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Executive – Word of the day

It was Geoffrey Chaucer who first used the word “execute” in the Knight’s Tale, the opening episode of his magnum opus The Canterbury Tales. Written probably between 1380 and 1392, the Knight’s Tale introduces themes of courtly love and ethical conduct that are further developed throughout the following episodes. Set in a world governed by divine providence, to execute in Chaucer’s context means to “carry out” or implement the destiny predetermined by God’s eternal wisdom.

A good 250 years later, in 1646, it was Thomas Browne who used the word “executive” for the first time in English. Browne used the term as an adjective in an extensive discussion on, believe it or not, hermaphroditism among man and animals. Browne wrote in book three of his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, recounting one of Aristotle’s theories on the matter, that some “endeavouring to prevent incontinency, they unawares enjoyned perpetual chastity; for being executive in both parts, and confined unto one, they restrained a natural power, and ordained a partial virginity” (162). After its introduction to the English language in a medical context, the term quickly entered the political discourse. Only one year after Browne published his Pseudodoxia Epidemica, Nathaniel Bacon’s treatise on government, the Historical Discourse of the Uniformity of the Government of England, stated that in times of peace “the executive power rested much in the nobility” (29). The book not only became a key work on the relationship between the governing and the governed, parliament and monarchy, and the rights of the people, but it also firmly inscribed the word “executive” in the political vocabulary of the English language.

Interestingly, however, this is not the end of the genealogy of the word executive. As a noun referring to the part of a government that enforces and supports the laws developed by the legislature and subsequently interpreted by the judicial branch, the term first appears in the drafting of the Constitution of the United States of America. More specifically, it was at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787 that the concept of an executive branch of government was first debated. James Madison, for instance, recorded in his notes on the debate that “the perfected union would probably consist of a legislature, of an executive and of a judiciary.”

Finally, the economic sense of an executive, a highly ranked person in a business organization, was introduced to English speakers in a book by George Horace Lorimer at the beginning of the last century. In his book Letters from a Self-made Merchant to his Son (1902), Lorimer’s main character John Graham, the head of a pork packaging company in Chicago, provides management advice to his son in a series of letters. Graham’s advice is to work hard and work your way up from the bottom because “there is plenty of room at the top here, but there is no elevator in the building” (3).



Kitsch – Word of the day


Kitsch - Word of the day - EVS Translations

The term “Kitsch” is a very recent invention. First used in a German poem in 1878 the term kitsch was meant to satirically describe a painting of questionable quality.  Linguists suspect that the term actually originated from the English word “sketch” which was used very frequently by wealthy American and British tourists travelling around Europe in the late nineteen-century hunting for old world art but all too often bought up badly drawn pictures on German flea markets instead.

After its inception in the 1870s, kitsch took almost another 50 years before the word entered the English language. It was used for the first time in a letter by Brian Howard, a flamboyant poet and member of the Eton Arts Society and model for Anthony Blanche in Brideshead Revisted. Howard writes that he had a good week “riding, chasing dogs and listening to “Kitsch” on the radio.” As is often the case with relatively new words in English, the term was first placed in inverted commas when it is used for the first time. The capital “K” indicates that it is taken directly from the German.

Subsequently, Kitsch founds its way inescapably into the English language. Probably the most important step in the process of putting the term on the linguistic map was an article by the American art critic Clement Greenberg entitled Avant-Garde and Kitsch (published in 1939). The article is well and truly about kitsch with the word appearing 53 times in the article. Greenberg defined Kitsch as “a product of the industrial revolution which urbanized the masses of Western Europe and America” and then gives a wide variety of examples of what constitutes Kitsch, including Hollywood movies, tap dancing, magazine covers and advertisements. Greenberg further write that “Kitsch pretends to demand nothing of its customers except their money -- not even their time.”


Beyond America’s Pastime

baseball translation servicesFor many years now, Americans have grown up familiar with the phrase “as American as hot dogs, baseball, and mom’s apple pie”. However, the truth is starting to become somewhat different. While two of the three are instances of Americans taking from other cultures - apple pie has its roots in England and the hot dog began as a frankfurter in Germany - baseball is the lone instance of an American game that has increasingly become a global game. Looking at the numbers from 2013’s Opening Day, 28.2% of all players on major league teams were born outside the USA, and in that percentage, 15 countries and territories were represented. From the first instance of baseball being played outside of the United States during the Mexican-American War in 1847, baseball has indeed grown into a viable “global” sport, with large fan bases across the Americas and the Pacific Rim.

With its proximity to the United States, it makes sense that America’s pastime would also be a major sport in the neighboring countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. (Moreover, now that football has taken the top spot from baseball in the United States over the last decade, it can easily be argued that baseball is in better condition in the Caribbean than in America itself!) While many Caribbean nations are too small to support a domestic league of their own (the main exception being Venezuela), they do provide a large pool of recruitable talent which draws scouts from Major League Baseball. The recruiting results have been very noticeable. The Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico have a combined population of slightly more than California. Yet combined, they are responsible for almost 20% of all MLB players (10.2%, 7.3%, and 2.3% respectively).

Outside the United States, the Pacific Rim, notably Japan, has the most advanced and developed league. But there are marked differences between the two. Currently, Nippon Professional Baseball has a limitation on roster positions for foreign born players. But it recently reached an agreement regarding player trades and movement with MLB. As for the game itself, there are subtle differences in playing field sizes and equipment, and there’s a noticeable difference in fan bases: North American teams are differentiated by location, but Japanese teams are differentiated by their owners or corporate sponsors.

Though we have discussed baseball’s position as a dominant sport in the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific Rim, baseball has also been growing in popularity in previously unexpected locations, such as South Africa, Oceania, and even in Europe. With growth coming from established as well as new markets, the ability to continue growing the game while attempting to navigate the differences in how the game is played as well as language and cultural barriers becomes increasingly difficult. For anyone involved in the game, from marketing and merchandising to scouting and recruitment, successfully communicating is essential, which makes the need for professional and reliable translation services vital.



Multilingual – Word of the day

The term multilingual relates to the presence and interaction of more than one language in a geographical region, political entity, or similar entity.  Accordingly, a multilingual person is an individual who is fluent in more than one language.

Multilingualism has, of course, existed since the beginning of time. The Rosetta Stone evidences the fact that multilingual documents have existed for thousands of years. The famous Rosetta Stone itself is more than 2000 years old and carries inscriptions in 3 languages – Hieroglyphics, Demotic and Greek. Following its discovery in 1799, the Greek and Demotic translations of the hieroglyphics allowed researchers to unlock the language of the ancient Egyptians.

Even though, multilingual documents existed since the beginning of writing,  it is only in January of 1838 that the word “multilingual” appeared in English for the first time,  and, believe it or not,  with negative connotations. Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country published a book review that opened with a Shakespeare quotation: “He hath been at a feast of languages, and hath carried of the scraps.” In the following article the reviewer concludes that “the art of multilingual quotation is no mark of reading.” The author of the reviewed book wanted to show how clever he was by quoting repeated in foreign languages.

Fortunately times have changed. Today, multilingualism predominantly carries a positive connotation and translates into real life economic advantages. A recent study concluded that those Americans who speak at least two languages will, on average, earn some USD 3,000 more per year than those who only speak one language. At the same time,  a Swiss study entitled Economics of the Multilingual Workplace (Grin, Sfreddo, Vaillancourt) found that a variety of positive economic and social factors are directly related to the multilingual ability of Swiss citizens – including Switzerland’s GDP. Switzerland currently has four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh).

In our increasingly globalized world, multilingualism is becoming both norm and necessity. In Germany, for instance, more than 50% of all German companies are held by non-German shareholders. Their annual reports have to be published in English and German, at the very least. In France, similarly, all of the annual reports of the top 40 companies are written in English and only 38 in French. It is fair to say that with the incredible amount of multilingual translations produced every day we have now entered the age of multilingualism.


Izakaya – Word of the day

Izakaya is the term for a Japanese pub. It was first used in Japanese in the 1750s and means “the house with alcohol” and is a popular and affordable venue for enjoying a casual drink with friends or an after-work drink with colleagues. Typically you pay for two hours or three hours of all in-eating or drinking or both and you can drink as much as you like during this time. Obviously this all-inclusive drinking was a good solution. Late night in Tokyo, rowdy university students make the most of a cheap night out and Japanese white collar workers can be found sitting around the floor level tables enjoying beer and snacks with their colleagues. This is a place for them to forget the stress of their long day and loosen the constraints of corporate life - at least for a few hours before they are back on the train heading out to the office.

The word izakaya only appeared in English in the Los Angeles Times which claimed that izakaya had already "taken a foot hold in Los Angeles and will be on the rise nationwide in time ". However, that was back in 1987, and this prediction has not yet come true.

Even though the British Airways magazine High Life introduced the word in 1993, the izakaya has not yet taken off. Perhaps now is the time. Just recently izakaya restaurants have opened in London. Who knows whether they are there to stay, but at least restaurants such as Kurobuta, Bimco and Flesh & Buns have arrived.

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Interpretation – Word of the day


Interpretation - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Interpreting means explaining something, to make the meaning clear. It is used every day, by everyone, making sense of what is perceived.

In the language business, a differentiation is made between translating the written word (= translation) and translating the spoken word (= interpreting). In general use there is often not much differentiation. This was then case when the words entered the English language, and is the case today.

The very first use of the word interpreting in English is the Wycliff translation of the Bible in 1382 which cites Peter who makes a wise comment that prophecies do not come true as a result of interpretation.

The first time the word is used in terms of the spoken word is again a Bible translation (this time the Tyndale version in 1562). The reference describes how foreigners visiting Jerusalem were able to understand those whom the Holy Spirit blessed with the ability to speak in foreign languages.

Yet another early translation of the Bible (the Coverdale version in 1535) makes use of the term in a description of Joseph talking to his brothers. Joseph, who had been separated for many years from his family and since become an Egyptian ruler, the right hand of Pharaoh, hid his identity from his brothers who did not understand him because “he spake to them by an interpreter”.

Simultaneous interpretation as a profession is relatively new. For many years, international conferences took place in the language of diplomats – French. It was the Peace Conference held in 1919 that changed this. Ironically enough the location was Paris where the League of Nations gave English the status as its second official language. Initially consecutive interpretation was used (i.e. one delegate speaks and then the interpreter interprets; then the delegate speaks again and the interpreter interprets again, in essence doubling the length of any meeting). It did not take long before simultaneous interpretation equipment was developed and deployed.  This cut back the length of conferences and a new career was born – the professional interpreter.

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Chinese in the Fortune 500 List – Interpretation

Hong KongIf China’s growing economic clout was in question, all one would need to do is to take a quick glance at the recently released Fortune 500 list. Presently, 100 of the top 500 global companies are Chinese companies. The list also includes another 5 entries from neighboring Taiwan and 4 from Hong Kong. While the two other major players on the index - the United States and Japan - see their number of representatives steadily declining (to 128 and 57 respectively), more and more Chinese companies enter the select group each year.

Though the sheer number of Chinese companies on the list as well as their revenue statistics is quite impressive, there is still room for improvement. Comparatively, mainland Chinese companies average $3.22 billion in profit. This is not only below the average revenue of $3.91 billion for Fortune 500 members, but also approximately half of the $6.24 billion in profits that the average US company listed on the index generates.

However, China is certainly closing the gap by producing some fast growing companies. Accordingly, we can expect to see the profit margins of Chinese companies increase as they streamline operations and implement more efficient and innovative workflows. The main reasons why American companies remain highly competitive is their ability to innovate and manage, either internally or externally, their production as a result of strong and constant competition.

As Chinese firms shed the legacy of state monopolization and regulation they will continue to increase their presence and influence among the biggest global players. This process will undoubtedly result in a growing Chinese economic presence in North America and Europe as well as a growing number of joint ventures between Western and Eastern economic partners. EVS Translations eliminates barriers for companies wanting to do business with Chinese corporations or entering joint ventures with Chinese partner firms. Over the past 20 years, EVS Translations has provided professional Chinese interpreters and translators to clients from all industry sectors and helped them to achieve smooth communication from sales agreements to board room meetings and trade shows.

If you are interested in our services and rates for Chinese interpretation and Chinese translation services, contact our US and UK translation offices today:

Atlanta office: +1 404-523-5560 or send us an email: quoteusa(at)
Nottingham office: +44-115-9 64 42 or send us an email: quoteuk(at)

Want to learn more about doing business in China? Read our guide on Chinese culture and business etiquette:



Translation – Word of the day


Translation - Word of the day

Translation means transferring something from one state into another. For example, the bones of a saint were removed from one church and put in another (“translation”), a holiday is switched from one day to another (“translation”) or a person is taken up directly to heaven from earth without dying (“translation”)

The word translation as transferring words and thoughts from one language to another related originally to the Bible. The first person to use it was Richard Rolle, himself a writer about religion and also a translator of the Bible. Now largely unknown, he was probably the No. 1 author in England throughout the 1300s and 1400s. As a result, he is one of the authors which contributed some of the most new words to the English language,

Almost 500 manuscripts of his works written before 1500 still exist. He wrote in Latin and English and translated between the two. An excellent example of this is his commentary on the Psalms which he wrote in Latin. He followed up on this with a translation of the psalms into English with an accompanying commentary in English. This was actually the first translation of any part of the Bible into English. He comments that “in the translation I follow the letter as mykyll as I may” - meaning that he will do the best he can. At the same time, he comes across the dilemma of the translator. How close should a translator keep to the text? How many explanations should a translator give? He states that he does not want to use strange English, but will attempt to write in a light fashion which can be easily understood.In this sense, a greeting to all translators and anyone who has read any translation.

At the same time, he adds that part of the idea is to ensure that his readers learn Latin words.

In this sense, a greeting to all translators and anyone that has read any translation.


World Champion – Word of the day

World Champion Germany

The German World Champions coming home! Berlin yesterday.

Champion was used very early in English. In the 1200s and 1300s it described an excellent fighter but it was only in the 1700s that it began to be used in relation to winners of a competition.

World championships were difficult to organise without air flight! Original references in the 1800s relate to boxing and billiard. Depending on how the counting goes the Olympic Games in 1896, there were 14 nations, but only 4 countries had more than 3 athletes. The first FIFA World Cup invited any country who wanted to participate to the first competition in Uruguay in 1930 and still managed to find only 13 participants. France was one of the 4 European teams (the others were Belgium, Romania and Yugoslavia) and they had a 15-day ship voyage just to get there. However, the organisers were FIFA - a Swiss-based organisation headquartered in a French-speaking part of Switzerland. This meant that the original competition was called the Coupe du Monde and the first time the phrase was actually used later was in 1934.

Things are different for the World Champions today. Germany won the FIFA World Cup on Sunday and on Tuesday the excellent football fighters flew into Berlin in an aircraft with special livery to present themselves to their excited German fans.

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Caviar – Word of the day

It is remarkable that the word caviar took so long to reach the language. After all the sturgeon had been declared a royal fish all the way back in 1324.

But it was only in Shakespeare’s Hamlet that the word caviar really comes into the English language. Hamlet talks to a group of actors and asks them to perform something for him out of a play which did not please the general public. Even at that early stage caviar was an acquired taste, which is not such a surprise if it was a royal privilege.

“I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted, or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleas'd not the million, 'twas caviare to the general.”

This was shortly after the word caviar appeared for the first time in English. It was used by Giles Fletcher, who went as English ambassador to Russia in 1588 and reported what he found when in Of the Russe Common Wealth which gives one of the earliest descriptions of Russia and Russians written in English. He writes about “Ickary” (ikra the Russia word for caviar) or “Cavery” which he writes is produced in great quantities on the Volga from the fish called beluga (the first time this word is used in English). In the same book, he also introduced the words boyar and Crimea Tartar into English.

At that time caviar was a luxury, as it is. But this was not always the case. In the USA, sturgeon used to be a very common fish in the rivers and caviar was served up in the bars to push liquor sales (a little like nuts today).  German immigrant Henry Schacht set up his own caviar business in Delaware in 1873 exporting it to Europe. There unscrupulous food merchants repackaged it as “Russian caviar” and sent it right back to the United States where it commanded a premium! Around about 1900 almost 90% of all caviar in the US was reimported.

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