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Sweaters – Word of the day

The sweater is a fashion accessory. But it took a long time before it became one!

To begin with a sweater as a person who sweats. In the late 1500s it was necessary to be relatively rich to be able to sweat – to have enough leisure time to go to the equivalent of a sauna. English people were warned to avoid “sweaters and idle eaters” and to keep away from “sweaters and belchers”.

Parallel to this was the idea of a sweater as someone who works exceedingly hard, like travellers or tailors. The idea of a sweat shop, still used today as a place for making fashion items, appeared for the first time in English in 1628 in a comment relating to “the blood of sweaters and the tears of the people.”

The industrial revolution institutionalised work by putting it into factories. The workers worked hard. Mayhew writes, “Amongst the sweaters of the tailoring trade, Sunday labour is almost universal ”.  At this time it was not particularly clear whether the people working in the factories were sweaters or those who exploited them. In the Manchester Guardian the sweaters are defined as those who employ “men and women at starvation prices” to do tailoring work.

Sweater was a very flexible word at the beginning of the 19th century. It also related to a piece of clothing worn by a horse or a man to make them sweat and thus lose weight. There is a great story about a rowing team forcing their cox to lose weight. “The little ruffian actually weighs over 8 stone; but we're going to make him run a mile every day, with four sweaters, and three pairs of flannel trousers on.”

It was only at the beginning of the 1900s that the piece of clothing meant to make you sweat became a fashionable item. In 1912 it is described as a fashion accessory which is “sometimes a gaudy article of wear".  In 1920 it made it into Vogue which meant that sweaters were in and here to stay.


Halloween – The Coolest Holiday Ever

Happy Halloween - EVS Translations

Happy Halloween - EVS Translations

It's that time of the year again - it's October and the time of the coolest holiday ever - Halloween! The only festive season cherished equally by children and adults. Think about it - you would expect people to say Christmas - yeah, sure everything is about love and light but those who really enjoy the presents are the children. For the rest of us - you are aware of the fact that Santa Claus is a fictional character, aren't you?!- presents don't come from Laplandia. Now get your credit card at the ready, my friend.

And let's not even start to compare the coolest holiday ever with Valentine's Day, shall we?! In fact Valentine's Day is closer to being the most depressing holiday of all. It requires a significant other to get candy. And let's face it, too many of us, even if we have a valentine, cannot even provide what he or she expects from us. So chances are, Valentine’s Day will turn out to be miserable and not lovely.

This is impossible for Halloween. At Halloween nobody is left out. Everyone celebrates- the weirder, the better. You know the old joke that says, "Who won the last year's skeleton beauty contest? - No body." That's right, it's the only day of the year when the scarier you look, the more credit you get, regardless of gender and race. Told ya, the coolest holiday ever!

Halloween guarantees great memories for years to come. What do you remember from last Christmas? The fortune spent on presents? Not that Halloween isn't an industry of its own. In recent years it has been heavily commercialized. But what isn't today? You go into the supermarket and there are whole departments of Halloween themed goods. Halloween, in fact, has become a season of its own; paving the way for the long year-end Thanksgiving/Christmas double-header. Undoubtedly, Halloween has become a million-dollar industry, but after all we are here for the candy right, kiddos?! This is what Halloween means to the little ones - tons of candy to munch on. We can all remember a costume our parents gave us once, that sucked big time. But, hey wasn't it worth it the brief moment of humiliation compared to the bags of sweets that followed! I just saw a hilarious comic of children in costumes waiting for treats and the speech bubbles read: "Sugar-free candy, please!" "Only vegan chocolate, ma'am!" "I'm lactose intolerant!" "I'm celiac!" "I can't eat nuts!" "I have nugget allergy!" "Only organic, please!"

As for adults, Halloween is a rare opportunity to get weird and childish and to unleash their imagination and play around. Always sure to have a laugh with your colleague who is rocking a pregnant Tinkerbelle costume at the office party, or was that yourself? Inevitably, the memories of Halloween parties get blurry at some point. My friend fell asleep on the train on his way home to a remote town. Some passengers called the police as they thought he was beaten to death. More than dead, he was well and proper drunk. That's what I call a killer zombie disguise.

Oh, and let's not forget the home decor - you can leave actual cobwebs intact all around the house recreating that TRES CHIC MACABRE interior. By the way, do you know who the most famous French skeleton was? Napoleon Bone-apart.

So, dear friends, enjoy the festive season, get spooky and remember that it's bad luck to meet a black cat only if you're a mouse.


Trending – Word of the day

What is trending today? Trending words and styles promoted by trending celebrities, along with figures about what is in and hashtags on social media are impacting some of our lives, leading us towards perfect conformity with trends.

What would life be like without knowing which band is trendy to listen to or which superstar to follow, or what are the super new fashions, destinations or restaurants to dine at?

But it took a very long time from the word trending to mean mainstream. And this is due to a misunderstanding of the original meaning of the verb "to trend" as meaning "to become a trend."

The story of the word as something fashionably popular started in England at the end of the 16th century. Then it meant something very literal, the way in which a river moved in a specific direction. The Volga is described as coming from the north of Bulgaria “and trending along southward”. This was in Richard Hakluyt’s travelogue. As a book it was hot, because when it was printed in 1598 anything about travel written in English was grabbed by anyone who could read. So it is clear that The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffic and Discoveries of the English Nation was a real trending publication.

The path of a river flowing gave rise to the first figurative use of the term as moving in a general direction. This was way back in 1863. From then it took a whole century until trending got managed to reinvent itself to describe new ideas in popular culture, with the rise in the 1960s of the adjective “trendy”. And trendy really got going when in 1965 the BBC released a film on Debussy with a screen credit ”Art Nouveau Consultant”. The Sun complained as it often does with “This is trying to be trendy: what's wrong with art-adviser?”

What is wrong with not following the trends and how trending will our word of the day trending become? Google trending search topics, Google Trends, might help us find out more. This will help us become more streamlined, more trending, less individual. Do you want to be trending?



Obelisk – Word of the day


Obelisk - Word of the day - EVS Translations

The obelisk was a key element of Egyptian architecture – made out of stone “which may be called long broaches or spires” as was described in the first English use in 1546.

Although the obelisk is Egyptian, originally the word comes from Greek as a result of the writings of Herodotus who described the obelisk. From this time onwards they became collectors’ items –signifying national power and wealth. Altogether there are 29 obelisks remaining worldwide. Only eight of them remain in Egypt. As the first collectors, the Romans bagged the largest number. Today there are eleven Egyptian obelisks in Italy. A Cleopatra’s Needle is to be found in London and in New York.

One of the earliest references in English in a 1561 translation from Italian of The Book of the Courtier – a classic by Castiglione. This was one of the key books of the Renaissance, a sort of how to be a gentleman book which was extremely influential across Europe. The translator Thomas Hoby was the first Englishman to take the Grand Tour - the leisurely year-long trip through Europe which became the fashion for gentlemen. Later he was the English ambassador to France and died there at the age of 33, two months after having being appointed. He translates the word obelisk in passing, but helpfully provides a small definition for the unknowing English reader as a sub-heading “great high square stones smaller and smaller unto the top”.

Purchas compilation of travel reports provides more details of an obelisk as a pillar “of one stone, fashioned like a needle”. Obviously explanations of what had been seen were still necessary.

Shortly after this, the fashion of building new obelisks started. The first modern obelisk was erected in France in Aix-en-Provence in 1667. Not quite the dimensions of the original Egyptian obelisks, but still a start, and it can still be seen today right in the middle of a fountain. Now an obelisk is a key landmark in cities the world over. Go to Washington DC, Buenos Aires and Jakarta to see just have far the obelisk has got.



Navigating the Choppy Sea of Pharmaceutical Innovation

pharmaceutical innovations

Pharmaceutical industry needs translators - EVS Translations

For most businesses product development and market introduction reads something like this: a product is created, marketed, and then sold. For pharmaceutical companies, the process is substantially longer and more complex, especially when dealing with quasi-multinational entities like the European Union. The case of  leading pharmaceutical companies and their quest to find not only a cure for cancer but a vaccination for it is a fascinating insight into the world of pharmaceutical development and production. For a while now,  two pharmaceutical companies are partnering to develop and market the therapeutic cancer vaccine, CV9202. The drug is meant to aid the human immune system to defend the human body against invasive cancer cells. Accordingly, one has developed a technology that allows the immune system to combat diseases on a cellular level by using mRNA to “program” a certain response to a disease’s qualities. While this model is not entirely new is that what makes CV9202 so exceptionally interesting is that it is seeking to treat one of the most globally widespread cancers- lung cancer.

But before the drug can be of any widespread use, it must undergo a lengthy and scrutinizing testing process in the EU.

  • The process begins with outlining and conducting exacting clinical studies. In order to cut costs when it comes to international approval and distribution (outside of the EU), the clinical results will be translated into local languages.

  • Once the results are internally studied and approved, the centralized authorization procedure under the European Medicines Agency may begin. Conducted by the Committee for Medical Products for Human Use, this process, involving all 28 EU nations, representatives from other EEA nations, and several experts from the area of medicine being examined, will seek to scrutinize the clinical data, product information, and production/distribution methods both orally and in writing within an overall period of 210 days.

  • EU approval is only half the battle to get the product to market: the other half is marketing. Succinctly put, medical professionals often don’t have the time to pour over pages of clinical trial results and authorization procedure findings, so how will a medical professional know that a prospective drug is the correct choice for a particular patient? Essential product information needs to be correctly translated and distributed.

While this process is clearly established, the process for approving medications for more acute diseases is largely left up to the individual member states. Doubtlessly, if the clinical trials of CV9202 can confirm the drug’s promise, it could have tremendous market value and prove instrumental in aiding in the treatment of the deadliest form of cancer globally. Regardless of potential though, any drug’s information, benefits and test results all need to be presented in a way that is easily understandable to the reader, whether it be a medical specialist in Argentina, a hospital administrator in Estonia, or a cancer treatment center in the United States.

Pharmaceutical industry needs translators - now more than ever. If you would like to discuss your demand for medical translations, translations for pharmacy, cosmetics, toxicological and medical specifications and any documentation for medical equipment - contact EVS Translations. Every document can be translated and edited according to your requirements and your use of terminology.
To inquire about prices, delivery times and our additional language services - contact our US, UK and  Bulgarian translation offices

Call our Atlanta office today at +1 404-523-5560 or send us an email: quoteusa(at)

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Harem – Word of the day

The word harem comes from the Arabic and refers to something forbidden or kept safe. The word originally referred to the part of a Muslim house built to ensure privacy of Muslim women. Entry was forbidden to men who were not members of the family.

The first person to refer to the harem in English was Thomas Herbert, one of the first to travel to the Middle East and write about it. Aged 21, he travelled for two years as a member of a British diplomatic mission 1627 and 1629. His main claim to fame was the travel book Some Years Travels into Africa and Asia the Great, especially describing the famous Empires of Persia which he revised and updated five times in his lifetime. The book includes an early portrait of a dodo and yes the harem as a section of Shah's Palace reserved as a sanctuary for women. “....He has three hundred women in his seraglio (called here harem)”. Herbert, as many other writers and diplomats of the time, had the disadvantage of been a man and could not go further in his description of a harem.

This was reserved for Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, a wife of British ambassador in the Ottoman Empire. She had several claims to fame. She was mother-in-law to the first Scottish Prime Minister and a major figure in the world of middle eighteenth century literature. She travelled with her husband to the Orient where she learnt from the Turks about inoculation before vaccination procedures and even has her son inoculated against smallpox. And in a 1718 letter, as a woman she is the first English writer to give a first-hand account of her impressions from going into a spectacularly decorated harem in Istanbul where she had been invited to dine with the Sultana. She went into the building – the harem – which was very luxurious, with mother of pearl, ivory, olive wood, and Japanese china.

Shortly afterwards the harem was used as the general word for the females of a Muslim family, whether it was the wives or concubines. The idea was fascinating to the Western mindset and it taken up in numerous artistic works, also opera. The Mozart opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail describes the attempt of a Western hero trying to rescue the woman he loved from a harem, while much of Verdi’s Il corsaro is set in a harem.


Karoshi – Word of the day

Karoshi is a Japanese word that translates as “death by overwork” and it describes the Japanese phenomena of company employees dying from conditions such as heart attacks or strokes specifically caused by the stress of too much work. Karoshi has gained much attention in Japan since the 1980s when it was first recognized as a legitimate cause of death. This caused Japan to question its corporate culture and some Japanese companies - in part, reacting to an increase in compensation claims by families affected by karoshi - put in place policies to help employees achieve a greater work-life balance.

In 1988, the Chicago Tribune was the first English language publication to introduce karoshi to its readers, describing it as a "disturbing phenomenon [which] has been linked directly to too much toil and too little play”; though this is a somewhat watered down description of the problem. The Atlanta Journal and Constitution (1990) offers a more in-depth description of karoshi stating, “The victims of karoshi—defined as a lethal mix of apoplexy, high blood pressure and stress related to too many hours on the job—are middle managers and supervisors in their 40s and 50s in good health”.

Karoshi is not so much the result of heavy workloads, but a consequence of the Japanese mindset that putting in long days (more than twelve hours a day and very limited amounts of annual leave) equals greater output and shows solidarity with your team and commitment to your company. Japan is a collectivist culture where the needs of the group are greater than those of the individual, so expecting to go home early when you’ve finished your work when those around you are still working is met with disapproval. And despite the fact that there are labour laws surrounding working hours, deep-set attitudes within corporate culture prevent people from actually recording overtime and even questioning the daily need for it. Beyond the four walls of the company, people talk about work-life balance, but the pressure to “keep up appearances” is everywhere in Japanese culture and no one expects you to come home at 6:00.

On any weekday in Japan, you can board an early commuter train on the outskirts of the city and find Japanese salarymen (white collar workers) starting their daily commute which, in a city such as Tokyo, can be anything up to a four hour round trip. After the morning journey, where the lucky few can grab a seat and catch another hour's sleep, employees start their long working day which, inevitably, continues late into the evening. On the last trains leaving the city at night, these same salarymen can be seen slumped in their seats on the train fast asleep. For married men, a hot meal and bath awaits them at home, followed by a few hours sleep which might just be enough to revive them for the next day.

Karoshi exists because of the demand for full commitment to the company which is proved by the number of hours you put in and Japanese employees are literally killing themselves to try and keep up.


White Elephant – Word of the day

A white elephant is an albino elephant, even though this is not the official term for them. Their skin is not white but has reddish-brown pinky color.

In Buddhism the white elephant is considered something sacred as well as a status symbol – because to afford such a beast it was necessary to have enough wealth and power.

For hundreds of years a white elephant was a white elephant, a rare and expensive animal. In English it was mentioned in 1663 in a travel book translation from Portuguese into English of Ferdinand Pinto by Henry Cogan. Like many translations, the book has more editing than translating, with the translator cheerfully admitting he omitted huge passages which were too complicated or too boring. Pinto himself travelled extensively though Asia as the book title suggests The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto during his Travels for the Space of One and Twenty Years. He also visited what is now Thailand and described war with Burma where the king of Burma demanded seven white elephants belonging to the King of Siam, who was described by Pinto as the “lord of the white elephant”.

Quite clearly a white elephant signified richness. It took over 200 years until the term began to be used figuratively as an idiom for a valuable possession of which its owner cannot dispose and which is not often worth its maintenance costs. And this happened in Thailand too. If the king did not like a top official, he had a solution. The king presented a top civil servant with a great present to underline how important that official was. This was a white elephant. Unfortunately it was so expensive that even a top mandarin was not able to pay for it and went bankrupt. 

The first written reference in English to the idiomatic meaning of the term white elephant comes in a letter written in 1851 by the English novelist Geraldine Endsor. She wrote, “His services are like so many white elephants, of which nobody can make use, and yet that drain one's gratitude, if indeed one does not feel bankrupt."

More or less from this time onwards, a white elephant was an investment or a business which is unprofitable because the costs of operation and maintenance is simply too high. Almost every business and every country has such a white elephant.

This is the story of the white elephant, from a sacred symbol of prosperity to an undesired gift and unprofitable undertaking.


Languages in the Workplace

Languages in the workplace

Business needs translators - EVS Translations

In 2013, the British Council released its "Languages for the Future" report which outlines the most important languages for the UK in terms of aiding economic prosperity. Unsurprisingly, Spanish, German and French take the top spots, but Turkish also makes an appearance at number nine as an attractive partner for trade and investment as well as an area of interest for energy and defence industries.

Despite the report identifying which languages in the workplace are important and why, the outlook is bleak for languages taking on a stronger hold in the UK and the report itself admits that it does not offer any answers, but merely stimulates discussion on the issue.

Nevertheless, the British Army, which has an obvious need for linguistic skills (specifically Arabic and French), is pushing forward with a language strategy which states that personnel cannot be promoted above the rank of Captain without foreign language skills. Officers are reassured that the requirement is not to become fluent, but to simply to acquire basic ability.

Mirroring these efforts from the British Army to lift linguistic ability, on the other side of the globe, in Japan, an increasing number of companies are introducing an “English language policy” in a push to further globalize business. In the British Council's report, Japan is described as having a "moderate" level of English proficiency (the Japanese can take comfort from the fact that the report puts their English language learning rival China behind with a rating of "low"), and it is this middle-of-the-road ability that businesses want to correct. Plans are being laid out to ensure that all internal communication and presentations will eventually be carried out in English only.

But what exactly are the strategies to turn personnel into linguists? The information is vague. In Japan, staff working for the internet retailer Rakuten Inc. take part in “English lessons” provided for by the company, and in the case of the British Army, personnel receive “training” at the Defence Centre for Languages and Culture. Many of us have tried sitting with a textbook and CD to learn a new language – for those who love languages the exercise can at least be fun, but for those who have no interest in learning endless grammar patterns and vocab (and putting on a weird accent), progress can be painful. Perhaps as people begin to use their skills in the real world and realise the fruits of their labour there may be incentive to study more and certainly the threat of losing out on a promotion and advancing your career will push even the non-linguists to try.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in 2012, President of Rakuten Inc., Mr. Hiroshi Mikitani, spoke with a sense of urgency about the English language requirements for business, stating that "Our staff doesn't need translators".

Unfortunately Mr. Mikitani, at the present time your staff really does.

Business needs translators - now more than ever. With all the will in the world, it is going to be a long hard slog for the UK and Japan to realize their ambitions of a multi-lingual workforce. Until we reach that day, the best bet for globalizing business is to use high quality language service providers that facilitate meaningful and accurate communication. EVS Translations is such a service.


Elephant – Word of the day

Elephant - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Elephant - Word of the day - EVS Translations

These days everyone knows what an elephant looks like. Until there were zoos this was not the case. Most people in Europe had never heard of an elephant, let alone seen one.

The early history of the elephant in Great Britain is quite short. The show-off emperor Claudius decided to show the English their place. In a triumphal march through Colchester which was then the capital city – with its own amphitheatres and even a chariot circus, Claudius showed off the first and last elephant the English would see for a thousand years.

The first time an elephant lived in England on a full time basis is when the French king Louis IX gave his English contemporary Henry III a specimen as a royal gift for his zoo in the Tower of London in 1255. It had a grand life, feasting on beef, but unfortunately finally died after only two years. The most likely cause is from too much red wine.

Since that time elephants were only written about or drawn. Comments in English on the elephant were frequent. Over the next started about 100 years later. There was a variety of spellings (ollgaunce, elifans, olyfaunt, elephant, elephante, olyfaunz, eleuant) until elephant became the standard spelling around about 1750. This is why oliphaunts – the big elephant-like animals in the Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is actually taking up word used in mediaeval English, something that Tolkien well knew, as he was a specialist on the subject.

Features of the elephant were highlighted, but what counted most was size. John Trevisa mentions the beast several times in his 1398 book – nose like a trumpet, huge body, frightened of mice, follows the stars and has a strong nose.

But it was a real long time before the elephant was seen by many in England. The most famous elephant in England was Jumbo the circus elephant that was transferred from Paris and landed up in the United States. But that was 700 years on.