English is often assumed to be an “international language” (whether there is such a thing is a topic for another day). As a result, some English words have become everyday terms in some non-English-speaking countries, not least in the business environment, with many users having no real knowledge of what the words actually mean and dangerously assuming that this is how English speakers talk.
Each language has its own logic, sets of rules and exquisite weirdnesses. If something looks strange to you in the translation, it may be due to such idiosyncrasies rather than a translator’s mistake.
For example, in French there is a hard space in front of certain items of punctuation such as question and exclamation marks, colons and semicolons, and quotation marks. Also note that the latter Continue reading →
It is intriguing to notice that many organisations claim to be “international”, yet their website is available in English only. The myth that everyone speaks English is widespread amongst those English speakers who, interestingly enough, do not speak another language themselves. (I am yet to meet someone who can communicate in another tongue and still agrees with this statement.) This home-made cliché costs the UK £7.3bn each year in lost trade. Don’t be amongst the losers. Continue reading →
Translators usually work anonymously, in the shadows. We receive a text in one language, we send back the same story in another language, and no one out there ever knows who did it, like a dark secret kept between us and the client, our partner in crime. In history, the dark art of translation has sometimes proved as dangerous as alchemy and witchcraft.
In the 14th century, William Tyndale translated the Bible from Latin into English so that even “the boy who ploughs the field” could Continue reading →