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Is that a Fish in Your Ear?


Are you curious about how translation actually works? If so you may be interested in Penguin’s publication of the book ‘Is That a Fish in Your Ear?’ by David Bellos, an English-born translator and biographer who currently teaches French, Italian and comparative literature at Princeton University in the United States.

Today, translation is essential to cope with the diversity of languages we are exposed to. Without translation there would be no world news and you couldn’t enjoy reading international literature in your own language. If you are more practical than romantic, think also about manuals for car repairs or the ones that prove to be indispensable in putting together your flat pack furniture.

What’s the difference between translating unpolished natural speech, and translating Madame Bovary? How do you translate a joke? What’s the difference between a native tongue and a learned one? Can you translate between any pair of languages, or only between some? What really goes on when world leaders speak at the UN? Can machines ever replace human translators, and if not, why? Bellos clings to the view that even the most difficult and complicated things can be explained in plain and comprehensible prose.

By | September 7th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Businesswomen – An Important Resource

“Sister Dong”, as Ms Dong Mingzhu is known by her employees who appear to adore her, is China’s leading businesswoman and runs Gree Electric Appliances. The youngest of seven children in a family of ordinary workers in Nanjing, she is a legend in China known particularly for her book, “Regretless Pursuit” about her success in running Gree Electric, which is a best seller. In 2002 a TV drama about her life was a big success and in 2009 she was named one of BusinessWeek’s 40 most-influential people in China. “I love a challenge. I stick to my principles. In my view, doing the best job is very important, which has also helped me to work my way from the basic level to a leadership position,” she says. China is home to many businesswomen: seven of the 14 women identified on Forbes magazine’s list of self-made billionaires are Chinese.

“Winning the War for Talent in Emerging Markets: Why Women are the Solution” is a book written by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid. The authors look at how employers attract and retain women in Brazil, Russia, India and China, the so-called BRIC nations – as well as in the United Arab Emirates. Interestingly, it is becomming known that living in emerging markets offers many advantages for female professionals. On the one hand there are plenty of cheap babysitters; on the other hand corporate culture is changing very fast, not least because companies are hiring so many young people.

In spite of that, the authors point out how many steep obstacles businesswomen have to face. How can they stay on the fast track if, as in the UAE, they cannot travel without a male chaperone? And how can they be taken seriously if, as in Russia, the term “businesswoman” is synonymous with prostitute? Prudent firms focus on the two biggest problems for working women in emerging markets: looking after their ageing parents and commuting. A growing number of companies provide flexi-time so that women can work from home. Ernst & Young holds family days to show parents what their daughters have achieved and also offers medical cover for parents. Many companies provide their female staff with late-night shuttle buses and many female-only taxi companies are springing up in India, the UAE and Brazil.

Businesswomen are an important resource to boost the growth of emerging markets, which can open a wide range of new opportunities also for western companies. Ask SanTranslate, your professional language services provider, if you want to target the BRICs: choosing the right words is very important, because every word is a BRICK designed to pave the way for your success!

By | September 6th, 2011|Blog|0 Comments

Cultural awareness in interpreting


When interpreting from or into another language, cultural awareness is fundamental, since an interpreter has to avoid both misinterpretation and misunderstanding.

It is important to distinguish between these two terms: misinterpretation is the inability of two people to communicate due to linguistic barriers whereas misunderstanding is the inability to establish productive communication due to differences in the cultural interpretation of the same or similar objects, events or concepts.

For example interpreting from and into English for languages such as Japanese or Chinese is rather tricky because cultural gap is considerable.

Japanese uses two forms of communication: Tatemae and Honne. The first one is formal, characterised by a mask of smiles from the speaker to avoid deep involvement and positive words to avoid offending the other person. The second one is more informal; this is generally the stage at which business discussions become meaningful and substantive.

The Chinese tend to express themselves indirectly as an attempt to preserve harmony. This allows both parties to “keep face”. They also avoid giving overtly negative responses, partially due to their language, which does not have a word for “no”; literally translated, the corresponding phrase for this actually turns out as “not yes”. This type of circumvention exists because negative responses are considered impolite.

A good interpreter has to be very culturally perceptive to get the message across in the best possible way. To secure a top quality interpreting service ask SanTranslate.

By | September 3rd, 2011|Blog|0 Comments
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