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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!EMOCLEW – Garbled London Greetings Strike Yet Again

When London made its bid to host the Olympics, one point was made over and over. London is a city of the world. London is a multicultural city. More than 300 languages are spoken in London. Come to London, and you’ll find the world. And so on.

And so the Olympics came to London. People have been coming to London from all over the world. From all over the world, people have been watching London.

And when is the worst time to fall flat on your face? When everyone in the world is watching. Continue reading “!EMOCLEW – Garbled London Greetings Strike Yet Again”

Translation is not always one to one

The So Bad, So Good website has come up with its list of the best 25 non-English words with no counterpart in English: “25 Handy Words That Simply Don’t Exist In English”. This makes for an amusing read, and it would be interesting to hear what speakers of those languages feel.

Translators, of course, are well used to this difficulty. It is all too common to come across a word that has no direct equivalent or requires further elaboration to explain the implied nuances. Even worse is a word in the source text which has more than one meaning and is ambiguous in context. It may even be that the source text knowingly plays on this ambiguity – then the translation must aim to relay this ambiguity by careful choice of words or expansion and explanation.

So, in fact, this list is amusing but also highlights a common misconception about translation. Continue reading “Translation is not always one to one”

Translating luxury brands into global success

Chinese website tranlsation: Rolls-Royce

The last month has seen more diamonds of economic news than there are in Cullinan mine. While British retail remains patchy, UK and other European companies selling “luxury” have done phenomenally well on the global stage. They have reaped dividends of promotion in emerging economies, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, targeting High Net Worth Individuals or those aspiring to perceived luxury.

Translation plays no small part in this global success: research has shown that the majority of consumers will only buy from websites with information presented in their language. This effect becomes more pronounced the higher the value of the product or service. (see Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters, Common Sense Advisory)

A few news snippets illustrate the trend:
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Clerkenwell House of Detention, ghost tales and mummified cats

As well as serving drinks to revolutionaries, the original Crown Tavern pub on Clerkenwell Green has the dubious reputation of having exhibited a mummified cat. Apparently during the 17th Century the cat “which some mason of John or Richard’s reign had cruelly buried alive in one of the walls of St. James’s Church, used to be solemnly shown there”.

Other mysterious events in and around Clerkenwell include the Cock Lane Haunting. The elaborate tale as thick as a modern day Eastenders plot began in 1762. Continue reading “Clerkenwell House of Detention, ghost tales and mummified cats”

More Clerkenwell history: the Russian connection and a musical coal man

The Musical Small Coalman of Clerkenwell

Where would you find Russian revolutionaries in the early 1900s? The biographies of the future leaders of the Soviet Union show that they were men well travelled as it was not easy to organise left-wing parties in Tsarist Russia, and radicals were often forced into exile. I wrote last week about Clerkenwell’s radical history, and in 1902, the leading Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin came here. He set about publishing the revolutionary newspaper Iskra (The Spark) to be shipped back to Russia.
Continue reading “More Clerkenwell history: the Russian connection and a musical coal man”

Is this the new ‘age of translation’?

This year has seen literary translation hit new prominence on the news and feature pages. Earlier this week the BBC marked the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, noting how its turns of phrase have permeated everyday English:

The Sun says Aston Villa “refused to give up the ghost”. Wendy Richard calls her EastEnders character Pauline Fowler “the salt of the earth”. The England cricket coach tells reporters, “You can’t put words in my mouth.” Daily Mirror fashion pages call Tilda Swinton “a law unto herself”.

Now today’s Observer is going even further: it carries a full page article proclaiming “This is the age of the translator”. Continue reading “Is this the new ‘age of translation’?”