Getting Lost in Translation at the Edinburgh Fringe
This August saw the return of one of the most popular annual festivals in the UK, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Every year at the Fringe, thousands of comedians, actors and performers flock to the city to sell their wares; there are lots of jokes, a plenty of laughs, and huge numbers of tourists. Plenty of these tourists come from the UK, but the festival attracts large numbers of foreign tourists – as well as foreign performers. As such, Edinburgh becomes a hotchpotch of languages and cultures in which both performers and spectators can all too easy to find themselves lost in a sea of unfamiliar tongues.
Suffice to say, the vast majority of Fringe performances are in English. This means that most audiences will understand the show, but there are always a few performances – particularly at free shows – where foreign tourists invariably struggle to make out the words that are being spoken. It's heroic, really – struggling through 60 minutes of comedy delivered in another language, purely in the hopes of understanding one joke.
It can be difficult for performers, too. Daniel Simonsen, a Norwegian comic living and performing in the UK, says regarding his obstacles with the language barrier: “At first, people think I’m a character. The accent thing… it becomes stronger on the stage. I couldn’t even say the start of jokes without getting laughs, it was almost a bit distracting. I understood quickly: OK, they think it’s fun how you speak English. British audiences are really good; it’s a very honest crowd. It’s a tough crowd – you learn a lot – but they’ve been great for me, quite loving. British people, you always talk about how awkward you are, but Norwegians are even more so… you can really relate to it. I try to pick topics that are universal. Human beings are similar; we have the same worries.”
It's not, in fact, unusual, for comics to approach a translation agency in the hopes of breaking that barrier when performing abroad. Eddie Izzard highlights the problem of comedy translation perfectly when he observes that “Some bits were tricky. I found out that even though I had made my references universal, I had puns on words, and that had to all drop away. And sayings don't carry over.” Employing a good translation agency – one that can deliver accurate and readable translations – is incredibly important in today's world. Even for stand-ups, it would appear that skilled translation can be very hard to come by!
Wartime Diary Sees Russian Translation
Russia has always been a patriotic nation; they've had their fair share of wars and spats, just like the rest of us, and – just like the rest of us – they commemorate their war heros in any way they can. This year, Russia is marking the official Day for Martyrs and War Invalids with the release of a new Russian translation of a best-selling war diary. The diary, written by Vietnamese author Dang Thuy Tram, will be the first significant piece of Vietnamese literature to be translated into Russian since 1991, making the publication a significant event in translation history.
The two countries have worked together in order to forge this new work or literature. The diary has been translated into Russian by a group of top Vietnamese and Russian experts; by working together on the novel, translators hope to catch all the nuances and quirks of both languages, and so once can thus be assured that nothing will be lost in the translation of Dang Thuy Tran's diary. The release of this book is hoped to build a bridge between Russian readers and Vietnamese literature; if the diary proves popular in Russia, we may well expect to see further translations take place.
The diary is the work of a Vietnamese woman doctor, Dang Thuy Tram. Tram was working in a field hospital in the 1960s, during the Vietnamese war. The diary is a personal account not just of Tram's experiences during the war, but also of her own personal aspirations. Tram was killed by US troops in 1970 at the age of 27, and her diary was found and preserved by an American soldier. It has since been returned to her family, with thousands of copies of the diary being published and circulated throughout the world.
The diary is a best-selling hit in its home country of Vietnam, and has been translated into 18 languages so far. If the Russian translation proves to be a huge success, we may well see even more translations over the next few years. Stories like this are the kind that speak across cultures, languages and races; they hold universal lessons about life, love, and tolerance. Despite being killed by a US soldier, Tram's diary is only with us today because it was preserved by a member of the same army; hopefully, the diary will help people all over the world come to remember that it's our similarities which are important, and not our differences.
The Importance of Fast Translation in the Travel Industry
The travel industry is one which relies on translation services every day of the week. Travel updates and news need to be relayed overseas constantly, and the consequences of poor international travel communication have been seen often. All we have to do is think back to the chaos that erupted in 2011 as a result of the Icelandic Volcano; with flights cancelled and holidays ruined, it was important that travel companies – agents, airlines and ferries – could get news and updates to their customers quickly no matter what language they spoke or where they came from.
In 2011, during the Icelandic Volcano saga, the situation was handled by a Dutch carrier, KLM. The company effectively utilised social media to communicate with the world en masse; KLM used Twitter to inform customers from over 26 different countries, and it did so in 26 different languages. This is widely considered to be one of the most impressive examples of a good social media strategy, and it was used with great success; Twitter is a quick, easy way to communicate with hundreds of millions of people using dozens of global languages.
KLM are now using Twitter to post travel updates around the clock, which means we don't have to wait for another disaster to witness travel news tweeted in our native language. They're not doing it in 26 languages, but they are tweeting in English, Dutch, German, Spanish and Japanese, which is a lot more than can be said of many international travel companies. KLM obviously know what's important to customers: being spoken to in your native language. It's not just easier for the customer to understand, but it's also much more polite.
Some travel firms have yet to appreciate the importance of fast translation services to deliver news and updates quickly, in customers' native languages. People respond much more positively when they feel that they're given respect, and taking the time to translate your news is exactly the way to show international customers how much you appreciate them. It's also much more effective when it comes to getting the news out there; after all, most of us wouldn't bother to translate a news article from Dutch to English, for example, unless we already knew it was something incredibly important. And how would we know? KLM are setting a good lead; hopefully, other travel firms will follow.
Hindi Ramayana Gets a New Persian Translation
One of the most intriguing stories to emerge within the translation industry this week concerns the Persian translation of the Ramayana, which has now been edited. The original translation was some 400 years old, and the Ramayana is considered to be one of the most important texts of the Hindu religion. The 400-year-old translation was provided by a Hindu poet named Mola Masih Panipati. The world's next generation of Hindus may find themselves reading a different text however, as Seyyed Abdolhamid Ziaie has just finished his own new translation of the Ramayana, which is due to be published soon.
In an interview with IBNA, Ziaie has said that “The work is still unrecognised in Iran, and the edition is hoped to bring about more recognition of the grand Hindi epic.” As a leading provider of translation services, this concept makes us think about the nature of translation itself. Language is constantly in flux; while Ziaie's translation might not necessarily be 'better', than Panipati's, it may be necessary to refresh a translation every so often, in order to reflect the original meaning of the text. The meaning and interpretation of words is constantly evolving, and to be an accurate translator, it's important to keep abreast of these developments.
This doesn't mean that companies need to have their texts translated every five years, but when it comes to literature, it's no great surprise that new translations are rendered every half century or so. A good text translation doesn't just reflect the correct meaning, but it should also be highly readable and fluent. From this perspective, editing phrases and turns of phrase in order to make a text flow more naturally will improve the translation itself.
At LowCostTranslator, we don't offer translations into Persian (for Persian - Farsi translation please cisit our sister side www.native-translator.co.uk), but we do offer a standard-quality translation service into over twenty languages from around the globe, including Arabic, Turkish and Greek. We understand that translation is about more than just the meaning of your text; it's also about the tone and readability of it. This sounds like a concept that Ziaie is aware of; in order to speak to people, it's essential to speak their language. The language of the Persians 400 years ago is not the language of Persians today; understanding this is key to good translation.
Chinese Teachers to Be Welcomed in Kentucky
With over a billion speakers across the globe, you wouldn't think that the Chinese language is in jeopardy. That said, this week it has been announced that forty-one schools throughout Kentucky, in the USA, will be welcoming Chinese teachers for an exchange year in which it is hoped that the culture and language of China will be promoted among the students and communities of Kentucky. The programme is sponsored by the Confucius Institute of the Western Kentucky University, and it marks the third consecutive year in which Kentucky schools will be welcoming a host of Chinese teachers.
As a translation company, we naturally welcome such cultural exchanges which promote international languages. Among English-speaking nations especially, it's easy to assume that one’s native language is the only one that need ever be mastered. Learning another language isn't just a fantastic way to develop as a person; it's also a great way to improve your career opportunities, no matter what line of work you're in.
And of course, Chinese is a fantastic language for a number of reasons. China is at the forefront of numerous global industries, including technology and manufacturing. With a great work ethic and a strong sense of achievement, China is a nation on the up; more and more international companies are finding themselves working with Chinese businesses and individuals, a trend that isn't going to change any time soon.
The truth is, learning a new language opens up doors and opportunities in all aspects of your life. A language is a valuable skill that will prove very attractive to employers, but it's also a fantastic excuse to get yourself out there and see the rest of the world. The Kentucky students who are going to learn so much about the Chinese language and culture over the next few months will hopefully feel motivated enough to visit the country in which they will soon be so well-versed.
It's this passion for what we do that keeps us going at LowCostTranslator. Naturally we can provide Chinese translations, for business and personal use – but don't let that get in the way if you fancy giving the language a shot, too. Life is language, and mastering it really will take you places.
Greek-Israeli Relationship is 'Excellent'
As a company which offers Greek translation, we like to keep up with the latest news surrounding Greece's international affairs. A recent article – and interview – published by Kathimerini has indicated that the relationship between Greece and Israel is presently ‘very good’. This is top news for those who have business either in Greece or Israel, as it suggests that both nations are enjoying a time of unparalleled peace and cooperation. David Harris, executive director of the New York-based American Jewish Committee, says that the present relationship between Greece and Israel is “Excellent and continuing to get better. Both countries have much to gain from their deepening ties.”
But what does this mean for the region? Both countries’ leaders use the term “strategic partnership” to describe the link. To think about it, this should not come as a surprise. After all, both countries are robust democracies. As Harris notes, “Both countries also share common concerns in the Eastern Mediterranean, where the Arab upheaval has called into question vital issues of stability and security. Both countries see energy issues emerging as an important dimension of the relationship. And both countries have much in common on a human level, as I have noticed during many visits.”
From the standpoint of an international translation company, this indicates that communications between Greece and Israel are going to be all-important over the next few years. In Israel, the most commonly spoken languages are Hebrew and Arabic, while Greek is of course the other essential language linking these two nations. At LowCostTranslator, we offer translations between Greek and Arabic, as well as over twenty other languages, so we're happy to assist those companies and individuals who find themselves in need of Greek translation services.
Of course, as we all know, communication and understanding are the key to a good relationship, and those who do business internationally know just how important it is to foster strong ties in this manner. By sending a document, contract or letter in the recipient's own tongue, you're showing respect and establishing some common ground. Hopefully, in an effort to maintain the strong relationship between Greece and Israel, diplomats of both nations will bear this in mind in their correspondence!