The challenges of translating an international campaign

Translating the content of a large-scale campaign is always challenging, especially if you have to translate it into several languages at the same time. Recently, we participated in a very exciting project: we translated the ‘Inspiring Women 2017’ campaign – launched by C&A Foundation – into 14 languages.

The ‘Inspiring Women 2017’ campaign is an initiative led by the C&A Foundation to support the situation of women worldwide. The campaign was launched in 17 countries. As part of this project, we translated numerous campaign materials, such as leaflets, posters, presentations, tool kits, and the content of the campaign website.

Besides providing the multilingual content for the campaign’s website, we also transcribed a Dutch campaign video and prepared English, French and German subtitles for this.

During the translation process we had to meet tight deadlines set by the campaign producers and managers. Just to mention a few of the challenges that had to be tackled:

First of all, one translator and one proofreader worked on the translations for every language combination, so we simultaneously had to coordinate 30 linguists during the translation process. At the end, our QA team had to ensure that all the materials were perfectly consistent, and that they followed the brand guidelines.

Since we prepared the translations for every country participating in the campaign in their local languages, we had to take into consideration the fact that in some countries there is more than one official local language. Therefore, we prepared Italian, German and French translations for Switzerland, and Flemish and French translations for Belgium.

Translating a campaign also involves localization work. The name speaks for itself, as linguists have to create translations that are adapted to the local target audience, while keeping the impact, tone and style of the original content.

We constantly received feedback from the local marketing teams and had to instruct the linguists accordingly. For instance, the German, Austrian and Swiss local teams preferred different styles and tones, so eventually we delivered three German translations using different styles.

We received the English copy in batches, and sometimes had to work with a very fast turnaround in order to deliver the translations according to the planning of the campaign. Luckily, everything went smoothly and we managed to accommodate our client’s needs.

Overall, it was a very exciting experience for the Eurideas team, and we are looking forward to the next challenge.

By Dora Rapcsak, Eurideas project management team

Life of women and men in Europe

A statistical portrait – 2017 Edition (by Eurostat)

At home, at work, at school…
… there are large differences between the lives of women and men in Europe, but there are also similarities. This digital publication The life of women and men in Europe – a statistical portrait aims at comparing women and men in their daily lives. It also shows how similar or different the everyday life of women and men is in European countries.

The publication includes three chapters:

  • Living, growing, ageing… : This chapter focuses on demography and health, including for example data on life expectancy, single mothers and fathers and how we perceive our health. This chapter also shows that, despite our differences, both women and men in Europe are similarly satisfied with their lives.
  • Learning, working, earning… : This chapter includes data on education levels, reconciliation of work and family life, full-time and part-time work, the gender pay gap, female and male managers, etc. It highlights not only structural differences but also inequalities between women and men.
  • Eating, shopping, surfing, socialising… : This part focuses on nutrition and social habits, leisure activities and online practices, including for example data on smoking and alcohol consumption, body mass index, cinema attendance, use of social networks and online shopping. A final part is dedicated to childcare, housework and cooking.

This digital publication containing short texts, interactive visualisation tools, infographics, photos, etc. has been developed by Eurostat in collaboration with the National Statistical Institutes of the EU Member States and the EFTA countries and is available in most of their official languages.

Go to publication

Professional translators aren’t worried about Google’s language-translating headphones

Last week, Google announced “Pixel Buds” — wireless headphones that can translate 40 languages on the fly. 

It’s impressive, but most translators don’t worry for their jobs any time soon.

Others are more pessimistic: One said it will “[destroy] my profession.”

In Douglas Adams’ “Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy” series, a Babel Fish is a small yellow fish that will automatically translate any language in the universe for you if you shove it in your ear.

In the real world, of course, that’s the job of interpreters and translators — tasked with the job of translating everything from corporate documents to geopolitical summits, helping out hapless tourists and the linguistically challenged around the world

But on last Wednesday, Adams’ fantastical idea took a step closer to reality when Google announced the “Pixel Buds” — a pair of wireless headphones that have Google Translate software built in, capable of translating 40 different languages as they’re spoken to you.

So should professional translators and interpreters start getting freaking out about artificial intelligence (AI) stealing their jobs?

Business Insider asked a handful of people working in the field for their thoughts. The verdict: While the tech is exciting, and has obvious consumer applications, they’re not worried.

Translation software recognises words — but not meaning

Take the following sentence: “The hand made fun of the worm for not knowing what mud was, let alone a moon pool. The toolpusher and the roughneck joined the fun, asking the worm if he knew the difference between kick and kill.”

It sounds like jibberish, but it does make sense — if you’re familiar with jargon used in the oil and gas industry.

A professional translator or interpreter with knowledge of the subject will be able to parse it and convert it into another language while retaining its meaning — while translation software would likely render it nonsensical.

“Any legit professional will tell you that no matter how much the technology evolves, there’s simply no way for it to replace a translator or an interpreter due to several issues, the major ones being sentiency and abstraction,” said João Correia, a professional Portugese translator.

“Sure, the machine will have no trouble in conducting a generic, simple conversation like ‘Hello, how are you?’, ‘Good Morning’ or even ‘I’m going out to buy some groceries’, but I’d like to see what happens when an Anglophile uses it to communicate with a Japanese about oil rig implementation.”

It’s an attitude that others echoed. “Well, I think they will be useful for tourists, but when it comes either to technical stuff (and I’m not talking about aeronautical engineering or something of the sort, but about just a plain cooking recipe, for example) or to aesthetics (a play, for example), AI still has a long way to go before it produces decent results,” Vane Oritz said.

“I don’t think machines will ever be able to analyze the non-verbal aspect of communication deeply enough to detect the real meaning of what is being said.”

Others think the machines will steal their jobs — eventually

Fears about machines stealing jobs are widespread, as technology and AI mean that everything from human truck-driving to legal clerk work is at risk of being made obsolete.

Professional services firm PwC estimates that as much as 38% of American jobs are at risk of automation by the 2030s. And not everyone in the translation/interpretation industry is blasé about the potential risk to their livelihood.

Ludmila Baker, a court interpreter, said she “welcome[s] new and amazing technology like this, even at the price of it destroying my profession. I’ll have to find something else to do, just like millions of others have done through history.”

In technical fields (like court reporting), she predicted, the tech would reachable a usable state long before it actually gets adopted — but it will, eventually.

“I think the technology will be available way before the courts will be willing to use it. There are due process and constitutional rights that must be protected, and the laws will have to change before machines can do our jobs.

“As complex as human language is, and keeping in mind all the variables that affect interpretation (code switching, slang, etc), I still believe this technology will be good enough to replace us (and, eventually, better).”

She added: “How long? Not so easy to tell. Technology and science don’t progress in a linear way, but rather exponentially. The pace keeps getting faster.”

Others took a more optimistic view of the tech, quoting DS Interpretation founder Bill Wood: “Interpreters will never be replaced by technology, they will be replaced by interpreters who use technology.”

Source: Business Insider

Chinese-English interpretation in the chemicals field

We recently had the opportunity to provide Chinese interpreting services at a chemical regulatory event focusing on Asia. The location of the conference was Brussels, Belgium. The participants were from the European and Asian chemical industries; most of them were from the regulatory field. Therefore the presentations were quite technical, specific to chemicals.

The interpreting went very well; however, we faced some difficulties before and during the event:

  • In Brussels, there are only 2 English-Chinese interpreters who are experienced in high level conferences, so we had to book them 3 months in advance.
  • We asked the Chinese speakers to send their presentations in advance. Unfortunately, the presentations they sent differed from ones they held at the conference. Although our interpreters were rather taken aback, they managed the situation very well, and no one from the audience noticed that the interpreters were actually seeing the presentations for the first time.
  • One of the speakers proved quite a challenge: he spoke very fast (simply reading out his speech) and did not speak Mandarin, but some local dialect. The interpreters did their best to follow him, but they finally they asked the speaker to slow down and speak Mandarin.

Thanks to the professionalism of our interpreters, the audience did not notice these difficulties at all, and some people even came up to us to congratulate us on the high level of interpreting.

Our company only works with highly professional interpreters; most of them are accredited to the European institutions. This way we ensure that the quality of interpreting is very high and our clients are always satisfied with the outcome of their events.

Translating success stories for the InvestEU website

Our company is delighted to have been selected as a translation subcontractor in the InvestEU project, funded by the European Commission. The project offers support for SMEs and entrepreneurs from all over Europe to help them turn their innovative and smart ideas into reality. We have translated various communication materials, factsheets and articles into all official EU languages.

However, I would now like to talk about the success stories that we have translated from the EU languages into English. The InvestEU website ( collects stories of successful SMEs and entrepreneurs from across Europe, showing how these SMEs became successful on receiving EU support for their businesses. The website is a great opportunity to showcase good examples for other SMEs and entrepreneurs and encourage them to apply for EU funds.

However, this project was special in that we received the stories for translation continuously, both singly and in batches, and the source language was always different. It could be Bulgarian, German, Spanish, Greek, etc. We had to make sure that our English translators were ready to start any time, since the turnaround time for a story was 48 hours.

Since every project story is country specific, we had to be very careful to ensure that the translations were culturally adapted to the original text.

The style of the translations is also of key importance, since the originals were written in a very simple and easy-to-read style. We had to avoid complicated and passive phrases.

We used native English speaker translators. For translations from the same source languages, we preferred to work with the same translators in order to ensure the same style throughout all the project stories. Each translation was proofread by a second native speaker translator. Following translation and proofreading, we conducted a 2-level quality assurance process. During this process, we had to harmonize the terminology and punctuation of all the translations, since a Bulgarian into English translator might use different terminology and punctuation than a German into English translator. It is the task of our Quality Assurance team to harmonize translations.

We also had to make the translations SEO friendly, since the stories are published on a website.

And now a few words about how challenging it is to translate local names or characteristics. One of the stories was about a ‘Mangalica farm’ in Hungary. ‘Mangalica’ is a type of pork in Hungary; however, the question arose whether everyone would understand ‘Mangalica’. How should we translate it into English? …. Well, if you want to know the result and read an interesting story about the success of a farm in Hungary, check it out at the InvestEU website. You will find other interesting projects there as well.

Finally, since every project showcased was unique in its own way, it was quite challenging to translate them. But at the same time, it was a great experience (and still it is, since the project is still ongoing), and we are glad that we are able to make a small contribution through our translations to the InvestEU campaign.

Why we should learn German – by John le Carré

To help make the European debate decent and civilised, it is now more important than ever to value the skills of the linguist.

I began learning German at the age of 13, and I’m still trying to explain to myself why it was love at first sound. The answer must surely be: the excellence of my teacher. At an English public school not famed for its cultural generosity, Mr King was that rare thing: a kindly and intelligent man who, in the thick of the second world war, determinedly loved the Germany that he knew was still there somewhere.

Rather than join the chorus of anti-German propaganda, he preferred, doggedly, to inspire his little class with the beauty of the language, and of its literature and culture. One day, he used to say, the real Germany will come back. And he was right. Because now it has.

Why was it love at first sound for me? Well, in those days not many language teachers played gramophone records to their class, but Mr King did. They were old and very precious to him and us, and he kept them in brown paper bags in a satchel that he put in his bicycle basket when he rode to school.

What did they contain, these precious records? The voices of classical German actors, reading romantic German poetry. The records were a bit cracked, but that was part of their beauty. In my memory, they remain cracked to this day:

Du bist wie eine Blume – CRACK – So hold und schön und… – CRACK (Heinrich Heine)

Bei Nacht im Dorf der Wächter rief… – CRACK (Eduard Mörike’s Elfenlied)

And I loved them. I learned to imitate, then recite them, crack and all. And I discovered that the language fitted me. It fitted my tongue. It pleased my Nordic ear.

I also loved the idea that these poems and this language that I was learning were mine and no one else’s, because German wasn’t a popular subject and very few of my schoolmates knew a word of it beyond the Achtung! and Hände hoch! that they learned from propaganda war movies.

But thanks to Mr King, I knew better. And when I decided I couldn’t stand my English public school for one more day, it was the German language that provided me with my bolt-hole. The year was 1948. I couldn’t go to Germany, so I went to Switzerland and at 16 enrolled myself at Bern university.

And in Switzerland, instead of Mr King, I had another admirable teacher in Frau Karsten, a stern north German lady with grey hair in a ponytail, and she, like Mr King, rode a bicycle, sitting very upright with her grey hair bobbing along behind her.

So it’s no wonder that when later I went into the army for my national service, I was posted to Austria. Or that after the army I went on to study German at Oxford. And so to Eton, to teach it.

You can have a lot of fun with the German language, as we all know. You can tease it, play with it, send it up. You can invent huge words of your own – but real words all the same, just for the hell of it. Google gave me Donaudamp-fschiffsfahrtsgessellschaftskapitän.

You’ve probably heard the Mark Twain gag: “Some German words are so long they have a perspective.” You can make up crazy adjectives like “my-recently-by-my-parents-thrown- out-of- the-window PlayStation”. And when you’re tired of floundering with nouns and participles strung together in a compound, you can turn for relief to the pristine poems of a Hölderlin, or a Goethe, or a Heine, and remind yourself that the German language can attain heights of simplicity and beauty that make it, for many of us, a language of the gods.

And for all its pretending, the German language loves the simple power of monosyllables.

The decision to learn a foreign language is to me an act of friendship. It is indeed a holding out of the hand. It’s not just a route to negotiation. It’s also to get to know you better, to draw closer to you and your culture, your social manners and your way of thinking. And the decision to teach a foreign language is an act of commitment, generosity and mediation.

It’s a promise to educate – yes – and to equip. But also to awaken; to kindle a flame that you hope will never go out; to guide your pupils towards insights, ideas and revelations that they would never have arrived at without your dedication, patience and skill.

To quote Charlemagne: “To have another language is to possess a second soul.” He might have added that to teach another language is to implant a second soul.

Of course, the very business of reconciling these two souls at any serious level requires considerable mental agility. It compels us to be precise, to confront meaning, to think rationally and creatively and never to be satisfied until we’ve hit the equivalent word, or – which also happens – until we’ve recognised that there isn’t one, so hunt for a phrase or circumlocution that does the job.

No wonder then that the most conscientious editors of my novels are not those for whom English is their first language, but the foreign translators who bring their relentless eye to the tautological phrase or factual inaccuracy – of which there are far too many. My German translator is particularly infuriating.

In the extraordinary period we are living through – may it be short-lived – it’s impossible not to marvel at every contradictory or unintelligible utterance issuing from across the Atlantic. And in marvelling, we come face-to-face with the uses and abuses of language itself.

Clear language – lucid, rational language – to a man at war with both truth and reason, is an existential threat. Clear language to such a man is a direct assault on his obfuscations, contradictions and lies. To him, it is the voice of the enemy. To him, it is fake news. Because he knows, if only intuitively, what we know to our cost: that without clear language, there is no standard of truth.

And that’s what language means to a linguist. Those who teach language, those who cherish its accuracy and meaning and beauty, are the custodians of truth in a dangerous age.

And if they teach German – and teach it in this my beleaguered country – they are quite particularly to be prized, all the more so because they are an endangered species. Every time I hear a British politician utter the fatal words, “Let me be very clear”, these days I reach for my revolver.

By teaching German, by spreading understanding of German culture and life, today’s honorands and their colleagues will be helping to balance the European argument, to make it decent, to keep it civilised.

They will be speaking above all to this country’s most precious asset: its enlightened young, who – Brexit or no Brexit – see Europe as their natural home, Germany as their natural partner, and shared language as their natural bond.

After studying in Switzerland and national service, John le Carré (aka David Cornwell) was posted to the British Embassy in Bonn as a Second Secretary, and then went on to Hamburg as British Consul. This text was originally part of a speech given by le Carré at an award ceremony at the German Embassy for German teachers on 12 June.

Source: The Guardian

The beauty of translating chemical texts

As a translation agency originally specialized in EU affairs and politics, our core business used to be translating EU politics and related documents, reports and websites.

We first translated an SDS (Safety Data Sheet) in 2012, into 7 EU languages.

Due to the complexity of the topic, we analysed the text and concluded that it was not a simple chemistry translation. We had to use the related EU regulations and guidelines in order to be able to translate the text properly. Because of our vast experience with EU related topics, we managed to combine this know-how and the technical knowledge of our chemical translators. Our first “SDS-client” was extremely happy with the result, and they immediately started to recommend us to other companies in the chemical industry.

In order to continuously ensure the highest quality, we have developed a method for translating regulatory and chemical documents in a way that basically makes it impossible for there to be errors in the translation. We are quite aware that even one mistranslated word can have serious consequences.  Therefore, we have a 2-step Quality Assurance process, which ensures that problems such as possible mistranslations or missing text are sorted out and solved before delivering final results to our clients.

We have built up translation memories (a TM, or translation memory, is a database of translated passages, documents, sections of text and specialised or proprietary terms maintained to ensure high quality translations) for each of our clients. This means that if a text has previously been translated, our software will realize it and will recommend the translation. This method ensures consistency and cost efficiency, as we also provide a 60% discount for all matches with our translation memory. Therefore, it`s worthwhile to translate with us on a regular basis, as the unit cost of the translation will be cheaper and cheaper, the more units our clients translate.

Our team of project managers have become experts at managing chemical translations. Since 2012, we have translated about more dozen million words in this field, and today 37% of our turnover specifically arises from chemical texts. We can truly say that we are experts in the field.

If you have any chemical texts to translate, please do not hesitate to try us, we are happy to help.

Machines could soon be able to understand and summarize text for you

We humans are swamped with text. It’s not just news and other timely information: Regular people are drowning in legal documents. The problem is so bad we mostly ignore it. Every time a person uses a store’s loyalty rewards card or connects to an online service, his or her activities are governed by the equivalent of hundreds of pages of legalese. Most people pay no attention to these massive documents, often labeled “terms of service,” “user agreement” or “privacy policy.”

These are just part of a much wider societal problem of information overload. There is so much data stored – exabytes of it, as much stored as has ever been spoken by people in all of human history – that it’s humanly impossible to read and interpret everything. Often, we narrow down our pool of information by choosing particular topics or issues to pay attention to. But it’s important to actually know the meaning and contents of the legal documents that govern how our data is stored and who can see it.

As computer science researchers, we are working on ways artificial intelligence algorithms could digest these massive texts and extract their meaning, presenting it in terms regular people can understand.

Can computers understand text?

Computers store data as 0’s and 1’s – data that cannot be directly understood by humans. They interpret these data as instructions for displaying text, sound, images or videos that are meaningful to people. But can computers actually understand the language, not only presenting the words but also their meaning?

One way to find out is to ask computers to summarize their knowledge in ways that people can understand and find useful. It would be best if AI systems could process text quickly enough to help people make decisions as they are needed – for example, when you’re signing up for a new online service and are asked to agree with the site’s privacy policy.

What if a computerized assistant could digest all that legal jargon in a few seconds and highlight key points? Perhaps a user could even tell the automated assistant to pay particular attention to certain issues, like when an email address is shared, or whether search engines can index personal posts. Companies could use this capability, too, to analyze contracts or other lengthy documents.

To do this sort of work, we need to combine a range of AI technologies, including machine learning algorithms that take in large amounts of data and independently identify connections among them; knowledge representation techniques to express and interpret facts and rules about the world; speech recognition systems to convert spoken language to text; and human language comprehension programs that process the text and its context to determine what the user is telling the system to do.

Examining privacy policies

A modern internet-enabled life today more or less requires trusting for-profit companies with private information (like physical and email addresses, credit card numbers and bank account details) and personal data (photos and videos, email messages and location information).

These companies’ cloud-based systems typically keep multiple copies of users’ data as part of backup plans to prevent service outages. That means there are more potential targets – each data center must be securely protected both physically and electronically. Of course, internet companies recognize customers’ concerns and employ security teams to protect users’ data. But the specific and detailed legal obligations they undertake to do that are found in their impenetrable privacy policies. No regular human – and perhaps even no single attorney – can truly understand them.

In our study, we ask computers to summarize the terms and conditions regular users say they agree to when they click “Accept” or “Agree” buttons for online services. We downloaded the publicly available privacy policies of various internet companies, including Amazon AWS, Facebook, Google, HP, Oracle, PayPal, Salesforce, Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp.

Summarizing meaning

Our software examines the text and uses information extraction techniques to identify key information specifying the legal rights, obligations and prohibitions identified in the document. It also uses linguistic analysis to identify whether each rule applies to the service provider, the user or a third-party entity, such as advertisers and marketing companies. Then it presents that information in clear, direct, human-readable statements.

For example, our system identified one aspect of Amazon’s privacy policy as telling a user, “You can choose not to provide certain information, but then you might not be able to take advantage of many of our features.” Another aspect of that policy was described as “We may also collect technical information to help us identify your device for fraud prevention and diagnostic purposes.”

We also found, with the help of the summarizing system, that privacy policies often include rules for third parties – companies that aren’t the service provider or the user – that people might not even know are involved in data storage and retrieval.

The largest number of rules in privacy policies – 43 percent – apply to the company providing the service. Just under a quarter of the rules – 24 percent – create obligations for users and customers. The rest of the rules govern behavior by third-party services or corporate partners, or could not be categorized by our system.

The next time you click the “I Agree” button, be aware that you may be agreeing to share your data with other hidden companies who will be analyzing it.

We are continuing to improve our ability to succinctly and accurately summarize complex privacy policy documents in ways that people can understand and use to access the risks associated with using a service.

Source: World Economic Forum

The Fasctinating Facts Behind the Creation of Fictional Languages

In these 2+1 videos (the +1 will be a surprise at the end of this post) you can take a deeper look into the process how fictional/fantasy languages can be created.

Like almost all studies and articles related to this topic, we must start with the grandfather of all these language inventing methods, J.R.R. Tolkien. As explained in the following video, J.R.R. Tolkien was very consequent; being a linguist he knew all the important features of human languages in general, and took these into account. The video explains it very interestingly and thoroughly from the vocabulary to grammar rules, not forgetting the geographical and diachronic aspects that effect every language in our world – and in any fantasy world. It also analyses the Navi’ language (the one the main characters speak in Avatar), Star Trek’s Klingon and Dothraki spoken in Game of Thrones.

But if we go further, we must see that if J.R.R. Tolkien have been the grandfather of the idea of inventing fantasy languages, it must mean, his “children” and “grandchildren” developed his methods and invented new ones, bringing in new points of views, and so on. Accordingly, on the below video you can learn more about how many aspects you have to consider to invent a language. For example, you have to know the people using it, these people’s habits, their origins – even if they are only fictional! (Furthermore, the video is also about the communities of non-fictional people using these languages enthusiastically.)

And the surprise we promised: J.R.R. Tolkien speaking Namárië language fluently:

Additionally, we should certainly not forget that all of these amazing people put loads of effort to reach the level of being able to construct fictional languages. Mark Okrand, who invented Star Trek’s Klingon, has a PhD in linguistics from Berkeley, and Paul Frommer, the creator of Na’vi, is professor emeritus of clinical management communication at the University of Southern California.

Source: Noemi, author at Babelproject

A Harvard linguist reveals the most misused words in English

Some languages, like French, have an official body that decides how words can and cannot be used.

English, as a flexible, global language, has no such designated referee.

Therefore, there is no definitive answer to whether you’re using a word “correctly.”

It’s all a matter of taste and context. But there are opinions. And some count more than others.

Steven Pinker is probably as good an expert to ask as anyone. Helpfully, the renowned Harvard linguist and best-selling author recently wrote a book, titled “The Sense of Style,” that aims to help readers improve their use of the English language.

If you’re in the market for an update to, old Strunk and White, it’s probably a good buy. But if you just want to spot-check that you’ve not been making embarrassing language mistakes for years, a monster list of 58 commonly misused phrases covered in the book that recently appeared in the UK’s Independent newspaper is probably a good place to start.

Here are some highlights:

  • Adverse means “detrimental.” It does not mean “averse” or “disinclined.” Correct: “There were adverse effects.” / “I’m not averse to doing that.”
  • Appraise means to “ascertain the value of.” It does not mean to “apprise” or to “inform.” Correct: “I appraised the jewels.” / “I apprised him of the situation.”
  • Beg the question means that a statement assumes the truth of what it should be proving; it does not mean to “raise the question.” Correct: “When I asked the dealer why I should pay more for the German car, he said I would be getting ‘German quality,’ but that just begs the question.”
  • Bemused means “bewildered.” It does not mean “amused.” Correct: “The unnecessarily complex plot left me bemused.” / “The silly comedy amused me.”
  • Cliché is a noun, not an adjective. The adjective is clichéd. Correct: “Shakespeare used a lot of clichés.” / “The plot was so clichéd.”
  • Data is a plural count noun not, standardly speaking, a mass noun. [Note: “Data is rarely used as a plural today, just as candelabra and agenda long ago ceased to be plurals,” Pinker writes. “But I still like it.”] Correct: “This datum supports the theory, but many of the other data refute it.”
  • Depreciate means to “decrease in value.” It does not mean to “deprecate” or to “disparage.” Correct: “My car has depreciated a lot over the years.” / “She deprecated his efforts.”
  • Disinterested means “unbiased.” It does not mean “uninterested.” Correct: “The dispute should be resolved by a disinterested judge.” / “Why are you so uninterested in my story?”
  • Enormity refers to extreme evil. It does not mean “enormousness.” [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.] Correct: “The enormity of the terrorist bombing brought bystanders to tears.” / “The enormousness of the homework assignment required several hours of work.”
  • Hone means to “sharpen.” It does not mean to “home in on” or “to converge upon.” Correct: “She honed her writing skills.” / “We’re homing in on a solution.”
  • Hung means “suspended.” It does not mean “suspended from the neck until dead.” Correct: “I hung the picture on my wall.” / “The prisoner was hanged.”
  • Ironic means “uncannily incongruent.” It does not mean “inconvenient” or “unfortunate.” Correct: “It was ironic that I forgot my textbook on human memory.” / “It was unfortunate that I forgot my textbook the night before the quiz.”
  • Nonplussed means “stunned” or “bewildered.” It does not mean “bored” or “unimpressed.” Correct: “The market crash left the experts nonplussed.” / “His market pitch left the investors unimpressed.”
  • Parameter refers to a variable. It not mean “boundary condition” or “limit.” Correct: “The forecast is based on parameters like inflation and interest rates.” / “We need to work within budgetary limits.”
  • Phenomena is a plural count noun — not a mass noun. Correct: “The phenomenon was intriguing, but it was only one of many phenomena gathered by the telescope.”
  • Shrunk, sprung, stunk, and sunk are past participles–not words in the past tense. Correct: “I’ve shrunk my shirt.” / “I shrank my shirt.”
  • Simplistic means “naively or overly simple.” It does not mean “simple” or “pleasingly simple.” Correct: “His simplistic answer suggested he wasn’t familiar with the material.” / “She liked the chair’s simple look.”
  • Verbal means “in linguistic form.” It does not mean “oral” or “spoken.” Correct: “Visual memories last longer than verbal ones.”
  • Effect means “influence”; to effect means “to put into effect”; to affect means either “to influence” or “to fake.” Correct: “They had a big effect on my style.” / “The law effected changes at the school.” / “They affected my style.” / “He affected an air of sophistication to impress her parents.”
  • Lie (intransitive: lies, lay, has lain) means to “recline”; lay (transitive: lays, laid, has laid) means to “set down”; lie (intransitive: lies, lied, has lied) means to “fib.” Correct: “He lies on the couch all day.” / “He lays a book upon the table.” / “He lies about what he does.”

It should be noted that while it’s always good to polish up your writing, one of the joys of language is that it isn’t fixed in time. It evolves. Nor is there a single “correct” style (in English, at least).

You’d neither connect nor impress if you chose your words like an Oxford don at a rap battle (though, actually, someone please make that YouTube video), and you’d be unlikely to get a job at an investment bank today speaking like Shakespeare. Why is this important? It’s easy to get too caught up in being perfectly “correct” and become a tedious language snob. Remember you probably want to come across as intelligent and thoughtful, not uptight and pedantic. So don’t get so worked up over the little things that you miss the larger point of good writing — to communicate clearly and engagingly with your chosen audience.

Source: Business Insider

Being fluent in 2 languages might literally change how you perceive time

Interesting article recently posted on

Being bilingual already has a long list of benefits. Research suggests that it boosts creativity and memory, strengthens multitasking and slows down the onset of dementia. But in case these benefits don’t already outweigh the monotony of memorizing grammar structures and vocabulary lists, here’s one more: Bilingualism seems to give us a more nuanced perception of time.

Scientists asked a group of Spanish-Swedish bilinguals to guess how much time passed after watching a container fill up with liquid or a line grow on a screen. When they asked the question using the word “duración” (spanish for “duration”), participants adjusted their time estimates according to the volume in the container, but not the length of the line on their screen. When scientists used the word “tid” (Swedish for “time”), estimates were shaped by how long the line grew, but not by how much the containers were filled.

Here’s why that’s cool: Despite our frenzied morning commutes or our 15-minute lunch breaks, the way time works is, in some ways, up to our culture and imagination.

“Language can creep into our perception and basically make us experience time in a very language-specific way,” Panos Athanasopoulos, a co-author on the study and a professor at Lancaster University in the U.K., said.

Athanasopoulos compared it to Arrival, a 2016 film about a linguist (played by Amy Adams) who tries to decipher an alien language. In the movie, the way the aliens talk about time gives them the superpower of seeing into the future — so, as Adams begins to understand their language, she also sees what’s next.

“Unlike Hollywood, we’re not claiming that bilinguals can see into the future, but learning a language really does rewire the brain,” Athanasopoulos said in a Skype interview. “Mentally going back and forth between different languages and ways of understanding time is actually brain training. You are sending your brain to the gym.”

Humans understand time spatially or in terms of quantities, but how that happens is largely up to the languages we speak. When discussing how long we rest, for example, Swedish and English speakers tend to say they took a “short” or “long” break while Greek and Spanish speakers will say they took a “small” or “big” one. English speakers say that the future “is ahead of us” and the past “is behind us,” but Aymara speakers say the opposite; the past is in front of us because it’s something we’ve already seen and experienced, whereas the future is still a mystery and therefore is behind us.

“Basically, [bilingualism] makes you aware that there are different perspectives out there and it makes you more flexible in adopting those perspectives,” Athanasopoulos said. A second language literally gives the brain more neural pathways (or connections) to work with.

Not too long ago, it was somewhat unpopular to think that language influences the way we see the world. In the 1960s and 1970s, American linguist Noam Chomsky’s theory that there’s a “universal grammar” among the world’s roughly 7,000 languages rose to popularity. Some started to believe that most languages were the same, barring small differences, and therefore language could not change the way we think. But decades of research couldn’t confirm it.

“The universalism idea kind of took it a little bit too far,” Athanasopoulos said.

So, as science tweaks the way we understand linguistics and our brains, we realize that we’re capable of seeing the world in new ways. All you have to do is learn a second language.

Author: Kelly Kasulis

Targeting German speakers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland

There are some differences in Standard German as used in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, mostly in style and syntax, but other than cultural specifics, much of the vocabulary is the same. In translating general topics, there is normally no need to cater individual variants. But marketing, social media or other direct types of content may need to be adopted for the different variants.

In general, terms related to finance, sports, culture or administration may need to be verified if they can be used in all 3 countries.

German is official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Lichtenstein.