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Welcome to LingoStar’s blog! On this page, you can find a lot of interesting and useful information about the translation industry. Explore topics on website translation and localization and how successful localization can influence your business to help your company grow and go global.
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On this blog, you can also learn about professional translators and interpreters, multilingual search engine optimization (SEO), the importance of socializing and networking and translators’ professional ethics. Quite often we write posts about the languages of the world, other cultures, and their traditions. Not only do translators convert texts from a source language to a target language, but they also help people communicate with each other, help establish international contacts, and are often prominent figures in the social, economic, and political life. Lastly, of course, we want you to have fun, so on our blog, you can find many posts that will entertain you and, hopefully, make you smile!
We hope you enjoy our blog and discover a lot of interesting things!
Languages Around the WorldThe most spoken languages around the world English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Italian, Hindi and a whole lot more languages are spoken around the world. But do you know exactly how many? Well, the answer is 7,151! However, only 23 languages account for more than half of the world’s population. Nevertheless, we would like to talk about the top 10 most spoken languages in the world. First of all, it is important to point out that this top 10 has not always been the same. Indeed, the world is constantly changing, and with it the communities that speak different languages. They too are constantly changing. Some of them die, others are born, and others change according to the times in which they live. In 2022, at the top of the list, there is, unsurprisingly, English, immediately followed by Mandarin Chinese, each with over 1 billion speakers. In third place, there is Hindi, with more than 650 million speakers, and Spanish, spoken by more than 500 million people. French, Bengali, Modern Arabic, Portuguese, Russian and Urdu follow in our list, with over 200 million speakers each. The most spoken languages over the last century If we take a look at the top 10 in the early 1900s, we can see how slightly different things were. Indeed, the most spoken language was Mandarin Chinese. However, this is not unexpected due to the huge number of Chinese inhabitants. What may be more surprising, instead, is that the second most spoken language was not English, but Spanish. English gained the second position in 1911 and the first position only in 2013!... read more
Travel and Translation: Two Different Ways To Meet New CulturesRelation between travel and translation If you look in a dictionary, you will discover that the English term “translation” has two meanings. The first one says: the process of translating words or text from one language into another. The second one states: the process of moving something from one place to another. We can say that travel and translation are rather connected. A traveller moves from a place to another in order to discover new cities, new words and new cultures. In the same way, translating is a passage from one language to another, from a source culture to a target one. Thus, travel and translation are very much interconnected as they both focus on the idea of movement and passage. So, what happens when a traveller simply moves with their language and culture to another country? Travel books and translation Travel literature translated into many different languages tells us about foreign countries so we can understand facts about other cultures. By reading travel books we can discover new countries. They unveil for us what is hiding out there in the big world. They also allow us to study and compare different cultures. At the same time, a travel writer or a travel blogger translates new travel experiences. They also tell us about another reality by converting their travel experiences into a travel book or a travel blog. The most important moment of a trip and a tale starts when a traveller arrives in some unknown place and must find their way into a new culture. Similarly, a translator describes an experience by translating it from one language to... read more
Japanese Translation ChallengesJapanese words in English and other languages There are many languages in the world that are difficult to translate into English. Japanese is one of them. One reason for Japanese translation being really hard would be the unique development of Japanese culture. Japan is an island nation surrounded by the sea. For this reason, it developed its own culture and technology while adopting those introduced from the continent a long time ago. In this blog post, we will look at some hard-to-translate words that other languages and countries have adopted in their original form. With globalization, Japanese food culture is also spreading to other countries. Indeed, different Japanese meals and food items are being presented in the Japanese language in other countries. Some of the most popular examples of Japanese food names are sushi, tempura, ramen, and wasabi. Japanese translation and pop culture Another influential phenomenon is the Japanese modern pop culture. The globalization of recent years has led to the spread of Japanese pop culture worldwide, along with a growing preference for works that are uniquely Japanese. Two perfect examples of words being used in other countries using the original Japanese wording are Anime and Manga. A manga is a story that uses pictures and texts. On the other side, an anime is short for animation, wherein a cartoon has dialogue and music that cannot be heard in the comic. Thanks to these entertaining blockbusters, some of the Japanese words appearing in them are becoming widely used. For example, the word kawaii means cute or adorable. Japanese translation phrases derived from Japanese culture Another characteristic of Japanese culture... read more
Creativity in Language and Translation: NeologismsCreativity in a language is one aspect of human intelligence and we express it also through language and translation. Furthermore, we have to consider that languages change throughout time. Neology is the term we use to indicate the process of the creation of a new lexical unit. Neologism is the product of this activity. One of the most difficult challenges for translators is the necessity to find the right word. This happens because sometimes the perfect equivalent does not exist in the target language. That is why translators need to create new words or neologisms. How and why do we use creativity in language translation? Creativity in language and translation is important in a lot of fields, for instance in the technological field where translators have to manage large language databases. Furthermore, they have to do some statistical calculations in order to produce correct and usable text. There are a lot of reasons that push a community to create a neologism; the creation of a new word can derive from the need to name an original reference. This is the case for a new scientific discovery or invention or a new social expression. Neologisms in different fields and creativity in language translation Creativity in language and translation and, more generally, neologisms appear in the following fields: science and technology, culture and society, politics, and art. Over the last few years, scientific and technological progress has introduced procedures and devices in our daily lives that were impossible to imagine before. As a consequence, we have to create new words, especially in the IT and communication field where all new terms... read more
Talking about the weather – How to start a conversation around the worldWeather in small talk Spring has come with new beginnings and new weather conditions. Did you know that the weather is one of the most common topics for small talk around the world? In a lot of countries, people use small talk to fill awkward silences or as a way of breaking the ice and they do that by talking about the weather. Let’s imagine you are stuck in the elevator with a person you don’t know, what do you talk about? The weather of course! However, not every country welcomes small talk. Countries like Scandinavia, Sweden, Finland and Norway are not really into small talk. As for everything related to language, it is just a question of culture. For instance, in the USA and the UK, small talk is very common. Indeed, in the USA, small talk occupies at least six hours per day of conversation. In the UK, instead, 38% of British people make small talk about the weather. Talking about the weather – the weatherese language Actually, talking about the weather is not something we do just in small talk, but rather, there is a specialised language about the weather called weatherese. Forecasters use this language in weather forecasting. The problem is that forecasters seem to pay more attention to what the weather is than to how the weather may affect people. Indeed, specialised language is often used to save time, as most people do when speaking in a particular field. The problem with forecasters is that they are talking to a general audience, so they should be understood by everyone. On the other hand, academics... read more
The Language of Women | Does Language Shape Our Thoughts About Gender?The Language of Women As A Secret Language The language we speak shapes our thoughts about gender and our perception of reality. Many linguistic studies say that there are several types of languages in the world, including the language of women. There are natural languages (or human languages), formal languages, and artificial languages. The latter are often used and created either for amusement or for practical purposes, e.g. Esperanto. Among these are the languages created by women and for women. Mothers are key figures in children’s language development, so much so that we speak about a “mother tongue” to identify a native speaker of a particular language. However, from a linguistic point of view, there is no “female language”, “language of women” or “natural female language”. The Language of Women and Prejudices We also have to consider that our language reflects our social prejudices. What happens if none of the existing languages enable women to express the feelings and emotions inherent to them? What happens if women can’t express the way they feel and think because their language doesn’t contain the right words to convey their thoughts? Or because their language describes and reflects a patriarchal society? Think about how you use your language and whether it’s more geared towards how men or how women express themselves. Native Tongue As A Language of Women, By Suzette Haden Elgin The American linguist and writer Suzette Haden Elgin addressed this topic in the 80’s. She theorized that if women had their own language to express their opinions, they might represent reality in a very different way than when men talk. To... read more
Gender Neutrality – How to Achieve a Bias-Free EnvironmentGender Neutrality In Everyday Life Set in 1961, Hidden Figures is a film about the true story of a team of African-American mathematicians in which gender and racial distinction are broken down in favour of neutrality. The main protagonist, Katherine Johnson, is a talented woman who is hired to work for NASA. However, she works in a white, male-dominated environment, where the toilets for coloured women are in a completely different building from the one where she works. For this reason, every day she has to go back and forth between the two, meaning she’s often absent from her desk. When her boss demands an explanation for her constant absenteeism, Katherine, filled with indignation, makes a moving speech about how the racially divided, male-dominated society in which they live is impeding her from doing a good job. In agreement, her boss destroys the “colored ladies room” sign outside the toilets to stop the segregation. Hidden Figures might be set in the early sixties but gender and racial discrimination are still present in our lives. The difference is that today is not just about the distinction between male and female. This happens because we live in a gender-fluid society where things are far more complex. In this blog post, we will explore what is gender neutrality and how it affects languages. The Way Gendered Languages Shape Our World Historically, the masculine gender has always been the default gender for describing situations where both men and women are present. Indeed, with respect to gender, we can distinguish three types of languages: Gendered languages like Spanish, French and Italian, where nouns and... read more
Beauty and Culture – The Hurdles in Translating for the Cosmetics IndustryThe Relationship Between Beauty and Culture Carnival is upon us, and we can’t help but think about all the beautiful clothes and makeup used on this occasion. Carnival is held in various parts of the world and is packed with cultural traditions. What is the relationship between beauty and culture? How does the concept of beauty change across different cultures? And in what ways does it affect the world of translation? Cultural influences guide our perception of beauty, which takes on a different meaning not only across different countries but also across different ages and eras. Indeed, Americans in the fifties conceived beauty differently from today. In most European countries, a slim figure with flawless skin is the ideal of beauty, whereas in Africa, a larger figure is considered beautiful. To achieve this ideal of beauty, women (and, most recently, also men) have been experimenting with cosmetics and beauty aids for a long time. Some people go to great lengths to alter their appearance and conform with what society considers beautiful. Religion, as part of a culture, also has its influence on beauty. In Hinduism for example, they portray Goddesses as beautiful, making beauty a godly quality. In the Muslim religion, instead, they abhor things like nudity and women must wear a veil to hide their face from everyone except their husbands. Today’s Ideals of Beauty and Culture Pride However, today’s ideals of beauty are far more inclusive than they were in the past. Thanks to social media, in particular Instagram, a lot of celebrities, whose beauty is not the “standard” one, encourage women and teenagers to be proud... read more
Can We Translate Culture?It is undeniable that every language brings with it not only a grammar code but also an entire culture. We do not translate culture only by directly using a language. We also apply various forms of intercultural communication. This is why it is important to have an intercultural approach when translating culture from one language to another. Intercultural Translation – Translate Culture through Words Of course, there are languages and industry fields where direct translation prevails, such as information technology or science. But in other fields, we cannot ignore the relevance of intercultural aspects. There are some intercultural words, or rather, words that influence and shape realities unknown in other language groups, or words shared with other languages but used for a different concept. For example, a lot of English words are used in Italian with different meanings. It’s the case of mister, which means football coach, or scotch, used to designate adhesive tape. The Use of Realia To translate culture means to convert a text through words called realia (personal names, places, names of food, etc.). We use these words in translation to indicate culturally specific objects that are very difficult to translate. The vocabulary connected to a determined culture or that belongs to a specific linguistic community contains words and expressions that describe events or objects representative of this culture. Simply put, some words have a local or historical “colour” and often, we do not have the perfect equivalent in another language. We can translate these realia by using different strategies. We can invent a new word (neologism) or we can replace the realia with a description.... read more
Food and Translation – Are We All What We Eat?How is food related to translation? The New Year has just begun and one of the first points of a New Year’s resolution is often to eat healthily and to keep fit. For this reason, in this blog post, we talk about food and how its cultural nature can sometimes be challenging in translation. Food has always been a vital part of life. We all need food, it is fuel for our body, it gives us energy and powers our runs. But food is also part of our language, our culture, and our identity. Food represents what we are if it is true that we are what we eat. Hence the relation between food and translation. As we all know, language and culture are intrinsically related. Since food is part of our culture, it is unavoidable that translating food will represent a hurdle for translators. Food in our lives and translation in idioms If we think of fairy tales, which are timeless, we can see how deeply rooted food is in every tradition. For example, take Snow White and The Seven Dwarves, from which the concept of the poisoned apple has spread around the world, and has also been used in famous films. In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, there is a scene in which Princess Elizabeth, who has been kidnapped by Captain Barbossa, is eating with him. He offers her an apple and, looking at his gaze, she exclaims: “It’s poisoned!”. The cross-reference to the fairy tale is obvious. Food is also present in some idiomatic expressions, which sometimes are difficult to translate... read more
Artificial Intelligence and Translation – How technology is changing our approach to languagesWhat is artificial intelligence and how is it dominating the world? In an increasingly digitalized world, we can’t deny that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is taking over. In this blog post, we look into the connection between artificial intelligence and translation. The leader in AI is the United States, inventor of the Internet, but China is quickly taking its place. In this race between the US and China, Russia is also trying its best to keep up. Indeed, at the AI Journey 2019 conference held in Moscow, Putin said: “Artificial intelligence is a resource of colossal power. Those who will own it will take the lead and will acquire a huge competitive edge.” But what is AI exactly? And what is its impact on our daily life? Artificial intelligence is the ability for computers to simulate human thought and behaviour in real-world environments. It works with deep learning, that imitates our brain’s functionality and allows computers to analyze situations based on data. A pioneering force in AI was the Logic Theorist, a program designed to mimic the problem-solving skills of a human being. Allen Newell, Herbert A. Simon and Cliff Shaw invented it in 1956, while John McCarthy coined the term AI. The Logic Theorist function was to prove mathematical theorems like the ones in Russell and Whitehead’s book Principia Mathematica. It proved 38 out of 52 problems in the book, showing better results than the authors. Artificial intelligence and translation – What is machine learning? The term artificial intelligence is often used interchangeably with the term machine learning, but they actually refer to different realities. While AI is the... read more
Language and Reality – How language is used during times of crisisThe connection between language and reality When we think about the relationship between language and reality, the following question arises: does language shape reality or is it the other way round? There’s a philosophy, called “direction of fit”, according to which both statements are true. This philosophy distinguishes two directions of fit. The first one is that language reflects reality. According to this direction, called the “word-to-world” direction of fit, the words match reality. For example, in the sentence “there is a pen on the table”, these words immediately match the world around us. In this case, language creates statements that can be true or false according to the reality they match. The second direction, the one we are going to explore in this blog post, is when we use language to change reality. This is the “world-to-word” direction of fit because the world is shaped to match the words. In other words, we can say that language is extremely powerful and individuals often use it to manipulate and control. In this blog post, we’ll see how this happened during periods of war and how it is happening today during the COVID-19 pandemic. The language in political speeches during the war and times of crisis: World War I When World War I broke out, politicians gave speeches to persuade citizens to fight for victory. These speeches were not just words. Rather, they were a smart way to brainwash citizens and lead them to think that fighting was the best choice. An example is the speech of Woodrow Wilson, the then United States President. In 1917, the United States declared... read more
Halloween and Religion – How do they relate around the world?It’s October, Halloween’s month. You can’t say October without thinking of pumpkins, witches, ghosts, and all the other words connected to Halloween. In this blog post, we’d like to explore the relationship between Halloween and religion around the world. So, where does Halloween come from? About 2,000 years ago, the Celts who lived in England and Ireland introduced this festivity. They celebrated it on October 31st. This day marked the end of the summer and the beginning of the cold winter. Halloween was associated with their religion. Indeed, the Celts believed that, on this day, the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. Their return made it easier for the Druids, the Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. However, at that time, this day was known as “Samhain” (a Gaelic word pronounced sow-win). The word “Halloween”, instead, has Christian origins. In fact, it comes from the Scottish word “Hallowe’en” which means “All Hallows’ Eve”, and in Western Churches, on November 1st, it is All Hallows Day. In the 1800s, thanks to Scottish and Irish migrants, this celebration spread to America, where it is still hugely celebrated today. Halloween in Europe As much as Halloween seems to be an international festivity, people around the world have different ways to commemorate their beloved dead. Starting in Ireland and England, Halloween is especially celebrated by kids. They love dressing up in Halloween outfits and knocking on doors asking for “trick- or-treat”. In England, on November 5th, there’s another celebration: Guy Fawkes Day. This day commemorates the execution of an English traitor, Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the Houses... read more
Language Teaching and the Importance of the Role of TranslationLanguage teaching theories and methods September has come and, in many countries, its arrival ushers in a new scholastic year. In schools, many students are involved in language learning. Indeed, they study one or more languages, other than their native one. Foreign language teaching refers to the teaching of a language that is not native. Firstly, it is important to make a distinction between foreign language and second language, especially if we think about English language teaching. The terms English as Second Language (ESL) and English as Foreign Language (EFL) are not synonymous. Indeed, the difference between ESL and EFL lies in the environment in which it is taught. We refer to ESL when we learn English in a country where it is spoken. In this case, students can practice it outside of the scholastic context. EFL, instead, is taught in countries where it is not spoken outside of the scholastic context, with little chance of practising it. This is true also for the teaching of other languages. However, as English is increasingly becoming an international language and is used as a lingua franca in countries that do not speak it, the distinction between ESL and EFL is so blurred that it is not always easy to differentiate them. Language teaching methodologies Over the years, different theories of language teaching have emerged, resulting in different language teaching methodologies. We can think of the innatist theory, according to which children have an innate ability to discover language rules. This would explain why we are able to learn complex grammar rules. If we shift to the behaviourist theory, instead, we discover... read more
Climate Change in Africa: How Translation and Ecolinguistics Are HelpingAfrica is the world’s hottest and second largest continent on Earth. Made up of 54 countries, there are approximately 1,000-2,000 different languages spoken across the continent. Africa has barely contributed towards climate change and yet it is one of the hardest hit by its effects. The impact of climate change in Africa Africa has experienced significant increases in temperatures and dramatic decreases in precipitation. Tropical storms have also been more frequent and more intense, as well as dust storms in June and July. Higher temperatures, drought, changing rainfall patterns; all these climate changes are already a reality and will only worsen if we don’t take action urgently. How translation is helping fight against climate change The main reason for climate change is the burning of fossil fuels. Other reasons are deforestation and farming. Indeed, all are causing the planet to heat up. But global warming is only one aspect of climate change. Human activities are directly responsible for climate change and people therefore play a pivotal role in its reversal. The population of Africa is currently 1,374,627,468. In some countries of Africa, the lack of adequate education and limited access to knowledge pose real widespread problems. Consequently, most people in Africa are not aware of environmental issues. In addition, in some of its countries, people don’t speak English or languages other than their own native language. Therefore, if a person can’t speak a certain language or isn’t aware of environmental issues, how could they understand the meaning of global warming or do anything against climate change? One of the best ways to help people in Africa address climate change... read more
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