What are your New Year resolutions?

It’s something that most people make on New Year’s Eve/ New Year’s Day. Resolutions range from going to the gym, cutting out alcohol, stopping smoking, travelling more, finding love, and even learning a language. Now, most of us will break our new Year’s resolutions within a few weeks. I did last a solid 8 months on a resolution I made in the past! We’ll enjoy a sober 3 weeks then wish we hadn’t given away all our bottles of wine! Or excitedly bought a month’s pass for the local gym and realise you’ve only gone twice that whole month.

But, what about learning something new?

According to a recent survey, one in five Britons hope to learn a language as part of their New Year’s resolutions. The survey was conducted for the British Council by Populus and found that Spanish was the most popular language to learn. Other languages on our top 5 list included Mandarin, French, Arabic and German.

Of the adults polled:

1/3 said they could hold a basic conversation in 1 foreign language

45% were embarrassed by their inability to speak a foreign language

64% always wanted to speak a foreign language fluently

56% regret not trying earlier to learn a foreign language

58% agreed it is important now more than ever for the British to learn another language.

Brexit as the reason?

This is more than likely the reason why people are now so eager to learn a foreign language. Post-Brexit, knowing another language could be a great asset in business. Not everyone speaks English, so knowing Spanish, or Mandarin (2 of the world’s biggest languages) would be the key to success.

It is all well that adults are seeing the need to learn another language, but this is not filtering down to the younger generation. The United Kingdom is seeing a decline in the popularity of languages in schools. Less students are choosing to continue their studies with languages. It has been 10 years since I left school and if it’s any worse than it used to be, then that’s not good news at all. My Welsh A level class had 4 students (myself included). French did a bit better with 5 students. German was not even an option for A Level at my school.

It is vital that students choose a language or languages as part of their continued studies, otherwise that adult poll of 56% regretting not learning earlier will increase! Poor language skills are costing the economy billions per year in lost export opportunities. When Brexit happens, this is something we need to avoid. So, if you said in your New Year resolutions that you wanted to learn a language, go for it! Even if it’s just enough language to get you safely through your summer holiday. More of us need to start learning languages, in the hope that the younger generation will follow suit. And it’s never too late to start learning a language. My uncle is 70 and has started to learn Spanish, so if he can do it, what’s your excuse?

New Year celebrations – the meaning of Auld Lang Syne

nullWe’re now a week into 2013 and should have all just about recovered from the New Year celebrations…

In the UK, and in many other English speaking countries around the world, friends and family gather together at the stroke of midnight to hold hands and sing the traditional Scottish folk song, Auld Lang Syne, but how many of us actually know the lyrics well enough to sing along and do we truly understand the meaning of the song?

As Big Ben begins to chime at midnight we cross our arms and link hands with those around us ready to sing Auld Lang Syne, but you’ll often find that Auld Lang Syne sounds more like one big mumble rather than a well known song. It’s a song which we’ve become accustomed to singing every year on New Year’s eve, but not a song which we’ve ever learned the words to! In a survey conducted in 2011 it was found that 37% of the British population don’t know any of the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne and that 75% of the population are unable to sing a whole verse!

So, for those of us who mumble, here they are, the original lyrics to Auld Lang Syne, and a modern day English translation (in case you are wondering what on earth the song is about!):

ORIGINAL

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind? 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 

And auld lang syne!  

For auld lang syne, my jo, 

For auld lang syne, 

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, 

For auld lang syne.   

And surely ye’ll be your pint stowp! 

And surely I’ll be mine! 

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet, 

For auld lang syne.  

We twa hae run about the braes, 

And pu’d the gowans fine; 

But we’ve wander’d mony a weary foot, 

Sin auld lang syne.  

We twa hae paidl’d I’ the burn,

Frae mornin’ sun till dine; 

But seas between us braid hae roar’d, 

Sin auld lang syne.  

And there’s a hand, my trusty fiere! 

And gie’s a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll tak a right guid willy waught, 

For auld lang syne.  

For auld lang syne, my jo, 

For auld lang syne, 

We’ll tak a cup o’ kindness yet, 

For auld lang syne.

MODERN TRANSLATION

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind? 

Should old acquaintance be forgot, 

And times gone by.  

For times gone by, my dear,

For times gone by, 

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, 

For times gone by.  

And surely you’ll buy your pint-jug! 

And surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, 

For times gone by.  

We two have run about the hills, 

And pulled the daisies fine; 

But we’ve wandered manys the weary foot, 

Since times gone by.  

We two have paddled in the stream, 

From morning sun till dine; 

But seas between us broad have roared, 

Since times gone by.  

And there’s a hand, my trusty friend! 

And give us a hand of yours! 

And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will, 

For times gone by.  

For times gone by, my dear, 

For times gone by, 

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, 

For times gone by.

 

Where did Auld Lang Syne come from and what does it mean?

Auld Lang Syne is a poem which was written in 1788 by Scotsman, Robert Burns, and is sung along to the tune of a popular folk song. It was first sung on New Year’s Eve in Scotland, but the tradition soon spread to the rest of the UK, and then to other parts of the world. The poem recalls the kindness and love of days gone by and calls for a toast to the past. As well as being sung to mark the end of one year and beginning of another, Auld Lang Syne is also sung at the end of other events including Scottish dances, Scottish Burns supper and Passing Out Parades in the Royal Navy. It is also occasionally sung at farewell parties, graduations and funerals.

We’d love to hear about your New Year celebrations. Get in touch using the comments box below!

Multimedia Localization

Since communication tools have become more sophisticated, the methods used to localize their output have had to change as well. Not so long ago, localization was most often performed in a written form, e.g. product manuals, user guides and training materials, etc. The internet has provided online help, websites and GUI which created a new ubiquitous domain called multimedia. The most common multimedia materials are flash movies, video clips, sound files, and complex graphics which can all be found in e.g. video games, interactive software, Web applications, DVDs or CD-ROMs.

Traditional localization used to require professional linguists who translated the materials, as well as desktop publishers who formatted the output. However, multimedia localization calls for more sophisticated resources now. It requires experts with additional skills for audio or video adaptation, script translation and professional voice talent recording. Software engineering is also essential. Altogether it requires a combination of linguistic work and in-studio production services which allow training, marketing, educational or commercial audio and video applications, as well as entertainment products.

There are some basic rules of multimedia localization that should be implemented in every project:

I. Pick your format

Before you present any multimedia message, choose the most relevant format from a wide variety of applications, including:

  • 3D Studio Max,
  • Alias,
  • Animated GIFs
  • Direct X,
  • Macromedia Flash,
  • Macromedia Shockwave,
  • Softimage

Once you have decided on your format, you then have to decide whether you want to target your multimedia message at a global audience. If yes, make every attempt to plan the localization process very carefully from the outset i.e. from the very moment when the source files are first being developed.

II. Begin with localization in mind

Presenting a multimedia project to multilingual consumers triggers both technical and cultural challenges. If you start with localization in mind, you can avoid both unexpected increases in costs and frustrating delays.

On the technical side, you may run into issues such as text expansion. This applies to on-screen as well as spoken text. Therefore, it is very important to understand the character sets for different languages and how the synchronization of voice files differs between languages. Consider whether your on-screen buttons accommodate translated text and see how the issues of concatenation and bidirectional scripts are managed.

As far as written text is concerned, visual messages may both inspire or upset. Their meanings differ across cultures. For example, a particular image may be acceptable in Europe but it may be totally inappropriate in Asia. You have to be very careful in this respect, as any mistake may result in a big embarrassment or cause significant discredit to your message.

III. How localization gets done

Once you have created your multimedia message in its source language, this is the time when the localization engineer comes to dismantle your source document, keeping an eye on such issues as colour specifications, system fonts, text attributes, navigation and interactive text. Onscreen text is then sent, along with any script, for localization.

To get a valuable stake in your localization project and to avoid downstream delays to the timeline as well as costly studio and engineering re-work, you can forward the translated onscreen and narrative text for in-country approval. Next, the localization engineer places the on-screen text into the localized visual files. Then the team comprising of audio engineers, voice talent and perhaps a linguistic producer, work with the specifics of the source files and produce the localized voice files. The final step for engineers is to spot script errors and broken links plus one last linguistic review to ensure synchronisation and your project is ready for a global launch.

If you follow these steps from the outset in your production cycle, you can be sure that your multimedia message entertains and illuminates every member of its audience.

New Year’s Resolutions

So what’s yours? You are going to quit smoking; lose twenty pounds; go to the gym every day; stop watching reruns of CSI and finish George Steiner’s After Babel instead; meet all your deadlines, and finish those tricky technical translations; not max out your credit card ever again; never lose your temper with your young children or aging parents; cheat neither on your partner nor your tax return; run a marathon; learn three new languages and become a super hero – right?

Well, here’s mine: In between moaning and bitching about heavy workloads and impossible deadlines, I am occasionally going to spare a thought for the translators of yesteryear … say, around 1990. Just imagine: They didn’t have Google. Let me repeat this so it sinks in: They did not have Google.

I don’t know about you (actually, I can hazard a pretty good guess) – but when I’m given a text on an unfamiliar topic, I often start by quite randomly googling terms and phrases just to see if my search throws up anything useful: a thread from an online translation forum perhaps, or a multilingual website which covers similar material. Even after I’ve looked a word up in one of my dictionaries, I usually do a Google search to make sure it’s actually being used – who would ever trust a dictionary, after all? Next, I’ll tap various online resources and if I still have open questions, I might post them in a discussion forum myself, or send an SOS e-mail to some of my translator friends.

Of course, as I’ve said before, the internet can be a mixed blessing because it allows bad translations to proliferate and you have to use your own judgment to filter those out (not to mention all the distractions it provides). But it most definitely is a blessing, especially when it comes to technical translations, and I really wouldn’t want to work without having all this information at my fingertips.

Still, life wasn’t all bad in the pre-digital age. Here is a description of the daily routine of Hunayn Ibn Ishāq, one of the caliph’s star translators at the House of Wisdom in ninth-century Baghdad, who also insisted on being paid by the weight of his output – in gold. May he be an inspiration to us all: ‘We are shown Hunayn, after his ride every day, going to the baths. There he would lie at his ease while the attendants poured water over him. On emerging from the bath he put on a bedgown, drank a cup of wine, ate a biscuit and lay down to rest – sometimes falling asleep. The siesta over, he burned perfumes to fumigate his person and ordered his dinner. This generally consisted of a large fat fowl and a cake of bread. He would sup the gravy and eat up the fowl and the bread. Then he resumed his sleep and on awaking drank four pints of old wine, to which he added Syrian apples or quinces, if he felt the desire for fresh fruits.’

What do you think? Personally, I think this sounds like a fairly good arrangement.

If you would like any further information about our technical translations, please contact us.

So what’s yours? You are going to quit smoking; lose twenty pounds; go to the gym every day; stop watching reruns of CSI and finish George Steiner’s After Babel instead; meet all your deadlines; not max out your credit card ever again; never lose your temper with your young children or aging parents; cheat neither on your partner nor your tax return; run a marathon; learn three new languages and become a super hero – right?

Well, here’s mine: In between moaning and bitching about heavy workloads and impossible deadlines, I am occasionally going to spare a thought for the translators of yesteryear … say, around 1990. Just imagine: They didn’t have Google. Let me repeat this so it sinks in: They did not have Google.

I don’t know about you (actually, I can hazard a pretty good guess) – but when I’m given a text on an unfamiliar topic, I often start by quite randomly googling terms and phrases just to see if my search throws up anything useful: a thread from an online translation forum perhaps, or a multilingual website which covers similar material. Even after I’ve looked a word up in one of my dictionaries, I usually do a Google search to make sure it’s actually being used – who would ever trust a dictionary, after all? Next, I’ll tap various online resources and if I still have open questions, I might post them in a discussion forum myself, or send an SOS e-mail to some of my translator friends.

Of course, as I’ve said before, the internet can be a mixed blessing because it allows bad translations to proliferate and you have to use your own judgment to filter those out (not to mention all the distractions it provides). But it most definitely is a blessing and I really wouldn’t want to work without having all this information at my fingertips.

Still, life wasn’t all bad in the pre-digital age. Here is a description of the daily routine of Hunayn Ibn Ishāq, one of the caliph’s star translators at the House of Wisdom in ninth-century Baghdad, who also insisted on being paid by the weight of his output – in gold. May he be an inspiration to us all: ‘We are shown Hunayn, after his ride every day, going to the baths. There he would lie at his ease while the attendants poured water over him. On emerging from the bath he put on a bedgown, drank a cup of wine, ate a biscuit and lay down to rest – sometimes falling asleep. The siesta over, he burned perfumes to fumigate his person and ordered his dinner. This generally consisted of a large fat fowl and a cake of bread. He would sup the gravy and eat up the fowl and the bread. Then he resumed his sleep and on awaking drank four pints of old wine to which he added Syrian apples or quinces, if he felt the desire for fresh fruits.’