5 Thoroughly Festive Christmas Traditions from Around the World

5 Thoroughly Festive Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Is your Christmas tree up yet? Good, it’s about time, too. With less than two weeks to go until the big day, we thought we’d put on the Christmas music in Linguistica HQ, open the mince pies, and let ourselves be taken with festive cheer. But while we’re celebrating in style here on the south coast, we’d also like to shine a light on how some wonderful people are getting merry this Christmas.

So, join us please aboard the Linguistica sleigh, as we take a whistle-stop tour of some heartwarming Christmas traditions from around the world.

1. Letters to Santa in Canada

Dear Santa,

This year my behaviour has been atrocious, it really has, but I’d love some great presents all the same.

We’re no strangers to writing a quick later to Santa. That’s a quick excerpt above. However, the Canadians take this beautiful tradition to the next level. Any letters that are addressed ‘Santa Claus, North Pole, Canada, HOH OHO’ are opened and replied to by a hardworking team of postal elves. What those replies say, we have no idea.

2. Austria’s Christmas Demon

We all know that if you’re a good boy or girl, Santa will bring you a lovely present as a reward. But what happens if you’ve been bad? Here in the UK, you’re likely to have an empty Christmas stocking, but over in Austria, you can expect to be dragged to the depths of hell by Santa’s evil counterpart Krampus. Krampus is a hideously ugly, half-man, half-goat demon whose job is to punish bad children before Christmas. That culminates in the Krampuslauf, which is one of Europe’s most popular festivals and will probably scar your toddlers for life.


3. Go Bananas in Braga

In the city of Braga in Portugal, the locals like nothing better than gathering in the main square on Christmas Eve to eat a banana that they wash down with Muscat wine – and why not?

The story goes that a Portuguese trader named Manuel Rio wanted to attract more people to his banana warehouse – you can understand why people were reluctant to go. So, he set up a small counter where visitors could buy a glass of Muscat wine. That was 30 years ago. Since then, the tradition has gone from strength to strength, with the local people gathering together to raise a banana to Christmas every year.

4. The Icelandic No-Brainer

Would you like more Christmas presents? Then move to Iceland. All you have to do is to be a good boy or girl and say you believe in the Yule Lads, and you’ll get 13 extra presents, no questions asked. The Yule Lads are 13 merry and mischievous fellows who take it in turns to visit children on the 13 nights leading up to Christmas.

On the night of the 12th December, everyone who believes in the Yule Lads has to leave a shoe out on their window sill. If they’ve been good, they’ll find a new small gift in the shoe every night. If they’ve been bad, their shoes will be filled with rotten potatoes, which will probably get tiresome.

5. Venezuela’s Wheelie Hazardous Christmas Service

On Christmas Eve, it’s customary for Venezuelans to attend a church service called Misa de Aguinaldo. In the capital, Caracas, the locals have taken to travelling to the service on roller skates, with many roads closed so they can wheel their way to their local churches safely. Does this tradition mean that more people spend Christmas in a Venezuelan A&E? Probably. But is it worth the risk? No idea, you’d have to ask them.

Merry Christmas from everyone at Linguistica Translation and Recruitment

It’s been a tough year for just about everyone, but this goes to show that there are a lot of good things happening out there at Christmas. So, have a fantastic time and drop us a line now or in the New Year for any translation, transcreation, copywriting, proofreading or telephone interpreting assistance.

On-demand telephone interpreting

What is On-Demand Telephone Interpreting and How Does it Work?

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, we provide a fast and effective on-demand telephone interpreting service that allows businesses to communicate across language barriers as and when they need to.

In this article, we’re going to take a closer look at on-demand telephone interpreting and run through the different ways that it can help your business.

What is on-demand telephone interpreting?

Telephone interpreting connects human interpreters to individuals who want to speak to each other over the phone but do not share a common language. The role of the interpreter is to listen to what each person wants to say in their native language before relaying it to the other person in their language.

The beauty of telephone interpreting is that it’s incredibly easy to operate and can work in a way that suits you. If an interpreter is with the person they are going to interpret for in person, then they can arrange a simple two-way call. The interpreter will speak to each individual (using a speakerphone for ease) and convey the message to the other person.

If the interpreter is not in the same physical location as one of the speakers, then a three or more-way call can be arranged. Here, each participant will dial in from their own phone and the interpreter will act as the middleman. They can indicate when each person should speak and even use a buzzer system if there are more than two parties involved.

The on-demand element of telephone interpreting is all about ease and low cost. It simply means that businesses can use the service as and when they need to. There are no contracts involved, no set-up or equipment costs and you can pay as you go. That makes it a service that’s available to businesses of every size and with any budget.

What are the benefits of on-demand telephone interpreting?

Telephone interpreting is one of the quickest, easiest and cheapest ways to overcome the language barrier while maintaining the accuracy of the communications. The benefits include:

  • Speed – Just contact a language services provider (that’s us) and you will receive a personal dialcard that allows you to talk to any contact in seconds.
  • Availability – Our telephone interpreters are available to support you 24/7, wherever you are in the world.
  • Convenience – Telephone interpreting allows you to connect with businesses, suppliers and other stakeholders that speak a variety of languages without the need to travel.
  • Cost – All of our cost plans are billed by the second, so you only pay for the time that you’re on the phone. There are also no setup costs or hidden fees.
  • Accuracy – Using a telephone interpreter ensures that your messages are conveyed accurately to eliminate potentially costly mistakes.

When might you use an on-demand telephone interpreting service?

There are lots of scenarios where a telephone interpreting service can be invaluable. It can open up opportunities for small businesses to take their operations overseas and overcome language barriers without the requirement for a big budget. In a world that increasingly works remotely, video interpreters who work in the same way as telephone interpreters but join video calls rather than phone calls can also be very useful.

Telephone interpreting is also widely used in hospitals and other healthcare settings where speed and accuracy are crucial. This includes call centres that provide services to non-native speakers, such as the NHS 111 helpline in the UK.

On-demand telephone interpreters can also be particularly useful if there’s a cancellation, for example,  or if an in-person interpreter is late or does not turn up for an event. When you need to connect with a language professional quickly, an on-demand telephone interpreter is impossible to beat.

Need an on-demand telephone interpreter? 

Then get in touch with Linguistica Translation and Recruitment. We offer a 24/7 telephone interpreting service that you can access for everything from medical appointments to business meetings. Call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.

Horrifying halloween translation mistakes

5 Horrifying Halloween Translation Mistakes

As someone who was prevented from partaking in any form of Halloween festivities as a child by a father who said it was “only for Americans”, I’ve had to suppress my ghoulish side for quite some time. But now I’m free from parental influence, I can make up for lost time in the form of a Halloween blog that will chill you to your bones.

Cue evil laughter: Mwahahahahahhahahahahahah…

As any regular followers of the Linguistica Translation and Recruitment blog will know, we sometimes feature examples of terrifyingly bad translations. Well, these shocking mistakes come with a horrifying twist, in that they are all clean towards the darker side of life. So be warned linguaphiles – this is not for the faint-hearted!

Cue malevolent ghost: Whoo-oo-oo-oo…

1. Pepsi can resurrect the dead, apparently

We always put the restorative powers of Pepsi down to the almost unfathomable amount of sugar it contains, but it must have something stronger in it than that. After all, according to a Pepsi slogan that was translated for the Chinese market, ‘Pepsi brings your ancestors back from the grave’. It doesn’t, of course. That was simply a mistranslation of the original slogan, ‘Come alive with the Pepsi generation’. Still, fiendishly bad work there from an organisation that hardly needs to skimp on translation costs.

2. Some characteristic warmth from Russia

The height of the cold war is probably not the best time for a translation mistake, but indeed, that is the fate that befell the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev. During a speech he made about the heightened tensions with the US, a phrase he uttered was mistranslated as “we will bury you”. In truth, what he actually said, “we will live to see you buried”, is not exactly warm, but at least it doesn’t imply that he will be doing the burying.

3. A free dead body with every Ford

Rather than metallic paint or alloy wheels, the carmaker Ford inadvertently advertised a benefit that most car buyers would probably prefer not to have. They boasted to their Belgium audience that ‘Every car has a high-quality corpse’. What they really wanted to emphasise was their outstanding level of manufacturing, but they mistranslated the killer slogan ‘Every car has a high-quality body’. Granted, that slogan’s not exactly inspired, but at least there are no funeral costs to worry about.

4. Fly naked with Braniff Airlines

The now-defunct Texan airline, Braniff Airlines, led a campaign with the slogan ‘Fly in leather’, referring to the airline’s brand-new leather seats (were they leatherette? We’re not sure). Unfortunately, when translated for the Mexican market, that slogan read ‘Fly naked’, which may or may not be a scary sight depending on who you’re sat by.

5. Rush to die in a Mercedes-Benz

These days, the Chinese love a luxury Western brand, but when the German carmaker Mercedes-Benz first entered the Chinese market, it made life difficult for itself. It shortened its name to ‘Bensi’ to make it easier for the locals to pronounce, which translated as ‘rush to die’. That’s not a great name for a brand that prides itself on its safety. It quickly changed its name to Benchi, which translates as the only marginally better ‘run quickly as if flying’.

Avoid a Halloween horror show with Linguistica Translation and Recruitment

So, there you have it, a translation horror show courtesy of some of the biggest brands on the planet, and Braniff Airlines. Rather than scaring the life out of your customers, invest in professional translation services from Linguistica Translation and Recruitment and deliver word-perfect messaging every single time.

Five financial services translation tips

Our Five-Point Financial Services Translation Checklist

The internet has increased the pace of globalisation exponentially and made it much easier for businesses to offer their products and services in new markets. This is true of everything from e-retailers to financial services companies.

Until very recently, only the largest financial service providers, such as international banks, could offer their services overseas. However, now everything from small- and medium-sized loan providers to insurance companies can operate in foreign markets as long as they can satisfy their regulatory regimes.

One of the biggest challenges for financial services providers is marketing their services internationally. As well as communicating the benefits of their products clearly in another language, they must also produce more technical documentation with complete precision, as even the slightest mistake could be extremely costly.

With that in mind, this is our five-point financial services translation checklist to help you produce exacting customer communications every time.

1. Use a subject matter expert

Keeping up with new terminology is one of the biggest challenges in the jargon-laden financial services world. With new financial terminology emerging all the time, translators must keep up to date with the latest industry news and have an understanding of the terminology and its native equivalents. That’s why only a subject matter expert will do.

2. Conduct a thorough pre-translation analysis

Financial services translation is not something that you can dive into headfirst. Before starting the process, the translator should conduct a thorough analysis of the source document to identify any potential issues. For example:

  • Are there terms they are not familiar with?
  • Do they understand the purpose of the text (e.g. to sell, inform or legally bind?)
  • What audience profile are they appealing to?

This process helps to minimise the risk in a translation project and can avoid delays once the work begins.

3. Check for regional disparities

It’s not only the terminology that requires close attention. Many other details that are specific to the region also need to be addressed, such as addresses, dates, phone numbers and currency information which be formatted according to local customs. For example, when writing numerical amounts, many countries in Europe rely on commas rather than the decimal points that are used in the UK.

4. Adhere to local regulations

Financial services companies must adhere to the regulations that are in place in the markets they operate in, and they can differ dramatically around the globe. These regulations dictate everything from the way financial services can be sold to the words that can be used. Working with a financial services translator who has intimate knowledge of the regulations in their country will help to keep you on the right side of the law.

5. Keep confidential data secure

Financial services companies are responsible for handling large amounts of sensitive data, so any translation provider they work with must have systems in place to keep that data confidential and secure. Any breach could be costly for the business, so firms should choose their translation providers very carefully and make sure they have a clear information security management system in place.

Trust Linguistica Translation and Recruitment with your financial services translation

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment we have a team of linguists with financial expertise. Whether you work in banking, compliance, fintech, insurance or asset management, you can be sure that a mother-tongue linguist with the right specialisation will be working on your project every time.

For more information or to request a quote, please call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.

How to become a professional translator

How to Become a Professional Translator

Given the lack of talented linguists in the UK and the widening language skills gap that has been created by Brexit, now is a great time to become a translator. With a dearth of bilingual speakers to choose from, businesses, public sector organisations and not for profits will increasingly have to rely on translators to get their messages heard in different countries and cultures.

What that high level of demand brings is a great rate of pay and plenty of work, which, if you’re good at what you do, should translate into a secure, lucrative and fulfilling career. So, how do you become a professional translator? Here’s our five-part guide.

Five steps to becoming a professional translator

1. Choose your source language very carefully

To produce the highest quality translations, professional translators are usually native speakers of the target language (that’s the language they translate into). So, you’ll need to choose what your source language (the language you translate from) will be and study it to a very high level. This may be a decision that has already been made for you; for example, if you already speak or understand a second language. However, if you still have options, then you must give it some serious thought.

There’s an argument that you should choose a popular language pairing, such as English to French or English to German, as that should guarantee plenty of work. However, there’ll also be a lot of competition for that work. If you’re interested in international or diplomatic work, it’s also worth considering the languages of the United Nations, which are English, Chinese, French, Russian, Arabic and Spanish.

2. Get qualified

Once you know what source language you want to study, you then need to master it. You’ll usually need a degree or a postgraduate qualification in translation. Relevant qualifications include the folllowing:

  • Language degrees that specialise in linguistics or translation
  • Combined degrees that mix subjects like science or law with a language
  • A postgraduate qualification, such as a masters in translation studies

But that’s not the only route into translation. You can also take a diploma offered by the Chartered Institute of Linguists or consider some of the other training courses offered by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

3. Get accredited

There is absolutely no requirement to be accredited by a professional organisation to work as a translator. However, a professional accreditation will look good on your CV or website and give prospective clients the confidence that you’re good at what you do. In the UK, associations such as the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) are worth considering. But don’t hand over any money without doing your research first. Membership fees can be pricey, so find out what you get for your investment and read the experiences and opinions of other professional translators first.

4. Target a specific industry 

Merely being a qualified translator and fluent in the source language will not provide you with the level of linguistic knowledge that you need to work in many industries. With so much industry-specific terminology in sectors such as healthcare, legal, education and the public sector, it’s important to specialise.

You can do that by looking for courses or learning resources that will help you to familiarise yourself with the terms used in specific industries. There are also many books out there, such as Spanish for Healthcare Professionals, that will help to get your language skills up to speed.

5. Build your experience

Now you have the skills to operate as a professional translator, it’s time to start building your experience. Familiarising yourself with the common computer programmes used by translators is a good place to start. Memsource, memoQ, Wordfast and SDL Trados Studio are often used by professional translators, so it’s well worth checking them out.

You also need to start getting some paid work. Most translators tend to work on a contract or freelance basis, so getting a few projects under your belt to build your CV and work experience is a must. Your first few projects may not pay as well as you’d like, but better pay will come with more experience. Building a basic website, blog or portfolio of your work is an effective way to market yourself as a freelancer. You can also use platforms such as Freelancer and Upwork to find work. Just create a profile and start bidding on jobs.

Become a part of the Linguistica team

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, we’re always on the lookout for talented translators and particularly those who work in some of the less common language pairs. Email info@linguistica-international.com or call 02392 987 765 to discuss how you can become part of our team.

Translating idioms - how do you do it?

Translating Idioms: Why It’s Easy to get the Wrong End of the Stick

You might think it’s a piece of cake, but if you want to translate idioms literally, then you definitely have your head in the clouds. Okay, that might be a fairly clumsy way of trying to cram idioms into the opening sentence of this article, but sometimes you’ve just got to let your hair down – sorry!

Idioms are very common in spoken language. They are something we use almost every day to help to illustrate a point and add colour to our speech. There are an estimated 25,000 idioms in the English language, so they crop up in written form quite commonly, too.

While understanding the figurative meaning of idioms is not a problem for most native English speakers, the challenge comes when translating English idioms for foreign language speakers. The truth is that without skill and experience, it just does not work.

The trouble with translating idioms

Idioms are defined as “forms of expression natural to a language that have a meaning that is not deducible from the meaning of the individual words”. It’s little wonder, then, that idioms are difficult to translate.

There are two different methods of translating text:

Method 1: You can translate the individual words one by one and search for equivalent words in the target language. This is called literal translation and is the method that’s most commonly used by non-professional translators and machine translation tools.

Method 2: Alternatively, the translator can read and understand a phrase, sentence or paragraph in the source language and then recreate it in the target language to express the same meaning. This is the method favoured by professional translators.

If you try to translate idioms using the first method, then you’ll get in an almighty mess. As an example, the common English idiom, “a leopard can’t change its spots” cannot be translated literally into French because there is no such idiom in that language, so native French readers would have no idea what the term meant.

The common idiom that conveys the same figurative meaning in French is “chassez le naturel, il revient au gallop”. The literal translation of that is, “chase away the natural and it returns at a gallop”. That makes absolutely no sense to us in English. This goes to show that if you rely on a literal translation, you’re going to get into a whole heap of trouble.

So how do you go about translating idioms?

The truth is that it’s easier to avoid using idioms in text that is going to be translated. However, sometimes that’s not something you have any control over. So, how do you get to grips with these tricky terms? Here’s our three-step guide.

Step 1: Identify the idiom

If the source text is not in your native language, it’s not always easy to spot an idiom. As a general rule, if you read a phrase or sentence that consists of a metaphor that seems to bear no relation to the topic, there’s a good chance it’s an idiom.

Step 2:  Understand the idiom

Before you try to translate an idiom, it’s important that you double-check exactly what it means. Idioms, even in people’s native languages, are commonly understood. If you’re not a native speaker, then either ask someone who is or do some research online.

Step 3:  Find an equivalent in the target language

The final step is to incorporate an equivalent idiom that may not be a literal translation but has the same figurative meaning in the target language. This is not always possible, simply because idioms with a similar meaning may not exist. In that case, you have to convey the meaning of the idiom as best you can. It may not be as poetic as the source text, but it’s important to get the same message across.

Word-perfect translations that sing!

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, we create text that perfectly conveys the meaning and tone of the source text and incorporates idioms whenever possible. The result is a translation that contains colourful imagery, is beautifully crafted and reads like it was originally written in the target language.

Read more about our professional translation services, call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.


Translator or Native Copywriter - Which is Right For Your Project

Translator or Native Copywriter: Which is Right For Your Project?

Wherever they are in the world, consumers prefer to buy goods and services which provide information in their own language. So, if you want to open up your business to new markets, creating a website or marketing materials in the native language of overseas customers is essential. One of the primary decisions you then need to make is how you will create that content. You have two options. You can:

  • hire a translator to translate your existing website or marketing materials into the target language; or
  • hire a local copywriter to create content from scratch that appeals specifically to your new target audience.

But which is the best approach? Let’s have a look.

Practical considerations

Of course, as is the case with any commercial decision, there are practical considerations that you must take into account.

  • Budget

In an ideal world, you would hire a local copywriter in every overseas market you enter to produce content that is specific to those customers. That would help to ensure that your message resonates with your readers while increasing conversions. However, that approach will be expensive.

The cheaper option is to translate the content you already have. The question then is, will it read like a native website and engage your new customers? If your budget is limited but you’re worried that your existing content may not translate particularly well, transcreation could be a more affordable halfway house between copywriting and translation.

  • Availability

It can be difficult to find a translator and native copywriter for certain languages or language combinations. This can be frustrating when you’re in a rush and want the content to go live as soon as possible. In that case, the availability of the language professionals you need will play a big part in your decision.

In our experience, it’s often easier to find a translator than a good native copywriter. However, with more than 200 languages catered for at Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, we can source professionally qualified and experienced translators and copywriters for any project.

  • How you want to work

Everyone has preferences about how they like to work based on their previous experiences. Some of the best native language copywriters are freelancers who work from homes and offices in the countries you want to target. Therefore, if meeting a language professional in person is a priority for you, a copywriter may not be the best option.

The alternative is to contact a translation agency in your local area. You will be able to meet them face-to-face to discuss your project in person and benefit from the reassurance that it can bring. However, dealing with a local agency may cost more than a native language freelance copywriter, so that’s another consideration to factor in.

What type of content do you want to produce?

As well as the practical considerations, it’s also very important to think about the type of material you want to produce. Here’s a simple rule of thumb for guidance:

    • Legal documents and business reports – If the source material is technical, legal or financial in nature, such as a manual, terms and conditions or an annual report, you should always use a certified or experienced translator. That will ensure the translation is an accurate reflection of the source material.
    • Marketing documents - If you have marketing objectives to achieve, a little creativity is required and you want to make sure that your message resonates with your target market, a native language copywriter is usually your best bet. 

Our top tips

Whether you choose a translator or native language copywriter for your project, here are a few pointers to help you make it a success.

  • Take the time to research your target audience so you know exactly who you’re writing for and what problems they want to solve.
  • Think about the tone, voice and style of message that will appeal to your target market so you can showcase your offering in the best possible light.
  • If you’re offering content in a new language, be prepared to answer customer questions and enquiries in that language, too.
  • Is your budget tight? Then focus on translating the content that really matters to start with, such as the core pages of your website. You can add more over time.

Professional translation and copywriting assistance

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, our native translators and copywriters hold professional language qualifications and have at least five years of experience working in those languages. They are also subject matter specialists with professional experience in their field.

Call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com to discuss your project with our team.


How to use machine translaton well

Machine Translation: 5 Top Tips for Using it Wisely

As a language services provider that relies on the expertise and experience of qualified human linguists and subject-area specialists, you might assume that we’d be firmly against the use of machine translation. However, that’s not the case. There’s certainly a time and place for machine translation and it can become a valuable and cost-effective ally for your business, but only if it’s used in the right way.

With that in mind, we thought it would be worthwhile providing a few tips about how machine translation can be used to enhance your business.

1. Use it sparingly

Numerous studies have found that Machine translation is not as accurate as human translation.. Machine translation struggles to translate words with multiple meanings accurately, it does not account for the tone of a translation, and it always translates literally and does not take cultural nuances into account. This leads to mistakes.

If you have a large amount of text that needs to be translated and accuracy is not important, or the translation is going to be worked on by a professional human translator at a later date, then machine translation could be the answer. Similarly, for non-consumer facing content where you just need to get the gist across, machine translation makes sense. In all other situations, you’d be wise to stay away.

2. Customise your machine translation engine

Customising the machine translation engine that you’re using will help to improve the accuracy of your translations. The customisation options available will differ depending on the platform you use. On some engines, you can upload translation memories with your desired translations for certain words, while others allow you to edit previous work so you can effectively ‘teach’ the platform to produce better translations.

3. Tailor your content

To get the best results from machine translation, it’s well worth taking some time to tailor your content to the algorithm’s strengths. You should remove any slang, colloquialisms, idioms and acronyms (unless they’re included in your terminology database) and avoid abbreviations such ‘i.e.’, ‘e.g.’ and ‘etc.’ You should also use short and simple sentences whenever possible, write in the active voice and avoid culturally specific information.

Here are a few more tips from IBM to help you tailor your content for machine translation engines.

4. Pay for post-editing from a human translator  

If the translation matters at all, please don’t release it to the world without thorough post-editing from a qualified linguist. Although machine translation has advanced greatly over the last five years, even the most sophisticated engines lack the nuanced understanding of language to be trusted entirely. If the end-product is destined for anything other than internal use, always get it checked by a human translator.

5. Use a quality language services provider 

We don’t want to blow our own trumpet, but there really is no substitute for our expert translation team. Whether you want to translate your marketing materials for an international audience or localise your product packaging for a new market, translation errors can undermine your brand and potentially carry a serious liability risk.

At Linguistica Translation and Recruitment, our team of professionally qualified translators, multilingual copywriters, editors, project managers and compliance experts are ready and waiting to produce first-class translations that your business can rely on.

For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.



3 Romantic Ways Lovers Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

3 Romantic Ways Lovers Celebrate Valentine’s Day Around the World

There’s not a lot to help us get through the lockdown. Even the distant dream of a summer holiday has been dispelled by Matt Hancock, despite booking a lovely trip to Cornwall himself. So, what’s left to drag us through these monotonous weeks, months, or probably more likely – years?

Wine? No, apparently that’s not good for you.

Comforting eating? Ditto.

Watching endless hours of trash TV? Umm, that works for a while.

How about a little love?

Yes, that’s right. With Valentine’s Day upon us, what better way to forget our lockdown woes than with a look at how this festival of love is celebrated around the world.

1. Wales

Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Wales just as it is in much of the world, but Wales also has its own special day to celebrate love and romance. St Dwynwen’s Day, which falls on 25 January, honours the Welsh patron saint of love.

The story goes that a young Welsh maiden called Dwynwen fell in love with a man called Maelon (good proper Welsh names, those), but they couldn’t be together, so Dwynwen ran into the woods. There she met an angel who gave her a magic potion to give to Maelon that would help her forget him – she must have really liked him! Unfortunately, the potion turned Maelon into a block of ice. Dwynwen immediately fell to her knees and prayed for three things: for Maelon to be released, for her never to marry, and for God to care for all true lovers.

St Dwynwen’s Day is celebrated today by couples exchanging love spoons. The spoons, carved from wood, carry messages of love and can even be used by couples to tell each other how many children they want so they can start to think about home-schooling.

2. South Korea   

Let’s board the love boat and sail all the way from Wales to South Korea, where traditions begin on 14 February. On this day, it’s up to the women to woo their men with chocolates, sweets and flowers. We then move to 14 March, a holiday known as the White Day, when it’s the men’s turn. They have to shower their partners with similar treats as well as upping the ante with a gift.

Our favourite part of the celebrations falls on 14 April, also known as the rather dramatic Black Day. Rather than staying in, washing their hair and crying themselves to sleep, single friends meet at restaurants to eat Jajangmyeon – noodles in black sauce – and mourn their singledom. That actually sounds pretty good to us. In our opinion, noodles are better than chocolate, and you never know who you might meet!

3. South Africa

Valentine’s Day in South Africa is only for the brave. As well as the usual gift-giving between couples, single women have to bear the ignominy of literally ‘wearing their hearts on their sleeves’. They follow an ancient Roman tradition known as Lupercalia, by pinning the name of their love interest to their sleeve. Personally, we prefer the more cowardly route of an anonymous card.

Send your messages around the world

Whether they’re messages of love or more practical missives such as marketing materials, websites and technical documentation, our professional linguists will be happy to oblige. We provide translation, transcreation, copywriting and telephone interpreting services to get your message heard.

Call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com to request a quote or to discuss your project with our team.


Chinese New Year – The Year Of The Ox; What does it mean for you?

Friday, February 12th marks the end of the year for those that follow the Chinese zodiac calendar. Many of us know little about the significance of each year, other than that your birth year determines what characteristics you are set. This year, 2021, falls on the Year of the Ox; but what exactly does this year symbolise, and what are its origins?

Although the specific date of when Chinese New Year originated is unclear, it is reckoned that the tradition began in the Shang Dynasty, between 1600-1046BC. The renowned usage of animal years originates from the story of the Jade Emperor, one of China’s most prolific Gods: he invited all the animals to take part in a race. Of all the creatures, only twelve were present at the start line: a pig, dog, rooster, monkey, sheep, horse, snake, dragon, rabbit, tiger, ox, and rat.

As a reward for showing up to the event, the Jade Emperor named a year after each of the animals. The order of the animals was determined by the order in which the animals were able to cross a river. The ox came second, only due to the rat’s cunningness as it convinced the ox to assist it across the stretch of water.

It is common knowledge for many that the Emperor’s race dictated the order of the animal years. However, it is less known that the Chinese zodiac calendar refreshes every sixty years: the animal years are repeated five times – once for each element (wood, earth, fire, metal, and water). This year is thus the year of the Metal Ox. Oxen are highly valued in Chinese culture for their agricultural role. Those who are born in the year of the Ox are said to have characteristics of trustworthiness, modesty, and determination – almost to the point of stubbornness. Recent birth years of Oxen include 1961, 1973, 1985 and 2009.

The connotations of an ox vary across Eastern cultures. For example: it is common for an ox to appear in Korean proverbs, particularly as an altruistic figure that replicates their real-life role of serving mankind; Buddhists see the ox as a true representation of Buddhist nature as depictions of the ox often display them as struggling to pull themselves (or a cart) down a path that symbolises religious practices. Arguably, the most fascinating perspective towards oxen comes from many of Japan’s Shinto shrines: Nade-ushi (撫牛), translating to “rubbing cows”, which are believed to heal diseases of those who rub the corresponding part of the cow’s body to pass their pains on to the statue.

So, how should we expect this year to play out based on such promising denotations? Well, “2021 is going to be a year when work will get rewarded, and those zodiac signs who are lucky in terms of money this year will be the ones that will make a considerable effort” according to the ChineseZodiac.Org [https://www.thechinesezodiac.org/chinese-horoscope-2021-year-of-the-metal-ox/]. Let’s hope so! Oxen may well feel extra pressure this year in their roles of responsibility. They will need to manifest their naturally calm manner aswell as using all available external sources to ensure great success. After such a bleak year, a restrained and apprehensive approach towards the New Year very well might bring great rewards for Oxen that remain true to themselves.

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新年快乐 from Linguisticazhang-kaiyv-o1fLcy_yITE-unsplash-scaled-e1575913620552-wpv_770x440_left_center