When Johannes Gutenberg introduced the printing press in 1440, it took the Western world by storm. For the first time in history the written word was distributed en masse to the public, whereas before, only the affluent had access to it.
Aside from allowing more widespread access, the printing press signaled the beginning of the uniformity in writing. With written materials becoming more widely available, so too were the “rules” of language- spelling, syntax, etc. gaining traction. We can thank Gutenberg and his ingenious printing press for those inevitable sticklers for spelling we all know.
Fast forward almost 600 years, and technology continues to pervade every bit of our lives, including our language. In the 21st century digital age, brevity may very well be the soul of wit. All of humanity’s technological advancements have given birth to a century focused on convenience and the quick exchange of information.
We’ve replaced the descriptive, flowy narratives of the early 20th century with 280-character Tweets; long-distance phone calls have given way to texts and emails; in-person meetings can now take place in your home via Zoom or Teams or Skype.
The language of technology has become so integrated in our everyday lives that you probably did not have to Google a single word from the last paragraph to understand what it meant.
Email, text, tweet, WIFI, 5G, hotspot, proxy server, HD, UHD, podcast, e-book…these are no longer the words of privilege, but the everyday. Like the printing press of the 15th century, modern technology has not only revolutionized our way of living, but also our way of speaking.
For a translator, this presents a unique challenge to stay current on trends and technologies to ensure they are able to bridge their source and target languages while conveying the most accurate meaning. As technology continues to evolve, so too will language. And, if it continues to happen at such a rapid pace, translators will never have a dull moment.
Just like with our human children, we intuitively know the difference between sad or happy sounds that are pets make, and we can accurately read their body language. Everyone is familiar with the ecstatic tail wagging that greets you when you return home after being at work all day; your dog is practically vibrating with excitement because you are finally home.
You likely greet your pet with lots of head pats and belly scratches, telling them what a good boy or girl they are, maybe asking them if they had a nice day and how much you missed them.
How much of this does your dog understand? Do they read body language the way that we do, or pick up on the different inflections in our speech to determine our moods or meanings? According to research published in Scientific American, MRIs show that dogs process language in much the same way that humans do!
Dogs process the words we are speaking in the left hemisphere of the brain, just like humans, and use the right side to decipher the intonation or inflection of our words. When both the words and the inflection match, the dog’s reward center in their brain begins to light up, showing not only that they are happy, but that they know whether the words themselves match the tone being used. Based on current research, dogs who are surrounded by speech regularly will have a greater understanding of human words and the meanings.
What does this mean for the future of communication with our pets?
In 2020, Furbo released a streaming camera that analyzes your dog’s barks to determine what they are trying to say- whether they are hungry, bored, if there is an intruder, etc. It then sends the results straight to your smartphone via an app so that you can see for yourself. Taking this sort of AI technology to another level, we may be able to develop a way to directly speak with our pets, with mutually understanding. When we ask “Who’s a good boy?” they can answer emphatically, “I am!”
January 31 marks the end of the lunar calendar and kicks off Chinese New Year’s festivities. Traditionally, friends and loved ones will gather to eat, drink, and be merry while also remembering deceased loved ones. This year’s festivities will continue through to the Lantern Festival on February 16.
2022 is known as the Year of the Tiger in the Chinese Zodiac, with babies born this year being more likely to be intelligent, funny, and social. For Tigers born in previous years, the zodiac suggests this is a good year to get married to ensure a prosperous union and you may even have a job promotion coming in 2022. However, you may not want to make too many investments with your newfound wealth unless you are an Ox or Goat.
For Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, Pigs, and Dogs, you may have to put in a bit more effort to achieve success this year.
Whether you plan to celebrate the New Year by quietly eating dumplings with family or by taking in one of many Lantern Festivals, we wish you a prosperous and healthy New Year.
As we close out another year, we are grateful for continued good health and growth.
We look forward to seeing what opportunities present in the next year and wish you all health, prosperity, and joy in 2022.
Out of the 103 Pilgrims who sailed from England to Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620, only half of those survived the first year in America due to an unexpectedly harsh winter. It is now widely accepted that, without the generosity and mentorship of the Native Americans, no one would have survived that first year, at all.
The Pilgrims met members of the Abenaki tribe who introduced them to Squanto, an English-speaking member of the Pawtuxet tribe, who in turn taught the settlers how to survive in their new environment. A year after arrival, they experienced their first successful corn harvest and had a huge feast to celebrate the achievement. The feast was attended by the colonists as well as dozens of members of the neighboring Native American tribes. Unlike the fare typically enjoyed on Thanksgiving today, they likely would have feasted on a bounty of seafood and vegetables that were seasoned and prepared using Native American traditions.
What language was spoken during that first Thanksgiving?
The American Northeast is home to many tribes, including the Pawtuxet, Wampanoag, and Abenaki. At the time of the first Thanksgiving in 1621, Wampanoag was the language spoken in that area of Massachusetts. Wampanoag is one of three dozen languages that make up the Algonquian language family, several of which are still spoken today.
Thanks to 17th century missionaries, Wompanoag was the first native language to have a written alphabet. The missionaries ironically sought to convert the tribe and thought that a Bible written in their language would aid in their goal. Whether the tribe was converted or not, the new alphabet led to the Wompanoag becoming the most literate of the Native Americans. With the new alphabet, the tribe was able to draw up legal papers, deeds, and other written records. Sadly, a law passed in the 19th century forbade the use of their native language and it soon died out as they were forced to assimilate and only speak English. That is, until revitalization efforts began in 1993.
Rebirth of a language
The Wompanoag Language Reclamation Project was begun in 1993 with the goal of re-introducing the extinct language to current tribal members who still reside in Massachusetts and surrounding areas. Once dead, however, it is extremely challenging to revive a language; but after decades of awareness and education-including a language immersion class for children ages 3 to ten- there are children who share a first language with that of their ancestors for the first time in over 150 years.
Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, millions of people have found themselves working remotely for the first time. For some, this is only a temporary measure to ensure employee safety but for others, it will be the new normal. Studies have shown that productivity levels are highest with remote workers and the overall satisfaction of employees who work from home is higher than those who still work in a traditional setting. For some, not having to commute to work each day is the biggest reward of remote work, while others may prefer their home office because it has fewer distraction.
With remote work becoming more mainstream, companies are in a unique position to implement elearning strategies to help with onboarding processes and employee training.
With elearning, employees can access a library of information that allows them to work at their own pace, in their own preferred setting, with everything they need right at their fingertips. Whether it’s HR onboarding documents or continued corporate training, elearning allows the employee to access the information they need and then return to regular work tasks, enhancing productivity levels and cutting costs by allowing workers to access everything they need, remotely.
With the increased popularity of elearning, many corporations have made materials accessible through both mobile and PC internet browsers. For some, no internet connection is necessary.
World Translation Center has been assisting corporations and local governments for years with the localization of elearning tools such as training videos with multilingual subtitling or voiceover. Whether you have five minutes of video that requires Japanese voiceover or one hundred elearning modules to localize into a dozen languages, we are happy to help!
Technology has led to innovative advances in the localization field like auto-translation apps and artificial intelligence. Auto-translation apps are constantly improving, and artificial intelligence can now create voices that sound perfectly human.
“There’s an app for that” rings true for almost anything, but apps cannot replace personalized customer service provided by humans. We take pride in our exceptional customer service and demonstrate this through:
While technology allows you to handle translation and localization on your own, the outcome may not be grammatically correct and voice transcription is only as good as the pronunciation of the speaker. We have all noticed transcription errors from phone voice mails or have asked Siri or Alexa a question and received an incorrect response because of a pronunciation barrier.
Dealing with apps can be frustrating which is why we offer consistently excellent communication with a solution-centered result during every interaction. From start to finish, we pride ourselves on owning the success of a project. Personalized customer service and empathy cannot be found simply by downloading an app on your phone and, unlike artificial intelligence, we speak your language.
Germans love to stay current with the times by creating new words; on average, 200 new words are added each year to their vocabulary, but 2020 was no average year. During the pandemic alone, 1,200 new words were created in the German language! As you can imagine, most pertain directly to Covid and living life during a pandemic.
Coronaangst – describes the angst and frustration we feel while living in rather uncertain times.
Abstandsbier – describes a happy outing to enjoy beers with friends-at a safe distance.
Schnutenpulli – translates directly to “mouth sweater” and have you ever heard anything more accurate?
Impfneid – is the vaccination envy people feel while waiting their turn, towards those already vaccinated.
The Covid pandemic is unlike anything we have experienced before, making it difficult at times to accurately express how we feel about it, or to put into words what, exactly, is going on. Many new words and phrases have become “the norm” out of a necessity to fill the vocabulary gaps. Words like ‘Covidiot’ to describe someone who does not adhere to restrictions or wear a mask, or ‘quarantini’ to describe the increased alcohol consumption as a coping mechanism while so many people were stuck at home during the lockdowns. And I think many of us can commiserate with being ‘overZoomed’ at this point. Old words like ‘herd immunity’, ‘PPE’, and ‘Patient Zero’ have become buzz words, a part of our everyday speak.
Using humor as a coping mechanism during tough times is nothing new and though it may seem counterintuitive, it can actually be used as a way to feel connected with each other, even at a distance
At World Translation Center, translation is our passion; we love connecting the world through language. Recently, we asked a few of our linguists to describe what it is they love about translating:
“I would say that like most translators, I love building a bridge across different languages and cultures and I feel I am doing something creative. I really enjoy that. I also like learning lots of knowledge from translating. Every time I translate something, I learn something new.”- J., France
“We translators make it possible for other people to exercise their human rights of having access to information in their own language. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that the freedom of expression goes hand in hand with the freedom to “seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”, and we, the translators, contribute to make those frontiers (almost) invisible… So, how not to love something that takes so little from you, but gives you a lot in return?” – A., Guatemala
“Writing and translation gives me an immense opportunity to learn and explore different cultures, people & lifestyles. I am always passionate & fascinated to learn & interact with different languages, communities, ethnicities, people across the globe. Language has the power to bind everyone in one string, make unity in diversity. It bridges communication. I believe in one philosophy, Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam, (a Sanskrit phrase) – ‘The whole universe is one family.’ And language has the power to bring everyone under one roof and share love, harmony & prosperity.” -N., India
What are you passionate about?
February 12 is the Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, as some refer to it. It is the biggest holiday in China, celebrating the end of Winter and welcoming the beginning of Spring. Symbolically, it is the opportunity to usher in new beginnings and leave any negativity of the previous year in the past. After 2020, I think this is something we are all looking forward to in 2021!
On the eve of the new year, it is tradition to hold an annual family reunion, with family members gathering to enjoy a large meal together and celebrate. In the north of China, delicious dumplings are enjoyed and, in the south, a sticky new year’s cake is shared. After dining, some families go to the local temple to pray for a prosperous new year, though some choose to stay home and have a party, complete with firecrackers to scare off evil spirits. The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th and last day of the celebration, with families walking down the street with lighted lanterns.
To prepare for the new year, homes and religious altars will be thoroughly cleaned, sweeping out bad luck and leaving room for good fortune in the coming year. Some will repaint their homes with red paint and hang paper cutouts with popular Chinese sayings or couplets written on them around the house.
2021 is the Year of the Ox, suggesting the need to work hard and stay focused to succeed in the coming year. This may resonate even more strongly considering the challenging events of 2020 but should be considered a positive opportunity to welcome a new start with fresh beginnings.
With COVID-19 cases increasing, especially around Beijing, Chinese authorities are urging the millions of people who usually travel to stay home and quarantine. Regardless of how you plan to celebrate, World Translation Center would like to wish all our Chinese friends a prosperous New Year full of peace and productivity!