How Attempts at Translation Have Changed Language

The demand for translation and good translators is probably at an all-time high today, but the need for translation has been around ever since the first people left home and encountered others who spoke another language. These days, languages have become standardised and translation has become a lot easier. It hasn’t always been like that. Imagine what it was like when the first Vikings arrived on the shores of North America and had to communicate with native Americans who spoke a number of very different languages. 

Attempts at translation have often led to the evolution of a new language, which may become a lingua franca, a language of convenience that allows those whose original languages are mutually unintelligible to converse.

This is often why many languages have absorbed words from other languages. The evolution of the English language, for example, demonstrates past attempts at translation which have resulted in a more diverse linguistic combination. It’s easy to see why there are so many words of French origin in the English language (and vice versa) as England and France are so close together and yet separated linguistically and geographically. The evolution of the English language demonstrates past colonial arrangements, too. The two words “bungalow” and “pajama” have become part of the English language but originally were Hindi words. A cup of “char” most probably comes from “chai”, the Hindi word for tea. “Safari” is a Kiswahili word. “Taboo” comes from a Polynesian word for “forbidden” or “sacred”.

Completely new languages may develop from past attempts at translation. These are pidgin languages like Papua New Guinea’s Tok Pisin or Vanuatu’s Bislama. They may be mainly English words in origin, but have also evolved from the original languages of the people who use them, as well as any other colonial influences. Tok Pisin, for example, has words from several different New Guinea languages as well as a few German words and even a few Portuguese ones!

Generally, pidgin languages are only second languages and their speakers still speak their own native language amongst themselves. The evolution of pidginised languages may sometimes develop further, so that a genuinely new language, a Creole language, becomes the language learned from birth. An example would be Papamiento, a language with Spanish, Dutch and West African origins now spoken by the inhabitants of the ABC islands in the Caribbean.

5 Important Things You Should Know About Māori Translation

Lots of people have heard of Māori often in relation to the rugby team known as the All Blacks. In New Zealand, Māori have a vibrant culture and there is eagerness to keep the Maori language alive. The haka is a well know welcoming ceremony used throughout New Zealand when events of various types take place. Māori culture has often been included in New Zealand movies like “Whale Rider” and “Boy”.

Apart from the more superficial aspects of Māori and despite strong western influences, the indigenous people of New Zealand still have a firm relationship with their land and are key landowners. In fact, they have words to describe their relationship with the land. They call themselves “tangata whenua”, which when translated by Māori translation services means people of the land.

The Māori language presence shows how the language is used to represent aspects of Māori culture including the words kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga. The former means guardianship and the later hospitality. The essence of kaitiakitanga is acting as guardians of the land and its natural environment. Climbing Mt. Tarawera, which is sacred to Māori, gives visitors the chance to come close to Māori culture.

There are certain customs that still prevail today, including the hangi, which is an oven used in a hole in the earth on a base of rocks. The area is heated by a fire and the uncooked food which in early days was wrapped in leaves and buried in the ground in the area where the fire was. Today other material like wire baskets are used to put the food in.  The hole is filled in while letting the food cook in the residual heat left behind from the fire. Once cooked, the food is uncovered and shared amongst family and friends.

Māori is a National Language in New Zealand

There are 3 national languages in New Zealand, Māori or Te Reo (literally, “the tongue”, English and sign language. As well as the Māori language thriving through place names it’s also taught in schools even though it is not compulsory to learn it. It can be heard spoken on Māori radio and in Māori immersion schools where the language is emphasised throughout the curriculum and Māori translation services are used to translate Māori into other languages including Māori document translation.  Kiaora the key greeting in Māori is heard in many different contexts and is not just used by Māori and is also translated in a Māori document translation.

It’s an Advantage to Employ Multilinguists

The world is changing, whether people like it or not. The politically explosive changes in Britain and the U.S. last year and the polarisation of politics in Europe that is ongoing reveals that there is certainly disquiet about the effects of globalisation, but it is hard to see how migration trends are going to be reversed, let alone the interconnectedness of the present world economy. The world has become multinational and multilingual. This means that there is a growing need for translation for multiple languages. This is the case even in large organisations that have international links. It’s become an advantage to employ multilinguists even if their ability to understand more than one language is not the only criterion used to select them.

One of the most important factors in the selection of new employees is their ability to communicate well. This is just as true in somewhere like a hospital as it is in a travel agency, airline or hotel, where there is an obvious need to communicate with foreign tourists. Migration and immigration have meant that many countries today are increasingly diverse. Even if most countries insist on everyone being able to communicate in the official language of that country to the point where visas and citizenship may only be considered if a language test is passed, it doesn’t negate the need for multilingualism.

The advantages of employing multilinguists may not be obvious at first if there seems to be no particular need to communicate in any other language than the usual one. But the chances are that because of that very diversity alluded to in the last paragraph that opportunities for full understanding may be lost if a business or organisation remains committed to monolingualism. This is most obvious in Europe where employees are often chosen because of their ability to speak more than just French, Spanish, German or whatever the national language is. Europe is a multilingual entity and the need for effective translation for multiple languages across language barriers is a strong one.

This is increasingly the case in the U.S. now, as the number of Spanish speaking people has grown over the last two decades of strong immigration. ‘Se habla español’ (Spanish is spoken here) signs are often displayed in reception centres, offices, government departments and on websites in the U.S. The advantages of at least having one bilingual Spanish / English employee in every place open to the public is certainly not lost on U.S. employers.

Why Bother Having a Multi Language Website?

There is a growing demand for multiple language translation for websites that are designed to offer business services to more than one language group or to government and non-governmental agencies that deal with more than one language group.

There are few countries in the modern world that are now only monolingual. The growth in migration has created multilingual communities within many countries, particularly the more affluent ones. While many new migrants are fluent in the language of their new host country, they still often feel more comfortable with their own native language when using the Internet. The need for multi language websites for government services is certainly a strong one. Government websites should preferably use certified translators to ensure that notices and information made available to different language users is translated accurately.

Some nations are naturally multilingual. Switzerland and Finland in Europe, Canada in North America, India and Malaysia in Asia and most African countries are multilingual, even if there is an official language. Whether websites used in these countries are for commercial purposes or by non commercial organisations, there is certainly a need for multiple language translation.

In addition to these multilingual realities that occur within nation states, globalisation of the world’s economy has meant that more and more businesses have seized the opportunity to market their goods overseas. Online shopping has become commonplace on an international basis. Amazon, eBay and Alibaba, just to mention a few international online stores, cannot exist without multi language websites.

There may be a temptation to think that a website can use English as it is considered an ‘international’ language, but this would inevitably cut down the potential market for any newly expanding business. In fact, many businesses learn the hard way that creating multi language websites is not as straightforward as they first might have thought. Not only should fluent and professional translators be hired to translate all the important pages within a commercial website. The translators or translation agency should be selected on the basis that it is experienced in localising web pages. That means adapting the language so that it has cultural relevance to the target community. This is much more important for marketing websites than selecting certified translators, which is more relevant for government information sites.

Facebook is a Universal Language Learning Machine!

Do you use Facebook? Probably! Around 900 million people use Facebook on a regular basis around the world in a plethora of different languages. It’s not just all those boring daily quips from people who are really not doing anything interesting at all that often clog up your own Facebook feed either. There are literally thousands of really interesting organizations and individual Facebook pages out there that you could use to help you learn a different language if that’s what you want to do.

Facebook, like all the other social media giants, including Google and other search engines, has been professionally translated into hundreds of different languages to make it more readily used by people around the world. If your interest is mountaineering or music, the arts or sport, then there is a safe bet that there are Facebooks of organisations all around the world that focus on these topics. And they won’t just be in English. They will be in whatever he language is in that country. So here are some tips you could use to help you use Facebook to learn a different language.

Tip#1 Use the top ten world Facebook pages in the language you want to learn and the topic you are most passionate about. “Social Bakers” has a list of links which records the greatest number of likes in your target country. Don’t forget that some languages are spoken in several different countries, so if you are after Spanish Facebook links, you can search for South and Central American based Facebook pages as well as European Spanish ones. You can sort the list by industry and choose say 5 or 6 pages that interest you.

Tip#2 Use “Alexa Rank” to search for the most popular news websites in the places where your chosen language is spoken. Connect with these websites’ Facebook pages. Make sure that you are not just connecting to e-commerce sites that will just try and sell you things that you don’t want to buy.

Tip#3 Use Google in the language you want to learn. Google is location based and you don’t have to be a translator to change the location settings. Go into the “Settings” on the main Google search page, then go into the “Advanced” settings and you can select the country and language to be a preferred language. You don’t have to use a professional translator to find search word or phrases. For your amateur needs, just use “Google Translate”.

Of course, there is no point in piling up your Facebook feed to make it more relevant to your language learning needs unless you read everything you see and respond in the language you are learning. The best thing about using Facebook is that you can do this anywhere, even in the Antarctic, as long as you have an Internet signal!

Is There an Official Language in Australia?

The short answer is that there is no official language in Australia, but in reality the situation is a little more complex.

For all official documents which are needed to support a government application such as a visa or citizenship application, these must be in English. If the original documents are not in English, then they must be translated by an accredited professional translator into English and certified that they are accurate translations of the original. If the translation takes place within Australia, then the translator must be accredited with the official accreditation authority, NAATI.

The sorts of documents that are regularly translated into English are:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce certificates
  • Employment records
  • Educational and technical qualifications
  • Police certificates

 

While there is no official language in Australia, the main language is definitely English. The written English used is closely related to the English of Britain, although there are a few differences in spelling.

English is regularly spoken by over 80% of Australian residents and citizens at home as a first language, even if a significant percentage of these people are bilingual or multilingual.

Indigenous languages

When European occupation of Australia began there were as many as 400 different indigenous languages, some of which were mutually intelligible, being more dialects than anything else. None of these languages has become adopted as either an official language or a national language of Australia in the same way as the indigenous language of neighbouring New Zealand did (Maori). Many indigenous languages have either died out or are in danger of disappearing. Where one of the 70 odd indigenous languages that have survived is still widely used (mainly in the north of Western Australia, the Northern territory and Queensland), professional translators help to bridge the gap when it comes to providing government services.

Immigrant languages

There are many other languages used in Australia, which belong to the sizable immigrant populations in that country. The six most important languages based on the numbers of people who speak that language at home are:

  • Mandarin
  • Italian
  • Arabic
  • Greek
  • Cantonese
  • Vietnamese

Arabic is Widespread so Translators Should Take Advantage of It

Arabic is spoken by 300 million people, which makes it the world’s 3rd commonest language, closely following Spanish and English. In English there are even some Arabic origin words like algebra, alcohol and algorithm.

Arabic is known to be the language used in Islam but it’s not often seen on the Internet. However, statistics from a report into online presence reveal that the online Arabic population exceeds French, Russian and German. Also, it was revealed that Arabic speakers achieved the fastest growing online gross domestic product GDP from 2011 to 2012. But only 4 out of the 100 top internet brands provide content in Arabic and 1 in 5 Fortune 500 brands showcased their websites in Arabic. As far as a professional translation company is concerned there are plenty of opportunities for translating product information into Arabic

The School of Government in Dubai has shown in the last year that Twitter users who come from the Arab world have increased by almost double from just 2 million to at least 3.7 million. LinkedIn attracts 5 million Arabic users. There is even a new Islamic social networking site called baytulamin.com which has recently been made available in both Arabic and English. This site is expected to grow in popularity over the coming months.

These trends are like looking at a gift horse in the mouth when it comes to advertising a product in Arabic and sharing it on Arabic social networking pages. This is the time for professional translation services to be advertising their services to businesses who want to grow their customer base. The Arabic world is looking for ways to spend their money like everyone else. They aren’t all English speakers. Most companies have found that localizing their product descriptions and advertising material by translating them into the languages of consumers drives traffic to their websites and attracts potential buyers to purchase.

Anyone who doesn’t take the opportunity to hire an experienced professional translator to localise their products to the Arab world is doing a disservice to their business and the products it’s trying to market.

Translating Bahasa Indonesia for Official Purposes

Indonesia is not one single land mass but is made up of 17,508 separate islands, of which just 6,000 are inhabited. It is in the heart of the tropics where not only humans seek out an existence but so do a variety of exotic wild animals that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

There is one official language but more than 700 other languages spread throughout the country. The Bahasa Indonesia written form has been influenced by Arabic, Latin and Tamil. But today the government recognises the Latin script. Indonesian has 8 vowels and more than 18 consonants. From time to time changes are made to the way the letters are used in Bahasa Indonesia so it is important if any translations of the language take place that these changes are incorporated into the translation.

Many Indonesians travel to Australia for various purposes, for business, migration and study and if they need to get any documents written in Bahasa Indonesia translated into English for government purposes in Australia it will be necessary to hire the services of a professional translator who understands all the intricacies of Bahasa Indonesia in order for the translation to be accurate.

You may be setting up a contract between your Indonesian company and an Australian company so you will have to ensure you get a NAATI translator to undertake the work. If you settle for someone who has not been accredited with the reputable NAATI accreditation the translation may be far from perfect and may not put the intended message across in the right way.

A NAATI translator has undergone training and accreditation by passing an exam in his or her pair of languages which gives you a quality guarantee. Bahasa Indonesia is an ever changing language and by hiring a NAATI translation services you will get a competent translator who knows about any changes and will ensure your translated documents matches any new requirements.

An accurate translation is essential if you intend to live permanently in Australia or are setting up a business. You won’t regret getting one as it will speed up your entry to Australia.

Was Japanese PM’s “Apology” for WW2 Atrocities Lost in Translation?

This year is the 70th anniversary of the finish of the Asia Pacific war and Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, does not support his country’s preoccupation with their role in the war. When he attends an official visit to Washington he is going to have to watch his words as he has to keep his internal political support for his own country’s attitudes as well as appease the Americans. He also has to watch what other countries think too, such as South Korea, which is not only strongly allied to the US, but has its own grievances about what happened during the Japanese occupation of Korea during the Second World War. By using language skilfully, it will be a matter of interpretation which will affect those showing an interest.

It is expected that despite his leanings, Abe is going to show that he is remorseful when talking about events of the past and this will probably mean using the word “remorse”. In Japanese this is translated into the word “hansei”. This is where the words can get lost in translation and entirely different meanings can develop. In Chinese, when the Japanese word “hansei” is translated, the word f?nshè is used and in Korean “banseong”. When the word “hansei” is used for remorse it is not a strong word at all and is more related to reconsidering past actions rather than being apologetic and regretful. By using this word in the eyes of the Chinese and Koreans he may accidentally appear to be downgrading the catastrophic long term effects of the Japanese occupation.

As patriotic as Abe purports to be, restoring Japanese honour is far more important than being apologetic for Japan’s past actions. He will have to use the word “owabi”, which means “apology” along with ‘hansei” to have the effect of being remorseful of Japan’s past actions. The use of these two words together will please the Chinese and Koreans but will not have the desired effect on the Japanese people. Good relations with America are important, but not showing weakness is important to the Japanese’s concept of honour. It’s a tight balancing act.

There have been many translations in the past that have often triggered unintended reactions because of the words used have been interpreted differently when translated into different languages. There are many words that don’t have words in other languages that have precisely the same meaning. A good translation is more than just exchanging words as it is as important to understand their context when translated into other languages. This is why it is so important to use the right translation services in Australia. A NAATI translator should always be chosen when the documents or other materials to be translated are as sensitive as Shinzo Abe’s speech.

How a Freelance Translator can Take Advantage of a USP

The acronym “USP” means “Unique Selling Proposition’, which is the unique aspect of your service that makes you stand out from the rest. It is not necessarily based on how competitive you are but is more related to the type of service you offer. It’s often difficult to evaluate your USP if you are offering professional translation services. You have to think about how what you have to offer is so different from other translators. If you can set yourself apart from other translators in any way at all this gives you your USP. With this USP you are able to market your NAATI translator services in relation to it.

Some translators choose to select an area that few translators focus on such as mastering the language of certain technical products. This can open doors in that specialist area that other translators don’t know how to tackle because they lack the language expertise in that particular field. A person who has gained recognition as a NAATI translator can take on language translations that require the translation to be done only by a qualified NAATI translator. This excludes other professional translation services which do not have these credentials. A NAATI translation accreditation can be part of your USP too.

Identifying your USP can be difficult, as most professional translation services have standards to follow which makes it difficult for a freelance translator to better.

There are some general points outlined below about translation services which you can use when considering your USP.

1. Professional translation service offer high quality translations on time;

2. Freelance translators have the edge over agencies and tend to offer high quality, polished translations;

3. A few translators provide translations that are exceptional because they are able to specialise in some select areas which enable them to be true masters.

From these points you can draw up what you think you should aim at for your USP.