What could you interpret? A birth?

Could you interpret a birth?

These days interpreters are needed for everything! As an agency we get various requests for legal proceedings, events, interviews, football players, medical issues… the list goes on. The range of needs for interpreting is immense. But what could you interpret? Legal can be a difficult area to interpret as you can be dealing with some very technical and sensitive situations. What about interpreting a labour? Could you do that?


birthI was casually watching ‘one born every minute’ (preparing myself for when I’ll be in labour in July!) and there was a Persian family requiring an interpreter for the birth of their child. It made me think, could I interpret something like that?! It is a special time in the parents lives and you’d be there helping them understand what is going on, and helping the doctors and midwifes understand how mum is feeling.

To give a bit of history of the family

They had two children in Iran through caesarean under general anaesthetic. They then moved to Britain and were learning English and became pregnant with their third child. Although, between them they could understand a lot of what the midwifes were saying, there was still a language barrier. An interpreter was needed to help the labour run smoothly.


They were planning on having a caesarean for the 3rd child, but unlike in Iran, we do not use general anaesthetic for the procedure. As you can imagine the woman was a little worried about being awake for the procedure. The interpreter was there to help them understand what the consultants, doctors and midwifes needed the mum and dad to understand, along with the mum being able to explain how she feels and what was happening with her.

From a language point of view, the conversation would’ve been easy for any medical trained interpreter to assist with. The difficult part for the interpreter would’ve to be present during what it a very special and unique time for the parents. Especially considering in Iran the fathers are not normally allowed to be present for the births.

Sometimes we forget how vast a profession interpreting can be. On the news we only see interpreters in a legal point of view, but there are so many areas of life where interpreters are needed. So, my question is: what could you interpret? At Lingua Translations we aim to find the best suited interpreter for of our clients. Could you interpret something as unique as a labour?

Raining cats and dogs

Raining Cats and Dogs


raining cats and dogs 181 × 174You might’ve seen my earlier blog about our fixations with weather. This got me thinking – are we the only nation? But more importantly, do other nations have some random way of saying its raining quite heavily out there. I’ve checked- Britain is not the only country to get heavy downpours – just a shame most of ours happen in summer.


So, here’s what I found!


Cats and Dogs is a very English way of saying its raining. Obviously, you could technically say raining cats and dogs in any language- but would people understand what you are trying to say? Here’s how some of the rest of the world would say it:


The Catalans have gone with something just a weird, but without the animal cruelty: Està plovent a bots i barrals (barrels and casks)


The French have a few variations with what they would say: Il pleut des grenouilles / à seaux / comme vache qui pisse – meaning raining frogs (bit of a stereotype there!), buckets and a random one, like a pissing cow…… Never to be outdone by the English clearly!


The Greeks went with the simple Βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα (Brékhei kareklopódara) – It’s raining chair legs. Just as bizarre as the pets… but where is the rest of the chair?


Iceland go with the more apocalyptic version of Það rignir eld og brennustein – raining fire and brimstone. Think I’d prefer cats falling on me than brimstone!


Korea seems to be one of the more sensible countries when describing very bad rain: 비가 억수같이 쏟아진다 – Rain is pouring down like a torrential downpour. Hitting the nail on the head there! No confusion!


Not sure how often the Spaniards would use this version but I found it interesting enough. Estan lloviendo hasta maridos It’s even raining husbands. When the rain is that bad, it brings husbands with it!


I’m Welsh second language – but when speaking about weather down south, I’ve never heard these versions, but they made me chuckle! Maybe I was hanging out with the wrong people! Mae hi’n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn / cyllyll a ffyrc – Also known as It’s raining old ladies and sticks / knives and forks


The Military Alphabet | Lingua Translations

The Military Alphabet


Many people know the military alphabet, maybe not all of it, but a fair few of them! From my time working in a government office, you need to know this alphabet. This alphabet does differ a bit from the American one. In America, Sierra can be someone’s name: Ciara. So, they may use Sugar instead of Sierra. Guessing they are not overly fond of the work Yankee either, so they tend to use Yellow.

A few days my husband ‘mocked’ me for spelling my name like this. ‘J for Juliet, U for Uniform, L for Lima, I for India, A for Alfa. He reminded me that my name is technically Julia, so why not J for Julia, not Juliet. Well… that sounds crazy to me! It’s always J for Juliet! If not, I might as well as be Phoebe!

“P as in Phoebe

H as in hoebe

O as in oebe

E as in ebe

B as in b-be

and E as in… ‘ello there, mate!”

Granted, this is amazing! And I wish I had the guts to stand there and say my name like that, but I have been trained in the military alphabet, not the Phoebe alphabet!


The alphabet:

A Alfa J Juliet S Sierra
B Bravo K Kilo T Tango
C Charlie L Lima U Uniform
D Delta M Mike V Victor
E Echo N November W Whiskey
F Foxtrot O Oscar X X-Ray
G Golf P Papa Y Yankee
H Hotel Q Quebec Z Zulu
I India R Romeo



What about those pesky people who use random words? Anyone who has worked in a call centre has more than likely heard these:

A for Aisle

C for Cue

G for Gnome

K for Knight

S for See

Y for You


You see where I’m going with this!! There are some words where you can attempt the ‘sarcastic alphabet’ and absolutely confuse the person you are speaking to.


The Great British Bake Off

The great British bake off

Always a highlight of the autumn season is watching 12 great bakers go into a tent and bake some of the most outrageous cakes, breads, patisseries that you’ve ever seen! And this years Bake Off has given us more excitement than most. The challenges set have been new, innovative and left some of us running to the shops to try and find the supermarkets own version!

Us Brits aren’t exactly known for our bakes! You look to the French or the Italians for inspiration. We clearly never created ‘les Misérables’. But that hasn’t stopped us from creating some unusual food in the past. Such as Clanger! Half savoury, half sweet… Never heard of it either, not sure I’ll want to make it, but still very interesting to see the variations you could make!

This year’s bake off looked at different areas to give us their weekly inspiration. From Caramel week (ohh the stroopwafles!) to Victorian week (good old Clangers), to Italian week (cannoli, but one did not do it the Sicilian way!)…. The food journey has been exhilarating! There was even Pizza as a technical challenge… It’s true that when living in France I did have a dessert pizza with pear and chocolate, but its rare to get dessert pizza here… Anyways, they made a Margarita…

There are other Bake Offs!?

The great British bake off is a British staple! Can’t exactly get anymore British than this right? Imagine my surprise when I was told our neighbours over the channel have their own bake off! Le Grand Bake Off! Ok, that’s not actually the name….. ‘Le meilleur pâtissier’ Not too bad a name I guess. But it’s crazy to think that there’s more than one bake off! The tent looks exactly the same, the set up, the ‘technical challenge’ element. Even the work stations are identical. Looks like after the British Bake off finishes each year, we auction off the tent for a few months.

The bake off arrived in France in 2012 and looks like it has gripped the nation…. As well as neighbouring Belgium… Bet they love chocolate week over there! They have used the Great British Bake off as their inspiration which aired two years before Le meilleur pâtissier’. Let’s hope the participants of Le meilleur pâtissier don’t have a Cornish Pasty challenge!


This made me think…. Who else could have a Bake off spin off?! Well… Ireland for one! The Great Irish bake off only lasted for 3 seasons though. Brazil have ‘Bake off Brazil’ (Mão na Massa) which started in 2015 and is going well. There is also a Great Aussie Bake off (Clearly there is a BBQ week with this show!) Canada have the Great Canadian Baking show, even America has the Great American Baking show! Worse still, the Americans had Paul and Mary (our two partners in crime on the BBC version) as judges for season 1 and 2.

Baking crazy

So, looks like a whole host of us are baking crazy! The great thing about this show, is it shows you a whole host of culinary delights from across the world. There is normally a wide selection of participants, with varied heritages that normally use a ‘grandmothers’ recipe. With some technical challenges, the hosts might take a little trip to the town/ city where the idea came from to give you a bit of background. This year the visited a town in Netherlands where the Stroopwafel was created (you might’ve seen my excitement about this charming bake earlier in the post). Never have I wanted to visit Netherlands so much! Luckily British supermarkets do sell Stroopwafels, but I feel a trip to Netherlands to see the real deal is needed.


If you haven’t seen the final episode of this year’s Bake Off… Where have you been?! I won’t take a page out of Prue’s book and announce the winner for you all, but I will say this has been a very enjoyable Bake Off. With the Bake Off over for another year, I think I might see if I can watch Le meilleur pâtissier. They made headlines earlier in the week for their insane Halloween creations… so pourquoi pas eh!



Collins Dictionary confirms its word of the year.

Collins Dictionary confirms its word of the year *

We all saw this coming. The 2017 word of the year according to Collins is… drumroll please….. Fake News!!

Granted, yes Fake News is technically two words… But these two words have merged into one since June 2016. You could even go so far to say this is the most overused word of the year to go with it. The term has had a 365% increase in usage in the past year. Collins themselves have said Fake News has had an “ubiquitous presence” over the past year.

The word will be printed in the newest edition of the UK Collins Dictionary. It will be defined as “false, often sensational, information disseminated under the guise of news reporting”.

What do we all think about this? Last year the word of the year was post-truth. This year its fake news. It’s incredible to think how much politics effects our vocabulary. Some of the other entries for word of the year included Echo Chamber, Antifa, and Corbynmania which has a 310% increase in usage.

Well, back to the gold medal winner!

It was only a few weeks ago that Trump declared that he invented the word Fake. Here’s a snippet of what he said on television recently. “The media is really, the word, one of the greatest of all [the] terms I’ve come up with, is ‘fake’ … I guess other people have used it perhaps over the years, but I’ve never noticed it”.

This etymology was disputed by the dictionary. Dictionaries and historians have confirmed the word fake can be found from the 19th century. The word fake was in ‘A New and Comprehensive Vocabulary of the Flash Language’ compiled by James Hardy Vaux in 1819 – so the word has been around for quite some time. And its history might be a bit older than that as well! Oxford Dictionary dates the word to 1775. So, there you go…. A brief history of the word.

This word has been the topic of many debates! So, it is not surprising that it’s been given the title word of the year. Or overused word of the year. I’m sure it’ll win both! Looks like we can look back at 2017 as a year of Fake News.


Is it really time for the machines to take over? hmmm….

Yesterday I wrote about machine translation and why although it may look impressive, simple to use and delivers quick results, it may not be the best way to get your translations done. I so used an amazing quote from Friends (no, sadly it wasn’t ‘pivot!’), so you know it’s good!

Well, its not all about Google Translate and iTranslate! Over the past couple of weeks news has been circling about a new and innovative idea to bridge the gap between languages.



Google Pixel Buds have recently hit the news for its handle of real-time translation. For those ‘Trekkies’ out there, the Pixel Buds are an idea from Star Trek called the universal translator. It allowed characters to speak to aliens regardless of their native language. Or, if you know ‘Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy‘, call the Pixel Buds your Babel Fish! Just ‘shove’ it in your ear and it will automatically translate any language in the universe for you.

Now this idea is fast becoming a reality for the price of $160. The Pixel Buds hear you and your Pixel’s speaker and “will play the translation in another language. When the other person speaks, you’ll hear the translation right in your ear”. Granted, it can’t interpret every language in the universe, but it claims to know 40 languages.

If this does work correctly, and is improved upon – this would be revolutionary! At the UN meetings there will be several translators and interpreters per language to assist the world leaders to understand each other. Imagine if all the world leader needed was to put on their earphones and let technology do the rest. Should our translators and interpreters start to worry that AI’s in the form of earphones can take their jobs?

Google isn’t the only company that are using this idea of earphone translation. Many companies are using this technology. But, (here it comes again) … Do you trust this? You can’t deny that this technology is revolutionary, but is it safe? Would you be willing to have this earphone assist with a business call to the other side of the world? Now, I’m not saying the topic of the call will be world domination, but surely you’d prefer to have a safer, less tampered with means of communication.

I am always going to vouch for the human translator. I don’t think neutral translation systems are ready to replace human translators any time soon! Literature requires a far too robust understanding of the author’s intentions and culture for machines to suffice. I can’t see them understanding Shakespeare all to clearly!

no-machine-translation 318 × 292For translations which are technical, financial, legal, scientific, the smallest of errors could have a catastrophic consequence. We always advise that if a translation is to be published, or if the translation is of great importance a proof-reader. A proof-reader is a second pair of eyes to look over the document, not to check spelling or accuracy as such, but to ensure that the Source Text matches the Target Text. Something some people are using alongside machine technology. Soooooo…. human translation is always needed then!!