Category Archives: Translation

Six Traditional Chinese Words that don’t have an English Translation

Por | Culture, Translation | Sem comentários

Unlike alphabetical languages such as Spanish and French, the Chinese language is a writing system that is composed of over 50,000 characters. This logographic writing system gives access to visual representations of objects and concepts. This makes the language both difficult to translate, and less precise than its counterparts. Here we present six examples of Chinese words that are hard to translate.

撒嬌 (sā jiāo)

Little girl holding flower

Leo Rivas via Unsplash

Whiny, to seek attention in a childish but lovely way.
This is an act particularly practiced by a grown-up female to her partner. It is considered as a way to show the side of her feminine character.

面子 (miàn zi)

Woman holding rose

Giulia Bertelli via Unsplash

Surface (literally), referring to dignity or self-esteem.
For example, I was just pretending to understand the conversation in French in order to save face (保全面子, bǎo quán miàn zi).

風水 (fēng shuǐ)

Furniture

ROOM via Unsplash

Feng shui, known as Chinese geomancy.
The term literally translates as “wind-water”. By orienting buildings and furniture, it’s practiced bolster the harmony between individuals and their surrounding environment.

緣分 (yuán fèn)

Many hands together

Tim Marshall via Unsplash

Fateful coincidence, an interactive concept that describes good and bad chances and potential relationships.

Sometimes, it’s simply translated as “destiny”, “fate” or “luck” with a focus on the relationship two people or objects share.

幸福 (xìng fú)

Yellow book named happy

Josh Felise via Unsplash

A state of being satisfied and content with life especially when with families and significant others.

It can be simply translated as “happiness” depending on the context.

孝順 (xiào shùn)

Two elderly people sitting in their chairs

Elien Dumon via Unsplash

Filial piety, a virtue of respect for one’s parents that is commonly praised in the Chinese community.

It includes but is not limited to being a loving, dutiful and caring child, as well as being responsible for the well-being of one’s parents.

Written by: Yijen Lu, Project Coordinator at Local Concept. 

How Different Cultures Perceive Emojis

Por | Culture, Translation | Sem comentários
Woman holding emoji balloon

Lidya Nada via Unsplash

Emojis are undeniably fun, and sometimes they ‘speak louder than words’. They enable us to add emotional context to plain text, such as humor, brevity or irony. They illustrate non-verbal cues that could be expressed in face-to-face communication including gestures and facial expressions. However, when creating content for a multicultural audience, it’s important to consider how different cultures perceive symbols, colors, and body language.

The most popular emojis around the world

Although being an “official” emoji translator just became a thing in 2017, a study done by Swiftkey in 2015 uncovered insights to how different languages around the globe are using emoji by analyzing over one billion pieces.  Here are some interesting findings:

  • Americans score highest for a variety of emojis, including skulls, birthday cake, fire, tech, LGBT, meat, and female-oriented icons.
  • Canada uses the smiling poop emoji more than any other country. It also leads in violent, body parts, money, sports, raunchy, and ocean creatures.
  • French leads in the heart emoji, and uses hearts 4x more than any other languages. The red heart is also the #1 emoji for several Scandinavian and Eastern European countries.
  • Arabic-speakers are fond of roses and flowers.
  • Swedish-speakers use the bread emoji more than any other language.
  • Scandinavian (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian) use the Santa emoji more than all other languages. (But… doesn’t Santa live in Finland?).
  • Australia uses double the amount of alcohol-themed emoji than others, 65% more drug emoji than average, and leads for both junk food and holiday.
    • Portuguese speakers actually topped Australia in the use of drug emojis (pill, syringe, mushroom, cigarette) when Swiftkey published its second report.
  • Brits use the winky emoji twice the average rate.

Emojis are understood differently by different cultures

The meaning of an emoji varies greatly depending on culture, language, and generation. Using emojis in cross-cultural communications runs the risk of being misunderstood. Here are some examples of cultural variations:

Sign of the Horns GestureIn countries like Brazil, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Colombia and Argentina, the “metal horns” can indicate that the person was cheated on by their partner.

 

Waving HandWhile the “waving hand” is used to say hello or goodbye in one language, it can signify the ending of a friendship in another.

 

Thumbs UpThumbs-up” may be a sign of approval in Western cultures; but it is considered an obscene gesture in Greece and the Middle East.

 

OK HandIn Brazil and Turkey, the “OK” hand gesture is considered as an insult, and is equivalent to giving the middle finger in America.

 

Clapping HandsClapping hands” shows praise and offer congratulations in Western countries, while in China it’s a symbol of making love.

 

Slightly Smiling FaceThe “slightly smiling” emoji is not used as a sign of happiness in all countries. In China, it implies distrust, disbelief, or someone humoring you. It can also convey an ironic tone of voice in other contexts.

Baby AngelThe angel emoji can imply having performed a good deed or signify innocence in the west, while it may be used as a sign of death and be perceived as threatening in China.

 

Eggplant Dreaming of an eggplant on the first night of the New Year means good fortune in Japan. Some people take the eggplant for what it is: a vegetable. In other countries like the U.S, Trinidad and Ireland it has a strong sexual connotation, especially by users ages 18 to 24.

 

PeachSimilarly to the eggplant, some cultures take the peach for what it is: a fruit. Other countries translate this emoji to “butt”.

 

Tips for localizing cross-cultural content with Emojis

Given that emojis are open to interpretation, using them for a multinational audience can be tricky. However, emojis have been proven to boost engagement levels, click-through-rates, and open rates in marketing initiatives. In 2015, Oxford Dictionaries made the Face With Tears of Joy emoji the word of the year. There are many benefits of using emojis in marketing, and they are inevitably here to stay.

So, what should we consider when localizing cross-cultural content?

  1. Avoid using hand gesture emojis.
  2. Avoid using only emojis to convey any idea.
  3. Make the emoji relevant to the text in order to enhance the meaning.
  4. Consider how it looks on different platforms.
  5. Sometimes it might be best to spell it out *Neutral face*.

Conclusion

Just being proficient linguistically is not enough to translate emojis. Context and cultural differences need to be considered, thus full localization of the content is essential.

Are you curious about using emoji in your cross-cultural content? Send us an email.

Written by: Tina Frantzen, Director of Client Strategy and Social Media Marketing at Local Concept. 

Six French Words that don’t have an English Translation

Por | Culture, Translation | Sem comentários

Do you ever get that feeling when you can’t find the right words to describe something? Maybe you’re not thinking in the right language. Here are six French terms with no English equivalent.

N’importe quoi 

Person holding his hand on his face

Adrian Swancar via Unsplash

Literally translates as “it’s no matter what”, but it means it’s a nonsense, but not really, it means you can’t even try to find the words for something, so absurd that something is.

Frette

Freezing cold high rise urban town

Geoffrey Chevtchenko via Unsplash

When it’s really, really cold. Even colder than cold (cold = froid). (i.e. below -4 F).

Jaser

Lighthearted talk between girls

Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

To have a lighthearted talk, very friendly and unrushed with someone.

Tiguidou

Woman tiguidou

Miguel Bruna via Unsplash

It’s a popular expression similar to “It’s all good”, but has an impressive capacity to flex into different contexts.

Examples:

  1. He’s “tiguidou” = he’s great!
  2. My doctorate thesis? It’s “tiguidou” = it’s finally done, so happy!
  3. I’m “tiguidou” with you = I completely agree with you!

Déjà vu

Man realizes he is having Deja Vu

Laurenz Kleinheider via Unsplash

Most of us know this one, but did you know it originates from French? It translates to “already seen”. It’s that feeling of having lived through the present situation before.

BONUS:

Another noteworthy point to mention about this language is that in French there isn’t a word for cheap – only not expensive (“pas cher”). There was even a grocery store whose tagline was “the less expensive grocery store”.

Some of these words are only used in Canadian French. Can you guess which ones?

Check out these Six Spanish Words with no English Translation if you need more terms to express yourself.

Written by: Camila Silva (Localization Manager) & Tina Frantzen (Director of Client Strategy and Social Media Marketing) at Local Concept. 

Six Spanish Words that don’t have an English Translation

Por | Culture, Translation | 2 Comments

Language tells us a lot about a particular culture, and there are some Spanish words that don’t have an English translation. For instance, in Spain, they use a number of sayings having to do with food. Spaniards love food. For instance, when trying to say that something takes a long time, they say that it’s longer than a day without bread. 

Here are examples of six Spanish words with no equivalent in English.

Sobremesa

People eating a meal around a table

Priscilla Du Preez via Unsplash

This word is a unique part to a Spanish meal. It relates to the time spent talking and drinking after the meal is over. The largest sobremesa I ever participated in was three hours.

Estrenar

Wearing something for the first time

Another word that is not a part of the English language is estrenar. In short, it means to wear something for the first time. There seems to be a certain pleasure one gets the first time something is worn. Separately, in English, there is a concept of ‘breaking something in’ when wearing it for the first time, but this is not the same as estrenar.

Tuerto

One-eyed person

Scott Umstattd via Unsplash

Another word, tuerto, loosely translates as a one-eyed person. The word comes from the Latin word, tortus, crouket. In early times this word referred to injustice.

Desvelado

desvelado

Christian Erfurt via Unsplash

The word desvelado means a person who is not getting enough sleep.

Merienda

merienda

Sarah Swinton via Unsplash

The closest translation is a “snack”, but not really. Many Spanish-speaking countries include a small meal between lunch and dinner where you sit and have coffee, hot chocolate, pastries or a small snack. If you’re an American visiting Spain where there’s an 8 hour lag between lunch and dinner, a merienda might be just what the doctor ordered.

Te Quiero

man and woman hugging

Candice Picard via Unsplash

It’s a word used to show you appreciate someone or care about them. It’s a midpoint between I like you and I love you.

Written by: Michael R. Cardenas (President) and Tina Frantzen (Director of Client Strategy and Social Media Marketing) at Local Concept. 

How Emotions and Silence can get you in or out of Jail

Por | Translation | Sem comentários

Emotions and silence can get you in or out of jail or in trouble, depending on your Interpreter.

In court criminal proceedings, you have probably seen a witness speak for 30 seconds while the interpreter takes 10 seconds to translate what has been uttered by the witness.

The interpreter role is not only to interpret the words, but to create the same tone and emotion of the witness.

well let me translate that if i can hillary clinton GIF by Election 2016

Imagine in a criminal rape case if the witness is asked “have you ever raped anyone?”.

Scenario A: The witness quickly answers NO.

disagree no way GIF by VH1

Scenario B: The witness is silent for three seconds… thinks about it… utters a murmur and then answers NO.

not for me no GIF by Originals

These two answers say a lot about the state of mind of the witness and they should be “mimicked” as part of the interpretation. It is the role of the interpreter to step in the shoes of the witness and sound like him.

In scenario B, all utterances, and even “hums” need to be interpreted. Sometimes, the emotions of the witness will play an important role in the interpreters’ choice of words.

In 2007, Spain’s Prime Minister Zapatero was trying to speak. Hugo Chavez, ex-President of Venezuela, kept on interrupting him. The king of Spain, Juan Carlos, then asked Hugo “¿Porque no se calla?”. By his tone, you could see he was just asking him to be quiet. The interpreter for the US media interpreted it as “Shut up”. This is obviously a different message, one that did not allow for context and interpretation of the emotions.

Often times, emotions take on more meaning than words, especially when it comes to communication in high context cultures.

court GIF

Written by: Michael Cardenas (President) and Tina Frantzen (Director of Client Strategy and Social Media Marketing) at Local Concept.