Language Matters July 2007: Calendars and Celebrating New Year

Dear Language Friend,

In this issue of our newsletter, you will find out WHY you should not miss the Caribbean Days Festival, you will discover HOW calendar systems differ between cultures, WHEN different cultures celebrate New Year, and WHAT all this has to do with translation.

Lenka de Graafova, Managing Director. Thanks for reading.

The Caribbean Days Festival

When: The weekend of July 28th-29th

Where: North Vancouver at Waterfront Park and other locations

Come to North Vancouver and explore the colorful, exotic and vivid Caribbean culture. The Caribbean Days Festival, which is organized by the Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of BC, takes place for the 20th time. Don’t miss the various celebrations including a Multicultural Street Parade, a Caribbean Boat Cruise, Food Fairs, Musical Festivals, Outdoor dances and much more.

Did you know that…



…Canada is home to approximately 294,000 people originally from the Caribbean and Bermudas?

…that the vast majority settled in Montreal and Vancouver and approximately 6,000 people of Caribbean origin are presently living in Vancouver?

Talking about Cultures and Calendars

Article contributed by our native German project manager Tina

The other day, it was on a Thursday, I was chatting with my Persian friend about his family back home.

“How is your family doing in Iran?”

“They are doing great. They are off for the weekend right now.”

“What do you mean they are off for the weekend right now? It is only Thursday!?”

“Well, you know, in my country, the week starts on Saturday.”

“On a Saturday?”

“You got it. Everybody is off on Fridays and some people also on Thursdays.”

“Really? I had no idea. Do you have a different calendar than we do?”

“We celebrate New Year in March. Don’t worry. You are not the only one. A lot people don’t know much about Iran, many just think, it’s a huge desert. But there is so much more.”

And he is right. Before I met him, I had not known much about Middle Eastern countries. Of course, I regularly watch the news and read the newspaper. But the information provided by the media is rather selective. So I’ve been working on that! Luckily, Vancouver is the ideal place to meet people from all around the world and get to know more about their cultures and their challenges of coming to Canada. I’ve learned a lot about Persian culture and about the many challenges my friend had to face when he arrived in Canada six months ago: language, a different writing system, a different calendar system, etc. Inquisitive as I am, I wanted to find out more about different calendar systems…

Happy New Year In March

Did you know that…

…the Persian New Year starts on March 21st?

…they count the year differently?

…the Persian calendar is one of the earliest calendar systems?

The Iranian Calendar, also known as Persian or Jalāli Calendar, takes the year 1386 (immigration of Prophet Mohammed) as the starting point.

Celebrating New Year Four Times a Year

If you ask a Jewish person when the New Year starts in her or his country, you might be a bit puzzled since she or he will reply “It depends which year you are talking about. We have four of them!” The Hebrew Calendar, also known as the Jewish calendar, has four dates for starting a new year for different purposes.

The four dates:

1. 1st day of Nissan. This date marks the start of the New Year for Kings, festivals and months and is celebrated in spring.

2. 1st day of Tishri. This date introduces a new year number in the Hebrew calendar and is celebrated by a formal new year festival. It is celebrated in September/October.

3. 1st day of Elul. This date introduces the year for setting aside one tenth of the income and produce each year to give it to the Levites. It is celebrated in August/September.

4. 1st day of Shevat. This date marks the New Year for trees when the fruit tithes (paid as a voluntary contribution or in the form of a tax) should be brought. It is celebrated in January/February.

Nowadays, only the first two “New Years” are celebrated. However, you will still find all of these dates on Hebrew calendars.

Some more calendars that use different starting points(mostly important historical dates) for counting their years are the Islamic, Maya, Indian, and Hindu calendars.

Example: 1st July 2007 in the Hebrew calendar would read “15th of Tamuz, 5767”. The Hebrew calendar takes the year 3760 BC as the starting point (which is the assumed date for the creation of the world). Even if you are not good with numbers, it gives an easy formula for the years:

Hebrew Year = Gregorian Year + 3760

Gregorian Year = Hebrew Year – 3760

What’s Calendar Got To Do With Translation

Multilingual Translation Projects

Recently, we have dealt with a number of multilingual translation projects from and into multiple languages. We have been dealing with translations into Afrikaans, Amharic, Chinese, Hebrew, Japanese, Nepalese, Persian, Tagalog, Tibetan, Somali, Vietnamese, and many European languages. The team of LingoStar have been sending out numerous emails and documents and making phone calls with our translators and editors all around the world. As you can imagine, a lot of project management has been required to coordinate the work of a high number of translators and editors who belong to our world network.

One of the tasks of a translator is to adjust the dates in the translated language. So, for example, if a translator is working on a textfrom English into Hebrew or Persian, the challenge is not to only transfer the text adequately between the two languages, but also to adapt dates so they are correctly displayed to the target audience.

Luckily, there are online tools that make the life of a translator easier, such as calendar converters. I’ve used some of them when converting English (Gregorian) dates into the “target date”. Try some of the calendars and switch between different calendar systems. You will be surprised how dates can make a difference! In regards to languages, there are always new things to discover and investigate!