British landmarks seek Chinese names

Nominations are now open to rename our landmarks in Chinese. Celebrities, places and foods are often given names in China that describe what people think about them. VisitBritain is today launching a new campaign, ‘GREAT names for GREAT Britain’, that invites Chinese consumers to come up with the most fitting, amusing and memorable Chinese names for some of Britain’s food, landmarks and other attractions.

The 101 British landmarks will cover a wide range of locations. Names will be revealed in batches over the next 10 weeks on VisitBritain’s social media platforms including Weibo. The first batch covers points of interest with a royal connection, including Kensington Palace and The Mall.

Other highlights from the list include Chatsworth, Eilean Donan Castle, Brighton Pier, King’s Cross St Pancras station, Dartmoor, Hadrian’s Wall, Beachy Head, Rhossili Bay, London’s Shard and the Wales Coastal Path. British people and objects also feature including the kilt and the Highland Games, along with the Loch Ness Monster, Cornish pasty, Devon cream teas, Stilton Cheese, Haggis and Beefeaters.

Faced with the Welsh village with Britain’s longest name – Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch – one suggestion that has already been forthcoming is Continue reading “British landmarks seek Chinese names”

Celebrating Mid-Autumn Festival: mooncakes, lanterns and rabbits

In the Chinese calendar, today marks a significant date. As well as being International Translation Day, this year 30 September is the 15th day of the eighth month in the Chinese calendar. On this day Chinese and Vietnamese people traditionally celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival (simplified Chinese: 中秋节; traditional Chinese: 中秋節), one of the most important holidays in the Chinese calendar.
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Don’t be erroneous: Google Translate’s geopolitical blooper

Google Translate has inadvertently strayed into the political choppy waters with an inaccurate translation.

Anyone who uses the site knows that Google translations can sometimes be imprecise or hard to understand. Senior figures at Google itself recognise this, as I have discussed before: Google: “Translations aren’t perfect”

But it is even worse when the translation is the complete opposite of the intended meaning.
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Chinese characters: an introduction to the world’s biggest language

An introductory tour of Chinese characters by WorldAccent translation project manager, Sally Ly

Chinese characters are also known as Han characters, named after the Han Dynasty when it evolved. Today, the Han script is the dominant script of the Chinese language, and still resonates in other traditional East Asian scripts such as the Japanese Kanji and the Korean Hanja.

Chinese characters Han Zi Continue reading “Chinese characters: an introduction to the world’s biggest language”

Great for Chinese tourists

“The Olympics should be for Britain what Usain Bolt is for athletics – something that grabs the attention of the whole world and refuses to let it go,”

So says the culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announcing a Government push to attract tourists, particularly from mainland China.

Some £8m will be targeted at the Chinese market, with the aim of trebling the number of Chinese visitors to the UK. Currently France and Germany prove more attractive to the burgeoning ranks of the Chinese middle class.
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Brazil, Russia, India, China: BRICs in the wall of recovery?

Brazil Russia

Pic: By Ricardo Stuckert/PR (Agência Brasil [1]) [CC-BY-2.5-br], via Wikimedia Commons

Will translation rescue London businesses from the morass of the UK economy? A report today by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry shows a difficult last few months for London business, but concludes that part of the solution is reaching out globally to growing economies.
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Picturing Chinese New Year in London

This year the Chinese New Year ran from 3 February. It is Year of the Rabbit, associated with new beginnings and good luck. We captured some of the scenes on London’s streets during the New Year celebrations last Sunday.

Red stall at Chinese New Year in London
Chinese New Year in London.

This work by WorldAccent Translation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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Their face doesn’t say it all!

It’s not just words that sometimes need translating across the globe. A study this month has concluded people from different cultures read facial expressions differently.

Research on these cultural differences
, carried out by a team largely from Glasgow University, showed that East Asian observers found it more difficult to distinguish some facial expressions.

“We show that Easterners and Westerners look at different face features to read facial expressions,” said Rachael Jack. “Westerners look at the eyes and the mouth in equal measure, whereas Easterners favour the eyes and neglect the mouth. This means that Easterners have difficulty distinguishing facial expressions that look similar around the eye region.”

Interestingly this difference in focus is also reflected in emoticons – the textual portrayal of a writer’s mood commonly used in emails and text messages.

Western emoticons primarily use the mouth to convey emotional states, e.g. : ) for happy and : ( for sad. Eastern emoticons use the eyes, e.g. ^.^ for happy and ;_; for sad. So a quirky brochure design that revolves around a smiley in English might need a total re-think for the Chinese translation.

The final word on this goes to the research team, who wrote:

“In sum, our data demonstrate genuine perceptual differences between Western Caucasian and East Asian observers … From here on, examining how the different facets of cultural ideologies and concepts have diversified these basic social skills will elevate knowledge of human emotion processing from a reductionist to a more authentic representation. Otherwise, when it comes to communicating emotions across cultures, Easterners and Westerners will find themselves lost in translation.”