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.

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
Read more
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
Read more
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,
Read more
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
Read more
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

Read more
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

Read more
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
Read more
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

Read more
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

Read more
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
Read more
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
Read more
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
Read more
Asia in days, months and numbers
Just as the Pacific is our mightiest ocean so Asia is our mightiest continent. When it comes either to distinguishing between our seven days of the week or to finding specific numbers to be a sum total there is a healthy diversity of interpretation across this continent.

Thais believe that if they dress in a certain colour each day it will bring them good luck. The code is: Monday: yellow
Read more
Pacific Intimacies
Having taken 50 nights to cross the Pacific Ocean, I’ve learned a strong respect for its immensity and recognise the cultures surrounding and engulfed by its waves. There is a refreshingly diverse series of practices that characterise differing degrees of intimacy and interaction.

When it comes to meeting and greeting, bowing for the Japanese is interpreted as an important part of the process and a sign of respect. The act
Read more
Summer Holidays
While their negative impact on the economy is a matter for debate, there’s no denying that the lengthy summer holidays taken in some European countries can make it hard to conduct business during the summer months.

Despite the fact that offices in most countries don’t actually shut completely for August, long school holidays and a generous number of paid leave days ensure that many businesses in Europe can be extremely
Read more
How to close a deal in Nigeria
The world’s sixth largest oil-producing nation, Nigeria is considered to be an African super power. With uniquely personal approach to business, it’s important to be prepared for some probing questions and a change of pace.

The basics

An industrious and well-educated nation, with the largest population in Africa, hierarchy plays a key role in business culture in Nigeria. Both age and position command respect, with the oldest person present being
Read more
Chinese luck
Generally speaking animals can be interpreted as bearers of good luck. Deer connotes wealth and the bear is a male symbol. The dragon is seen as a benevolent being that brings rain for the farmers. The Emperor of China even was considered a personification of the dragon.

As for fish, the eel is a symbol of carnal love and in China, but more especially in Japan, the carp symbolises courage
Read more
How to close a deal in the USA
Known internationally for their friendly and informal approach, doing business in the USA can require a dramatic shift in approach and pace, which you must be prepared for in order to achieve success.

The basics

A country founded on the belief that hard work is rewarded, ‘time is money’ in the USA. This means much of its business culture is centred around getting to the point quickly. Communication styles are
Read more
How to close a deal in India

India is fast becoming one of the world’s largest economies, with the third-largest GDP in terms of purchasing-power-parity. But while international trading is booming, India has retained its own unique and complex business culture.

The basics
A diverse country, made up of hugely varying regions, it can be hard to take one generic approach when looking at how to do business in India. However, as similar business etiquette is applied

Read more