Beyond Words - Language Blog

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If there is one philosophy that transcends cultural boundaries and linguistic differences, it is “Eat, drink, and be merry.” From the tip of Chile to the top of Siberia, lengthwise and breadth-wise and zigzagging the globe, nations have developed a wide array of phrases and customs associated with drinking and […]

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When watching foreign films, I often wonder whether the translation is, in fact, accurate. Unless a viewer is a native speaker, he is at the mercy of an unknown translator. Inaccurate translation can lead to confusion, or even unintended laughter. In some cases, the trouble starts with a title. For […]

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The word quarantine — used in modern English to designate a period of time when a group of people or materials is isolated from its surroundings — has several cultural and semantic stories ascribed to it. With the French quarantaine and the Italian quarantena we are plunged into nautical history. […]

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The Angoff Method is a widely used standard-setting approach in test development. In plain English, it is a kind of study that test developers use to determine the passing percentage (cutscore) for a test. The passing grade of a test can’t be decided arbitrarily; it must be justified with empirical […]

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To translate a controversial text may very well mean putting one’s life on the line. Western history offers several examples of tortured and slain translators and interpreters, and as apt as we are to think that those barbaric times are over, the late 20th century saw one of the most […]

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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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We’ve all had the experience of taking a multiple choice test — one is given a question, and then has to choose the correct answer from a group of choices, usually “a,” “b,” “c,” and “d.” From a test-taker’s perspective, these can sometimes be very intimidating. Does the following line […]

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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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Not surprisingly, non-profit organizations with a global outreach are among the largest employers of translators and interpreters. However, the impact of non-profits on the translation and interpretation service industry, which relies on the existence and protection of linguistic heterogeneity, is ambiguous. There is, in fact, an interesting dichotomy: on the […]

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Beyond Words is happy to celebrate our first International Translation Day! September 30th — the feast-day of St. Jerome, patron saint of translators, was originally instituted as Translation Day by UNESCO, upon the request of the International Federation of Translators (FIT), twenty years ago. Cheers to all of the translators, […]

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