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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

The Happy Planet Index

The Happy Planet Index (HPI) is a scale that shows the ecological efficiency with which human well-being is distributed around the world. It shows that high levels of resource consumption do not reliably produce high levels of well-being: the nations that score well show that achieving long, happy lives without over-stretching the planet’s resources is possible.

The resulting global index of the 143 nations for which new, improved data is available, reveals that the world as a whole has a long way to go. Some countries are more efficient than others, but every country has its problems and no country performs as well as it could.

Nine of the top ten nations in the HPI are in Latin America. The index also shows that middle-income countries and South East Asian countries tend to be the closest to achieving a sustainable well-being. It is interesting to note that half of the ten small island nations are in the top 20 per cent of the HPI rankings: this suggests that a more immediate contact with physical limits can successfully encourage ecological efficiency.

The happy planet charter, launched alongside the latest HPI report in July 2009, provides some key goals to help the planet attain good lives that do not cost the earth. You can also calculate your own HPI score by taking the online survey to measure your life expectancy, life satisfaction and ecological footprint.

By | September 2nd, 2011|Blog|0 Comments


Kimono is a Japanese traditional outfit for ladies and it literally means a “thing to wear” (ki “wear” and mono “thing”). Japanese experts have to undertake training through 3 separate levels in order to qualify to be able to dress others in a Kimono. It takes around 20 minutes to don a normal kimono and 30-40 minutes for a more complicated one!

Kimonos are T-shaped, straight-lined gowns with a hem that falls to the ankle and collars that are attached with long, wide sleeves. They are wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right (except when dressing the dead for burial), and secured by a sash called an obi, which is tied at the back. Kimonos are generally worn with traditional footwear (especially zōri or geta) and split-toed socks (tabi).

These garments are a highly respectable outfit for Japanese females to wear and today they are most often worn on special occasions. The level of formality of a woman’s kimono is mostly determined by the pattern of the fabric and its color. Young female’s kimonos have longer sleeves to signify that they are not married and tend to be more elaborate than those worn by more mature women. The Japanese ladies can adjust the long sleeves when acquainted with a man, to illustrate their acceptance. The woman waves her sleeves back and forth when saying “yes”, but for “no” it is a left to right motion.

In the past, a kimono would often be entirely taken apart for washing and then re-sewn for wearing. This traditional washing method is called arai hari. Because the stitches must be taken out for washing, traditional kimonos need to be hand sewn.

Central to Japanese culture is a deep seeded respect for tradition, Japanese people believe that being respectable as an individual allows for the creation of a much better nation as a whole.

By | September 1st, 2011|Blog|0 Comments
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