What a Difference a Capital Letter Makes

polish vs Polish pronounciation

There is one word in the English language that changes its meaning and pronounciation, depending on whether it is capitalized: polish.

Uncapitalized, polish refers to a substance used to give something a smooth and shiny surface when rubbed in, or the act of making the surface of something smooth and shiny by rubbing it.

With a capital, Polish refers to things of or relating to the nation of Poland.

 

The Translated Version Hasn’t Come Out Yet

constipation translation

A Spanish delegate to a diplomatic conference turned on his microphone and said, “Estoy constipado, perdónadme.” Ordinarily this would translate as, “Please excuse me; I have a cold.” The French interpreter, instead, translated his words as, “Excuse me; I’m constipated.”

Source: John Coleman-Holmes, Mâcher du coton, Entre-temps, 1971, p. 201.

Japanese, Finnish or Chinese? The 10 Hardest Languages for English Speakers to Learn

World's Hardest Languages

Reposted from Unbabel Blog

 

Learning a new language is never an easy thing to do, but there are ways to make it easier. There are also ways to make it more difficult. Aiming to learn French or Spanish comes with its own set of difficulties, but most of the learning is in new vocabulary and grammar. If you’re going to go through that boring stuff, you may as well go all-in and master a more difficult language — different alphabets, characters, writing styles and new sounds will push you to the limit.

Top 10 Hardest Languages For Translators to Learn

Without further ado, these are our top ten hardest (but most rewarding) languages to learn.

1. Mandarin

Mandarin is a language within the Chinese language group and is actually the most spoken language in the world. For an English speaker, however, mastering Mandarin is a tall order. Thanks to it being a tonal language, every sound in Mandarin’s phonetic transcription system pinyin has four distinct pronunciations. Add that to the fact that Chinese is a language rich in homophones and full of idioms and aphorisms picked up over the course of its long history, and Mandarin becomes arguably the most difficult language in the world for an English speaker to learn.
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Translator Wanted — Knowledge of the Language Preferred

carter-in-poland
President Jimmy Carter reviews the troops in his first visit to Poland as President. photo: Bettmann/Corbis

When a fake sign language interpreter managed to get the job of interpreting during the funeral for Nelson Mandela, President Jimmy Carter must have had flashbacks to a time that his life was complicated by an interpreter who was not up to the task.

The occasion was the 1977 visit of President Carter to Poland. Steven Seymour was hired to interpret the President’s remarks from English to Polish. It was not exactly a match made in heaven:

  • The President said, “I have come to learn your opinions and understand your desires for the future.” Seymour’s version of it came out as telling the Polish people that the President really liked them and that he desired them sexually.
  • When the President remarked that he had left the United States that morning to come to Poland, Seymour interpreted it as the President saying that he had left the USA permanently — never to return again.
  • Later, the President expressed just how happy he was to be in Poland. This didn’t quite come through in the translation to the astonished crowd, who heard the President express his desire to grasp the private parts of Poland.
  • Carter went on to praise the Polish constitution of 1791 as one of the great documents in the history of human rights. The depth of his admiration didn’t quite come through in the interpretation, where the Poles heard the President say that their constitution should be ridiculed. source

Understandably, Carter was leery of interpreters. Shortly after leaving office in 1981, he was speaking at a college in Japan and started his remarks with an amusing anecdote. While amusing, it was not hilarious, so he was surprised when the audience responded to the translation with uproarious laughter. Only later did he find out why he got such a strong response. The interpreter said to the audience, “President Carter just told a funny story; everyone must laugh.”   source

English: No Suspicious Alien Activity Here! Welsh: Oes estron weithgaredd amheus yma! Klingon: pagh pIH nov activity naDev!

Flags of the Klingon Empire and Wales
Flags of the Klingon Empire and Wales

When Welsh Assembly Member Darren Millar asked Economy Minister Edwina Hart about unidentified flying objects, he got a surprising answer.

The official response from the Welsh Government was, “jang vIDa je due luq. ‘ach ghotvam’e’ QI’yaH-devolved qaS,” which, in the language of the Klingon Empire, translates as “The minister will reply in due course, however this is a non-devolved matter.”

This appears to be the first official government communication (on this planet, anyway) in the Klingon language.

To access handy alien language translators, see this site.

source

Whatever the Word for “Amazing” Is In Your Language, This Qualifies

Sir John Bowring (1792 - 1872)
Sir John Bowring (1792 – 1872)

If you speak two languages, you are said to be bilingual. A polyglot can speak up to to six languages. When you get much beyond six, the term is hyperglot.

So what do you call a guy who can handle 200 languages?

Such a guy was Sir John Bowring, an English economist and writer who served as the fourth Governor of Hong Kong. Bowring was reported as knowing at least 200 languages and to be able to carry on a conversation in at least 100 of them.

source