Terminology

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Weekly Shorts | January 22, 2021

Business News, Language Industry News and Events, Mergers and Acquisitions, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Translation Technology, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

TransPerfect revenue up 11.5 percent

TransPerfect has announced a 2020 year-end revenue of 852 million USD. This is a roughly 11.5 percent increase over 2019’s revenue of 764 million USD.

Volaris buys Across

Canadian private equity firm Volaris Group has purchased Across, a Karlsbad, Germany-based translation management software provider. Deal value was not disclosed.

A Swedish hashtag?

Most language professionals on Twitter use #xl8 to find one another’s tweets, but translator Erik Hansson is pushing for a Swedish language version. The current #xl8 has English language origins, using “x” to represent the “trans” in “translate” and “l8” as a phonetic representation of the rest of the word. “I am not giving up hope,” Hansson tweeted Monday, “One day, more #Swedish #translators on Twitter will finally discover our own hashtag #ovst” — short for översättning, the Swedish word for translation.

American Literary Translators Association awards open

The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) has officially opened its 2021 award applications. The National Translation Award is given to translated books for both poetry and prose, the Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize goes to an English translation from one of any Asian languages, and the Italian Prose in Translation Award (IPTA) is awarded for Italian into English prose.

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Weekly Shorts | January 15, 2021

Business News, Geopolitics, Interpretation, Language in the News, Language Industry News and Events, Localization, Multimedia Translation, Personalization and Design, Technology, Terminology, Translation, Uncategorized, Weekly Shorts

Translation error says Spanish speakers don’t need vaccine

A localization error on the Virginia Department of Health’s website told Spanish speakers they don’t need coronavirus vaccines, according to Norfolk, Virginia newspaper The Virginian-Pilot. Medical students at George Mason University discovered the mistake, which may have stemmed from unclear source text: “Before the faulty translation, the English passage simply meant the vaccine wasn’t mandatory,” the paper reports.

TransPerfect opens Istanbul office

New York-based translation company TransPerfect has opened a new outpost in Istanbul, Turkey. N Can Okay will oversee the office, dealing primarily with talent recruitment, according to a company release.

Neural interpretation from TikTok?

ByteDance, the parent company of international social media platform TikTok, has gotten in the interpreting game, releasing an open source tool named NeurST: Neural Speech Translation Toolkit. Note this is a misnomer, as the tech does not translate written language — rather interprets verbal speech. Full code is available on collaboration portal GitHub.

Nieman Lab predicts non-English news

American journalism think tank The Nieman Lab anticipates the United States will see more non-English news content in 2021 as both translated and in-language reporting increase. “Additionally, we foresee more substantive and equitable partnerships developing between mainstream and ethnic media organizations,” write Stefanie Murray and Anthony Advincula.

ATA accepting conference proposals

The American Translators Association has issued its call for presentation proposals for the association’s October 27-30, 2021 conference. The event will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota with virtual attendance options. Proposals are accepted through March 1.

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Beijing subway to standardize English translations

Business News, Language, Language in the News, Personalization and Design, Terminology, Translation, Travel and Culture, Uncategorized

If you’re heading to Beijing you may have to put up with conflicting subway station names — at least for a while. According to news site China Daily, the city has “adopted a new set of English translation methods for the capital’s rail transit stations.” Basically what this means is that the municipal transport commission authority is gradually changing the way stop names are localized into English — both on maps and signs. Trick is, the changes aren’t happening across all materials at once: “Different English translations for a same station may exist over a period of time as the replacement of the signs will be carried out gradually and orderly,” China Daily reports. Early maps with the new names are already available. Distribution began late last year. The signage translation work will start in 2021.

The city’s goal is to provide new stop names that not only reflect the geographic location of a place but its cultural implications — and in a way that enlightens foreign travelers. Subway stop names that previously used pinyin — an adaptation method that uses letters from the Roman alphabet to spell out Chinese words based on sound — will be changed to new names that use the Chinese phonetic alphabet. The first word of each stop name will also be capitalized now with all subsequent letters in lower case. Locations will also be marked by compass direction, using abbreviations like “(N)” for north or “(W)” for west. Well-known subway stops — such as those named after places of historic interest — will not change. For example, 颐和园 and 国家图书馆 will remain Summer Palace and National Library — their already globally-accepted English language translations.

In 2014, a revamp of Hong Kong’s subway translations resulted in The Wall Street Journal mocking Beijing’s by using Baidu’s free online translation portal to derive the paper’s own localization of stop names.

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Gender Inclusive or Just Bad Hebrew?

Geopolitics, Language, Language in the News, Terminology, Uncategorized

It’s traditional for the United States House of Representatives to open each new session with a prayer, but that prayer typically doesn’t end with “a-women.”

On Sunday, January 3rd — right before the members of the 117th session were sworn in — Missouri representative Emanuel Cleaver used the interesting turn of phrase together with “amen,” saying “May the lord lift up the light of his countenance upon us and give us peace — peace in our families, peace in this land and there I ask, oh lord, peace even in this chamber. We ask it in the name of the monotheistic god, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths, amen and a-women.”

Since the swearing in, Cleaver’s usage has fallen under criticism from the international press with UK outlets The Independent and Daily Mail reporting.

In addition to serving in Congress, Cleaver is ordained as a minister in the United Methodist Church, a denomination of the Christian faith. Brahma, however, is a Hindu god.

The word amen itself derives from the Hebrew, meaning “certainty,” “truth,” or “verily.” In English, it is a declaration of affirmation typically used at the end of a prayer or used on its own as a form of agreement or sign of support. While Hebrew is a highly gendered language — in addition to number agreement, verbs also agree with subject noun gender — “amen” is non-gendered.

In other words, Cleaver’s usage is more politically than grammatically driven. January 1st, House speaker and fellow Democrat Nancy Pelosi proposed new rules for the body that require members use “gender-inclusive language,” citing examples such as “parent” instead of “mother” or “father” and “sibling” instead of “brother” or “sister.” These rules also require members to substitute verbs for gendered English nouns — “strike ‘’submit his or her resignation’ and insert ‘’resign’’’ — as well as use common nouns in place of pronouns: “Strike ‘’he or she serves’’ and insert ‘such Member, Delegate, or Resident Commissioner serves.’’’

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Appalachia en Español

Globalization, Language, Localization Culture, Personalization and Design, Terminology, Travel and Culture, Uncategorized

When you live in the Appalachian mountains, Spanish textbooks don’t always speak to you. That’s the realization that led Harlan County, Kentucky schoolteachers Chris Anama-Green and Emmanuel Anama-Green to create their own language instruction curricula. “When you read many ‘mainstream’ Spanish textbooks, you find mostly vocabulary and scenarios related to city life,” Chris Anama-Green told Kentucky Teacher, a Kentucky Department of Education news site. In Appalachia, for example, students are more likely to live in houses than in apartment buildings and there are no city blocks or subways. “It’s harder for students to see the importance of learning a second language when the examples provided just aren’t relevant to them,” said Chris Anama-Green. “I wanted a textbook that students could relate to,” he told local Harlan Enterprise newspaper, “When I couldn’t find one, I decided to write my own.”

The two initially partnered on an introductory Spanish I textbook that uses rural scenarios and vocabulary instead of urban ones in order to promote students’ real-world communication abilities. A Spanish II textbook is currently underway. Entitled Viajes desde Appalachia (Travels from Appalachia), the curricula does meet Kentucky World Language and American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages educational standards.

Viajes desde Appalachia references local spots within Harlan County by name and also includes full-color photographs the teachers took during their travels throughout Spanish-speaking countries.

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Geological Sciences in Cape Town to Translate Terms

Terminology, Translation

A project at the University of Cape Town has begun to translate geological terms into the country’s official languages. The team hopes future scientific discourse will better represent the country’s rich linguistic diversity.

Speakers of South Africa’s 11 official languages may soon be able to hold academic discourse in geological sciences exclusively in their own language for the first time. A project called “Reclaiming the Rocks: Ukuthetha ngezifundo zomhlaba ngesiXhosa” began this year at the University of Cape Town (UCT), as part of the Geological Sciences Department’s effort to better represent the languages spoken in South Africa. The department hopes the project will help connect people who have historically been excluded from academic discourse about their geological heritage.

Early in 2020, UCT lecturer Dr. Rosalie Tostevin conducted a survey of the Geological Sciences Department, which found a wide diversity of languages spoken among students and staff. It also indicated strong interest among students to participate in translation projects. Recruiting a team of researchers and student translators, Tostevin hopes to transform geology departments, museums, and public outreach events.

“Despite English being a first language for under 10% of the population, it dominates scientific discourse, alienating huge sections of the population. People engage more and understand better when the conversation is in their native tongue,” said Tostevin.

Led by UCT master’s student Batande Getyenga, the team of translators will begin producing a geological dictionary in isiXhosa, a language spoken by over 8 million native speakers and over 19 million total speakers. If the project becomes a success, the team plans to expand translations into other South African Languages.

Although Tostevin will write up summarized versions of the country’s geological record for the team to translate, the team will have to work together to develop translations for technical terms where none exist. Currently, terms like “fossil” or “dinosaur” have no equivalents in isiXhosa, so Tostevin sees this process as an opportunity to generate new, more intuitive and accessible vocabulary.

The project has already gained international recognition, receiving the European Geosciences Union’s public engagement grant—a grant awarded to outreach projects that aim to raise awareness of geosciences outside the scientific community. The team plans to use the grant money to launch a new website and to compensate the geology students involved in the high-skilled translation work.

“South Africa’s geological record is exceptional and relevant to our daily lives,” Tostevin Said. “Millions of tourists are drawn to Table Mountain every year; vineyards depend on the fertile soils of the Bokkeveld shales; and the economy is built on gold, mineral and diamond deposits. The rocks also hold the story of life on Earth – from the first traces of life to the rise and fall of the dinosaurs.”

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Jonathan Pyner is a poet, freelance writer, and translator. He has worked as an educator for nearly a decade in the US and Taiwan, and he recently completed a master’s of fine arts in creative writing.

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Ten Spanish expressions that don’t translate well into English

Terminology, Translation

Spanish is the world’s most widely spoken Romance language, and its proliferation in different countries and locales presents its own set of translation challenges. But setting intra-linguistic variations aside for a moment, even true romantics don’t love localizing these ten hard to translate terms and phrases into other languages. They’re common expressions that don’t have English equivalents. For the sake of simplicity, they all originate from Spain.

1. Puente

If you were ever a student, worker or perhaps just an architecture enthusiast in Spain, you no doubt rejoiced upon hearing this term. Used in a literal sense, puente simply means “bridge.” In other contexts, it refers to an extended weekend that arises when a public holiday falls near, but not directly next to a weekend. For example, if a holiday falls on a Thursday, workers might have a puente in which they are given Friday, as well as Thursday off work. A puente “bridges” the gap between the holiday and the weekend.

2. ¡Ojo!

Ojo is the Spanish word for “eye.” But look out! In certain contexts, it can mean “watch yourself because I’m watching you!”

3. Quedarse de piedra

Hispanophones use this expression to describe when someone is stunned or frozen from shock. Quedarse de piedra literally translates as “to stay like a stone.” For example, in order to say “I was shocked when I saw the car crash in front of me,” a Spanish speaker might say me quedé de piedra cuando vi el accidente de coche. “I stayed like a stone when I saw the car crash.”

4. Consuegro, consuegra

Explaining consuegro and consuegra in English requires multiple words and considerable mental calculation on the part of the translator. Most simply, it describes “the father/mother of one’s son/daughter-in-law.” This can make translation between the two languages challenging when a concise statement in Spanish like “That’s John; he is my consuegro” becomes “That’s John; he’s the father of my son/daughter-in-law.”

5. ¡El mundo es un pañuelo!

When you run into someone you don’t expect, the world isn’t just small, it’s un pañuelo — a handkerchief. Why a handkerchief? For a Spaniard, a handkerchief is something small enough to tuck in your pocket — and with only four corners to explore, there’s always a chance you’ll run into someone.

6. Empalagar

The Spanish language has one verb to illustrate the unpleasant feeling after eating too much of something sweet. Next time you go for that second piece of chocolate cake — and immediately regret it — you can say No debería haber comido ese pastel, es demasiado dulce y empalaga, or “I shouldn’t have eaten that cake; it’s too sugary and overly sweet-ed me.”

7. ¡Nada del otro mundo!

That news is nada del otro mundo, or literally, “nothing from the other world.” Often accompanied by a sarcastic tone, the speaker uses this phrase to convey that they are unsurprised by a particular piece of news. Apparently for Spanish speakers, news is only impressive when it comes from another world.

8. Estrenar

Estrenar is another case of the Spanish language containing verbs that don’t exist in English.

This term depicts the action of wearing or using something for the first time. For example, in the phrase “yesterday, I wore my new shoes for the first time,” Spanish-speakers can replace “wore for the first time” with estrenar. Ayer estrené mis zapatos nuevos. “Yesterday, I ‘first-time-wore’ my new shoes.”

9. Ponerse las botas

Ponerse las botas literally translates as “to put on the boots.” But don’t worry if a Spanish speaker says this after a meal. They’re not looking to leave in a hurry. Rather, it’s a way of expressing that they were well-fed. The origin of this phrase dates back to a time when boot-owners were wealthy and regularly enjoyed bountiful feasts.

10. Sobremesa

It’s not uncommon for the average Spaniard to spend hours at the dinner table, savoring a delicious meal and catching up with family or friends. The importance of this experience is reflected in their language. Sobremesa describes the time spent at the table chatting and digesting.

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Sophia Eakins is a marketing content specialist for Lionbridge, a global company delivering localization and AI training data services in 350+ languages. Her bachelor in linguistics comes from Wellesley College, with additional study at the Laboratoire Parole et Langage in Aix-en-Provence, France.

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