Welcome / Bienvenue / Benvinguts / Bienvenidos
For information about my translation services, please visit the main site.
Pour des informations sur mes services, merci de regarder le site principal.
Para información sobre mis servicios de traducción, visite el web principal.

Football, fútbol, futbol, calcio I: the beautiful game

I recently stumbled upon an article by fellow specialist sports translator Joseph Lambert entitled The Terminology of the Beautiful Game. Joseph focuses on terminology in his source languages: French and Italian. My source languages are slightly different – I also translate from French, I don’t translate from Italian, and I translate from Spanish and Catalan – so with his permission I decided to write my own post incorporating his French and Italian terms and adding Spanish and Catalan terms.

I will examine the terms he discusses in a future article. In this post I will look at an expression used in the title of Joseph’s article. The term the beautiful game is instantly understood by English-speaking football fans – at least those in the UK and Ireland – as referring to association football, in the same way that boxing fans will instantly recognise the noble art as referring to their sport. Schott’s Sporting, Gaming & Idling Miscellany, by Ben Schott, lists three other poetic nicknames for sports: the sport of kings (horse racing), the gentle craft (angling), the noble science of defence (fencing) and the Tesserarian art (gambling).

The expression the beautiful game has no direct translation into French, Spanish and Catalan, so a translator working from English into these languages must either repeat the word football or use some other expression to refer to the sport. Spanish has the option of using the calqued translation balompié, which the Diccionario Panhispánico de Dudas says “no ha gozado de mucha aceptación entre los hablantes y suele emplearse casi siempre por razones estilísticas, para evitar repeticiones en el discurso” (it is not widely used, and when it is it is nearly always for stylistic reasons to avoid repetition). French, meanwhile, can resort to the expression le ballon rond, which literally refers to the bag of air being booted around the field but is often used as a metonym to refer to the sport. French can also use the slightly informal shortened form foot (French can also remove the suffix -ball from the names of two other sports: handball and basketball).

Another alternative in English is soccer, a word that derives from association football (see next paragraph). I remember soccer being in widespread use when I was growing up as a child in England, but in recent times – perhaps particularly since the 1994 World Cup in the USA – it seems to have fallen out of favour in the UK, wrongly branded an unwelcome Americanism by many; the term was first coined in England. Generally it is used only in headlines (where there is a limit on the number of characters) or when specifically discussing football in America.

Association football is the official name of the sport, so called because it is based on the rules originally devised by the (English) Football Association. The full name is used in contexts where it is necessary to distinguish the game from other codes of football: rugby league, rugby union, American football, Canadian football, Australian-rules football (or Aussie- rules football, commonly referred to as footie in Australia) and Gaelic football. Technically the full name of the sport in French and Spanish is football association and fútbol asociación respectively – and FIFA actually stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association – but these are rarely, if ever, used in those languages. Note that in English it is not unusual for a rugby (league or union) commentator to say something like “that’s excellent football by England” or “that’s excellent use of the football by Wales”.

Watch this space for a follow-up post on vocabulary used to describe the action during matches.

Anglo Premier Translations specialises in sports translations. For more information, visit the main website.


Pronunciation guide part I: the letter J

This is the first of a series of articles I will post about the pronunciation of foreign names. The articles will focus on famous names in sport that are often mispronounced by sports commentators and presenters.

Commentators and presenters should not be expected to pronounce all foreign names exactly as pronounced in the original language. For instance, it would sound pretentious for commentators to pronounce all French Rs the French way. But they should pronounce names as correctly as possible using phonemes (sounds) that exist in English.

Mispronunciations are often the result of the speaker reading a name as if it were English. But sometimes they occur because the speaker applies the pronunciation rules of one foreign language to a name that’s from another language – usually French, because it is the most familiar foreign language to most people in Britain.

For example, when referring to the controversial Uruguayan footballer Luis Suárez, Liverpool’s manager Brendan Rodgers calls the striker LEW-ee, with a silent S. He does this three times in the following interview alone.

This is a type of hypercorrection, and specifically a hyperforeignism: even though a final S in English words is pronounced, Rodgers believes he is pronouncing the name more correctly by omitting it, when in fact he is not. He almost certainly does so because the French name Louis has a silent S, but final consonants are not silent in Spanish, nor are they in most languages. The correct pronunciation would be LWEES, as a single syllable, but since this is hard to pronounce for an English speaker, an acceptable compromise would be lu-WEESS.

The letter J

Let us look specifically at the subject of this post, the letter J, which is pronounced in a variety of ways in different European languages.

(Since these posts are aimed at non-linguists, I have avoided using phonetic symbols and have written pronunciations in such a way that they can be read as if they were English words. Caps are used to denote the stressed syllable.)

Germanic languages except English (German, Dutch, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic)

The Germanic languages (except English) pronounce the J like the English letter Y. Examples:

  • Jan Ullrich (German)
  • Luuk de Jong (Dutch)
  • Eiður Smári Guðjohnsen (Icelandic)

French and Portuguese

French and Portuguese use a sound that does not exist in native English words, but with which most English speakers are familiar. It is the same sound that occurs in the expression déjà vu. Examples:

  • Jean Alesi (French)
  • José Mourinho (Portuguese)


Mispronunciations of a Catalan J are invariably a hyperforeignism, since the letter is pronounced the same as in most English words (e.g. in the word jam).

Sometimes commentators wrongly pronounce it like the J found in other Germanic languages (i.e. a Y sound). For example, during the playing days of Jordi Cruyff, who was given a Catalan first name by his parents (his father Johan was a Barça player at the time), the British media usually pronounced his first name as YOR-di. Perhaps commentators assumed his first name was Dutch, but other Catalan names with a J are also mispronounced as a Y, such as Jordi Alba.

Other times they pronounce it like the Spanish J (see below). Here’s a clip of Stephen Fry in flagrante delicto pronouncing the Catalan word menja as MEN-ha, as if it were a Spanish word, when the correct pronunciation is simply MEN-ja.


For the nitpickers, Spanish pronounces the J like the “ch” in the Scottish word loch. But apart from this word the sound doesn’t exist in English, so to simplify matters let’s say that it is pronounced as a H, which is an acceptable alternative for the native English speaker. (Spanish speakers themselves approximate the English H sound, which doesn’t exist in Spanish, like the Spanish letter J.)

An Anglicised pronunciation of the Spanish name Jorge would therefore be HOR-hay. This pronunciation of the letter J (and the letter G if followed by an E or an I) is unique to Spanish, and should not be used for names in other languages, including Catalan.

Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan?

The spellings of Spanish, Portuguese and Catalan names are often very similar or identical (José is written the same in Portuguese and Spanish), so commentators should make sure they know whether athletes have a Spanish, Portuguese or Catalan name so they can pronounce it correctly.

Common Spanish names containing a J pronounced as a H sound: Alejandro, Alejandra, Jaime, Javier, Javiera, Jerónimo, Joaquín, Jorge, José, Josefina, Joel, Juan, Julia, Juliana, Julio.

Common Catalan names containing a J pronounced like an English J: Jaume, Jeroni, Jordi, Joaquim, Josep, Joel, Joan, Júlia.

Common Portuguese names containing a J pronounced like a French J: Jaime, Jerónimo, Jerônimo, João, Joaquim, Jorge, Josefina, Júlia, Júlio.


Finally, Juventus is a special case. In Italian, the letter J is only used in words borrowed from foreign langauges. Otherwise, the J sound (as in jam) is always represented by the letter G (Genova) or by the combination “GI” (Giuseppe). The name of the Turin-based club is derived from the Latin iuventus, meaning youth, and is pronounced yu-VEN-tus.


Let’s stop getting upset about an entirely different market

A lot of translators get far too upset about certain websites where people are requesting translation services at astonishingly low rates. A good cure for this gripe is to inadvertently end up on one of the large databases of “translation agencies” that some of these sites hand out.

I ended up on one such website several years ago. I asked the site to remove me, which they did, but before long I was starting to receive CVs again, so presumably I’m back on the list. I currently receive approximately two to three CVs per day, all of which are sent to my old e-mail address from my old site, which is no longer visible and redirects to my new site. Curiously some of the candidates claim to have “read about my company”, even though they’re writing to an e-mail address not published anywhere on my website. Not surprisingly, the e-mail is normally sent as a blind carbon copy. In other words, the e-mail is being sent simultaneously to countless “translation agencies”, most of which the applicant knows absolutely nothing about.

Recently I’ve begun to open up some of the e-mails I’m sent, out of curiosity. Doing so has made me understand why such shoddy rates are offered. The vast majority of messages I receive are pitiful. The English is usually terrible, even from people claiming they translate into English. Many claim that English is their native language when the English they use clearly shows that this is a lie. One could argue that it is unfair to judge, say, an English-to-French translator based on the quality of his or her English, although this is debatable, since mastering the source language is also an essential skill. If, however, their e-mail contains incorrect usage of punctuation ,with commas written like this ,[sic] or with spaces before full stops, or with incorrect usage of capital letters, one can expect their work to be shoddy too.

Why, then, do good translators get so upset because a website is offering translations at such low rates? Does the owner of a top-quality restaurant get upset because half a mile up the road there’s a McDonald’s offering a meal and a drink for less than €10?

To illustrate my point, here are some extracts from some of the e-mails I’ve received recently. Comments in square brackets are my own interjections. Needless to say I won’t be hiring any of them for any jobs.

Translator 1. Native language: French.

Dear Madam / Mr . [not looking good already]

Note that my qulifications [oh dear] match greatly with your demand . [bad punctuation already]

I have read about your company , [this is probably not true]and I have sufficient knowledge about translation world .

As you will note in the attached CV that I am :

Firm believer in the Power of Languages and understanding of diverse cultures. From China to the Dominican [in his attached CV he says “From China to the Dominican Republic” but in the e-mail the word “Republic” has disappeared] communication is essential, having lived in four different countries in the last ten years, I have conjugated my background in International commerce and business administration as well as my knowledge of five languages to bring a more in depth approach to each opportunity presented to me.

I should inform you that I am an excellent speaker of French ,English , Portuguese and Spanish , and I use Microsoft Windows , Word , Excel , Power Point , and Internet skills .

I would be very pleased If I have a positive reply .

Regards :

[name removed]

Translator 2. Native language: Chinese

Hello ,,, [no need to read any more!]

Translator 3. Native language: Arabic

My specializations include Translation, Legal , , Proofreading, localization, Copywriting, Ghostwriting, Editing and general

I obtained a BA degree in specialized translation at ALAQAS University I studied one year of postgraduate studies in English Arabic translation. , I worked as translator in many Educational Institutions in my country. I also worked as freelance translator and English proofreader/editor Experienced translator in wide range of field.

Translator 4. Native language: Norwegian

Subject: “Meeting your all languages needs”

Translator 5. Native language: Chinese

Dear Sir/Madam,

This is [name removed] from China.

I engaged in translation when I was 22 years ago and in the Zhongnan University, majored in English.

Translator 6. A translation agency.

Dear Sir/Madam,

Do you spend long time [sic] searching for qualified translators?

Do you like to have the best price?

Do you worry about the translators’ commitment regarding deadlines?

Why do you bear all this while we are ready to do it for you?

[Translation agency name] is really there for your translation agency best choice. [What does that mean?] We offer such a great language translation experience, you never want to go back and look for your own freelancers, volunteers, or in-house translators again. We can beat them down with our lowest rates, better quality, accessibility, tax deductions (you can get rid of high expenses of translation services!), and 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Translator 7. Native language: French

Subject: English into French Translator and Vice Versa

Hello All, [at least he’s honest that it’s a mass mail]

Hope this message finds you well.

My name is [name removed] and I am a French native. I am a freelance translator/reviser since six years. [Yes, I know changing “je suis…depuis” to “I have been…since” is confusing, but if you claim to translate into English this is basic.] I translate from English/Spanish/Italian into French.‎Specialization field: art, culture, literature, creative writing, fashion, ‎politics, economy, social sciences, international relations, technology, ‎web localization, internet.‎
Please find attached to this e-mail a copy of my CV that details my past ‎experience. ‎

If any interest from your side, please let me know I would be pleased to ‎provide you mi services.

Translator 8. Native language: Russian

[The line breaks are in the original e-mail.]

I am a freelancer. My name is Ripsime. My working languages are
English, Russian. My native language is Russian, and due to the fact
that I live many years abroad I use English in my everyday life. I
have more than 8 years of experience as a freelance translator, as
well as I am a graduate of political sciences and international
relations with honors.

Translator 9. Native language: Italian

Subject: My services are punctual ,never delayed ,very accurate ,precise ,with genuine respect to the source. [Enough said, I think.]

Translator 10. Native language: Spanish

[The CV is taken from a template. She hasn’t paid to remove the watermark, and her name has the word “Edit” between her first name and surname! Also, her e-mail appears to have a typo, although I have no way of knowing if that is deliberate.]


The importance of context and testing

I’ve just been installing the program that enables me to generate my end-of-year tax declarations, and I was rather confused when I came across this screen:

One of the options says “Crear teclas de método abreviado para todos los usuarios”, which means “Create keyboard shortcuts for all users”. It seems a strange question to ask when installing a program. When you toggle the option, the list of programs in the above window changes, which is when I realised what had happened.

It should be asking whether I want to place a shortcut in the Windows menu for all users. The installation program was probably translated from an English installer that said “Create shortcuts for all users”, and the translator interpreted it as keyboard shortcuts (teclas de método abreviado) rather than shortcuts in the Windows menu, which I believe are called “accesos directos” in the Spanish versions of Windows.

Either the translator failed to use the context, or more likely, the translator was not given the context and was simply given a list of words and phrases to translate. There was probably no testing either. Whenever a translation is done and then transferred to another environment, somebody should view the translation in its final environment to check that all is well and rectify any problems (referred to as “testing” in the industry). Types of documents that require testing include websites, Powerpoint presentations and software. Similarly, before any translation are sent to print the translator should see the proofs to ensure nothing has gone wrong during the typesetting phase. Testing and checking proofs are both services provided by Anglo Premier Translations.


Quality assurance – a snapshot

When I provide a quote to a client, one of the services I mention in the quote is quality assurance (QA). It is an important part of the service I offer, and is vital for large projects to ensure consistency and coherence.

A good technique I’ve found when working with a colleague, such as a reviser, is to make my QA notes in a Google Doc, which the reviser can read and edit. Here is a snapshot from a recent project I completed, the translation of the OECD’s Latin American Economic Outlook 2013 into English.

QA checks

A snapshot of the QA document used for LEO 2013

Using this method has several benefits:

  • Time is not wasted trying to standardise certain aspects before the translation and revision are complete, especially since a different decision might be adopted later down the line, duplicating your work. For instance, whether to use single or double quotation marks (inverted commas).
  • I can warn the reviser not to worry about certain issues that I will take care of myself during the final QA. For instance, any occurrence of “program” where “programme” should be used.
  • The reviser can use the document to warn me of any inconsistencies he or she has spotted that should be looked at during QA.

On large projects, QA is a very thorough process. The above screenshot is just a snapshot of what was in fact a four-page document. The final page included a whole list of find/replace routines using regular expressions. For instance, this client requires that a non-breaking space is used between a number and the words million or billion, which I can achieve using a regular expression, rather than making sure I remember to use the non-breaking space every time when translating or revising the document.

For publications, QA is a vital part of the editorial process, and when requesting a quote on a translation you should ask your client what QA procedures will be used.


Working with your author to find the mot juste: journal vs magazine

Spanish and other Iberian languages do not make a distinction between a journal and a magazine. They use the same word for both, a revista. For translators this can cause us a headache if information about a particular publication is sparse. An abstract I was translating today mentioned two underground Catalan revistas from the 1940s, so it was hard to check whether they were journals or magazines.

One solution is to do what I did twice in the previous paragraph: translate revista with its hypernym, the more generic word publication. But if we want to be more precise – you probably don’t want to repeat the word publication too often in the same text – then you can ask the author, who will probably know about the publication and will be able to tell you which is the more appropriate word.

But the author might not understand the difference between the two terms, or might think that magazine refers only to glossy, tabloid-like magazines like Hello!, when in fact some magazines, like Time, are more serious. To solve this problem, this slide presentation in Spanish is a good resource to send your author, who should be able to identify which word is more appropriate based on the explanations on the slides.

This nuance between a journal and a magazine is another example of the dangers of machine translation. Google Translate might pick the right word if your sentence contains the name of a well-known magazine like ¡Hola! (the Spanish version of Hello!), but for a 1940s publication it will most likely just be guessing.


Anglo Premier col·labora amb el I Open de Tennis de Taula de Sant Quirze / Anglo Premier is sponsoring the inaugural Sant Quirze Table Tennis Open

Cartell del I Open de Sant Quirze del Vallès

[English article below]

Anglo Premier Translations és patrocinador oficial de I Open de Tennis de Taula de Sant Quirze del Vallès, que tindrà lloc el 16 de juny de 2012. D’aquesta manera recolzem un esdeveniment que contribueix a fomentar la salut al nostre entorn local a través de l’esport.

L’Open consisteix en un torneig per a federats, un altre per a no federats, i un tercer per a escolars, de manera que sigui quin sigui el teu nivell, hi pots participar. Podeu fer la inscripció a través del web del club organitzador, el club de tennis de taula de Sant Quirze del Vallès. T’hi atreveixes?

Anglo Premier Translations is an official sponsor of the inaugural Sant Quirze del Vallès Table Tennis Open, which will take place on 16 June 2012. In doing so, we will be supporting an event that promotes good health through sport in our local community.

There is a tournament for league players, non league players and schoolchildren, so players of any level can take part. Players can register on the website of Sant Quirze del Vallès Table Tennis Club. Are you game?


Invalid Swedish VAT numbers – how to correct them

I have recently arranged a job with a client based in Sweden. I asked the client for the company’s VAT number, and he sent me a number with the format SE123456-7890. I tested the number (without the hyphen, since you should always remove hyphens and spaces when entering a VAT number) on the VIES website and was told the number was invalid. The VIES website lists the formats of VAT numbers for each EU member state, and says that Swedish numbers contain 12 digits. Mine, as you can see, only had 10.

Fortunately the Wikipedia’s list of formats gives additional information. It says that all Swedish numbers end in 01, and gives a link to a Swedish website. Although I don’t speak Swedish, I do understand enough words to see that it’s saying that you add 01 to convert a national number to an international VAT number. I tried adding 01 to the number, and sure enough the VIES website gave me the name of my client’s company, thus confirming that I had the correct number.

So, if a Swedish-based client sends you a 10-digit, rather than a 12-digit, VAT number, just add 01 to the end of it.

Anglo Premier Translations provides translation and editing services. For more information, click here to visit our main website.


How to say “Camp Nou” (and “Salou”)

Anglo Premier Translations provides translation and editing services from Catalan, Spanish and French to English. For more information, click here to visit our main website.

When a foreign word is used in the media, journalists are normally advised to pronounce it as closely as possible to the original pronunciation, but using English phonemes. So when Real Madrid is said in the English-speaking media, the word Real (which means royal) is pronounced as two syllables and not like the English word real.

But journalists never seem to have got the hang of the name of FC Barcelona’s stadium. Apart from the fact that the words Camp and Nou are often switched round in the English-speaking media, the word Nou is invariably pronounced noo.

Some journalists realise this is not the correct pronunciation and try to pronounce it the proper way, but end up pronouncing it like the English word now. English speakers often produce the same vowel sound when pronouncing other Catalan words, like the name of the popular beach resort Salou. You even hear the same sound for Catalan words ending in eu, like Bernabeu in the name of Real Madrid’s stadium, probably due to influence from German, in which the eu is pronounced this way.

However, this ow vowel sound would be written au in Catalan, and appears in words like palau (palace).

The correct pronunciation of ou contains English phonemes, but it is the combination of phonemes that feels unnatural to English speakers. To pronounce the word nou properly, first pronounce the short o sound that appears in words like hot or cod. Now pronounce the sound written as oo in English, as in boo and coo. Now pronounce one straight after the other quickly, and you’ve got it!

Since this combination of sounds feels unnatural to English speakers, we could use a compromise pronunciation. But I would suggest the best compromise would be to pronounce the word nou as no, rather than as noo or now.

Finally, in the word Camp, the letter p is silent in the variety of Catalan spoken in Barcelona, although it is pronounced in some other varieties of Catalan.

If you’re still confused, why not listen to a couple of natives pronounce it.

And if you’re still confused, just pretend it says “Cam No”, as that’s a pretty close approximation.


Anglo Premier now translates LaTeX documents

In addition to the dozens of formats Anglo Premier already works with, we are now able to translate LaTeX files. We use a special filter that protects the code used in the LaTeX document, which means we can guarantee that we won’t spoil any of the code so that you will be able to compile the final document in the target language. Contact us if you need a LaTeX document translating.