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Easter around the world

Kwi 06

Easter is undoubtedly the most important holiday in the Christian culture. But have you ever wondered how Easter looks in different countries? Because the Easter holiday is coming, here is some interesting information which may prove valuable when you are going to spend Easter abroad. You will also see how the word “Easter” is translated into other languages.

Easter in the United Kingdom

The name Easter is derived from the name of a Celtic goddess called Eostre. This deity was said to be responsible for bringing good fortune as well as fertility. Her holiday was organised in order to “say goodbye” to winter and to welcome spring. On that day people were preparing huge bonfires.

Today, English Easter begins on Good Friday and lasts for four days. During this period, people do not have to work and can enjoy leisure time with their families, so in this aspect they are similar to Polish people who also like to spend this time with their relatives. However, contrary to Poles, they do not bring food to church during Holy Saturday. Instead, there are various street festivals organised.

The most important day is Easter Sunday. All families, if it is possible, spend this day together. They also go to church and take a walk or even organise picnics in the parks. When it comes to the food, they eat easter eggs (eggs made of chocolate), hot cross buns (sweet buns with a sign of cross on them) or simnel cake (cake with marzipan). There are also many traditions connected with this day. For example, in the past English children tried to find chocolate eggs hidden in the grass or bushes – called an Easter Egg hunt or they were going from house to house, just like during Halloween, and asking people for sweet eggs.

On Easter Monday there are special offers and discounts in stores. Therefore, it is a good occasion for people to become more active after a few days of relaxation and to search for goods sold at a cheaper price.

Easter in Spain

Spanish people start to celebrate Easter on Easter Sunday, and during this day there are many parades taking place. On Good Thursday there are processions with the figures of saints. This event is very colourful, and therefore it may be interesting especially for tourists. Another custom is the organisation of performances relating to the Passion and Death of Christ.

But what is Easter without tidbits? It appears that Spain has also interesting dishes to be served on this holiday. The most popular ones are spinach with chickpeas and cod in tomatoes. Another tasty dish is called mona de Pascua. It is a round pastry with an egg (either boiled or made of chocolate) in the middle. This dish is given to children by their godparents. Translating those complicated recipes for Easter dishes is definitely a task for another article.

Easter in Russia

In Russia, Easter is celebrated later than in the Catholic Church. Easter is called here Pascha,and forty days before it people should give up eating white bread, meat, fish and dairy products. On Good Friday in the churches you can hear priests reading aloud fragments of the Bible which are devoted to the Passion and Death of Christ. On Holy Saturday, Russian people go to their churches with food, including eggs – the symbol of life. The Great Sunday starts with the ringing of bells which herald the Resurrection. On this day people bestow one another with colourful Easter eggs and little gifts which are supposed to provide them with good fortune. During this day no one eats dishes made of fish as their food is supposed to remind people of good harvests.

Despite the fact that different cultures have different traditions, your friends for sure may like be given Easter cards with holiday wishes in their native language. However, be careful to translate them properly. Do you know how to translate “Happy Easter” into most popular European languages?

(MAK)

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Czy profesjonalnego tłumacza da się zastąpić?

Mar 10

W dzisiejszych czasach posiadanie znajomości języka obcego jest czymś naturalnym i oczywistym. Dzieci od najmłodszych lat uczą się angielskiego, do którego czasami dochodzi też inny język, jak niemiecki albo francuski. Nic więc dziwnego, że wiele ludzi czuje się na tyle pewnie ze swoimi umiejętnościami, że próbuje własnych sił w tłumaczeniu. I o ile nie ma w tym nic złego, jeśli tłumaczymy coś niewielkiego i tylko dla siebie, to sprawy mają się inaczej, gdy mamy do czynienia z tłumaczeniem specjalistycznym. Możemy się zatem obejść bez profesjonalnych tłumaczy, czy jest to niemożliwe?
Oczywiście, że nikt nie neguje, że nasze umiejętności językowe są nieprzydatne, jeśli chodzi o tłumaczenie. Często można je wykorzystać w kontaktach mailowych lub rozmowach. Natomiast, gdy trzeba przetłumaczyć bardziej zawiłe teksty, przykładowo o zabarwieniu prawniczym, czy ekonomicznym, laik może najzwyczajniej w świecie polec. Czasami nawet profesjonaliści gubią się w gąszczu skomplikowanych pojęć i przekręcają sens zdań, a co dopiero osoba zajmująca się tym po raz pierwszy. Dlatego rozwiązanie jest jedno: w takich wypadkach należy skorzystać z usług profesjonalnego tłumacza lub, jeszcze lepiej, agencji tłumaczeniowej.
Agencja tłumaczeniowa współpracuje z najlepszymi, sprawdzonymi profesjonalistami, a zadaniem jej pracowników jest dopilnowanie, by tłumacze oddali swoje zlecenia na czas. Teksty przechodzą korektę i są bezbłędnie wykonywane pod względem zarówno językowym, gramatycznym, jak i stylistycznym. Biura tłumaczeniowe mają tę zaletę, że współpracują z tłumaczami z najróżniejszych zakątków świata, a klient nie musi przejmować się żadnymi formalnościami.
Praca tłumacza, choć na pierwszy rzut oka wydaje się być spokojna i nieskomplikowana, tak naprawdę wymaga gruntownej wiedzy i świetnych umiejętności językowych, zarówno w języku obcym, jak i ojczystym. Zdecydowanie warto zaufać profesjonalistom, którzy w tej dziedzinie czują się jak ryba w wodzie. Dlatego też serdecznie zachęcamy do skorzystania z usług naszej agencji tłumaczeniowej Atominium.
(AO)

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Do Japanese women speak a separate language?

Lut 28

Do Japanese women speak a separate language?
Do men and women speak the same language? On the face of it, yes, they do. People use the language which is spoken on a given territory and gender hasn’t got much to do with it. It turns out though that in Japan we have two different types of Japanese – for men and for women. And surprisingly, it’s not about the grammatical aspect. There’s more to it.
In some European languages your grammatical gender is determined by your cultural gender. Japanese isn’t the same because grammatical gender doesn’t really exist. Women and men are expected to use slightly different types of language according to the sex, which is called genderlect. Most of Japanese is neutral and can be used by everybody but we also have the language of women (onna kotoba, joseigo or fujingo) and of men. Masculine type is a question of choice. Young boys are taught not to speak it because it’s a bit arrogant and abrupt. When it comes to girls, they have no other option but to learn their type. Parents and teachers try hard to make them abide by its rules. So women must be obedient or pay for their insubordination.


There is a couple of differences between these languages. Women use longer forms of words in order to obtain a more gentle and polite tone. For example hana ( translated as “flower”) turns into ohana. Another difference appears in using personal pronouns. Both genders can speak about themselves by using watashi but a more feminine form is atashi and masculine is boku (especially used by young men or the ones who want to be seen as young). When it comes grammar, women for instance omit the verb “be” in a sentence like “This is a spider” and say “This a spider.” What is more, women express emotions by using different phrases. The most common example is wa used to show admiration or emotion. The probability of saying wa by a man is equal to zero. In terms of pronunciation there are also certain rules for women, namely they can’t reduce a sequence of vowels like /ai/ to /ē/ because it would be considered as improper for a lady. As you may guess, men are free to do it.
The language of women has its roots in Heian times (794-1185). A woman had to avoid using Chinese borrowings because it would show that she is too smart for her gender. She was also discouraged to be eloquent and, consequently, she had to mutter under her nose without ending sentences. In the next four centuries in Kamakura (1185-1333) and Muromachi (1336-1573) this tendency developed. According to Confucian thought women had to speak as quiet as they could and only when it was a must. An interesting turn took place in the 14th century when nobly born women started to use among themselves a new type of language, full of neologisms. Later, it was acquired by the aristocracy. In Edo period (1603-1868) Japan was separated from the rest of the world. The rules were even stricter and women in addition were encouraged to be silent, use mollifications as o- and -moji, and avoid using words like shikato (with certainty) and ikiji (pride) as certainty and pride were viewed as unfeminine. At the end of the 19th century, there was introduced a quick modernisation and standardisation of language as well as equality. Gender segregation was less intense but still, in 1886 students used different coursebooks. It is a quote from one of them for girls: “Restrain yourself from talking. A decent speech of a woman should not irritate the ear, should be tender and charming. It is repugnant for a woman to speak wisely and with expertness.”
Today this division between the feminine and masculine language is no longer so strict. There is a great change in Japanese films, series and theatre when it comes to the language of actresses. It is more masculine now. Be that as it may, users of Japanese are still aware of genderlects because when you don’t pay attention you can speak like a little girl even though it was not your point. It is also evident in translation as for example in an interview Angelina Jolie uses feminine language without knowing it. That is why it is so important for translators to know not only the language but also the cultural background. At least these sexist coursebooks disappeared but…is this really the case? When sociolinguist Momoko Nakamura looked in the Internet bookshop for books with words “woman” and “the way of speaking”, she found 73 results. She analysed first seven and found out that all of them emphasised that a woman can appear more attractive when she changes the way of talking by using the language of women and consequently will be considered as elegant, wise, beautiful, happy and loved. Such books and their success prove that the language of women in Japan is still alive.
(A.O)

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Saint Valentine – patron saint of love or something else?

Lut 13

Every year, from the very beginning of February, we can see a red colour everywhere. People get crazy about fluffy teddy bears, sweetest chocolates, beautiful flowers and all kinds of heart-shaped cards just to express their feelings for people their love the most. And all of that culminates on a Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Day is an annual feast celebrating love and romance all around the world. Traditionally, it takes place on the 14th of February due to a person of St. Valentine of Rome or of Terni, whose feast is exactly on that day.

There are numerous stories surrounding the origins of this particular feast, including a story of St. Valentine’s life itself. He is commonly considered to be a patron saint of courtly love but not everyone knows that it’s actually his second patronage. Actually, he is mainly a patron saint of mental diseases and people who suffer from them.

Saint Valentine is a widely recognised 3rd century Roman saint. According to the most popular legend considering his life, he was a doctor by profession and a clergyman by vocation. He was a bishop and a martyr in the times of the Roman Empire during the reigns of Emperor Marcus Aurelius Valerius Claudius Gothicus who, at his advisors’ suggestion, forbid young men aged between 18 and 37 to get married. He did so as he considered single men without families and duties that come with it the best soldiers dedicated only to war. But a young clergyman Valentine did not obey that ban and secretly married legionnaires to women they wanted to spend their lives with and was imprisoned as a punishment.

During his time in prison he fell in love with his guard’s blind daughter. According to the legend, his beloved one miraculously regained her sight as a result of the love Valentine gifted her with. When the Emperor found out, he ordered Valentine be killed as he considered it suspicious and dangerous. At the day preceding the execution, the future Saint wrote a love letter to his beloved one. He ended it with the words: “From Your Valentine”. The execution took place on the 14th of February 269. That is why, nowadays, people all over the world send each other cards and love letters signed in the same way.

Most of the churches dedicated to Saint Valentine are situated in Italy. Definitely, the most important one is the Church and Catacombs of San Valentine in Rome, which every year attracts lovers and engaged couples from around the world , who want to visit that place to celebrate their love and happiness. Even a Polish pope, John Paul II, send a letter to engaged couples who want to get married in that church and its words are now engraved on a marble plaque next to St. Valentine’s tomb. Finally, the letter has become extremely popular in many countries. Its quotations are even very frequently used by couples during their wedding ceremonies. That is the reason why the letter was translated into so many languages, to make it possible for everyone to appreciate its message.

Talking about Valentine’s Day nowadays, many of us think of St. Valentine as a symbol of courtly love and romance. His fame reached Poland in the 15th century and now there are many churches dedicated to him, eagerly visited by tourists since St. Valentine became a symbol of love here. But there are also people who perceive him in a completely different way. These are people who remember that, except for his patronage over love, St. Valentine’s major interest and occupation was taking care of people suffering from epilepsy and other mental diseases. And it is a fact that churches dedicated to the saint nowadays were previously the places where mothers were bringing their sick children to pray for health for them. It happens sometimes that people who don’t remember what love is anymore and want to prove its pointlessness and stupidity often refer to St. Valentine’s Day as a feast of mentally sick and psychiatric people. That is why they often compare love to a state of mental disorder. They want to prove that love makes us sick and that it is something that we should be cured of.

But isn’t it actually a fact commonly known that love is a feeling often compared to obsessive-compulsive disorder? Isn’t it a feeling that influences our minds and the way we think the most? It is proven that when we are in love, our brain produces a mixture of chemical compounds, including dopamine and serotonin, which eventually are responsible for our feelings. When in love we feel happier, our feelings are intensified, everything seems to be better, people are kinder, art is more beautiful, we are more motivated, we want to dance, sing and change our lives for better.

So, if that is so, then let’s hope that all of us get mentally disordered one day so that we can all every year celebrate this beautiful day – the 14th of February.

(J/W)

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Moldova – a hidden treasure

Lut 03

Have you ever heard of this small country located between Ukraine and Romania? Moldova is the least touristy country in the world. It’s a country with many fascinating spots not discovered by the crowds yet. Here are a few interesting facts about the Republic of Moldova.

Moldovan language

The Moldovans used to call their language “Moldovan”, but in fact it’s a regional version of Romanian, and in 2013 Romanian was officially appointed the official language of Moldova. Due to its Soviet history and geographical proximity, most of the population speaks Russian better than Romanian. Most public writing, for example on menus, leaflets, signs, etc., are translated into both languages. Translation agencies must have their hands full! 😉  Older and educated people tend to speak Russian more, but it’s not recognized as an official language. Not all Moldavans can speak “Moldovan” (Romanian).:-)

Romanian in Romania and in Moldova are almost the same, there are just a few regional vocabulary differences. Both of them use the Latin script. Don’t confuse “Moldova” with “Moldavia”, which is the name of the historical region between the Dniester River and the Eastern Carpathians. Nowadays, this region is a part of 3 countries: Romania, Moldova and Ukraine.

Wine

Moldova’s top export product is wine. Many Moldovan people work in the industry and Moldova is among the world’s top 10 wine exporters. Wine cellars are a must-see. For example, you can go to Cricova, located only 15 km from the capital of Chisinau. The cellars in total are around 120 kilometers long. During your visit you will be shown around only a selected part of it. The guide will take you on drive to the most beautiful places, as the total distances are enormously far. The cellar is located in limestone rock formations meaning that the temperature remains around 12°C and the humidity level is stable, making it the perfect spot for wine production, especially for sparkling wines. You can see how the wine is made and visit the underground city and charming conference rooms. A must-do is a tasting of award-winning Moldovan wines. Interestingly, many famous politicians have their own wine shelf here, you can see wine belonging to Donald Tusk and Angela Merkel. Book your tour a few days in advance, but don’t be afraid of crowds – Moldova is the spot least overrun by tourists in all of Europe. People still don’t know about its amazing charm.

Chisinau

Chisinau looks like a typical Soviet city at first glance, but you can see many beautiful old Orthodox monasteries there. One of the most beautiful of these is the Ciuflea Monastery. This Orthodox temple looks gorgeous, the building is blue and white and the roofs are blue or gold. The most popular spot in the city is the Triumphal Arch situated in the center close to the Cathedral of the Nativity and opposite Government House.

Chisinau Bus Station

If you need to take a bus to other towns or countries from there, for example to Transnistria, you need to go to the most exotic place in the capital, the Main Bus Station. Don’t look for any bus schedules or destination names at the bus stops. The ticket office does not provide any information except ticket prices. If you want to find where the starting point of your marszrutka mini bus is, you need to ask local drivers taking rest there or simply walk along shouting your destination name, for example “Tiraspol, Tiraspol” and wait till bus driver waves to you. 🙂

Agriculture in the city center

Chisinau is a capital city, but it’s not overcrowded (actually it’s empty:-)). There are many beautiful parks and a mere 15 minutes’ walk from the center, the area looks like a village and you can have your own garden and buy fresh eggs or home-made wine from your neighbor.

Transnistria

Transnistria is a part of Moldova which calls itself a separate country. If you go there from Chisinau for example, you need to pass border control. Transnistria, with its capital in Tiraspol, is not an officially recognized country and is treated as an autonomous region of Moldova in the international arena. Transnistria was created in 1990, when local authorities decided to stay in the Soviet Union and Moldova decided to leave it. The military conflict took many victims. Tiraspol is heavily supported by the Russian Federation nowadays, and you can see the Russian flag near all state buildings together with Transnistrian symbols. Most of the region’s inhabitants are under a greater cultural and linguistic influence from Russia than the rest of Moldova. When you visit this city, you will feel like you are in the Soviet Union and having a short trip to the past. Tiraspol is a true museum of communism. What is interesting is that people from Chisinau often go to Transnistria to buy the best quality Russian … bed sheets. 🙂

Moldova and the EU

Moldova is not a part of the European Union, but has signed an association pact with the EU. The EU is providing Moldova with some necessary financial help and EU citizens can travel there without a visa. A possible future accession to the European Union is very uncertain. The main issues include Transnistria, which is not in fact controlled by Moldavian government. Joining the EU would require Moldova to solve the conflict or accept Transnistria’s independence, which is of course not acceptable for Chisinau. Another issue is the attitude towards independence of the public, some of whom would like to make one country with Romania while others would prefer to remain independent, while still others would like to join forces with Russia. The country has numerous problems like corruption, poverty and a growing depopulation caused by the substantial emigration of young people to the West. We will see what happens, but definitely visit this country before the tourist industry discovers it. 🙂

(M.K)

Bibliography:

‘Romania and Moldova. Mosaic in vibrant colors’, Bezdroża Helion, 2015.

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