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Farang – Word of the day

If you are a Caucasian who has travelled to Thailand or mingled with Thai communities, you have probably heard the word “falang” and it felt as if Thais were using it to refer to you. The feeling is correct as they were, indeed, talking about you. Why were you called a “falang”?

The word is actually farang (Thai people can not pronounce “r”, just think how their “sorry” apology sounds).

“Farang” derives from a Persian word with the same spelling and meaning of “Frank, European” and the story of the word takes us back to the Middle Ages, and the Germanic tribe of the Franks, followed by the Frankish Empire which ruled a large part of Europe and to the Crusades, when eventually the Arabic world referred to all Westerns and Central Europeans as Franks. And by mid 17th century, the language of the Franks was labelled as lingua franca.

Farang is a generic Thai word which meaning is defined in the 1999, Official Royal Dictionary of Thai words as “a person of white race” and, as we had already seen, with a fairly clear etymological origin. And it is only an urban myth that Thais use the word to name the big noses of Caucasians, which noses, by the way, they find quite fascinating.

The first contacts between Thai people and Europeans date back to the 15th century, to the Southeast Asian travels of the Venetian explorer Niccolò dei Conti and the Portuguese explorations.

British relations with Thailand date back to 1612, when only 75 years later an East Indian Company conflict led to the Siam-England war and the banning of the Brits from Siam (old name of Thailand). Anglo-Thai relations opened back with a treaty of alliance in 1826 and tradeliberalisation in 1855.

Farang = foreigner?

In 1852, Frederick Arthur Neale, in a description of the manners, customs, and laws of the Siamese, described a boat travel which led to a conflict with a self-proclaimed river guardian: “Do you Franks dare to break the laws of this country, and set my authority at defiance, in broad daylight? " I, who am the custom-house officer and reporter general, without whose permit no one is allowed to pass up this river!” The threads were accepted with amusement and the conflict solved by the guardian joining the boat trip. As the saying goes, “a smile can open every door and heart in Thailand”.

The first time the word farang appeared in print in the English language was in the 1860s, when describing his Travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China, supported by the Royal Geographical Society and the Zoological Society of London, the French naturalist Henri Mouhot pointed out how material gifts can help Thais better welcome farangs: “The priests were much surprised to see a ‘farang’ (foreigner) in their pagoda, but some trifling gifts soon established me in their good graces".


Spider – Word of the day

Spider - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Spider - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Even writing the word spider on a page can be enough to make a person who suffers arachnophobia shift with unease. What is it about these creatures, which live under the floorboards and scuttle across walls, that make many of us cringe with fear?
The word spider derives from the Old English word spinnan, which was the verb to spin. A spider, then, started out as a spiþra and it wasn't until 1592, in The Repentance of Robert Greene, that the modern spelling appeared: “They with the spider sucke poison out of the most pretious flowers”.



“To spin” means “to draw out and twist the fibers of a material into a thread or yarn”, so the verb transferred from its use for the human activity of weaving to the arachnid’s activity of creating or ‘spinning’ a web in which to catch its prey.

Perhaps it is, in part, because of the spider’s method of hunting down this prey that the spider suffers a bad reputation. They carefully and artfully construct their sticky trap, ensnare a fly and move towards the helpless beast, ready to devour it. Its elaborate trap with its victim left writhing in despair suggests a cunning mind. However, this is, most likely, an over-emotional or irrational response to the life of the spider. In the famous science fiction novel Do androids dream of electric sheep? (1968), Philip K. Dick writes about empathy, intelligence and the spider explaining, "A solitary organism, such as the spider, would have no use for [empathy]; in fact it would tend to abort a spider’s ability to survive. It would make him conscious of the desire to live on the part of his prey…the emphatic gift [blurs] the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated”. After all, it is the poor spider, towards the end of this novel, which has its legs picked off by the female character Pris, simply for fun.

But for those of us with arachnophobia, of course, there is more to our fear than the spider’s devious hunting tactics. There is something inexplicably ghastly about its form. How can a shape be so repulsive? Why is its hurried movement so vile? There may be no logical answer, and so, with that, it’s time to look away from today's Word-of-the-day entry and regain some composure.


Phobia – Word of the day

A phobia is a type of anxiety disorder. The different types of phobias are wide-ranging and many people are affected by at least one of them to a greater or lesser degree. If necessary, they can be treated with specialist therapies including, for example, a course of gradual desensitization (if you suffer from something like ophidiophobia, which is the fear of snakes), or with psychotherapy or cognitive behavioral therapy if the phobia is more complex (such as social phobia).

The word phobia derives from the Greek word phobos, meaning fear. Phobos passed into Latin to become phobia, and the first recorded phobia was hydrophobia. In 1547,   the English physician and writer Andrew Borde wrote his book The breuiary of helthe and explained: “ an abhorrence of water... This impediment does come..of a melancoly humour”. But why would someone fear water? If they were suffering from rabies. An entry in the Penny Cyclopaedia (1838) offers a more detailed account of the condition: “Hydrophobia, the disease caused by inoculation with the saliva of a rabid animal, and is so called from the violent and suffocating spasms of the throat which occur when the patient attempts to drink” (XII. 399/2). In this case, then, the fear was very real since water, or any other kind of liquid, represented a legitimate danger to the victim. Since then, however, the meaning of phobia has changed somewhat and it now mostly refers to a fear that is irrational. In 1786, a writer for Columbian Magazine, one of the US’s first successful magazines, described the general phenomenon of phobias as: “[the] fear of an imaginary evil, or [the] undue fear of a real one” (Nov. 110/1). This was, incidentally, the first time that the word phobia, without reference to hydrophobia, first appeared in print.

So, starting with hydrophobia, we started to add other Greek, Latin and English elements to the word phobia to bring us today’s wide range of phobias which include claustrophobia and, more bizarrely, omphalophobia – a fear of navels. Agoraphobia – the fear of open or crowded places – appeared in print in 1871, and arachnophobia first appeared in 1925 in the Scottish journal Blackwood's Magazine: “Still, as an antidote to nightmare, especially in the form of arachnophobia, I have no doubt it proved ‘a sovran remedie’” (Aug. 198/1). A more recent kind of phobia which is on the rise is somniphobia. Somnus comes from the Latin word for sleep and so you have the fear of sleep. While many of us might appreciate the prospect of a sound night’s slumber, it seems that for some, this activity causes anxiety for a variety of reasons: the fear of recurring nightmares, of never waking up or of sleepwalking, or a general dislike of the loss of control.

Some, then, will find that there phobia is debilitating and disruptive to their lives, but for most of us we live begrudgingly with our phobia, being confronted by it only once in a while: when that moment of panic strikes, the heart beat quickens and skin flashes cold, but we escape the situation and move on with our day.


Truffle – Word of the day

Truffle – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Truffle – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Regardless of whether you know them as the fungus that grows underground at the base of a tree in the forest or the delectable confectionery, the word itself defines an object that virtually everyone associates with luxury and decadence. While the sweet as well as the savoury uses for this word do have some things in common, such as a higher price, time consuming production/extraction, and both truffles and chocolate being considered an aphrodisiac, the similarities end there. Before going on though, let’s get one fact out of the way: the chocolate confection, much like creating marzipan fruit to resemble real fruit, was named after the fungus.

The word truffle first appears in English in the late 16th century. Like many culinary words, it comes to us via the Middle French trufle, which many believe to be an extension of the Latin tuber/tufer-, meaning “lump” or “swelling.” Conversely, there’s also another probable theory which states that the word has an association in the Italian tartuffo (Milanese tartuffel), meaning "potato," due to the visual likeness. Beyond the use of words though, truffles have long been enjoyed: the neo-Sumerians mentioned the Amorites eating them in the 20th century BC.

Truffle - a rare delicacy

Still, the one aspect that resonates with with many people is the price. So, why are both kinds of truffles so expensive? For the fungus, the expense derives from the difficulty of actually locating them- only certain animals, like pigs, dogs, and goats, can be trained to recognise the specific scent associated with truffles and, until the 1800’s, truffles were not effectively, domestically cultivated. Moreover, the fact that they were a rare delicacy meant that they were often reserved for the wealthy and noble, notably, Francis I of France, thus increasing their status. As for the confectionery truffle, the expense comes from the difficulty of creating them: until recently, chocolate truffles could not be machine-worked due to the heat and risk of melting, meaning that all were hand-made, thus more time-consuming.

The first known use of the word truffle in English appears in 1591, in Christopher Cattan’s The Geomancie, where he writes that, “The Topas and the Truffle have power of Chastity, and to subdue the flesh,” which is slightly ironic considering the truffle’s amorous reputation. A century later, in 1692, John Ray gives some welcomed insight into truffle hunting in The Wisdon of God, writing, “By tying a Cord to the hind leg of a Pig, and driving him before them..observing where he stops and begins to root,..they are sure to find a Truffle.” Finally, beyond the fungus, writer and painter Denton Welch clearly explains the allure of the chocolate truffle in his coming-of-age work, 1944’s In Youth is Pleasure, expounding, “He imagined the aromatic acrid dust..sticking to [the heart] and coating bright-coloured bitter cocoa powder clings to the rich dark truffle.”


Whirling Dervish – Word of the day

Whirling Dervish – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Whirling Dervish – Word of the day - EVS Translations

While for most of us the chance to achieve some enlightening through dancing routines might only work out as a result of serious alcohol consumption and that before we even dear hit the dance floor. And as a result of the intoxication our movements would be anything but harmonic, for Sufis (followers of the inner mystical dimension of Islam, the Sufism) - body movements following the tempo of a given music lead to a state of complete harmony of interior and exterior worlds, with other words a spiritual drunkenness.


We might examine Sufism in-detail in a future entry, as today are focusing strictly on the Dervish Sufi Order. The name dervish derives from the Persian word darvish "beggar, poor," hence "religious mendicant;" “ascetic” as dervish live an ascetic life and many of them have taken a vow of poverty. And the whirling dervishes are simply an Order among many.

The history of the whirling dervishes starts from the Mevlevi order, founded in 13th century by the son and followers of the Sufi theologian – Rumi, who believed passionately in the use of music, poetry and dance as a path for reaching God. The Order of the Whirling Dervishes was set in Konya (in nowadays Turkey), where Rumi spent most of his life and was occasionally seen whirling in ecstatic joy in the streets. The place - which preserves Rumi's spirit and body (The Mevlana mausoleum holds the tomb of Rumi, along with those of his family, descendants and dozens of Mevlevi sheiks- leaders of the Order) is a must-visit for everyone who is interested in Sufism.

The Sema ceremony (from the Arabic sama to the Turkish sema, meaning listening) – the practice of whrling as a form of remembrace of God, was proclaimed by UNESCO as one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. But that happened in only 2005, 90 years after the Turkish government passed a law which dissolved the Sufi Order and banned the dervish ceremonies, which in 1950 were allowed to perform only once a year in Konya during the December Mevlevi festival. 40 years ago, dervishes were, for the first time, permitted to travel to the West and fascinate with their mystical believes and whirling ceremonies.

Whirling Dervish in travel books

Obviously, back in times, the only way Westerns could learn about the existance of dervishes was through travel books. The first time the word dervish was presented to the English readers, was back in 1585, in the English translation of Thomas Washington of the Turkey voyage book of Nicholas Nicholay Daulphinois. Daulphinois, Lord of Arfeuile, a chamberlaine and geographer to the King of France named the dervishes as the third sect of the Turkish muslims who live in devotion and ascetism.

The first Englishman, to refer to the order of the whirling dervishes and their dancing cderemony, was the geographical editor and compiler Samuel Purchas, who ironically was only an armchair traveler. 1626, Pilgrimes: “An order of Dervishes, that turn around with music in their devine service.”

One of Rumi's most famous writings is his invitation to a Sema ceremony:

Whoever you may be, come

Even though you may be

An infidel, a pagan, or a fire-worshipper, come

Our brotherhood is not one of despair

Though you have broken

Your vows of repentance a hundred times, come.

We have all been invited to whirle in Sema (traditioanlly only men can dance as Whirling Dervishes, but that is beginning to change) – a harmony of music (most traditionally tambourine, bells, flute), poetry and dance (counter-clockwise whirling with arms raised towards heaven) which accompany the mystical journey of man's spiritual ascent through mind and love to perfection and extasy.


Elixir – Word of the day

Elixir – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Elixir – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Elixir is definitely not a word which we use on a daily-basis. But every time when we come across it, the associations are as fancy as can be. A regular liquid can be named an elixir only by creative marketers, but for those of us not working in marketing departments, the word brings images of small bottles in fancy shapes containing liquids in bright colours with some magical abilities. (Just think of all the Drink me portions in Alice in Wonderland.)

The history of the word elixir will not disappoint our expectations, as, indeed, is related to magic.


The word is believed to originate from the late Greek xerion, literally translating as “powder for drying wounds” and obviously used as a medical remedy to help heal opened wounds.

Elixir, as a word, was firstly used around 7th century A.D. in Mediaeval Latin as a direct derivative from the Arabic word for a substance with miracle abilities, named "al iksir".

The first usages were related to biblical texts and referred to the Water or Fountain of Life.

Who wants to live forever? Raise your hands. The elixir of the eternal life to serve as a panacea for all illnesses, and even able to create life or revive youth was sought to be discovered since the human kind existed and was always covered in mystic – all myths named a fancy combination of factors to be fulfilled, e.g. drinking it from a certain vessel, at a certain time and under certain conditions – maybe a once in 1000 years opportunity.

Most of the actual attempts, in different cultures, led to non-magical collateral damages, for example numerous Chinese emperors are known to had died as a result of mercury-enhanced elixir poisoning.

But what would be an eternal life worth if spent in poverty? And here we come to the search of the Philosopher's stone – alchemists trying to ensure the eternal life would also be a wealthy one. The legendary alchemical substance, among from ensuring immortality, had to also turn the owner into a fortunate King Midas. The Magnum Opus (the Great Work) was the alchemical term for the process of creating the philosopher's stone and was indeed a great and lengthy work, with the first written references to attempts dating to 300 AD.

A 13th-century, the scientist and philosopher Albertus Magnus, in his writings recorded that had witnessed the creation of gold, but it is only a legend that he had actually discovered the substance able to convert base metals into gold.

Elixir - legend

The first written reference to the word elixir, into the English language is of course related to the search of the Philosopher's stone and the contradiction to the religious dogma and comes from 1386, from Geoffrey Chaucer's Canon's Yeoman Tale.

We will end the gold fever with a 1676 lines of wisdom, Matthew Hale Contemplations moral and divine: “A Good Man is like the Elixir, it turns Iron into Gold. “

In the last 5 centuries, the term elixir came to name a medical tincture with more than one base (Joseph Du Chesne , The practise of chymicall, and hermeticall physicke , 1605 “[Mercury, sulphur, and salt]..brought into one body (which the Arabians call elixir)..will be..a medicine, etc. “) or the quintessence, the main principle of a person or thing (1638, William Chillingworth The religion of protestants a safe way to salvation “The Spirit and Elixir of all that can be said in defence of your Church and Doctrine “)

In the last half of a century, the cosmetic industry gave us all the fancy elixirs promising eternal youth and shine; while the entertainment one kept drinking from the successful elixir of love plot.


Delicatessen – Word of the day

Not everyone knows that the word delicatessen has a fairly different meaning in Europe and the United States.

In the US, a delicatessen store, also known as simply a deli, is a synthesis of a grocery store and a fast-food restaurant which offers fresh food. At a deli one can find a variety of salads, spreads and pre-cooked meals to buy by weight or on a sandwich and to get as a take-out or sit-in.

In Europe, delicatessen stores are, as a rule, designed to sell special food of top quality and are often found at luxury department stores (yes, like Harrods).

Those familiar with the German language, would decide that the term delicatessen is a direct loan word from German, as it makes sense to consider that it is a combination of “delikat” and “essen” (the German verb with a meaning to eat) but that is only part of the story.

Yes, indeed the word jumped into the English language through the German, but it has a longer story than that. The term originates from the Latin adjective delicatus with the meaning of “delightful, luxurious, giving pleasure”, to jump into the 16th century French language with the same meaning and the spelling of délicatesse and only from there to go to the Germans who by adding an -n (a standard ending for plural forms of nouns) turned the word to sound as if it was German-coined.

Delicatessen - origin

Regardless of the origin of the term, and whether it comes from a deli or a luxurious gourmet store, it is clear that we are talking about delightful food. The colloquial meaning of the term often refers to places which offer packed and fresh food from another country that is other ways rare to find and hence, an exotic celebration for our palate.

And exactly with that meaning, the word made its first appearance into the written English language when in 1877, the Scottish journalist and London critic Enaeas Sweetland Dallas wrote Kettner's Book Of The Table. Auguste Kettner was a former chef of Napoleon III and run the most fashionable Victorian restaurant in Soho, London - known for its extravagance, champagne, and gastronomic delicacies. It is believed that Dallas wrote the cook book in exchange of free meals, he knew what was talking about, as got a chance to taste the recipes which was describing.

Ironically, the first time the word delicatessen appeared in the US media, was 7 years later, when The New York Times reported on a fire breaking out in a delicatessen store located on Tenth Avenue and which owner was also named Auguste.

Among from describing the place where delicate food is offered, the term delicatessen can also stand as a noun to describe the food itself or as an adjective to describe the top quality and taste of meals. 1904, Alan Dale in Wanted: a cook: domestic dialogues describes how the host “Anna has provided us what she calls a delicatessen dinner.”


Finding the Right Partner for Your Pharmaceutical and Medical Translations

Pharmaceutical and Medical Translations

Finding the Right Partner for Your Pharmaceutical and Medical Translations - EVS Translations

Alongside user manuals and safety instructions from the mechanical engineering sector, translation services in the medical industry involve the most sensitive texts that must therefore be translated with the utmost care.

When it comes to engaging a language service provider for your pharmaceutical and medical translations, make sure that the provider uses only specialist translators who are native speakers of the particular language. This is the only way to ensure that your texts are optimally localized and translated in accordance with all the necessary specifications and market requirements.

It’s also important that your trusted translation company can provide evidence of fulfilling a standard of quality that is in line with the pharmaceutical and medical industry. If the language service provider is certified in accordance with the applicable translation industry standard DIN EN 15038 as well as DIN ISO 9001:2008, then you’ve made the right choice.

You should also take a close look at the processes. What quality assurance measures are in place? In addition to in-house translators, does the language service provider have its own in-house proofreaders specializing in medical translations or pharmaceutical translations? Does it offer a customer platform for processing and tracking your orders?

In EVS Translations, you have by your side a translation partner for the pharmaceutical industry that has almost 25 years of experience and also observes the specifications of EU regulatory authorities with regard to document templates and the required terminology.

EVS Translations supports 5 of the 15 largest pharmaceutical companies in Europe and the USA with specialist medical translations.

Texts translated include research papers and studies as well as approval documents for medicinal products and medical information for patients and doctors.

Give our contact for pharmaceutical translations and medical translations a call today at +49 21719135171.

Pharmaceutical Translation Field Report

Pharmaceutical Translation

Pharmaceutical Translation Field Report - EVS Translations

This year, we received the urgent order to translate a comprehensive study and its research findings from German into English for an investor on behalf of a major pharmaceutical corporation.

The order comprised 4,895 pages in PDF format, which were to be delivered within 10 weeks. For EVS Translations, this involved formatting the documents as well as translating them.

It started with 6 employees from our Translation Engineering department formatting the documents in Word. Legends were created in table form for the non-editable graphics. Formatting was complete after one week with the result a 4,946-page Word document. This Word document comprised a greater number of pages due to more logical page breaks and the additional legends and tables.

By this time, our project management team had already put together a team of 7 translators and 3 proofreaders from our in-house translation team specializing in pharmaceuticals/medicine. While the 7 translators came from our offices in Germany and England, the proofreaders were based at our office in the USA. This meant that work on the project was virtually ongoing around-the-clock for our customer.

In addition to drawing on their many years of experience and longstanding familiarity with the specialist terminology as well as guidelines in the medical industry, the members of the team also used specialist dictionaries (such as MedDRA) during translation.

What’s more, the customer had also provided reference documents that proved useful in completing this mammoth project by the given deadline.


Kiss – Word of the day

Kiss - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Kiss - Word of the day - EVS Translations

The kiss has been around for a long time, but in English print, at least, it hasn’t been around for as long as you might think. Kiss as a noun turns up in English manuscripts dating right back to the 11th century and the verb to kiss predates this by a century. Back then, however, it was not a kiss but a cosse and when you kissed you cyssed. In the comic play Ralph Roister Doister (a1556), we find that the Middle English version of the cosse resembles more closely our modern day spelling, when Nicholas Udall writes the line: “I will not sticke for a kosse with such a man as you”, as a servant woman rebukes the petty advances of serial romancer, Ralph Roister Doister.

A kiss can be something as modest as a toothless peck on the cheek from grandma, as romantic as the passionate and noisy lip-smacking affair of new lovers, or as final as the last kiss you give the dead before the coffin is sealed. One fact is true about the kiss, however: none of us can live without it.

The kiss is rife in film and literature. For the voyeur in us, we have the movies, and most of them will indulge us in at least a bit of tonsil tennis between the good-looking hero and his leading lady. But, passionate clinches are everywhere and literature is no different.

In J.D. Salinger’s beautiful novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951), comes an equally beautiful kiss. Could it be the most beautiful kiss in literature? The protagonist of the novel is the 17-year old, Holden Caulfield and, although he never states it specifically, he is suffering acutely from the death of his dear brother, Allie (at least, this is one interpretation). Holden is angry at the world and has no patience for anyone, let alone his classmates, friends and parents. But then there is his troubled friend, Jane. Like two kindred spirits, they sit together on the porch playing checkers, until they are interrupted by Jane’s foul stepfather who demands to know where the cigarettes are. As he storms off into the house, Jane says nothing but sheds a single tear which falls on to the checkers board prompting Holden to move quickly to her side to comfort her: “I practically sat in her lap, as a matter of fact. Then she really started to cry, and the next thing I knew, I was kissing her all over – anywhere – her eyes, her nose, her forehead, her eyebrows and all, her ears – her whole face except her mouth and all”. It’s a very brief moment in the novel, but it’s breathtaking. When he saw sadness reflected back at him, he sought desperately to fix it, and in all the hopelessness of his grief, Holden found comfort in Jane.

But, of course, depending on what you’ve read, there may be a kiss to top Holden’s. What is your favourite kiss between characters?


Cricket – Word of the day

Cricket - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Cricket - Word of the day - EVS Translations

The funny thing about sounds and smells is the way they can cause a pleasant stir of emotion or wave of nostalgia when you experience them. It could be the sound of rain pattering on a window as you lay warm in bed or smell of freshly cut grass that takes you back to days playing in the fields. In Japan, the loud cry of the cicada moth is the sound of summer, but in the UK, the cricket’s chirp is the sound of summer evenings.

Cricket is an example of a word that developed from onomatopoeia; that is, the sound of the word cricket was formed by imitating the sound of this insect’s chirp. It derives from the 12th  century French word criquet, which now denotes the locust. From Old French, then, and into Anglo-Norman, came the word criket. The Middle French verb criquer meant “to make a dry sound” and the English translation was “to crick”, which means to make a thin, sharp sound.

Some nice examples of this verb can be found in the following two excerpts: “Creckets that haunt the hearth and stocke of chimnies, where they make many holes, and lie cricking alowd in the night” (The historie of the world, commonly called the Naturall Historie of C. Plinius Secundus, 1601), and from Vladimir Nabokov in Pale fire (1962) comes the simple line “The cricket cricked".

Of course, the cricket isn’t sitting in the undergrowth humming its tune just for our enjoyment. What it is doing is called stridulation: it rubs together specific parts of its left and right forewings in its effort to sing to the females or ward off the males. While we enjoy the calming effect of their gentle chirp, they are busy with their endeavors to procreate.