Monday, 16 May 2016

Professional Translators and Linguists Boost Content Effectiveness in Digital Globalization

Almost everyone speaks at least one language but that does not make everyone alanguage expert. It is quite sensible to recognize that fact. In the same vein, all translators are multilingual people but not all multilingual people are professional translators. This may sound obvious for anyone working in or with the language services industry. However, it remains important to point out what makes professional linguists and translators valuable resources and how they power content effectiveness to a large extent. Essentially they all make a difference because they are different - or more different than some people may think - in the way they help walk in the shoes of customers. In other words they help shape the customer experience that must be delivered around the world.
First of all professional linguists and translators go the extra mile when it comes to speaking the language of customers for the following major reasons.
§  They master linguistic rules, guidelines, and conventions that are standards related to spelling, grammar, and syntax. Such standards have to be considered for any type of content and in any industry. While everyone may use them more or less consciously professional linguists and translators have them in mind at all times and are not "dragged away" from them to compromise quality ultimately.
§  They grasp linguistic as well as cultural facets of engaging content that speaks to the heart and mind of customers. These facets include tone of voice, nuance, vocabulary, and other drivers of stylistic sensitivity. Professional linguistsand translators create content that is memorable, meaningful and actionable within international environments so that customers feel delighted personally (not only as part of a broader audience). We may say they live and breathe what global customers do and remain in sync with their aspirations.
§  They are very detail-oriented so that they control consistency effectively. This plays out specifically in terminology management that can make or break effectiveness in the short and long run. Using the right term at the right place and time is no easy task as it may not be natural for most people. In doing so, professional linguists and translators take accuracy to the next level in order to iron out anything considered to be small or minor in content. And digital experiences are made of details.
§  They are at the center of localization processes. Whether they create content in their mother tongue or they adapt content for other international markets they all set the foundation of localization efficiency. Simply put professional linguists and translators avoid taking the "garbage in, garbage out" journey where content owners may complain about localized content effectiveness without paying much attention to source content quality. Aligning best practices in content creation and localization enable developing and authoring localization-ready content. From this perspective professional linguists and translators are partners in crime in the digital globalization value chain.
§  They specialize to become subject matter experts. Many professional linguists and translators select a couple of areas they can focus on and excel in. For example they can dive into content for life sciences or information technology by fine tuning their skills according to the requirements and nature of each type of content. They turn sensitive content into content that is intuitive and sharp for customer in any country.
These few characteristics also help select the most appropriate linguists and translators to work with and ensure working with them consistently over time with or without outsourcing plans.
As far as content effectiveness is concerned professional linguists and translators contribute to crucial drivers by delivering and innovating:
§  They keep content simple across markets, cultures and languages. They prove the assumption that globalization is about simply changing content into other languages leads to problematic outcomes. They can challenge that budget and time consuming oversimplification with evidences that great content comes from proven skills instead of a few brief considerations.
§  They increase globalization agility and accelerate localization automation. After demonstrating localization is not just nice to have they can show how new tools and revisited processes make it more time and cost effective. By playing an active role that goes beyond sitting at a desk they can participate in efforts to improve business processes associated with localization. As they know the dynamics and enablers of digital content they can also recommend and implement tools to streamline workflows.
§  They warrant customer centricity. By making and keeping content customer-centric globally they can ensure it is fluid and on target. As selling a story is as important as telling a story in the digital globalization age they can instill the right level of centricity at early stages of the content lifecycle. In that way they can be really seen as transformation agents in environments where globalization is not addressed upfront.


Monday, 2 May 2016

Without the Vikings, English would be missing some awesome words like berserk, ugly, muck, skull, knife, die, and cake!

When I say “Old English” what comes to mind? The ornate, hard-to-read script? Reading Beowulf in your high school English class? The kinds of figurative compound nouns – orkennings – like “swan of blood” and “slaughter-dew” that have sustained heavy metal lyrics for decades?
Old English, also known as Anglo-Saxon, was a language spoken by the Angles and the Saxons – the first Germanic tribes to settle the British Isles. They were not the first inhabitants, as any Welsh or Gaelic speaker will tell you, but their language did form the basis for theAngle-ish we speak today. But then why can’t we modern-day English speakers understand Old English? In terms of vocabulary, grammar and syntax, Old English resembles its cousins Dutch and German more than it does modern English. So how did English change so drastically?
The short answer is that the English language changed forever after the Norman invasion brought a new ruling class of French speakers to the British Isles in 1066. French was the language of the nobility for the next 300 years – plenty of time for lots of French words to trickle down to the merchant and peasant classes. For example, the Anglo-Saxons already had words for “sheep” and “cows”, but the Norman aristocracy – who usually only saw these animals on the plate – introduced mouton (mutton) and boeuf (beef). Today, nearly thirty percent of English words come from French.
As a result, modern English is commonly thought of as a West Germanic language with lots of French and, thanks to the church, Latin influence. But this history of English’s development leaves out a very important piece of the linguistic puzzle – Old Norse: the language of the Vikings.
How To Speak Viking
The Old Norse noun víking meant an overseas expedition, and a vikingr was someone who went on one of these expeditions. In the popular imagination, the Vikings were essentially pirates from the fjords of Denmark and Norway who descended on medieval England like a bloodthirsty frat party; they raped, pillaged, murdered, razed villages and then sailed back across the North Sea with the loot.
But the truth is far more nuanced. The earliest Viking activity in England did consist of coastal raids in the early ninth century, but by the 870s the Danes had traded sword for plow and were settled across most of Northern England in an area governed by treaties known as theDanelaw. England even had Danish kings from 1018 to 1042. However, the more successful and longer-lasting Norman conquest in 1066 marked the end of the Viking era and virtually erased Danish influence in almost all aspects of English culture but one: its effect on the development of the English language.
Traust me, þó (though) it may seem oddi at first, we er still very líkligr to use the samewords as the Vikings did in our everyday speech. Þeirra (their) language evolved into the modern-day Scandinavian languages, but þeir (they) also gave English the gift of hundreds of words.
Names of Days
The most obvious Viking influence on modern English is the word Thursday (Þorsdagr), which you can probably guess means "Thor’s day".
“Tuesday”, “Wednesday” and “Friday” are sometimes also attributed to the Norse gods Tyr, Odin and Freya, respectively; but the days are actually named for the Anglo-Saxon equivalents of these gods, Tiw, Wodan and Friga. The similarity of these names points to the common ancestry of the various Germanic tribes in prehistoric northern Europe – centuries before their descendants clashed on England’s shores.

If the Vikings are famous for one thing, it’s their obsession with war. They didn’t just bring death and destruction to England in the Middle Ages, they brought really cool words for death and destruction. They were certainly a rough bunch. Just look at a Viking the rangr way, and he might þrysta (thrust) a knifr into your skulle.
·         berserk/berserker – berserkr, lit. ‘bear-shirt’. A berserkr was a Viking warrior who would enter battle in a crazed frenzy, wearing nothing for armor but an animal skin.
·         club – klubba. People have been bashing each other with heavy things since time immemorial, but not until the Danes started bringing this weapon down on English heads did this blunt weapon receive its fittingly blunt name.
·         ransack – rannsaka (to search a house)
·         These days, the adjective scathing is reserved for sharp criticism, but in the context of the original meaning of scathe (to injure), skaða takes on a much more visceral quality.
·         slaughter – slatra (to butcher)
·         Even though the gun wasn’t invented until centuries after the Viking era, the word comes from Old Norse. The most common usage was in the female name Gunnhildrgunn andhildr both can translate as “war” or “battle”. Only truly badass Vikings named their infant daughters “Warbattle”.

But life in the Danelaw wasn’t all murder and mayhem. Ironically, these savage berserkers also gave us words that are central to our "civilized" culture:
bylaw – bylög (village-law)
sale – sala
heathen – heiðinn (one who inhabits the heath or open country)
skill – skil (distinction)
Hell – In Norse mythology, Loki’s daughter Hel ruled the underworld.
steak – steik (to fry)
husband – hús (house) + bóndi (occupier and tiller of soil) =húsbóndi
thrall – þræll (slave)
law – lag
thrift – þrift (prosperity)
litmus – litr (dye) + mosi (lichen; moss)
tidings – tíðindi (news of events)
loan – lán (to lend)
yule – jol (a pagan winter solstice feast)
Although most English animal names retain their Anglo-Saxon roots (cow, bear, hound, swine, chicken, etc) the Vikings did bring certain animals names into the vernacular:
·         bug – búkr (an insect within tree trunks)
·         bull – boli
·         reindeer – hreindyri
·         skate – skata (fish)
·         wing – vængr
Some words associated with hunting and trapping also come from Old Norse. Sleuth now means “detective”, but the original slóth meant “trail” or “track”. Snare, on the other hand, retains the original meaning of O.N. snara.
The Landscape
Old Norse is good at describing bleikr landscapes and weather. This was especially useful in the Vikings’ adopted northern England, where flatr or rogg (rugged) terrain can be shrouded in fok, and oppressed by gustr of wind and lagr (low) ský (clouds).
Much of the Danelaw bordered swamps and alluvial plains, so it’s no surprise that many Norse words for dirty, mucky things survive in English:
·         dirt – drit (excrement)
·         dregs – dregg (sediment)
·         mire – myrr (bog)
·         muck – myki (cow dung)
·         rotten – rotinn
The Norse Legacy in English
Thanks to the cross-cultural fermentation that occured in the Danelaw – and later when England was temporarily absorbed into Canute the Great’s North Sea Kingdom – the English language is much closer to that of its Scandinavian neighbors than many acknowledge. By the time that the Norman conquest brought the irreversible influence of French, Old English had already been transformed beyond its Anglo-Saxon roots.
This is still in evidence today; modern English grammar and syntax are more similar to modern Scandinavian languages than to Old English. This suggests that Old Norse didn’t just introduce new words, but influenced how the Anglo-Saxons constructed their sentences. Some linguists even claim that English should be reclassified as a North Germanic language (along with Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Swedish), rather than a West Germanic language (with Dutch and German). The Viking influence may be most apparent in theYorkshire dialect, which uses even more Norse words in daily speech than standard English does.
English is probably too much of a hybrid to ever neatly classify, but its Old Norse rót is clearly there among the tangle of Anglo-Saxon, French and Latin roots. The language of the Vikings may have become subdued over the centuries, but make no mistaka about it – from byrðr(birth) undtil we deyja (die) – Norse’s raw energy simmers under the surface of everything we say.
More Norse Words
bark – bǫrkr
rid – rythja (to clear land)
bask – baðask (reflexive of baða, “to bathe”)
run – renna
billow – bylgja
scare – skirra
blunder – blundra (to shut one’s eyes; to stumble about blindly)
scrape – skrapa
call – kalla (to cry loudly)
snub – snubba (to curse)
cast – kasta (to throw)
sprint – spretta (to jump up)
choose – kjósa
stagger – stakra (to push)
clip – klippa (to cut)
stain – steina (to paint)
crawl – krafla (to claw)
stammer – stemma (to hinder or dam up)
gawk – ga (to heed)
sway – sveigja (to bend; to give way)
get – geta
take – taka
give – gefa
seem – sœma (to conform)
glitter – glitra
shake – skaka
haggle – haggen (to chop)
skip – skopa
hit – hitta (to find)
thwart – þvert (across)
kindle – kynda
want – vanta (to lack)
race – rás (to race, to move swiftly)
whirl – hvirfla (to go around)
raise – reisa
whisk – viska (to plait or braid)
axle – öxull (axis)
loft – lopt (air, sky; upper room)
bag – baggin
mug – mugge
ball – bǫllr (round object)
plow, plough – plogr
band (rope)
raft – raptr (log)
bulk – bulki (cargo)
scale (for weighing) – skal (bowl, drinking cup)
cake – kaka
scrap – skrap
seat – sæti
glove – lofi (middle of the hand)
skirt – skyrta (shirt)
knot – knutr
wand – vondr (rod)
keel – kjölr
window – vindauga (lit. “wind-eye”)
link – hlenkr
aloft – á (on) + lopt (loft; sky; heaven)
freckles – freknur
ill – illr (bad)
foot –fótr
loose – lauss
girth – gjörð (circumference)
sly – sloegr
leg – leggr
scant – skamt (short, lacking)
skin – skinn (animal hide)
ugly – uggligr (dreadful)
weak – veikr
fellow – felagi
anger – angr (trouble, affliction)
guest – gestr
awe – agi (terror)
kid – kið (young goat)
happy – happ (good luck; fate)
lad – ladd (young man)
irk – yrkja (to work)
oaf – alfr (elf)
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