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For the Love of Translation

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?

 

Chinese New Year 2021: The Year of the Ox

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!

The Origins of the Burmese Script

Burmese is the official language of Burma and is spoken by approximately 40 million people across the globe. Adapted from a southern Indian script over one thousand years ago, the Burmese script has a notably round appearance and a fascinating origin.

The Burmese script is characterized by rounded letters with few sharp lines, lending a flowing appearance to the writing. Despite being aesthetically pleasing, the rounded script was born of necessity.

Because Burma has a rather damp, tropical climate, paper and leather deteriorates quickly and was not a viable option to use for writing. Instead, early scribes began using palm leaves to write on. It was common practice for Buddhist monks to plant trees specifically to have plenty of writing materials on hand. Once the trees reached maturity, the leaves would be boiled, dried, and flattened in preparation for the scribes to record their texts.

For ink, ashes would be mixed with a resin and sometimes fish gall to produce a sooty, black color. Sometimes the ink would be applied directly with a bamboo stylus, though it was also common to scratch the words onto the leaf and then rub the ink into the grooves.

The leaves were more delicate than paper, leather, or bark, so care had to be taken when transcribing texts. If pressed too hard, the stylus could go all the way through the leaf rather than merely piercing the fibers. Long, straight lines were too risky to use on the delicate leaves, so a rounded Burmese script was invented instead.

The lovely, rounded script can be seen here, in the official name for Burma, ပြည်ထောင်စုသမ္မတ မြန်မာနိုင်ငံတော်, or the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.

Examples of palm leaf manuscripts can be found at https://www.brandeis.edu/library/archives/spotlights/special-collections/2016/burmese-texts.html.

Happy New Year

What a whirlwind 2020 has been!

It would be easy to focus on all the bad that happened this year, the tragedy, the inconveniences, the departure from “the norm,” but I think it is more important than ever to instead focus on all the good that can occur in 2021.

New Years is a time of renewal, of new beginnings. We symbolically wipe the slate clean. Going forward, we can decide to face the new year with optimism, forging ahead with a vision of prosperity, togetherness, and kindness.  We can face new challenges knowing that we have already overcome so much.

As a small business, our ability to endure 2020 would not have been possible without the continued support of our clients and vendors, and we are truly thankful for you all. From our team to yours, we wish you prosperity and growth in the new year!

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language

And next year’s words await another voice.”- T.S. Eliot

Merry Chickmas?

While many people associate fried chicken with the southern United States, it also occupies a place of great cultural significance in Japan, especially around the holidays. How did the fried chicken make its way from Sunday church gatherings to the Christmas table in Japan? It may surprise you to know that the history of fried chicken goes back hundreds of years and spans continents.

The first recorded recipe for fried chicken was in a 1747 Scottish cookbook titled, “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy.” Considering Scotland is well known for their love of deep-frying various foods like Oreo cookies and Mars candy bars, frying up chicken seems a natural starting point. Scores of Scots migrated to the southern United States during the 18th and 19th centuries, bringing their love for fried chicken with them and, it is thought, eventually passing it on to West African slaves who would have cooked it for their slave owners.

Because it was so labor intensive, fried chicken was considered a special occasion food, a dish served at a celebration, or social gathering; it was a dish that brought people together. In the 1950’s, American restaurant chain, Kentucky Fried Chicken, revolutionized the Gospel Bird by taking it mainstream, making it available to anyone at any time. Borrowing heavily from African American recipes, KFC began serving up fried chicken all over the world. This was met with great enthusiasm, especially in Asia.

The first KFC opened in Japan in 1970 and quickly gained popularity, in part because of a fascination with American culture. Capitalizing on this, KFC began offering a Christmas family meal in 1974, modeling it after the traditional American Christmas dinner, sans turkey. Today, the BBC estimates that a whopping 3.6 million families will sit down this year to enjoy their Christmas fried chicken. It is so popular, that you could spend hours waiting in line if you don’t reserve your meal in advance.

Fried chicken may be associated with the southern United States, but when it comes to Christmas dinner, it is a Japanese staple. Don’t forget to pick up your wine to go with your Kentucky Fried Chicken meal, while you’re at it.

Thanksgiving 2020

In the United States, many people are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day, though it may look different than in previous years. Some may gather with family and friends, masks in tow, to feast on roast turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the other delicious accompaniments-while maintaining social distance. Others may choose to stay home, Skyping or Facetiming with their loved ones remotely.

At World Translation Center, we are thankful for your continuing support and patronage, and the ability to provide translation services even amidst a pandemic. Below are some of the ways our friends around the world say, “Thank you.”

• Croation- Hvala (HVAH-lah)
• Dutch- Dank u (dahnk-oo)
• Hawaiian- Mahalo (Ma-HA-lo)
• Tagalog- Salamat (Sa-LAH-mat)
• Latvian- Paldies (PUHL-dyens)
• Welsh- Diolch (DEE-ol’ch)
• Russian- Spasiba (Spuh-SEE-buh)

Polynesian Languages

Polynesia has a vast history of sea voyaging, traveling from island to island to explore and eventually inhabit. Originally from Taiwan, Polynesians used their incredible wayfinding skills to travel the sea, eventually settling in what is referred to as the Polynesian Triangle that stretches from Easter Island, Hawaii, to New Zealand. Polynesians were not confined only to this area, however, as carbon dating of sweet potatoes shows they were sailing as far as South America by 700AD.

Polynesian Triangle

Polynesian Triangle

With people dispersed throughout the network of islands, culture and language began to emerge independently, though still similar because of the continued sharing of ideas through trade and travel. Today, there are approximately 40 Polynesian languages with an estimated one million speakers worldwide. The Polynesian languages occupy the Oceanic branch of the much larger Austronesian language family.

 

sunset hawaii

There are two branches of the Polynesian languages, Nuclear Polynesian and Tongic. Tongic is comprised of Tongan and Niuean, with the rest falling into the Nuclear Polynesia branch. Because of the continuity of contact between islands, all the languages share similarities, especially with vocabulary and the heavy use of vowels. This homogeneity allows island hoppers the ability to understand the different island languages with some degree of success. Today, Western influence is visible in Polynesia, evidenced through dwindling numbers of native speakers. By learning and documenting the languages, we can help keep them alive for future generations. According to the UN:

“Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance, and dialogue.”

World Translation Center is proud to offer translation and voice over services in many Polynesian languages, including: Tahitian, Rarotongan, Hawaiian, Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Niuean, Wallisian, and Futunan.

sailing in a tropical lagoon

 

Bilingual Solutions for Contact Tracing

While COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the United States, contact tracers are working to reach out to those who have been infected, to isolate the risk of spreading the virus. Recently, a lawmaker in Virginia made news by calling on the governor to employ more bilingual contact tracers due to almost half of the COVID-19 cases in Virginia occurring in the Latino community.

According to a recent census, in the metro Atlanta area alone, there are an estimated 146 languages spoken, with 17% of the population over the age of five speaking a language other than English at home. In larger cities, it is not unusual to have concentrations of non-English speakers, nor is it unusual to see spikes in COVID-19 cases in more densely populated areas. It is necessary to utilize bilingual contact tracers to disseminate and gather accurate information, though this is probably easier said than done.

As an alternative, developing a bilingual script or creating flash cards for the contact tracers to use may be sufficient and more cost effective. With this option, the user can point to the text on the flash card and communicate with people who cannot speak or understand English.

Another option is creating a video with subtitles or voice over that the contact tracer can show from their cell phone.

World Translation Center can help with creating flash cards and bilingual scripts, as well as adding subtitles and voice over to video in many different languages! We offer translation services in over 150 languages, as well as in-person interpretation. We are happy to assist with your COVID-related projects.

 

Newsletter Summer 2020

Click the link below to view our latest newsletter:

Summer 2020 Newsletter

 

COVID-19 Informed Consent

According to the Center for Immigration Studies, over 63 million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home. Of these non-English speakers, Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnam, Arabic, French, and Korean have over one million speakers each. With a large number of non-English speakers, how can doctors and researchers ensure that patients and research participants are given the same right to informed consent as their English-speaking counterparts?
With Coronavirus clinical trials currently recruiting participants, it is critical that researchers provide comprehensive informed consent for their non-English speakers. Because of social distancing and quarantine regulations, some studies may permit participants to consent via phone, video chat, or email. This presents its own challenges, as the ability to ensure each non-English speaker understands the literature diminishes due to a lack of in-person interaction. It is an accepted practice to allow a short form document and/or a verbal representation of informed consent to be given to a non-English speaker during clinical trials; yet, this presents the same problems.
A 2018 study sought to identify potential issues with translating informed consent materials from English to Spanish, encountered three major problems: the introduction of complex language, the reduction of clarity of information, and changes made during the translation that affect the meaning of the information presented.
Four companies were hired to translate the informed consent materials from English to Spanish, while the Spanish-speaking research team did their own translation. Back translations were completed to compare the translated Spanish to the original English. The results show that the translation firms used longer, more complex sentence structure and technical terminology, sometimes incorrectly translating important terms in the process. Another discrepancy was the omission of the word “please” from the documents, altering the tone of the documents. One company eliminated the word “health” from health insurance, changing the meaning of the phrase, which could have legal ramifications for those giving the informed consent. In all instances, translations completed by the research team were more accurate.
To ensure accuracy of information and correct tone, the researchers suggest employing translators who not only have a firm grasp of the target language, but also a contextual and socio-cultural understanding, as well. It would be an added benefit for the translators to work closely with the researchers to ensure optimal results.
With an expected increase to the already high number of non-English speakers in the United States, it is more important than ever to ensure patients and research participants have access to informed consent materials that are easy to understand. With clinical trials for potential COVID-19 vaccines in the works, it is vital for these materials be available in as many languages as possible, as soon as possible. As always, World Translation Center is available to assist with your translation needs, with many translators who specialize in medical and scientific translation.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6218315/
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