Translation Musings: Happy Easter!

bunnyI hope you are all enjoying a well deserved rest this Easter. Has the Easter Bunny visited with lots of chocolate treats? Where does the Easter Bunny even come from?!!

Well, like so many things in this blog, Germany! The Lutherans, to be exact, for whom the Easter Bunny was a spring-time St Nick – judging the children’s behaviour. According to legend, in the bunny would hop, bearing gifts of coloured eggs, sweets and toys. The bringing of eggs gets its first mention way back in 1682.

Rabbits and hares have long since been associated with fertility, giving birth to large litters in spring.  Long, long ago they were thought to be able to produce without the loss of virginity, leading to an association with the Virgin Mary and are sometimes represented in manuscripts and paintings showing the mother and child. They have also been associated with the Holy Trinity, such as in the three hares motive.

In Sweden, however, the hare or bunny thing never really did catch on. Although German immigrants brought it with them, the Swedish word for the Easter Hare, Påskharen, sounds rather similar to that for the Easter Man or Wizard, Påskkarlen, and it is this symbol which has become more suitable for the Pagan Swedish traditions with children still dressing up as witches at Easter to this day.

One last Easter factoid – in Bermuda kites are flown on Good Friday, as a symbol of Christ’s resurrection. I like that one!

Happy Easter all!


image credit: tiger311 at

Translation musings: do you want low quality chips with that?

IMG_20150429_171556371Well-loved American snack food establishment Taco Bell(other taco products are available) have, to great joy, opened their doors in Japan this week. Yay! Unfortunately their triumphant return has been somewhat overshadowed by their incredibly badly translated website!

Continue reading Translation musings: do you want low quality chips with that?

Translation musings: Huntingdon Business Fair


If you are in the Huntingdon area on Thursday, why not pop over to Wood Green Animal Shelter and check out the region’s biggest B2B event – the Huntingdon Business Fair?

There are over 100 exhibitors (including us!) as well as a full seminar programme. It’s a great opportunity to meet other business people, make connections, meet new suppliers and share the wisdom and inspiration of a series of guest speakers. The seminars are free and you could even have a go at speed networking!

The event is being held at Wood Green Animal Shelter on Thursday 23 April 2015, 10.00am— 4.00pm. See you there!

This year’s Huntingdonshire Business Fair is organised by Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce in partnership with the Federation of Small Businesses.

Translation Musings: translating apps

Apps have now become part of our everyday life – from checking the weather or the football scores to tracking what you eat or how far you’ve walked. It is also an area of translation we have seen grow over the last few years.

Picture1One of our clients making fantastic use of desktop and mobile apps is Innovata, now part of Flightglobal, who are a leading source of airline schedules data. They supply data to the aviation industry and build, host and maintain a wide range of timetables and route network mapping solution for airlines & airports. We are happy to have helped in developing these products by translating html and app scripts into a whole host of languages, from Arabic to Vietnamese.

We have provided translations for both their desktop and mobile applications, which they develop on behalf of their clients for use by the travellers. The number and variety of languages required reflect the diversity of their international clientele. Take a look at their FlightMaps app – which combines comprehensive flight schedules with a user friendly solution.

We have been very happy to use First Edition Translations for a number of different translation projects, including our travel apps. They are always very professional and able to take on specialist translations in a large number of languages. This has helped us to offer our product across the world.

Jane Small, Product Manager, Innovata

To find out more about translating your app or website, give us a ring on 01223 356733, email on or visit our website.

Translation Musings: have you been fooled today?

The fool

1st April – the day when you can’t trust anyone! Have you experienced a prank this morning, or read a news story you just can’t quite believe… and then realised why?

Some classics this morning have been the news that Jeremy Clarkson has had an epiphany and will now be “dedicating his time and financial resources to sustainable energy, road safety and forging mutual understanding and tolerance between people of different cultures and religions.” The Royal Albert Hall revealed a historical spat with the Beatles over the lyrics in “A Day in the Life” and even the University of Cambridge got involved with a voice-activated card reader.

But where did all this madness and hilarity start? Well, as seems to be usual, Chaucer sometimes gets the blame (oh, that Chaucer!), with the earliest link between between the silliness and the date showing up in The Canterbury Tales. It may also have been preceeded by the Roman festival of Hilaria, the Holi festival of India and the Medieval Feast of Fools. Although recognised across the world, with some countries taking it way more seriously than others. In Poland, for example, that, in 1683 when the anti-Turkish alliance with Leopold I was foolishly (see what I did there?) signed on 1 April, it was backdated to 31 March.

In the UK and those countries sharing the same tradition, it all ends at noon. So if you’ve forgotten to plan the perfect prank, you’ll have to wait till next year!


image credit: Ulrik @

Translation musings: how are you today?

pillsSo, how many of your staff are off sick today? Or should be off sick but are snuffling in a corner? It seems everyone I know (including me!) has had a horrible cold this winter. However, you will be glad to know that there are some illnesses we will never get. Unless you are German. Because there are, according to Arika Okrent at, some illnesses that only exist in German. So, here’s a selection of illnesses you never have to worry about, unless you are German.

This first one is brilliant. Kevinismus. I know. Kevinismus is, to be honest, not an illness at all but actually a craze for giving German children English (or American, if we’re being picky) names such as, yes, you guessed it, Kevin… There are, unfortunately, some negative connotations around these names, which is why, I suppose, it has been classed as an illness! I wonder if there are any German Perrys as well?

The next German illness sounds dreadful! What do you think Kreislaufzusammenbruch is all about? When translated in its purist form, it means circulatory collapse, which sounds pretty serious. What it kind of actually has come to mean, however, is feeling a little bit woozy – as in “I need to lie down, so I can’t come into work today…”

If, however, you are feeling that the world is against you and will never offer you what you need, perhaps you have a nasty case of Weltschmerz , or world pain. It is not angst, nor is it ennui, it is its own pain. Read this great article in The Guardian for more information!

Lastly an illness I will NEVER get, even if I move to Germany – Putzfimmel,  which literally means an obsession with cleaning. Yeah… never going to happen. But what a great word!


image credit: dimshik @

Translation Musings: Chinese New Year – what not to buy

chinese lanternAs we reach another Chinese New Year, maybe you are thinking of buying someone a new year gift? Here are a few hints for Chinese New Year pressies!

DON’T buy any sharp objects. Now, I can’t really imagine a scenario where you would want to buy a sharp object for someone (maybe the ‘cut anything’ knives? But no, really, no). But particularly for this occasion – it signifies that you want to cut off your relationship with the gift receiver. Ah, so now I can see a scenario… Pears also fall into this category – although fruit is generally good, the word for pear  (梨 lí/lee) is very similar sounding to the word for parting (离 lí).

DO buy tea! Who doesn’t like a nice cup of tea? Put it in a nice box and wrap it beautifully – a perfect gift.

DON’T buy cut flowers. Now this is a bit of a present failsafe for most occasions, in the UK anyway,  but, in China, cut flowers are generally reserved for funerals so best avoided at New Year.

DO buy alcohol. Apart from the obvious, the word for alcohol (酒 jiu/lee) is very similar sounding to the word for long lasting (久 jiu).

DON’T buy black or white objects. Again, these are important for funerals so to be avoided, even in the wrapping paper.

DO, however, buy red objects. Red is a very festive and lucky colour so a great option.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous Year of the Sheep!

Thanks to China Highlights
image credit: image credit: dcubillas @

Translation musings: mwah mwah!

kissAnd so we approach another Valentine’s Day, where much, one assumes, kissing will be going on. As well as eating and drinking and maybe sitting staring at each other with nothing to say in a crowded restaurant, filled with other couples doing the same.

Moving away from such cynicism and back to the kissing… How do people kiss in other languages? Well, apart from the rubbing of noses in some far northern climes, the actual act of kissing is pretty much universal, but how is it described?

In English, I suppose mwah is the most used, even if it does conjure up images of well-dressed women air-kissing whilst holding numerous expensive shopping bags. This is a fairly common sound though – appearing also in Arabic, Hebrew, Tagalog and German, to name but a few.  The smack sound is also a popular one, for example smask in Norwegian, smack in Swedis and smac in Portuguese (as well as the rather lovely splish splash and chuac). The French do a bit of both – mouah and smack. In Chinese, however, they boh, in Japanese chu, Lithuanian pakšt and in Estonian – saving the best till last – mopsti!

What do they do in your country?


Huge thanks to the inspirations for this post – the charming illustrations of James Chapman – click the link to see him on (and click here to see his lovely animal noise ones as well).

Image credit: widiwidi @
Other information: Wikipedia


Translation Musings: it’s nearly time for tatties an’ neets!

scottish flagSunday sees another Burns Day with much piping, haggis and, of course, whiskey galore! And Scotland has been quite the centre of attention for the UK this year. I, for one, am glad we are still as one and I hope the celebrations at the weekend are enjoyed by all!

As someone married to a man of proud Scottish heritage, I am used to the odd Scottish term coming up in general conversation. We have oft found ourselves up to our oxters, for example – armpits if you don’t already know! Apparently it can also be used as a verb – oxtering (helping!) someone home from a Burns supper, perhaps.

Another phrase much uttered and passed down by the paternal grandparents (in law) was peelie-wally (to rhyme with rally) – pale and sickly – as in ‘You’re looking a wee bit peelie-wally‘. Originating from Scots word palie, meaning sickly or listless, it may well have become the English word pale. A very satisfying and descriptive phrase I think – you can even use it for your cup of tea if the teabag came out a bit too swiftly!

If you haven’t got a Burns Supper planned, don’t be greetin about it. Why not just join hands anyway, wipe away the tears and blast out a lovely tuneful rendition of Auld Lang Syne (times long passed).

Happy Burns Night all!