No-deal Brexit?

Any remaining hopes for a smooth Brexit were dashed in January with the UK Prime Minister’s failure to secure a parliamentary majority for her EU withdrawal agreement. This means that all possibilities are still open for the future after March. Leaving the EU without a deal will prevent any transition period and require firms to continue to work on their Brexit contingency planning for a wider range of scenarios. This is made all the harder by the lack of clarity about what each of the possible options will mean for a firm’s clients.

A rose, by any other name …

What’s in a name? Quite a lot, it turns out, if you take a look at the etymology behind it. Words can often do much more than merely tell us what something is.  We can use them to trace the development of languages and how people from different periods of human history thought, and the way languages change can even tell us when certain groups of people came into contact with one another.

Britisches Englisch und amerikanisches Englisch: Typische Unterschiede

Es ist nicht ungewöhnlich, dass eine Sprache, die in mehreren Ländern oder Regionen gesprochen wird, auch in unterschiedlichen Varianten existiert. So gibt es Französisch und Italienisch auch in einer schweizerischen Form; Spanisch und Portugiesisch sind sowohl in Europa als auch in Südamerika zu Hause. Für die Weltsprache Englisch sind die Unterschiede der lokalen Varianten allerdings oft noch allgegenwärtiger. Vor allem wenn es um die bekanntesten Vertreter geht, nämlich um britisches Englisch und amerikanisches Englisch.

‘Douze points’ for Linguistic Diversity

It’s that time of year again … The days are getting warmer, flowers are blooming, birds are chirping, and a girl’s thoughts turn to one thing: Eurovision! The Eurovision Song Contest, the longest-running annual international TV song competition in the world, is a cultural phenomenon that inspires feverish adoration in some and causes revulsion in others. As a lover of both languages and all things camp, from the first time I watched the song contest in 2008,

Brexit – you couldn’t make it up!

I remember an early 1980s sitcom shown in the UK called Yes, Minister! Written by former insiders experienced in the machinations behind the closed doors of British Government departments, it satirised politics, showing the relationships between politicians and those responsible for pretending to carry out their particular whim of the day. Later events in British politics seem to suggest that it ought better to be viewed as a documentary. An example of the insights from 1980 between a cabinet minister,

Cow pies and the Norman Conquest

As an English speaker living in Germany, I have often wondered why the German words for different kinds of meat are essentially the same as the names of the animals themselves, whereas the English language (usually) has one name for an animal and another for its meat. For example, in England I would have ordered a fillet of pork or a beef pie, but in Germany I now ask for a pig fillet or a cow pie.

You say vacation, I say tomato

It’s that time of year again: the sun is shining, temperatures are rising and the thought of spending another sweltering day at your desk feels like torture. It’s time for a well-deserved vacation! Or is it holidays? Well that depends on where you’re from. Americans go “on vacation” or “vacay”, while Brits, Canadians and Australians go “on holiday” or “hols”.

Shoes on hands, pears in light fittings
and snails without clothes

If there is one thing that we translators sometimes enjoy even more than an excellent translation, it is a flawed one. (And, as with any translation, context is key here … bear with me.) Seeing ourselves as bastions of phraseological felicity and fidelity, we dutifully spend our days toiling away on our own flawless translations and eradicating any grammatical, lexical and orthographical irregularities from the texts we read. But we occasionally come across the odd mistranslation that,

The Dots Are Watching You …

Although the English language is rich in many ways, it is distinctly lacking in one aspect: diacritical marks. In fact, most of the commonly used words in English that feature accents, cedillas, and tildes are loan words from other European languages – née, façade, jalapeño. When you consider that other languages get to pepper their words with creative letters such as ø, ô, ž, or even ķ, it’s easy to see how an English native speaker could start to get a bit envious.