All posts by Linguistica International

Localising for the Indian market

Localising for the Indian Market? You’re not the only one!

If you’re thinking about expanding your business into the Indian market, we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that India is now the third-largest consumer market in the world with healthy income growth. The bad news is that you’re certainly not the only company that’s making the move to the subcontinent.

Get ready to compete!

Given the sheer size of the potential audience, with the Indian market comparable only to China in terms of speed of growth, it’s perhaps not surprising that India is becoming a battleground for Western firms that are desperately trying to woo native customers.

But Indian consumers have much greater confidence in their local brands than their Chinese counterparts. In China, luxury Western goods tend to sell themselves; in India, the fact that a product is made overseas is not enough to impress them. If you really want to crack this heavily segmented market, you’re going to have to meet local preferences. That’s why India is fast becoming the world’s largest market for localisation.

How to localise for India

Localisation or transcreation is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture or local market. To engage customers, brands have to meet Indian consumers on their terms, which means not only changing the way they communicate but, in many cases, also adapting the product itself to meet the customers’ needs and expectations.

What makes this even more challenging is the fact that India is a heavily segmented market based on key identifiers such as language. With 22 official languages in India, you’re going to have to work pretty hard to achieve a footing in this sprawling but potentially lucrative market.

Indian localisation tips

1. Create entry-level luxury items

Some products need to be localised more than others. Part of the appeal of luxury goods is that they are uncompromising, so it wouldn’t necessarily be right to make changes to established products to adapt to local needs. However, one way luxury brands are successfully appealing to the Indian middle classes is by creating entry-level luxury goods to introduce Indian consumers to luxury retail.

For example, luxury car manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes have introduced entry-level vehicles successfully into the Indian market using finance schemes that are tailored to meet their particular needs. The cars are also being manufactured locally to drive down costs, as the perception of value in India is extremely important.

2. Localise at state level

Trying to crack the Indian market has always been notoriously difficult for food brands. Given India’s unique food culture, food manufacturers have to be prepared to localise aggressively to stand any chance of success. Even a global giant like Coca-Cola has to work hard to gain any traction in the Indian market.

Early this year, the soft drinks giant stated its plans to localise two-thirds of its product range for the Indian market. While that sounds like plenty of work in itself, Coca-Cola intends to localise its products at state level. Not only does it plan to identify popular drinks that are unique to each of India’s states and ethnicities, but it also plans to identify a unique fruit for each state and create new products based on that.

3. Don’t underestimate mobile-first e-commerce

Mobile e-commerce apps are among the most frequently downloaded apps in India. Indian mobile-first e-commerce has grown massively over the last few years given the now widespread use of smart devices. However, the mobile e-commerce market is still in its infancy, which means getting your localised app in front of consumers now could unlock huge opportunities for brands over the next couple of years.

Localising apps for the local market can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but it’s essential to drive engagement and increase download numbers. Given the potential size of the market, it’s certainly large enough to make the process worthwhile.

Ready to enter the Indian market?

At Linguistica International, we provide a professional localisation and transcreation service to help you pack plenty of punch in the Indian market while maintaining cohesion with your global campaign.

1. Feature

March’s Marvellous Translation Tales from around the Web

Welcome one, welcome all, to our alliteration-packed lookback at some of the marvellous translation tales from around the web. The month of March provided rich pickings for our expert spotters who were able to identify four stories that should pique your interest and maybe even induce a small smile.

So, from the new French trend of ‘souping’ to why Google Translate is a sexist pig, let’s get stuck in!

1. Souping – just like juicing, but with soup

1. Souping

Ladies and gents, we are now entering a post-soup eating world. That’s right – no longer will we be making or eating soup, from now until the end of time we will be forever ‘souping’.

Quite rightly, Elle France received a good ribbing online for a recent article it published on the trend of ‘souping’. Now I can tell you I’ve been eating soup for 34 years, but not once have I been called trendy.

The reason for this linguistic travesty is the French habit of adding a suffix to existing words to make them sound trendier. So, what with Elle France being Elle France, rather than eating a bowl of soup, all the sexy people are now busy souping, and we’re sure they all look incredible doing it.

You can read more about the souping scandal here.

2. “Alexa, tell me you love me in German”

2. Alexa

According to an article on Yahoo Finance, the omnipotent retailer Amazon hopes to turn its all-singing, all-dancing virtual assistant Alexa, who as far as we know can’t sing or dance, into a real-time translator.

If creating an automated real-time translator wasn’t enough of a challenge given that everyone who has ever tried has failed miserably so far, Amazon also wants Alexa to have an understanding of the culture of the country she’s translating into.

For example, when translating English into Japanese, Alexa’s intimate understanding of Japanese culture (she’s never been) would lead to a generally more formal and conservative translation.

3. Google Translate is a sexist pig!

As if we haven’t done enough automated translation software bashing for one week, now we have to share the news that Google Translate is sexist. Yes, according to Forbes, because humankind is sexist, and humankind created the algorithm behind Google Translate, Google Translate is also sexist.

For instance, when translating from Turkish, which has gender-neutral pronouns, into English ‘o bir muhendis’ becomes ‘he is an engineer’, while ‘o bir hemsire’ becomes ‘she is a nurse’. Similarly, if Google Translate sees the acronym ‘CEO’, it auto-suggests a picture of a man in a suit.

Clearly there’s no escaping biases, but at least when you work with a human translator, they can make sure any biases are corrected to avoid causing offence.

4. There’s no such thing as too big an omelette

4. Omelette

We might have just given Google Translate a bit of a hard time, but now we’re going to stand up and protect its good name.

In the recent PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games, the Norwegian team chose to use the automated software to order some food from a South Korean supplier. We all know athletes like their eggs, particularly those curlers, but rather than 1,500 eggs, Google Translate made a little whoopsy that meant they ended up ordering 15,000.

We’re not sure why this was an issue because there’s no such thing as too many eggs. However, according to the Guardian, the Norwegian team chef didn’t agree. He said: “We received half a truckload of eggs and there was no end to the delivery”.

Make your own egg-based puns here because we’re not going to do it for you.

Looking for high-quality human translation services?

At Linguistica International, we provide exacting translation, transcreation and copywriting services you can rely on. Call 02392 876 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com to discuss your requirements.

 

Language implications of GDPR

The Language Implications of GDPR for your Global Business

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into force on 25 May and have a significant impact on businesses of every shape and size. In simple terms, the GDPR will change the way businesses collect, store and use personal data, with implications that go far beyond IT and impact the way marketing and sales activities are handled.

Research has shown that even global businesses aren’t ready for the new regulations, with just a third (33%) currently having a plan in place to comply with GDPR. For international organisations, preparing for GDPR will require training in every part of their business to understand how to handle the new rules. It could also be necessary to put new language resources in place to meet the requirements of the regulations.

How could GDPR affect your business?

If your business has customers in the EU then the GDPR rules will impact the way you store, process and share their personal information. Failure to comply with the new rules could lead to fines of up to 4 percent of annual turnover. And, although the GDPR is an EU directive, the UK government has confirmed the new rules will be implemented regardless of the form our withdrawal from Europe takes, so don’t think Brexit will save you!

On a day-to-day basis, GDPR will bring significant administrative responsibilities. For example, if anyone asks to see what information you hold about them, you will have to respond within 40 days with copies of all their personal data and details about where the data has come from. Consumers will also have the right to move, copy or transfer data from one form to another so this need for data portability will have to be met.

Clearly, these requirements are going to be challenging for many businesses to meet. Here’s a 12-point checklist (pdf) from the Information Commissioner’s Office to help you prepare for the May deadline.

The linguistic challenge

So what linguistic challenges does the GDPR introduce? Well, one of the requirements of the regulation is that data holders must communicate with those they hold data about in the event of a breach.

That means, if customer data is stolen then organisations must notify the affected individuals ‘without undue delay’. You need to tell them what has happened, what the consequences are likely to be and what they need to do to protect themselves. The rules also state that this should be done in a dedicated message that must be clear and concise.

But drafting a letter to explain what has happened and what customers need to do might only be a small part of your obligations. If there’s a significant data breach, you may also need to set up a dedicated response team to handle customer queries in whatever language they speak.

How can we help?

So how do you communicate clearly when you hold data about customers from around the EU? That’s where an outsourced language team can help.

At Linguistica International, we can work with you as and when you need us, creating word-perfect messages for your EU customers and dealing with any queries you receive quickly and efficiently. For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com.

The language class system

The Language Class System: How Desirable is your Language?

Class systems will be familiar to almost everyone around the world. Us Brits, in particular, are renowned for our entrenched class system. In fact, if you want a laugh, try this social class calculator to see which of the UK’s seven social classes you fit into.

But it’s not just the British who are obsessed with class. Like it or not, there’s even a class system for languages, with countries around the world attaching a higher status to some languages than others. In multilingual countries, the status of a language carries so much weight that it determines whether it thrives or struggles to survive over the long term.

Anecdotal evidence of the language class system

There are many examples of the language class system in practice around the world. For example, in US schools, many students prefer not to and even refuse to learn Spanish because they see it as a lower-class language. Instead, they choose to learn languages they perceive to be aspirational, such as French or Italian, which in reality are of less practical use.

It is also common for immigrants to encourage their own children to speak the language of their destination country and not value their own native tongue. A consequence of this classism is that native language skills rarely last long across immigrant populations.

Another example of language classism can be seen in the cultural melting pot that is Eurovision. Certain countries like Denmark and Azerbaijan have never entered a song in their own language. Instead, they borrow languages like English, French and Spanish.

Additive and subtractive bilingualism

It’s fairly unusual for a language to have an almost universal high status, but English enjoys a high social cachet almost everywhere you go. However, most other languages are the subject of ‘additive’ or ‘subtractive’ bilingualism based on the region they are spoken in.

Subtractive bilingualism – In the multilingual Netherlands, those speaking languages like Dutch, English and German won’t be expected to give up their language due to their high status in that region. However, Polish, Turkish or Arabic speakers would be expected to add to their existing canon with a high-status language such as English or Dutch. This is an example of subtractive bilingualism, as the native languages of immigrants are quickly replaced.

Additive bilingualism – Over the last decade, the Polish language has become much more widely spoken in the UK, where it recently became the second-largest minority language after Welsh. There have also been some efforts to encourage Polish language education in the UK, which is an example of additive bilingualism in action. The fact that Urdu, Punjabi and Gujarati are also taught in some UK schools shows there is an element of additive bilingualism taking place.

Where English dominates it’s difficult to compete

Two of the laziest countries in terms of language learning are undoubtedly the UK and the US. The high status of the English language around the world reinforces its dominance in countries where English is the native language and that makes it difficult for other languages to compete.

However, when it comes to marketing businesses and selling goods and services overseas, the dominance of the English language means UK companies often need a little assistance, and that’s where we can help.

At Linguistica International, we provide leading translation, transcreation, copywriting and telephone interpreting services that allow you to speak your target market’s language, wherever you are. To find out more, please email info@linguistica-international.com or call 02392 987 765 today.

Medical translation

Medical Translation: One Sector where there’s no Room for Error

Professional medical translation is a service that has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of care patients receive throughout the world. The accurate translation of…

  • research papers
  • medical devices
  • medical packaging and labels
  • technical documentation and user guides
  • patent applications
  • medical software
  • & test procedures

…can break down barriers between doctors and patients and make sure as many people as possible have access to the healthcare they need. However, medical translation is one area where accuracy is of the utmost importance. Medical documents can be difficult to translate, and an intimate understanding of medical language and terminology is essential to create a translation that can be relied upon.

The cost of botched medical translations, as you’re going to see, can be huge, both for the patients involved and the organisations providing the care. Although controlling costs is at the forefront of many people’s minds these days, this is one area where you cannot cut corners.

1. An expensive medical translation mistake

One of the most expensive medical translation mistakes ever made involved the case of Willie Ramirez, who had developed a sudden headache when out with friends. He was rushed to the hospital where his Cuban parents explained that he was “intoxicado”. Unfortunately, the emergency room doctors believed this meant he had taken a drug overdose and subsequently treated him as such.

In reality, Willie Ramirez had a brain haemorrhage, but the translation mistake meant he did not receive the treatment he needed. Sadly, the bleed on the brain left Willie paralysed for life. The hospital, which was obliged to provide a professional interpreter, is now liable for approximately $71million to pay for Willie’s treatment for life.

2. Botched knee replacement surgery

Thankfully, not all medical translation mistakes are quite so catastrophic, but most people would still prefer to avoid repeat knee replacement surgery if possible. In Germany in 2007, an error made when translating a label on a package of knee prostheses from its source language resulted in 47 failed knee surgeries.

The source label said ‘non-modular cemented’, but this was mistakenly translated to ‘without cement’. What seems like a tiny mistake led to a repeat procedure for all those patients.

3. The case of the missing kidney

Another needless and expensive mistake occurred in California in 2010, when a community hospital operated on a Spanish-speaking patient called Francisco Torres. The operation was supposed to remove Mr Torres’s diseased kidney, but when signing the consent form written in English, Mr Torres did not realise the hospital planned to remove the wrong kidney.

As he did not speak English and was not provided with a translated consent form or an interpreter, the wrong kidney was removed. Thankfully, the hospital realised the mistake and was able to remove the diseased kidney, but that did not stop them receiving an expensive financial penalty for failing to communicate properly with the patient.

The help you need to get it right

These cautionary tales provide clear evidence of why only word-perfect medical translations will do. At Linguistica International, we work with pre-defined translation glossaries and terminology to correctly adapt translations to industry or company-specific language. We also only use mother-tongue translators with experience in the medical sector to make sure we get it right.

To find out more, please email info@linguistica-international.com or call 02392 987 765 today.

 

Escargots

5 Tantalising Translation Tales from around the Web

Welcome again to that time of the month when we delve into the world of translation (that’s right, we have a good look online) to bring you five of the most tantalising tales from around the web. And this month, do we have a treat for you, with translation titbits ranging from bad menu translations to musings about whether the edibility of snails is all in the name.

So without further ado, let’s get cracking…

1. Is it an escargot or just a muddy snail?

What better place to start than with the revelation that snails covered in garlic might not actually be as tasty as we think. According to a new study, English-speaking diners are more likely to eat snails if they are described as ‘escargots’ on the menu. And apparently, that’s not because they think escargot is the French for prawn cocktail. Research from the University of Chicago found that using a foreign word to describe food people may otherwise have an aversion to makes them more likely to eat it.

On that basis, all we need to know is the French for ratatouille and we’re good to go!

2. Music transcends language

Now there’s proof that different types of music from around the world are identifiable based on their melody alone. The Harvard study found that listeners were able to identify dance songs, lullabies and healing songs without language cues. The only songs that depend on language to get their meaning across are love songs. The researchers speculate that this is because there aren’t specific sounds associated with love songs. What makes a piece of music a love song is the words being used.

3. Harry Potter in Scots

This is the wonderful news that that wee wizard Harry Potter has now been ‘translated’ into Scots. The entirety of the first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, has been translated into the Scots language, which is not to be confused with Scottish Gaelic.

The first chapter, The Boy Who Lived, has now become ‘The Laddie Wha Lived’. Here’s a little teaser:

‘Mrs Dursley wis a skinnymalinkie, blonde-heidit wummin whase craigie wis jist aboot twice as lang as ither fowks, which wis awfie haundy as she spent sae muckle time keekin ower gairden fences, nebbin at the neebors.’

If you need more Scots Harry Potter in your life, you can see more here and even buy your own copy of the Scots edition on Amazon.

4. How to design for translation

Layout issues are common for many businesses when translating online and offline assets. Different languages can require more or less space, while text direction, alignment and the use of completely different alphabets can also cause problems. Software issues are another factor to consider, with multilingual typesetting often requiring special software or plugins, particularly for non-western scripts. Here are some helpful tips.

5. Bad menu translation

If you’re looking for a reliable source of translation mistakes, then menus in foreign restaurants provide rich pickings. These are some of the best. For a more comprehensive look at why so many food translations are so inaccurate and unappetising, take a look at this article from a professional culinary translator.

Are there any translation stories we’ve missed that deserve a mention? Get in touch on Facebook or share your spots with our readers in the comments below.

Hello in lots of different languages

Why English is not Enough in a Post-Brexit World

Let’s tell you something you don’t already know – Britain is facing an uncertain future. Yes, earth-shattering news we’re sure, but one key determiner of just how uncertain your future will be is how well you are able to communicate with prospective trade partners in a post-Brexit world.

Continental Europe has always been very forgiving of the lack of language skills in the UK. The Netherlands and Scandinavian countries have set the pace in Europe in terms of their English-speaking ability, although the cities of Berlin and Paris are not far behind. But if an uneasy relationship with Europe after Brexit forces our businesses to look beyond the linguistic comfort of Europe, serious challenges await.

Language learning apathy in numbers

After Brexit, trade agreements with China, Russia and other developing markets will lead to missed deals for the UK if negotiations are only conducted in English. Given the fact that the UK’s lack of foreign language skills is already estimated to cost the nation up to £50 billion a year in lost contracts, that’s probably not something we should ignore.

Employers are also desperately seeking graduates with language skills and, more importantly, intercultural awareness and empathy. In fact, figures from a CBI Pearson Education Survey show that 58 percent of employers are dissatisfied with school leavers’ language skills.

Then there’s the fact that 30 percent of the UK’s language teachers are from Europe, so Brexit could actually worsen the existing language teacher shortage.

So what can the UK’s businesses do?

If the UK’s businesses are going to thrive in a post-Brexit world, we need more home-grown language learners. Research has found that students are more inclined to study a language at GCSE level if it has some kind of personal relevance to them. To give students that sense of personal importance, our schools need to work harder to offer more than just the three language staples of French, Spanish and German.

The British Council’s Languages for the Future report should give schools some food for thought in that respect. It highlights 10 languages – Spanish, French, Mandarin, Arabic, Russian, German, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Turkish as the most important languages in the UK over the coming years. Although it’s yet to see what impact Brexit will have on the UK’s language needs, that’s certainly a good place to start.

However, the hands of many of the UK’s schools are tied. Limited budgets and frameworks set by exam boards mean that, unless things change dramatically, it’s unrealistic to expect schools to provide this type of language provision. Instead, perhaps it’s time to completely rethink the way language skills are taught.

The importance of choice

There’s no denying that English will continue to be an important language across post-Brexit Europe, not simply because of the need to trade with Britain, but also because it’s a lingua franca that can be spoken by much of Europe. In fact, more people in Europe are learning English than ever before.

But what is really important is the question of choice. Many of the UK’s trading partners can choose to conduct their business in English, while monolingual UK businesses risk isolating themselves by relying on their native tongue.

As Nelson Mandela said:

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head. If you talk to a man in his language, it goes to his heart”.

Unfortunately, this is a luxury many British businesses simply don’t have.

The help you need to build connections overseas

At Linguistica International, our translation, transcreation and copywriting services can help you communicate with overseas clients and customers in their language, creating a lasting connection that helps you succeed. For more information, email info@linguistica-international.com or call 02392 987 765 today.

The Best Languages to Learn in 2018

The Best Languages to Learn in 2018

Whatever you think of New Year’s resolutions, a little bit of self-improvement can never be a bad thing. With January comes the opportunity to be a new and improved you, as can be evidenced by the barrage of ‘New Year, New Me’ posts on the various social channels. A YouGov poll of 1,170 British adults recently revealed the most popular resolutions for 2018 were to:

1. Eat better
2. Exercise more
3. Spend less money
4. Get more sleep
5. Read more books
6. Learn a new skill
7. Get a new job
8. Make new friends
9. Get a new hobby
10. Focus more on appearance

All very worthy causes, we’re sure, but why not roll a number of these popular resolutions into one by learning a new language in 2018? That way you’ll learn a new skill, get a new hobby, potentially make some new friends and even give your job prospects a boost.

As one of the UK’s leading translation service providers, we’re perfectly placed to give you some tips. So, whether you‘re looking to expand your mind or boost your career, these are some of the best languages to learn in 2018…

1. Mandarin

If you’re up for a challenge then there are few languages as potentially beneficial as Mandarin. Mandarin is the official language of China and is the most widely spoken in the world. Given the current and growing economic strength of China, Mandarin speakers are only going to become more in-demand in the years to come.

The West has started to realise that if you want to get to know China and understand how the country works, it is essential to learn the language.

In the UK there is a current shortage of Mandarin speakers, despite the fact that it has been ranked one of the most important languages for the future of the UK by the British Council. That’s partly due to the fact that Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages for English speakers to learn. But, if you’re looking for some real self-improvement in 2018, this is an excellent place to start.

2. Arabic

Arabic is another challenging language for English speakers to learn but, as the language of the fastest growing economies in the Middle East, it can also be one of the most rewarding. Businesses that make the effort to

make their products and services available to Arabic-speakers could reap the rewards. Given the instability of some of the Arabic speaking countries, there is also demand for Arabic skills in intelligence and diplomacy.

Challenging it may be, but as the 5th most commonly spoken language in the world and the 4th most commonly used online, those who persevere could open up a wealth of opportunities.

3. Portuguese

As well as being spoken in Portugal and some parts of Africa, Portuguese is also the native language of Brazil, with its rapidly developing economy and growing middle class. Named as one of the BRICS countries, Brazil has recently plunged into a deep recession; however, it is still the largest economy in Latin America and is now showing signs of recovery.

After the two very challenging languages we have looked at so far, Portuguese is refreshingly easy to learn, particularly if you already speak some Spanish. That makes it a popular choice for businesses and private language learners.

4. Japanese

Japan is home to the world’s third-largest economy and is already a significant contributor to UK prosperity, both as an export market and an investor. Following the decision to leave the EU, it is expected that Japan will provide even more opportunities for businesses and individuals in the UK, particularly in the fields of science and technology.

Japanese takes a considerable amount of time and persistence to learn, with an estimated 2,200 classroom hours required to master the language. However, those who stay the course will certainly stand out from the crowd and put themselves in an excellent position to prosper in post-Brexit Britain.

5. German

Although German has far fewer native speakers than some of the languages we’ve discussed, as the largest economy in the European Union, it continues to be one of the most in-demand languages here in the UK. Germany is the UK’s greatest source of imports and second-greatest export partner, making it an incredibly important language for many British businesses.

Germany also offers more scholarships for international students than any other country, with opportunities to study at undergraduate and master’s level in both English and German. That makes it a fantastic option for British students who are interested in studying abroad. German is also fairly easy to learn, with students able to become proficient in just six months of intensive study.

How can we help?

Is your business limited by language? If you would like to expand into new territories in 2018, our expert translation, transcreation and copywriting teams can help. For more information, please call 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.

Feature image

Christmas Traditions from Around the World

Already fed up with Christmas? Tough. For the next five minutes, you’re going to sit there and learn a little more about the delightful Christmas traditions from around the world.

Here in the UK, it seems like we’ve gone completely Christmas crazy this year, or maybe that’s just me? But with just a few sleeps left until the big day, we thought what better way to spread some Christmas cheer than with a look at some of the lovely ways our friends overseas celebrate this time of year.

America

The rotund, bearded and overwhelmingly red Santa Claus we have today is believed by many to be the creation of a German cartoonist called Thomas Nast, who lived in America in 1862 at the time of the Civil War.

Nast combined many of his own native traditions of Saint Nicholas, a 3rd-century Greek bishop famed for his giving of unexpected gifts, with other German folk traditions including elves, to create the jolly old soul we know and love today. The name Santa Claus also became more familiar to American ears than the German Sankt Niklaus or Dutch Sinterklaas.

Thomas Nast's Santa Claus

Image courtesy of fineartamerica.com

China

In the Far East, the Christian children of China celebrate Christmas by decorating their trees with colourful flowers, chains and lanterns made from paper. Much like here in the UK, they also hang Muslin stockings in the hope that they’ve been good enough for Santa Claus, who they call Dun Che Lao Ren, translated as ‘Christmas Old Man’, to leave a few treats.

Chinese Christmas decorations

Image courtesy of chineseamericanfamily.com

Russia

In the traditional Russian Christmas, special prayers are said and people fast for as many as 39 days until Christmas Eve, which is on 6 January, when the first evening star appears in the sky. These traditional religious celebrations are slowly being replaced by the less austere Festival of Winter, the highlight of which is a Christmas feast shared with all the family.

Russian Christmas

Image courtesy of humideas.com

South Korea

Christmas in Korea is an altogether more romantic affair. Christmas Eve is the time when gifts are exchanged, but instead of piles of presents, it is customary for just one present to be given. Grandpa Santa is just as popular as Santa Claus in the UK, but as well as the traditional red suit, he can also be seen in a rather fetching blue. Christmas Day is considered to be a romantic day for couples, with restaurants fully booked months in advance. For non-Christian Koreans, Christmas Day is a favourite time to hit the shops.

Blue Santa

Image courtesy of adweek.com

And there you have it, one holiday and four different ways to celebrate it. All that’s left is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Peaceful and Prosperous New Year from all the team here at Linguistica International!

We’ll be having a short break over the Christmas period but will be back to provide our leading range of translation, transcreation, telephone interpreting and copywriting services in the New Year.

Evolution of language

The Evolution of Language: Are Women the Main Instigators of Change?

With the festive season upon us, we thought a potentially divisive look at the dominant role women play in the evolution of language would be an excellent way to defuse any tension.

Language is constantly evolving. Confucius once illustrated the evolution of language by asking people to think about their definition of a king now, compared to what it signified 500 years ago. Perhaps an easier way to see just how much language has evolved is to compare the works of writers like Shakespeare and Chaucer with those of today.

In fact, such is the growth of the English language that many modern-day hip-hop artists have larger vocabularies than William Shakespeare. That’s simply because there are so many more words to choose from.

Who is responsible for language change?

One theory of linguistics is that marginalised groups are the driving force behind language change. In history, there are many examples of immigrant populations having a marked and lasting impact on the language spoken by those already settled in the UK.

There are numerous examples of that type of evolution in action. In the 18th century, the Huguenots were a marginalised group of outsiders who settled in London’s East End. The influence they had on the language can still be heard in the famous cockney dialect. The same can be said for the influence of black musical subcultures from the US, which have been highly influential in the way the modern English language is spoken today.

So what other marginalised groups have played a big part in the evolution of language? How about young women, and more specifically teenage girls?

The female role in language adaptation

Women and teenage girls are arguably the most important language innovators of all time. Researchers have studied thousands of letters written by women between the years 1417 and 1681 and found that women changed their way of writing much more quickly than men. These changes have hastened the spread of new language ideas and brought an end to older language trends.

What makes this finding surprising is the fact that, during this time, women did not generally have access to a formal education. So, while male language innovations tended to result from their education, it’s unclear where female language adaptations originated from.

Young women are more advanced in linguistic change

In bilingual communities, a researcher called Susan Gal found that young women were ‘more advanced in the direction of linguistic change than older people and young men’. But why? One theory is that young boys traditionally learn language from their mothers. As women have larger social networks than men, they also continue to pick up new language trends from other women. They then pass that on to their children.

As a historically subordinate group, women have had to adapt their method of speaking to the language of men. That suggests women have effectively had to translate from their natural language and articulate their thoughts and emotions in a way accepted by a male-dominated society. The theory is that this has made them more innovative with language simply so they can express themselves effectively.

Although there is no universally accepted reason why, it’s widely agreed that women are the main instigators of language change, with many pieces of research suggesting teenage girls are the most innovative of all.

How can we help?

If you’re looking for some language change of your own, here at Linguistica International, we provide a leading range of translation, transcreation and bilingual copywriting services for international brands like Orange, Manchester United and Santander.

To find out more, call us on 02392 987 765 or email info@linguistica-international.com today.