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“Translators are the shadow heroes of literature, the often forgotten instruments that make it possible for different cultures to talk to one another.”—Paul Auster 


Today is International Translation Day.  Although it started as a tribute to St. Jerome, the patron saint of translators, it has evolved into a day when professional translation organizations all over the world recognize the work of translators.

Without the work of translators, most people would not be able to read Shakespeare or Tolstoy.  They wouldn't have been introduced to magic realism in “A Hundred Years of Solitude” or feared for Harry Potter’s life.  Pokemon would be unknown outside Japan, and "Plaza Sesámo" wouldn't mean anything to generations of Latin American children. As for philosophy, much of it would be Greek to the rest of us.

Translators work behind the scenes to bring the world together one word at a time.  To honor their work, go to the nearest bookstore or library today and start reading a book that's been translated.  Imagine the new world you'll discover.

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Someone may speak two languages well enough to communicate with native speakers, but the skills demanded of translators go beyond that. Translators must bridge linguistic and cultural gaps, which means translating concepts, instead of a literal word-for-word version.


Here is a well-known example: Pepsi wanted to increase sales in China. The slogan "Come Alive With The Pepsi Generation" was introduced to Chinese consumers as "Pepsi Will Bring Your Ancestors Back From The Dead."


Other cases aren't only scary, but actually fatal. A medicine bottle reads "Adults: 1 tablet 3 times a day until passing away" when the intention was “until symptoms pass..."


Most of the Western vocabulary comes from Latin and Greek and many words may look similar in several languages but have different meanings.


These so-called “false friends” can be misleading.






Article by Rafa Lombardino

Source: San Diego BBB

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Both interpreters and translators fill necessary roles in today's global economy. They facilitate cross-cultural communication by transposing one language into another.

Quality translators and interpreters do more than just translate words, they convey meaning and concepts into another language and culture. As such, quality translators and interpreters are not only bilingual, they are also culturally literate when it comes to the languages/cultures they are translating between. To this end, many translators and interpreters have spent extended periods of time in other countries learning not only other languages, but also the cultures that correspond to them. Moreover, they are knowledgeable in a variety of subject matters and possess a wide and sometimes very specialized vocabulary in both languages depending on the type of translation or interpreting they do.

Read more of this article from (and see where Janine Libbey is quoted) here.

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What do you do when you are tired of using the same word over and over, or when you just can't find the right word?

I just found a fabulous free tool that gives you more than a traditional dictionary or thesaurus.  Visuwords™ shows you how words are connected in a diagram that looks like a neural net (great for visual learners).  The information is delivered in a series of nodes; if you hover over the node you'll see synonyms for that word and its definition.

Some of the results may surprise you.  When I typed in "translation", "pony" and "crib" came up as associated words.  At first, that made no sense to me, but when I followed the path back to my original query, I saw the connection.   Have fun!



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We just received an email from a translator interested in working with us.  Unfortunately, his email fell short of the mark.  Every culture has its own way of doing business, but an email that says only  "Greetings! Are you interested in my cv for future needs?" wouldn't be a winner in most of them.

If Giovanni P. had read "Dos and Don'ts for Freelance Translators: How to Get More Work Through Email" before contacting us, we may have looked at his C.V.  Instead, we deleted his email.




Image by Mzelle Biscotte under Creative Commons license.






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