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Posted By P & L Blog

Gargoyle and Eiffel Tower

The title of this post is in no way meant to disparage the French, it's just that they have a very different take on Halloween.  It's easy to understand why a country known for sophistication and taste might not embrace a celebration that has many adults dressing up in silly costumes.  Worse than that, the waste of perfectly good pumpkins may be the biggest barrier to the French ever embracing Halloween.  Peter Mayle, the author of "A Year in Provence", shares his experiences.

Happy alowine!




Photo by sarah|rose under Creative Commons license.

Posted By P & L Blog

Gas Flame

Common Sense Advisory posted an interesting story about a gas company that translated a message to their customers in nine languages.  So far, so good.  Customers were instructed to read "important safety information", and that's where the company dropped the ball.  The important information itself was only in English.

Imagine how you would feel if you received the mailing and the information was in a language you couldn't understand.  Would you panic and worry about your family's safety?  Would you be concerned that your home was going to explode?  Probably.

The gas company was irresponsible.  What if there had been a tragedy because customers were uninformed? They need to re-think their communications strategy and decide whether the cost of translating information for their customers outweighs the potentially horrific costs of not doing so.

By the way, Common Sense Advisory calculated that it would have cost the utility less than $500 to have the information translated.  They offered some good suggestions on other ways the gas company could have shared the information with their multilingual customer base.  Can you think of any others? 



Photo by ShimGray under Creative Commons license.

Posted By P & L Blog

The Interpreter

Why do people decide to become a translator or interpreter?  What's a typical day like?  What is the best part of working with languages? Hint: if your idea of being a translator or interpreter is based on the performances of Gwyneth Paltrow ("A Perfect Murder") or Nicole Kidman ("The Interpreter"), you may be in for a surprise.

"Translator Tales", an oral history project co-sponsored by the American Translators Association and McElroy Translations, lets translators and interpreters tell their own stories.

The project wants to bring "translation and interpreting careers to life through personal stories". The first interviews were recorded at the ATA's 2008 Annual Conference and more are being taped this week at this year's meeting in New York.  There are some great stories here.  What's yours?




Photo by Bangemsmurf




Posted By P & L Blog



Do you know what word is used the most in English?  Would it surprise you to learn that "no" is used more often than "yes'?  Which do you think is more popular,  "you" or "I"?

If you are a lexophile and you think you can answer these questions correctly, than you should play "Can you name the most commonly used words in the English language?".  Let us know how you do.



Photo by Feuillu

Posted By P & L Blog



The language portal is offering survival guides for travelers in 14 languages.  There are three versions of the Survival Guides:

The Conversation Survival Guide will help you ask for directions, order food, and have a simple conversation. 

The Complaints Survival Guide provides you with basic vocabulary to complain and solve problems in hotels, restaurants and when renting a car.

The Computer Survival Guide guides you through the challenges of using computers with interfaces in a foreign language.

The guides are available in English, Chinese, Spanish, French, and Hindi.  To learn what other languages are available and to download your Survival Guide, visit their website


Photo by Carlos Adampol. Creative Commons license.



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