “Yes, I can speak English, but I make decisions in German.”
- “If you speak to me in up-to-date, everyday German, I’m much more likely to take on board and remember your marketing messages.”
- “My family like British brands, but our lifestyles are different. Show me how your product fits in my day-to-day routine here in myhome, not yours.“
- “You want to me to spend money with you. Show me you care about me.”
- “I’m much more likely to trust your promises about customer service and product support if you’ve taken the time and trouble to translate them for me.”
- “I’m a busy person. The bottom line is, if you speak my language, you’re making it so much easier for me to do business with you.”
Wenn Sie mich verstehen, dann werden wir uns gut verstehen!
Guest blogger Kaye Coleman-Rooney runs marketing communications agency, Doing Words . She’s a member of Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce Communications sector and is a coach with Accelerate Cambridge, part of the Cambridge Judge Business School.
blog image credit: mebell / www.freeimages.com
As I chopped it, I started thinking about words with basil in them, wondering how they are connected (I know, an esoteric pursuit, but if you work in the translation business it’s an occupational hazard!)
Basil, basilicum, basilisk, basilica – how do they relate? Well, the proper Latin name for basil is Ocimum basilicum, so that’s easy. But then I remembered reading about basilicum ointment used on horses in the 19th century, and wondered if it contained basil.
A quick search revealed several references to Basilicon ointment for the treatment of wounds, which includes rosin, from conifer resin. A longer search led me to Basilicum ointment, which seems to be the archaic form – and I found a recipe from a book called Domestic Medicine from 1785, containing ‘yellow wax, white resin and frankincense’ plus the main ingredient of hog’s lard – but not a hint of basil.
It was Nicholas Culpeper, the 17th century herbalist, who connected them for me: ‘an herb of Mars and under the Scorpion, and therefore called Basilicon’. He also related it to Basilisk.
Why? Because the basilisk was reputed to be the king of serpents (able to kill with one glance) – and basil comes from the Greek basileus, meaning king.
It’s still considered the ‘king of herbs’ by many cooks – royally deserved, in my opinion. That’s enough weight for a few small leaves to carry. As for Basil Fawlty – that’s a whole other story about use of language!
Tess Wright, Chief Executive
I was listening to Midweek on Radio 4 last week and was fascinated by a guy called Benny Lewis, who says he couldn’t speak any foreign languages when he left school but now speaks ten, including Mandarin, Arabic, Portuguese and Hungarian!
I don’t think he means he can speak them well enough to do interpreting or translation, but enough to hold a conversation with the people in whichever country he is in that goes beyond ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘where are the toilets?’
Enough to give him an impression of the language and culture – by joining in – that is much richer than the superficial impression most visitors would receive if they can’t understand the language.
He does it by total immersion – going to live in whichever country whose language he wants to learn and refusing to speak English. One of his main techniques seems to be don’t make excuses such as ‘it’s too hard’ or ‘I’m too old’ or ‘they’ll think I’m an idiot’ – these rang a bell with me!
He’s just been made National Geographic’s Traveler of the Year on the back of all his learning trips.
You can hear the programme via the Radio 4 website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03y13zd
and you can visit the website of the man himself at http://www.fluentin3months.com/about/
So what do you think – is it possible to learn a language well enough in three months to do more than get by as a visitor? And is it just the British who are scared of looking stupid when they try and speak other languages?
Look forward to your comments below.
Tess Wright, Chief Executive