In Northern India, on the full moon night of the third month, 587 BC, the bamboo forest of Veluvana witnessed a special event when Buddha, the enlightened one, met with his 1,250 dedicated disciples, each with their own intention to come and pay a visit to his master. The night turned into a big reunion and the Buddha recited the sermon that summarized his teachings. The miraculous event is regarded by believers as proof of the holiness of Buddha and the Sangha, or his disciples.
That is the story of Magha Puja (pronounced: MA-KHA-BU-CHA in Thai), the annual holiday which Buddhists commemorate the 2,500 years old event every full moon night of the third month. King Rama IV of Siam, introduced a formal celebration of Magha Puja day in his royal temple. A similar celebration was later popularized and spread throughout the Buddhist world.
On this day, Buddhists wake up early and offer alms to monks in the morning. The act of offering is to reduce one’s own Ego (“self”) and attachment to belongings by giving away one’s possessions. It is also the practice of “Metta” (mercy) and “Karuna” (compassion) toward all fellow beings, thus believed to bring happiness to one’s life. In the late morning, monks give prayers and sermon at the temple, in which all are welcomed to hear life lessons of the Buddha. In the late evening, Buddhists also go to the temple with candles, lotus, and incense in their hands, and solemnly walk around the temple clockwise three times while praying.
This is the revered act of worship to commemorate the grace of the three foundations of Buddhism: Buddha (The enlightened one), Dharma (Buddha’s teaching), and Sangha (Buddha’s disciple who practices Dharma).
Unlike most monotheistic religions, Buddhist temples open to believers and non-believers alike. The purpose of practicing Buddhism is also different in that it is not to be done to please the sacred being or for the material reward, but for the practitioners themselves to obtain mindfulness, and for the world’s peace which all human beings are part of.
Many thanks to Itipat Therdchitpaisarn for kindly sharing his knowledge of Magha Puja and allowing us to share it with you all.
February 6th marks the religious holiday of Candlemas Day or Día de la Candelaria in Mexico. On this day, also referred to as the Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and Presentation of the Lord, is celebrated as the day Mary took baby Jesus to the Temple of Bethlehem for the first time. Candlemas is celebrated in many countries around the world, but there are certain traditions that you can only experience in Mexico.
Candlemas festivities actually begin a month earlier on January 6th, Día de Los Reyes (Three Kings Day), when families gather to eat Rosca de Reyes, a cake with the figurine of a baby baked into it. Whoever gets the baby is tasked with planning the Candlemas gathering a month later.
Because Día de la Candelaria is not widely celebrated across all regions of Mexico, you will find most people celebrating at home with family and friends, communing around a large dinner of tamales (provided by whoever received the baby figurine in January) and a porridge-like drink called ‘atole.’ For a special treat, a chocolate version called champurrado is prepared.
Both atole and tamales are made with corn masa, harkening back to the ancient Aztecs who worshipped and asked the gods for a bountiful harvest on February 2nd.
To round out the day, those who kept a home nativity during Christmas will dress up their Christ Child and present him at the local church, as it is believed Mary did with Jesus.
In Vietnam, Lunar New Year is called Tết, short for Tết Nguyên Đán (Festival of the First Day of the Year), which is divided into three time periods: Tất niên (celebrations before the end of the year), Giao thừa (New Year’s Eve), and Năm mới (New Year).
2023 ushers in the Year of the Cat in Vietnam. People born in the Year of the Cat can often be described as cautious and peaceful. Cats are honest and tend to be quick thinkers, making them especially sought after in business settings. Like felines, people born in the Year of the Cat excel at thinking on their feet.
Unlike in the United States, the New Year is not celebrated in just one day.
To prepare for the New Year, homes are decorated with beautiful flowers like the peach blossom and apricot blossom. Families may also clean their homes and cook special foods like thit kho trung and mam ngu qua, which will take center stage on the Tết altar. With preparations complete, revelers will visit family and friends, hand out lucky money to children, and worship their ancestors.
In China, 2023 is the Year of the Rabbit and, as in Vietnam, cleaning and cooking special foods help to prepare for the holiday. Homes are cleaned ahead of celebrations, and traditional foods are cooked. One of the most important foods is the dumpling since they are associated with wealth. Before eating the dumplings, diners will say, “Bring in wealth and treasure!”
People born in the Year of the Rabbit are known for being clever and steadfast, able to overcome adversity. For those born under this sign, that can perhaps mean being born to poverty but manage to accrue wealth later in life. People born in the Year of the Rabbit are said to be polite, organized, and tend to avoid conflict. Professionally, they are creative, often able to think outside the box.
Because they are extremely social by nature, networking comes easily, as well as careers that allow for a great deal of interaction. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a Rabbit organizing the company potluck or chatting by the water cooler.
To all of our friends who celebrate, we wish you all a Happy Lunar New Year and a prosperous 2023!
In the U.S., Thanksgiving has been a recognized holiday since Abraham Lincoln decreed the last Thursday in November to be a day of respite for all those affected by the Civil War. This tradition was continued until 1939 when Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the holiday to earlier in November in an attempt to jumpstart holiday spending.
This was during the height of the Great Depression and he reasoned that the sooner Thanksgiving was celebrated, the quicker people would be out Christmas shopping. Not a terrible plan when considering the United States was in the throes of a depressive economy, but the change was met with great opposition and smugly referred to as “Franksgiving.”
Needless to say, Thanksgiving was moved back to its original day in November by 1941.
The United States isn’t the only country to celebrate Thanksgiving; many countries observe their own day of thanks and the traditions therein. For example, Canada celebrates Thanksgiving on the second Monday in October and Germany on the first Sunday.
This year, the U.S. celebrates on the 24th of November and our offices will be closed that day in celebration. As always, we are thankful for your continued support and wish you all a happy holiday!
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!