Going back to school and… to our mission!

It is time to leave the holidays behind. No, I don’t really mean that! That would sound like holidays are the only fun times of the year!!! Well that’s not true. As a freelancer and as a person, I find that I have a lot of fun when I’m working as well! So much so that I think of work when I’m on holiday! And this is a good thing, mind you! In fact, If I see my work as my mission everywhere I go, this is because these two elements are always intertwined at work and off work. I may even not be the only one!

So it is time to go back to work with a smile on my face, now that I have recharged my batteries! And as far as we are concerned at Wordistas, it is time to think about pursuing our mission! Our prime mission is to make it easier for different cultures to interact, that is to come into contact. How do we do that? By helping a message spread its wings to travel from one language to another, carrying everything that each word encompasses – mentalities, ways of perceiving space, people, ways to envisage a rapport between individuals, gastronomy, wine, outdoorsy or indoorsy pursuits, literature, the arts and all the beautiful things that make a culture what it is compared to another.

A word is not just a word, it is a linguistic set and behind it a region, a county or a province or state – such is a culture. This is why a message does not go from one language to another of its own accord, should I say in the flicker of an eyelash, or flicking randomly through the dictionary!

It needs help. Otherwise, how would a concept (that’s a good word) like “flirt” have crossed the English channel to materialise, taking its inspiration from the French “conter fleurette”, among hundreds of other phrases and idioms? Granted, all idiomatic words are not so flowery, but a message is made up of carefully chosen words that convey a particular meaning – meaning is a key word, truly.

Here’s an example: I was just strolling casually on my way to the beach, work 100% off my mind when I stopped to enjoy the view but my mission being my mission 100% of the time… I had to catch a glimpse of a message in both Catalan and English on the lifeguards’ yellow booth…

A lovely view of summer and good times!
Now let’s get closer to read the announcement, oops!

Now let’s move closer to this yellow cabin. In English one can read “Out of service”. Of course, what is meant here is that when the lifeguards on the beaches of Catalonia are off duty, there is no rescue service. But nothing is “out of service” here, nor does the bright yellow booth break down out of hours. However, the Catalan equivalent to describe the situation when there’s no lifeguard service is “fora de servei”, i.e. “out of service”! And someone here obviously had a quick look in the dictionary and then forgot to call on the services of a professional to convey one message from one culture to another…. Ouch!

Here is another example:

Holidays ooze sensations that are all about sea, sun, suntan, beach-going, sailing, winding down, cocktails, eating out, dining and wining loved ones and friends, restaurants, restaurants, restaurants, picnics and also takeaways! These are all key words that convey a message.

Fake Chicken – a “Superaliment”?

Well, when visiting a foreign country or as an expat who does not have a great command of the local language yet (this is not based on a true story, nah!),  one might pick up the odd leaflet or menu in English, in French or in German, just to compare and maybe learn a few words. Well, this is insane. Don’t! Or at your own peril!

Sadly, “Fake Chicken” is not one of these “Superaliments” (see leaflet) all foodies are raving on about!?!

Writing a marketing message or a text for communications or commercial purposes is an arduous and tricky task that is best tackled by a native professional who has an excellent command of the language, is an expert writer and has expertise in coining slogans and taglines to quite simply hit the nail right on the head by using the right word in a given situation!

So dear restaurants owners, municipalities, institutional and corporate purchasing department heads, please be reminded to use the services of professional copy writers and editors as well as translators! And do think about doing this before summer hits on us so we can help you. Everyone needs a holiday after all!

Published by

Isabelle Rouault-Röhlich

A versatile and passionate linguist, as well as an environmentalist, I endeavour to make sure that words keep their true colours during the process that involves going from one language and culture to another, instead of fading away in the great multilingual and Euro-English wash! I am a great believer in translation and interpreting as a means of conveying a clear and more poignant message for an ever more demanding multilingual audience. I also believe that a polished written message is a powerful tool to advance progress. I am a mother of two and these two are my light beacon! I am French born and bred although I have always spoken English and developed a special connection with the culture and language from a very early age, as my grandad worked for the British Embassy in Paris. I am also a lover of Spain. My husband is Franco-German. How is this for an interesting language ensemble?!

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