Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Language Is a Virus: Dutch Swear Words

English insults often refer to sex; Dutch ones, to disease

In most languages, if someone said you had cancer, it would be a diagnosis. In Dutch, it is more likely to be an insult. Kankerlijer (“cancer-sufferer”) is one of a long list of Dutch profanities and expletives derived from diseases. An undesirable person might be told to “typhus off” (optyfussen) or “get consumption” (krijg de tering). If in (American) English you laugh your ass off, in Dutch you might “laugh yourself the pleurisy” (lachen je de pleuris). No one in England has been called a “poxy bitch” for centuries, but in the Netherlands you can still call someone a pokkenteef. A damned long way is a klereneind (“cholera-end”). And so on.

Because expletives are based on social taboos, in most cultures they are linked to sex, excrement or religion. Many Dutch swear words are as well, but they often feel weaker than the medical ones. Schijt is less like its English cognate and more like the gentler French merde. Mierenneuker(“ant-fucker”) is an anodyne expression for someone who fusses over details. “Whore” is an insult in Dutch too, but when the rapper Lil’ Kleine had beef with pop singer Anouk last autumn, he went with the harsher kankerhoer (“cancer-whore”).

Scholars are not sure why the Dutch swear with illnesses. One theory links it to Calvinism, the puritanical strain of Protestantism that caught on here in the 16th century, which holds that the virtue of those destined for heaven will show itself in worldly prosperity, health, and hygiene. “There was a shift in focus from the afterlife to this life, which, for example, diminished the strength of ‘God damn it’,” says Marten van der Meulen, a Dutch linguist and author of a book on swearing. In this theory, “a curse might be stronger if you used something in actual life, like a disease.”

However, there is also what linguists call the frequency hypothesis: the Dutch may curse with diseases simply because it caught on. Language, as Laurie Anderson said, is a virus. Perhaps someday Dutch kids will savage each other on the playground with cries of coronalijer.

 Source: The Economist 



Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The World's Most Spoken Languages

When it comes to the world's ten most spoken languages, numbers tend to vary considerably between sources. 

According to Ethnologue, Chinese (and all of its varieties such as Mandarin and Wu) is by far the most spoken language across the world with 1.31 billion speakers. 

That's approximately 16 percent of the world's population. Indeed, there are between 7 and 13 main regional groups of the Chinese language and Mandarin is the most spoken (898 million speakers).

Widely spoken in South America as well as Spain, Spanish is the planet's second most widely spoken language with a grand total of 460 million speakers according to Ethnologue.

English has 379 million speakers while Arabic has 319 million. The latter includes 19 different varities, of which Egyptian Arabic is the most spoken (64.5 million speakers), followed by Algerian Arabic (29.3 million speakers).

Source: Statista

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

How to Choose the Right Translation Agency?

Simona and Mārīte are the staff members of Nordic-Baltic  language service provider Baltic Media
Simona and Mārīte are the staff members of Nordic-Baltic
 language service provider Baltic Media 

Currently there is a very wide range of translation services available in the Nordic-Baltic market. How not to get lost in the wide offer and to evaluate that the translation agency you choose will provide you with quality and cost-effective translation services?


One of the key drivers of quality service delivery is the agency's translation experience. The long-term operation of the company indicates that the customer is trusted by the service provider, and over time the company has accumulated the necessary experience in managing large and complex projects. Baltic Media was founded inSweden in 1991 and has been operating in the Baltic market since 1994. It is one of the leading companies in the quality language services segment, with extensive language service experience in Northern Europe, including large-scale multilingual translation projects. In addition, the company has a long-standing relationship with the various institutions of the European Union, successfully meeting their high-quality requirements.

ISO certificate

ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, which sets international quality standards in various sectors and areas. The quality translation service shall be indicated by the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system certificate and/or the translation and localization quality certificate ISO 17100:2015.
The ISO certificate is a definite quality assurance that demonstrates that quality assurance routines, work environments, levels of responsibility are developed at all levels in the company to ensure customer satisfaction, respect of requirements and continuous improvement of the quality management system. Baltic Media operates in accordance with the ISO 9001:2015 quality management system, which has enabled the company to streamline its project coordination and vendor selection procedures, as well as guaranteeing customer data security, storage and confidentiality.

Quality of translation

A financially advantageous offer often seems more attractive, but it is good to remember that the lowest price does not provide a high-quality result. Translation costs do not only include translation costs. Quality results are provided by translation and translation editing and/or proofreading by qualified and experienced linguists specializing in a particular field.
Baltic Media translators only translate into their mother tongue and live in a country wherethat language is either the official language or the dominant language of social life. The company has developed a system of supplier selection and verification. All translators and editors recruited by Baltic Media have a university degree in philology or some other area of their specialization (such as IT) and have at least 5 years’ experience in translation. Careful selection and testing of suppliers ensures that only professional translators and editors are used for orders.

CAT tools using

Translation can often take a considerable amount of time without the help of handy tools or Computer-Aided Translation (CAT) tools that help and facilitate the translation process. These tools include dictionaries and translation memories and help maintain consistent terminology and save you money on already translated sections of text. CAT tools are sometimes referred to as computer-assisted translation tools but remember that computer-assisted translation is not the same as machine translation because the document is fully translated and edited by a team of qualified linguists. Baltic Media provides translations with CAT tools like SDL Trados Studio, Memsource, MemoQ and others, which ensure consistency in terminology and speed up the translation process. In addition, clients create their own translation memory file that is used for othertranslations, reducing future translation costs.

Civil liability insurance for translation

Even if you entrust translation to a professional, there is a risk of unintentional or negligent translation errors that can cause damage. How to avoid this situation? Professional translation service providers provide their clients with civil liability insurance, which in such cases covers the client for any losses incurred. Baltic Media translation agency also provides its clients withprofessional civil liability insurance, which provides additional security.

Professional translation project staff

The translation project is planned from start to delivery by a dedicated project manager who selects the most appropriate executors who meet the company's quality requirements, sets realistic deadlines and is responsible for quality control. It is therefore essential that the staff entrusted with the management oftranslation projects, well-versed in translation, be educated, qualified andexperienced. Baltic Media is distinguished from other language services by the fact that not only translators, but also its staff and management have advanced linguistic education and scientific degrees in linguistics and communication.

There are a number of aspects that need to be addressed to make sure that the translation service provider you choose is trustworthy. If you make sure that the translation agency complies with all the above rules, you cannot worry that you will receive a quality translation for an adequate fee