Unusual Facts About Languages

The Origin of Human Language

No-one knows for sure just how old human language is, i.e. the capacity of evolving humans to use a spoken language to communicate. It is presumed that it developed in stages, and not just all at once. Humans are basically a social, co-operative species of primate and language serves to increase the success of co-operation. As humans spread out of Africa (according to the most up to date theories about human evolution), the number of languages would have gradually changed and increased in overall number.

Linguistic Diversity comes from Geographic Isolation

Geographic isolation is the main factor in language creation. The island with the most diverse languages is the island of New Guinea, which is divided into modern-day Papua New Guinea to the east and Irian Jaya, a contested part of Indonesia to the west. There are over 800 separate languages recorded in Papua New Guinea alone and probably a similar number in Irian Jaya. That’s nearly a quarter of the world total of 7,000 languages! The major reasons for this incredible number of languages are that historically, the human communities in New Guinea have been separated from each other by huge geographical barriers: jagged mountain ranges, impenetrable forests, volcanic islands surrounded by treacherous seas and vast, fast-flowing rivers.

The Most Spoken Languages

Most of the 7,000 languages currently spoken are spoken by only relatively small numbers of people, but on the other hand, some languages are spoken by huge numbers of people. , The most spoken language is Chinese, which has around a billion people who speak it as a native language. This is followed by Spanish, most of whose speakers live in Central and South America and the Caribbean. The third most commonly spoken language is English. Other languages with large numbers of speakers include Arabic, Hindi, Indonesian, French, Portuguese and Russian.

Artificial Languages

Some languages aren’t real languages at all, or at least they have been created by people at one time or another for a particular reason. Esperanto was created in the nineteenth century, hopefully, to be used as an international language that wasn’t tied too much to any individual country’s national language. In fact, it is much more like a Latin language and despite the fact that there are still people who speak it, it never caught on.

Other rather more esoteric ‘languages’ are imaginary languages like Elvish, spoken by the fictional Elves of J.R.R. Tolkien in the lord of the Rings trilogy. Amazingly, there are over 200 of these imaginary languages that have been created.

Perhaps much more useful are official sign languages. These are used by most countries to communicate with the deaf. In fact, in some countries, sign language might be the only other ‘official’ language apart from the main national language spoken by most.

Words that Sound Like the Sounds Of Nature – Onomatopoeia

Many words have been taken from sounds in nature. These may be totally inanimate like the sound of the wind or waves or trains chugging over the tracks. They may be sounds made by animals and birds. Strangely enough, onomatopoeia, which is the name for this origin of human language, is not entirely uniform. For example, the sound of the crow is ‘go-geh-go-go’ in Chinese, but ‘co-co-ro-co’ in Catalan, ‘kikeriki’ in German and ‘cockle-doodle-doo’ in English! In Bengal, India, where cows are sacred to Hindus at least, they make a noise which in Bengali is rendered ‘hamba, hamba.’ In English, the very same cows go ‘mooooo!’

Letters and Characters

The spoken language was converted into a script when human societies first developed irrigation and organised agriculture. Hebrew, Sanskrit, Basque and Sumerian were some of the first languages to be written down. There are many ways to write down all those 7,000 languages. Some like Chinese, Korean and Japanese use characters. Others use the Latinised alphabet like English, German and Indonesian. There is the Cyrillic alphabet used by Russian and Bulgarian. Then there is a myriad of other languages that are mutually unintelligible and use their own scripts like Hindi, Thai and Arabic.

Some languages have never been written down before very recently and their alphabet has almost been invented by others who have learned their language, often to promote the Bible. Of the languages that use the Latin alphabet, English gets along just fine with 26 letters, while Rotokas, a Papua New Guinean language only uses 11. Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, uses an incredible 74.

Just to show that these scripts are limited in comparison, consider Chinese, which can boast 50,000 different characters. This might seem far too many if you are only learning Chinese for the first time, but apparently, only 2,000 characters are ever used most of the time, which cuts down your learning time considerably!

How Much Time Does it Take To Learn a New Language?

Three months is sometimes the time frame put on learning a new language. Some people say that new learners put this time limit as that is the standard length of a visitor visa to many countries. This is often when many people choose to study a new language. Also, the restricted time given on a visa sets a deadline for learning the new language which may keep some people motivated to learn the language as quickly as possible.

Factors Determining the Time for Learning a New Language

Learning a language depends on two key factors which are

  • the learner’s attitude; and
  • the time set to learn the language available.

Discipline is one of the main factors as learning any new language requires disciplining oneself to study. It is not only your dedication but also the time set aside for the work that needs to be done to become fluent in the language. There is no hard and fast timeframe that dictates how to learn a new language fast. However, there are some guidelines that have been set by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI) which conveniently divides languages into groups showing the difficulty to learn for those who speak English:

Group 1:

Italian, German, French, Indonesian, Portuguese, Spanish, Romanian and Swahili

Group 2:

Burmese, Bulgarian, Hindi, Greek, Urdu and Persian

Group 3:

Lao, Cambodian, Amharic, Czech, Thai, Hebrew, Finnish, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Polish, Serbo-Croatian, Russian, Turkish

Group 4:

Chinese, Arabic, Korean, Japanese

The FSI Describes 5 Proficiency Levels as Follows:

  1. Elementary proficiency is when a speaker is able to speak enough of the language to communicate when travelling in relation to courtesy requirements.
  2. Restricted working proficiency is when the speaker can satisfy the language requirements for day to day interactions but not for work requirements.
  3. Minimal professional proficiency is when the speaker can communicate in the language with enough structural accuracy and sufficient vocabulary in order to be to take part effectively in the majority of informal and formal conversations related to social, practical as well as professional topics.
  4. Complete professional proficiency means the speaker can accurately match the language requirements required for use in professional situations.
  5. Bilingual or native proficiency is when the speaker is able to speak the language as if s/he were a native speaker.

FSI research found that learning a new language takes 480 hours to achieve basic fluency in the first group of languages and 720 hours for the second to the fourth group of languages. This simplified means if a learner puts in ten hours per day learning a language maybe by using resources to learn a language online by choosing one of the many online language courses it will take 48 days to reach basic fluency.

For the harder to learn languages it would take 72 days. One would assume that the average learner would not be able to work 10 hours a day without a break for 48 and 72 days so allowing for time off it would take around two months for the easier languages and three months for the more difficult languages. Of course, if you put in just five hours per day the time would be doubled to reach a basic level of fluency.

Sample Day for How to Learn a New Language Fast

Hours Activity
8-12 Listening recordings, reading and learning new vocabulary
12-2 Break but still engaged in listening to the new language
2-3 Learning new grammar
3-4 Practise writing the new language
4-5 Speaking practice either using Skype or talking with locals if possible
5-7 Relaxation time
7-10 Relaxing but engaged in the language by watching or going to the movies, listening to songs, or engaging with friends who speak the new language


Immersing in a language is easier than it has ever been as you don’t necessarily have to go to the country where the language is spoken you can engage with online courses, chat rooms and social media in order to get the exposure you need to gain fluency in a new language. If you want to go from level 2 onto level 4 it is going to take a lot longer and a lot more dedication than the level 2 so you have to keep up your 10 hourly daily routines wherever you are.

One of the key failings of language learning is not getting sufficient oral practice to back up the theory you have learned. Fortunately, there are so many online resources you can download to help you learn the language online such as videos and podcasts which you can use in any way you choose but it is a useful way of learning a new language as well as paying for online language courses. You will see the benefits of learning a new language unfold as you become more proficient.

The Process of Applying For Document Translation

Before you apply for document translation services a number of important points need to be considered before the process of document translation begins:

1. You need to establish your targeted language(s) by considering what countries or regions you need translations for. For example, if you want an English to Spanish document translation your translation services will ask you which countries your translations are targeting. This is because there are many parts of the world that speak Spanish and not all of them share exactly the same grammar and terminology.

A few companies target, for example, the American Spanish speaking market using a Spanish translator while other companies use an English to Spanish document translation services to undertake translations into what is termed “Universal Spanish” which focuses on the Spanish speaking market.

2. Put some time into checking your documents before you send them to your chosen translation services. The second pair of eyes will help to iron out any mistakes and ambiguities or even colloquialisms and idiomatic language which may be hard to translate. You don’t want the translation project manager responsible for your translation to return it to you to make changes when you are trying to meet a deadline.

3. Once the document is ready to be sent to your chosen translation services decide on the deadline so that you can get this approved before the translation begins. You have to allow for the fact that most translation services will send you a draft of the translation for you to check before finalising the translation. The number of words you want to be translated will affect the time it takes to complete. For example, a translation of 100,000 words could take at least 9 days for a translator to complete.

This allows for you to look over the draft before the translation is finalized. Most translators create accurate translations of up to 2500 word each day. However, if you require a document to be translated into several languages, this may take a little longer depending on the availability of suitable translators. If the document involves a lot of technical terms you can expect the translator to take a little longer as s/he will want to ensure the translation is completely accurate.

4. Before you apply for document translation services, ask them what the best file format is to use. Once you have agreed you have to ensure you know how to use the file after the translation has been completed.

5. Before the process of the document, translation starts to ensure you write easy to understand instructions for the translator so there is no delay in the translation.

6. Before the translation begins it is useful to create a glossary of your preferred terminology which helps the translation team from the very beginning. This is particularly important if your document contains a lot of technical terms. It speeds up the translation process because the translator does not need to spend time thinking about which terms are the most appropriate. It usually takes quite a bit of discussion before the glossary is compiled and agreed upon by all those involved in the translation process.

Once the glossary is ready the translation can commence and the glossary will be used during the translation. This helps to ensure there is consistency in the use of terminology throughout the translation process. Also, the glossaries created for one translation project can be used for later translations.

7. Before you start the process of document translation you should establish what budget you have for the translation project. Most document translation services offer a rate per word. However, if you stick with the same document translation services the cost will not be so much as the translator will use translation memory with any new translation.

During the process of document translation, the translator will translate the text in the document from the source language to the target language while paying careful attention to the following:

  • the accurate transferring of content;
  • the use of appropriate terminology;
  • ensuring consistency in language including grammar;
  •  accurate spelling and punctuation;
  • appropriate layout and presentation.

8. Proofreading and editing are the final stages of any translation project. When you apply for document translation services you will be told the proofreading will be done by a translator who is equally qualified as the primary translator. The proofreader will check the content to ensure accuracy as well as grammar, syntax and punctuation. Formatting and any graphics or layout modifications are made at the proofreading stage before the finalizing of the translation have taken place and it is sent to you for the final approval.

9. Once you have approved the draft the translation services will issue the final copy of the translation which will be sent by email. A hard copy is usually available as well.

The Highest Paid Languages for Translations

Today, more than ever before, the world has become a global village. However, this doesn’t mean there is a single global language as there isn’t. As a result, translators are in high demand as people are keen to know what others are saying and eager to communicate for a wide variety of reasons. Not anyone can be a translator as it’s a highly skilled job. To get the best paying jobs you need to choose one of the most in-demand languages for jobs. These are as follows:


German is considered to be one of the highest paid languages for translation. A German translator can be expected to receive a yearly income of over £34,000. There is a big demand for English to German translators and vice versa because Germany and Britain are big trading partners, so business and financial translations are in high demand.


Arabic translators earn a little more than German translators on average. This is because many of the translations are linked to requirements from wealthy oil-rich countries.


French translators are paid well too, as they are a key trading country in Europe. They can expect to receive on average more than £32,000 per annum.


Dutch isn’t as highly paid as some other languages as it’s not spoken as much. However, the country is involved in a lot of international business so this is where there is a demand for Dutch translators.


Spanish is a language that is spoken by more than 400 million native speakers. It is also the second language of another 9 million. Spanish translators are paid well as there is a great demand for their services throughout the world.


Japan without a doubt makes its mark on the world economy even though the language is more or less confined to Japan. It’s a popular language to learn because the Japanese not only travel but they conduct business transactions throughout the world.


A Russian translator can expect to earn about £28,658 annually as Russia becomes more and more involved in the world economy.


Italians left Italy in their droves and found new countries to settle in after the 2nd World War. Today, Italian is the 4th most popular language spoken in the United States. A good translator is both in demand and in the top 9 for annual income.


Even though Chinese is one of the most commonly spoken global languages being a translator doesn’t necessarily mean high pay. An experienced translator of Mandarin could be rewarded with as much as £28,160 annually.

Which language course is best for a career?

If you are thinking about learning a second language fluently enough to be a translator once you have mastered the language, don’t just look at pay. You have to think about what exposure you are likely to get to foreign language careers in high demand, apart from attending courses.

The best courses for learning a language used to be only available at a college or university. Today, you can master a language online using resources like Babel and Rosetta Stone.

Good Luck Symbols in Different Cultures

Lucky charms have been in use throughout the world for more years than anyone could possibly count. They usually are held to either ward off something that is evil or as a wish for financial success. Some lucky charms can be seen duplicated in many different while others may only be used in a single culture.

Here is a list of some good luck charms to keep you entertained.

The Acorn

This has been in the past used widely by the Norse or Viking culture. Just one acorn is placed on the owner’s window sill in order to give protection from a lightning strike. As oak trees, the home of acorns, tend to attract lightning, the Vikings saw the presence of an acorn as having spared them the anger of Thor, who’s the Norse god responsible for inventing thunder and lightning.

An Alligator Teeth Necklace

In a few African cultures wearing alligator teeth brings good, especially when gambling.


This is called lucky bamboo or friendship bamboo because when it’s given as a gift the recipient will experience good luck. If the bamboo plant is placed on the east side of a room it will improve your energy.


Triangles represent strength and their 3 sides represent the human life cycle of birth, reaching a mature age and death. Triangles are the shape of Egyptian pyramids and can also be seen on the U.S. dollar’s back.


Crickets are viewed as protectors in some cultures as when they cease chirping danger is often nearby. Its presence is a good luck symbol in Native American and Asian cultures. It’s certainly bad luck if one is killed.

A Horseshoe Turned Upwards

Because a horse is strong and powerful horseshoes have been used for good luck. A St Dunstan legend from the 10th century states the devil was trapped in a horseshoe so placing one over your door facing upwards helps to keep evil out of the home.


Kachinas are dolls which represent spirits in the world to Native Americans in both Central America and the American Southwest. The dolls, when dressed up, are often used as toys for children. If the doll’s spirit is invited into one’s family and home the family will receive a fruitful harvest.

Dream Catchers

The culture of Native Americans features dream catchers as they gather the good dreams and eliminate bad dreams. This originates from the Nokomis story who is the grandmother in Ojibwa tribal folklore. Nokomis day in and day out watched a single spider weave its web until a day came when her grandson entered and attempted to murder the spider. She proceeded to protect the spider and the spider in return came to the window and proceeded to spin in the moonlight a fresh web. The spider said to Nokomis: “Watch how I spin and learn as each web will bring bad dreams. Only the good dreams will pass through the tiny hole.”

Evil Eye

Featuring mostly in the cultures of the Middle East an Evil Eye amulet keeps out the Evil Eye: a curse provided following the malicious stare of another person. The amulet offers protection from this evil look to the wearer and is subsequently a top tourist buy throughout the Middle East.

Scarab Beetle

A scarab beetle amulet was particularly common throughout ancient Egypt. It represented several things such as the rising sun, the warding off of evil, and was associated with rebirth.

4 Leaf Clover

Irish tradition states if you find a four-leaf clover you will be lucky as each of the 4 leaves symbolizes good luck for faith, hope, love, and more luck for the person who spotted the 4 leaf clover.


This is Japanese for “beckoning cat.” It is a lucky figurine of a cat lifting up one or two paws. It is commonly found placed at the entrances of the majority of businesses, shops and restaurants. It is sometimes mentioned as the “Chinese lucky cat.” It is linked with providing prosperity and protecting from any evil that could be present.

The Fuzzy Dice

This was frequently used by fighter pilots throughout World War II. It played a lucky charm role for those at war. The fuzzy dice helped them return safely following an encounter with war. Also, it’s believed that fuzzy dice charms make drivers avoid getting involved in an accident. Because of this, a few drivers hang the dice on their car’s mirrors.

Number Eight in China

Number eight is a lucky number in many Asian cultures, including China. Eight sounds like the word “fa” in Chinese, which means becoming wealthy. Because of its reputation, number eight is highly regarded and attracts a high price. For instance, one single car with 8 on its number plate reached $640,000 recently in a sale. It is commonly believed that anyone who possesses lucky number 8 is likely to have a strong intuition, insight, and is honest and becomes a great businessman. As a result, 8 is typically the main choice for many people when selecting important dates, phone numbers, and car i.d. numbers.

The Sparrow

Indians think that when a sparrow builds its nest on someone’s roof, it means good fortune. It might mean that very soon a wedding will take place. Therefore there is no need to worry if the sparrow creates a mess when creating its nest. Additionally, if a woman on Valentine’s Day spots a sparrow the belief is that she will gain happiness from marrying a poor man! Also, when the sparrows call, rain is on its way,

How Many Languages are Spoken in China?

The official language and most spoken language in China is Mandarin, which originates from the Han, one of China’s main ethnic groups originating in the north of the country. This is spoken by 910 million people. Another important language, the Wu language, has 77 million speakers, the Min language, which has 70 million speakers and Cantonese, which has 71 million speakers and is also a language used in China.

What are the Top 3 Languages Spoken in China?

The top three languages spoken in order of the number of speakers are:

  • Mandarin
  • Wu
  • Min.

Mandarin makes up a group of related Chinese languages spoken in southwestern China and northern China. This includes the Beijing dialect which is the foundation of Standard Mandarin. With its 910 million speakers there are 200 million who speak it as a second language. Its language families are the Sinitic languages and Sino Tibetan languages. The writing system is Chinese characters both simplified and traditional.

The history of the Chinese language modern Wu comes from ancient Wu and Yue, which today is spoken in northern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu. Suzhou was likely to have been the 1st place where Wu was developed, as the Suzhou dialect is the best example of Wu. The Wu that was developed in Shanghai led to the forming of standard Shanghainese. Shanghai is an important economic centre and has the biggest number of Wu speakers.

Min, or Miin, is a group of Chinese languages with 30 million speakers spoken in the Fujian province and 45 million descendants of the Fujian province who moved to Guangdong in the Chaozhou-Shantou and Chaoshan areas, the Leizhou Peninsula and Hainan and three counties in south Zhejiang, some of Zhongshan and off Ningbo in the Zhoushan archipelago, some communities in Liyang in Jiangyin City in the Jiangsu province, and in Taiwan. The name originates from the River Min in Fujian. Speakers of Min dialects can’t understand one another or any other Chinese language. In South East Asia, amongst the Chinese migrant population, Min can be heard spoken. Some of the Min languages resemble Old Chinese.

How Many Different Languages are Spoken in China?

China has at least eight linguistically different language groups and literally hundreds of dialects. Usually, they aren’t mutually understandable. Mandarin is considered to be the official language of both Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China. It is an official language of the United Nations and also in Singapore.

Why is the Chinese Language Spoken Most in the World?

Most people still think that the English language is the most widely spoken language in the world today, but in fact, Chinese is the most commonly used language. There are a large number of the native of speakers as well as many who speak it as a second language. Mandarin and Cantonese are the two most dominant languages and Mandarin has the status of being the predominant spoken language, while Cantonese is spoken throughout China and in Hong Kong and Macao.

Cantonese resembles more the earlier forms of the language and is considered to be a conservative Chinese language. It has nine tones: three with short syllables and six with regular length. Mandarin isn’t like Cantonese at all and includes four tones and a neutral tone. The Chinese language is widely spoken and Chinese words have been imported into Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese languages, and these days comprise more than 50 percent of their vocabulary.

The percentage of vocabulary with a Chinese origin is more prevalent in abstract, technical, or formal language. In Japan, Sino-Japanese vocabulary accounts for about 35 percent of the words found in entertainment magazines, more than 50 percent of words in newspapers, and 60 percent of words used in science magazines. Today written Japanese is made up of Chinese characters called Kanji and kana. Korean is written in North Korea with Hangul, and Chinese characters called Hanja can be found in South Korea. Vietnamese today is written using the Latin alphabet.

Overall, due to the large population in China and neighbouring countries, Chinese is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

All You Need to Know About Translation

Why is translation important?

Translation is the conversion of written or printed text from one language into another. It is similar to, but distinctively different from, interpreting and not as old. Interpreting is the conversion of the spoken language rather than the written one. The importance of translation today in the twenty-first century cannot be under-emphasised. The world has grown smaller as nations and their citizens are now communicating far more than they have ever done before with other people around the world who may not speak their language.

What year was translation invented?

No-one will ever know exactly when translation began, but it must have been many thousands of years after the first interpreting. Translation is all about the translating of text and the conversion of text from one language into another. The question about when translation arose presupposes knowing when the first written texts were used. The first forms of writing were thought to have been created by various agriculturally based societies ten to twelve thousand years ago. This doesn’t mean that there was any need for translators at this point as this would depend on the existence of at least two or more different forms of written text. It is definitely known that the Bible was translated into Latin from the Hebrew and Greek in the fifth century, so perhaps this was when translation got a kick start.

Who was the first translator?

No-one will ever know who the first translator was, but some say that St. Jerome back in 405 B.C. may have been the first well-documented translator, as he translated the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek into Latin then. This doesn’t discount earlier translators, but as already mentioned it presupposes the existence of at least two written languages.

Why do we need a translation?

Translation is necessary because, despite the global use of certain languages, particularly English, the fact is that most people around the world are more conversant in their own native language than one single international language. Many people are now multilingual, but that doesn’t mean that their knowledge of saying English, Spanish, French or Chinese is good enough to communicate everything they want to say.

Documents and other written forms of text must be converted from one language, the source language, into at least one other, the target language. A very simple example of the need for translation is the manual that accompanies so many different household appliances these days. Typically, many of these are now manufactured in China but sold all around the world. The Chinese instructions must be translated into dozens of major world languages for these appliances to be used correctly.

What is the written translation?

All translation involves written (or printed) text rather than the conversion of oral language. This allows translators to work independently of the presence of the person or people who want the translation completed and the person or people who are to read it. Interpreters, on the other hand, need to be present, or at least in hearing range through electronic means, of the people they are interpreting for. Translation involves a different set of skills than interpreting because it involves written words rather than spoken ones.

How do I translate a language?

You can get a document translated in several different ways. The most foolproof way, but the most expensive, is to ask a professional translator to do the translating for you. Usually, this can be done very quickly, although the translation of a website or book may be a lengthy business. You could also use a friend who was bilingual or uses an online translation tool, for example, Google Translate. It all depends on the accuracy that you need for your translation. If you need accuracy, you will need to spend some money and get your text translated professionally.

What is a free translation?

A free translation is usually the term that refers to a translation done that generally conforms to the message that needs to be translated but may not be an exact translation. Free translation in this context may be provided by a non-professional but is not necessarily free of charge.

What do you understand by the term ‘translator?’

A translator is most commonly a human who understands two or more languages fluently and works professionally either as a freelancer or in a translation agency or for a government department or a business. There is increasing use of so-called internet translators or online translation tools as well as electronic devices that can translate words and many phrases fairly well. These are becoming more accurate as the technology improves. They are also very fast and handy and in the case of online tools, free. However, they are still only of use for personal or non-essential purposes. For example, if you intend applying for a visa for a country where the official language is different from your own, you will probably have to have any personal documents translated by a professional translator. If you decide to visit that country as a tourist and want to know what signs say in your language, then the internet or online translator is good enough.

What are translation services in libraries?

Many libraries provide translation services, especially where there are numbers of migrants or refugees. Some libraries only provide interpreters, but others will provide translators. There may be a cost involved for the translation and there may be a limited number of languages available for translation.

What happens during a translation?

A professional translator is first assigned to the text that needs translating. This means assigning a translator who has fluency in the required languages as well as proficiency in the type of translation. For example, some translators specialise in legal translation, or marketing translation etc. Depending on the instructions given, the translator may confer with the client as to specific details of the text to be translated. The translation is completed and then given to a proofreader to check for accuracy and errors. Most translations these days tend to be submitted online and returned as translated versions by email as well.

What are the three stages of translation?

There may be three or four stages in language translation, depending on the complexity of the task. The first stage is the raw translation stage. This may be through a translation tool or done by the individual translator. Many professional translators these days use a variety of computer aids to speed up the translation. The second stage is editing. The raw translation needs to be thoroughly checked for accuracy. The more technical the text, the more important this stage becomes. The final stage is proofreading, which is mostly checking for typos, spacing errors and spelling mistakes.

Increase Your Pay Per Click Sessions Through Language Localisation

Pay Per Click (PPC) translation is one-way companies test out new market opportunities overseas. SEO is another strategy used, but it can amount to a lot of money being spent. PPC can also be a successful strategy, enabling the business to rise in the search engine rankings relatively quickly.

In order to be successful globally, the right keywords are required so you need to through the process of international keyword research. Some brands just translate the keywords used in the source language directly into the targeted language. This could prove to be dangerous as not all words will translate directly from one language to another and still come out with the same meaning. One example is when someone keys in the search term cheap flights. This is done maybe a million times per month.

If cheap flights are translated directly into Italian, it is voli economic. However, this isn’t the term used by Italians. They use voli low cost. So an airline wanting to attract the Italian market could lose millions of potential customers if they use voli economic. Sometimes, companies just ask bilingual staff to do their web pages, but in the end, only an experienced translation company will know how to translate keywords correctly.

PPC and Copywriting and Translating

As soon as you have decided on the best keywords for your overseas marketing campaign you will need to go on to writing some ad copy. This is seen by the user when inputting key terms into a search engine. It’s of the utmost importance to get the ad copy correct and the key messages too. This will increase the click-through numbers and raise the chance of being successful in your paid search campaigning efforts. This isn’t necessarily that easy, as all search engines limit the number of characters they allow for their ad copy. For example, on the platform for Google Adwords 3 lines of text are permitted with an URL displayed with each ad.

As an example, take Google’s Adwords. For each ad, 3 text lines and a web site reference are permitted.

The 1st text line is shown in a slightly bigger font which allows for 25 characters of text for languages which are single-width like English and other languages that are Latin-based. The 2nd and 3rd lines of text in the PPC ad and URL text allow 35 characters in total. With what’s called double width languages, which have characters that are double width, such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, the character limits are about 50% of single width languages. That’s 12 characters for the 1st line of text with 17 allowed for the following 2 lines and the URL.

Because there are character limits, it’s not always that easy to get your message noticed accurately and consistently in all your targeted languages for the paid search campaigning. A good translation company should be able to find the right keywords in the targeted languages, which ensures the PPC campaign gets the most out of the money spent with the character limitations.

PPC Landing Page, Translation and Copywriting

PPC ads aren’t able to exist on their own. Each ad needs a landing page that’s relevant and has on it details of what you have on offer and does a good job of persuading your targeted customers to do what you want and that’s to purchase your product. What is key to the success of a paid search campaign is providing highly relevant, high quality content with a call to action that’s clear. However, when marketing to a customer who doesn’t speak your company’s language you can’t just conduct a word for word translation. You will need to assign the translation task to a trusted and experienced translation company that knows how to translate your product naturally and correctly.

PPC ads and Optimising the Landing Page

Often, one ad for a number of keywords isn’t sufficient for guaranteeing success. On occasions, it’s necessary to have a separate landing page and ad for each keyword or group of keywords. There is one other way of lowering costs in the PPC campaign and that’s by increasing quality scores.

Improving a Quality Score

Google uses a quality score which is designed to rate the quality overall of the ad and landing page and compares it with competitors for the search terms provided. Google does this so users are given most times the best-paid search ad when they input a query. This, in turn, gives more money to Google. For an ad that is seen at the top of the listings that are a paid search, it’s not necessarily the highest bid for the key term that has been selected. Typically, the company will have optimised its ad and landing page so as to bring up its quality score and bring down costs too. To do all this in a foreign language the translator needs an in-depth knowledge of the language.

Translation Industry Trends 2009 vs 2019

One thing is certain and that is that the role of translation has brought a greater ability for effective communication to take place around the world. It transforms borders between countries, permits more successful trade and allows freer movement of people to places previously unknown to them. Overall though, despite the gains for the translation industry, it has seen many changes over the last 10 years. In fact, more than at any other time in history. Some of the changes are positive, while others may appear to undermine the use of human translators as the main instigators of reliable accurate translations.

Main Translation Game Changer is the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What has alarmed the translation industry the most over the last decade is the use of artificial intelligence to perform translations. A simple example of this is Google Translate. This AI tool was first introduced some 13 years ago. Its goal was the ongoing desire that has been a presence for a number of centuries and that’s to break down language barriers and make the world far more accessible. It began by supporting just two languages but today it supports more than 103. The hundreds of users 13 years ago have led to hundreds of millions today. The commonest languages used in Google Translate occur between English and Spanish, Arabic, Indonesian, Russian, and Portuguese. Overall 100 billion words are translated every day.

The use of Google Translate and other forms of AI has without a doubt eased global communication problems and helps people out in awkward situations that could occur on vacation or on a business trip. As long as you have a cell phone with an internet connection the translation tool is available.

No one disputes the practicality of Google Translate, but the key problem is how it translates. Its aim isn’t to focus on a deep understanding of the language. It comes up with a simple decode of the language inputted into it which is just enough to gain sufficient understanding. There is an easy way to try the reliability of Google Translate and that’s by inputting a sentence in a foreign language, not your own, and ask it to translate into your language. You will see imperfections in both word usages and sentence flow. No doubt it’s sufficient to understand the gist of the meaning but it’s not by any means perfect.

AI Translation Benefits All

The technological age, including AI in translation, has without a doubt had amazing benefits. It allows those who use social media to communicate better by breaking down previously impenetrable language obstacles and it promotes sharing and open communication and sharing.

AI Translation does have Limitations

An experienced human translator still has advantages over any known AI translation tool, in that it’s able to encompass idioms, cultural references, tone and even humour and jokes. An AI translation may be able to translate many sentences perfectly, but it can trip up when it’s presented with problems when asked to translate idioms and nuances in another language.

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tool helps Translators Today

Despite AI aiding translations for anyone that chooses to use it, this doesn’t mean translation companies over the last 10 years haven’t taken advantage of technological advancements. Today, professional translation companies use a tool that stores and recalls their work when they are working on a translation project. These tools referred to a CAT for short work as a database and are also called translation memories(TM). A sentence is given to a human translator which is translated and then approved. This translated sentence is stored, so the next time the translator is approached to translate a similar sentence, the CAT tool will quickly suggest a translation from its TM, which results in a faster translation.

This is an example of how translators have kept up with translation trends over the last 10 years. They can construct their own terminology lists by specialism, keep them stored in the CAT database and recycle them as determined by the CAT tool when asked to do a new translation. A CAT Tool is an aid used by translators which provide good translations time after time.

A business that uses the same translation company which uses CAT technology saves a lot of money on translations because the process is so much faster as the translator can use past material as a basis for every translation for that business. If a business wants a catalogue updating the translation company should have the original catalogue stored in TM.

CAT tools aren’t perfect, but as a complement to a human translator, they have allowed faster and better translation offering work for translators and fast turnarounds for clients. There are a few translation companies that don’t depend on CAT tools today as it makes them more competitive as they can offer better rates to clients.

Faster Turnarounds are in Demand

Because clients are no longer willing to wait long periods for translators to produce the perfect translations this has forced translation services to use CAT and TM so that they can recycle older content completed for a client which avoids starting each new translation from scratch.

In summary, while MT is used often to help the translation process and CAT tools are time savers, even today perfection of a translation is only possible with input from a human translator. Machine Translation is good as a provider of a basic translation and is improving day by day,  but it needs transcreation to put it into the right context. This requires the skills of a translator to tailor the original material so that it goes down better with the targeted audience. So over the last 10 years machines have been trained to translate words but they haven’t yet been programmed to understand the greater complexities of a language and how humans manipulate words to suit themselves.

Why Humour is so Difficult to Translate

Defining Humour

A good but simple definition of humour is something that causes others to laugh or feel amused. However, what could make one person laugh may not make another person laugh. This has to be taken into account when translating humour. The difficulty with the definition of humour is its subjectivity. Many authors at some time or other have tried to seek out a proper definition of humour, while many have simply reached the conclusion that no real definition can be found.

Humour is found in everyday communication and it plays various roles. Sometimes a person wants to stand out from others so says something humorous to attract their attention while often it occurs spontaneously relating to an incident that has just taken place. There are professional comedians who make a living out of humour too. Most of the time humour only takes place in a single language but there are times like in international conferences when a speaker cracks a joke and an interpreter has to somehow accurately translate it so its meaning is preserved and not lost in translation.

Humour rarely stands out on its own and is usually linked to the context where it takes place. It’s often related to a specific culture making it particularly difficult for a translator or interpreter to translate into another language. Even though humour is not uncommon in everyday life, it is, in fact, difficult to translate.

Language professor, Raphaelson-West, stated in one of his journal articlesrecently that he considers there are three general joke categories. These are:

  • linguistic jokes,
  • cultural jokes
  • universal jokes.

On the question of linguistic jokes, comedian Dan Antopolski, had an award-winning joke which was “Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?” This is fine in English but trying to translate into any other languages is difficult because hog has two meanings. This is a virtually insurmountable challenge for even the most highly skilled and experienced translator. Cultural jokes are said to be easier to translate.

Humour often isn’t learned but is part of a person’s talent and not everyone finds the same things humorous. Translating humour is very much dependent on how the translator understands the humour. Often a translator can’t accurately translate humour and if he or she is given a translation job which involves translating humour but no equivalent language in the target language can be found the translator will just say the text is untranslatable.

Translating Humour From Other Countries

Today, there are lots of English humorous TV series or movies that appear in other countries after they have been translated. Sometimes subtitles are used while at other times dubbing is used. As humour is part of the culture where it originates from sometimes subtitles don’t express the language spoken as humorous. Even if the translator has a huge amount of knowledge of both languages sometimes humour is too sophisticated for the translator to be able to convey just the right meaning in the translation. Humour is so rooted in the culture that it becomes a part of a culture’s way of life. A thorough, in-depth understanding of the source and target languages, is necessary as well as being able to interchange cultures.

Some kinds of humour like wordplay depend heavily on the linguistic features found in the source language. This means the translation is complicated because many languages differ so much in their semantic and grammatical structures. Finding a suitable translation that ensures the joke is understood is extremely difficult because of the vast differences between languages and cultures. Arabic and English have little in common so translating humour may never be realistically accurate.

Two Possible Solutions to Translating Humour

There are two main methods to help to resolve the difficulties with translating humour. The 1st is using a cultural note. This is commonly found in westernized or subtitled Japanese shows. A cultural note explains what it means when Japanese viewers are the only ones likely to understand the joke. The key problem with a cultural note is that it may potentially distract and even confuse a viewer which could result in ruining the impact of the joke. The 2nd potential solution is finding a very clever translator. There are one or two around who are able to put together a precise meaning in a translation so that the joke can be equally understood and found to be funny in two languages.

It takes a skilled interpreter, translator, or localization specialist to be able to absorb and reproduce humour and its cultural references for an audience that likes being amused. Time after time the conclusion is that the complex nature of a bilingual brain could be the key to navigating these complicated, comical waters. What everyone wants is to be able to share humour beyond the boundaries of language and culture.