November 26th, 2014

Wacky Word Wednesday – Pandiculation

You rise from your chair, a little sleepy after a large lunch and a glass of wine, and as you stand your body begins to contort. Your spine stiffens and arches backward, your arms reach for the sky, your head leans back, your mouth opens wide and you draw a deep breath. It’s an exquisitely involuntary action we’ve all experienced and it’s this week’s Wacky Word: pandiculation.




A stretching and stiffening of the back and arms, as when fatigued and drowsy or upon waking, often accompanied by yawning.

November 25th, 2014

Fried Enema Anyone?

Is Chinglish friend or foe?  That is the ongoing debate that has erupted between the Chinese authorities, linguists, and Chinglish enthusiasts. Chinglish is created at the intersection of Chinese and English and uses a mix of pinyin — the Romanized spelling of Chinese words — (e.g. 光棍 – guanggun) and creatively, though incorrectly, worded English (e.g. good good study, day day up) to express sometimes very culturally specific ideas.  If you’re an English speaker that’s ever visited China, you will have undoubtedly encountered your fair share of giggle-worthy signs and messages.  However, not everyone finds these twists of English and Chinese quite so amusing. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular Chinglish phrases and how they are received worldwide.

November 24th, 2014

New Chinese Terms and Their Backstories, Part 2

In case you missed the last installment of our two-part series, we’ve been learning about new Chinese terms and exploring their anecdotal origins. Today, we will continue our study on this topic. You will learn two Chinese phrases that could come in handy when you visit a restaurant and a term that you can use when talking about China’s air pollution.

November 21st, 2014

In The News: Google Play Store Opens to Chinese Developers, Analysts Say Smartclothes are the Future

This week in the news, Amazon made a pledge to run its entire cloud computing division on renewable energy, Google announced its return to China with the opening up of its Play Store to Chinese developers, and analysts predict that wearable devices will soon be replaced with smartgarments.

November 20th, 2014

In the Eye of the Beholder

The saying goes that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” but it’s important to note that all of us see the world through the lens of our culture. So, it’s perhaps more accurate to say that beauty lies in cultural context. But culture isn’t static the world over, nor does it remain the same from one generation to the next. In today’s T for Translation, we’ll explore the concept of beauty as defined in different cultures.

North America

The version of beauty that has been idealized in North America since the late 1990’s emphasizes synthetic tans, hair extensions, fake fingernails, massive amounts of makeup, and clothes designed to either hide or emphasize features. Though their society openly acknowledges this style’s illusory nature (and often decries it), it nonetheless pursues it with abandon.

November 19th, 2014

Cacoethes – Wacky Word Wednesday

Sometimes it strikes even the best of us: the sudden desire to do something we know is bad for us. It might be the seemingly irresistible urge to call up an ex-partner in the middle of the night or the impulsive and strange thought that it would be fun to break some expensive antiques. We might not feel this very often but at some point most will experience cacoethes.




A sudden and uncontrollable urge, especially for something harmful.

November 18th, 2014

Kids, Culture, and Cartoons: Translations that Teach

Though cartoons are entertainment and are made to be both fun and funny, they also act as important education platforms for kids. Children absorb a lot from their favorite cartoons – they learn about their own culture, about values and morality in their society, and about what makes a character a good or bad person (or animal, as is often the case in cartoons). As such, cartoons’ translators often need to be far more creative and transformative with the content than would be considered acceptable for adult media translators. In today’s T for Translation, we’re going to examine the ways in which translators create culturally appropriate content for kids.

November 17th, 2014

New Chinese Terms and Their Backstories, Part 1

Like any other language, Mandarin is constantly evolving; new terms and phrases emerge and old words take on new meanings. With over 50,000 characters, the Chinese language can also give its speakers a lot of room for creativity. In this post, the first part of a two-part series, we highlight several terms that have recently entered the Chinese lexicon and explore each of their anecdotal origins.

November 14th, 2014

In the News

This week, the European Space Agency succeeded in landing a space probe on a comet, Japanese tech company Toshiba unveiled the farm of the future, and Thync – a U.S. company – has revealed a new piece of wearable technology that will allow users control their own state of mind.

November 13th, 2014

Big Brands Bouncing Back

Big brands come and go but few stand the test of time; even the longest lasting often succumb to setbacks. There are those, though, that seem to combust and fade into the economic ether only to re-emerge bigger and better than before. In today’s T for Translation, we’ll look at a few brands that have suffered great losses and made it back against all odds.