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Oktoberfest – Word of the day

Oktoberfest - Word of the day - EVS Translations

Oktoberfest - Word of the day - EVS Translations

1 October is tomorrow so time for the Oktoberfest.

Wrong. The biggest beer festival in Germany is already more than half over in September. True it was first celebrated in October to celebrate a Bavarian wedding, But it became so popular that it was extended into September, also to take advantage of the better weather.

What is now the biggest festival in the world now starts in the middle of September. It attracts more than six million visitors a year who between them spend almost half a billion euro at the Oktoberfest itself and almost double that in the city for accommodation and souvenirs. Altogether the Oktoberfest offers seats for some 100,000 people

Key elements of the Oktoberfest are beer, German folk music and rides. This year the beer costs EUR 10 per one-litre glass (expect a big glass not quite full). What is actually served in the glass may only be from a brewery which brews within the city of Munich. This limits the number of beers being served to six. These beer producers serve up a special Oktoberfest beer with a higher alcoholic content than usual. Amazing is the fact that only 6 million litres are sold, an average of only one litre per person. In view of the obviously excessive consumption of many, the question is really – what are the others drinking?

But this blog is about the origin of the word. Oktoberfest first appeared on the radar of English vocabulary in a travel guide from 1895. Baedeker’s writes that the fest attracts great crowds from Upper Bavaria. As a great time, the beer festival travelled well. Brought by German communities around the world, Oktoberfest is celebrated in many places, particularly in the United States.


Ikebana – Word of the day

Ikebana - Elaine Jo - EVS Translations

Ikebana - Elaine Jo - EVS Translations

Ikebana is a type of flower arranging unique to Japan. It differs from Western flower arranging because of its asymmetric shapes, use of space, use of all parts of the flowers including the stems and leaves, and because the finished form is not only aesthetically pleasing, but conveys philosophical meaning, also.

Captain Francis Brinkley, an advisor to the new Meiji government and later the owner of a Japanese newspaper, wrote the Oriental Series: Japan in 1901. He remarked that “The name applied to it, ike-bana, or ‘living flower’, explains at once the fundamental principle..that the flowers must be so arranged as to suggest the idea of actual life”. His description became the first reference to ikebana in the English language. During the post war period in Japan, it became a popular past time for many wives of U.S. army officers stationed in the country thus helping to spread knowledge of this art form to the rest of the world.

As with many aspects of Japanese culture, ikebana can trace it roots back to Buddhism and the practice of leaving an arrangement of flowers at the altar. These days, people practice ikebana in quiet, thoughtful reflection selecting the elements of the piece and arranging them in such a way as to make a statement on the interaction between humans and the natural world.


Cacophony – Word of the day

The origin of the word cacophony goes back to Ancient Greece where the Greek word kakophonia was made up of kakos (bad) and phone – voice. Quite clearly the word was used in reference to harsh voices and unpleasant sounds.

As many words of Greek origin, the word cacophony came into the English language quite late. The first recorded reference is from 1656, the year in which Thomas Blount published his quaintly named Glossographia. This book is a key work in the history of English words with almost 1,500 words being introduced to the language for the first time. One of those the Word of the day blog has mentioned before – caravan. Others will follow. The quaintest part is its subtitle “A dictionary interpreting all such hard words, whether Hebrew, Greek or Latin”. His definition for the difficult word cacophony was “an ill, harsh, or unpleasing sound”.

For more information on just how interesting dictionaries can be refer to the blog War of the Words which describes a battle of words in the 1600s.

In poetry and music cacophony refers to the accidental or intentional mixes of harsh, unmelodious sounds. The first use in this meaning appeared in a mighty work on music running into 4 volumes. On a section about organ music, cacophony results from incorrect setting of the stops.

In everyday life, the term cacophony is most often used to describe disorganization, chaos and situations which went beyond control and out of plan. To be honest, some karaoke attempts give a good idea of what cacophony is.


Catastrophe – Word of the day

Greek words came into the English language for the first time at the end of the 1500s. Finally English people were reading Greek and taking up the words. Catastrophe is one such word, meaning rapid change or turnaround.

To begin with catastrophe had a different meaning to the one used today. The denouement in a piece of literature was a catastrophe. A catastrophe could be positive or negative, but the main thing was that it represented a big change. The early uses between 1579 and 1602 made this quite clear. The first use states that the story was like “Aesop’s fables, but the catastrophe and end is far different”.  There is talk of a “comical catastrophe” or a sad one “sad is the plot, sad the catastrophe”.

Gradually there was a change to catastrophe being a final event, which was bad. In 1672, the poet Marvel writes about “the late war, and its horrid catastrophe”. And it was only a hundred years later that catastrophe was used in the sense of a huge disaster.  George Anson was in charge of a fleet of 8 British ships when Britain was at war with Spain in 1740. His job was to seek out Spanish possession and take it for the British. His voyage was deemed a success – he captured a treasure ship, but did not gain territory. However the suffered one disaster after another at sea. He started with a team of 1854 men and came back having lost 90% of them. In his A Voyage Round the World, Anson describes some of the problems he faced, using the word catastrophe four times. One example, “Thus were we all, both at sea and on shore, reduced to the utmost despair by this catastrophe“.


Plutocratic – Word of the day

Plutocratic  comes from the Greek pluto (rich) and cratia (rule). In English the word plutocratic first appeared in a minor book which appeared in 1631 describing various different characters. The virtually unknown author Saltonstall writes briefly about a world in which the main god is riches and “the most universal government is now a plutocracy”.

The next reference appears some 20 years later in a book called Jewel by the poet and translator of Rabelais Thomas Urquhart. The main subject is Scotland. He complains bitterly that there is a lot of poverty and as a result no money for literature. He describes the times and gives a definition of plutocracy as “the sovereign power of money”.

Obviously the word plutocracy relates to a political system. Throughout the 1800s, it is frequently used in comparison to other small groups of rulers - aristocracies or oligarchies. Where money rules the world, it is concentrated in few hands. Examples are modern day Russia where some 110 of the super-rich own 35% of the wealth of the whole country.  In the US, the top 0.1% now generates approximately 8% of national income.

Rutherford Hayes, the 19th President of the United States made a comment which echoes that of Urquhart. “Abolish plutocracy if you would abolish poverty. As millionaires increase, pauperism grows. The more millionaires, the more paupers. “


Business Translation: The Tremor of Scottish Independence

Result of Scotland's Referendum

Business Translation: The Tremor of Scottish Independence - EVS Translations

Several days ago, Scotland’s bid for independence from the United Kingdom failed with only 46% of the vote. For many people, especially those in or bordering Scotland, life can go back to normal and talk about Scottish secession can (at least in the near future) be removed from the headlines. For other groups across Europe, however, the thought that the Scottish would actually take the idea of independence to a vote - and almost succeed - is an inspiring wake-up call.

Currently, there are more than 20 active separatist movements in Europe. Though most seek only a greater degree of autonomy, there are some who, if given the opportunity, would opt for outright independence if given the choice, such as, perhaps, the Basque country or Catalonia (where an independence vote is expected to take place later this year). To many within these regions separatism only makes sense, as they have a different language and culture than the nation to which they belong. While there is certainly something to be said for self-determination and sovereignty, in a business and economic sense, the results of an independence movement could easily complicate international business in these regions.

For a moment, consider what many predict would have happened if Scotland had voted to dissolve the union with Great Britain.

  1. RBS and other financial companies would have relocated their headquarters south to England.

  2. Currency issues - like whether to use the Pound or the Euro or have a national currency - would have to be addressed, and this uncertainty would, at least temporarily, create adverse market conditions.

  3. Land use contracts, such as those in the North Sea oil fields, would possibly need to be renegotiated.

  4. By stopping the (or limiting) the flow of British money to Scotland, the Scottish government would have to address a budget shortfall by either cutting services or raising taxes.

Clearly, changes like these would prevent a daunting challenge to any business, which can explain why a large percentage of the business community was for retaining the union. Thankfully, aside from these reasons, one aspect that didn’t worry too many people was the language aspect, due to the widespread use of English in Scotland and their 300 year union with Great Britain.

If this sort of independence drive happens in one of the more linguistically separate regions of Europe, things could get ugly. In the Basque country or Catalonia, for example, the 4 previously mentioned issues could definitely be compounded by the fact that everything would need to be translated into another language. Considering the prosperity of these regions - the Basque community has the highest per capita income in Spain and Catalonia has the highest regional GDP in Spain - continuing to do business in these locations is essential.

While international business must be expected to keep its eye on local and regional issues, planning and preparing for secessions is difficult. Using Scotland as an example, companies couldn’t be expected to have staff fluent in Scottish Gaelic and Lowland Scots available the day after the vote, just in case it passed. So what can a business do with time and cost being prohibitive? This is where a tailor-made solution from a business-oriented translation company will put your mind at ease.

EVS Translations has more than 20 years of experience with all aspects of business translations and services more than 20 languages in-house. Place all of your business translation projects with our experienced staff and develop new opportunities. EVS Translations provides specialist translations of business communication, contracts, and related materials for corporate partners from the UK, U.S., Germany, Israel, France, England, Russia, Korea, and Japan.

Contact us today to discuss your business translations projects.

Learn more about how we can help you successfully grow your business and give us a call TODAY:
+1-404-523-5560 or send us an email: usa(at)


Hypnotic and hypnotism – Words of the day

It is true that Hypnos was the Greek god of sleep and that the word came into the English language after the Renaissance, once the classics were being read in England for the first time.

However hypnotic did not appear with reference to the Greeks, but in a medical discourse on urine in 1625 in which James Hart translates from Dutch and comments on the masterwork by the Dutchman Pieter van Foreest. The book states that hypnotic medicines should not be ignored. Here hypnotic means something inducing sleep. Fifty years later hypnotic appears in yet another translation of an important medical treatise. The work was written in Latin by Dr Willis, an English doctor who in the custom of the time wrote in the European language for science. A clear definition is given “hypnotic, a medicine that causes sleep” in the translation by Samuel Pordage – a poet and rival to Dryden.

In its current sense the word has a clear origin. Dr James Braid was known in two areas of research – the club foot and mesmerism. But he came to his own as the father of hypnotism. In 1841 he saw a demonstration on stage of what was then known as then animal magnetism. One year later, he published a Practical Essay on the Curative Agency of Neuro-Hypnotism defining it as “the state or condition of nervous sleep” and soon afterwards used hypnotism as a shortened version of the same. Ten years later, he published another book, Magic, Witchcraft, Animal Magnetism, Hypnotism and Electro Biology indicating that hypnotism had not yet made it in scientific terms.


Ryokan – Word of the day

A ryokan is a Japanese inn and is a popular alternative to Western style hotels when travelling around the country. The word was first used in an English publication in 1914 when the Official Guide East Asia listed many different ryokan describing them as “The best class of Japanese inns”.

For tourists visiting Japan who are looking for the authentic Japanese experience, there is no better place to start than reserving a room in a ryokan. Rates in Tokyo can start from around 10,000 JPY per night (approximately 55 GBP) and this often includes breakfast. Ryokan always have traditional decor and furnishings for a simple, yet elegant feel. Guest rooms are characterized by tatami mats (a traditional soft rice-straw flooring), a low level table to sit around, futons, which are put away during the day to create a large open space, and shoji which are the sliding paper screen doors - these usually open up to reveal a small seating area with arm chairs by a window. Because the futons can be stored away in large wall cupboards and the tatami flooring is relatively soft, the rooms offer a very comfortable space for travellers to rest in.

The problem with staying at a ryokan for the foreign tourist, however, may come at meal times where the only food on the menu is authentic Japanese cuisine. Since this can be quite an acquired taste - with offerings of miso soup, grilled fish, bowls of sticky rice and other small dishes such as tofu - you may find yourself somewhat hungry if this doesn’t suit your palate.

Despite this issue, however, ryokan provide a wonderful starting point to any Japanese adventure and since some of them, especially those out in the countryside, have their own onsen (natural hot spring), there can be no better way to experience Japanese culture when time is limited.


Atlas – Word of the day

The Greeks and their story telling has contributed a great deal to the development of mythology and has given a lot to the English language. What is not generally known is that the “classics” as we now know them were virtually unknown in England until the time of Shakespeare. With the desire for new knowledge, there was interest in other cultures which led to the quick development of the English language.
The development of the word atlas is an example of this. In Greek mythology Atlas was a Titan who annoyed the gods. As an extraordinarily strong person, his punishment was to support the whole world. In English, it was first used to praise for example by describing someone as the “Atlas of poetry”.

However, from 1636 this meaning disappeared into the background where it stayed. This is because in the same year the Atlas; or a geographic description of the world, by Gerard Mercator and John Hondt was published, which was a collection of maps. The spread of the word was propelled by the fact that the cover page had a huge drawing of Atlas supporting the heavens, and so the word immediately took up its new meaning. In his famous diaries John Evelyn recalls only five years later that he went shopping for maps and atlases.

Now just as postcards, guidebooks or stamps, the atlas in its book form is being squeezed by the internet.


1st Annual Wine Reception

Ambience and Pure Enjoyment
at the 1st Annual Wine Reception
Hosted by EVS Translations USA in Atlanta

Wine Reception Atlanta

1st Annual Wine Reception
Hosted by EVS Translations USA in Atlanta

As a special gesture of gratitude, EVS Translations USA  is inviting business partners and friends to its first annual wine reception, where they can spend some time and savor the fruit of the vine.

The exclusive wine tasting will take place on Wednesday, September 24, 2014, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the lobby of the company’s office building:

260 Peachtree Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30303

On the evening of the event, guests will enjoy a variety of wines from Germany and Bulgaria.
The wines will be accompanied by a wide selection of European hors d’oeuvres.

Edward Vick, founder and CEO of the EVS Translations group, is looking forward to the event with anticipation: “For me personally, community events of this kind always have a special significance. The aim is not only to thank our partners for their business but also to maintain our personal relations, which have been the center of our business model since the very beginning.”

Contact name: Dr. Florian Schwieger, Head of Marketing and Business Development Manager
Phone: +1 404-523-5560
E-mail: florian.schwieger(at)