Swearing is part of all languages; should it be made illegal?

Languages - Lingua TranslationsOne of the first things most people ask me when I say I can speak German and Italian is, “So you can swear in those languages?!”

Of course when I was at school knowing swear words in another language was ‘cool’. It was one of those things that provided hours of entertainment within friends. However, my time spent in the countries was when I really saw this type of language in use.

As in English, swear words are common place in many languages. It is normal to hear words that may be considered mild swear words banded around between Italian friends, particularly when referring to other drivers on the road!

Swearing is referred to with many different names but the word profanity is perhaps the one that best encapsulates these various titles. The word profanity originates from the Latin term pro fano (literally meaning ‘outside the sanctuary’) and was used to refer to things that did not belong to the church.

This connection can clearly be seen as profanities are still unacceptable within religion, but it is also clear that for many people cursing has lost its shock factor. Nowadays it is not unusual to hear young children exclaiming words that would have earned them a swift clip round the earhole not too long ago.

That is not to say that everyone is au fait with bad language, certainly for the majority of people it may still be considered a sign of poor upbringing when a child of 11 calls his friend a series of words that would make a sailor blush.

There is, in fact, an ongoing debate as to whether swearing in public should be made illegal. Even following the ruling by a High Court judge last year that it should not be a punishable offence, the debate continues. In fact, in 2008 police in Preston, north-west England were empowered to fine people caught swearing in public the sum of £80. Throughout history there have been many examples of bills and laws banning swearing and making it a punishable offence, however swearing still remains a central part of everyday life. It is in the media constantly, of course there is still a watershed but it seems that after this hour anything goes.

Writers use swear words to add impact to a character’s lines. To express anger, fear, hatred. Sometimes they are just added in for the sake of it though.

Does this mean that swear words have lost their impact? Some words are used without a second thought, whilst others might cause you to recoil but this is again down to the individual.

Swearing could be made illegal on the basis that using these words is offensive, but offensive to whom? If the majority of people no longer find bad language to be bad then what is the point in banning it?

Some say that swearing dilutes the meaning of languages and affects the range of vocabulary used. I would be inclined to agree.

With swear words at the ready, who needs to be creative with languages? One word to suit many situations means that we no longer feel the need to search for ways of expressing emotion.

What are your thoughts on swear words within different languages? Should swearing be made illegal? Let us know you thoughts via the comment box below.

For more information on the languages we work with here at Lingua Translations, please visit our languages page.

The Challenges of translation


There is more to translation than transferring the words from one language into another, it involves the translation of feelings, emotions and thoughts. Every language has a unique structure or word order. The simpler the language is, the easier it is to translate that language to another one. A poorly written text can make matters much more complex, as the meaning can be hard to understand and therefore to render into a different language.

The role of translators in the development of international relations, economics, arts, movies and scientific exchange, is vast. Translators facilitate social, artistic, cultural, political and scientific communication.


Homonyms (words with the same spelling and pronunciation but different meanings) can mislead the translator. Using the wrong meaning can ruin a phrase or make it seem absurd. Sometimes different words have an overlap in their definition, meaning and use but they are not used in quite the same way or have a mismatch in certain contexts. This can lead to misuse or different meaning in the target text as words might have an implied value judgement in one language but not in another.

It is not strange to stumble upon a word that has no equivalent in the target language. Which is very likely to be found in legal documents because of the different legislation or in technical texts where many key terms are used to describe technological progress that has no equivalent in another language since it’s a brand-new concept. A good solution in this case is to come up with a phrase that conveys the meaning.


Sarcasm is a sharp or bitter way of expressing thoughts or a remark that usually means the opposite of what people say. It usually loses its meaning if translated word-for-word into a different language. Finding the right equivalents in the target language is not always an easy task. Cultural differences between languages and the culture of their speakers can only make this mission more daunting. Many jokes and idioms are culture-bond and would not make any sense in the target language if translated literally.

The best way to insure the meaning of your text is rendered efficiently into the target language is to use qualified professional translator like the ones we use at Lingua Translations. We make sure the target text conveys the meaning you want to communicate to your audience. Only the human translator is able of interpreting cultural components in the source text and that cannot be translated in terms of equivalent terms. As well as understanding the different cultural, linguistic and semantic nuances in order to produce a target text that has the same effect as the source text.



La traducción es más que pasar las palabras de un idioma a otro, implica la traducción de sentimientos, emociones y pensamientos. Cada lengua posee una estructura u orden de palabras único. Cuanto más sencillo sea el lenguaje, más fácil es de traducir ese idioma a otro. Un texto mal escrito puede hacer esta tare mucho más ardua, ya que el significado puede resultar difícil de comprender y, por lo tanto, de transmitir en un idioma distinto.

El papel del traductor en el desarrollo de las relaciones internacionales, economía, arte, cine e intercambios científicos es enorme. Facilitan la comunicación social, artística, cultural, política y científica.

Los homónimos

Los homónimos (palabras con la misma ortografía y pronunciación, pero de significados diferentes) pueden confundir al traductor. Utilizar el significado erróneo puede arruinar la frase o hacerla absurda. En ocasiones, diferentes palabras se solapan en algunas acepciones, pero no se usan de la misma manera o son incompatibles en algunos contextos. Esto puede llevar al mal uso o cambio de significado en el texto meta ya que éstas pueden tener un valor implícito en un idioma, pero no en el otro.

No es extraño encontrarse con una palabra que no tiene equivalente en el idioma meta. Esto es muy probable en documentos legales debido a la diferencia en la legislación o en textos técnicos donde muchos términos se utilizan para describir el progreso tecnológico que no tiene equivalente en otra lengua por tratarse de un nuevo concepto. Una buena solución en este caso sería crear una frase que transmita el mismo significado.

El sarcasmo

El sarcasmo es una manera de expresar pensamientos o hacer comentarios agudos o viperinos en la que se quiere decir lo contrario a lo expresado verbalmente. Normalmente pierde sentido si se traduce literalmente en otro idioma. Encontrar los equivalentes adecuados en la lengua meta no es siempre una tarea sencilla. Las diferencias culturales entre idiomas y la cultura de sus hablantes sólo pueden hacer este cometido más intimidante. Muchas bromas y expresiones están ligadas a la cultura y no tienen sentido en la lengua meta si se traducen literalmente.

La mejor manera de asegurarse de que su texto se transmita eficazmente en el idioma meta es utilizar traductores profesionales como los que usamos en Lingua Translations. Nos aseguramos de que su texto transmita el significado que usted quiere comunicar a su público. Sólo los traductores humanos con capaces de interpretar los componentes culturales en el texto de origen y que no tienen términos equivalentes. Además de comprender los distintos matices culturales, lingüísticos y semánticos para producir un texto meta con el mismo efecto que el texto de origen.

New Welsh language legislation passed

What happy coincidence – on the very same day I was going to write an article about the Welsh language, a great announcement is made by the Welsh Assembly. Yesterday it was announced that a new piece of legislation which strengthens Welsh’s status as an official language has been unanimously passed, and will become law in 2011. This is the first law of its type to be passed since the Welsh Language Act in 1993.

The new law contains a clear statement that English and Welsh are both official languages in Wales, and gives Welsh speakers the right to receive certain services in Welsh. A Welsh language commissioner will replace the current Welsh Language Board and the introduction of a Welsh Language Tribunal will mean that it will be possible to appeal against decisions made with regard to these new rights. Not all companies will be required to provide services in Welsh; the key phrase in the legislation is that organisations covered by the law should have “reasonable and proportionate” arrangements in place for Welsh speakers.

The move is a crucial part of the power-sharing agreement between Labour and Plaid Cymru, but has provoked some controversy, in particular concerning the clause describing Welsh as an official language. Some feel that the statement should be unqualified, particularly Welsh language campaigners, who feel that the gesture does not go far enough. However the government believes that the clause legally clarifies the position of Welsh in the country and that an unqualified statement would leave the position of Welsh open to interpretation by courts.

Given that the majority of people in Wales speak English, this represents monumental progress in the promotion of the language. The law is the most complex to be passed by the Welsh Assembly, and will lead to an increase in demand for Welsh translation and interpreting, as companies push to meet their new targets.

Lingua Translations can provide Welsh language services, and value quality above all. If you have any enquiries about our Welsh language services please contact us on +44 (0) 1792 469990.

A Little Advice on Translation & Interpreting Services Costs Nothing!

Many of our clients and customers come to us having never had a requirement for translation & interpreting services before. It’s a bit like going into a sports store looking to buy a pair of running shoes having never before worn a pair of trainers. Go to a standard store, you will get basic advice on your first pair, go into a specialist running store, you will get an in depth explanation on how your running shoes are the most important piece of equipment you will need and what would be the best style, shape & brand to meet your budget and fit your foot. What you really want is to be able to return to the store, knowing which style of shoes is the most comfortable, which shape shoe moulds to the shape of your foot and which type of shoe you need for road / trail /sprint training?

Confusing? Well it’s a bit like the translation & interpreting industry. It isn’t as simple as using someone who is fluent in a language, translating the text word for word. Companies and clients need to be advised on what type of translation & interpreting will benefit their company the most.

Many companies do not have the knowledge or the time to consider different options for their translation or interpreting requirements. They set their budget and cost becomes the only factor. A little advice can help someone enormously within a matter of minutes. Translation and interpreting require special skill sets that someone who is solely fluent in the language cannot provide, as well as someone who is not a specialist in the field required cannot provide. The process isn’t as straightforward as it may appear, yet the way language is perceived is so important for targeting the required audience.

Lingua Translations: “Do you require proofreading?”
Customer: “I don’t know what that is”

If there is a small document welcoming a new recruit for example, the document will remain within the company, so costs can be saved by opting out of proofreading, but if a website translation is required, then proofreading is highly recommended as the text will enter the public domain and is the first port of call for international customers, ultimately reflecting the company values.

Customer: “Don’t translators proofread anyway?”

Well yes, translators do, but after working on the same text for an amount of time, a second, objective opinion can be valuable as suggestions to the tone and style of the text can be made, making the text even more accurate. A Project Brief can do wonders for a translation and save the translator a lot of time in their research. No two translators translate exactly the same but with a brief, all translators used on a project can match the requirements of the client. It would be a waste to translate a text about a new phone accessory, not knowing who the target audience is.

Customer: “What about machine translation, it will save my company so much money?”

Yes, it will save your company money in the short term, however, the quality of the translation you have will be reflected in the quality of your company’s work in the long term. You wouldn’t write a wind farm planning application unless you were a specialist in the energy sector, just like a machine translator shouldn’t translate your wind farm planning application because it isn’t a specialist in the energy sector.

By just reading this blog, someone can learn an awful lot about what may benefit their company the most and ultimately make the right decision. Lingua Translations is founded by trained linguists and all in-house staff are language graduates. This gives us a profound academic awareness of the process of translation and means we are ideally placed to offer our customers the very best service and advice, free of charge. We offer an exceptional and friendly service that keeps our customers happy and keeps them returning.

5 Top Tips for choosing a Translation Agency for your Business

Targeting international markets is the key to success for many businesses. In order for it to be successful, the right steps need to be taken. This may include your company’s website translation , media related documents, informative documents, instruction manuals etc. Whatever text you wish your international audience to see, needs to be translated.

Choosing the best translation agency and translators to undertake your requirements is the first, and the most critical step for success or failure in targeting the international market. Just because there may be a fluent Mandarin speaker in your company does not mean that they have the skills needed to produce translations for your target audience. High quality translations require skills that language speakers may not have, especially in the case of technical translation or where the project requires the skills of someone experienced in transcreation for marketing translation. This is why at Lingua Translations, we require all our translators to have at least five years translating experience in their expert field and a degree in their field of expertise.

Important areas of consideration when choosing an agency:

Separate the good from the bad

Many of our customers have come to us after experiencing substandard translations elsewhere. There are so many companies out there who use translators without professional certification and who are under experienced. Finding a translation agency with an established reputation and proven acumen is vital for a successful translations. The agency should be professionally accredited and offer a money back guarantee. Lingua Translations Language solutions has been awarded both the BS EN ISO 9001:2008 industry standard and the BS EN 15038:2006 translation–specific standard. You should be allowed to request translation certification from your agency, which will be signed by the translator and the agency.

Hire people, not robots

It is essential that you hire professionally qualified human translators and not use machine based translation systems. High quality translations require creative thinkers that are aware of current language trends and styles, idiomatic expressions and dialects of the target language. it is also important to ensure that they are culturally aware of the target language environment, which is why it is also best to use translators who are native in the target language.

Work only with industry specific translators

A precise and accurate translation can be the key to a company’s successful export strategy. It is so important that if a technical translation is needed, a translator that is highly experienced in this field is used. For example, if you are targeting football fans in Brazil, then you will need a translator who is experienced in sports translations. Lingua Translations has provided award winning professional translations in the sport sector, as well as regularly providing translations for the Energy, Legal, Medical and Pharmaceutical, Recruitment, Publishing and Business sectors. Certain skills will be required for a technical translation that a general translator may not be able to provide, which will be reflected when the translation is publicised.

Use translators who are native in the target language

The most accurate translations arise from professionals who are fully immersed in the source and target languages. Never be afraid to ask your agency to use translators that work in this way. At Lingua Translations, we only use translators who are native in the language they are translating into.

Demand the highest quality results

High quality translations only reflects positively on your business, so demanding everything you require out of your agency is essential. At the end of the day, translated material should not appear as if it was translated in the first place and if it means paying a little bit extra than other translation agencies you are wary of, then this is a sure fire way to paving your way to success for your company. If required, demand fast turnaround times. Good translation agencies will always be able to produce urgent translations at request, as they are always on the ball and have an excellent pool of translators to choose from. They will also offer free, unlimited revisions (when requested by you) of the translated text and provide a service until you are fully content with the translation.

The moment you decide to take the next step with your business and target international audiences is a huge step for any company. Just make sure that you choose the very best translation agency, otherwise you might in fact take a step back!

If you would like to read more about how you can grow your business abroad and connect you with industry specific linguists, get in touch.