Lost in translation: Eight of our favourite untranslatables!

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a document translation company, a concept we find particularly interesting is that of untranslatability. By this, we mean a single word in one language, for which no equivalent single word exists in another language. Everything is translatable, to a certain extent, but it’s these unique words with no precise one-to-one counterpart, that often give a fascinating insight into another country or culture, and their way of thinking.

A NAATI accredited translator is, of course trained and qualified to find the most effective and appropriate way of phrasing something when writing a translation, even if it isn’t necessarily word-for-word. Sometimes, though, the word itself is so distinctive and expressive, it’s almost a shame to spoil it by translating it! There are lots of these ‘untranslatable’ words in existence; here are a few of our favorites…
•    Iktsuarpok (Inuit) “The feeling of anticipation leading you to go outside and check if anyone is coming.”

•    Tartle (Scottish) “The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.”

•    Cafuné (Brazilian Portuguese) “The act of tenderly running one’s fingers through someone’s hair.”

•    Tingo (Pascuense – Easter Island) “The act of taking objects one desires from the house of a friend by gradually borrowing all of them.”

•    Ya’aburnee (Arabic) “A declaration of a person’s hope that they’ll die before another person because of how difficult it would be to live without them.”

•    Gheegle (Filipino) “The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute.”

•    Pochemuchka(Russian) “A person who asks too many questions.”

•    Waldeinsamkeit (German) “The feeling of being alone in the woods.”

This list is by no means definitive; it’s been no easy task narrowing it down to a just a small selection. Some of these are particularly suggestive of the values and unique way of living in certain cultures. If you want the very best standards in your translation, engage the services of a NAATI translator through a certified translation service, so you can be sure none of the meaning gets lost in translation.

The End of an Era

In recent years Australia has conquered the world with its TV exports, particularly Neighbours and Home and Away. Appropriately enough, Neighbours is set in Melbourne which is the home of Australian television, being the place where broadcasting began in 1929. Today, Melbourne was also the place where a broadcasting era came to an end, as the last analogue receivers were finally switched off. Of course, the citizens of Melbourne were not left without a TV (particularly not when the cricket is on), the signal has now switched to digital and satellite with all homes having already been changed over.

While the old transmitters may still have some sentimental value, Australia’s future is undeniably digital in a whole variety of ways. As well as being avid users of social media, Australia has also enthusiastically adopted the internet as a business channel with Australian entrepreneurs such as Mark Harbottle, owner of SitePoint and Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar co-owners of Atlassian are just three examples of young Australians who’ve built businesses and fortunes out of innovating. Those who are interested in building new lives and perhaps new businesses in the land of sun and surf can get off to a racing start with the services of a professional NAATI translator.

“Translation” – Not Always the Same Thing

 

Writing things over to another language can be a funny old game sometimes, for the simple reason that culture often intervenes. If there’s a better reason than the following for using a competent German NAATI translator – as opposed to downloading Google Translate – then we’ve yet to come across it.

First attempts to translate Coca-Cola into Chinese became essential after market researchers discovered that the locals interpreted the name as “bite the wax tadpole”. After much prodigious effort translators chose the word ’kokoukole” meaning “happiness in the mouth” instead.

The General Motors name “Nova” means “it doesn’t go” in Spanish-speaking South America. Hopefully the glue they stuck the badges on with wasn’t made in Germany?

Colorado brewers Coors should have been more careful with their Spanish translations too. Their slogan “turn it loose” became “suffer from diarrhoea”.

KFC walked right into it after their media specialist managed to morph their brand into the Chinese equivalent of “eat your fingers off”.

On a lighter note, Frank Perdue’s translators were probably feeling German English Australia Migration Translation Servicechicken after someone mentioned that they’d translated “it takes a strong man to make a tender chicken” into Spanish as “it takes an aroused man to make a chicken affectionate“.

Please don’t think for a moment that anything similar is possible in the case of our skilled Migration Translators. They’re all highly-educated human beings, and everything is edited twice.

We found the translation blunders on Articles Base. Thanks to Stuart Wilde for the Fox and Chicken.

German Influences in Australia

Australians certainly don’t need our NAATI German-English Translators when it comes to ordering some of their favourite foods. In fact they know exactly what sauerkraut is, and the same is equally true of their favourites mettwurst, blutwurst, leberwurst, and weißwurst.

Germans who first farmed the Barossa Valley had so much influence that at one time their dialect was known as Barossa-Deutsch. Some fragments still remain. When Australians call a 200mm beer glass a butcher, they may not know that it’s a corruption of becher for a cup or mug although it is – and beaker has entered our dictionary as a glass container for mixing liquids in a laboratory.

When today’s inhabitants of the Barossa Valley use the expression “are you coming with” they’re actually harking back to kommst du mit? German English Australia Migration Translation ServiceThis is another excellent example of the durability of the German language.

After you’ve popped by to chat with one of our immigration translations specialists in Sydney, we’ve love to be able to say kommst du mit for a cup of coffee – or even for an Australian pilsener beer in a butcher if that takes your fancy. And that’s just another example of our laid back style. Why don’t you come and join us soon?

With thanks to Culture Concept for the Barossa Vineyard, and the Mercury for the Hobart Café in Tasmania.

The Australian Way of Life

When immigration clients approach us in connection with our NAATI translator service they usually also ask us about Australian living expenses. While it’s easy for us to mention average salaries, this is seldom of much use unless we mention the distribution of average spending too.

When we do so, our clients realise that our outdoor life-style makes a huge difference to how we spend our money. We decided to summarise the main points here.

• We spend 21.95% of disposable inome on rent, which could include mortgage payments or rentals.

German English Australia Translation Service• The next highest amount, believe it or not, is dining out in restaurants at 18.63%, which is not surprising given our fantastic weather.

• Markets comes a close third at 18,32%. This includes all forms of consumption shopping.

• Transport’s the next big-ticket item at 11.48%. This is because we love our big suburban homes in suburbs outside town.

This is followed by a high 10.38% for Utilities, and 4.20% for Clothing and Shoes, with the ubiquitous “Other” (which would include immigration translations) coming in at 9.37%.

In case you wondered, Sports and Leisure accounts for the missing 5.67% (just checking you were concentrating). Australia’s a fun society where we find time to enjoy the great outdoors, and tease each other sometimes too.

If you’re contemplating coming over and require a NAATI translator in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Adelaide, why nopt give is a call or drop us an email. We’ll be delighted to assist. The graph we used is courtesy of Numbeo.

“Thousands of Job Visas Threatened”

Prior to 2007, the Immigration Department awarded qualification and work experience points based on inputs from Trades Recognition Australia (TRA) and recognized Professional Bodies. In 2007, it outsourced this activity to a “relevant authority” as appointed by the Workplace Minister, and amended the Migration Act accordingly.

This made little difference to the migration process as far as applicants were concerned except that the forms were a little different. Professional translation of foreign documents continued to be insisted upon. As far as our German NAATI Translators were concerned it was very much business as usual.

Unfortunately one thing was overlooked in Canberra. Nobody remembered that the Workplace Minister had to appoint the TRA as relevant authority before it could commence it task. As a consequence of this oversight, all foreign work visas issued during this period are based on an administratively invalid premise.

German English Australia Translation ServiceWe are inclined to regard this matter as a bureaucratic storm in a teacup. We can’t see the Australian Government taking the knock on the potential 130,000 lawsuits that might follow if it started cancelling visas. All our immigration translations were as always impeccably done too

The news only erupted after a visa applicant successfully overturned a Migration Review Tribunal decision to refuse a visa on the grounds that he’d given false information about his work experience. If general action were being contemplated, surely Workplace Minister Julia Gillard illustrated here would have announced this, when she corrected the blunder back in 2011.

Australia’s Oldest German Settlement

The town of Hahndorf is Australia’s oldest surviving German settlement. German immigrants known as Old Lutherans arrived there in 1839 to escape religious persecution in Prussia (Hahn was captain of the ship named Zebra they arrived on). They laid their settlement out in Hufendorf style, and were soon well known for their pious customs and zest for hard work – even though the lack of translators in Adelaide made them difficult for locals to understand.

These days, Hahndorf is easily found after a thirty-minute drive along the South Eastern Freeway from Adelaide. Notable attractions include traditional fachwerk half-timbered architecture, and St Michael’s Lutheran Church begun in 1839, and still home to a worshipful congregation.

From time to time the settlement was hit by schisms though. The breakaway St Paul’s Lutheran Church was established in 1846 when pastors Kavel and Fritsche experienced theological differences. German English Translations in AustraliaDuring World War One, the South Australia Government changed Hahndorf’s name to Ambleside. This was corrected in the 1930’s (although the replacement name is still seen in various places).

These days of course German migrants travelling to Australia have an easier time of it. They arrive on modern jet planes and have NAATI Translators to assist them with their documentation. They also no longer need to build half-timbered houses. In fact, Australian architecture is among the most modern in the world. .

Thanks, Wikipedia for the photo and Incidental Nomads for the welcome sign.