Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Unfortunate foreign names, part 287 in an occasional series: As a translator, I have a natural love of languages. And as a translator, I am used to bridging cultures. I guess the flip side of this is that it enables me to spot things which are fine in their original culture, but are liable to be understood very differently in another language - such as this English Volvo spotted driving down a French autoroute. And I guess these things just appeal to my sense of humour!

I was recently reading something on LinkedIn, and someone there had posted a link to a wonderful German bus company. Now, the very first German word I learnt at school was Reiseleiter (or travel courier), so I was doubly curious. Take a look at the name of this bus company, gentle reader. Now, I will divert to a quick German lesson here. Where an Umlaut is used over a vowel in German, such as Ü, it is allowable to write it with an e after it. So, for example, München becomes Muenchen (or Munich, to English speakers). The unfortunately named Fücker bus company does not help matters by using a seagull's wings to represent the two dots of the Umlaut over the ü, as lovingly shown in these photos.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Last week, I took part in an OASIS webinar on translating DITA files using the XLIFF open standard as an intermediate translation format. While the thoughts are fresh in my mind, I've started work on a white paper on best approach when translating DITA files.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pub food in Stockport: I run a translation company in Stockport, and I also love good food. So I am delighted to report that the Red Bull pub on Lower Hillgate has re-opened after a major refurbishment. The Red Bull has been extended, and now even has ... drumroll..... fanfare... indoor loos! Actually, this lovely old pub has been tastefully modernised, but they have managed to keep the original feel of the place. It still feels like an English country pub in the heart of the city. Even better news - the food is superb. And several of our regular visitors from the USA will be pleased to hear that The Red Bull still serves the excellent local Robinsons beer.

Between The Red Bull and The Arden Arms, we are fortunate to have two really excellent pubs serving high-quality lunch menus in Stockport.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

The price of eggs might seem a strange thing for a translation company manager to write about. But bear with me, gentle reader! There is a link!

Yesterday, the BBC News website ran an article that said the price of groceries here in Britain has gone up by over 8% over the past year, and that the price of meat has increased by around 25% since January of this year - that is, 25% inflation in nine months.

I am fortunate to live in an area where we have a good local butcher. I am slightly wary of believing everything that I read in the newspaper, so I asked Andrew the butcher whether he felt this was an accurate figure. He confirmed that it was, and in fact it understates the full inflation. He told me that if you take last October as a baseline, in effect a full twelve months, then the increase in meat prices is actually around 45%. That is a big dent in a family's shopping budget. Worse, Andrew told me how the cost of eggs has gone up: Last Christmas, less than nine months ago, he could sell me six eggs for 95 pence. Today, the same eggs cost £1.50. I understand the reasons - chickens eat grain, the cost of grain has risen fast in the past year, so eggs cost more.

Interestingly, there has been a perception in the UK that there has been little or no price inflation over the past ten years. This is simply a perception, and is incorrect - the government's own Office of National Statistics have figures that show that retail inflation, including housing costs, stood at an indexed value of 170 in the year 2000, and at 206 in the year 2007 (the baseline year with a value of 100 was in 1987).

But this year, with headline inflation in the UK running at 4% (and heading towards 5%), with fuel for both transport and heating costing more, with housing (mortgage payments) costing more, and with food costing more, reality has hit home. Everyone in Britain is now aware that life costs more this year than it did last year.

Interestingly, pricing in the translation market has remained largely static over the past 7 or 8 years. That, I suspect, is about to change.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Having fun with words will always appeal to a linguist like me. So I was delighted to stumble across an application called Wordle, which will analyse a chunk of text and make a word cloud from it. So I had a play, and pointed Wordle towards this blog. I was not surprised to see that "translation" is one of my most-used words. And DITA. And XML. Wordle is a fun application!

Here is the word cloud that Wordle came up with: