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3Mar/15

UFO – Word of the day

Although the term UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, it doesn’t necessarily mean alien spacecraft. Nowadays, however, that is usually what the abbreviation in understood to mean. For some people, UFOs are the stuff of fantasy, for others they are real and have been surveiling our planet for centuries. And, of course, there are always people who insist that they have spent the last week onboard a UFO talking to little green men. What we can be sure about is when the term came into English print. In 1953, Donald Edward Keyhoe (1897-1988), an American naval aviator and writer, described the sighting of a UFO in the magazine Airline Pilot writing: “The UFO was estimated to be between 12,000 and 20,000 feet above the jets”. Keyhoe had already written on the topic of UFOs prior to this in 1949 with a hugely popular article in True magazine titled Flying Saucers Are Real, but it took a few more years until the term UFO came into widespread use. In fact, it was US Air Force officer Captain, Edward J. Ruppelt who can really be credited with coining the term UFO. Ruppelt was the first head of Project Blue Book, a project run by the United States Air Force which studied unidentified flying objects and in his Report on Unidentified Flying Objects in 1956, he wrote: “UFO is the official term that I created to replace the words ‘flying saucers’”.

Although Keyhoe initially had only a general interest in the subject of UFOs, he went on to cofound the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena with the opinion that UFO observed in the skies originated from space and the US government was trying to cover this up. He asked Ruppelt to be an advisor to this committee, but Ruppelt declined the offer.

Unfortunately, the answer of whether UFOs exist or, more accurately, if they originate from outer space or not has never been answered, though there has never been any shortage of conspiracy stories surrounding the topic.

The SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a not-for-profit organization based in California which has been scanning the skies with radio and telescope equipment since 1984 to find evidence of signals from alien spacecraft. So it begs the question: if UFOs have been passing through our skies since then, wouldn't the Institute (and other organizations running SETI projects around the world) be the first to know? How can we possibly believe stories of people driving down a road suddenly witnessing an alien UFO, while scientists and their equipment looked on?

We will have to wait for concrete evidence on UFOs from outerspace, but before we actively start inviting the aliens to fly over and visit, perhaps we should consider the wise words of Professor Stephen Hawking: "If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn't turn out well for the Native Americans".

 

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2Mar/15

Casino – Word of the day

There is some magic in the word Casino; or at least, some smell of money and dreams (unfortunately, mostly broken dreams' rotten smell).

At first thought it seems logical the origin of the word to be related to cash or checkout/cash desk. But the etymology appears to have quite different roots. The word casino comes from the Italian Casa – a pleasure-house, or a vacation/summer house, from the Latin casa – cottage.

The first recorded usage in the English language comes from 1789, in the meaning of a public room or club designed for social meetings and dancing. And it was the British diarist and patron of arts Hester Lynch Thrale, later known under her Italian husband's family name Piozzi, to describe her impressions from a gondola ride along the Grand Canal in Venice in her travel book: “The nightly rendezvous, the coffee-house, and casino..... (which enhance the beauty of the Grand Canal)”.

Unfortunately by the time of her visit, the first known European gambling house - The Ridotto in Venice, which opened up in 1638 to provide control gambling during the carnival festivity, was already closed for over a decade.

It is unclear whether Mrs. Piozzi referred to a gambling house or a Venetian brothel, but it is a curious fact that in modern-day Italian, the term casino refers to the second, while the gambling house is spelled casinò with an accent.

In one or another meaning of the word, casinos were designed for entertainment and were spreading across Europe, as a 1836 Europe travel book highlights their role:”In all the principal German towns, Societies corresponding nearly with a London club, and known by such names as the Casino.......or the like, are to be found.”

The first documented record of the word casino in the English language - in the clear meaning of a gambling house - comes again from Venice but 62 years later. The Victorian writer and art critic John Ruskin traveled to Venice with his wife in an attempt to define the Victorian aesthetic ideal. And appears the ideal had a lot to do with gambling, as he writes in a letter to home in 1851 that: “He lost in gambling at Chamouni to the Master of the Casino 25,000 francs.”

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27Feb/15

Martenitsa / Marteniza – Word of the day

Martenitsa - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Martenitsa - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Do you have Bulgarian, Macedonian, Moldovan or Romanian friends or co-workers? Have you noticed that every year, around this time, they wear bracelets, necklaces and other adornments made of white and red yam? Have you been thinking that the bracelets are some type of friendship ones or some wrong interpretation of Cabala or that the yarn accessories were there to match their outfits?

Then you have been complete wrong. The kind of esoteric looking white and red accessories are to celebrate the coming spring and they have a special name – Martenitsa or Marteniza in Bulgarian and Macedonian and Martishor in Romanian language.

The spring welcoming ritual is mostly common in Bulgaria and carries an equally cute and peculiar name – Baba Marta (Grandmother Marta, from March – as the month of March, according to Bulgarian folklore, marks the beginning of springtime). In Bulgarian folklore the months of January and February are considered brothers with bad and freezing temper and here comes their smiling and warming sister – Baba Marta.

Historically, the roots of the Martenitsa custom are believed to had come from 7th century victory over the Byzantine Empire. When the Bulgarian Khan (King) sent eagles with white threads to announce the victory, which partially turned red from the blood during the fight and from there came the white and red yarn Martenitsa – a symbol of victory and new hopes.

Whether this story is true or not, Bulgarians keep to the tradition with the belief that the birth of spring and nature's waking up mark a period of new hopes and fertility and they wear Martenitsa to ensure will be healthy through the year (white and red like the Martenitsa).

Now that you know about it, if you are given a Martenitsa (as the tradition dictates Bulgarians to gift all friends and folks), accept it as a sign of good will and well-being and carry it, believing in its special powers.

But be careful, as there are special rules of carrying a Martenitsa! The first and most important one is that you shall never put it on before 1st March, as when you do – you risk instead of white and red to turn dark and be unhealthy through the year. And the second one – how long shall you carry it – well, there you have two options, either until you see a stork (a real one, those seen on TV do not count) or when you get enough of the Martenitsa but had not yet made it to see a stork, then could find a blossoming tree, tide it to it and walk away with hopes that your life will be as fertile and blooming as the tree you have chosen.

Happy Baba Marta!

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26Feb/15

Life after a Languages Degree

Life after a Languages Degree – my presentation at the University of Central Lancashire

An article by Lucy Kikuchi

Lucy Kikuchi and Takako Amano

Lucy Kikuchi - Sales and Marketing Assistant, EVS Translations and Takako Amano - Head of Japanese Department, University of Central Lancashire

What do you do when you have all the drive and ambition to work in the world of translation, but no experience or knowledge of the industry? - This is what I went to talk about with students on the Japanese degree course at the University of Central Lancashire.

Japan Day” was a university organized event that saw 200 students and staff come together on campus to celebrate all things Japanese. Students showcased their Japanese language skills in an exhibition of their work, there was a traditional Japanese dance display, and stalls selling Japanese snacks or offering the chance to try Japanese calligraphy.

Alongside the fun and games were lectures by myself and the Minister of the Japan Embassy in London, Mr. Hideki Asari, and it was an honour to be in such distinguished company. In fact, it was all quite nerve wracking. Once I arrived at the university, however, and saw the students with their unabated enthusiasm for a language that has shaped my own path in life, the nerves melted away and I thoroughly enjoyed speaking about Japanese, translation and EVS Translations. After the lecture, there was a fifteen minute Q&A session filled with questions and then my role in the day came to an end. I listened to Minister Asari’s lecture with keen interest as he explained why Japan is “Cool, Fun and Serious”, and I enjoyed speaking with staff and students afterwards as they watched all their hard work come to fruition.

My final impressions of the day were, firstly, that the university’s Japanese department, lead by Takako Amano, is powered by a dynamic staff that has created a community within which students can excel and take advantage of opportunities beyond the classroom. Indeed, one of the students has recently received the prestigious MEXT Scholarship (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology) which offers the chance to study at a Japanese university as a research student under the Japanese Government.

Secondly, for budding linguists it seems that working in the translation industry is a highly attractive prospect. Their enthusiasm is palpable, but needs a little guidance. After graduation there is still much work to be done in order to become a successful translator: develop professional writing skills, learn to produce quality work within tight deadlines and become familiar with CAT Tools (computer assisted translation tools). But having met the students at the University of Central Lancashire and seen the glow of ambition in their faces, I’m pretty sure they will succeed if translation is the path they choose.

Many thanks to Takako, her team and all the students for a wonderful day.

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26Feb/15

Tanka – Word of the day

A tanka is the most common form of waka poetry found in classical Japanese literature which dates back to the seventh century. Popular in the Imperial Court, many nobles enjoyed tanka writing competitions and young lovers who were courting wrote tanka to express their feelings. A tanka is 31 syllables long and traditionally written vertically in one line. However, it’s often split into 5 lines written horizontally according to the following number of syllables per line: 5-7-5-7-7. It uses metaphor, simile and personification and, in the same way as a sonnet, a tanka often includes a change in perception during the poem.

The British diplomat William George Aston who was stationed in Japan in the 19th century wrote about the tanka in his book A Grammar of the Japanese Written Language (1877) . He described a tanka as follows: “Tanka…, i.e. ‘short poetry’, so-called to distinguish it from naga-uta or ‘long poetry’, is by far the commonest Japanese metre”. After World War II, there was an influx of translated tanka into American society which helped to increase the poetry’s popularity in the West.

As with many forms of poetry and literature, it’s incredibly difficult to translate tanka into a foreign language, not least because the rhythm of the piece is immediately lost since the translated version can’t follow the 5-7-5-7-7 pattern. Each line and the words within them must be very carefully considered and selected, and there is never a definitive translation. In 1982, a writer for PN Review, a UK based literary magazine, claimed that he did not think tanka are translateable; nevertheless, there is an eloquent example of a tanka translated into English from the Japanese novella “The Hunting Gun" (Pushkin Press, 1989). The wife of a successful physician captures the feelings of loneliness experienced in her marriage to a man who has always been detached and disinterested in her:

What are you doing now
I wonder, knowing full well
that if I were to approach
your lofty repose might
crumble

Whether this English translation resonates with the English reader as it does with a Japanese reader of the original version is difficult to say, but set in the context of the book, it is certainly successful as a haunting and beautiful tanka.

 

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25Feb/15

Nougat – Word of the day

Nougat or not nougat, that is the question – what is the origin of the chewing confection and is the best one Italian or French?

The most common, the white nougat - made with beaten egg whites and honey - originated in Italy, in the early 15th century. According to a legend the confectionery was made for the first time for a wedding fest in Cremona in 1441 and had the shape of the city's bell tower. And from there the name Torrone after the tower's name – Torrazzo.

Though there is another version that similar to nougat confection was a traditional product of nowadays Beneveto region and was described by Latin authors under the name cupedia as early as 1st century.

And, logically, the first written reference to nougat, along with the first recipe in the English language come from 1827, The Italian Confectioner Guglielmo A. Jarrin and his Complete economy of desserts: Cake Nogat, This nougat may be made in molds, or square pieces.”

Though a similar to nougat dessert was known to the Greeks since 9th century and wherever one travels though Italy would find many different varieties of it, it was the French chewing candy that won the world.

It is believed the in the beginning of 17th century, the sugar-nuts Oriental desert Halwa / Halva was imported to Marseille and the region started producing its own variety of it, consisting of mainly sugar and walnuts and called nux gatum (walnut cake).

At the beginning of 18th century, the walnuts were replaced by almonds, which production was wide-spreading across Italy, and the French nougat was born to conquer the world.

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24Feb/15

Encryption – Word of the day

Even before the story broke about US and UK intelligence organizations hacking Dutch SIM card manufacturer Gemalto, security, especially in the electronic age, has been of the highest importance. Though it may not be something we spend a lot of time thinking about, security of information is something that affects many aspects of our daily lives, from using a debit or credit card to downloading an app or sending an e-mail. Of all the tools used to ensure security, there are few more vital than today’s word: encryption.

Coming from the telecommunications industry, encryption - a combination of the prefix “en” and the very “crypt,” etymologically means “to hide or make hidden.” While the word itself may have only originated in the latter half of the 20th century, the need to keep data secure through the use of a code goes back to at least Roman times. While we may not be using encryption to keep out marauding hordes of Germans anymore (well, not too recently), encryption is currently widely used as a means of securing personal and financial transaction data.

Encryption is important because personal and financial data is valuable, not just to individuals and businesses, but also to identity thieves. Of all UK businesses, 81% of large organizations and 60% of small businesses suffered a security breach in 2014. Though the overall number of breaches for affected companies is down by approximately 30% from 2013, the cost of a bad security breach year over year continues to soar for both large and small entities, from £450-850K and £35-65K to £600K-£1.15M and £65-115K respectively.

Detailing the humble manually-entered origin of encryption, the first known use of the word comes from a 1960 issue of Proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute, where the author writes, “After giving the message ...to the waiting code clerk for encryption.” Within the next few years, encryption came to be recognized as having civilian benefits as well: New Scientist in 1964 discusses the possibility of “the encryption for privacy or secrecy of telephone and, eventually, of television transmission.” Finally, by 1977, as we were on the cusp of the personal computer revolution, the Mcgraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology first mentions how “The National Bureau of Standards… has been set the task of developing a standard encryption device for use in data network security.”

While there will always be a need to do all we can to protect the data that is important to us, perhaps we can sleep a little easier knowing that our personal data is protected by encryption.

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23Feb/15

Moving Pictures / Movies – Word of the day

The Academy Awards ceremony is over and the Oscar winner are known. The 87th ceremony started with host's Neil Patrick Harris (parts by Jack Black and Anna Kendrick) spectacular opening ode “Moving pictures”. And while the song had witty references to current celebrities and habits and the marketing concept behind the movie industry, the essence of it is what it is all about: “Cuz all of it is for moving pictures, ….Why do we love them? “

Indeed, why do we love moving pictures? According to the song lyrics it is because “Moving pictures shape who we are.”

The history of moving pictures started long before the invention of the film and referred to a series of images giving an impression of movement when viewed in rapid succession. The first time the term was officially used in the English language, was in the first British daily newspaper Daily Courant. In its 9th May, 1709 issue, “The most Famous, Artificial and Wonderful Moving Picture that came from Germany” was presented.

With the patent of the first machine to show animated pictures or movies in 1867, the term moving pictures started referring to cinematographic films and was shortly equivalent to the more suitable motion pictures.

The first written evidence to describe the new cinematographic process comes from the 3rd October, 1896. It was Queen Victoria to describe the experience in a letter: “We were all photographed..by the new cinematograph process, which makes moving pictures by winding off a reel of films.” The filming process was not only reserved for royalties, as in the next year, Sketch - a journal for art reports on the prices to see moving pictures of a fight: “One guinea and half-a-guinea are being asked for stalls to see the moving pictures of the Corbett–Fitzsimmons fight at the Empress Theatre.” The fight was a 100 minutes long documentary movie.

The world's first colour moving picture dates back to 1902 and was taken by pioneer Edward Raymond Turner from London who patented his colour process on 22 March 1899.

The term Movies appeared in the first years of the 20th century and by then the movie industry was already seriously hitting the US masses, as Springfield (Massachusetts) Sunday Republican reports that: “The average child only goes to the ‘Movies’ twice a month.”

In the following century the movie industry went beyond Hollywood and grew to influence the world to yesterday's 87th Oscars Moving Pictures Show. Unfortunately there was not an epic selfie to break the internet, but yes, moving pictures came to life and “They may not be real life, but they'll show you what real life means”.

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20Feb/15

Austerity – Word of the day

When examining a language, sometimes a word can have a generic meaning as well as a larger conceptual meaning. Since the 2009 recession, one of the best examples of this phenomenon is today’s word - austerity. Coming from the Latin austerus (severe), via the French austérité, the word austerity arrived in the English language in the middle 14th century.

Though it generically is synonymous with words such as harshness, severity or sternness, which can define a person or an object, in the 21st century, we have come to closely identify the word with an economic policy. While the word does maintain it’s meaning when used in an economic sense, it becomes personifying and representative of the means used to achieve a goal of spending less and more wisely. Unfortunately, it is these means, often encompassing overall spending reductions, individual pay reductions, and governmental job losses, that have come to define what austerity means in action.

Considering that austerity policies mean a reduction in public/governmental spending, which is often a significant portion of overall spending, this can lead to an economic drag often sparking other social issues. For example, soon after austerity issues which would force cuts in university student aid were announced in the UK in 2010, university cities across the country were hit with a wave of protests by angry students. More famously, austerity policies in Greece - though they have helped to close the budget gap- have been inextricably linked to an overall unemployment rate of approximately 25% as well as a youth unemployment rate of approximately 50%.

First appearing around 1400 in the Kentish dialect of Middle English, it is written in Remorse (Prick) of Conscience, “the great austerite, that Christ shall show that day to See”. In John Mayer’s Antidote Popery (1625), we can see the word taking on a wider meaning as Mayer writes that, “The Lord not content with inward contrition, would have it outwardly expressed also; such was the austeritie of the Law.” Finally, 6 decades after Mayer, in The Triumph of Our Monarchy, John Northleigh first uses the modern spelling of our word, writing that, “Reducing them to Obedience, because of his austerity and cruel disposition.”

Clearly, austerity has become a very reflexive word - good when referring to personal character, but possibly negative when referring to the modern economic phenomenon. One thing, though, is absolutely certain, austerity when learning and building vocabulary will only lead to problems.

 

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19Feb/15

Carnival – Word of the day

Carnival - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Carnival - Word of the day - EVS Translations

In the last weeks part of the world was in a carnival fever – from what is considered to be the biggest carnival in the world – the Rio Janeiro carnival samba fever, through Germany's Rosenmontag to the special colors of the Venice carnival.

The festivity can be traced back to the three days' festival of Dionysus in Ancient Greece and the seven days of ancient Rome’s Saturnalia – the festival celebrating Saturn.

Though the origin of the meaning of the term carnival is debatable, it is a fact that the festivity marks the start of the period when Catholics are not allowed to eat meat - “Carnem levare”. No wonder the seat of the Catholic Church houses the what is believed to be the most picturesque festival in the world. The Carnival of Venice is believed to have started from a victory of the republic of Venice against the Roman Patriarch of Aquileia in the year of 1162 which people celebrated by dances and festivity in San Marco Square. The Venetian government made the carnival official in 1296 when the day before Lent was officially declared as a day of festivity.

And up to nowadays, when the Catholic world preparing for Lent celebrates the last meat-full dishes and festive times with grand street parades and masquerades, as traditionally the Lent period is considered a no-party one.

The first written references in the English language, of course and without a surprise, come from descriptions of the Italian festivity, from the History of Italy, 1549 by William Thomas and 1565 Works of John Jewel: “The Italians call the first week in Lent the Carnival”.

And the first description in the English language of the grandiosity of the Carnival in Venice comes from 16484, The diary of John Evelyn:”Shrovetide (the first day of Lent), when all the world repaire to Venice to see the folly & madness of the Carnival”.

From Italy, carnival traditions spread to the Catholic Spain, Portugal and France and from there to North America and the Caribbean and Latin America. In the early 19th century the carnival fever hit Germany as well. And the Caribbean immigrants brought the festive traditions with them to the UK.

Carnival – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Carnival – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Carnival – Word of the day - EVS Translations

Carnival – Word of the day - EVS Translations

 

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