What is Technical Translation?

May 17, 2022

What is Technical Translation?

Technical translation is specialized translation involving the translation of documents (owner's manuals, user guides, etc.), which relate to various technological fields. The texts typically consist of scientific and technological information. Technical translation requires a high level of subject knowledge and mastery of the relevant terminology and writing conventions. Having knowledge of both the linguistic features and aesthetic features of translation applies directly to the field of technical translation. Though technical translation is only one subset of the different types of professional translation, it is the largest subset as far as output is concerned. Currently, more than 90% of all professionally translated work is done by technical translators. This highlights the importance and significance of the field.

Terminology & Meaning

Technical documents often contain terminology with specific meanings. It’s essential that the correct terminology is used consistently throughout. The terminology required for technical translation is complex. Effective technical translation takes more than knowing the correct meaning of the terms in the target language. A technical translator must understand cultural nuances in the target language to communicate the information in the right tone, as well as being accurate. This is extremely important. For example, what may be the right way to give instructions in one language may come across rude in another. Sometimes accuracy means more than simply communicating the idea correctly. A simple error in terminology like this could result in a company’s failure to acquire a new target market. To prevent these errors a technical translator must understand the nuances of the market while being an expert in the required industry.

From Globalization to Specific Cultures

Technical translation involves understanding how globalization has influenced different cultures across the world. As technology advanced it created easier and faster means of communication where the world became a global community. The need to communicate with people from multiple language backgrounds have grown and continue to. The technical translator must be culturally diverse with varying languages, influences, and media preferences to be professionals in the field of technical communication. As technology makes intercultural and international communication easier, the technical translator must understand intercultural relations as it relates to ethics. A professional must avoid stereotyping and ethnocentrism in technical communication and translation. Ambiguous language not only shows problems with a universal writing style for technical translation, but also reiterates how culture plays an important role in proper technical translation. Technical translators must avoid assumptions about a culture and allow their own knowledge base to consider more diverse populations creating more effective cross-cultural communication not only when working with risky environments, but in general communication as well.

Why is Technical Translation Important?

As every marketing professional knows, the way your customers see your brand is everything. By making the effort to have technical documents accurately translated, it shows a level of respect and care for your customers that will only be reciprocated. Brands have spent time and effort cultivating themselves in their home country. They want to be certain that their brand image is translated properly. A professional technical translator ensures this happens, guaranteeing that the brand image is communicated meaningfully with careful accuracy. We at idioma® have been technical translation experts for 40+ years. We will continue to be a bridge for better communication across international borders.

Need an expert technical translator? Contact us at info@idioma.com

What is Neural Machine Translation (NMT)?

Apr 13, 2022

Neural machine translation (NMT) uses machine learning and an artificial neural network to perform language translation. It predicts the likelihood of a sequence of words, typically modeling entire sentences in a single integrated model.
Let's deep dive into NMT and how it can streamline translation processes.

How neural machine translation works

Neural machine translation (NMT) automatically converts source text in one language to target text in another language.

Unlike traditional statistical machine translation (SMT) models, NMT only requires a fraction of the memory. Furthermore, unlike conventional translation systems, all parts of the neural translation model are trained jointly (end-to-end) to maximize the translation performance.

With the power of Neural Machine Translation (NMT) and available public translation platforms, users can generate instant translations with little to no customization. To increase accuracy the terminology can be tailored based on the context, category, style, and target audiences.

Neural machine translation vs. professional human translation

We believe that NMT is an unconditional part of today's translation process. NMT combined with translation memories is the most helpful tool for professional translators to increase efficiency and output. It's basically impossible to scale the translation business without NMT nowadays.

Professional translators are tasked with NMT post-editing to make sure the translation is natural and fits the context accurately for target audiences. To control translation quality effectively, translators can rely on mandatory QA checks and QA operators. Quality output is achieved through this collaboration of artificial intelligence, language professionals, and QA procedures, resulting in a hybrid translation process.

Neural machine translation for everybody?

NMT is broadly available to the public using cloud services on platforms, servers, or via software integration using an API. Users can utilize independent or open-source machine translation systems to build their very own NMT system. If a corpus of source and target texts in two languages are provided a neural language model can be established.

In combination with CAT tools users can provide live translation suggestions to professional translators while improving suggestion quality learning from the sentences previously chosen.

Data is key. It is essential to create an effective NMT network.

Public machine translation platforms and why NOT use them

We strongly advise our clients to use an on-site machine translation engine. Public machine translation (MT) platforms are often open and shared, and the translations are not always kept confidential.

For example, the NMT platform of idioma® runs inside our corporate network with no external access. Our cloud solution uses data encryption to avoid data leakage and we can guarantee the data never reach the public.

Currently, NMT is the most advanced translation solution. It can produce adequate translations fast and, with the help of professional translators, it can generate quality output. Free public MT engines are practical but have their limits. We believe that to use public NMT platforms in a satisfactory manner, the next level of development, adaptation, and security is necessary.

Neural machine translation solution at idioma®

Our IT developers built a flexible NMT service based on idioma®'s 40 years of experience in the translation industry.

We provide many options integrated with our NMT solution:

  • Data selection: manually or automatically choose appropriate data to feed the solution from your corpora or our corpora to best fit your translation projects.
  • Data cleaning: edit or remove data to increase the quality and efficiency of your NMT
  • Neural domain adaptation: tuning neural networks to individually fit specific translation content
  • Terminology management: terminology, DNT, and tag control.

Neural Machine Translation (NMT) is moving faster than ever before. And we aim to provide our clients and partners with the latest techniques and solutions available.

Do you have any questions on NMT or would like a translation quote?
Please contact us at info@idioma.com.

Why is Quality Assurance (QA) important?

Mar 24, 2022

Quality assurance (QA) is a way of preventing mistakes, defects, and avoiding problems when delivering services to customers. It is the systematic measurement, comparison with a standard, monitoring of processes and an associated feedback loop that confers error prevention. ISO 9000 defines QA as "part of quality management focused on providing confidence that quality requirements will be fulfilled".

Translation without QA is risky

Quality assurance for translation comprises administrative and procedural activities implemented in a quality system so that requirements and goals for the service will be fulfilled. If QA is not implemented properly mistakes made in the process are left in your translation. It is like having your final product with defects.

These defects are published and shared to your audience such as existing and potential customers. A poor translation can have a negative impact on your product, become an embarrassment to your brand, and decrease your sales. Misuse with a poor translation could lead to an accident becoming a product liability lawsuit.

QA in your translation process

As a given, to be ISO 9001:2016 and ISO 17100:2015 certified are critically important for QA. We at idioma® are certified with both and adhere to its practices and procedures.

To further the QA process, we have developed CrossCheck® a comprehensive QA software that checks for errors while our translator’s work. CrossCheck® functions from beginning to end of the translation process to check for potential errors and fix actual mistakes. CrossCheck® is integrated to our CAT tool iQube to systematically manage the QA process.

What is CrossCheck®

CrossCheck® is our QA software which detects any text with possible mistakes during the translation, verification, and our custom in-house checking process.

If actual mistakes are found, we categorize them and create error statistics to provide structured feedback to everyone. This maintains our high level of competence and encourages translators to learn and improve from their work. Translators can improve the accuracy, terminology, language use, and consistency in their translations.

We believe QA is a key component for every translation project to deliver the best translations.

Need to improve your QA process? You can access CrossCheck® or download the Trados Studio plug-in. If you have any questions, please leave us a message or contact us at info@idioma.com.

What is a CAT tool?

Feb 23, 2022

Computer-aided translation (CAT) is the use of software to assist human translators during the translation process. The translation is created by a human, and certain aspects of the process are facilitated by software - specifically the actual translation process itself...

How CAT tools work

Most CAT tools can translate a variety of source file formats in a single editing environment, integrate translation memories, and combine various utilities to increase the translation process productivity. CAT tools extract text from documents and present them as segments. These segments are worked on by a translator and stored in a database, known as translation memory (TM). TM benefits translators because they can reuse translations done before.

A CAT tool is nor a human translator, neither a machine translation tool.
It is a database-driven software program that facilitates translations to assist human translators during the translation process. The user controls the tool and is responsible for reviewing the translated output. The effectiveness of the CAT tool really depends on the skill of the translator using it. To fully utilize a CAT tool's functionality takes experience.

In recent years, with the breakthrough in AI technology, CAT tools can incorporate machine translation (MT) to generate draft translations. This enables the translator to focus on post-editing (PE) instead of translating from scratch. Machine translation (MT) can be added optionally with human intervention (e.g. pre-editing and post-editing). CAT tools are a convenient way to increase efficiency, consistency, reduce errors, and increase processing speed, especially for large-scale projects.

CAT tools that proved through experience

At idioma® we developed our own cloud-hosted translation platform called iQube.

All our expert translators work in iQube that is tightly integrated with our QA software CrossCheck®. All translation projects are produced through iQube undergoing mandatory QA checks for every segment. Translators from around the world work in idioma's translation platform via cloud-hosted servers. We make sure client data is securely protected.

Need to hire a translation service provider? We have 40 years of experience.
We use our in-house CAT tool to its fullest potential to provide excellent translations.
Contact us at info@idioma.com.

Why translation providers should be ISO certified

Jan 24, 2022

The translation industry is unregulated in many countries. Translators can claim they are professionals and provide their services. For a translation buyer, this becomes a potential risk. How do you know if you’re working with a true professional?

International Quality Standards in Translation Services

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organizations. They define requirements and outline best practices to enable businesses in any industry to consistently offer fit-for-purpose products or services. The two ISO standards that are the most relevant to translation providers would be:

  • ISO 17100:2015 - Requirements for translation services
  • the general ISO 9001 standard for Quality management systems

Why translation providers should conform to ISO17100:2015

ISO 17100:2015 provides requirements for the core processes, resources, and other aspects necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications.

A translation service provider (TSP) can demonstrate the conformity of specified translation services to ISO 17100:2015 and the capability of its processes and resources to deliver a translation service that will meet the applicable quality specifications and expectations.

Many companies and organizations partner with translation service providers to avoid language and culture pitfalls that can be costly and sometimes irreparable. ISO 17100:2015 certifies that there is a qualified multidisciplinary team behind each project, working within an established workflow and in a safe environment.

Why translation providers should conform to ISO9100:2016

ISO 9001:2016 Quality Management System (QMS) provides a quality management framework that companies can use to ensure the quality of their products and services is consistent. This reduces the chance of product faults and recalls or service shortcomings.
It ensures that customers can buy with confidence.

ISO 9001:2016 certification demonstrates an organization’s ability to consistently meet and exceed customer expectations. Many clients require their suppliers to be ISO 9001 certified to minimize their risk of purchasing a poor product or service.

A business that achieves ISO 9001:2016 certification can attain significant improvements in organizational efficiency and product quality by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity.

Rely on a certified translation provider

Translation services of idioma® adhere to ISO 9001:2016 and ISO 17100:2015 standards which guarantee our clients get the quality and satisfaction they deserve.

We believe translation requires a systematic approach that includes detailed steps from translation, editing, verification, and strict quality control, to timely delivery. We ensure that the content and context of our translation align with the client’s expectations every time.

Do you have any questions on ISO or would like to request a translation quote?
Please contact us at info@idioma.com.

Language facts: Bosnian

Aug 17, 2018

Bosnian is a variant of Serbo-Croatian. It is the official language in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Montenegro and a native language of a little over 2 million people.
The Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina officially has three languages: Bosnian, Croatian and Serb. All three languages are mutually understandable. For various reasons, Bosnian is in wide use throughout the Balkans. The Serbo-Croatian concept, as well as the separate variants of the language (Serb, Croatian, Bosnian), was in fact based on the most wide-spread dialect in the area, the Shtokavian one from Eastern Herzegovina.

Bosniak is (not) Bosnian

It is not uncommon for Bosnian being also referred to as Bosniak. This is actually one of many things considered controversial on the Balkan Peninsula – while Bosnians insist the only correct name for their language is Bosnian, the Croats and Serbs insist on Bosniak being used to refer to the language within the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Bosnian as a term to include also Bosnian Croats and Serbs living outside of Bosnia and Herzegovina. It went even as far as Serbs refering to the Bosnian language as "the Language spoken by Bosniaks" in official documents, only to not having to recognize the language at all. Symbols and details really do matter in these lands, and based on previous experience, it won't be easy to overcome these disputes (mainly if the tensions are being deliberately encouaged, as seen in latest efforts in destabilizing Bosnian society through stirring debate about the Republika Srpska national day in 2018, etc.).
Internationally and within the language and translation industry, as well as here at idioma, the recognized name is Bosnian, though.

Not interested elites, no codified language

Since the 1990s, Bosnian has developed considerably, integrating literary traditions from the 20th century and adopting loan words from the Islamic and Oriental worlds. Arabic, Persian and Ottoman words differentiate the Bosnian version of Serbo-Croatian vocabuly from its siblings noticably, due to the religious ties with the Islamic world. In fact, due to this close bond of the Bosnian elite to Oriental cultures and lack of true emancipation of the Bosnians, the language failed to be codified in the 19th century, unlike Serbian and Croatian.


Bosnian originally used the Cyrillic alphabet, but today also the Latin alphabet is in use due to the influence of Serbo-Croatian when Bosnia was part of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Both alphabets are equal, but Cyrillic is used increasingly less today. Cyrillic, however, has greatly influenced the development of the Bosnian language and remains a link to the past. Latin
A B C Č Ć D Dž ĐE F G H I J K Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž
a b c č ć d dž đ e f g h I j k l lj m n nj o p r s š t u v z ž

а б ц ч ћ д џ ђ е ф г х и ј к л љ м н њ о п р с ш т у в з ж

REPORT: idioma @ DMS 2018 in Tokyo and Automatica 2018 in Munich

Jul 4, 2018

At the end of June, both the Japanese and European sales teams of idioma went out to the world to talk about our translation services.

idioma @ DMS 2018 in Tokyo

Our Japanese sales team managed our booth at the 29th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo (DMS) in Tokyo. Held inside Manufacturing World Japan 2018, DMS is Japan’s largest exhibition gathering all kinds of IT solution providers and attracting professionals looking to buy IT solutions for their business. This year, both the number of participants and visitors increased in comparison with the previous year. We talked to many people who were interested not just in translation and QA services, but also in our terminology management solutions, and free online services such as the language query portal Ask!, Stream for instant translation estimates, and NextDoc for convenient text reuse. And just as the year before, we handed out plenty of candy :)
There was so much to talk about. If you would like to continue the discussion, or to ask just about anything relating to our translation services, please let us know at info@idioma.jp.

idioma @ Automatica 2018 in Munich

Meanwhile in Munich, our European sales team attended the leading exhibition for smart automation and robotics – Automatica 2018 – an interesting exhibition with lots of companies, both big and small, most of whom are growing quite fast. This year it was the most international Automatica since its beginning, and indeed, we met with companies from all over Europe.

Would you like to know more about our translation services or discuss you translation needs in person? Please contact us at info@idioma.com, or meet us from 18th to 22nd September at AMB 2018 in Stuttgart!

Language facts: Thai

Jun 14, 2018

Thai, also called Siamese, is the official language of Thailand, a country in Southeast Asia with a population of 63 million people. However, only about 20 million of the people in Thailand are native speakers.
Thai is a tonal language. Different tones give different meaning, which makes it quite difficult to learn the language in the beginning. In spoken form, Thai is very similar and in fact mutually intelligible with Lao (the language of Laos). Both Thai and Lao belong to the Kra–Dai language family that covers dialects in the area of southern China, northeast of India and parts of Southeast Asia.
There are various dialects of Thai used in Thailand and while scholars and linguists consider these to be separate, albeit related languages, the native speakers tend to perceive it as one language with regional dialects.

‘Corruption’ in Thai vocabulary

Thai vocabulary consists of many foreign expressions, and paints a picture of historical development in the region. The Chinese influence, mainly until the 13th century when the Chinese script was replaced with Sanskrit and Pali scripts, caused there to be a good deal of words from Middle China. Trade relations with the West has also influenced the language considerably. Notably, basic trade-related and religious words were taken over from Portuguese, as that was also the first European nation to arrive in Thailand in the 16th century (words such as padre for a priest, carta for paper or real for a coin, etc.). English has become the most influential language since the 20th century, mainly when it comes to technical, scientific and modern society terms (such as computer, graph, government, technology, visa, taxi, diesel, and even corruption and wreath).

Alphabet includes tone forms

The Thai alphabets were first introduced in the 13th century by an ancient great king. Over time, the characters have changed in appearance. Today the language contains 44 consonants with 42 that are still in use, and 21 vowels in 32 combinations.
Thai words are often – although not always – composed of characters. That means in one single column, there may be up to three characters including consonant, vowel, and tone composed together.
When it comes to transcription of the Thai alphabet into Latin, there is no universally accepted method to follow, resulting in Thai words being transcripted differently. In fact, an ISO standard for Thai-Latin transcription exists since 2003 and is even used by Google Translate, but yet not very common in daily use (e.g. in textbooks or instructional texts).
For this reason, it is highly recommended to learn the Thai script in order to master the language itself.

ถ ท ธ น บ ป ผ ฝ พ ฟ ภ ม ย ร ล ว ศ ษ ส ห ฬ อ ฮ ก ข ฃ ค ฅ ฆ ง จ ฉ ช ซ ฌ ญ ฎ ฏ ฐ ฑ ฒ ณ ด ต

ะ ั า ํ ิ ่ ่ ่ ุ ู เ โ ใ ไ ็ อ ว ย ฤ ฤๅ ฦ ฦๅ

Tone forms: ่ ้ ๊ ๋

idioma @ the 29th Design Engineering & Manufacturing Solutions Expo (DMS) in Tokyo

Apr 24, 2018

DMS is Japan’s largest exhibition gathering all kinds of IT solution providers and attracting professionals looking to buy IT solutions for their business. This year, the number of exhibitors is expected to reach 2,600.

At our booth we are planning to exhibit our various translation services, latest trends in technical translation, and introduce our 3 international standards including ISO 18587 on post-editing of machine translation which was newly acquired last year.

If you plan to visit this exciting event, please feel free to contact us in advance at sales@idioma.com to receive your entrance ticket.

Exhibition details

Held inside Manufacturing World Japan 2018
Our booth: E26-40
Dates: June 20th (Wed) – 22nd(Fri), 2018 10:00 – 18:00 (last day until 17:00)
Venue: Tokyo Big Sight

We are looking forward to seeing you!

Language facts: Finnish

Jan 8, 2018

Finnish is a member of the Finno-Ugric language family (Uralic languages) and is closely related to Estonian and Saami (also known as Lapp). It is one of the two official languages in Finland (the other being Swedish) as well as one of the official EU languages. Additionally, it is used by Finnish-speaking minorities in Sweden and Estonia. The majority (more than 90%) of Finland’s population speaks Finnish, while the remainder speaks Swedish and Sami. Overall, Finnish is spoken by a little more than 5 million people.

Thanks to the existence of Nordic Language Convention, Finnish-speaking citizens can interact with governments and official bodies in other Nordic countries in their native language.

A language with a few relatives but many phonemes

Finnish is related also to some other of the few Uralic languages (such as Hungarian for example) in many aspects, including shared morphology, similar grammar, as well as basic vocabulary. The origin of Uralic languages is not entirely clear even today, but the most widely accepted theory is that this branch originated in the boreal forests around the Ural mountains and around the middle Volga river. Actually, Uralic languages, such as Finnish, are believed to be the proto-language of the area.

The Finnish language gained its official status no sooner than in 1863, after the rise of the Finnish nationalistic movement. The first Finnish writing system was, however, created already in the 16th century by a Finnish bishop Mikael Agricola, who wanted to translate the Bible, and thus needed to standardize the Finnish dialects into a comprehensive system. He failed to do so, as he wasn't able to unify the signs with different phonemes (the intent was for each phoneme to have a corresponding one letter). Later, Finnish actually lost several phonemes from the standardized language due to this unification.


In the Finnish alphabet, 'Å’ is carried over from the Swedish alphabet and is redundant in Finnish; it is merely retained for writing Finland-Swedish proper names.


a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v x y z å ä ö

We wish you a successful new year!

Dec 22, 2017

Our production center runs no matter what.

If you fight with end-of-the-year deadlines, our language factory is open for you even between the Christmas and New Year's festivities.

We will help you with last minute changes to your multilingual 2018 catalog or website and of course also with any express translation need.

Are you an LSP with a need to cover more volume or delicate language combinations? We can provide full LSP Back-office services for you.

Justgo to our e-shopthat runs 24/7.

Thank you for meeting idioma @ 27th JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo

Dec 5, 2017

We would like to thank everyone for visiting our booth at the JTF Translation Festival 2017 in Tokyo on November 29. idioma introduced its core ISO:17100, ISO:9001 and ISO:18587 certified translation services. We enjoyed meeting you and were happy to greet visitors, both new and old, some of whom we haven’t seen in a while.

Please do not hesitate to contact us at sales@idioma.com if you have questions or would like further information.

idioma sponsoring Translators without borders in 2018

Nov 14, 2017

Tokyo/Prague, (November 7, 2017) – idioma, an international translation services provider based in Tokyo since 1980, is pleased to announce that it has once again pledged its support to help humanitarian translations reach more people around the world by becoming a bronze sponsor of Translators without Borders.

Translators without Borders (TWB) strives to provide people access to vital, often life-saving, information in their own language by connecting non-profit organizations with a community of professional translators, building local language translation capacity, and raising awareness of language barriers. The organization has responded to urgent crises by using its Words of Relief model, working with partners, to provide vital information in the appropriate languages to those affected by the European refugee crisis, the Ebola crisis and the Nepal earthquake.

Commenting on idioma’s decision to become a sponsor, Steen Carlsson, the managing director of idioma’s Production center, said:

“Having worked with languages all my life, in my job and privately, I know what the difference of even the most rudimentary translation can mean to a person unable to communicate. When those you communicate with do not understand what you say, or what you need, or why you behave the way you do, there is only despair. Translators without Borders is a concept we are happy to support and it is my sincere hope more people in need will benefit from their help.”

idioma is proud to be supporting Translators without Borders in this work.

More about Translators without Borders

Translators without Borders envisions a world where knowledge knows no language barriers. The US-based non-profit provides people access to vital knowledge in their language by partnering with humanitarian organizations. Originally founded in 1993 in France as Traducteurs sans Frontières (now its sister organization), Translators without Borders translates more than five million words per year. In 2012, the organization established a Healthcare Translator Training Center in Nairobi, Kenya. For more information and to volunteer or donate, please visit the TWB website or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.

Autumn at idioma: Czech Republic

Oct 8, 2017

People are different, but we share many customs, as we observe daily also in our multinational company. Localization obviously affects cultural customs worldwide, but one thing is in common – we all like to stop and celebrate on many occasions and for many reasons. One good reason, for example, has historically been the advent of autumn and harvest.

Wine and the Czech Republic

The Czech Republic usually enjoys a nice and mild mid-European autumn atmosphere featuring beer and mainly wine festivals as well as grape harvest feasts in the romantic fall settings with beautifully colored leaves... during this time, usually there are no inversions or freezing drizzle. There is a number of mainly regional and local events (often with traditions that are centuries old), featuring folklore arts and lots of food and, as is pretty common in the Czech Republic, plentiful to drink – mainly new young wine called "burčák" (tastes like sweet grape juice, but already contains a fair share of alcohol, so one should be careful to regulate the intake).

Autumn is doubly significant to Czech people as the very first Czech nation state gained its independence from Austria in autumn 1918. October 28th, when the Czechoslovak Republic came into existence has since been celebrated as the most important national day of all.

Lights on the ground

Another important event but, in this case, a religious feast that also has become a secular tradition – in the otherwise highly atheist Czech nation – is All Saints Day on November 1st. On this day (and usually the two weekends surrounding it), Czech people visit cemeteries and light little candles on the graves of their dead, as well as on memorials. Graveyards turn into nostalgic sites with dim, yet magnificent light shows, and the event is, although a little melancholic at its core, considered a social event and a time for family members to meet.

Conveniently enough, the two autumn national feasts are close to each other in the calendar, therefore they are frequently used for holidays by quite a number of Czechs.

Piece of Japan in Prague

Even in the Czech Republic, there's also a Japanese community that shares the Japanese culture and traditions with locals at various feasts and events. On October 4th, the "Aki Matsuri" 2015 autumn festival took place in Prague, organized by the Czech-Japanese Association. The event, focused mainly on families with kids, offered a peak into Japanese martial arts and food, and it had even organized origami or kendamu workshops and Japanese games. With a beautiful weather and a temperature nudging close to 25°C, everyone could enjoy.

Languages of Spain's separatist regions: Basque and Catalan

Sep 29, 2017

Over the course of history, languages and their evolution have proven to be an accelerator of brawls between nations, as language happens to be the one common denominator for different groups inhabiting the same area that we actually call a nation. Language is an identification mark of affiliation and there are still languages in Europe that bear the nation-building agenda, even in 2017. Examples of such languages are those of Basque and Catalan, the Spain's rebellious regions.

Basque language

Basque is a language spoken by people in a geographic area in northeastern Spain stretching into parts of southwestern France. Over the past centuries, this region has contracted. Recently, as a result of the Basque nationalistic movement, the language has made a slight comeback. Basque is, in fact, a rather interesting language, as it is an isolated language and is not even remotely similar to any known existing language in the world. Presumably, Basque happens to be one of the few pre-Indo-European languages, the only one remaining in use in Western Europe.

Several dialects of Basque exist, however, the main dialect is Euskara Batua, a standard introduced in the 1960s that is generally taught in Basque schools. Basque is spoken by a little less than one million people. The language has co-official status in the Basque regions of Spain, but has no official status in the French regions.

During the era of Francoist Spain, the language was reluctantly tolerated in the Basque regions that supported the uprising of Franco, yet frowned-upon in those regions where the uprising gained little support.



a b c d e f g h i j k l m n ñ o p q r s t u v w x y z

Catalan language

Catalan is a Romance language with somewhere between 9 and 10 million speakers, but not necessarily native. It is the official language of Andorra and enjoys co-official status in a few Spanish communities, mainly on Spain's east coast, among others in Valencia, where it is called Valencian, or in the Balearic Islands. Similar to Spanish, Catalan also originates from Vulgar Latin. It reached its golden era in medieval times, particularly the Low Middle Ages, when it spread through the Mediterranean. It was used as an official language even in Sicily (until the 15th century) and Sardinia (until the 17th century), while the city of Alghero in Sardinia still tends to use Catalan until the present day.

The decline of Catalan, that in fact still continues, can be traced back to a specific historical event, the union of Castille and Aragon crowns in 1479, which caused an increasing influence of Spanish in the region. Yet another blow came in 1659, when the northern parts of the Catalonia region was ceded to France. Not only did the language come under the influence of French, it was even drastically prohibited from public use, with efforts to revive Catalan literature coming no sooner than in the half of 19th century.

The language was banned in use yet again during the Francoist era and has been recognized as an official language only after Spain's transition to democracy.

Nowadays, there are efforts to revive the language, among others by the French General Council of Pyrénées-Orientales (who introduced Catalan as one of the official languages of the department), to further promote it in public life and education. This seems to be necessary, as statistical research showed a quite dramatic decline of the population in the Catalan region that self-identifies primarily with Catalan (from 44.3% in 2003 to only 36.4% in 2013), which is believed to be caused by immigration, mainly from Arabic-speaking countries. A share of Catalonia's annual budget is poured into promoting the use of Catalan and integration of newcomers. Another issue is that the Catalan-speakers are actually becoming extinct and outside Catalonia itself the language is being replaced by the stronger national languages such as Spanish, French and Italian.


Catalan uses the Latin alphabet and uses acute accents (é, í, ó, ú) as well as grave accents (à, è, ò).


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