Greenness …


“Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


O Christmas Tree

Hi everyone,

Inspired by Malinda Kathleen Reese and her very funny google translate sings (e.g. “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran), I wanted to share the google translate version of the German Christmas carol “Oh Tannenbaum” with you today.

Why not use these lyrics at your family get-together this year? A lot more entertaining than the proper translation…  Merry ho-ho-ho and enjoy the holidays!

Your Traveling Translator

O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
How loyal are your leaves!
You do not only green at summer time,IMG_1016
no, even in winter, when it’s snowing.
O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
How loyal are your leaves!

O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
I like you very much!
How often does not have at Christmas time
a tree of you rejoices me!
O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
I like you very much!

O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
your dress wants to teach me something:
The hope and permanence
gives comfort and strength at all times,
O Christmas Tree O Christmas Tree,
Your dress wants to teach me something.

(by google translate)


Not quite…

This one is for all my (conference) interpretation colleagues out there.

We interpreters (translators who deliver spoken translations either simultaneously using interpretation equipment or consecutively, i.e. after the speaker has spoken) know, why ‘computer translation’ of speech doesn’t work properly and why.

Take a look at this video next time you need to remind someone why it pays to hire a professional interpreter.

The tech folks at an American news station tested a translation device with earbuds to be used instead of an interpreter a few days ago and this is what happened:

Trilingual chat with pixel buds goes awry


My colleagues and I often talk about the fact that speaking English has almost come to be expected from many European non-native speakers, especially from the Dutch and the Germans. Not sure why, though, since we don’t expect North Americans to speak fluent German, Dutch or Spanish. As a matter of fact, we don’t even count on every Canadian to speak French fluently, although French is one of two official languages in Canada (the other being English).

Coupled with the mistaken assumption that being (almost) fluent in two (or more) languages also means that you can translate (written) or interpret (spoken) from one language to the other, we regularly stumble across more or less awkward mistranslations.

IMG_20170913_021339 (2)


On the occasion of International Translation Day I just have to state the obvious: These minor and major errors could be avoided by hiring a qualified and experienced translator or (conference) interpreter. Professional language service providers are members of provincial/ state and/or national professional bodies. Each professional association has an online directory to easily find someone by language combination. In North America they usually have a designation like “Certified Translator” or “Certified Conference Interpreter.” They can help you communicate more effectively in the foreign language, because they “know their stuff.”

So to all my qualified colleagues out there: Happy translating and/or interpreting!

May all your clients value what you do!