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Whisky – Whiskey – Word of the day

For better or worse, Ireland, especially around St. Patrick’s Day, becomes known for and associated with one thing in particular: drinking. Unlike some countries which are synonymous with a certain spirit, such as England with gin, Scotland with Scotch whisky (note the different spelling), France with champagne, or Russia with vodka, Ireland is seemingly split between two: Guinness stout and Irish whiskey. Today, we’ll be focusing on the latter.

So, what makes whiskey Irish, and what makes an Irish whiskey? The word “whiskey” directly comes from the Gaelic uisge beatha, which is most likely a literal translation of the Medieval Latin aqua vitae (water of life). However, it is also thought that, much like the Russian word vodka, whiskey may come from the Old Irish word for water - uisce, which predates the Latin aqua vitae. Unfortunately, the exact definition of an Irish whiskey is just as muddled as the origin of the word. Though all whiskey produced in Ireland, aged 3 years, and of a minimum alcohol content is technically Irish whiskey, there are numerous differences and different styles of whiskeys. From continuously distilled unmalted grain whiskey to pot still whiskey, which can use either malted, unmalted, or both kinds of grain.

Aside from having an identity crisis, it’s been a long journey for Irish whiskey, and, after a prolonged decline, things are finally in the process of improving. In 1900, production of Irish whiskey reached approximately 12 million cases per year. Yet, thanks to Prohibition in the United States, wars at home, and trade disputes abroad, production had fallen to less than half a million cases by the 1970’s. Pernod Ricard reenergized Irish whiskey by purchasing the united Irish Distillers in 1988 and due to successfully marketing Irish whiskey abroad, it is now (and has been for over 2 decades) the fastest growing spirit in the world, with production estimated to hit 12 million cases again in 2018.

The first known use of the word notes the “effect” of the beverage and comes from a 1715 quote in James Maidment’s 1868 A Book of Scottish Pasquils, where it is written that “Whiskie shall put our brains in rage.” Looking at the local popularity of the spirit in 1753, The Gentleman’s Magazine states that, “In one dram shop only in this town [Dublin], there are 120 gallons of that accursed spirit, whiskey, sold.”

Though, considering the heart and soul of Ireland as well as St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps the best usage comes from a 1924 letter written by Hart Crane, which simply states that “As whiskey and soda was served I quickly revived.”





Gaelic – Word of the day

With St. Patrick’s Day being last month, many people globally indulged in what they know of Irish culture. However, for anyone visiting Ireland, you’re more likely to experience culture shock than cross paths with a leprechaun. Having the expectation that Ireland will be like the rest of the English-speaking world- using practically the same language with some differing localised terms and a different accent, many visitors to the Emerald Isle are shocked to encounter a language and a number of cultural traditions that are quite foreign. Much of what makes Ireland (as well as Scotland) different is due to the lasting influence of the language, traditions, and culture of today’s word - Gaelic.

Initially arriving in the English language as a term for the Scottish Highlanders who come from the ethnic group Gaels, the Gaelic language (and culture) actually came from Ireland. Thanks to the Ogham inscriptions, which are the oldest found use of Primitive Irish, Gaelic languages, expanding to include Irish, Scottish, and Manx, are known to have been used since at least the 4th century. Though English is now more widely spoken, thanks, in part, to Anglicisation and emmigration, Gaelic Ireland seems to be making a resurgence. Currently the language is being taught to the extent that 41% of the population of the Republic of Ireland consider themselves able to speak some Irish, and the language itself has been classified as a working language under EU guidelines.

The first mention of Gaelic in literature comes from a work titled The Historie of Scotland which was originally printed in 1596 in Scottish and translated from Latin by Father James Dalrymple: “Quhilke..commounlie is called..the Gathelik toung, albeit corrupetlie,” meaning “Them...commonly is called..the Gaelic tongue, albeit corruptly.” Writing for his 1791 novel The Life of Samuel Johnson, James Boswell references a 1755 letter where “It is affirmed, that the Gaelick [Gaelic] (call it Erse or call it Irish,) has been written in the Highlands and Hebrides for many centuries.”

Unfortunately, as mentioned before, there was a large decline in the usage of Gaelic in Ireland during the mid-19th century; however, thankfully, by the end of the century, the tide had changed, as an 1897 issue of The Gaelic Journal noted, “The influence exerted on the minds of the Irish-speakers..when they found people coming long order to learn Gaelic.”

So, perhaps, instead of succumbing to the pitfalls of Irish-themed celebration, you might better honor Irish culture by learning some Gaelic words.


Part III Ingredients for a Quality Translation: the In-House Environment

 In-House Environment

Ingredients for a Quality Translation: the In-House Environment - EVS Translations

In Part II (Ingredients for a Quality Translation: Translator Work Skills), we looked how a translator applies their linguistic skills in a real work situation. In Part III, we will see how does the in-house environment help to create a perfect translation.

In the translation industry, there are two kinds of translators: freelance and in-house. Many freelance translators do a fantastic job of supplying high-quality translations, but the benefits of in-house translation are also undeniable not only for the client, but also for the translator.

A unique characteristic of EVS Translations is its use of in-house translator teams. Individual translators receive six months of initial training overseen by a personal mentor, which includes:

  • Trados (standard industry translation software)

  • Quality assessment and quality control

  • Actual assisted translations

Our in-house structure and programme of continuous support is rare, to say the least. Having this in-house translator team is important for several reasons:


When a client needs a 20,000 word multilingual translation turning round in 4 days, we already have our teams in place. We don’t need to spend time assembling a team, and can very quickly assign a project to start work.


Schedules are arranged so that our translators work with the same client every time, which ensures consistency across projects. The translator is familiar with the client’s requirements in terms of client-specific style guides, terminology and, of course, the type of content to be translated.

Maintaining standards

Our translators have regular meetings with our in-house proofreaders to discuss any issues that arose during a translation project and feedback from the proofreader. This quality assurance process provides an opportunity for clear communication and a way to support the translator, which ensures high standards are maintained.

Access to resources

Our in-house translators have access to the latest industry software for translation and also in-house IT staff which can help with any technical problems. With this software, they can access translation memories from previous projects to ensure consistency of terminology.

These are the ways in which the in-house translation system ensures a quality outcome, and it’s clear also that it’s an effective way to work for the translator. In the in-house system, translators are properly supported in every aspect of their work and have everything they need at their fingertips. It is this kind of working environment that supports the production of high-quality translations.

Summing up this three part series

For any type of product, there is always a higher end and lower end version, and this is no different for the translation industry. Consumers should certainly be offered choice in terms of product and pricing, but they must also be aware that, in the same way as the supermarket brand tomato sauce and famous brand sauce, you get what you pay for. Now you are better informed about what constitutes a professional translation, you will be able to ask the right questions next time you receive quotes from translation providers and understand the ingredients you’re paying for.


Olympic Pentathlon – Word of the day

The Pentathlon has been the heart of the Olympic games for much longer than most would imagine. Starting from the Ancient Olympic Games, and other Panhellenic Games (sport festivals) of Ancient Greece to the Modern Olympics Pentathlon.

The name has a simple etymology and derives from the Greek words pente (five) and athlon (competition) and obviously names a competition which incorporates five different elements.

A pentathlon was first held at the 18th Ancient Olympiad around 708 BC, when wrestling was added to the other four sport elements - long jump (a standing jump, using two stone or metal weights), javelin throw (elder wood javelins, about the height of the athlete and thrown using a leather thong wrapped around the shaft), discus throw (to ensure fairness, three official bronze discuses were kept at Olympia) and running/stadion (usually a sprint of one length of the stadium).

The pentathlon was taking place on the second day of the Games and all the five events were held in the course of one afternoon. It is debatable how exactly the winner was declared, but most likely the rule was as simple as the first man to win three out of the five events or otherwise a final wrestling match was held among the leaders.

The pentathlon required and developed very great elasticity and strength of all parts of the body and was for a reason considered to be the climax of the Olympics, with the winner ranked as “Victor Ludorum”.

There are no certain evidences when the word pentathlon was firstly used in the English language to refer to five elements competition, but the first time it was included in a dictionary was in The universal English dictionary of 1706 with a meaning of: “an Exercise consisting of five Games or Sports.”

The founder of the Modern Olympics, Barn Pierre de Coubertin shared admiration for the Ancient Pentathlon and was the first to cheer when the event was introduced back at the 5th Olympiad in Stockholm (SWE) 1912. The official Olympic Games Stockholm briefing from that year describes the new Olympic event comprising the contemporary sports of: “.... duel-pistol, shooting..swimming..fencing..riding..cross-country race.”

36 years later, Ernest Bland in his Olympic Story acknowledged the Swedish Olympic Committee decision to welcome the Modern Pentathlon : “In 1912..they [the Committee] sought a test which would produce the best all-round sportsman in the world... The contest known as the Modern Pentathlon was the result”

In its current format, the Modern Olympic Pentathlon comprises: fencing, 200 m freestyle swimming, show jumping, and a final combined event of pistol shooting, and a 3200 m cross-country run and just like in Ancient Greece it is held in a one-day-format to crown only the best athletes.




Daylight Saving – Word of the day

Though the act of advancing the clocks with an hour means that spring can officially start and summer is on its way and days are getting longer and nights offer more lights to enjoy, it seems that most of us do not feel comfortable with the change and always find it harder to adjust to the summer time compared to adjusting back to the regular time transition.

Yes, indeed, the standard time is the winter one and the daylight saving was proposed back in 1895 by the New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson, who initially suggested a two-hours daylight saving shift, yet the DST was officially implemented in only 1916.

It has been a decade since the daylight saving time is messing up with our biological clocks. But it has already been 108 years since the British audience got introduced to the suggestion promoting the earlier use of daylight through the long Parliamentary Debates on The British Daylight Saving Bill. Of course, it was firstly received with mainly sarcasm by both the Parliament and the general pubic and its official text suggested a time change of an hour and 20 minutes, which to take place in 4 instalments per 20 minutes each. The initiator, William Willett, believed that this clocks' advancement would save £2.5m in lighting costs.

After the initial waves of scepticism and the after war reality, the Summer Time Act was successfully passed in 1916 (ironically, its initiator in Britain did not live to see his cause realised, as he died from influenza, maybe due to the luck of coals, an year before) to move the clocks forward for one hour from the 21st of May until October 1st.

And the next written reference into the English language comes from the day before, from the diary of Georgina Lee: “I have just been fulfilling the new Daylight Saving Law. Tonight is the night that everybody in the British Isles has to advance their clocks by one hour, to save daylight, electric or gas-light, and also coal. “

The Home Office and national newspapers advised on how the clocks shall be reset to GMT, as many at the time could not have their hands turned backwards so instead owners had to forward them by 11 hours.

And yesterday we have celebrated a century of British Summer Time, but it was not Britain the first to revert to DST, unsurprisingly the country which suffered most from the World War I, was in the biggest rush to conserve coal during winter time, so Germany and its ally Austria-Hungary were the first starting on 30 April 1916. And the United States adopted it two years later.

As the war times were fading, so was the DST, but with the outbreak of the WWII, Britain went even a step ahead in its efforts to save on energy by adopting the British Double Summertime with the clocks going one hour ahead of Greenwich in winter and two hours ahead in summer.

In 1968, the clocks went forward as usual in March, but without returning to GMT until 1917, this was the so called British Standard Time experiment. In 2002, The Summer Time Act set the clock change dates to the last Sunday of March and the last Sunday of October to comply with the European Directive, while currently in the USA daylight saving time starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November. But things were not always as strict, in the 50s and 60s each State could locally choose when to start and end the DST as desired which resulted in a year with 23 different pairs of DST and mass confusions.

Nowadays, 80 countries observe the DST plus some territories of additional nearly 70 countries, while 160 countries do not mess up with their clocks. After a century of daylight saving, the world is still divided and can not agree whether it is a good practice or not.




Good-enough mother – Word of the day

Good-enough mother

At the end of 2014, the Oxford English Dictionary entered over 500 news word and phrases into its dictionary. One of these was the term “Good-enough mother”.

Good-enough mother” is a term coined by Donald Woods Winnicott (April 1896 – 28 January 1971), an English pediatrician and psychoanalyst who influenced a significant change in attitudes towards motherhood during the first half of the twentieth century. He advocated a less regimented approach to raising children, which had been dictated by “experts”, stating that "It is when a mother trusts her judgment that she is at her best." Perhaps most importantly, Winnicott introduced the idea of the mother “failing” and encouraged women to put less pressure on themselves to be the perfect, devoted mother that the rulebooks and experts described. In an article for the International Journal of Psycho-analysis in 1953, he defined the term “good-enough mother” as follows: "[she]…starts off with an almost complete adaptation to her infant's needs, and as time proceeds she adapts less and less completely, gradually, according to the infant's growing ability to deal with her failure. Her failure to adapt to every need of the child helps them adapt to external realities". Winnicott believed that the good-enough mother did as much as was reasonably possible in terms of responding to her child’s needs, but accepted her “failures” (as her child might perceive them) as a natural part of encouraging her child on his path to independence.

Here in the twenty-first century, the debate surrounding when exactly a child is ready to face such “failures” and what those failure might be never ends. Mothers are inundated by “expert advice” regarding every detail of their child's upbringing. Every issue from what kind of mashed food you fed your baby (surely you only gave them organic?) to potty training is scrutinized, analyzed and criticized in the media and online these days. You only have to take part in an online discussion between new mums for a short while before you find yourself being condemned for feeding your child a cornflake before the age of six months (the rules say no solids before six months!) or letting your child have a lollipop at the supermarket to curb a tantrum (what a dreadful mother!) In many ways, it often feels like Winnicott's “good-enough mother” simply doesn’t make the grade – this is the age of the supermum.

And perhaps one such supermum was the mother photographed for the cover of Time Magazine in 2012. The photo showed the mum breastfeeding her three-year old son (who was stood on a chair) with the title "Are you mum enough?" The article inside discussed the latest "attachment parenting" trend which advocates extended breastfeeding into toddlerhood, sleeping with your child, wearing a baby in a sling rather than using a pushchair. Despite the many positive points of the theory, it divides women: some find it exhausting and simply not possible to maintain as part of a normal lifestyle, other women swear by it. But the sad thing, which was highlighted by the title on the Time Magazine cover, is that despite those wise words of Donald Winnicott many years ago, we are still living in a society where mums are constantly being questioned about their parenting choices and asked questions like "Are you mum enough?" Maybe some of us are not mum-enough, but we accept that we are good-enough mothers.



Ah, so – Word of the day

It’s perhaps a little surprising to note that the Japanese expression “ah, so” has made it into the Oxford English dictionary. Once used in the dialog of Western cinema when depicting an Asian person - usually old, with a long grey whispy beard – they can often be heard to say "ah, so” during conversation.

In the real world (that is, Japan), the expression “ ah, so ” is a common one - and has nothing to do with wise Chinese men.

In 1893, a writer for The Missionary Herald, a magazine for the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, made the following observation about Japanese conversation, which includes the expression “ah, so”: “Generally a Japanese says after every other word you say..Hoi, hoi, hoi.., ah! So desu ka. Naruhodo! so that you feel sure your hearer is giving attention to you.

“Ah, so” is an informal way to say “Is that right?” or (“Hai” is “Yes”, and “Naruhodo” “I see”). For formal conversation “Ah, so desu ka” is more appropriate. The article in the Missionary Herald was correct that Japanese people use expressions such as “hai” (not “hoi”), “ah, so desu ka” and “naruhodo" frequently during conversation, since it’s important to signal to the person talking that you are listening, thereby showing respect. If the listener doesn’t use these expressions during a telephone conversation, the speaker will soon say "moshi moshi?" (“hello?”) to check that the listener is still there. In English conversation an occasional “mmm…” or “uh-huh” might suffice, but in Japanese conversation, and certainly in a business context, mumbling sounds such as these would be considered rude.

For foreigners studying Japanese, learning the etiquette of business conversation can be a headache because strict rules governing speech and different grammar patterns and vocabulary are applied. The sign of a polished non-native Japanese speaker is an ability to switch from informal Japanese to polite Japanese with ease. Foreigners who work at Japanese companies will learn to adjust their language for the workplace – so it’s “ah, so desu ka” and definitely not “ah, so” when you’re talking to your boss.


Slogan – Word of the day

The fact that Mr. Kipling has “exceedingly good cakes” or that the British public should “keep calm and carry on” demonstrate the effectiveness of today’s word. While a slogan may not be as important as building a quality product- British Leyland had plenty of slogans- a well-known slogan can be highly important in creating brand awareness and the essential link with potential consumers.

To properly identify this word though, perhaps we might use a slogan that will be popularly used over the world today: Kiss me, I’m Irish. Originally, the term slogan, or previously “slogorne,” comes from the Gaelic sluagh-ghairm (army cry or the more familiar battle cry) that was used by the Scottish and Irish clans. Logically, this makes sense when you consider the intention of modern slogans to get a target group to understand and identify with a certain ideal or product through the use of a singular, effective phrase or visualisation.

Aside from their obvious importance in the business world, slogans can also be a force in shaping social and political issues. For example, few phrases have been able to capture the solidarity and mortification of recent terrorist attacks in Western Europe like “je suis Charlie”. Moreover, when talking about wealth disparity, few use the terms “rich and poor” anymore, while the slogan most often used is “the 1% and the 99%.” In politics, a slogan that sticks with people and excites the base of party supporters is essential: whether Labour’s “A Better Plan. A Better Future” slogan will translate into a better showing than some of the somewhat misguided and lukewarm slogans of 2010, like “Don't let him (Cameron) take Britain back to the 1980s,” remains to be seen.

When it originally arrived in English, the word maintained its source meaning, as can be seen in its first known usage by Gavin Douglas in a 1513 vernacular translation of Vergil’s Aeneid, “The slogorne, war-cry, or the watch cry.” According to James Maidment, the first usage of slogan in a non-traditional meaning occurred in 1704 in A Book of Scottish Pasquils, stating that “Your slogans are falsehood and plunder.” As time progressed though, the use of slogans has not diminished, as Lord Macaulay wrote in 1859, “The popular slogans on both sides were indefatigably repeated;” however, there’s always a risk of becoming overloaded, as Pritchett wrote in A Cab at the Door, “All sects have their jargon and Father, eager as an advertising man is for slogans, had picked them all up and lived by them.”




Part II Ingredients for a Quality Translation: Translator Work Skills

Ingredients for a Quality Translation: the Translator Work Skills

Ingredients for a Quality Translation: the Translator Work Skills - EVS Translations

In Part I (Ingredients for a quality translation: linguistic ability), we looked at how the linguistic ability of a professional translator might differ to that of an inexperienced translator.

In Part II, we will look beyond linguistic skills and think about work skills; that is, how translators apply their linguistic skills in a real work situation.

EVS Translations adheres to standard EN 15038:2006 which states that a translator must demonstrate the professional competences specified in the standard by meeting at least one of three requirements.

  • Advanced translation studies (recognised qualification)

  • Equivalent qualification in another specialisation plus a minimum of two years’ documented experience in translation.

  • At least five years of documented professional experience in translation.

The standard places emphasis on professional work experience because without the experience of applying linguistic skills to a professional project, a translator can still fall far short of the mark. Here are some of the work skills a professional translator must have:

Producing quality writing under time constraints (deadlines)

The translation industry is a deadline-driven industry. It is one thing to be able to effectively transfer information from one language to another (as discussed in Part I), but it’s a whole new skill to be able to do this under time pressure. Many inexperienced translators are defeated by tight deadlines, but a professional translator can work within the specified time frame, and still produce quality work.

Using Computer Assisted Translation tools (CAT tools)

Translators use translation software to maintain consistency of terminology. There are a variety of software packages available and different language providers will choose different brands according to their or their client’s requirements. A translator, therefore, gets used to working with different kinds of software and moves away from traditional "Word document" translation, which is only usually suitable for small projects.

Working with client-specific style guides, terminology and other reference materials

Translators have to learn to work according to the needs of the client. Translation is not just about what sounds natural, but what the client specifies as their company’s standard terminology. Failing to correctly work with client-specific style guides, terminology or reference materials can affect something as major as product branding if the terminology used doesn’t correspond with any other materials published by the client’s company.

All of the above skills are perfected by professional work experience and this is why the industry standard EN 15038:2006 places a strong emphasis on it. The standard defines expert translators not by the number of years they have spoken a foreign language, but by professional qualifications and/or solid professional experience, and this is for a simple reason: to guarantee quality.


Trousers – Word of the day

Yes, only last week it was Saint Patrick's Day, but today is already the time to put your casual trousers back on.

Wonder why we jumped from the all things Irish celebration to trousers? Let yourself be surprised, as trousers have much more to do with Ireland than most would suppose. Indeed, the word trousers is a borrowing of Irish and Scottish Gaelic.

Trousers is not among the easily recognisable Irish words encountered in the English language, but the term does originate from the Gaelic word triubhas. Just think of the Scottish Highland dance Seann Triubhas, which literally translates from Gaelic as Old Trousers, does it make sense now? When not, let us follow the meaning of the Gaelic word triubhas, described as: “An item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body and covering both legs separately.”, does it sound familiar enough?

The first written reference comes from 15th century Scottish scholar Whitley Stokes and his Irish Glosses, yet the first written description of full Irish attire, which leaves no place for doubt for the origin of the word trousers, comes from 1581 Calendar of State Papers of Ireland: ”They had each of them a hat, a leather jacket, a pair of hosen, which they called trowes [trousers], and a pair of brogue”

The Irish trousers were adopted into the English language only a few decades later and the first written reference clearly showcases the word's Irish origins. It was Shakespeare to be the first to embrace the Irish garment in Henry V, 1618, where Dauphin mocked Constable's appearance with the words: “ you rode like a Kern [a Gaelic soldier] of Ireland, your French Hose off, and in your strait trousers”.

Two and a half centuries later, the trousers were still acclaimed for their Gaelic origin, for example in Edward Gibbon's, 1776, The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire, the emperor Tetricus was described as: “dressed in Gaelic trousers”.

Yet the most colourful reference comes from a 17th century folklore wit, which goes in the spirit of - A jealous wife is like Irish trousers, always close to a man's bottom.

We would naturally wonder how a jealous man was described then, as women started to largely wear trousers only in the early 20th century.