All posts by Linguistica International

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 or call 02392 987 765 today.



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 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 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.


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


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


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

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

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 today.

Business translation services

3 Translation Services to Help your Global Business Succeed

Globalisation and the advent of the internet have seen an increasing number of UK businesses capitalise on a new opportunity to sell their products and services overseas. The exact number of UK businesses that currently sell their products to Europe differs depending on where you look, but the general consensus is that between 5 and 11 percent of the UK’s 5.4 million businesses currently export to the EU.

Success in this international market relies on, among other things, a business’s ability to reach its audience in their language. We have previously discussed the preference of international consumers for buying goods and services in their own language, with 56.2 percent admitting that local language content is even more important than price.

Clearly then, whether it’s marketing videos, global patent filing or certified legal translation, a rigorous translation that allows you to reach an international customer base in their language is a must. Here are three examples of business translation services that are central to your overseas success…

1. Certified legal translations

The legal hoops you need to jump through in the UK can be difficult enough to understand, so when you’re expanding overseas, you need to make sure you have a legal translation team on your side to remove the additional complication of language.

Without accurate translation, cross-cultural miscommunication and misunderstandings are a real risk, and when dealing with the law, they could prove to be very costly mistakes. Employing a certified translation team from the start that can translate audio and text documents on your behalf will ensure the accuracy of legal documents. That will reduce the risk of lost revenue, reputational damage and legal proceedings that could result from linguistic errors or oversights.

2. Video translations

Video is becoming an increasingly popular and effective method of communicating with customers, whether it’s other businesses or consumers. Product demonstrations, how-to tutorials, adverts and educational videos can all play an important role in attracting, engaging and converting international customers, as long as they are in the local language.

Subtitling services and audio translation are both crucial to adapting English-speaking assets for local audiences. If your videos are translated and localised appropriately, you can increase the ROI of the original video and bring it to a whole new audience at very little extra cost.

3. Patent applications

One of the most important aspects of any business is safeguarding its products so they cannot be replicated by other organisations. If you have a product or service that can be patented, then putting the necessary protection in place is highly advisable, particularly if you plan to enter multiple markets.

Patent applications require exact wording and a thorough understanding of the language they are to be granted in. The slightest mistake could end up with the necessary protection not being provided and that could make or break your success overseas. With the costs of making a mistake so high, it’s essential your patent application translation is word perfect first time around, which is where our business translation services can help.

How can we help?

Around half of all online buyers will purchase products from businesses in other countries by 2020. Is that a market you can afford to miss out on? Get in touch with Linguistica International to see how our business translation services can help you put your best foot forward overseas.

Forensic Linguistics

The Role of Forensic Linguistics in Battling Abuse Online

The internet has got a lot to answer for, or perhaps it’s social media more specifically that seems to be impacting our world in so many damaging ways. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram have all been linked to declining levels of mental health in teens and young adults. Not only do they exacerbate children’s and young people’s body image worries and worsen bullying, but they also cause sleep problems, feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness.

One of the biggest concerns is undoubtedly the rise in online bullying and the ease with which faceless ‘trolls’ can say pretty much whatever they like, to anyone they like, with relative impunity. However, thankfully there is one way those who make bullying, threatening and inflammatory comments can be caught.

When free speech turns ugly

The anonymity trolls enjoy is a major contributing factor to their behaviour. They believe they can say anything without consequences and even use software that conceals their IP addresses so their ugliness can come out. That makes it extremely difficult to prove who is behind the comments using conventional investigation techniques.

Thankfully, investigators are starting to realise that linguistics could be the key to tracking the trolls down. Much like fingerprints, our speech patterns leave behind clues about who we are, with linguistic quirks and our unique vocabulary providing insight into our experiences, our background and where we come from.

Forensic linguistics in action

Of course, linguistic identification is nowhere near as exact as biological identifiers such as fingerprint evidence or DNA, but it can be enough to change the direction of an investigation. In a recent American defamation case, a local businessman and various judges were being relentlessly trolled by an online commenter.

Forensic linguists were called in and noticed that just a handful of nouns were used in unusual ways. This helped to link the troll to articles a local lawyer had written which had been published online. After digging a little deeper, investigators then saw that the username of the troll was connected to the lawyer personally. When confronted with this evidence, the lawyer confessed and was subsequently demoted.

The role of machine learning

Trolling is a very difficult issue to tackle in this way because it is so prevalent. The costs of using forensic linguistics in every case would be huge, which is where artificial intelligence can help. Some sites use AI moderation tools to review and approve content before it appears on public-facing platforms. This type of tool uses search filters to identify offensive keywords, but other tools have gone a step further than that and can identify abusive messages even where offensive language or slurs are not used.

This type of tool could be used by platforms like Twitter and Facebook to identify and block abusive messages before they are received. Not only would that offer a degree of protection for users, but it would also mean forensic linguistics could be saved for more serious cases.

What are your views?

This is a very emotive topic and one we would love to hear your views on. Please share your experiences on our Facebook page or to find out more about any of our translation services, please get in touch with our team.

Why Young People Learn Local Dialects instead of Global Languages

The Rise of Local Language Learning in the UK

We recently read an interesting article by Quartz, which suggested that as Google Translate now helps people communicate using the world’s global languages, young people are deciding to learn local languages, like Welsh and Irish, instead.

While the article was certainly interesting, more of which we’ll share with you below, there is one glaring error we want to correct first. Google Translate is not even close to being the same level as a native speaker of a language. Not only does Google Translate produce a huge number of mistakes, it’s not even recognised as a quality translation tool by Google itself.

We are all for people learning to speak languages that are dying out, but it’s important to understand that Google Translate has by no means made learning a global language an obsolete skill.

A surge in local language learning

The UK has always been behind the curve when it comes to our linguistic skills, but there is evidence to show that young Brits who are studying a second language are increasingly shunning European languages like Spanish, French and German and are learning local languages instead.

Research shows there has been a 33 percent increase in the number of children studying languages like Welsh, Irish and Scottish Gaelic at school compared to five years ago. This emerging trend has been particularly evident in Wales, where over a quarter of all pupils now taught in Welsh.

Language as a source of national identity

While globalisation and the advancement of technology are erasing traditional borders and bringing the world closer together, it seems more and more people are returning to their local roots to deal with the uncertainty this brings.

A recent poll of 15 countries found that a common language is the most important factor in defining a country’s identity. Living in a globalised society we are often told of the role we have as citizens of the world, but this is not necessarily an identity people can relate to. Many are returning to languages that were once dying out to retain a sense of belonging and pride in who they are.

It’s not a case of turning inward

Although this could be seen as an extension of the insular and inward-looking thinking that played an important part in the Brexit decision, it’s also argued that the increased interest in hyper-local languages gives younger people the flexibility and resilience they need to deal with the impact of globalisation. Those fluent in two languages also find it easier to pick up a third, which could make younger people more interested in learning global languages in the future.

However, while the experts agree there shouldn’t be a conflict between the local and the global, there is evidence to show children who are not taught the languages of other countries struggle to grasp the concept that diversity isn’t a threat.

At Linguistica International, we’re all for language learning in any form. In a world where disruption is becoming the norm, the ability to form new connections is never a bad thing, but it’s also important to retain our ability to connect with local communities, wherever we are in the world.

We speak your customers’ language

At Linguistica International, we translate, transcreate and interpret into 200 languages, helping you connect with your customers in their local language. To discuss your project, please call 02392 987 765 today.


Translation news stories

5 Translation News Stories from Around the Web

Downtime is a rare luxury indeed here at Linguistica International HQ, but when there is a quiet moment, we like nothing more than a quick perusal of the web to catch up on all the latest translation news. Technically, it’s still work, so we can get away with it. These labours also bear fruit in the form of this blog. So grab yourself a tea, sit back and have a read of five translation news stories from around the web…

1. Mistranslations can cause nuclear war

We all know that mistranslations are serious – I mean, even Google penalises websites that use its own automated translation tool. But, did you know that translation errors in news coverage helped to push the US and the Russians to the brink of the unthinkable during the Cold War?

To make things worse, the same thing is happening in the Western media today, with simple mistakes escalating the situation with Iran. As if we didn’t have enough trouble with North Korea! Read more about the nuclear fallout of shoddy translation in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

2. Croatian-to-English translation disasters

After that sobering news, let’s brighten the mood with a little translation chuckle. Translation can bring the world to the brink of Armageddon, but it can also be quite funny. Here are a few examples of the good people of Croatia exercising their English skills with less-than-perfect results.

3. New speakers of forest tongue

Forest tongue might sound like some sort of fungal infection, but we’re referring to the endangered Elfdalian language, a language spoken by approximately 2,000 inhabitants of a remote part of Sweden. The beauty of this language is that it split off from Old Norse in the Middle Ages and has been left to develop in isolation since then.

The good news for this critically-endangered language is that it now boasts 26 brand new speakers following a week-long course that attracted people from around the world. The fact that it was such a short course, however, means the new speakers of this little-known forest tongue are still quite green – ha! Find out more here.

4. Make up your mind, Algeria

Did you know that Algeria is currently unable to decide which language it wants to speak? The Economist reports that the country is struggling to balance the use of French, Arabic, Berber and Darija, the four major languages spoken in the country, and this is hampering its development. What do they plan to do about it? We’ve spoon-fed you enough. You’ll have to read the article for yourself.

5. Chinese readers don’t appreciate the classics

The final story we’ll bore tease you with this week is the news that the extremely poor rates of pay for literary translators in China means that Chinese readers are failing to enjoy classic works of foreign literature. Why? Well, with translators and editors forced to work for next to nothing, the quality of the translations is poor. The result is that great works are being reproduced littered with mistakes, which is giving some of our best literature a bad name. Check out Sixth Tone to find out more.

Get in touch

Ready to put an end to our web browsing? Then get in touch with your translation, localisation and copywriting work. Alternatively, if you have a translation news story you’d like to share, please give us a heads-up on Facebook.