Author Archives: Grace Azadvar

Happy Easter from All at Linguamax

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Blossoms, song-birds, all spring voices
The world wide,
Chant thy solemn Paschal blessings,
Easter-tide.

[Eliza Allen Starr]

Happy Easter from all at Linguamax – Grace, Erika & Monika 

Office closing times over the Easter period

Please note that our office will be closed from Friday 14 April until 9:00 am on Tuesday 18 April 2017

How NOT to translate legal texts

As a translation agency, we accept requests for translation of legal documents on a daily basis and deal with text such as contracts, litigations, legislations, wills, various types of certificates, and many more.

Legal translation is a field most sensitive to error, the consequences of which may be far-reaching and in certain cases disastrous. Therefore, such texts must be approached with caution and commissioned to linguists with suitable background knowledge.

There are certain aspects of the legal translation process that pose a risk of error and below we discuss ways to avoid them and their consequential damage.

  • Literal translation of legal jargon specific to every language and developed over the centuries may result in serious deviations from the intention of the source Idiomatic phrases particular to legalese should first have their meaning established and be translated accordingly. The following are examples of phrases that would hardly ever benefit from literal translation into any language:

 in my custody (‘under my supervision’)

 witness my hand (‘in my presence’)

  • Synonymous words with minute differences in meaning used interchangeably, or opposite terms confused in often complex legal discourse, may cause ambiguity and disrupt further legal proceedings.

If there is an appeal, the appellant, logically, will be the party who has lost in the first instance, while the winner will be respondent. However, since either the plaintiff or defendant can win or lose at first instance, the translator should be careful not to confuse identities of appellant and respondent, even though their roles appear to be reversed.

In law, injury may relate to people’s body, but surprisingly, rights can suffer injury too. The physical sense may be distinguished from the moral by adding the adjective personal or bodily.

Harm and damage are close synonyms. Both are uncountable and examples of use are as follows: ‘His rights suffered damage’. ‘Her goods suffered damage’. Damages in plural, however, has an entirely different meaning, synonymous to ‘compensation’.

  • Translators must beware miscomprehension or misalignment of the relationships between words and phrases in lengthy, complex sentences and intricate syntax, so characteristic to legal discourse, such as the following passage:

The Licensor acknowledges and agrees that the Licensor may, at any time, be privy to confidential information including but not limited to (a) the production, development and/or exploitation of the Programme and/or any ancillary matters; (b) the general and/or business affairs of the Group; (c) participants and/or contributors to the Programme; and/or (d) this Agreement, and the Licensor agrees that the Licensor will not, by any means whatsoever, communicate or divulge to any person (including a company) or make use of or permit any other person to make use of any confidential information, (save for by its professional advisers or as ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction) by any means at any time.

Even if reordering of phrases or of parts of sentences is required to maintain different stylistic conventions of the target language, one must ensure the relation between particular items is retained in the translation, for a single slip can redirect liability or at least result in confusion and deem a legal document void.

  • Certain source language expressions may not have precise equivalents in the target language, as in the case of the terms tipper and tippee in the following example:

Insiders (‘tipper’) may be liable for communicating or tipping material, non-public information to a third party (‘tippee’).

In many languages, direct equivalents of the terms with acceptable usage in a similar context will not exist and an attempt to coin a corresponding term might result in an awkward word, inappropriate in the high register of a legal language. Therefore, these terms would need to be paraphrased as, for instance, ‘person disclosing confidential information’ and ‘person receiving confidential information’ respectively.

  • Difficulties may arise due to differences in legal systems in the countries of the source and the target languages. These can be explained by means of translator’s note.
  • Missing Notary Public certification, which is required for certain purposes. The translation will not serve its function if not accompanied by a separate notarial document with original signature.

The above are several of the most common pitfalls we come across while translating legal documents. It is of utmost importance that legal translators are familiar with and approach with sensitivity both source and target legal jargons, which are often characterized by dissimilar usages in terminology and various styles of writing, necessitating appropriate adjustments by the translator. The ability to see through the source text and to aptly interpret its wording and possible ambiguities is another desired quality of a linguist undertaking a legal translation, the absence of which may give rise to altered information and consequently different from the intended function of the text produced.

Happy Christmas from Linguamax

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“In the middle of falling snow and sparkling crystal rain
when winds blow cold against the frosted window pane
there’s a pleasant warmth felt everywhere in the merry Christmas glow…” 

[Marjorie Foster Fleming]

As we enter the month of December each year, we often wonder where the year has gone, how quickly it has passed and what we did or did not accomplish. The end of each year finds us thinking about holidays, gifts, parties and friends, as well as the closing of another business year. The end of the year is a time to look back on the previous year and look forward to the next. 2016 has been challenging for everybody and I’m certain 2017 will bring its own mix of successes and challenges but our direction is clear. Our job is to continue to focus on what we can control: providing our clients with the best service possible.

We appreciate the hard work and dedication of our linguists – thank you for your support throughout the year. Please enjoy some well deserved rest with family and friends during this holiday season! We look forward to working with you in 2017.

To all our clients and linguists we wish a new year of happiness and hope for a world at peace. Have a very Happy Holiday Season and wishing you every happiness in the coming year.

Office opening times over the festive period

Please note that our office will be closed from 2 pm on Friday 23rd December until 9:00 am on Tuesday 3rd January 2017.

P.S. The money we have saved by emailing our Christmas message to you instead of printing and sending a Christmas card, will be donated to the Cinnamon Trust and Hillside Animal Sanctuary, our favourite charities.

Photo © Grace Azadvar-Smith. All rights reserved.

Wishing you a very Happy Easter!

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The air is like a butterfly

With frail blue wings.

The happy earth looks at the sky

And sings.

[Joyce Kilmer]

Happy Easter from all at Linguamax – Grace, Erika, Monika & Justyna

Office closing times over the Easter period

Please note that our office will be closed from Friday 25 March until 9:00 am on Tuesday 29 March 2016

Happy Christmas from Linguamax

December has come and with it all the joys of Christmas – the happiest time of the year, filled with festivities and gift giving. But what is the real meaning of Christmas? Is it the celebration of the birth of Christ, the gifts under the tree, the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, traditional Christmas dinners with family and friends, snow on the ground or stockings hanging in the living room?

Whatever Christmas means to you personally, it is always a very special time spent with our loved ones and so we wish you a holiday season filled with love, peace and joy. May these gifts be yours this Christmas!

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Thank you all for your business over the past year and many thanks to our linguists for your support, hard work and commitment – we look forward to working with you in 2016.

Grace, Erika, Monika & Justyna

Office opening times over the festive period

Please note that our office will be closed from Thursday 24th December until 9:00am on Monday 4th January 2016.

P.S. The money we have saved by emailing our Christmas message to you instead of printing and sending a Christmas card, will be donated in full to the Cinnamon Trust, our favourite charity.

Photo © Grace Azadvar-Smith. All rights reserved.

Hungary – A brief guide to the quirkiness of the Hungarian language and social etiquette

Whether you are visiting Hungary for work or pleasure (or both), this insight into the beauties of our unusual language and some of its quaint social aspects should help you understand and impress your Hungarian hosts.

As Hungary is surrounded by Slavic nations (with the exception of Austria and Romania), many assume that Hungarian belongs to the Slavic group of languages. This is not the case. Hungarian is a Finno-Ugrian (or Finno-Ugric) language, which is related to Finnish and Estonian, although it would be difficult to identify any similarities without in-depth research into the history of this linguistic group.

The main difference between the structure of the Hungarian language and that of English is the lack of prepositions. Hungarian is an inflecting language, which means that the relationship between one word and another in a sentence is expressed by the use of various prefixes and suffixes. In theory, any number of suffixes can be added to the end of each word, but in practice, most words will only have between one and three. Morphology, therefore, is a vital part of Hungarian grammar. The best way to decipher a text is by identifying the root of each word and then adding the meaning of each prefix and suffix.

Let’s take the very commonly used word ‘egészségedre’ as an example (it means ‘Cheers!’ as well as ‘Bless you!’). The stem of this word is ‘egész’, which means ’whole, complete’. The suffix ‘ség’ turns this adjective into the noun ‘egészség’ meaning ’health’ (literally ’wholeness’). The next suffix ’ed’ is the equivalent of the possessive pronoun ’your’, so ’egészséged’ means ’your health’. Finally, the last suffix, ’re’ is (in this case) the equivalent of the preposition ’to’ in English. ’Egészségedre’, therefore, literally means ’to your health’. If you want to learn one word to impress your Hungarian friends, this one will work every time, as having a drink with your Hungarian host will most likely be a regular occurrence.

You should not be put off by the complicated appearance of written Hungarian. The strange accents you see over the vowels form an essential part of each vowel and change the way it is pronounced. In fact, they are separate letters in the alphabet and, therefore, the Hungarian alphabet comprises an astonishing 44 letters. Most accents simply make the vowel sound longer, e.g. ‘í’ is an elongated ‘i’, ‘ó’ is an elongated ‘o’, and the same goes for ‘ú’ and ‘u’, ‘ő’ and ‘ö’, as well as ‘ű’ and ‘ü’. The letter ‘a’, however, is pronounced very differently (as the vowel in ‘cut’) to ‘á’ (as the vowel in ‘baa’) and ‘e’ (as in ‘get’) sounds very different to ‘é’ (as in ‘cake’).  These accents are not optional or inter-changeable. If a word is spelt with a long ‘ú’ and you write it with a ‘u’, you’ll have made a simple spelling mistake. However, if a word is spelt with an ‘ü’ or an ‘ű’ and you spell it with a ‘u’, this will change the meaning of the word or render it meaningless, e.g. ‘fűt’ (pronounced as the French ‘sur’) means ‘he’s heating’ and ‘fut’ (pronounced as ‘foot’) means ‘he’s running’, but ‘füt’ or ‘fút’ have no meaning at all.

The other contributors to the large number of letters in the Hungarian alphabet are the digraphs, which are the combination of two (in one case three) letters that represent a single speech sound, such as ‘cs’, ‘sz’, ‘zs’ or ‘gy’. Because they are pronounced as one sound, they are considered separate letters in the alphabet. The letter combination ‘cs’ is not pronounced like ‘cs’ in the English word ‘crocs’, but rather like ‘ch’ in the word ‘chimney’. ‘Sz’ is pronounced like the English ‘s’ in ‘seven’, while the letter ‘s’ on its own sounds like ‘sh’ in ‘shoes’. The letter combination ‘zs’ sounds like ‘measure’ and ‘gy’ is similar to the first sound in the word ‘due’.

Names and introductions

Meeting and greeting can be a bit of a minefield when you are in a foreign country and unfamiliar with its customs. Luckily, in Europe, a trusty old handshake will solve most tricky situations, but it might be helpful to know that in Hungary people tend to shake hands a lot more often than they do in England. It is customary for both men and women to shake hands when introducing themselves, but men also tend to shake hands every subsequent time they meet and part, even if they meet again on the same day. Friends and relatives (especially if the group includes women) usually greet each other with a kiss on each cheek. If you are going for a one-peck approach, you might find the other person hanging mid-air waiting for the other cheek to be kissed, otherwise the greeting gesture feels incomplete.

When addressing people in formal situations, you must always use a polite form of greeting, such as ‘Jó napot kívánok’, which literally means ’Good day to you’ and can be used all day. If you are a man and truly want to impress your female host or colleague, you could use the greeting ‘Kezét csókolom’, which literally means ‘I kiss your hand’ and should only ever be used to address women (although children also use this phrase to greet both male and female adults). In fact, if you are a female visitor being introduced to a Hungarian man (especially if it is an older gentleman), you shouldn’t be surprised to receive an actual peck on the back of your hand, as in the olden days this form of greeting was considered the height of sophistication. While on a cultural note, I ought to mention that in Hungary even the most ardent feminist will expect a man to hold the door open for them while they walk through and will consider any male pushing in front of them to be extremely rude. A real gentleman will also pay the bill at the restaurant and might even help the lady put on her coat before leaving.

There is one area where the Hungarian language is very similar to most other languages spoken on the Continent (but very different to English), which is the use of the formal/polite and informal/familiar personal pronouns when addressing people. In Hungary, it is customary to use the polite form (‘ön’ or ‘maga’ – the equivalent of the formal ‘you’ or ‘vous’ in French, although it is used with the verb in the 3rd personal singular) until the other party (usually the one who is older or more senior in the organisation) suggests that you switch to ‘te’ (the equivalent of the informal ‘you’ or ‘tu’ in French). Until this point, you should stick to addressing the other party by his/her surname, but once you have agreed to use the familiar form (‘tegeződni’), you are safe using first names.

You should also be aware that in Hungary the surname comes before the given name. English-speaking Hungarians will frequently introduce themselves by putting their given names first and surnames second, but anyone who does not speak English will use the Hungarian order, e.g. Magyar Lajos. Unfortunately, addressing ladies formally can be a tricky social puzzle. It can be considered polite to use their first name, but to be on the safe side, you should check how they want to be addressed. After marriage, a women can lose her maiden name completely if she decides to take her husband’s name. The traditional married name for a woman in Hungary is her husband’s full name with the suffix ‘né’ added to the end of the husband’s given name, e.g. a lady married to Magyar Lajos becomes ‘Magyar Lajosné’. This means that when you are introduced to someone with such a married name, you won’t have any idea what her given name is. If you address her as ‘Magyar Lajosné’, it will sound extremely official. You must not address her as ‘Lajosné’ as the second part of such a married name cannot be used on its own. ‘Magyarné’ is a possibility, but it has an official and slightly condescending feel to it, so the safest thing to do is ask the lady how she would like to be addressed.

Luckily for foreign visitors, it has become very common among the younger generation of women to adopt more user-friendly versions of married names, such as adding the suffix ‘né’ to the husband’s surname and keeping the woman’s full maiden name, e.g. ‘Magyarné Nagy Katalin’, or even combining the husband’s surname and the wife’s given name, just like in England, e.g. ‘Magyar Lajos’ + ‘Nagy Katalin’ = ‘Magyar Katalin’. It is also very common for professional women to retain their full maiden name, which makes life much easier for everyone. Well, at least until such a woman tries to travel abroad without her husband but with her young child who bears the father’s surname and she is accused by the immigration officer of trying to kidnap the youngster because their surnames are different. The only way to get out of a sticky situation like this without being arrested is by producing the child’s birth certificate, which clearly states both parents’ names.

Erika Arvai, Project Manager

Erika Arvai, Project Manager

20th Anniversary: a Personal View

Erika Arvai, Project Manager

Erika Arvai, Project Manager

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is a very special month in a very special year for Linguamax. Our translation agency is celebrating its 20th anniversary! 20 years is a long time in human relationships, let alone in the cut and thrust world of small business, where 35% of all start-ups don’t live to see their second birthday. It’s an even greater achievement considering that over the past decade the availability of multi-lingual staff in many UK companies, especially in London, together with the wide use of Google translate have dramatically reduced demand for translation services. The only way to survive in such an environment is by constantly adjusting our services to meet the ever-changing demands of the market and by delivering translations of the highest quality.

Thanks to Grace’s tireless efforts, careful management, flexibility and open-minded approach, this small agency has now been on the global map for two decades and has grown into its adult years in the same way a human would, i.e. by entering the world of social media – Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! – and by providing insights into our ‘home life’ and adventures on blogs like this.

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of this dynamic business for more than half of its lifetime, initially as a free-lance translator and more recently as project manager. For me, working here after all these years feels more than just a job. When I re-joined as project manager after a year or so of absence, one of our long-standing translators greeted me with an e-mail saying ‘Welcome back to the family!’ He couldn’t have phrased it better – Linguamax does feel like my second family. And right now, it gives me the flexibility to look after my immediate family more easily, too, by allowing me to work part time.

Long live Linguamax! We wish you good health and many happy returns!

 

 

Celebrating 20 Years in Business

20th anniversary clouds

It’s celebration time! Linguamax has been in business for 20 years this month! Thanks to our great Clients, Colleagues, Linguists and Friends, we are celebrating this milestone anniversary. We have built many great relationships along the way and we are looking forward to strengthening them even further. Thank you all for contributing to our success! It has been a real pleasure working with you!

With a vision of offering the highest value to our clients, we set out in 1995 with determination to build a business known for providing highly personalised client-oriented services, exceptional quality and fast response times with a commitment to follow these principles consistently at all times. Since our humble beginnings we have built up a loyal following of clients who value the personal service our project managers bring to every job, as well as the ability of our translators to solve even the trickiest language-related challenges.

Linguamax attributes the company’s success to a number of things but there is one, which stands alone as the cornerstone. Our passion is unrelenting and we always strive to be better at what we do every year even after two decades. We aim to offer services that fully meet and exceed our clients’ expectations. We simply enjoy what we do!

It is with enormous pride that we celebrate 20 years of business and thank everyone who has been involved in helping Linguamax become the business it is. We look towards the coming years in a positive way and with determination to deliver on the promises the business was founded on.

Happy Easter!

Crocus

Easter is a symbol of hope, renewal and new life and we wish you lots of happiness, love, peace and joy this season!

From all at Linguamax – Grace, Erika, Monika & Justyna

Office closing times over the Easter period

Please note that our office will be closed from Friday 3 April until 9:00am on Tuesday 7 April 2015

Happy Christmas from Linguamax!

 

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!
[Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Red berries after the rain

What is Christmas? As somebody said, it is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a wish that every cup may overflow with rich blessings and that every path may lead to peace.

Once again we find ourselves immersed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions – log fires, mulled wine and mince pies. Hope you all have a wonderful time this Christmas and keep your ‘Christmas hearts’ open all the year round!

Office opening times over the festive period

Please note that our office will be closed from Wednesday 24th December until 9:00am on 5th January 2015.

Thank you all for your business over the past year, and we look forward to working with you in 2015.

Winter xmas wishes

P.S. The money we have saved by emailing our Christmas message to you instead of printing and sending a Christmas card, will be donated in full to the Cinnamon Trust, our favourite charity.

Photos © Grace Azadvar-Smith. All rights reserved.