Moustaches, fireworks and roast chestnuts
On the difficulties of translating culture
Moustaches, fireworks and roast chestnuts may or may not take on new meaning for you in November. Translating aspects of culture tied up in everyday language can be harder than it looks.
At LEXILAB, we may have one or two bearded members of the team, we like a good celebration, and we never turn down a tasty autumnal treat but, for us, moustaches, fireworks and roast chestnuts are about more than just that.
At LEXILAB, we work with customers and colleagues based around the world on a daily basis. It is a fundamental part of what we do. This means that we come into contact with a wealth of different cultures, customs and traditions. The very languages we work with are, too, communicators of culture. This can sometimes be a cause of confusion or hilarity if not properly explained to those not armed with the same cultural baggage.
As our everyday lives become increasing global, just like our offices, cultures and traditions find themselves intertwining in realms that were once entirely separate. At certain times of the year, this is particularly evident – and November is a good example.
While for many Brits, November is synonymous with fireworks and bonfires, commemorating Guy Fawkes’ failed Gunpowder Plot on 5th November, for the more culinary-oriented Italians, it evokes roast chestnuts and a good bottle of nouveau wine.
But what about the moustaches?
Skype, a piece of software you are likely familiar with, offers its users a wealth of emojis to communicate with, which can, at times, be rather culture-specific; non-Anglophone users may find themselves baffled as to their meaning. One such example is this little chap:
(Nope, not Sherlock Holmes.)
Skype handily provides a translation for all of its emoji names but, in this case, it somewhat unhelpfully leaves the label “Movember” (one of those famous untranslatable words, perhaps?). All well and good if you know what that means.
Movember is actually a portmanteau, i.e. two words put together: moustache + November (now the title makes sense, right?). In the English-speaking world, it is the name of a cleverly thought-up, high-profile campaign inviting men to grow their moustaches for the month to raise awareness about men’s health (take a look). This year the campaign is celebrating its 10th birthday. As the campaign has grown, the emoji of course has become easier to decipher, but it stands as a reminder of just how difficult it can be to capture a culture, a movement, a campaign, an idea, a concept and translate it across to another culture in which it has no direct reference in society, and into another language which perhaps does not offer the same linguistic flexibility.
Whatever November means for you, be it elaborate moustaches, commemorative fireworks, or autumnal grub, why not take a moment to think about how you might explain it to a foreign friend and voilà! A little taster of a day in the life of a translator.
Have a great month from the LEXILAB team!
ManiAGO – Handmade tales
“ManiAGO – Handmade tales” is a book written by Romeo Pignat with photographs by Ruggero Lorenzi.
The book offers an exploration of Maniago’s rich knife-making history and culture in a collection of interviews presented as stand-alone narrated tales. The book was officially presented to the town of Maniago at its knife-making museum, the Museo dell’arte Fabbrile e delle Coltellerie, on Saturday 22 April 2017 at an event that elegantly brought together various art forms, namely narration, live music and photography.
This event is being repeated on Thursday 20 July 2017 at 8.45 p.m. at the same museum in Maniago and is free of charge. For those curious to find out more about Maniago’s knife-making history, this presentation offers an original format, bringing the stories of the ten local companies featured in this book to life, in a creative and poetic way.
The companies interviewed as part of the writing process are: Archman, Ausonia, Del Tin Armi Antiche, DenTag, Fox Coltellerie, Icar, Leader-cam, LionSteel, Mac Coltellerie and Tecnocut; they craft all kinds of objects and instruments from hairdressing scissors to combat knives, using some of man’s oldest tools, as well as cutting edge modern technology.
Ten families, ten different tales, ten life lessons. This book explores how family and work are intertwined in this industry that draws its strength and inspiration from the local area and culture, guided by a passion for doing, making and creating. Here, hidden inside these workshops, the expert and patient hand of skilled craftsmen fuses with the visionary eye of an artist to produce knives known and loved around the world.
At LEXILAB, we are honoured to have been a part of the making of this book, providing the translation into English, presented in a parallel format alongside the Italian text. We are sure that this decision to make the book accessible to a wider, international market will assist these ten companies in communicating their enthusiasm and knowledge to their existing global customers, as well as attracting new interest. These family-run companies are, after all, made up of people, people with a story to tell and a passion to share, as well as an incredible skill for creating extraordinary pieces of art.
Many thanks to Romeo Pignat and Ruggero Lorenzi for asking us to be a part of this journey and we wish them every success in their venture!
If you would like to find out more about the book and the companies that were interviewed, take a look at the following links:
Primalinea (Romeo Pignat): http://www.primalinea.net/maniago-storie-fatte-a-mano-il-secondo-libro-in-collaborazione-con-ruggero-lorenzi/ (in Italian only)
Del Tin Armi Antiche: http://www.deltin.it/
Fox Coltellerie: http://www.foxcutlery.com/n/it/home.html
Mac Coltellerie: http://www.mac-coltellerie.it/it/home.html
New year, new ideas at LEXILAB!
As we approach the half-way point of the first month of 2017, LEXILAB is looking at what it wants to achieve this year. After last year’s successes, it will be a hard act to follow! However, we are refreshed and raring to go after the Christmas break and confident we can continue to make excellent progress, both as a business and a team. So, what is on the cards for us at LEXILAB this year?
Well, first we want to focus on productivity.
We are already working on new ways to improve how we work, spending less time on the menial tasks and more time on the important stuff, like keeping you, our customers, happy and growing both our and your business.
Second, we want to take a closer look at some case studies.
We think this will be a good way to really analyse how we are working, picking out what methods and strategies are producing results, so we can show you how we can simplify and speed up your translation projects, and weeding out any less fruitful paths to continue improving our service package.
Third, 2017 is going to be about training.
We believe in the importance of keeping our skills up to date. Change is fast paced and waits for no-one in our industry, which relies heavily on technology and language – neither of which ever stand still! It is essential that we continue to invest valuable time and effort in being the best we can for our customers. We also want to keep helping others with their training and development, so watch this space!
At LEXILAB we know that to achieve our goals we need to work with our mind and ears wide open, listening to external input and creating a working environment of mutual collaboration with our customers and service providers.
What do you plan to achieve for your business this year? Share your goals with us and maybe we can work together to achieve them!