#idioma

Language facts: Polish

Jun 24, 2016

Polish is a West Slavic language and the official language of Poland. It is most closely related to Czech and Slovak, sharing the region of Central Europe.

It is spoken by around 55 million people around the world, primarily in Poland (around 38 million), and by immigrant communities in many countries in Europe, the UAE and USA (there are 11 million Polish Americans and a vast diaspora lives also in the UK). It is also one of the official EU languages.

LANGUAGE OF A COMPLICATED TERRITORY

Polish language appeared around the 10th century as a result of an emerging Polish state. Until accepting Christianity and the Latin script, there was no alphabet to write Polish down so it existed only in spoken form. Despite a very complicated history of Poland and Polish people, and many attempts to suppress the language, its literature still developed. Nowadays, Polish is the second most widely spoken Slavic language in the world (after Russian), even surpassing Ukrainian.

The language has some quite interesting grammar rules. Polish is highly inflected with seven cases for nouns, pronouns and adjectives. It also has a complex gender system, but uses only three tenses. There are no definite or indefinite articles in Polish. Interestingly, when formally addressing someone (even in direct personal communication), Polish switch from second to third person and use the pronouns pan (Mr.), pani (Mrs.) or panstwo (plural - equivalent to "ladies and gentlemen").

POLISH ALPHABET

In addition to the standard Latin alphabet, Polish uses 9 special characters (ą, ć, ę, ł, ń, ó, ś, ź, ż; Ą, Ć, Ę, Ł, Ń, Ó, Ś, Ź, Ż) and special character pairs (ch, cz, dz, dż, dź, sz, rz) which represent sounds not available in the Latin alphabet.

A Ą B C Ć D E Ę F G H I J K L Ł M N Ń O Ó P R S Ś T U W Y Z Ź Ż

a ą b c ć d e ę f g h i j k l ł m n ń o ó p r s ś t u w y z ź ż


Language facts: Swahili

Jun 3, 2016

Swahili (or Kiswahili) is a language from the Niger-Congo branch, included in the group of Bantu languages. It is spoken in several East African countries, even reaching across the Mozambique Channel to northern Mozambique and is considered a lingua francain the area of the African Great Lakes as well as other parts of Southeast Africa.

Swahili is the official language in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Comoros. It is spoken by tens of million of people, possibly even by more than one hundred million people, either as a primary or secondary language.

Lingua franca of Southeast Africa

This language dates back at least 1,000 years, being in fact the first language of the Swahili people, and originally spread mainly in coastal region by fishermen. During the colonial period, it has been much influenced by German, English, Portuguese, French and even Arabic. It was in fact the German colonists who declared Swahili as the general administrative language in mainland Tanzania (back then Tanganyika). English colonists had similar plans with Swahili in Kenya, but without any official conclusion. However, after the British took over Tanzania – the former colony of the defeated Germany – they instituted Swahili as a common language for lower levels of education and administration in all British colonies in the area (while secondary education and governance would be in English only).

Since 1928, when a conference in Mombasa was held in order to standardize Swahili language and provide it also with a written form (the language uses the Zanzibar Swahili dialect Kiunguja as a basis for standardization), the language has been regulated by the National Swahili Council in Tanzania. Today, Arabic language is gaining influence in Swahili language evolution due to the large amount of Arabic-speaking Muslim inhabitants in the region's east coast.

Alphabet

Swahili has two writing systems: Latin and Arabic. While it used to be based on the Arabic scripts, Latin script is common today.

Latin version:

A B CH D E F G H I J K L M N O P R S T U V W X Y Z

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


Language facts: Bengali

Apr 21, 2016

Bengali (or Bangla) is an Indo-Aryan language used in the area of Bengal in eastern South Asia including the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The language is the second most spoken language in India and the seventh largest language in the world with approximately 230-250 million native speakers (300 million worldwide), and it dates back at least 1,000 years, some say more.

Many different variations of Bengali exist, however, the main and generally accepted dialect is the West-Central one, called Nadia, spoken in West Bengal and Bangladesh. Bengali is the official language in Bangladesh and enjoys official language status in West Bengal, Tripura and Barak Valley (in India).

Bengali vs. Hindi

While the above-mentioned languages both belong to the Indo-Aryan language family, both are spoken widely in India, with origin from Sanskrit, but there's number of differences that make Bengali and Hindi mutually unintelligible. However, in regions where Bengali and Hindi speakers are exposed to each other's speech, they understand both. As Bangla speakers are more frequently exposed to Hindi, they are more likely to understand Hindi than vice versa.

Alphabet

Similar to different dialects, Bengali also has different scripts of which today Cholito bhasa is the generally accepted script and is the standard for written Bengali (another Bengali script is called Sadhu bhasa). Bengali is assumed to include some 100,000 separate words.

The letters in the Bengali script run from left to right. It uses the same punctuation as in western scripts, however the full stop is represented by the down stroke (|). Bengali still lacks a uniform sorting order, although attempts are underway to solve this.

Vowels:

অ, আ, ই, ঈ, উ, ঊ, ঋ, এ, ঐ, ও, ঔ

Consonants:

ক, খ, গ, ঘ, ঙ; চ, ছ, জ, ঝ, ঞ; ট, ঠ, ড, ঢ, ণ; ত, থ, দ, ধ, ন; প, ফ, ব, ভ, ম; য, র, ল, ব; শ, ষ, স, হ; ড়, ঢ়, য়;


Language facts: Hungarian

Apr 8, 2016

Hungarian (Magyar) is an official EU language and has about 14.5 million native speakers, mostly in Hungary and the diaspora – mainly in seven neighboring countries (e.g. Romania, Serbia, Ukraine or Slovakia, the latter where Hungarian even has a status of second language in the areas inhabited by Hungarian minority), but also worldwide.

Hungarian is a non-Indo-European language, a member of the Finno-Ugric group (like Finnish and Estonian, though not mutually intelligible) and Uralic family of languages. Hungarian is therefore related to languages like Khanty or Mansi, used by people living in Western Siberia, Ural region or around the Ob river (Russia).

Nomadic language

Ural is in fact considered the homeland of Hungarians, who (although formerly settled) slowly turned into nomadic people. Because of the history of Hungarian people (nomadic background plus the era of the Hungarian empire), the Hungarian vocabulary has borrowed quite a lot of words from Turkic languages, Slavic languages, German and even old Persian (possibly due to early contacts with Iranian nomads).

Hungarian is an agglutinative language – words consist of morphemes determining the meaning, but remain unchanged after forming a word – opposite to fusional languages represented by most of the European languages. Hungarian uses suffixes and prefixes extensively instead and features vowel harmony.

Alphabet

Hungarian uses the Latin alphabet, with several extra letters: accented vowels (á, é, í, ó, ö, ő, ú, ü, ű), digraphs – two characters representing a single letter (cs, dz, gy, ly, ny, sz, ty, zs) and even a trigraph (dzs). Characters with diacritical marks are considered separate letters. Vowels that differ only in length are treated the same when ordering words. Example: O and Ó are not distinguished in ordering, neither are Ö and Ő, but the latter two follow the O's.

A Á B C Cs D Dz Dzs E É F G Gy H I Í J K L Ly M N Ny O Ó Ö Ő P (Q) R S Sz T Ty U Ú Ü Ű V (W) (X) (Y) Z Zs a á b c cs d dz dzs e é f g gy h i í j k l ly m n ny o ó ö ő p (q) r s sz t ty u ú ü ű v (w) (x) (y) z zs


Language facts: Korean

Mar 23, 2016

Korean is one of the Far East Asian languages, but is a so-called "language isolate" and the only remaining member of the Koreanic language family (all relative languages have been long extinct).

Korean has around 80 million native speakers, and it is the official language in both South and North Korea and also one of the official languages of the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in China.

Torn language

There is number of differences between South and North Korean due to historical reasons and the isolation of North Korea. Spelling is slightly different between the two nations, but pronunciation is in fact the same (in South Korean the language is based largely on the Seoul dialect, while in North Korea spoken Korean is influenced by the dialect of Pyongyang). The two countries also have slightly different grammar and vocabulary (mainly due to political reasons). For instance, there's number of loan words in both Koreans, but while in South they are taken from English, in the North the vocabulary is "deliberately" influenced by Russian terms (e.g. the expression for "friend" used to be chingu (친구 / 親舊) in the entire Korea, but after the division of the peninsula, the North adopted the translation of the Russian term comrade, tongmu (동무 / 同務).

Even if some English words have been adapted in the North, they are usually transliterated into Korean differently from the practices in the South. Interestingly, for names of places, countries and nations, South Korea uses the English version of the term as a base for transliteration, while North Korea uses the word form in its original language as a base (e.g. Poland in the South is transliterated as Pollandeu (폴란드), but Ppolsŭkka (뽈스까) in the North, based on the Polish original name – Polska).

The division into two parts of a once single great nation is visible also in such should-be-common and historically important words as the name of the Korean Peninsula itself (hanbando (한반도 / 韓半島) in the South and chosŏnbando (조선반도 / 朝鮮半島) in the North), or the very reason for the division: the Korean War (hanguk jeonjaeng 한국 전쟁 / 韓國戰爭 in the South vs.choguk'aepangjŏnjaeng 조국해방전쟁 / 祖國解放戰爭 in the North).

Unusual Alphabet

Korean has its own, unique alphabet system – Hangul – established under the rule of Sejong the Great, and used since the 15th century (however, it did not become an official script in Korea until the 20th century). Today, Hangul is used both in North and South Korea, and it can be written from left to right or in columns from top to bottom starting from the right.

The Korean writing system also uses Hanja, the Korean name for Chinese characters and traditionally used for words of Chinese origin. These can be mixed in to write Sino-Korean words. South Korea still teaches 1800 Hanja characters in its schools, while the North abolished the use of Hanja decades ago. In the past, Hanja was the core of the Korean writing system.

Consonants:

ㄱ, ㄴ, ㄷ, ㄹ, ㅁ, ㅂ, ㅅ, ㅇ, ㅈ, ㅊ, ㅋ, ㅌ, ㅍ, ㅎ, ㄲ, ㄸ, ㅆ, ㅃ, ㅉ

Vowels:

ㅏ, ㅑ, ㅓ, ㅕ, ㅗ, ㅛ, ㅜ, ㅠ, ㅡ, ㅣ


Language facts: Khmer

Mar 11, 2016

Khmer, also known as Cambodian, is an Austro-Asiatic language and it is the official language of Cambodia. Khmer is spoken by 15 million native speakers, 12.6 million of whom live in Cambodia.

As old as the Khmer empire

Khmer has been influenced by Sanskrit and Pali through Hinduism and Buddhism as well as the Southeast Asian languages of Thai, Lao and Vietnamese, but unlike those it is NOT a tonal language (in tonal languages, changing a tone of speech changes the meaning of words, with otherwise intact spelling. Many Asian languages, including Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai, are tonal, while most languages in Europe are not, although in some European languages the meaning of words can be changed using pitch accent on certain syllables).

The language developed under the Khmer Empire, dating back to the 9th century, but goes back even further. It underwent turbulent change from the 14th to the 18th century. Modern Khmer as used today cannot be used to interpret Old Khmer. Several dialects of Khmer exist with a significant amounts of speakers in both Thailand and Vietnam. The majority of speakers use the Central Khmer dialect though.

Khmer is an analytical and isolating language, which means there are no inflections, conjugations or case endings used.

Alphabet

Khmer is written in the Khmer script, from which both Thai and Lao have developed. This script also has its own numerals.The Khmer alphabet consists of 33 consonants supported by vowels represented by diacritics written above, below and/or alongside on either side of the consonant to modify it. This example shows consonants without the vowel diacritics:

ក ខ គ ឃ ង ច ឆ ជ ឈ ញ ដ ឋ ឌ ឍ ណ ត ថ ទ ធ ន ប ផ ព ភ ម យ រ ល វ ឝ ឞ ស ហ ឡ អ

Khmer numerals (0 to 9):

០ ១ ២ ៣ ៤ ៥ ៦ ៧ ៨ ៩


Language facts: Irish

Feb 29, 2016

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family. It originates in Ireland, and was historically spoken by the Irish, but today only a small part of the population speaks the language.

Irish has status as the national and first official language of the Republic of Ireland, it was voted an official language of the European Union in 2005, and it is recognized as a minority language in Northern Ireland. Irish is spoken as a native language only in parts of Ireland, mostly on the west coast. Native speakers are estimated at between 20,000 and 30,000.

An "emigrated" language

Due to various reasons, Irish language experienced a decline in use of such proportions that it almost stopped existing as a live language. The British rule as well as adopting English by the Irish catholic church and a good part of the middle-class was, interestingly, not the eventual catalyst of the Irish language decline – just some of the factors. The final "killer" turned out to be less ideological and in fact purely practical: during massive emigration of Irish folks to United States in the 19th century, speaking English simply ensured a greater variety of job opportunities (aside from farming).

Irish as a symbol

In today's Republic of Ireland, Irish has largely lost out to English in common usage, but it remains a required subject of study in schools, while all official documents issued by the Irish government must be published in both Irish and English or only Irish. Since the 1920s, there has been an incline in use of the language (while it is considered by Irish themselves as having more of a symbolic, than practical value) and there are movements trying to promote Irish and its use not just in official communication.

Alphabet

A Á B C D E É F G H I Í L M N O Ó P R S T U Ú
a á b c d e é f g h i í l m n o ó p r s t u ú


Language facts: Uyghur

Feb 12, 2016

Uyghur belongs to the Turkic language family and is derived from Old Turkic language with its origins in Mongolia and Xinjiang. This is the autonomous territory in northwest China, sometimes also referred to as East Turkestan, or Uyghurstan (although actively discouraged by Chinese government), in historical context even Moghulistan – the land of Mongols where the descendants of Genghis Khan actually ruled. As a member of the Turkic language family, Uyghur is related to languages like Turkish, Azerbaijani, or Turkmen. Uyghur has somewhere between 10 and 15 million speakers nowadays.

Formerly known as Eastern Turkish, it is today a language spoken by the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region where its status is that of official language. Uyghur is widely used in public life and in official settings as well as in print, radio and television. Apart from Xinjiang, the language is spoken also in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia by Uyghur diaspora.

Three different scripts

Generally, Uyghur has three main dialects, Central, Southern and Eastern, where the Central dialect is clearly the dominant one and spoken by 90% of the population. Like the other Turkic languages, it has vowel harmony. Uyghur has been influenced to a large degree by Persian and Arabic, and more recently also by Russian and Chinese. The Old Uyghur writing dates back to the fifth century and its writing system is based on the Arabic script. This writing system still dominates today, although Uyghur also can be written in two different Latin alphabets (classic Latin – Uyghur Latin Yëziqi, and a blend of Latin, Turkic and Pinyin* – Uyƣur Yengi Yeziⱪi – abandoned after 1982, when the original Arabic-based script was reintroduced) as well as Cyrillic. In Xinjiang, the Uyghur Arabic script is adopted as the official writing system, while the other alphabets are primarily used in areas outside Xinjiang.

Alphabet

ا ئە،ە ب پ ت ج چ خ د ر ز ژ س ش غ ف ق ك گ ڭ ل م ن ھ ئو،و ئۇ،ۇ ئۆ،ۆ ئۈ،ۈ ۋ ئې،ې ئى،ى ي

* Pinyin = The official writing system for transcription of Mandarin pronounciation of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet


Language facts: Dutch

Jan 29, 2016

Dutch is a West Germanic language primarily used in the Benelux region and an official EU language. It is closely related to other West Germanic languages (e.g., English, West Frisian and German) and somewhat more remotely to the North Germanic languages. Because of former ownership of colonies on the African continent, Dutch has considerably influenced Afrikaans, one of the official languages of South Africa and the most widely understood language in Namibia.

Nowadays the language is spoken by 24 million people around the world, primarily in the Netherlands, but also in Belgium, where Dutch is one of the official languages, next to French and German. The Belgian version of Dutch is often referred to as Flemish (Vlaams), which covers a group of Dutch dialects with slight differences from standard Dutch. But what are the differences exactly?

Difference between Dutch and Flemish

Flemish, or Vlaams in Dutch, is the standard Dutch variant spoken in the Belgian region of Flanders, with approximately 6.1 million speakers. It includes several dialects, all of which are interrelated with the southwestern dialects of Dutch. The main differences are in pronunciation and frequency of certain words. Because certain words (around 3-4,000) are more frequent in Belgian Dutch, many refer to the language as Flemish, however the words are indeed part of standard Dutch. These different Flemish-preferred expressions are often considered as "old-fashioned" in Dutch. A slightly more old-fashioned sense of Flemish in comparison with Dutch is underlined also by a more formal tone of communication among speakers of Flemish. While Dutch people tend to switch from formal to informal tone rather quickly, Flemish speakers use more formal expressions (for which they are sometimes considered cold or unpleasant). However, there are no spelling differences between the Dutch language used in Belgium and the Dutch one used in the Netherlands.

Alphabet

In addition to the standard English alphabet, Dutch ends with (…) X Y IJ Z. The alphabet is shared also with the Flemish dialects.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y IJ Z

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


Language facts: Tamil

Jan 14, 2016

Tamil is spoken in southern India, Sri Lanka and Singapore and by many migrant groups in Malaysia, South Africa, and even Canada, USA and parts of West Europe. It is the official language in Sri Lanka, the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Puducherry, with around 85 million native speakers. It is also one of the official languages of Singapore.

Tamil is based on the Dravidian vocabulary and has received strong impact from Sanskrit, however, the pure Tamil movement in the 20th century has sought to remove this influence, and there is now a movement to build expressions and words on Tamil roots, while in this process also replacing many loan words from English and other languages.

One of the longest surviving languages

In India, Tamil is one of the 22 scheduled languages and as such, like the other languages, the tongue is subject to official measures to further develop the language. Tamil has existed for more than 2,000 years and can be traced back to the 3rd century B.C. It is regarded as one of the longest surviving classical languages in the world, and as such offers a wealth of classical traditions. There is a huge variety of literature written in Tamil script, moreover the earliest manuscripts found in India were in Tamil. Thanks to Christian missionaries, who published a book of Tamil prayers, it has become also the first Indian language to be printed. Modern Tamil was also influenced by contacts with European culture (e.g. use of European-style punctuation or consonant clusters, or a more rigid word order, which resembles the syntax of English – due to understandable historical reasons).

Alphabet

Vowels:

அ ஆ இ ஈ உ ஊ எ ஏ ஐ ஒ ஓ ஔ

Consonants:

க் ங் ச் ஞ் ட் ண் த் ந் ப் ம் ய் ர் ல் வ் ழ் ள் ற் ன்

Tamil numerals (0 to 10)

௦ ௧ ௨ ௩ ௪ ௫ ௬ ௭ ௮ ௯ ௰


Language facts: Turkish

Dec 3, 2015

Turkish is predominantly used in Turkey and Cyprus. It has approximately 63 million speakers many of which can also be found in Greece, Bulgaria and other parts of Eastern Europe. Modern Turkish language has been highly influenced by Ottoman Turkish and has expanded as the Ottoman Empire grew. Turkish is also spoken by several million immigrants in Western Europe, mainly Germany, where a major Turkish diaspora exists.

Not so common language family

Turkish belongs to Turkic language family (as its most significant representative), namely to the group of Oghuz languages. Oghuz Turkic languages – such as Azerbaijani, Turkmen, Qashqai, or Gagauz – are characteristic with a high degree of mutual intelligibility.

Some features of Turkish language, such as lack of genders in grammar, no noun classes, vowel harmony, or agglutination (the process in which complex words are comprised of combining various morphemes in a string) are common throughout the entire Turkic language family. Turkish also features a considerable amount of loanwords from Arabic and Persian, due to the adoption of Islam by Ottoman ancestors, the Seljuq Turks. In fact, the Ottoman Turkish was a blend of Turkish, Arabic and Persian (not really compatible with today's Turkish).

"Republican" language reform

The establishment of Modern Turkish language in everyday use resulted from the foundation of the Republic of Turkey and was strongly supported by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (interesting fact: "Atatürk" is not a real surname of the first Turkish president, but an honorary title that directly means "father of all Turks". Turkish parliament even banned the name to be used in connection with any other person – by law). As the Ottoman language (that was used as administrative language of the empire) consisted of too many loanwords of Persian and Arabic origin, the aim of the language reform was to replace these terms with original Turkish expressions. It's quite funny though that Atatürk himself often used Ottoman terms in his speeches, which resulted in his 1927 speech to the new Parliament being repeatedly translated into Modern Turkish to make it comprehensible to younger generations.

Alphabet

In 1928, as a result of Atatürk's reform, the original Ottoman script was replaced with a phonetic variant of the Latin alphabet, but with some additions.

A B C Ç D E F G Ğ H I I J K L M N O Ö P R S Ş T U Ü V Y Z

a b c ç d e f g ğ h ı i j k l m n o ö p r s ş t u ü v y z


Language facts: Latin

Nov 12, 2015

Latin is the official language of the Vatican City. It derives from the Indo-European branch, from which Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian originate. Although it was spoken in the Mediterranean area, it also influenced the Germanic languages and is currently used in many abbreviations (“e.g.” was an example derived from the Latin “exempli gratia” and “i.e.” is short for “id est”). Latin terminology is widely used, amongst others, in philosophy, medicine, biology, law and for official purposes. Interestingly, Latin is spoken daily by only around 800 people.

Rise and fall of Latin

Originally, Latin was spoken in the area around the ancient city of Rome – Latium. In the course of the rise of Rome, Latin spread to other parts of the kingdom, later the Roman Republic, and subsequently became the "official" administrative language of the entire Roman Empire. This is also the reason why Latin strongly influenced vernacular languages in the Empire, such as French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and even English. In fact, so-called Romance languages are the direct successor of Vulgar Latin, the unwritten and non-standardized proto-language.

During the era of the Roman Republic, a standardized Classic Latin was introduced to replace the Old Latin and most of the written works used the standardized version.

Latin language survived also the fall of the Roman Empire and lived on in the form of Late Latin, later developed into Medieval Latin and Renaissance Latin. Until the 18th century, Modern Latin was the lingua franca of international communication and mainly science. Nowadays, Latin is preserved principally by the Catholic Church (while many clerics are still fluent in it) and science, as a vast number of scientific terminology in e.g. biology and medicine originate from Latin. Quod erat demonstrandum. :)

Alphabet

Compared to the English alphabet, the Latin language has 23 letters and lacks the letters J, U, and W, and it does not have a cursive script.

A B C D E F G H I K L M N O P Q R S T V X Y Z

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


Language facts: Persian

Oct 30, 2015

Persian – also known as Farsi, although this term is considered as incorrect by many academics – is an Indo-European language of the Indo-Iranian branch. Persian and its varieties have official-language status in Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. And Farsi has been called Dari in Afghanistan, due to political reasons only. Historically Persian (as a direct descendant of Old Persian) is a more widely understood language in an area ranging from the Middle East to India. Significant populations of speakers can be found in other Persian Gulf countries (Bahrain, Iraq, Oman, the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, and the United Arab Emirates), as well as large communities in the USA.

There are approximately 80 million native speakers of Persian in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and about the same number of people in other parts of the world speaks Persian, at least as a second language.

Persian vs Arabic

Persian language was continuously preserved and developed through centuries and its own evolution phases, from Old Persian via Middle Persian to New Persian (the modern version of Persian spoken today). The New Persian actually is the direct follower of Old Persian and Persian language is among the oldest ones with preserved original texts. Due to its script, it is commonly mistaken for Arabic, or considered a variation of Arabic language. This is far from truth, as the alphabet set is actually the only resemblance of the languages. Persian sounds much different, with its own grammar and syntax. Similar to comparing e.g. German and French, both share the alphabet set, but are not mutually interchangeable. In fact, Arabic and Persian do not even share the language family, as Persian originates from the Indo-European language tree, while Arabic belongs to Afro-Asiatic (or Semitic) family.

Alphabet

Interestingly, words in Farsi are written from right to left, but numbers are written from left to right. And all is written in cursive only. The modern Persian alphabet is based on Arabic script, but has 32 letters - 4 more than Arabic. One variety of Persian, the Tajiki (spoken in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) is written in Cyrillic script.

ا، ب، پ، ت،5.ث، ج، چ، ح، خ، د، ذ، ر، ز، ژ، س، ش، ص، ض، ط، ظ، ع، غ، ف، ق، ک، گ، ل، م، ن، و، ه، ی


Language facts: Ukrainian

Oct 15, 2015

Ukrainian is the state language of Ukraine, the national language of Ukrainians. It belongs to the Slavic languages (the Eastern-Slavic group), being a part of the Indo-European language family, and is currently emerging from a long period of decline. The total number of the Ukrainian speaking population is estimated to around 39 million people. Ukrainian language is also spoken in Russia, Poland, Canada, Slovakia, Byelorussia, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and Transdniestria (Moldova).

Language fighting for survival

Historically, Ukrainian originates from Old Russian language. Until the 20th century, the language was even called "Little Russian", or Rusyn language in Poland and Slovakia.*

The vocabulary of the language is based on words with common Slavic origin, but it also contains a great number of words formed during the period of its own historical development. Ukrainian includes a number of borrowed words that originally come from German, Polish and other languages. This was mainly due to political reasons, as Ukraine has undergone various levels of influence from Poland, Lithuania, Austro-Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany and, of course, Russia.

The official approach to the use of Ukrainian in modern Ukraine has gone from complete neglect and even suppression and bans to popularization (mainly in the 19th and at the beginning of 20th century), and there has even been "ukrainization" (e.g. after the communist putsch in Russia, and now today once again) – seemingly as a result of current needs, trends, and development.

Face of the nation

The complicated face and nature of the Ukrainian lands and nation are very strongly reflected in the complicated face and nature of Ukrainian language while the language itself has become one of the strongest symbols of Ukrainian statehood.

Since 1991, independent Ukraine has made Ukrainian the only official state language and implemented government policies to broaden the use of Ukrainian (often replacing Russian). Lately, this has been viewed as controversial, predominantly in the eastern parts of the country, where a strong enclave of Russians opposes the policy and demands equality of the Ukrainian and Russian languages.

Alphabet

The Ukrainian alphabet is based on the Cyrillic alphabet and has 33 letters.

А Б В Г Ґ Д Е Є Ж З И І Ї Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ь Ю Я

а б в г ґ д е є ж з и і ї й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ь ю я

*There are many disputes over the classification of Rusyn. While it has its own ISO code, is spoken by the minority of Rusyns in Eastern Europe (mainly Slovakia and Serbia), and is even one of the official languages of the Vojvodina autonomy, it is also considered only a dialect of Ukrainian – interestingly enough, by Ukraine itself.


Language facts: Hebrew

Sep 24, 2015

Hebrew is a Semitic language and belongs to the Afroasiatic language family. Biblical Hebrew is closely related to Arabic and Aramaic, which are spoken around the territory where many of the biblical stories are focused – the Middle East. Hebrew is one of the two official languages of the State of Israel, along with Arabic. Modern Hebrew is spoken by some six million people inside Israel and one to two million people outside the country. Liturgical Hebrew is used by quite a few more people, in both Jewish and Christian religious settings.

Resuscitated after centuries

Liturgical Hebrew that was preserved in ancient religious heritage, but vanished from everyday use around 4th century, was actually revived. Modern Hebrew was invented as an adjunct to the Zionist movement in the 19th century. One of its first and most avid innovators was Eliezer Itzchak Perlman of Belarus, who created much of the modern vocabulary between 1885 and 1922. Mr. Perlman is renowned for raising the first “Hebrew-speaking” child – he forbade anyone to utter a word in any other language around his firstborn son, Ben Zion (who later changed his name to Itamar).

Modern Hebrew is governed by an official committee – The Academy of the Hebrew Language. Decisions by the Academy are enshrined in law and frequently ignored by speakers of the language. It is interesting, though, that Hebrew is a native language of less than 49% of Israelis – other major native languages of Israel inhabitants are Russian, Arabic, English, French and Yiddish (though similar to Hebrew by using the same alphabet set as well as similar expressions, the two languages have very different origin and history. Yiddish is a fusion language originating in Liturgical Hebrew and Armaic, but mixes with High German and Slavic languages).

Alphabet

Hebrew is read from right to left using a distinctive 22-letter alphabet.

בּ ב ג גּ ג׳ ד דּ ד׳ ה ו וּ וֹ ו׳ ז ז׳ ח ט י ִי כּ ךּ ך כ ל

/ ם מ ן נ ס ע פּ ףּ פ ף ץ צ ץ׳ צ׳ ק ר שׁ שׂ תּ ת ת׳


Language facts: Arabic

Sep 3, 2015

Arabic belongs to the Afroasiatic language family and is a Semitic language of the Arabo-Canaanite subgroup – therefore closely related to Hebrew or Phoenician.

With approximately 290 million speakers (of Modern Standard Arabic), it ranks in sixth place among the world’s major languages. In today's form, Modern Standard Arabic happens to be an official language of 27 states. Only English and French score higher. As the Arabic world is very large, it is not surprising that a large number of Arabic dialects have developed – counting all these, the number of Arabic speakers rises to an estimated 420 million. Arabic is the language of the Holy Quran, poetry and literature as well as an official UN language. As a liturgical language of Islam, it is used by an astonishing 1.6 billion Muslims.

Complicated language of complicated society

Arabic is a so-called sociolinguistic language, which means that from a purely linguistic view it's actually a group of familiar languages. For cultural (e.g. religious) or socioeconomic reasons it is considered as one language, though, despite that there are branches of Arabic that are mutually unintelligible. Arabic can be sub-classified as follows: Classical Arabic, Modern Standard Arabic and Colloquial Arabic. Obviously there's also a large number of dialects.

Classical Arabic (or Quranic Arabic) is used as the language of prayer and recitation throughout the Islamic world. Modern Standard Arabic, a constituted version of the language, is, though intelligible, much distinct from the spoken variants of Arabic dialects (with no observable boundaries or rules). The official constituted form of Arabic actually co-exist in common usage with various Arabic dialects while covering different social situations.

The language of culture

Because of Muslim expansion in the past, Arabic has influenced a lot of the world's languages, including Indian languages such as Urdu (which is in fact a Muslim influenced version of Hindi – that was actually also previously influenced by Arabic), Punjabi or Bengali. Also Roman languages, mainly Spanish, Catalan or Portuguese, borrowed many expressions from Arabic in the middle ages, when the Muslim world represented the cultural and scientific drive in then decimated Europe.

Alphabet

The Arabic alphabet has twenty-eight (28) letters. Arabic differs from Latin languages in that it is written right to left, but sequences of digits, such as telephone numbers, read from left to right.

أ ب ت ث ج ح خ د ذ ر ز س ش ص ض ط ظ ع غ ف ق ك ل م ن ه و ي


Language facts: Hindi

Aug 27, 2015

Standard Hindi, also known as Modern Hindi, is mutually intelligible with Urdu, another Indian language. Hindi is the official language in India and has borrowed its vocabulary heavily from Sanskrit. Hindi has close to 500 million speakers including Hindi dialects (41% of the population in India) which makes it the 4th largest language of the world, after Chinese, Spanish, and English.

Language as a political tool

Standard Hindi is based on Khariboli, a dialect of Delhi and surrounding regions. In the 17th century, this dialect acquired linguistic prestige and became generally known as Hindustani or Urdu. After India became independent, a language reform led to Standard Hindi with a modern grammar and orthographic standards. While many Hindi and Urdu speakers claim these are two different languages, this is largely due to religious nationalism and communal tensions between Hindus and Muslims. It is in a fact hard to tell the colloquial languages from each other. In the Indian constitution from 1950, Hindi was declared the principal national language of India, instead of Urdu. This "settled" the dispute politically (also with a contribution of Mahatma Gandhi who criticized the division), although certain resistance persists until today.

One country, 22 languages

It may be worthwhile to note that English is the secondary national language due to historical and cultural development of India. Fluency in English is considered a social advantage. English is India's lingua franca and is widely used in higher society, politics as well as in business. Apart from official Hindu and English, there is over 20 officially recognized languages in India, including Urdu, Assamese, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Nepali, Kannada, Gujarati and others.

Alphabet

The main script of Standard Hindi is Devanagari, it is also the most commonly used alphabet for writing Sanskrit.

अ ब भ क च छ ड/द ध/ढ़ इ फ ग घ ह ई ज क ख ल म न/ण ऑ प फ क्यू र स श ट/त ठ/थ उ व व क्ष य झ


Language facts: German

Aug 6, 2015

German is the official language of Germany and Austria and one of the official languages of Switzerland and Belgium, as well as an official language of the European Union and the European Commission. It is used by more than 100 million speakers and belongs to the West Germanic group of the Germanic languages. Apart from Standard German of Germany spoken by 88 million, Austrian German (Österreichisches Deutsch) it has 8 million speakers, while Swiss German (Schweizerdeutsch) has 5 million speakers. Moreover, there are about 80 million non-native speakers.
FACT: German is also the second most used scientific language.

Too many dialects

German is an interesting language also because a vast number of flavors and dialects, some of which are so distant and even mutually non-interchangeable with Standard German, so they are considered separate languages (such as Swiss German for instance). Even though Standard German existed in written form, the pronunciation was (and in fact still remains) very different in every region and dialect. The Standard German pronunciation was influenced by North German (although, strange enough, it was learnt as a foreign language in Northern Germany itself) as well as the stage form of German used in theaters.

The standardization of written German in fact did not occur until the beginning of the 20th century. It's worthy to note that the most comprehensive German dictionary was created by the famous German authors, The Grimm Brothers. Another important role in German standardization was also played with the publication of Martin Luther's Bible.

Interesting fact: there is one German dialect (considered a separate language today) that is not written in Latin, but in Hebrew script and it is Yiddish – the old German dialect of Ashkenazi Jews, originated in Central Europe around 9th century.

West vs. East German

Although it might seem that 40 years of division between East and West Germany caused also variation in language, it had just a little influence given a too short development period. There are certain words that are culturally different in today's western and eastern Deutschland due to Russian influence (e.g. astronaut (West) vs. kosmonaut (East), or Gartenhaus vs. Datsche (Russian expression for garden house). Also brands influenced certain terms, e.g. tissue – Kleenex in the US – is termed "Tempo" in the West, after the major tissue producer in Germany, but only a general expression "Papiertaschentuch" is used in the East.

Alphabet

The German alphabet is basically the same as the English one, exept for the addition of the special characters Ä, Ö, Ü / ä, ö, ü, ß (so called sharp S – originally scharfen S or "Eszett", sometimes replaced in writing with a double "s" (common in Switzerland). The Eszett character is rather interesting, because it doesn't have an upper case form). When sorting, these extra letters are treated like their base characters, as if the dots (umlauts) were not present.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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


Language facts: Russian

Jul 23, 2015

Russian is the most widely spoken of the Slavic languages, and the largest native language in Europe. It belongs to the family of Indo-European languages. Russian is the native language of around 165 million people and second language of an additional 110 million people. Startling fact: Over a quarter of the world's scientific literature is published in Russian. Nowadays, Russian is spoken primarily in Russia and Belarus, partly Ukraine and is also one of six official languages of the United Nations as well as official EU language.

To foreigner's ears, most of other Slavic languages sound similar to Russian, although the languages are far from being interchangeable (in fact it is even less mutually similar than Romance languages are).

Language of the red Empire

Due to the status of the former Soviet Union as a superpower, Russian had great political importance in the 20th century and was in fact forced as a second language to all countries under Soviet influence, including central European countries and East Germany. Russian was a mandatory subject in school, even a mandatory part of school leaving exams. After the Soviet union collapsed, public attitude towards Russian language in satellite countries went to the opposite extreme, neglecting and suppressing the language out of general education while swiftly replacing it with English due to new political trends. Until today, a lot of 50+ people in post-communist countries still read the Cyrillic script (Azbuka) and have a general understanding and basic knowledge of Russian.

Alphabet

Russian uses the Cyrillic script, which is originally derived from the Greek script, but adjusted and supplemented by some letters from so called Glagolitic alphabet, developed by the brothers Cyril and Methodius, in order to comply with Old Church Slavonic sounds. Old Church Slavonic was, at that time, considered 4th liturgical language for a brief period beside Latin, Greek and Hebrew. Although a dead speech now, its still being used in the Orthodox church.

А Б В Г Д Е Ё Ж З И Й К Л М Н О П Р С Т У Ф Х Ц Ч Ш Щ Ъ Ы Ь Э Ю Я
а б в г д е ё ж з и й к л м н о п р с т у ф х ц ч ш щ ъ ы ь э ю я


idioma ranked in Asia TOP 30 by CSA Research!

Jul 16, 2015

Growing while helping others to expand on new markets with our translation and localization services. Our simple philosophy, 35 years of experience, high quality standards as well as internal research and development that ensured the most innovative and efficient processes move us and our clients forward.

Satisfied clientele is the highest form of credit to us, but being recognized by independent world-renowned research company feels, well, rather nice as well :)

Today we feel just that way, as idioma (with headquarters in Tokyo) scored #18 in rankings of the biggest language service providers in Asia (and #4 in Japan) in terms of revenue, issued by renowned Common Sense Advisory(CSA research).

"This is indeed an honor, but behind this recognition there is also a lot of hard work. We have our clients to thank of course, but a lot of credit should go to the people who have helped us reach this far; this is of course our staff, all our translators and other suppliers, and not the least our programmers. We are currently working on new solutions and additional services, so I am confident that we'll stay in this race and hopefully achieve an even higher ranking in coming years," says managing director of idioma's Prague production and R&D center, Steen Carlsson.

With our new internal benchmark, we already work hard on going up the ladder in 2016!


Language facts: French

Jul 2, 2015

French is a Romance language spoken by 65 to 80 million people around the world as a native language, and by an additional 200 million or so people as a second or third language. Most native speakers of the language live in France, while most of the rest live in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Francophone Africa, Luxembourg and Monaco. French originates from the Latin language of the Roman Empire. Today, it is an official language in 29 countries, especially in many African countries, most of them former French or Belgian colonies. French is the official EU language, as well as one of the three working languages of the European Commission.

Language of artists, diplomats and chefs

Around 17th century, French became a widespread lingua franca (in fact replacingItalian that enjoyed such popularity during the Renaissance period), similar to today's status of English. It has been much used in science, diplomacy, even arts for several centuries – in fact, until World War II. (The first signs of French being pushed back by English emerged after World War I., e.g. when the Treaty of Versailles was written in both French and English, despite former diplomatic convention). The truth is that English has been widely influenced by French and many English words related to law, government, military, and, of course, cuisine and cooking, are derived from French vocabulary (lieutenant (same), attorney/atourné, treaty/traité, finance/finer, fee/fie, jail/jaiole, etc). In case of French cuisine-related words (picnic/piquenique, spice/espice, soup/soupe, sausage/saussiche, juice/jus, beef/boef, etc), some of them are used in English even with original French spelling (grape, menu, bacon, omelette and so forth).

French in translation

It is important to note that in translation, documents destined for France can usually be used as they are in Belgium, Switzerland, etc. There are no major differences. In Belgium, to give an example, they have their own word for ninety "nonante", but the French equivalent "quatre-vingt-dix" is generally understood. However when documents are intended for Canada, they should be translated into Canadian French since there are significant differences between standard French and Canadian French. Canada for example has taken in many loan words from its US neighbor, and the language at times tends to be more formal than European French. And when working with translation memories, it is important to separate the two by their correct languages codes. Use "fr-ca" for Canadian French.

Alphabet

French uses the standard English alphabet with added ligatures (œ and æ) and also frequent use of acute accent ( ´ ), grave accent ( ` ), circumflex ( ˆ ), diaeresis ( ¨ ), and the cedilla ( ¸ ). Diacritics have no impact on the primary alphabetical order.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z


Language facts: Italian

Jun 11, 2015

Italian is a member of the Romance group of languages. It is the official language of Italy, San Marino and Vatican City, and one of the official languages of Switzerland. Italian is spoken by about 58 million people in Italy, 30,000 in San Marino, and 840,000 in Switzerland. Italian is regarded as the 4th or 5th most studied language in the world and is also an official EU language. It is also one of the most visited countries in the world – close to 40 million people go there every year – which could explain the interest in studying Italian.

Medieval lingua franca

Italian is descendant of Latin, or better said Vulgar (common) Latin, and shares or resembles Latin in terms of vocabulary more than other Romance languages. From late medieval to Renaissance (mainly due to the cultural and trade impact and dominance of Italy) Italian had a function of so called lingua franca – universal language in trade and international relations in Europe, similar to today's English. Italian is profound with its number of mutually incompatible dialects and it is said (with a little overstatement) that two neighboring villages don't understand each other when speaking in their own regional dialect.

Well-known Italian words

While it is common for many languages to have borrowed words from English and French, Italian is also a language from which many tongues have picked up a few terms. The most well-known are perhaps 'Pizza' (a word understood almost all over the word), 'Bank', 'Alarm' and 'Ghetto'. Other borrowed words that spring to mind come from the world of music and performance, e.g. 'Piano', 'Violin' and 'Opera'. In the world of science, look no further than 'Volt', which is an electric unit named after Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the world's first battery in 1779.

Alphabet

Italian uses the same letters as in the English alphabet, with acute, grave and circumflex accents on vowels. Some letters (j, k, w, x, y) are excluded from the standard Italian though, used only in loan words.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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


Welcome to your new idioma experience!

Jun 5, 2015

FRESH - INTERACTIVE - EFFECTIVE.

On June 1st, we released our new website and brand new idioma WORLD™ platform to enhance your possibilities in the translation universe.

Apart from new services such as Translation Memory creation, Glossary Creation and our unique Stream Translation API, all current services, including Stream (for instant online estimates of translation price and delivery term) and Ask (systematized language queries) have been completely redesigned including a full overhaul of the functionality to make everything more user-friendly.

The new idioma WORLD™ replaces our former TC platform and stuns users with a fresh, intuitive design. Moreover, it was designed to meet the new Web 3.0 standards and fully complies with mobile device requirements.

idioma WORLD™ controls all aspects of every project we handle. The system is closely interlinked with iQube, our web-based translation platform, which all translators and verifiers work against online. idioma WORLD™ has been developed in-house to manage localization projects the way we want. The system keeps track of all project details, including individual project steps.

As a client, you can track on-going projects, who is the translator and reviewer, and easily see the progress on translation projects as percent ready. This can be highly useful for your planning and to assure you that delivery will be on time, especially when deadlines are tight. Obviously, as an intranet solution, idioma WORLD™ has built in https encryption/decryption with SSL certificates to ensure your data is safe and cannot be sniffed or hacked.

However, it's not just our clients, who will benefit from new idioma WORLD™ platform. The redesign included, inter alia, also supplier pages, adding motivational statistics and analysis of translator performance (including translation and verification speed and quality indicators). Thanks to this, as well as a comprehensive booking and availability tracking system, we take translation quality and speedy turnaround to even higher levels.

Don't have your idioma WORLD™ account yet? Register now at www.idioma.com and enjoy a whole new experience in ordering and managing translation projects!


Language facts: Chinese

May 12, 2015

First of all, it's important to mention that there's not only one universal written Chinese language. There are two dominating written systems of Chinese – Simplified used in mainland China and also an official writing system in Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau and other overseas Chinese diasporas. Then is traditional Chinese used largely in Taiwan and still in Hong Kong and Macau. Interestingly, spoken Chinese is not recognized as simple vs. traditional, but as Mandarin (mainland) and Cantonese (Hong Kong) dialects.

Simplified Chinese

Chinese is the most important language among Sino-Tibetan tongues. Simplified Chinese is the official language spoken by the world's largest population, namely in the People's Republic of China, and the basic communication tool of today's most buoyant economy. This language system, consisting of several thousands of characters with each having unique meanings, is dramatically different from the western languages in terms of its wording, syntax and methods of expression. Simplified Chinese characters were promoted mainly in the 1950s and 1960s by the governments of the People's Republic of China in attempt to increase literacy. If you are seeking business opportunities or planning to explore markets in China or Singapore, it's definitely a winning strategy to send over your messages in Simplified Chinese!

Traditional Chinese

Standard Chinese has developed gradually from the Mandarin dialect in the north of China over several hundred years, with the Peking tone as its standard tone. Traditional Chinese is the official language of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The writing system is also referred to as ‘standard', ‘orthodox’ and ‘complex characters’. Chinese is currently the language used by most people in the world as nearly one fifth of the world's population, or about 1.3 billion people, speak Chinese as their native language.

One of the most ancient languages in the world, with a history of 6,000 years today is also one of the working languages of the U.N. both in traditional and simplified forms.

Alphabet

Using special hieroglyphs, Chinese has a character as its minimum unit. Characters are meaning-representative syllabic characters, with the special characteristics of integration of vision, voice and meaning. Syllables can be divided into three parts, namely initial consonant, compound vowel and tune.

Alphabet samples:

欢迎您采用我们的翻译服务


idioma at Prague Marathon 2015

May 7, 2015

Every May since 1995, there has been a big runners' event going on in Prague – the Prague International Marathon, celebrating it's 20th anniversary this year. The Prague Marathon has risen in popularity and has become one of the most prestigious city marathons in the world, hosting up to ten thousand runners from many different countries. The Prague Marathon even gained IAFF Gold Label status in 2010, an award that only 17 city marathons has won world-wide so far.
Of course, as the Prague office of idioma includes a number of serious sportsmen of all kind, we had our representatives in a peloton of the major marathon event this year in the Czech Republic. READY - SET - GO!

Finish line of heroes

The first idioma runner, Tomas – one of our IT and TM guys, has already participated in various half-marathons, but this time he decided to go all the way and apply for his first full marathon in life.

"I had a feeling that (compared to half-marathons) the crowd in the audience was more appreciative and grateful towards the runners who actually passed the finish line. It didn't matter whether someone made it in 4 or 6 hours, everyone was cheered and applauded rapturously. A lot of little kids were standing by the track with their hands extended, eagerly asking for high-fives and having a wonderfully joyful time when they collected some."

Although probably gripping for foreigners and out-of-Prague participants, the marathon circuit starting and ending at the famous Old Town Square, runs through Prague's old town and along the Vltava riverbanks. Still these were unsatisfactory vistas for Tomas, who's been living in Prague for years. "The track is indeed long, but to me also a bit boring – after the 10th km had passed, I contemplated how to (except for the running) entertain myself for the next 3 hours", he said. As marathon is both physically and psychically exhausting, it's definitely a discipline for winner-oriented minds. "At the 32nd kilometer I got struck by a terrible pain in my knee, so I alternately ran and limped the last 10 kilometers. But I told myself I just had to make it through the finish line."

Don't dive and run

Another story is our Prague office manager Jan, an experienced marathon wolf running already his 2nd full marathon. Being a passionate long-distance and cross-country runner, Jan rarely misses events and opportunities for a good run. But, as Jan remarked, "life is too short to enjoy all we wish to do and sometimes we need to pick just one". But this wasn't the case this time, as the choice was really impossible.

"Last weekend, two events of my favorite activities took place at the same time – two days of deep technical diving in beautiful lakes in Austria, followed by participating in the Prague International Marathon on Sunday, with only one short night in between", Jan said. "All was just beautiful and great, however, it made me realize one deep truth: man can do just one activity with top results, or can enjoy several activities, but on lower level only. The price I had to pay for the great weekend combining my two obsessions was a lot of pain and personal overwhelming, for just a very average marathon result – 4:15, more than 30 minutes behind my best time".

Despite Jan's little disappointment over his 2015 Prague Marathon result, the truth is that there's not many people who would even run a full marathon, but instead walk the full distance. Therefore we congratulate all the Prague Marathon participants...but mostly Tomas and Jan!


iQube = Quality, Quantity, and Quickness

Apr 18, 2015

Multilingual documentation has become increasingly challenging over the years – quality in translation must be maintained while we match clients’ detailed specifications accompanied with short deadlines. One translator can only produce so much in a day, and splitting projects on multiple translators usually affects the overall style and draw negative feedback from clients. As we accept clients’ requests with increasingly shorter delivery terms, it is unrealistic to make translators remember each and every instruction and use reference material that overwhelm rather than help. We have taken this issue into serious consideration to be able to handle volume projects in short time frames without this affecting the quality. So, through extensive development and testing, we have developed an innovative translation platform called “iQube”.

TM engines – friends or foes?

iQube™ is a smart Translation Memory (TM) solution developed in-house at idioma. It represents a 3-dimensional service: Quality, Quantity, and Quickness. Many TM tools exist in the translation industry today, each with different advantages. We have tried to implement most of these in iQube while we have kept an extremely simple interface. From experience we know that the majority of translators struggle in a TM environment, many are lost in all the available settings and almost everyone complain that tags in existing TM systems make actual translation difficult and post-checking even more so. Style, being another issue, is difficult to unify as every translator has different writing styles. As such iQube was designed as an intelligent TM platform, where emphasis was on a clean work environment for the translator to make it easier to concentrate on the translation task and subsequent verification of translated documents.

4 reasons 4 iQube™

iQube™ accentuates Quality, Quantity, and Quickness in translation in the following ways:

  1. Integrated QA! idioma’s CrossCheck® QA application is completely integrated in iQube – each and every segment that is translated and verified is subject to mandatory QA checking to make sure Quality is not compromised.
  2. Highly customizable! iQube™ can be adapted to match client specifications – it notifies translators working on projects about client preferences, even checking to make sure writing rules are respected.
  3. Team work! If you have a tight deadline and are in a hurry, we can divide your project among multiple translators who will work in real time together against the iQube™ platform so translators can check and reuse each others’ work. This common way of working ensures unification of style in translated content.
  4. Process automation! As translation projects become increasingly complex with unification and detailed specifications constituting core issues, iQube™ systematizes glossary use, automates QA checks, and style sheet loading, this way contributing to Quickness.

1 more reason – it is Free!

A fifth reason should also be mentioned. iQube™ is offered for free use to all idioma suppliers. There is no need to invest 50, 100 or even 1,000 Euro in an expensive commercial solution that you don´t know will be useful or even used again. The iQube™ software solution also undergoes continuous change to make sure it is always up-to-date, making it an ideal work tool for translators and reviewers.

The better TM engine, the better translation?

The end result to clients is of course shortened delivery terms with enhanced consistency in their documentation. iQube™ has positively changed the translators’ work experience. Translators now receive maximum assistance and can focus on producing premium quality translation. As iQube™ manages the translators’ work environment, we recommend generation of custom glossaries, style sheet creation, and to specify project parameters prior to starting projects. We are determined to make your translation perfect. By combining iQube™ with our QA services, we can guarantee a completely different quality dimension on your translation projects even when working with large volumes and short deadlines. To get to know more about iQube™, please contact us (either via email or just call our office for further assistance), or visit www.idioma.com


Language facts: Spanish

Apr 10, 2015

Spanish (español) or Castilian (castellano) is an Indo-European, Romance language that originated in northern Spain and gradually spread in the Kingdom of Castile eventually evolving into the principal language of government and trade (mainly thanks to King Alfonso, who standardized the language for official use already in 13th century). It was taken to Africa, the Americas, and Asia Pacific with the expansion of the Spanish Empire between the fifteenth and nineteenth centuries. By the time of Columbus exploring the New world, Spanish reached the point where it would be understandable even today. The authority in terms of standard Spanish is The Royal Spanish Academy, that has been producing grammar guides and dictionaries since 18th century.

Lucrative language

Spanish is the official language of more than twenty countries, mainly in the Americas besides Spain, but it is generally spoken on all five continents. It's also one of the EU languages as well as one of six official languages of the United Nations. Interestingly, after Chinese Mandarin, is Spanish language most spoken around the world by the number of speakers who has it as a mother language. Spanish language is spoken as the first and second language by between 450 and 500 million persons. Spanish is said to be quite easy to learn, also due to being one of the most phonetic languages in the world.

From Latin to Arabic

The Spanish, as other Romance languages, is a modern extension of spoken Latin (also called Vulgar Latin) from around the 3rd century A.D. However, the evolution of Spanish language was heavily influenced by Arabic and later also English. The resemblance between English and Spanish is quite visible, while the two languages share a large volume of common words and expressions.

Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L Ll M N Ñ O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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


Language facts: English

Mar 27, 2015

English is spoken as a native language by around 375 million people (250 million people in the USA, 180 million in India, 58 million in the UK, 18 million in Canada, and 16 million in Australia) and as a second language by around 375 million speakers in the world. English is the official language in 53 countries and enjoys special status in at least twenty plus more countries with a total population reach of over two billion. As for now, we can surely say Modern English stands its ground as the most popular and dominant language in international communications, probably even more so than Latin in former days. This is due to global historical development and possibly also the simplicity of English grammar compared to other world languages in addition to its significantly rich, extensive vocabulary (although it is said you only need to learn 2,000 basic words to start communicating in English). English is an official EU language and actual one of the "procedural", i.e. working, languages at the institution. English is also one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Dialects and foreigners' nightmare...or nitemare?

Every language obviously generates various dialects through its use. And since English is the world's most popular language, the differences of speech in various regions are much more pronounced. Most of English learners can distinguish between British, American, or Australian English after only several lessons, the more experienced have no problem identifying dialects by sub-region (a New Yorker would definitely not pass as Texan, and Irish and Yorkshire dialect speakers wouldn't fool anyone they are from Devon). Typically as a foreign learner of Oxford or Cambridge English, in your first encounter with native British speakers you could be in for a rather shocking experience. Maybe even making you doubt the legitimacy of all that time and money spent on countless English lessons, as you feel like being spoken to in Klingon. Once the shock has faded though, endless English dialects and differences are actually something to be even enjoyed. Not so much in case of writing. Color vs. Colour, Center vs. Centre, and Neighbour vs. Neighbor. Interestingly, there was no standard for English spelling until the early 18th century and it was basically established with the publishing of the dictionaries of Samuel Johnson (Dictionary of the English Language, 1755) followed by the current British English and of Noah Webster (An American Dictionary of The English Language, 1828). It is worth noticing that the first attempts of spelling standardization followed soon after the printing press invention arrived in England in the 15th century. Nowadays, the difference between BrE and AmE emerges also in the world of computers, where PC keyboard layout differs.

English translation specifics

When we translate into English, it is important to know for which market documents are intended. Everyone knows that Queen’s English differs from US English in spelling. The examples above are well-known, others are more subtle differences such as use of past tense of verbs where UK English uses “-lled”, while US English uses “-led”. And which variant uses a period in “Mr”? Even simple things such as a writing the date differ.

As a result, sometimes it is worth contemplating whether texts should be published in different English language variants. In car manuals, for example, the British put their travelling bag in the boot and head for the motorway. An American would put his travelingbag in the trunk and get on the highway. And when it rains in London, children put on their wellingtons…

Alphabet:

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

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


We care beyond algorithms

Feb 20, 2015

Aftercare. That magic something that distinguishes good and bad service providers in general. The more intense the client-provider relationship is, the more relevant data are generated, and this in turn helps the service provider improve and customize the client experience. In the translation business, though, where the translation process itself is being slowly taken over by machines, human support and aftercare services still is a core issue that makes a difference.

Our care starts before your order

Having 35 years of experience in translation and localization still give us an edge when it comes to the size of useful translation memories (TM) and glossary resources, especially since we focus on technical translation. With a significant part of Clients’ source texts already pre-processed within past projects, proper application of these well-maintained translation memories and associated glossaries significantly shortens the time and reduces the cost of translation projects. This is one reason why our care starts even before your order – always ensuring that you can benefit from our state-of-the-art expertise. idioma’s aftercare and extensive support also includes maintenance of your TM resources and ensuring it is error-free, and we strive to inform you via unique reports about text segment issues, such as inconsistencies, just to give an example.

Another feature of our Premium Aftercare is Last Minute Additions, enabling you to use our express translation service to translate small projects, such as text additions and amendments within 4 working hours (CET). And we don’t charge an arm and a leg for this help – if you need 5 words translated, you only pay for these 5 words, no minimums, no start-up fees or other hidden charges.

Ask! for premium aftercare

Ask! - Premium Aftercare service by idioma

Ask! is a service concept we offer to clients to place questions and other issues related to translations and localization in a convenient, organized way. It is available online, runs 24/7, and it can be used by anyone. You don't even need to have had your project translated by us to be able to benefit from Ask! And guess what… It's FREE! Use the service to question and comment content in your translated documents, or to simply request additions and amendments in a completed delivery, without drowning in e-mails and inevitably loosing track of the job flow.

Eventually, there are real human beings behind every single process we execute. And despite of the increasing use of machines in the translation process, here atidioma, we go beyond the algorithms to also emphasize the craftsmanship and care you take for given when e.g. visiting your hairdresser.

To learn more about our aftercare, please visit www.idioma.com


Language facts: Swedish

Feb 13, 2015

Swedish (or Svenska) is the mother tongue of idioma's top management and one of the Scandinavian languages, a branch of the Germanic languages - North Germanic, or East Scandinavian in particular.

Viking heritage and God bless Guttenberg

Swedish is the official language of Sweden and due to six centuries of Swedish supremacy also one of the two (and equal) official languages of Finland. Until World War II, it was also spoken in parts of Estonia and Latvia. Swedish is an official EU as well as a Nordic Council language, spoken by approximately 9 million people in Sweden and by around 300,000 people in Finland.

Similar to e.g. Czech and Slovak, Swedish is mutually intelligible with Danish as well as Norwegian, but only to some extent. This is actually a Viking period heritage, as these languages have a common predecessor, the Old Norse, generally spoken in Scandinavia by Germanic tribes. New classifications in fact label Swedish together with Norwegian and Danish as one branch of Continental Scandinavian languages. It was not until the invention of printing and the Reformation movement for what is now known as modern Swedish that the language emerged. King of Sweden Gustav Vasa wanted to have the Bible translated into his native language, and indeed, in 1541 the Gustav Vasa Bible was introduced, representing the first full Swedish Bible translation, common in use for almost four centuries, until 1917.

Swedish language influence and translation specifics

Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte became
King of Sweden as Karl XIV Johan
in 1818 and reigned till 1846.
Source: DollarPhotoClub

Over the years, Swedish language has taken over many loan words from other languages. A number of French expressions were introduced in the early 19th century when the Royal House of Sweden took in a French marshal, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, from the Napoleon reign. He took over the throne in 1818, but never managed to learn proper Swedish during his 26-year reigh, instead communicating in the international French language.
Now, in more modern times with the influx of computers and the digital age, the vocabulary has expanded with many English words – often replacing or anglicizing old-style traditional Swedish words for better or worse.

In translation, documents in Swedish tend to address the reader directly and in the informal style instead of the more common passive voice as used in English language, or the polite "Sie" form in German.

Alphabet:

Swedish uses the Latin alphabet and has in addition to English three extra letters … X Y Z Å Ä Ö. Interesting to note is that sorting follows this order, and e.g. the "Ö" entries are not included under "O", nor the "Å" and "Ä" under "A" as one does in e.g. German.

The vowel "Ö" is often perceived as very typical for Swedish by non-Scandinavians, mainly those familiar with distinctive patterns of product names in IKEA catalogues :) Other companies have elected to drop the distinctive letters, for example SKANSKA, by converting the "Å" in "Skånska" to a standard "A" in their internationalization efforts.Interestingly, the consonant "Z" is used in foreign words only.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z Å Ä Ö

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


How to reduce your translation costs?

Feb 6, 2015

Another year, another catalogue and promo materials to release in your standard 5 languages, another headache. Translation resources and documents scattered across the company, know-how inevitably lost after your ex-colleagues left for other positions, tight deadlines and even tighter budgets. Translation and localization costs can become pretty costly if the process is not efficiently managed. Here, we will let you in on a little secret how to deal with lost resources.

Translation memory

Simply put, a translation memory (TM) is a digitally stored database of already translated content, divided and structured in so-called text segments (words, key phrases, complete sentences, etc.). A TM allows recycling of translated text. When a memory is used on a new project, translators speed up their work because a lot of text segments can be reused from the database. This saves cost, increases quality and makes for a unified result. In technical translation, this is the way to go.

Create your own translation memories

So back to the situation above. If you lost your resources or have not even had a translation memory before, it is time to make one. idioma offers this as service to many companies. We create memories based on existing documents, no matter whether you have them in Word, desktop publishing formats or even only PDF. We have developed tools that our native, human translators use to save source and target segments together, effectively creating useful TMs. With such memories as a base, translation of your documents will go faster, become cheaper and the text in your documentation will become more consistent.

Our TM tools can save bilingual text segments in different formats, such as TMX, native Trados, or the standardized Xliff format so the output is useful and compatible with the TM systems you use. Efficiency is something we emphasize, and creating memories is no exception. When aligning text from file formats such as Word, Excel, InDesign and FrameMaker, you can count on a speed of around 25,000 words/hour. With PDF files, the process is a little slower due to more complicated text extraction, but usually we align around 10-15,000 word/hour.

Keep your TM error-free

Once you've got your translation memory created, you should also rely on professionals for maintenance of the same. It is very common that TMs get outdated and unsynchronized with your current documents. Even if you have gone to the effort of creating a translation memory, it may not include all additions, changes, etc. that your published documents have undergone. Instead of trying to update your memory and performing tedious TM maintenance "manually", our TM service offers a smarter and much quicker way to keep your TM up to date. Simply send us your original and translated DTP files and we will create bilingual text files that can be copied into your existing TM to replace old outdated segments. At the same time we can also run an analysis to detect possible errors, such as number mistakes, untranslated text, text consistency, glossary misuse, etc.

Innovative solution for innovative companies

Outsourcing translation memory creation and maintenance service is a modern, innovative way of approaching the translation needs of a company. Large companies, including manufacturers and distributors demanding technical translation (multilingual documentation, catalogues, etc.), can benefit enormously by saving working hours lost on preparing and managing the translation process. If you have access to already published documents in many languages, use them to your advantage by converting them to a TM, the start saving on every project you translate.

Would you like to learn more about how to get translation memories built for you and reduce costs significantly?

Please visit www.idioma.com


Language facts: Czech

Jan 30, 2015

With our production center based in Prague, Czech is after English and Japanese one of the most used "in-house" languages at idioma.

More popular as appears

Czech is a West Slavic language with about 12 million native speakers. "Čeština" (= Czech), is the name derived from a Slavic tribe of Czechs that inhabited Central Bohemia in former days. Today it is the official and main language in the Czech Republic and spoken by Czechs worldwide (especially by immigrants in the USA, Canada, and Ukraine). Czech is similar to and mutually intelligible with Slovak, due to mutual history and decades of being a common republic: Czechoslovakia. Even today, many books or films distributed in Slovakia come with Czech, rather than Slovak translation or dubbing.

Various internationally significant artworks in literature and music (especially opera) were originally written in Czech – Dvořák's Rusalka, the works of Alois Jirásek, Bohumil Hrabal and many more.

Since the integration of the Czech Republic into the European Union, Czech has also become an official EU language.

"Strč prst skrz krk!" (stick a finger through a neck)

Czech is considered one of the hardest languages for foreigners to actively master, due to overcomplicated grammar, as well as tricky pronunciation. Some words, for instance, do not have vowels, such as zmrzl (froze solid), ztvrdl (hardened), scvrkl (shrunk), vlk (wolf), krk (neck), prst (finger) or smrt (death) and more. There are actually tongue-twisters based on consonant-only words, such as "strč prst skrz krk", frequently used by Czech wives late in the evening to check their husbands' alcohol intake. :)

Czech also features the consonant ř, a phoneme that is said to be unique to the Czech language and that is problematic to articulate even to some native Czechs.

Alphabet:

A Á B C Č D Ď E É Ě F G H Ch I Í J K L M N Ň O Ó P Q R Ř S Š T Ť U Ú Ů V W X Y Ý Z Ž a á b c č d ď e é ě f g h ch i í j k l m n ň o ó p q r ř s š t ť u ú ů v w x y ý z ž


Are you sure about your Quality Assurance?

Jan 23, 2015

Quality in translation is not only a matter of presenting a correct translation free from spelling mistakes and other linguistic errors. It is also about using correct terminology from glossaries, making sure text in the document is unified and that rules and customs for the language have been respected.

Quality can suffer in many ways. Short deadlines, for example, affect the outcome of quality in translation especially with large volume projects. How can we speed up delivery without compromising the quality of translation? This became our mission years ago.

Check record volumes in record time

An obvious solution is to check documents more than once, however, when humans check text, they have limited capacity, get tired and make mistakes. We wanted to find a different, complementary and automatic solution, so we could check more languages and bigger volumes in less time. It should detect mistakes like wrong numbers, untranslated text, misspelled words, unification issues, etc. So we put many brains together and with the help of our in-house programmers we developed a unique QA (Quality Assurance) concept that checks bilingual files for errors in record time. The main tool is CrossCheck™, a cornerstone in a comprehensive concept forming a framework of quality that all translations must adhere to.

Quality assurance at a whole new level

CrossCheck™ departs from the need to develop glossaries, e.g. from existing translated bilingual data such as PDF files, website text, etc., and prepare language-dependent style guides for translators and verifiers working on projects.

CrossCheck™ checks documents according to detailed client-specific criteria and resources that can include client glossaries and customized style sheets. This way, we create a standard that everyone must respect to enable us to produce unified and consistent translations with a clearly defined level of quality. If glossaries and style guides do not exist, we will be happy to help prepare them, and we also assist with client preferences, such as forbidden words and other issues. These contents prepared for the QA concept are automatically integrated in our production system. This QA concept has taken quality assurance to a new level, especially thanks to inclusion of morphology and locale settings. With CrossCheck™, terminology and language rules become compulsory ingredients in the translation and verification process.

FREE QA for everyone!

idioma’s QA service is, however, not limited only to the projects we translate. We also offer it as an aid to our clients and anyone else wanting to assure the quality level in translated documents.

Visit www.idioma.com today to test it yourself.

For more information about the QA service, please contact your project manager.


35 years of idioma!

Jan 16, 2015

idioma started out on a small scale in 1980. The company was set up by a Swedish entrepreneur, Joel Brynte. Our first office space consisted of two modest rooms in then Sweden Center in Tokyo, Japan. I recall we were a core of 7-8 people, mostly translators. Our first clients were in the AV industry, which at the time was taking off with export of all kinds of VCRs, tape recorders, Walkmen, etc. All products needed manuals, promotional material, etc. and the main export markets at the time were the United States and West Europe. This has of course changed. Now the entire world is the market for Japan’s consumer products.

Typewriters and one very lonely fax

But at the time, things were different. There was no Internet, there were no mobile phones, and fax machines were just around the corner. 35 years ago, translation was done on typewriters writing on tracing paper – we had a few machines in the office, while freelance translators in those days had to invest in expensive electric typewriters that cost more than what you pay for a decent laptop today. Some of the better typewriters had a correction feature where you could easily “lift off” a typo with correction tape, although it was time consuming. When electronic typewriters saw the light of day, it was actually possible to type a full line on a green display, you could then correct typos easily by stepping back, then print the full line by hitting Enter. What a productivity boost!

I think we got our first fax, a Ricoh G3 unit about a year or so later. It was as big as a fridge, had heavy paper rolls and sticky toner you literally had to pour into a container in the machine. Handling toner was a dirty job. That first fax sat unproductive for a very long time in the beginning. Since hardly anyone else had a fax, we had almost no one to communicate with. When we finally did receive faxes, the black toner somehow got glued to the paper more or less in the right place, later when the received fax documents got too old, the toner tended to fall off making the documents close to illegible.

Who needs internet when you have motorcycles!

Because there was no Internet or other easy ways of communication, to serve clients better we created our own motorcycle messenger service. This sped up deliveries and instead of waiting for a letter in the mail, clients in the metropolitan area of Tokyo and Yokohama could now get deliveries within a few hours. Like our sales people, the messengers also had pagers, small units you could call with a phone. They would beep, and the paged person would then look for a public phone and call back.

We continued to expand from day one, the office still in Sweden Center in the Roppongi district of Tokyo got bigger, translation volumes increased and the need for more languages also increased. In the 80’s, technology also started to take off. To help communication, we witnessed the advent of computers. We invested in bulky CPM computers with green CRT monitors, but no hard disk drives. Translation was done using the WordStar word processor application (the spellchecking feature was a godsend!), data was saved on floppy disks, and soon it became possible to use acoustic couplers to send data over telephone lines, but the line had to be noise-free.

An acoustic coupler – everyone had to 
be quiet for transmission to succeed
source: Wikipedia.org

By the mid 80’s, idioma was indeed a very hi-tech operation and with an acute need for more translators. That’s when we set up our first office in Europe, but that’s a story for another time.


Happy New Year from Atago Shrine!

Jan 2, 2015

Our Tokyo staff had lunch together on their last day of work at Toranomon before the New year and here's a little photo report!

After lunch we were very close to the famous Atago Shrine http://www.atago-jinja.com/

So we had a visit to thank you for a good 2014 and wish a prosperous New year.

Atago Shrine, on top of Atago Mountain - the tallest mountain in Tokyo, has one of the most steepest Tokyo stairs.

You can actually see the steepness of the stairs so you can also imagine that the climb was quite tiring after lunch.

You may not believe it but these stairs have been climbed on horseback 3 times. There are also stairs made for women and children which are not that steep.

The Shrine is in the middle of metropolitan area so you can witness the contrast between Shrine and the city.

There are many little shrines in Atago area, as well as unique Japanese yard with shrine in water.

Fortune papers are tied all around to wish good luck (O-mikuji). It's kind of like a horoscope, or better said like throwing a coin into a wishing well or fountain. The tradition was supposely started by Ryogen (warrior monk).

There are even small wooden fortune plaques (Ema) where people write their wishes and hang them for good luck. It can vary from wanting to pass a test, to get married, to have a healthy child, etc. .

For us, it says "All the best in 2015!" :)


Language facts: Japanese

Dec 19, 2014

Federico Fellini said, that a different language was a different vision to life. While we cover over 70 languages at idioma, we can only agree with that statement. Each language has its history, specifics and flavors and we're here to inform you about it regularly in the Language facts.

Did you know Japanese uses four "alphabets"?

Japanese (Nihongo in Japanese) is spoken by around 127 million people in Japan, plus a couple of million people outside of Japan. It is of course the official language of Japan, but it is even an official language of Angaur (island nation of Palau). Japanese is not directly related to any other language even though it does share a lot of characters with Chinese. It uses four writing systems: kanji, hiragana, katakana and romaji. Hiragana is syllabic and is used for simple words, conjugations, particles and children's literature. Katakana is used to write foreign words. Kanji is based on the Chinese writing system and has about 2000 basic signs, but there are thousands more. Romaji is a Romanization of Japanese words, basically relying on the letters in the Roman, or Latin, alphabet, used e.g. for company names, logotypes and text entry of Japanese text into computers.

Japanese translation specifics

Japanese has borrowed many words from the Indo-European languages, primarily English, and even made up terms that a native English speaker would never understand, especially in the line of business we are in: Technical Translation. The Japanese term for such "borrowed" words, especially from english, is Gairaigo (外来語).

Would you ever guess that ハフコン [hafukon] is a reference to 'half-concealed' wipers", while リモコン [rimokon] means 'remote control'? Or that ペンション (pension) should actually be translated as a 'a guest house'? Because Katakana can be very ambiguous, sometimes it is hard to determine how to translate a given term. "Hose" and "Hawse" for example are both written as ホース in Japanese.

There are many, many more where translators have been pulling their hairs for days, even weeks. Combining this with other peculiarities of the Japanese language – such as where the subject in sentences is often omitted – makes translating Japanese text into other languages a true undertaking.

Japanese alphabet:

Hiragana (ひらがな)

あいうえおかきくけこさしすせそたちつてとなにぬねのはひふへほまみむめもやゆよらりるれろわをん がぎぐげござじずぜぞだぢづでどばびぶべぼぱぴぷぺぽぁぃぅぇぉっゃゅょ、。

Katakana (カタカナ)

アイウエオカキクケコサシスセソタチツテトナニヌネノハヒフヘホマミムメモヤユヨラリルレロワヲン ガギグゲゴザジズゼゾダヂヅデドバビブベボパピプペポァィゥェォッャュョー

Kanji examples

自動, 計算, 費用, 納期, 即時, 提示, 天気, 管理, 健康, 旅行, 料理, 鍋

Romaji examples

We love Japanese!


Sad singles in Japan and fishes in Czech bath tubs

Dec 2, 2014

As a multinational company, we encounter with many different winter traditions as well as multicultural approaches to Christmas. While our Prague office went off the chain this year and has been decorated in a very festive Christmasy way since the beginning of Advent, our colleagues in Tokyo are preparing for the Japanese New Years celebrations instead, having a white cake and the traditional KFC bucket for Christmas dinner... Wait - what??

KFC, illumination and Mariah Carey

Traditional Japanese Christmas cake
(source: Dollar Photo Club)

Since the 1970s, it has been a tradition for Japanese people to indulge in KFC during Christmas, no matter how surprising and weird it may sound to Europeans or Americans. Foreigners back in those day couldn't get their Christmas roast chicken so they went to KFC. The chain saw this as a good marketing opportunity and indeed, eating a fried-chicken-bucket has been a traditional thing since then in Japan. In fact, the Japanese version of Christmas seems a bit like a concentrate of all the western glitz and glamor multiplied by 10 :) You hear Mariah Carey everywhere and of course Wham!'s Last Christmas is an eternal hit. On Tatsuro Yamashita – Christmas Eve – the majority of Japanese people annually buy and eat a cake with fruit and icing. Also illumination is a big thing during Christmas in Japan.

Interestingly, Christmas is a season for couples in Japan, not families as in Europe or the States. Couples get together during Christmas, exchange presents and eat at expensive restaurants. It's not a good time for being single on Christmas in Japan – many singles feel sad because couples are together virtually everywhere (this yearly pleasure of single people is reserved for Valentine's day on the other side of the world). There are even social gatherings for single people looking for a partner during the Christmas season. On the other hand, New Years is the time for family gatherings in Japan.

Fishes in bath tubs, lead pouring and angels everywhere

idioma Prague office - 
Christmas decoration making

On the other side of the globe in Prague, central Europe, the Christmas radio set list matches with Japan, however that's pretty much the end of resemblance. Czech Christmas traditions are tightly bound to religion and Christian customs, however due to cultural impact after the fall of communism several before unknown elements have been adopted. The decoration of the idioma Prague office is self-evident in this regard with a Christmas tree decorated with straw adornments and angels, the Advent wrath, pine branches with hanging chocolates and Christmas socks, local special Christmas incense sticks called "Frantisek", bells over the front door and pieces of cinnamon all around the place.

In the Czech republic, Christmas is a purely family event. It is literally the one time of the year when all members of the family should gather for a common Christmas dinner, exchange gifts, settle conflicts and enjoy each others' presence. Because of this, Christmas is also the busiest time of the year in the majority of Czech kitchens.

Christmas pastry as well as traditional Christmas dishes are rather complicated and usually prepared several weeks in advance. Traditional Czech Christmas Eve dinner usually consists of a cabbage soup, potato salad and baked or fried fish (carp being the prime choice). Interestingly, it is still a preference and also strong-lived custom in Czech families to buy the fish alive and keep it in the bath tub until the feast comes. The kids love it. Poor fish. At the right moment, the fish is ritually killed (usually by the head of the family – the father, although a lot of fathers opt for the less brutal alternative and go out and buy ready-to-eat fish filets or even fish fingers).

Poor Czech Christmas carp
(source: Dollar Photo Club)

Another remarkable Czech custom, and also fathers' responsibility, is the lead pouring. The head of the family pours liquid lead into cold water to create a solid shape to recognize. The imagination is very important here, as it is said that the lead shape predicts the family future. We decided better not to risk this tradition inside our office :)

So that's how winter and Christmas work in Japan and Czech Republic. For fascinating winter tradition in Sweden, wait for our next blog. Until then, you can admire these delicious Czech Christmas sweets!


24th JTF Translation festival: Humans vs. Machines

Nov 28, 2014

It was raining on Wednesday and pretty cold. Nonetheless, the 24th JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo turned out to be a successful event with many inspirational panel discussions and presentations revealing new perspectives on the translation industry.

A miserable day for translators in rainy Tokyo :)

We set everything up at our idioma booth early in the morning, and then welcomed visitors throughout the day until 5 pm when the festival ended. It was really nice to see our existing clients visiting us, and we also met many new people and had constructive discussions about our cooperation and future translation projects.

idioma booth at 24th JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo

The topic we introduced at the 24th JTF Translation show was the improved Stream online estimator and idioma's document alignment service iSync. Along with other smart language services we provide, all are based on a combination of online solutions, in-house software development and most importantly: human professional translators, reviewers and project managers.

Presentation of Stream – online translation estimates service

This year's show was noteworthy because many participants were discussing machine translation (MT) as one of the possible future scenarios for the translation and localization industry. While considering machine translation a promising field as an aid in the translation process, we believe it should be an aid to human, professional translators who will be "editing" text instead of translating. Machine translation sure does have a lot of potential, and we look forward to how it will affect the way we work and our translation services.


Time zones work for US with Stream!

Nov 19, 2014

Stream – our popular online ordering system – has evolved into a new and improved processing tool. The service currently supports 70+ languages in over 5,000 combinations. Stream runs 24/7 and can be reached by any device with an Internet connection. Whether you are in your office, meeting clients, or travelling and need to manage translation projects, Stream is the ideal solution for you. Use its clear 3-step process to easily upload files, receive instant estimates with clear deadlines, and then place orders.

Timezones work for us!

Moreover, you can order translation project during your day via Stream and let our European production center take care of it overnight. Our shift-based coordination system and 24/7 availability make Stream the best choice for overseas clients in different time zones.

New features

Stream has now been improved with these convenient features:

  1. Advanced Options feature has been added to allow inclusion of translation memories, glossaries, references, etc. that are relevant to your project.
  2. Express translation (our speedy 4-hour translation service) also supports the Advanced Options feature including uploading of reference material. This will assure consistency in translation with other text content. This service has no minimum charges!
  3. Any language to any other language. Thanks to a large supplier network, Stream goes beyond standard language combinations to offer more than 5,000 different combinations to choose from. No matter whether you need to translate from Tagalog to Kazakh or Danish to Japanese, Stream can help you and provide a price and delivery term any time of day.
  4. Full TM support allows you to upload e.g. a Trados project and get an estimate with turn-around and a detailed price breakdown for different fuzzy match categories. These new features are just the tip of the iceberg. Feel free to try out our improved Stream. It makes ordering translation a lot easier for you and it works any time of day. If there is something you think should be added or changed, we will be happy to listen and then implement it.

Streamline your translation today with Stream!


idioma at JTF Translation Festival in Tokyo

Nov 7, 2014

Hmmm, what to do on November 26th 2014...? How about going to Tokyo to the 24th JTF Translation Festival?! The country's biggest annual show for translators and translation vendors takes place in Japan and idioma will, of course, participate, as it does every year.

Break the Paradigm, Shape the Future

With Tokyo hosting the Olympic Games in 2020, the festival is likely to unknowingly face the "dawn of the new translation era until 2020". idioma will present its innovative portfolio focusing on online translation services with trendsetting potential (Stream, CrossCheck, Ask, iSync and more) that might also shape the future of translation services in general.

Stream - Putting Translation Orders Online

Our top asset to boast at the festival is our flagship service - Stream. It provides free online translation estimates and 24/7 ordering, with no minimum fees and delivery within 4 business hours. With new handy features including full translation memory support and fuzzy matching, over 5000 possible (and exotic) language pairs and an API that supports integration with CMS systems, Stream is the future of ordering and purchasing translation projects. We have developed Stream to support fast turn-around of ad-hoc mini orders, as well as demanding translation projects.
So come and see us yourself...or wait for the Festival to finish to see none can rock harder than translators! (will provide the footage) :)


20th Anniversary of idioma Prague Office

Oct 27, 2014

Time flies, no matter how much we try to outwit it. As it happens, because of all the intense translation, amazing project management and innovative online translation and localization tools development, we almost missed that the Czech office of idioma® is already 20 years old! :)

To celebrate such an important event, we decided to launch our very first idioma blog at blog.idioma.com. Our idioma blog represents a platform to inform you about the field of translation localization as well as to bring useful information and guidelines. And, of course, to give you a little peak behind the curtains and show more about us at idioma®...

...for example, what's our secret at idioma® that we look so cool and fresh even after 20 years... :)

Subscribe to our newsletter and receive idioma® updates

Contact Us

Tokyo Office

idioma Co., Ltd.

KB-6 Bldg., Sanban-cho 6-3 Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 102-0075

  • Phone +81 3 6272 8936
  • Fax +81 3 6272 8938
  • E-mail
Prague Office

idioma s.r.o.

Holečkova 31, 150 00 Prague 5, Czech Republic

  • Phone +420 251 565 000
  • Fax +420 251 564 000
  • E-mail
Gothenburg Office

idioma Sweden

Stora Åvägen 21, 436 34 Göteborg, Sweden

  • Phone +46 31 723 84 50
  • Fax +46 31 723 84 99
  • E-mail
Copyright © 2020 idioma Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.