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Language facts: Hindi

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

jizni moravaAs strange as the headline sounds, this particular issue has amused Czech and Slovak internet readers for several days now. As informed by Czech news portal iDnes.cz, the official web site for promoting tourism in South Moravia Region www.jizni-morava.cz relied on machine (read Google) translation to localize the content into seven languages including English, German, Russian, Slovak, Polish, Italian and Spanish (NOTE: The web site was financed by public as well as EU funds with a total cost of one million Czech crowns – approx. 37,000 EUR). What may have seemed like an easy cost-cutting measure turned out as a free promotion of the region. Unfortunately, in a negative and mocking way.

Visit Refrigerator, Pregnant or Vitriol!

Comp 60290043Welcome to Refrigerator, the cultural heritage! Yes, the precise localization tool applied on the above-mentioned official web site changed the geographical names of South Moravian villages including the world renowned Lednice-Valtice complex listed by UNESCO (the name of the village "Lednice" in fact means "refrigerator" when translated mechanically, but come on... :) ). Other translation jewels to be found were, for example, the names of villages Březí (verbatim – Pregnant), or Skalice (verbatim – Vitriol). Sadly amusing results of machine translation or better said undesired effort of bureaucrats is less amusing when taking into account the lack of responsibility for published moreover internationally and tourism-oriented content, while there are a lot of user-friendly localization solutions available.

Lesson learned

Text you need to publish should always be translated by professional, human translators. Yes, it is more expensive than free, on-line machine translation, but if you want to increase sales and awareness + keep customers and other readership it is worth it. And there are many smart ways to get it done right and for modest outlays. Read on. 

Replace machine-powered app with humans

stream api newWithout a need to export texts from your content management system, you can actually install a channel to high-quality human translation. This price-attractive service includes instant cost and delivery time estimates, professional human localization, proofreading and pre-publishing. It also features tracking of content changes  thanks to translation memory and glossary creation to further   lower translation expenses. The solution is a translation API – an interface able to handle the traffic and localize web content. It is available as the Stream Translation API from idioma. Just ask your web developer to integrate the API into your content management system, or download and install our pre-programmed plug-ins yourself!

Go to api.idioma.com, or contact us directly for more information.

Language facts: German

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. 

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Prague summer vistas and idioma

This July was a real Sahara in Prague. To relieve the working tension and to make a little team photoshoot, the (almost) entire Prague production center of idioma took a little walk to a nearby park called Sacre Coeur. 

With everyone wearing their Christmas present from idioma — a branded t-shirt with custom letters on the back — we enjoyed a little fun playing a large-scale human multilingual Scrabble :) 

...just a "random" chat :)

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 JO... (= yeah)IMG 1657

JSME IDIOMA! (= We are idioma!)IMG 1657

idioma and Prague landmarks, including the National theatre, Old Town hall with the famous astronomical clock called "Orloj" as well as Zizkov tower.IMG 1657

Summer greetings from idioma Prague!IMG 1657

Language facts: Russian

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!

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!

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Translation tips: Dashes and hyphens

As translation professionals, we take many things for granted when we write and translate. While many of our clients have developed different writing rules for different languages in so called style guides*, which we respect and actively use, some things are pretty obvious to anyone though. Even children learning how to write learn from the start that sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop. Bigger children learn later on that where there must be a pause in a speech, a dash should be used. And here not even adults are always sure, or even aware of the problem: what kind of dash to use? 

Do you know your dash?

In fact, there are three types of dashes: 

1) The em dash—used for parenthetical thought—is as wide as a capital M and is used mostly in US English. If you are really picky, the em dash should be surrounded by half or quarter spaces, but many ignore this. 

2) The en dash – which is as wide as an N – is often used to pause in a sentence and create emphasis. It is also used in ranges, e.g. “pages 8–10” or “ages 2–5”. Some people also use them to indicate negative numbers, like –15°C. 

3) Lastly we have hyphens, which are used to hyphenate long words at the end of a line. They can also be used to connect words, in English to make them easier to read as in “state-of-the-art”, and in e.g. Germanic languages to connect them with loan words or proper nouns (Ford-Partner in German, for example).

Other cool stuff that people in typography are familiar with are soft hyphens. These can be used to “softly” hyphenate words at the end of a line. Try typing a really long word that will not fit at the end of a line, then place a soft hyphen in the middle and see what happens – you can create one by pressing "Ctrl" and "-" at the same time.

Nice, huh? Relying on details like this may seem too extreme, but in terms of localization, this is what (among others) makes a difference in quality and know-how in translation.

...and do you know your quotes?

Not only dashes/hyphens, or styles of writing numbers – also quotes and their usage differ among languages. English uses sixers and niners, like “abc”, in France they use « abc », Germans and Czech write „abc“, while Danes write »abc« and Swedes like niners and niners, like ”abc”. There are numerous other types, and as a translator, it is important to know which one is correct. 

For example, in Japan, the written language and customs are drastically different. Apart from being able to write from up to down with “line columns running right to left”, thousand separators do not exist. Instead people separate digit groups in units of ten thousand. They also do not have dots as full stops, but instead use small circles, and quotes become「abc」.

If there are client preferences, then these become exceptions and the translator must be alerted (which our translation platform iQube can do automatically).

Your Solution? Style guides

Writing rules for different languages are explained in great detail in style manuals, such as the Chicago Manual of Style. Such manuals are actually interesting reading with a surprising wealth of information. However, in the end, it is hard for an experienced translator to remember and keep with all the different rules that apply, and to this end we rely on condensed forms of the manuals, commonly referred to as Style Guides. They contain the basic rules on text presentation and are either prepared by individual clients, or, if they are lacking, we are happy to help create them based on general rules and local preferences. For more information, visit www.idioma.com

*These style guides can be loaded on our iQube translation platform. Each time a text segment is opened and an issue covered by the style is detected, this is pointed out to the translator and subsequently the reviewer.

Language facts: French

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

Dollarphotoclub 79094140Around 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. 

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Cooperation. The fundamental pillar of our civilization and a vital factor of evolution at any level. Through  cooperation and partnership, we share and improve and build synergistic effects that are beneficial to everyone. Even competition and cooperation do not exclude each other in a developed business environment. idioma's core processes are based on international cooperation and mutual respect, and we feel it as our mission to bridge the differences in culture and business via languages by applying a cooperative approach. OurPartner program is a case in point.

Friends from the translation industry

Even in today's competitive environment, its important to find efficient ways of mutual thriving and progressive development. That is why we offer our partners something that can't be supplemented by any investment – 35 years of professional experience in the translation industry. With our in-house developed CAT tools, vast TM resources, a world-wide network of translators and coverage of 70+ languages, we are able to offer our partners from other translation agencies attractive rates, and often for uncommon language pairs. With our 24/7 online cloud solutions for both clients and translators, we are capable of deliveries within 4 hours and help our colleagues from other translation agencies and language service providers to always meet tight deadlines. Sounds too good? Find out more here :)

Effective agents with sales drive

Language service providers are just one of many who can benefit from a partnership with idioma. Having good sources of business is just as vital as the core professional capability. If you have contacts and a network, sales talent and drive, you're just the one we want to be friends with. Efficient mediators can develop  interesting business concepts that build on our services and solutions, whether in passive or active mode. Dear 007s, look here to learn more

Innovative web entrepreneurs – unite with us!

Not a translator, not a star salesperson? Doesn't matter, we'd like to be friends anyway, because we simply love web developers! You build websites full of content that's just begging to get translated... With our API solution, you can profit from the upsell and earn commissions with very little effort whenever your clients need translation. We encourage web developers to take our API and build up on it, then offer customized and state-of-the art integration of a localization module in different CMS and server systems. So team up with us – you code, we translate, your customers sell more, and together we earn! More about our translation API and developers' partnership here!

P4110142Tokyo is the biggest and probably one of the most overcrowded cities in the world with a rich history and numerous peculiarities of its own. It's full of rules, restrictions and signs ensuring that the mass of people is capable to coexist in such dense living and implements various means and tech gadgets to ease the chaos resulting from "unnecessary" human contact. No wonder about that. Tokyo (or Edo, as it was originally named until less than 150 years ago when it became the imperial city and official capital of Japan) was inhabited by over million of people already by the end of the 18th century. Although the emperor still remained in Kyoto, Edo was a de facto capital and trade center since the line of Tokugawa shoguns declared the city as their headquarters. 

Heavily destroyed twice during the 20th century, after a strong earthquake in 1923 and later the 2nd world war, the city of Tokyo was fully rebuilt, more or less delicately combining the aspects of old and new, traditional and modern. The city has preserved its genius loci, and it keeps its antique appearance despite being crisscrossed by railways and expressways and dotted with skyscrapers all over. The narrow streets with typical architecture surrounded by the pulsing, modern city around them maybe what makes Tokyo so popular among tourists.

Typical rice wine barrels  in front of a typical building and details that blend old and new.

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Crime rates are extremely low given the number of inhabitants in this metropolis. You don't need to be afraid not to lock everything up; your stuff is usually right where you last left it.

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Even the grocery stores feel, well, traditional, with goods often displayed outside, right on the street. No security around. The Japanese culture relying on rules and manners simply doesn't expect you to do something as incomprehensible and low as shoplifting :)

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Religion has a huge say in terms of traditions. Displays with wooden plates at local temples or little papers where people write their wishes and prayers are a common sight around the city...

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 ...and sometimes you dont even know how, you suddenly get from here...

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...to here. The city skyline also features green parks with pagodas, lakes, trees and most importantly peace... 

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...Buddha statues...

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...and an occasional geisha :)

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Tokyo is indeed one striking city with its specific nature, business opportunities and experience it provides, mainly to "Western" people. Knowing different cultures and how people think are key issues to mutual understanding, in both human and business relations. Here at idioma, we are fully dedicated to help you with understanding different cultures and markets and expand your business thanks to a localized message. Learn more at www.idioma.com

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.

 

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FRESH - INTERACTIVE - EFFECTIVE. 

newstream finalOn 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.

newstream final2idioma 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. 

IWmyaccountCLIENTDon'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! 

Tokyo is a dynamic city employing various means  to manage and transport the millions of people existing within. An elaborate system relying on manners, politeness, discipline and perfectionism prevents the most overcrowded capital in the world from bursting into mayhem. Apart from the rules, demonstrated virtually on every corner by enormous concentration of signs with orders and warnings (see Part 1 of this story), Tokyo – just like the rest of Japan – implements technology and machines to accelerate, minimize and automate almost every imaginable (and unimaginable) activity.

A stand-alone category are Japanese trains and train networks, considered the most elaborate and fastest on the globe. It is not uncommon for Japanese employees to commute very large distances thanks to high-speed rails and trains (and that's also maybe why so many time-killing tech gadgets originate from Japan). After all, if Japanese would prefer car transport to trains, the islands would probably turn into a gigantic, constant traffic jam. 

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If you have an affinity for cars with no desire to experience the delights of the intense train transport and people pushers, you're bound to come across several peculiarities. How about horizontal traffic lights or "car traps" in parking lots that just won't let you out unless you pay to be released? Pretty smart.

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If you need to refuel, don't get upset about the missing stands, just look up. There's another machine to assist you :)

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...but if you look up in open streets, you will immediately notice the omnipresent electric cables in thick, yellow bundles. Technical progress takes its toll.

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No car? No problem. Two kids to carry around? Still not a problem! By the way, the bike is electric – machines take over everywhere. Also, there's arguably not a lot of mothers who would have the steam to pedal up a hill with two kids aboard.

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Another chapter in Tokyo are vending machines of all kinds. From the very common machines selling drinks or packed snacks, you can also buy hot burgers, living crabs, umbrellas, toys, even gold. Yes, the metal. On the street. From a vending machine. The idea is to automate the selling process and remove the "unnecessary" piece in the delivery chain – personal contact. There are fast food joints and restaurants in Tokyo that have removed the front-desk and service entirely, just to oblige their customers through an impersonal interface of a machine. Machines are our new friends!

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...and in case you wanted to store your luggage, it requires a higher technical education :)

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In contrast to highly elaborate technology luring around every corner, it's fascinating to observe how state-of-the-art machines blend in with culture and traditions thousands of years old, but no less visible for that matter. More about the fusion of old and new in Japan is coming soon in our blog :)

Translation tips: Language flavors

At idioma we translate into many different languages, over seventy at the last count, and in many different combinations (last we counted the permutations, it was over five thousand). Some of these languages are different variants of the same basic language. Sometimes they are very similar, at other times quite different. 

Flavored by authorities

For example, for Norwegian, two flavors exist: Bokmål and Nynorsk. Bokmål is by far the most common variant in Norway and is used in the private and commercial sector, while Nynorsk is used mostly in some western regions and in public administration. The two dialects differ considerably from each other.

Then for Portuguese, there are also dif­ferent tongues, and the language used in Portugal differs from the one used in Brazil, for example. In spite of the fact that a language reform has been signed into law (in Portugal in 2008), in reality there are quite many differences. Schools in Portugal now teach the new, standardized Portuguese language, which means that in a global perspective spelling and grammar should become standardized. Most newspapers and magazines in Portugal have also adopted the reform, which officially must have been applied by latest July 2014. The biggest obstacle, however, seems to be the choice of words. Especially in technical writing, there are numerous cases where Brazilians prefer different terms than those used in Portugal, which is one reason why Portuguese for Portugal and Portuguese for Brazil will most likely continue to coexist for quite some time. 

Spanish is another case in point where differences exist. Spanish in Spain tends to be quite modern with development in a different direction from other Spanish tongues. Most of the Spanish dialects in South America are quite conservative, while the dialects used in Mexico and the Caribbean are influenced by their proximity to the United States.

Does it matter in localization?

Many times, it is more important to know the target market than the language itself or whether a document will be used in many different markets. In Belgium, for example, people in the north speak Flemish, a variant of Dutch. This dialect can’t really be called a different language as spelling and grammar are the same as for standard Dutch. Here the difference is rather in the frequency in the words used, although all words exist in standard Dutch as well. However, it can make a surprising  difference when it comes to, say, localization of websites.

Similar to Flemish, the German vocabulary used in Austria and Switzerland is also common, however, the preferences, especially in Switzerland, are many times for different words than those that are commonly used in Germany. Additionally, in Switzerland the German character “ß” is not used, and instead people write “ss”.

In our work, we come across the issue of language flavor daily. We of course translate into the various dialects mentioned above, and many more, and we will be happy to help with issues regarding which language or dialect to translate into. 

Language facts: Chinese

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:

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