Deutsch Français Български Español


Whig – Word of the day

Having previously discussed the word Tory, who are the progenitor of the modern Conservative Party, as well as the word Coalition, which defines the current government, it’s now time to look at the other political party currently in the government - the Liberal Democrats. Given, many of us know the platforms of the party, but what about its origins? While the Liberal Democrats were founded in 1988, their founding lineage traces its way from the Parliamentarians of the English Civil War and, in the immediate decades afterwards, the Whigs. Founded in 1678 and being one of the strongest political parties in the UK for nearly the next 200 years before merging with and influencing other parties, the term Whig is definitely worth examining.

Originating in the late 1640s, Whig was a shortened version of whiggamore, meaning cattle driver, that was used to describe “uncivilized” western Scots. With the English Civil War beginning to involve Scotland, the term was soon expanded to include Scottish Presbyterians whom the Scottish monarchy considered to be rebels. In the same manner as the term “Tory,” Whig entered political usage as the idea of James, the Catholic Duke of York, succeeding Charles II was being discussed. Being against a Catholic monarch who was the royalist choice and due to the uncivilized nature of the term and the derogatory association with Scottish rebels, these dissenters were labeled Whigs.

In action, the Whigs have always been reform minded and provided a counterbalance to the conservative ideology. From economic protectionism to social inclusion to eroding and divesting the powers of the Crown, many aspects of modern liberal society bear the hallmark of the Whigs. With the goals of reform mostly met and with growing trade as well as a burgeoning middle class, the Whigs had to merge with other parties.

Mirroring it’s diverse historical application, the word whig has also went through numerous historical nuances. One of the first known uses of the word is from Captain John Gwynne’s Military Memoirs circa 1660, where, describing some men, he states that, “Most of them were no soldiers, but country bumkins, there called Whigs.” Speaking of the Scottish rebels, the London Gazette comments in 1667 that “We were informed that the Whigs had privately in the night stollen down the heads of 4 of the Rebels that were set up in Glasgow.” Fully explaining the differences between both sides in the Exclusion Crisis, Narcissus Luttrell writes in his Diary in 1781 that “The latter party have been called by the former, whigs, fanatics, covenanter, …. protestants, and the former are called by the latter, tories, tantivies, Yorkists, high flown church men.” Regardless of political affiliation, perhaps the best conglomerated definition can be found in the Essays of David Hume, who, in 1741, wrote that, “A Whig may be defined to be a Lover of Liberty, though without renouncing Monarchy; and a Friend to the Settlement in the Protestant Line.”


Pizza – Word of the day

Last Monday, The New York Times pointed out that it introduced the Pizza to its readers in September 1944, describing one of the most popular and emblematic Italian dishes as a “...pie made from a yeast dough and filled with any number of different centers, each one containing tomatoes. Cheese, mushrooms, anchovies, capers, onions and so on....” The early pizza was often simply referred to as “tomato pie” and interesting to note is that the recipes called for putting the cheese on top of the dough before any other of the toppings.

The word pizza derives from Italian through Latin, with the first written reference coming from a 997 AD document written in Latin, in the small Gaeta village where the son of a feudal lord promises 12 pizzas to the local bishop as a yearly homage.

Yet what makes checking the archives of the New York Times really exciting - is discovering the plural form of the word pizza, the pizze which is a quite rare addition to our modern vocabulary. Though another US outlet reported on the cheese and pizza business 40 years earlier, The Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1906: “summer is not a good time for pizze cakes and business is poor with us.”

The pizza got the media attention in the US only in the 20th century, but the first to introduce the salty pie into the English language, was John Florio – the medieval translator on a mission to bring European culture to the English. In the first edition of his A World of Words, which contained the impressive 46,000 Italian entries, the pizza was described as a “kind of cake or simnell [layered cake] or wafer.”

Apparently, the Italian salty layered cake did not easily win the palates of the Brits, as the next time it made it into print was nearly 2.5 centuries later in 1825, Life and Letters of Frances, Baroness Bunsen. Baroness Bunsen was a Welsh painter and author, married to an ambassador, which gave her the chance to travel and taste the pizza: “They gave us ham, and cheese, and frittata and pizza”

The pizza, was obviously a dish good enough to treat a Baroness with, as the next written reference confirms as well. A 1845 Handbook for Italy by Francis Coghlan: “The pizza, a popular cake made of preserves or of new cheese, is not disdained by the higher classes.”

And following the print chronology of the word, we come to the best description of a pizza, 1878 Dolce Napoli: “Anoint [dough] profusely with oil of olive, and dab in pieces of garlic, anchovy, strong cheese, rancid bacon, and whatsoever else may be highest in flavour and lowest in price; put into a hot oven, bake, and thou hast pizza.”

With other words – the toppings' variations are unlimited and only a question of taste (just think of the morning pizza), and pizza flavour is to satisfy any palate and match any wallet.


Talent – Word of the day

As many British TV viewers will doubtlessly understand, Britain, indeed, has “Got Talent.” Though talent is not just a British phenomenon: it has truly swept the world, from Afghanistan to Vietnam and Norway to South Africa. Naturally, this is in reference to the globally popular reality-based television series that showcases skills and abilities; however, what about talent itself? Where does the word come from and how did it reach its current meaning?

Originating as the Hellenized version of a Babylonian concept, the word talent was originally talanton and used to define weight. Establishing a widely accepted standard of weight, regional trade became easier and naturally increased. With increased trade, it wasn’t long before a “talent” came to define the product being traded as well as the price for the products. For example, in ancient Greece, the talent went from measuring goods to becoming a chief currency unit, equalling 6,000 drachmae or 57.75 pounds of silver. Building onto this usage, the Medieval world added an abstract concept with the Latin word talenta: instead of being the literal money itself, a “talent” now became something that was done for money, such as a skill or ability. It is from here that we receive our modern definition of a talent.

Ironically, nothing seems to better exemplify all of the definitions of the word through the ages like the current global television series. Firstly, it allows ordinary people to demonstrate their hidden skills to a wide audience. These skills are then “weighted” against the skills and abilities of others. Finally, aside from an overall contest winner that receives a cash prize, the series itself has proven to be highly successful by generating substantial profits, showing longevity, and spawning successful sister programs globally.

Arriving in English in the late 13th century, we have been privy to all uses of the word. One of the main early uses of the word talent in its early form comes from the Wycliffite Bible (1382), which in Exodus 38:26 references the weight of “a hundred talents of silver.” Shakespeare, in Timon of Athens (1623), referenced talents as a form of currency, writing that, “My occasions have found time to use 'em toward a supply of money: let the request be fifty Talents.” As time progressed though, we see more of the modern use of the word, such as Lord Chesterfield’s Letters in 1774 which rightly state that, “To write letters a talent which unavoidably occurs every day of one's life.”




A Day in the Life of Our In-House German to English Translator

A Day in the Life of Our In-House German to English Translator

A Day in the Life of Our In-House German to English Translator - EVS Translations

Back in February, we spent a "day in the life" of one of our in-house proofreaders (see entry: How in-house proofreaders spend their day at EVS Translations), which went down a storm with our readers. So, we have decided to create a new series: "A day in the life of...", where our readers can get to know the international staff at EVS Translations and to find out what they do, the challenges of their work and their own background with foreign languages. We hope this series will be fun, but also informative and highlight issues that are important to the translation industry and especially to EVS Translations, including the different processes used in translation and why quality translation is important.

I met up with our in-house German to English translator Rob who told me a little bit about his day…

1. When did you first think you wanted to become a translator?

I have always been fascinated by language. At university I found not only that translation was my most successful discipline in academic terms but also that it is enjoyable and rewarding. The fact that I could get paid to do it made choosing a career path pretty easy. I trained as an automotive and financial translator and have developed a high-level of professional experience in these fields making this my area of expertise.

2. What does your typical day look like?

A typical day involves several thousand words of translation covering a variety of subjects and target audiences, and we need to be fairly adaptable and responsive to changing requirements throughout the day.

3. What do you think are the signs of a quality translation?

A high-quality translation should read like it isn’t a translation at all. In other words, the reader should not be able to tell that the text wasn’t originally written in English (or the relevant target language). Other signs include consistent terminology and the correct use of specialist terms, whether they are specific to a particular industry or to a single client.

4. What’s it like to be part of the EVS Translations in-house translator team?

The ease of communication is great. Being able to talk to other members of the team in person makes it much easier to keep quality high and to ensure consistency. We have expert translators for different fields, and also a very hard-working team of project managers and IT staff. They keep things running smoothly so we can do our job effectively.

5. Our readers have already met our wonderful proofreader, Emma. How important is it to you to include a proofreader in the translation process?

A proofreader is essential in ensuring that our translations are the best they can possibly be. They make sure that the meaning of the original text has been accurately reproduced and that different translators doing different jobs for the same client use identical terminology. I wouldn’t want to work without one!

6. Do you have a favourite field to translate?

I specialise in technical translations, but what I most enjoy are translations that allow for a little more creativity – marketing texts, magazine articles and so forth. What I’m really hoping for is some fascinating work of historical non-fiction, but until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the diverse and occasionally somewhat quirky translations that come in from all manner of clients.

7. Do you have any advice for someone interested in becoming a translator?

Take pride in your work! When a translator has an evident love of language and genuinely cares about doing the best possible job, it’s easy to spot the difference that it makes to his or her translations. Translation can be quite a difficult industry to enter, but that affinity for language should shine through when you submit test translations. Also, the skill of producing fluid translations takes time and hard work to develop – you need to have excellent linguistic skills, but also an excellent understanding of your area of expertise.

8. How about advice for people looking for a translation service provider?

There are many different translation companies out there. I think it’s important to question the details, though: does the company offer proofreading by a separate translator? Does it have in-house IT staff who can respond to any issues straight away? Will the same translator be used for the same clients, so the work is consistent in terminology and style? All of these things have a tremendous effect on quality.

Find out how translation service providers differentiate their services to offer customer value and what separates competitors in the translation market(see entry: Differentiation and Customer Value in the Translation Market).



Mechanic – Word of the day

With Orthodox Easter approaching, like many who live and work away from their family, I decided that there would be no better time to go home than now and no better way to celebrate than with family. Sure, it can be a substantial trip by car, but without the threat of inclement weather from the long winter we’ve endured, I was expecting an easy trip. Then, about a third of way to my destination, it happened: on a stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, the warning lights on my dashboard turned on and my car began to slow down. As I sat shivering in my car and waited for the German equivalent of the Automobile Association to arrive, I thought about the obvious word that I’m sure I would invariably need: mechanic.

The occupation “mechanic” comes from the adjective “mechanical,” whose roots can be traced back to the ancient Greek word mekhanikos, meaning engineering or pertaining to machines. Interestingly, while we think of the term mechanic as being a solely automotive occupation, its first usage comes from the 14th century definition as, simply, a manual labourer and comes from the Latin mechanicus. As time passed and the world became more mechanized and industrialized, the definition has changed, from initially a manual labourer to an artisan in the 1560s to a skilled worker/machinist in the 1660s to our modern interpretation which became prevalent with the accessibility and affordability of the automobile.

In usage, we can see all of the aforementioned definitions. Barclay’s Apology to the True Christian Divinity (1678) shows the more manual labour aspect of the word, stating that, “Most...are Labouring and Mechanic men.” Demonstrating a more refined occupation, a poem by Alexander Scott in 1568 writes about “Merchandise to traffic and travel to and fro, Mechanics work.” Finally, in our own modern vernacular, comes a reference from a 1919 issue of the U.S. Vocational Rehabilitation Services journal which writes that, “The mechanic should be able to do skilled work on all mechanical parts of any car.”

Regarding my own personal story, thankfully, after obtaining a rental car, waiting almost a week for the repair to be completed, and a substantial, unexpected expense, everything was back to normal and I was able to enjoy a pleasant Easter holiday with my family. Additionally, it occurs to me that, if personal problems is how I’m inspired to write about words, I’ll never be inspired to write about words involving health care!


Lacuna – Word of the day

The term “lacuna” derives from the Latin for “hole” or “pit”. It was first used to describe gaps in texts or manuscripts and appeared in a quote by Sir Robert Moray in the Lauderdale Papers (1884) where he wrote: "You do well to leave no lacunas in your letters”. Since then, it’s often been used in anatomy and physical science to describe a gap, space or cavity and also in the area of law to describe the lack of a provision within a specific law.

Lacuna also exist for translators.

A lacuna in linguistics can be explained as a lexical gap or the “absence of a lexical item in the language while there is a concept in the conceptual sphere with zero verbalization” (Journal of Education Culture and Society No.1, 2013, pg. 169).The “Lacuna Theory” was founded by Yuri Sorokin, a Russian professor, and further developed by Professor Irina Markovina under the research domain of ethnolinguistics - the study of relations between linguistic and cultural behavior. These days, translators might study it during a course in translation theory. It’s the study of how best to translate words, phrases or concepts of a source language which do not have an exact equivalent in the target language.

The Japanese word nureochiba is an interesting example of how a lacuna, or lexical gap, emerges during translation into English. The literal translation is “wet fallen leaf”, but since translators translate meaning and not words, the cultural background of the word has to be understood for an effective translation…

Japanese men have a reputation for putting in many long hours every day at work with little time left for free time or even family time. Often absent from the home, the wife learns to adapt to life without her husband and depends only on his income rather than his companionship. When the husband retires, he finds himself suddenly thrust into domestic life, struggling to function in this new lifestyle where free time exists in abundance. The wife, having practically lived on her own for many years and adapted to this by raising her children , pursuing hobbies and socializing with friends, finds herself sharing a house with a man known as her “husband”. But what is the word she uses for him? He’s a nureochiba. He sticks to her shoe like a wet fallen leaf that she can’t shake off and who follows her around.

When translators come across the word nureochiba, they have to think of strategies to deal with the lacuna or lexical gap. They can’t translate the word literally and a full explanation of the cultural background could ruin the flow of the text, so they have to find a suitable method of transferring the meaning into the target language.

A lacuna represents a fascinating area of linguistics and one which highlights the fact that translation is not simply a matter of translating words but meaning and cultural concepts.

How would you translate nureochiba in English?...



Referendum – Word of the day

In almost every election, politicians, pundits, and the press will, in order to better resonate with voter sentiment, attempt to make the election focus on a specific issue or policy. Overall, a referendum may be used in a traditional specific-issue sense or as a more liberal interpretation of the views of the voting public. Looking at the elections of the 1980’s, they were considered to be a referendum on the reforms of Margaret Thatcher. Considering that the Iraq War began in 2003, the 2005 election became a referendum on British involvement in the war. Most recently, the 2010 election became a referendum on the Labour government’s handling of the economy during the recession, and this upcoming election may well be a referendum about Britain’s place in the European Union. Moreover, within the next several years, we may be facing a specific referendum on European Union membership. Since, as you can see, the word referendum is often used in connection with elections, but let us delve a little deeper into it.

Unsurprisingly, the term itself, much like most of our legal terms and, indeed, our political system, comes from the Romans. Translated from the Latin term referendum, the meaning of the word is literally “thing brought back,” which, in electoral terms, means bringing an issue directly to the voters. And while we do have our say on local as well as larger national issues, using the above examples cited, we, as voters, can’t normally vote on singular specific issues and aspects of policy. However, an election can be considered a referendum because we do know the platforms of each party and can vote for them accordingly. For example, if we were against British involvement in the Iraq War, we could have voiced our displeasure by voting for a party in opposition of the then-current Labour government.

Entering English in the latter half of the 1700’s and reaching applied usage in the early 1800’s, our word was initially most closely associated with Switzerland due to the Swiss system of government, specific referendums on the federal or Canton-level are fairly common. In fact, the first known usage of the word from the Annual Register of 1816 revolves around the Pope’s influences in the Catholic areas of Switzerland, stating that “Eleven deputies rejected the Pope's demand; nine voted for the referendum; and two deputies reserved their votes.” Soon though, the term began to achieve more widespread usage, as can be seen in James Young’s The New American Governments and Its Works, which, noting the appeal of localised government and accountability, states that “In the United States the Referendum has been frequently used from the earliest times.” Bringing the word a little closer to home and looking at a quote from 1975 that still has tremendous impact today, an Act of Parliament proposes that “A referendum shall be held on the question whether the United Kingdom is to remain a member of the European Economic Community.”



Puppet (Government) – Word of the day

When most people think of puppets, images of Punch and Judy come to mind. However, in the political world, there is, unfortunately, a darker and more sinister definition applied to this word. Whether it be a small scale local government with ties to and exercising the will of an important local business entity or, on the other side of the spectrum, a national government that is in some way (directly or indirectly) controlled by a foreign government, puppet governments represent an interesting political anomaly.

As with many other words, the concept behind is older than the word itself. Though the word puppet first entered English in the 1530s and referred to the traditional dolls on strings, it was first metaphorically used in reference to a regime in the early 1600s. With the metaphor implying that, as a theater puppet is operated by a puppeteer behind the scenes, so is a political puppet operated by a foreign entity. In reality though, puppet government existed in the ancient world and the Middle Ages, though often referred to as client kingdoms or vassal states.

Throughout history, there have been many examples of countries that have exhibited varying characteristics of puppet governments. Theoretically, in its broadest definition of simply having a strong foreign influence, possibly the best modern example was the Cold War and the Iron Curtain, where NATO and the Soviet Union vied for influence and attempted to gain advantage in many regions of the world. Using a more refined definition, many of the examples of puppet government come from wartime, such as those created by the Axis Powers during the Second World War to domestically enforce their will in a newly conquered territory or those created by Napoleonic France to act as a buffer against the enemies.

The first actual written reference of puppet in the political sense comes from John Speed’s Historie of Great Britaine in 1611, where he cynically speaks of a greeting: “To salute this puppet King, and to welcome these papals.” In his 1774 Poetical Works, Robert Lloyd rightly ponders whether or not one can “bow down with reverent awe Before this puppet king of straw?” Finally, in a statement on British involvement in Eastern Europe as well as a statement on the state of Scotland, Lord Macaulay in his 1855 The History of England writes that, “Scotland would have been a smaller Poland, with a puppet sovereign, a turbulent diet, and an enslaved people.”



Juku – Word of the day

Juku is the Japanese word often translated as “cram school”. The word first appeared in 1931, when the New York Times wrote an article entitled: “New teaching idea spreads in Japan. Obara, founder of the Juku system explains its aims and progress.” In fact, Juku gained in popularity following Japan’s post-war era since which time they have bceome a permanent feature of Japan’s educational landscape. They are privately run businesses which provide different functions depending on the type you choose: Juku to supplement the learning which takes place at school, Juku which help students to prepare for specific entrance exams (including for senior high school and university), or Juku for struggling students who need additional support to keep up with their peers.

Japan has a reputation for an education system characterized by rote learning and long hours of study. By parents, especially mothers, who push their children to the extremes in order to gain places at prestigious schools or score 100% on their maths, English and science tests. Juku feeds into this stereotype because children typically study here late into the evening after regular school and also on weekends. But this is only a stereotype and the phenomenon of Juku cannot simply be explained as a product of pushy parents and an obsession for study. There are a number of reasons why juku have become so popular, and arguments both for and against using them are compelling.

On the one hand, critics of Juku complain that because of the tear-inducing costs associated with sending children here, those from poorer families are left behind while their richer peers study frantically towards academic success. Japan's education system has always been one which is egalitarian in its approach and juku do not sit well with this ideal. But the problem of such an egalitarian system is children who lag behind or those who excel are missing out because the system caters only to the middle road. Juku, it’s argued, can cater to children with needs that fall outside the mainstream.

Supporters of juku also might argue that teaching methods are more innovative than the traditional teacher-centred teaching methods employed at state schools. This probably depends on the particular juku that a child attends, but the argument is: because juku are businesses which seek a profit (made by ensuring children pass their exams), teaching here has to be more innovative. And it's not like the students aren’t enjoying this. Some Japanese children will tell you that they enjoy the different atmosphere of their juku and approach of their teachers (as well as making a new set of friends).

Probably the most common argument against juku is that they deprive children of a childhood - no after school clubs or playing with friends; just study and homework. This might be true, and parents might secretly admit that there child is missing out on…being a child, but the fact is, Japanese parents are under huge pressure to "keep up with the Jones'". The race for getting their child into the right school and university is most definitely on and no one wants their child to come last, for the child’s sake, as much as the parents’. This race is only intensified by the practice of Japan’s top-class companies which continue to hire its annual round of new graduates from only the leading universities.

Juku are not symptomatic of an obsession with education per se, but perhaps more accurately an obsession with status nd the fear of a child falling behind. Until the Ministry of Education reforms teaching methods and approaches to learning in schools, juku will continue to be a necessary supplement to their child's education.


Differentiation and Customer Value in the Translation Market

Differentiation and Customer Value in the Translation Market

Differentiation and Customer Value in the Translation Market - EVS Translations

You have an English document to be translated into Dutch, French and German. There are 10,000 words. A translation service provider provides a quote based on the price per source document word. Three other translation service providers provide a quote and you go with the lowest price.

But far more is happening in the translation market than simple price competition.

It’s time to get to know the translation market and find out how translation service providers differentiate their product and services to offer customer value. This is what separates competitors operating in the translation market.

Point of difference

EVS Translations

Customer value

In-house/external suppliers.
In-house translator teams for most languages. The same translator can be used for future projects, which ensures consistency.
IT resources:
In-house staff/external suppliers.
Can/cannot work with different file formats and design tools.
In-house IT staff with desktop publishing expertise. Clients can receive a finished product (e.g. manual, brochure, etc.) and not just translated text.
It takes the hassle out of any IT-intensive projects.
Location: Domestic/international Offices across Europe and in the US. If the client’s company also has international locations, work at a local level is possible.
For large projects with a tight turnaround, time differences between countries may prove advantageous.
In-house/external suppliers.
Bilingual proofreading by a second expert. This person is a senior translator and is responsible for the individual client. Clients can be confident that the text is free of errors and that the message of the source text is conveyed in the target text.
Most important is that one proofreader is responsible for one client, to ensure consistency of vocabulary.
Project management: Does/does not use project managers.
One/more than one project manager is used per project.
One project manager Not only is communication easy for the client, but the translation process is more efficient because one person controls it, no matter how many people from the translation company are involved.
CAT tools:
Does/does not use CAT tools. Offers one/a variety of CAT tool(s).
A variety of CAT tools CAT tools improve consistency of terminology, which can be difficult on larger projects.
“Translation memories” can be created so that the translator always uses the client’s preferred terminology.
ISO certification:
Yes Workflows are clearly defined and strictly adhered to.
This results in higher quality and delivery by the specified deadline.
Marketing approach:
Low-cost translation for profitability from the sale of individual jobs, even if with the same customer.
Based on long-term value and total cost of ownership.
Based on long-term value and total cost of ownership. EVS Translations provides a service that develops with the client. Value comes with service, such as DTP, terminology management and more.