A Translator’s Daily Prayer (!)


Lord, help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 7:41:23 am PST.

God help me to consider my customers feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.

God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they’re usually NOT my fault.

God, help me to not try to run everything. But, if You need some help, please feel free to ask me!

Lord, help me to be more laid back, and help me to do it EXACTLY right.

God, help me to take things more seriously, especially laughter, parties, and dancing.

God, give me patience, and I mean right NOW!

Lord, help me not be a perfectionist. (Did I spell that correctly?)

God, help me to finish everything I sta

God, help me to do only what I can, and trust you for the rest.

(And would you mind putting that in writing?)

Lord, keep me open to others’ ideas, WRONG though they may be.

Lord, help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.

Lord, help me follow established procedures today.

On second thought, I’ll settle for a few minutes.

Lord, help me slow down




Lost in Translation

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

You have a point, Philosoraptor!

Have you ever said to someone “How do you say ____ in X language?”

If you have, chances are you’ll have been met with one of three responses:
1.) “In X language you would say ____”.
2.) “Sorry, I don’t know”.
3.) “There’s actually no translation for that”.

Today I’m going to be focusing on response #3: Untranslatability.

Certain words have no one direct translation and instead depend on several words, or even full sentences, to get their meaning across. Here are 10 examples of “untranslatable” words for you:

-Schadenfreude German meaning the feeling of satisfaction derived from another person’s misfortune
-Prozvonit Czech & Slovak meaning to call a mobile phone and only let it ring once so that the other person rings you back and you don’t have to spend any of your money (sneaky, but I like it!)
-Cafuné Brazilian Portuguese meaning to tenderly run your fingers through someone’s hair
-Dépaysement French meaning the feeling (of disorientation) that comes from not being in your home country (I definitely relate to this one!)
-Saudade Portuguese meaning the nostalgic feeling of longing for someone or something that you love and which is lost
-Torschlusspanik German meaning the fear of diminishing opportunities as you age/time running out
-Razlyubit Russian meaning the feeling for someone you once loved but no longer do
-Tartle Scottish meaning to hesitate while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name (trés awkard!)
-Waldeinsamkeit German meaning the feeling of being alone in the woods
And finally, surely the cutest untranslatable word ever:
-Koi no yokan Japanese meaning the sense one can have upon first meeting another person that the two of them are going to fall in love (AWW!!)

If you know any other “untranslatable” words, then share them below (with a quick definition please!)
Until next time, tschüss! 🙂

A word paints a thousand pictures


Translating is an art form (as far as I’m concerned anyway). Everyone thinks that translating is so easy and that all you need to do is speak a few languages and then fluidly alternate between English and German and French and Japanese. Gee, yes- that sounds like something I could do in my sleep, give me a real challenge.

God some people are ignorant! Firstly, that’s interpreting. And yes, there’s actually a difference between interpreting and translating, but that’s for another post/rant. Secondly, I’d like to see these people, who supposedly think that translating is a job any nit-wit could do, actually do it.

Yes, you there- the condescending person who believes being fluent in more than 2 languages is a fairly meager accomplishment; Step right up. The name of the game is “Is it still easy?” and here’s how it goes.

1. You read a text in your native tongue
2. You are given a target language, which you are then to translate the text into
3. You have to translate not just gist or rough ideas, but every word on the page
4. You will have to rephrase sentences so that they make sense in the target language
5. You must remember that grammar, syntax and tense are very important
6. You will more than likely have a deadline for this task (it is normally around the time when you slam your head down on the table)

Do you still want to play? …No? Didn’t think so!

I’m being jovial course, but I’m just trying to prove a point here. Translation -and the people who spend hours translating various products/documents/etc.- should be given credit where credit is due. It’s not something to be overlooked. I mean where would we be without the hard work of diligent translators, who enable discussions between different-speaking nations to take place; the translators who make sure that children (and probably grown-ups too) in China, Latvia, Spain and approximately 65 other countries can enjoy reading the Harry Potter books as well*; and the translators that provide accurate ingredient-lists for infinite foods, making sure you don’t have a reaction because you’re allergic to الفول السوداني (bet you didn’t know that was Arabic for ‘peanuts’; doesn’t exactly look like it now, does it?).

*I’ve just realized that that sounds like I enjoyed the Harry Potter books myself and I feel I should point out here that I did not. Well, it wasn’t even so much that I didn’t enjoy them… Just that they were coming to the cinema in film-form faster than I was reading the books, so there didn’t really seem much point!

Anyhoo, my point is (and yes there is a point nestled beneath all this aggressive Irishness!) that translating is not for the faint-hearted. It is a process which requires much skill, knowledge and patience on the part of the translator. It doesn’t take much to say something eloquently in your own language, but it takes a lot more to say phrase it just as poignantly in another.


All translators (nah, just Claire) 😉 xx

Appsolutely great!


Today’s agenda: do apps really help when it comes to learning a language? And if so, which apps are good to use?

Luckily, I’ve got your best interests at heart and am here to guide you in the right direction! I’m actually so considerate that I’ve compiled a list for you. Here are Claire’s top 5 best apps for learning a language (Oh, and I forgot to mention- they’re all free! ‘Cause who wants to pay for apps!). Enjoy!

  1. Duolingo: not only is the mascot for this app a cute li’l green owl, but it’s also a really good place to improve your languages skills. Duolingo is a great app (and also a website, if you’re interested) and its advantages are twofold; a.) You get to learn a language and b.) Part of the learning process has you translating snippets/documents from the internet, so you’re actually helping the World Wide Web and other internet users too. It’s a win-win situation!
  2. Google Translate: this is probably the most loved and used language app available. Although GT is often seen as synonymous with dodgy translations (and let’s face it, there have been some seriously dodgy ones!), there’s just something appealing about copying and pasting large chunks of a document in order to get the gist of what’s going on (although more often than not, I spend more time on trying to translate Google Translate’s translation, than if I had just done it myself!)
  3. Babbel: offers courses for both beginners and advanced learners, so no matter what stage of a language you’re at, there’s something for everyone with Babbel (I should be being paid for the endorsements I’m giving these companies!). Anyway, here different aspects of your chosen language are covered through the learning of new vocabulary, songs and even tongue twisters- who would have thought that being taught like so would help you know how to use the language you so choose!
  4. Busuu: deals with lots of topics through the use of day-to-day occurrences, thus helping you learn in a ‘natural’ environment (as natural as learning from an already smarter than you Smart Phone can be). You can even use this app without an internet connection, which is über handy for learning on the go. What more could ya want!
  5. Byki: first and foremost, I like this app’s name; mostly because I pronounce it like ‘bikkie’ (in Ireland, and probably other places too- the slang word for a biscuit). But, I’m not just giving it points for having a fun title, it’s actually also an app worth looking into. It uses flashcards to help increase your vocabulary and it even remembers what topics you’ve already learned- so, not only do you not forget anything, but you also have a neat way of tracking your progress. Wahey!

Finally, I know it’s not an app (per se), but it’s definitely worth your while stopping over to the BBC Languages website. There you can find the news in other languages, along with games and videos to help you- and all with the help of more than 40 world languages. Check it out!

Cloud scratchers and other such nonsense

...Do you though?

…Do you though?

I love words. I’m a bit of a nerd like that.
I love words and languages. Ooh, and translating.
What I seriously love though are ‘literal translations’, and the nonsense that ensues when one translates literally.
For example, in German, skyscrapers are called Wolkenkratzer, which literally translates to cloud scratchers. Trés cute, right?
So I decided to compile a little list of literal translations, because it’s Wednesday after all, and everyone needs a mid-week smile 🙂

freckles póigíní gréine. Literally: little sun kisses
I’m happy Tá áthas orm. Literally: there is happy on me

gloves Handschuhe. Literally: shoes for your hands
Santa Weihnachtsmann. Literally: Christmas man
For God’s sake Himmel, Arsch und Zwirn. Literally: sky, ass and thread
I couldn’t care less Es ist mir wurst. Literally: it is me sausage

you’d make a better door than a window La carne de burro no es transparente. Literally: the flesh of the donkey is not transparent

And that’s today’s language lesson concluded! Remember, WORDS.ARE.FUN but only if you use them wisely!