Recent Blog Posts

In 1777, British explorer and navigator Captain James Cook brought a linguistic discovery back to England. The word taboo, Cook wrote in A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean, encompassed an array of forbidden acts and behaviors in Tonga, a Polynesian archipelago. From the Proto-Polynesian word ta, meaning “mark” and bu, […]

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Before the word chocolate came into the English language from Spanish, Hernan Cortes learned of a potent Aztec beverage made with cacahuaquchtl powder (the origin of the word “cocoa”), chili, musk, and honey. In a 1519 expedition to the New World, Cortes received a friendly reception from the Aztecs of […]

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The history of words teaches us that food is the fuel of relationships. The word “companion”, from the Latin com “with” and panis “bread”, reminds us that food — and the brief respite allotted to people throughout history for sharing meals — feeds more than the physical body; it also […]

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How did Spanish become the second most-common language in the United States after English? The answer will lead us into our country’s past, examine America’s present, and speculate on what the coming years will bring. It wasn’t the English who established the first permanent colony in what we now call […]

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Sometimes even major corporations stumble into linguistic dilemmas with badly executed ad translations. Take, for example, the popular soda slogan “Come alive with the Pepsi Generation.” A little miscommunication in Taiwanese resulted in the more macabre “Pepsi will bring your ancestors back from the dead.” The Gerber baby food corporation […]

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Every translator has to deal with the peculiarities of his native language. With every nuance, shade of meaning, and grammatical inclination, each language offers a reflection of the people who speak it. Where one language relies primarily on verbs to carry a sentence to its goal, another lets its nouns […]

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