Talk to the world

World languages are a window into our diverse cultures and the way we communicate with each other. Our News and Views blog will give you inspiration and ideas for talking and working with people across the world. If you have a topic that you¹d like to see us write about, please get in touch.

On a shoestring
Whenever I discuss the world of language, apart from the quick ‘cheap laugh’ of an amusing definition, it is always the quest for the origin of a word or phrase that is sought. Derivation is fascinating as it shows the enduring power of legends and myths that cut across all cultures. In this respect English is no different and is open to some wonderful interpretations. Here are some of
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Portmanteau Travels
Another area for fun or indeed for those with a statistical mentality are particularly long words. Germany leads the way with a penchant for portmanteau words - some of which are already being consigned to obsolescence by German dictionary writers.

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz meaning “thelaw concerning the delegation of duties for the supervision of cattle marking and the labeling of beef’ is 63 letters long.

The Germans are particularly well-known for their
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Sometimes Sunshine
As a child one of the fun things about language were the word games one learnt soon enough to enjoy. None better perhaps than tongue twisters that always translated into nonsense that always succeeded in bringing humour across the generations. From ‘Around the rugged rock, the ragged rascal ran’ to ‘red leather, yellow leather’ one aspect of mastering a language is being able to master its tongue twisters. They are
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How to ensure high quality marketing translations
Your marketing materials are the face of your brand, and if you decide to translate these for your global markets it is important that as much care is taken with the translations as with creating the original English copy.  Errors in translation can lead to embarrassment for your company and potential loss of business in these markets. If you want to ensure that you have high quality translated marketing materials,
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Eid Around The World

The Islamic religious festival of Eid, or Eid al-Fitr to give it its full name, is one of the most important dates on the Muslim calendar. Just like the Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter, the ways in which Eid is celebrated vary greatly from country to country. Let's take a look at some of them.

Saudi Arabia
Eid celebrations in Saudi Arabia are typically some of the most extravagant
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4 Website Translation Tips

With the steady march of globalisation and internationalisation comes the need for businesses to promote themselves to a global audience. A strong website is key to being able to speak to, and with, clients and customers from around the world. In an increasingly global marketplace, having your website translated and localised for your key markets can help expand your global reach and sales. To help you on your way to

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Famous Fictional Interpreters

The rising popularity and controversy surrounding the celebrated Chinese television programme Les Interprètes (The Interpreters) got me thinking about other famous fictional interpreters in popular culture.  Whilst there are always inaccuracies that can occur in fiction, such as the glamorisation or oversimplification of interpreting, programmes like this do raise awareness of what is a very highly-skilled and difficult profession, but which is still often overlooked. Our previous blog covered the top

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The Death of Language
Why languages die and why some are born again.

Most people will be familiar with the concept of a dead language, but what does it actually mean for a language but what does it actually mean for a language to be "dead", and what factors cause it to happen?

Firstly we need to make the distinction between dead and extinct languages. A dead language is a language which has no
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The Language of Fantasy

A hugely important part of the creation of any vivid and believable fantasy world is creating enticing cultures and languages for the various different characters that inhabit it. This is something that we often take for granted when we enjoy our favourite works of fantasy, be they in print or on the screen. However, as in the real world, language and culture are so integral to the way that people speak, think

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A failed experiment in constructed language?

Most people have heard of Esperanto, and indeed most people are aware of its status as a constructed language, i.e. a language that has been deliberately designed for human communication, rather than having developed naturally.  What most people probably don’t know is what the intended purpose of the language is.  There is also much debate as to whether Esperanto has in fact achieved what it was supposed to.

Esperanto was

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Backstroke of the West
Back-translation gone very, very wrong.

These days, the idea of back-translation, translating from one language into another and then back again, is generally frowned on by experienced linguists.  The general idea is that the back-translation is a way of checking that the original meaning of the source text has not been ‘lost in translation’ by comparing the back-translation to the text you started out with.  However, as anyone who has
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Giving business gifts in Europe
While gift giving at business meetings is not expected in many European countries, such as the UK, France and Italy, in some areas it does form a fundamental part of relationship building. Whether it is appropriate to give a gift and if so, what to give, can vary from company to company as well as from country to country, but there are some general guidelines it can be useful to
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Global business by email
Time and budget constraints mean it’s increasingly common to conduct international business over email. But with the medium open to awkward misinterpretations and misunderstandings even when all correspondents share the same first language, it’s sensible to follow a few simple guidelines when sending email to foreign contacts.

Follow their lead

When it comes to emails, writing style can differ greatly from the very formal (which is, for example, adopted by the
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Women in business: customs around the globe
As women make up half the work force and there’s a growing an emphasis on equality in most Western countries, business people are generally expected to conduct themselves in the same way, regardless of their gender. However, when engaging in international business dealings it can be advisable to consider local customs relating to interacting with those of the opposite sex, especially when there is the potential to cause offence.

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The etiquette of business dining in France
A nation known for its passion for food, it should come as no surprise that business dining in France is commonplace. But with restaurants offering varying levels of formality and an emphasis on good etiquette, it’s wise to follow a few simple rules and look to your host for guidance.

Seating arrangements

At French business meals the host will generally sit in the honoured position at the head of the
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Culture and vocabulary
Isn’t it fascinating to see which languages have extensive vocabularies for different things? We all know about the somewhat apocryphal number of Inuit words for snow - many of which describe the varying stages of the melting process. It is true, however, that Hawaiians have 65 words alone for describing fishing nets, 108 for sweet potato, 42 for sugar cane and 47 for bananas (the basic food stuffs).

Scotland goes
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The etiquette of business dining in Germany
While good dining etiquette in Germany does not differ greatly to that of many other western countries, there are a few small variations of which it can be useful to be aware. Business meals rarely slip into informality here, so greet with a firm handshake.

Seating arrangements

When attending a business meal, it’s good etiquette to remain standing until you are shown where to sit. It’s customary for either the
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The etiquette of business dining in Japan
Japan is a country known for its unique culture and traditions and the etiquette of business dining is no exception. From formal meals to traditional tea ceremonies, it is wise to develop some understanding of what is considered good manners before venturing to Japan to do business.

Seating arrangements

Most traditional Japanese meals take place sat on a tatami, a reedlike mat inset in the top part of the
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