Monthly Archives: October 2016

A blow with a brush. Or Royale with Cheese.


Un brushing or eine Afterhour are words that seem, at first glance, to come from the same place as ‘Royale with Cheese’; English words incorporated into another language with the minimum of fuss. However, these two examples do not have the exact same meaning as their English language counterparts; they are pseudo-anglicisms. These can be either portmanteaus or words appropriated for a different meaning. For example, unless you know, ‘Un brushing‘ might seem obvious, but in fact ‘Un brushing’ involves blow drying, rather than merely dragging a comb through one’s hair.

These new words and terms can have an almost childlike naivety – a sense of fun if you like –  such as, for example, the Danish for carrycot being babylift.  There’s a long-term movement of English into other languages, with a term losing syllables over the years as words diverge but meanings remain. This produces a dissonance, a sense of detachment, in terms such as body rental, which is an Italian term for hiring a temp.

French and German language institutions are not huge fans of pseudo-anglicisms, or indeed anglicisms full stop, especially where a perfectly good word exists in their own language for the same term. Also, there is the simple fact that in using these phrases some Europeans’ speech may sound a bit clumsy to native English language speakers. However, in Britain we do the same thing frequently enough; a latte in Italy is just a glass of milk, and ooh la la can mean ‘Oh dear’.  Let’s be honest too; all languages combine and use words and phrases from others.  How many native English speakers say they are ‘going to the loo’ without realising the (French) origins of that particular phrase?

Language does provoke strong emotions at times. However, for all of us who love it, we know It has never been at static thing – even when institutions try to force it to conform to their conventions.  Words will change, but the way they change can be shaped. That’s true, but while the institutions that act to guard their languages will do what they can to preserve the linguistic purity of their particular mother tongue, the people – the great unwashed that we are – will also mould words, foreign or indeed our own, in ways that the good and the great don’t always like.  As the Latin phrase has it, ‘Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ Perhaps that’s what makes languages such fun!

Rosetta Stone, Global Connects

Why the net works for translators

At the start of your translation/interpretation career you will soon discover you need skills beyond the obvious multi-lingualism. One of the most important to master quickly is networking. Be aware that if you aren’t able to get into a translation job straight away, there are jobs in connected industries. Publishing, for example, or law, or many international businesses. Aspects of these jobs will be useful not only for the contacts you’ll make but also for the opportunities to learn and understand industry-specific technicalities and prospective markets. Moreover, current colleagues may become future clients and if you continue to provide them with a great service they may well follow you throughout your career,

network-1020332_640Even if you head straight into a great job in the more traditional translation industry it’s still important to keep networking in order to establish relationships with people in these industries. Conferences and workshops are a valuable source of good contacts, with the added advantage that more experienced pros you’ll meet there may be able to give you other tips and feedback. Essentially, you have to put yourself “out there”, so don’t be a shrinking violet.  Remember, you may have gone into translation/interpretation because you love languages, but you are in business to make money!

You also have to, less literally, put yourself into the culture behind the languages you translate. While this will, to some extent, have been imbued in you during your language education, the business of ‘localisation’ – of making your work feel like it isn’t merely a translation but rather is immersed in the culture of your chosen language and the associated countries – is vital if you want to be recognised as not just a quality translation professional but also someone who understands everything that underpins your work.  Put simply, you need to do further reading on top of understanding the technicalities of the language, not just while you’re learning it but also as you progress throughout your career. globe-110775_640

There is no single, easy path to success in our industry. A combination of hard work, communication and – let’s face it – a certain amount of luck is what you need to make a go of it.  But we all know the famous quote (even if no-one can agree who first said it) – the harder I work, the luckier I get!

Rosetta Stone, Global Connects