Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Loanwords – When Languages Share Words


The German language is quite infamous for its long words. This comes out of the general rule that you can combine words together to make new compound words, pretty much whenever you like. German, despite its reputation as a harsh language, can often be quite poetic because of this linguistic feature. 

We see examples in words we have borrowed such as Kindergarten, which literally means children’s garden, bringing forth imagery of cultivating a proper environment for children to grow. Kindergarten is an excellent example, as it maintains the exact same meaning across both languages. However, this is not always the case. 

As often as German lends its words to be used in other languages, it also borrows from others, including English.  A truly interesting linguistic phenomenon occurs when foreign languages borrow from English, either using terms that aren’t typically used by native English speakers or altering the meaning of a word or phrase to mean something new. This can often pose a very tricky situation for translators as they attempt to convey meaning between languages. 

Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, has used the word “shitstorm” on several occasions often to the shock of native English speakers. Afterall, this is seen as a rather vulgar term in English and would not typically be expected to be heard coming from the mouth of a political figure. 

The word, however, has been casually adopted into German, entered the country’s dictionary back in 2013. The meaning in German has changed slightly from the English original. Where in English the term would typically just mean a situation marked by extreme controversy and conflict, in German it specifically denotes a situation of intense blowback or outrage on the internet/social media.

It is in instances like these that international communication and translation can become difficult to navigate. As words are borrowed between languages, they often shift meaning slightly due to cultural and linguistic differences. It is the translator’s job to be vigilant of these alterations in meaning and to ensure that content is appropriately understood and transferred between languages, while avoiding any unintended offense or meaning.

Merry Christmas Around the World


Be prepared to welcome your holiday guests in any language! Below is a list of ways to say Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays in multiple languages!

Merry Christmas!
  • French: Joyeux Noël
  • German: Frohe Weinachten
  • Spanish: Feliz Navidad
  • Italian: Buon Natale
  • Portuguese: Feliz Natal
  • Dutch: Vrolijk kerstfeest
  • Romanian: Crăciun fericit
  • Polish: Wesolych Swiat
  • Swedish: God Jul
  • Czech: Veselé Vánoce

Happy Holidays!
  • French: Joyeuses fêtes
  • German: Schöne Ferien
  • Spanish: Felices fiestas
  • Italian: Buone Feste
  • Portuguese: Felizes Festas
  • Dutch: Fijne feestdagen
  • Romanian: Sărbători fericite
  • Polish: Wesołych Świąt
  • Swedish: Glad helg
  • Czech: Hezké svátky

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween Traditions Around the World


Halloween is an American Holiday filled with pumpkins, scary and funny costumes, candy, corn mazes, trick-or-treating and other festivities. While the Halloween is mostly centered around candy and commercialism, there are Fall festivities going on around the world with similar roots to the American holiday we celebrate. 

Nearly every culture around the world has a day (or days) meant to celebrate and remember the deceased, celebrate the fall harvest, or pay homage to our ancestors. Our Halloween is understood to be a relic from ancient Pagan and Celtic rituals from Ireland. 

Día de Muertos, is perhaps the most well-known Halloween-like holiday in North America. This festival in Mexico spans from October 31st, until November 2nd, and is a time to remember and pray for deceased loved ones. Recently portrayed in the Pixar film Coco, families often make ofrendas, which are private altars honoring their loved ones adding the favorite foods and sweets of the deceased as gifts. 

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong the Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated by Buddhists around mid-September. Around this time of year, it is believed that spirits are able to visit the living, and so elaborate meals, and other gifts like gold and clothes are offered to aid the deceased. A famous tradition here is to light floating lanterns meant to guide the souls through the afterlife. 

Regardless of how you celebrate, we want to wish you a Happy Halloween!

AI Translators? Not Yet..


At an emerging industries and innovation conference in Shanghai earlier this year, the company iFlytek Co. got into some trouble for suggesting that their AI technology was providing instantaneous translations for speakers at the conference. It was discovered that in fact, the AI system was simply reading a translation previously completed by a human translator. 

The push in recent years for a real-life Babel Fish (the imaginary creature from Doulas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which instantly translates any language in the universe) has seen some great innovation and improvement in the industry. Every year AI and voice-recognition systems are improving in leaps and bounds to provide more accurate, and fluent translations, but they still have a long way to go. 

In the coming years it is not likely that human translators or interpreters will see their jobs threatened by this technology. The issue is that language is very flexible, dependent on context, cultural references, tone, and more. At the moment, this is too much for AI and computer programming to keep up with, and even human interpreters can only work for 20-30 minutes at a time. 

We can only guess at what the future may hold in terms of language translation devices. Someday perhaps it is likely that we will all be able to communicate with the help of an earphone listening and translating whatever we say, just not yet. 

PLG at the Chicago Pack Expo



The Pack Expo at McCormick Place has been a long-time expo for PLG to network and sell translation solutions in the Packaging Machinery world. As usual the show this year was one of the largest in Chicago, with over 2,500 exhibitors and an estimated over 50,000 visitors. 

We had a great time walking the show floor and networking with new exhibitors, as well as seeing a few familiar faces. The size and scope of the machinery, and robotics present at the show was truly impressive; watching and gaining a better understanding of how our client’s and prospective client’s products function is always time well spent. 

PLG’s services shine in an industry like packaging machinery, due to our highly certified and educated translators, our ISO certification, and Translation Memory system our team is a perfect fit to provide highly technical translations. From HMI text, to Operator Manuals, Sell Sheets and more, give us a call today for your next technical translation project!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Benefits of Being Bilingual


Learning a new language is never easy, but the benefits of doing so can be life changing in several ways! Just like any muscle the brain needs exercise too and learning a new language has been shown to be an incredible tool for exercising the brain. Many medical studies even suggest that learning multiple languages can, improve attention span, increase the ability to multitask, and even reduce the risk of Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and strokes.

Beyond these amazing health benefits, learning another language helps us bridge the gap between cultures and world views. It opens our mind to new perspectives and ways of life that were previously shut off to us.

At PLG all of our staff speak at least 2 languages, and we celebrate the diversity of culture, language, thought process, and world views.

Take a look at the Ted talk below for an in-depth look at the benefits found in being multilingual!

Ina TED talk by Columbia Professor John McWhorter, he reviews the top benefits oflearning a new language.

PLG is officially ISO certified!


As you may have seen in our last Newsletter, we spent the Summer undergoing a heavy review and revision process on all our procedures, so that we could undergo an extensive 3rd party audit to become an ISO certified Translation Service Provider. 

ISO 17100 sets the standards in the translation industry as how quality translation products and services can be achieved consistently. We had to extensively prove compliance with all standardized procedures, as well as the qualifications of our translators to achieve certification. The translators for example, are required to hold a recognized graduate qualification in translation from an institution of higher education, as well as 5 years full-time professional experience in translating in order to qualify as ISO certified translators. 

Adherence to the industry proven standards allows our internal processes to run smoother and more efficiently while minimizing opportunities of human errors and the impact of variation among personal preferences or habits. Because of this, from quotation through project completion the certification has allowed us to focus on the details of each process. Regardless of the nature and requirements of the projects, or who on our staff is assigned to the job, your project will always be handled by trained professionals following the same procedures to insure consistent high-quality results. 

Holding this certification is a high prestige in the industry, due to the time and expense required to achieve it. To maintain our certification, we will undergo yearly audits to show continual compliance and improvement of our procedures.       

If you would like to take a look at our certificate or read more about the standard you can do so here: