Project manager Esteban

Meet our new German project manager Esteban

This week, we are welcoming Esteban Hack as project manager to our AJT team, who will be looking after our translation projects to and  from English to German, as well as Italian, Spanish and Dutch.

Originally from Germany, Esteban has lived extensively in France, USA and UK, and speaks fluent German and English and has a good working knowledge of French. For the last three years, he has been living in Newquay while studying at Plymouth University where he graduated this summer with a Bachelor degree in Marine Sports Science. As part of his degree program, he was responsible for planning and executing the English National Surfing Championship with over 100 competitors, so he is no stranger to multi-tasking and working to tight deadlines.

Esteban is a fellow ocean lover and keen surfer, and also enjoys making music. We certainly look forward to hearing some of his musical creations! Welcome to the team, Esteban!





Cornish language translation

A Taste of the Cornish language

Dhyd da! At AJT we may hail from places as far flung as Dresden, Luxemburg, and Burgundy, but that doesn’t stop us feeling that pang of pride for Cornwall and for all things Cornish.

The region has a distinct cultural heritage, along with its very own language, which makes it a truly special and unique place to call home. Being the language-lovers and Cornwall-lovers that we are, it goes without saying that we were all extremely excited to see the world’s first ever Cornish TV advert aired on national television last week, putting this little-known regional language firmly back on the map. And what’s more, the ad was for delicious Cornish ice cream.

You can see the 30-second advert, which is for Kelly’s of Cornwall’s ice cream, below. The ad features a Cornishman serving ice cream in a field and speaking animatedly in Common Cornish about their new range of flavours, stating: “Yma res nowydh kavadow a Kelly’s Cornish ice cream hag yw as tasty as” (There’s a new range of Kelly’s Cornish ice cream available that is as tasty as).

As mere beginners of the Cornish language, so far knowing only words such as “Kernow” (“Cornwall”) and “Myttin da” (“good morning”), the advert has certainly whet our appetite. But exactly what is Common Cornish, and who speaks it today?

Cornish is a Celtic language with very similar roots to both Welsh and French Breton. It was Cornwall’s main language for centuries, with the earliest written examples dating all the way back to the 9th century. Cornish went into decline and had all but disappeared from everyday use in the 19th century. However, thanks to the work of individuals, who documented the language, a process of revival began, leading UNESCO to change the status of Common Cornish from “extinct” to “critically endangered” in 2009.

In Cornwall today, over 500 people say Cornish is their main language, and this number is growing. There are also magazines in Cornish, as well as some radio broadcasts and newspaper articles. And it seems that there are even some Cornish speakers living as far as Australia and the US!

For more about the Cornish language, Kelly’s have developed this very useful Cornish phrasebook.

To get you up and running, here is a transcript of the Cornish advert in full:


Literary translation: what's the story?

Translated fiction: What’s the story?

Korean novel The Vegetarian, a dark tale about a woman who decides to stop eating meat and become a tree, was last week awarded the coveted Man Booker International prize, which is shared equally between its Korean author Han Kang and its English translator, Deborah Smith. With the popularity of translated fiction ever on the rise in the UK and even selling better than non-translated fiction, we got thinking about the specialist field of literary translation and about our favourite translated novels.

Translating novels presents its own challenges, which can place it squarely on a par with technical translations on the difficulty scale. The literary translator faces a huge amount of decisions, being ultimately responsible for what can be seen as the holy grail task of re-producing the same effect the original had on the new target readership. For this to even be possible, a brilliant mix of sound knowledge of both the source and target culture and context, flawless command of their native language, and great confidence to make bold decisions is required.


The Vegetarian book cover

Image credit:

Understanding the author and their intentions

The fiction translator needs to really get inside the author’s head. This means reading and re-reading the novel to recognise the style, nuance, context and any different interpretations. It also often means collaborating closely with the author themselves and with publishers. It seems to be in this respect that Deborah Smith’s translation of The Vegetarian was so successful – she has been praised for maintaining the many different interpretations of the story intended and hinted at by Han Kang.

Another novel with many different interpretations is my favourite translated book, Franz Kafka’s Die Verwandlung (The Metamorphosis). A tale about a young man who wakes up to find himself transformed into “Ungeziefer” (a general term for a “bug” of sorts), the many different English translators who have tackled it must have struggled not only with how to translate “Ungeziefer” itself (as vermin, bug, insect, bedbug, among others), but also with the many different meanings and interpretations Kafka intended to evoke through his writing. For me, the best translated version is by Christopher Moncrieff, who takes the novel on in a very idiosyncratic way.

Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis book cover

Image credit:

Evoking the same response in the new readership

At the same time as getting inside the head of the author, the successful literary translator must squarely position themselves in the new reader’s shoes, writing in a way that stirs the same emotions and feelings for them as it does for the readers of the original. After having a discussion about our favourite translated novels in the office, Anja said she feels that the English translation of Der Schwarm (The Swarm) by Frank Schätzing is very successful in this respect. A novel carrying an important message about the destruction of marine ecosystems, the story follows a group investigating freak events on the world’s oceans. Having enjoyed the German original so much, Anja read the English translation, and felt that the translator, Sally-Ann Spencer, did a great job of capturing and evoking the same emotions she felt the first time round.

Frank Schätzing The Swarm book cover

Image credit:

Translating confidently and creatively

With this aim of achieving the same effect in the new readership, the literary translator needs a creative mind, confidence and also needs to grant themselves a great deal of freedom. The French and German Harry Potter translations, which had a big impact on both Daniel and Cassandre growing up, are prime examples. The translators made J.K. Rowling’s magical, exciting world full of wordplay fully accessible and did a great job taking the freedom to localise the names and places that were full of meaning. For instance, French Harry Potter translator Jean-François Ménard coined the French name for Hogwarts school, “Poudlard” (inferring “poux-de-lard” which means “bacon lice”) and also Severus Snape’s surname, “Rogue” (meaning ‘haughty’), among dozens of other inventions. Without such confident translations both the humour and Rowling’s attention to the detail would have been lost. Elsewhere, the German translator Klaus Fritz’s translation is a very idiomatic read. Where he was unable to replicate wordplay, such as with the name “Diagon Alley”, translated simply as “Winklegasse” (Corner Alley), he instead strove to reproduce the same flow of wordplay in the novel as a whole, sometimes inventing new jokes to make up for any that were lost in translation.

Harry Potter book cover

Image credit:

Loving what you do

Literary translators need a great deal of passion and perseverance, and to be prepared for many drafts and re-drafts. It is certainly a very rewarding branch of the translation industry. Thanks to literary translators, the inaccessible becomes accessible for us all to enjoy. As acclaimed Italian writer Italo Calvino said:

“Without translation, I would be limited to the borders of my own country. The translator is my most important ally. He introduces me to the world.”


Welcoming new translation intern Katja

We’re delighted to welcome our new translation intern, Katja, who will be part of our team for the next six weeks, here at the AJT headquarters in Newquay.

Having spent the first five years of her life in Siberia before moving to Germany, Katja comes from a truly multi-cultural background and, apart from being fluent in German and English, also speaks Russian and French. As such, it’s no surprise that she decided to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in translation studies at Heidelberg University in Germany, where she is currently in her last year.

While her degree primarily focuses on legal translation, we look forward to introducing Katja to various other aspects of the translation industry, from marketing translation for our clients, to writing blog posts and, last but not least, learning about project management. And what better place to do it than on the lovely Cornish coast?

Welcome to the the team, Katja – we look forward to our time together!

Web trends affecting translation industry 2016

3 key web trends that will affect the translation industry in 2016

Yesterday, leading Cornwall-based online marketing specialists Niddocks hosted the Niddocks GYM seminar (short for Google, YouTube & Mobile) to get Cornish businesses fighting fit for the year ahead.

Managing director Rob Edlin presented the latest trends that we can expect in online search this year, and he was joined by Danny Burlacu from YouTube, who spoke about the growing adoption of YouTube, both as a search engine and a marketing and advertising platform.

The seminar covered a lot of information (my brain certainly felt like it had a workout), including structured data, smart goals for AdWords and advanced remarketing. To me, the three trends that stood out the most, and which I think will impact the translation industry, are:

1) Safety first: the move from HTTP to HTTPS domains

When information is sent from a webpage on a http domain – for example when you fill in a contact form and submit it – that information is sent unencrypted. It could potentially be seen by someone that it’s not intended for, i.e. the information could be scraped for improper use like spam or phishing.

HTTPS, on the other hand, is a secure domain which only sends information in an encrypted way so that it cannot be deciphered by anyone other than the intended recipient. You might have seen HTTPS in your browser address bar on pages where you have to enter confidential information like credit card details.

Google want to make the whole internet safer and are pushing for more and more websites to move to https domains. In a recent statement, Google announced that they are now starting to index more https pages and that they will index https pages first before indexing equivalent http pages.

We’re excited about taking another step forward in making the web more secure. By showing users HTTPS pages in our search results, we’re hoping to decrease the risk for users to browse a website over an insecure connection and making themselves vulnerable to content injection attacks. – Google

Many websites of freelance translators and translation companies – including our own – are still hosted on http. With the recent Google announcement in mind and to avoid getting penalised in Google rankings in the future, now is a good time to start planning for a move to https. Gather information about the costs and processes involved in changing your website from an http to an https domain. According to Edlin, it’s important to work closely with your web developer to make sure the switch goes without any hick-ups and that all searches for your current http site are properly redirected to your https site.

2) Beacons: connecting the physical world with the online world

A beacon is a small piece of hardware that can send messages or prompts directly to a smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth technology. They are low-cost pieces of kit that are easy to install and offer completely new ways of interacting with people in the physical world. According to Business Insider, “beacons are poised to transform how retailers, event organisers, transit systems, enterprises, and educational institutions communicate with people”.

For example, shops can use beacons to not only measure the footfall in their shops, but also get a much better picture of who these visitors are (demographics) and how they interact with their products (conversion data). And that’s just one of many use cases. In the USA alone, beacon technology drove $4bn of retail sales in 2015, a figure that’s expected to increase drastically this year.

While so far, beacons relied on an app being installed on a user’s smartphone, 2016 will see major web browsers supporting beacon technology, which will open up a whole new world of possibilities. According to Edlin, a spark is needed to ignite a new location-based marketing method that will allow end users to use online search in a more meaningful way that truly connects the physical with the online world, and beacons are likely to be exactly that spark.

For anyone interested in using beacons in their business, Niddocks will soon be launching Olleno, a brand new specialist resource for the physical web, Eddystone beacons, nearby and proximity marketing – watch this space!

3) Video content: growing at incredible speed

Here is a neat statistic: According to Cisco, by 2017, video will account for 69% of ALL online traffic. The consumption of online video is growing year on year. People are watching videos at home, at work, while they are commuting, while they are eating, and even on the toilet! In the UK alone, 16 million users watch online videos every day. With an annual growth rate of 10%, video is not just a way of providing engaging content marketing for potential and existing customers, video platforms also offer a huge advertising potential to increase sales and drive brand awareness.

As more and more companies start to integrate video into their marketing strategies, the need for translation services specialising in localising video will continue to grow. Expanding your offering to include subtitling and voice over services could be a worthwhile move to create a competitive edge, as could be the partnering with a reliable video production company.

Creative writing for translators: Writing a marketing text to a brief

We’ve received some wonderful feedback from our translator colleagues about our blog on creative writing for translators,  so we thought we would publish this week’s task so you can join us and try it out for yourself! This week, we will focus on writing to a brief.

What to do

Find a hotel somewhere close-by and go in for an afternoon coffee. Take a pen and paper.

The task

You have been contracted by the hotel to write a beautiful and informative short article about the hotel’s bar/lounge area that they want to promote to their customers. Write the article in your mother tongue.

Medium & word count

Your description will be published on the hotel’s website, and also in a printed welcome guide in the guest rooms. There is space for roughly 300 words.

Who are you talking to?

You are addressing visitors of the hotel’s website who are browsing the site before their stay, as well as hotel guests reading the welcome guide. You are addressing both business and leisure travellers (think about their motives for staying in this hotel and why they would benefit from visiting the bar/lounge).

What are you trying to achieve?

You want to draw the reader’s attention to this area of the hotel and encourage them to use it during their stay.

What are you saying? 

Describe your surroundings: the interior design (style, genre, chic, minimalist, etc), the atmosphere (mellow, professional, any music playing? etc), what can you do here, what’s the menu like, what can you see when you look out of the window?

What do you want the reader to think/feel?

You want to create a picture of the bar/lounge area in their mind through vivid and positive descriptions. You want your readers to think ‘That sounds nice’, ‘That’s worth a look’ or ‘I like the sound of the menu’.

How should you come across?

Positive and inviting without ‘selling’.

Why would they believe you?

You are writing from the hotel’s perspective. The text needs to feel honest and unpretentious so that the reader feels they can trust your judgement. You definitely don’t want to make things up or embellish the truth. Once they go and see the bar/lounge area for themselves, they don’t want to feel disappointed.

Have fun writing! Want to share your musings with us? Feel free to send us your creations. We’ll pick the best ones and publish them on this blog post with a link to your translator profile 🙂

Happy creative Friday afternoon!


Introducing our new German translator

We’re so pleased to introduce you to our new German translator, Daniel Wagener. Originally from multilingual Luxembourg, Daniel developed a natural interest for all things language from a young age. With his first class BA in German Studies from the University of Luxembourg and subsequent MA in Professional Translation from Swansea University, he is well equipped for the task of German in-house translator here at AJT.

Before joining our team, Daniel had been working as a freelance translator, which allowed him to acquire experience in the translation of a variety of texts including marketing, business and law.

Daniel has a passion for reading and writing German and English fiction and non-fiction. Combined with his keen interest in literary translation, he is ideally suited for the task of transcreation.

In his spare time, Daniel plays the guitar and enjoys bouldering (a form of low-level rock climbing). And who knows, maybe we’ll see him practicing his rock-climbing skills on one of the coasteering adventures on the shores of Newquay.

Wëllkomm, bienvenue, willkommen and welcome Daniel!

To be continued … creative writing exercises to nurture translation talent

Inspired by the concept of Feeding – a brilliant idea from the copywriting power house that is Stranger Collective – we recently introduced a ‘creative final hour’ in our office. Every Friday, we like to use the last hour in the office (or out of the office!) to actively broaden our horizons, research language-related topics, share our linguistic knowledge and get involved in some creative writing exercises … a fun way to further improve our writing styles, explore new vocabulary and generally get the creative juices flowing.

I am always impressed by the excellent level of English that our non-native translators produce, and by their sheer creativity, so I thought I’d share some of our musings. This first story is written by Caro, our current translation intern from Luxembourg. She used a ‘random first line’ generator on to give her the beginnings of a sentence and then she had 30 minutes to write a short story. Her story is a nod to one of her favourite authors, Jasper Fforde.

Here we go:

He didn’t want to go out on such a night but then they were only in town for one day. Who’d have thought that the dodos would be coming to this tiny hamlet – of all places. But the posters on the wooden lampposts confirmed it: “Dodo Day in Donkington-on-Dobbles”.

He looked around his place; was there anything that he could take for the dodos? He knew they liked fudge. But you weren’t allowed to give them any of that, as it would make their beaks all sticky. And dodos are of course notorious for their aversion to bath time. There were some nurdles that he’d collected at the beach the other day. He’d take those. Maybe the dodos liked all the different colours. They could even use them in their nest-making. So that was settled then.

Off he went to the marketplace, where the big tent had been set up. The entrance was right next to the central fountain, the one with all the koi in it. A woman with white hair was sitting on a small plastic chair at a small plastic table in front of the big red tent. Apparently she was the designated doorkeeper for the night. A roll of faded pink tickets and a cigar box were placed on the table in front of her. He held out a handful of coins and she picked out a few ducats. Then she tore off a ticket and handed it over to him. He took a look at it. It said: “MINI GOLF – One Person – Not transferable”. He looked at the white haired lady: “Erm … ‘xuse us – why does it say ‘Mini golf’ on this ticket. I was under the impression that this was the dodo tent.” “’Tis” was all she said. As he continued staring at her, she expanded her answer: “It’s an interactive show.” He decided that continuing to stare at her was not a good idea anymore now. He blinked a couple of times instead. The white haired lady seemed to catch on to the fact that he was a bit hard of understanding, so she went on: “You get to see the dodos, the dodos get to watch you play mini golf. It’s a win-win situation.” He thought that at that point their conversation had found its natural end, so he thanked her for the ticket and turned towards the tent. At least her explanations gave him some food for thought while he was waiting for the tent to be opened up. TO BE CONTINUED …

The idea is to continue with the story every week … let’s see where it takes us 🙂

Another Friday, another instalment of Caro’s story:

Outside the cabin, the wind howled through the trees, while inside, the old woman’s fire was nearly out. If she found enough firewood, it would keep her warm for the rest of the night and possibly until midday the next day. So she hopped into her woolly loafers and headed outside. As soon as she had opened the door, a fresh gust of wind blew into her face. It carried a nice, sweet smell that she tried to identify. Candyfloss! She could not remember when she had last smelled candyfloss. Probably the last time she had gone to the village fair – might have been well over a decade ago. And where was this scent coming from? She looked towards the village, which lay at the foot of the ben where her little cabin stood. Something seemed to be happening in Donkington. She could make out a big red something where the marketplace was. Only the center of the village was illuminated. The outskirts were slowly being devoured by the encroaching darkness. The good burghers of Donkington must have left their houses to have a look at the big red something in the marketplace. Should she…? It was awfully cold and she really did not want to go out on such a night, but if there was an event in the village, chances were that there would be a few cosy fires on the go.

So that was settled then.

When she arrived at the marketplace, she realised that what she had seen from the cabin was a big red tent stretching from the bakery all the way to the koi-fountain. There was a young man standing right next to the entrance of the tent. He looked like the sort of fella who would know what goes on in big red tents that pop up out of nowhere in the middle of the night and keep you from going out to get firewood. She would ask him. TO BE CONTINUED…

Another Friday, another instalment of Caro’s story – the penultimate chapter:

The urge to interrupt him before he had finished was overwhelming. But the old woman thought it would be impolite to approach the young man straight away, as he seemed to be busy alternately staring at a slip of paper in his hand and squinting into the middle distance. He eventually turned on his heels and sat down on the edge of the koi fountain. That was her cue. She walked towards him, past a woman with white hair who was sat at a little table and playing a game of Patience. Before she could reach him though, she noticed an advertising poster that was tacked to the tent cloth.

She took a closer look. “Dodos…” she murmured. It had been years since she’d heard them mentioned. Of course, when she was a child, they’d had loads of dodos at their place. Her favourite had been Bobo – not her choice of name, she always hastened to add. If she’d had the choice, she would have called him something nice, like Percivall. But she had gotten Bobo – name and all – from the local bakery. That is to say, Mrs Doe, the baker’s wife used to own Bobo when he was little. But Mr Doe soon got fed up with him, as he had to throw out too many pies and pastries that had dodo-footprints on them. So the old woman’s parents (she wasn’t an old woman at the time, she was actually a young girl back then) had adopted Bobo. The family already owned some fifty dodos who were roaming freely in the grounds around their mansion. One more or less wouldn’t make a difference.

And now there were Dodos once again. TO BE CONTINUED…

Here we have the final instalment of Caro’s story! Caro will be heading back to Heidelberg University this week and she will be sorely missed here at AJT:

It was just for one night. This might be her last chance to see them – because she was getting on a bit, if she was honest.

“Are you going to go see them?” It was the young man who was sitting on the koi fountain. The old woman put on her thinking face. She had been asking herself the same question and had known that she would not be able to make up her mind. So use of the thinking face was designed to delay things at least a little bit longer. But the young man continued on his quest for an answer or conversation or whatever he was looking for. “There’s minigolf as well!”, he said enthusiastically. He tried this strategy now; if he pretended to know what he was talking about, then maybe the ensuing conversation would give him some clues as to the nature of the show that he was letting himself in for. “Minigolf!”, the old woman said in surprise. “Well, I suppose then I should really, shouldn’t I?” She had no idea what the young man was talking about. Probably one of those new things that young people got up to. Unwilling to show her ignorance of those things, she decided to go along with it; she would find out eventually what the young man was talking about.

So the young man’s strategy had not quite worked out for him.

“Lady and gentleman…”, the white-haired woman interrupted. She apparently had finished her card game and was now standing at the tent entrance, with both hands on a big red bobble, attached to a long string dangling from the entrance. “… the show is now ready for you!”, she said. The old woman and the young man looked at each other. They were the only people standing at the entrance of this big top. Was no one else going to see this show?

The white-haired woman pulled at the bobble.

The red, plushy curtain lifted.

The old woman and the young man entered the tent. THE END

Would you like to spin a yarn and continue the story? Use the random line generator and put pen to paper… it’s good fun 🙂



Exporting to Europe? Know your public holidays

Exporting to Europe? Know your public holidays

Did you know that today is a public holiday in many countries around the world? 1st May is International Workers’ Day so across most of Europe, offices will be closed today.

If you are exporting to Europe or you have European suppliers, you will know how important it is to be aware of all the different public holidays. If you don’t include them into your planning, you risk delaying deliveries, lorries turning up at closed customs offices, long queues at country borders due to holiday traffic, etc.

Public holidays differ in each country and are deeply connected to the political and religious history of a country. In Germany, for example, there are some public holidays that apply to the whole country, and others that are specific to individual federal states. At the bottom of this blog, we have pulled together a table with the most important German and French public holidays in 2015.

One of the best ways to keep up to date with public holidays in other countries is to use Google Calendar and add country-specific holiday calendars. We work with German and French customers and translators on a daily basis and we tend to add a reminder one week in advance of any public holidays so we can plan ahead and minimise disruptions. Every little helps 🙂

German public holidays 2015

Tag der Arbeit (Labour Day)01.05.2015 Whole country
Christi Himmelfahrt (Ascension)14.05.2015 Whole country
Pfingstsonntag (Whit Sunday)24.05.2015 Brandenburg only
Pfingstmontag (Whit Monday)25.05.2015 Whole country
Fronleichnam (Corpus Christi)04.06.2015 Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland
Mariä Himmelfahrt (Assumption)15.08.2015 Bavaria, Saarland
Tag der Deutschen Einheit (Day of German Unity) 03.10.2015 Whole country
Reformationstag (Reformation Day)31.10.2015 Brandenburg, Mecklenburg-West Pomerania, Saarland, Saxony-Anhalt, Thuringia
Allerheiligen (All Saints' Day)01.11.2015 Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland-Palatinate, Saarland
Buß- und Bettag (Day of Atonement)18.11.2015 Saxony
1. Weihnachtstag (Christmas Day)25.12.2015 Whole country
2. Weihnachtstag (Boxing Day)26.12.2015 Whole country

French public holidays 2015

Fête du Travail (Labour Day)01.05.2015Whole country
Fête de la Victoire 1945 (WWII Victory Day)08.05.2015Whole country
Ascension catholique (Ascension Day)14.05.2015Whole country
Pentecôte (Whit Sunday)24.05.2015Whole country
Lundi de Pentecôte (Whit Monday)25.05.2015Whole country
Fête nationale (Bastille Day)14.07.2015Whole country
Assomption (Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary)15.08.2015Whole country
Toussaint (All Saints' Day) 01.11.2015Whole country
Armistice 1918 (Armistice Day)11.11.2015Whole country
Noël (Christmas Day)25.12.2015Whole country

Cornish seasons greetings delivered to our lovely translators

There is nothing better than bringing a bit of Christmas cheer to the lovely translators who work so hard throughout the year and who form the backbone of our company.

This year, we decided to bring a local flavour to our seasons greetings and sent delicious fudge from the Buttermilk Confectionary Co. to our translators across Europe and North America.

Enjoy and happy Christmas 🙂