Archive for December, 2011

New Meanings for Old Words

I do not know how exactly I have discovered this web site 🙂 However, there are many funny definitions for everyday words. Here I have pasted the ones that I like most. For more funny language content, you can click the link at the bottom. Enjoy the post and have a happy new year!

Politician (polly•tish•un) n.Someone who shakes your hand befor an election and your confidence after it. (Thank you, Sam Fisher)

Classic novel np. A book which people praise, but seldom read.

Conference room np. A place where everyone talks, no one listens, and later everyone disagrees about what was said.

Doctor n. A person who kills your ills with pills then kills you with bills.

Lecture n. The art of transferring information from the notes of the lecturer to the notes of the lecturees without passing through the minds of either.

Tears n. The means by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water-power.

Carnation n. Country where each citizen owns an automobile

Emotion n. Electron movement (also e-motion).

Maritime n. Hour of a wedding.

Catacomb, n. What a feline uses to straighten its hair.

Biology, n. The scientific study of the number two.

Thesaurus, n. A dinosaur that studies words.

Hamlet, n. A small pig.

Tumor, n. One more than one more.

For more words, click here.

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No More Verb Conjugation Confusion

The other day, I was posting a comment on Facebook and I need to use the past participle of “level”. I first spelt it as “levelled” but I knew something was wrong with it. I googled and during my search, I have discovered this great website: I put a bookmark immediately because the conjugation of some verbs can be really confusing, especially irregular ones. We all learned them in primary school or in high school but when you do not use them in a certain period of time; you may just forget how to conjugate them.

We, as translators, should be extra-careful about such issues because misspellings always leave a negative impression about your English or your writing skills. (By the way, I do not even compare English conjugation with French or Spanish, that would be unfair!) To prevent the minor spelling mistakes about conjugation, you can use this web site which is free and comprehensive enough. It also includes many phrasal verbs. I want to share the short and pretty story of this web site also (you can find this on the web site as well):

“We’re a family of a father, a mother and three daughters.

I was reviewing my daughters’ homework. We browsed, looking for a good, fast, and efficient conjugation website. A waste of time. We did not find what we wanted. Nothing satisfactory.
No website we would want to bookmark or refer to on a regular basis.

So I told my daughters:
“Let’s just create the conjugation website we’re looking for. You belong to the Internet generation that has not known the World without the Wide Web, so you help me with the design of the site. I’ll sort out the technical issues and build a site that is very easy and friendly to use.”

Easier said than done.”

I can suggest WordReference for other languages about the conjugation issue.

To read more and to discover the web site, click here.

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Here is a Little Christmas Glossary!


If you are not a native English speaker and if you want to improve your English, you may make some friends who are native. You discuss everyday issues with them and you clearly see how English is used in daily life. Some issues that you talk may require a certain terminological knowledge e.g. politics. There are many specific terms that do not come to your mind easily. If you are talking online, that’s fine; you have enough time to find the right term online while talking at the same time. However, if you are talking to them face to face, it is a little bit more challenging. You should be familiar with certain terms. In high school, when my English was just intermediate or so, I used to have a conversation class and once in a while my teacher brought a native speaker to the class. Since I was not familiar with certain terms on certain topics, my dictionary was always under my hand and often I had to resort to it. Therefore, the conversations went very slowly and boring that I can see from the face of the native speaker J

Nowadays, everybody is talking about Christmas. Your native friends may want to start a conversation about it or you may hear a song about Christmas and wonder about the terms that you hear in it. What about learning the most common terms? You can find a short list below. If you want to see more, you can click the link at the bottom! Merry Christmas!

Advent – From the Latin Adventus (coming) the four week period preceding Christmas which serves as a time of reflection in preparation for the celebration of the Nativity.

Baubles – Shiny trinkets and ornaments, traditionally made from glass, used in Christmas decorations.

Bells – Hollow metal objects that emit a tuned sound when struck, used during Christmas to announce the arrival of the season and proclaim the birth of Christ.

Carols – Originally secular songs to accompany dancing during communal celebrations, Carols have evolved to become religious songs sung at Christmas.

Christmas Star – The star that guided the Wise Men, or Maji, to Jesus in the stable. One of the more prominent symbols of Christmas and one extensively used as decoration at Christmas time.

Dove – An ancient symbol of love and peace, later used by Christians to symbolize the Holy Ghost. Often used as a decoration at Christmas, particularly on the Christmas Tree.

Epiphany – A life changing event. The last of the 12 days of Christmas, Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Christ to the gentiles, as represented by the visiting Wise Men.

Holly – A bush with green glossy leaves, and most known for the varieties with red berries, used as a Christmas decoration representing new life.

Holy – Sacred, or participant of the holiness of a divine power, usually God.

Lamb of God – One of the titles given to Jesus in the New Testament of the Bible.

Mistletoe – A semi-parasitic plant that grows on certain types of trees, typified by the sticky substance surrounding the seed which helps it to attach to a potential host when excreted by birds. Mistletoe is used as a Christmas decoration.

Nativity – That moment of birth when the infant takes its first breath and so begins the process of self maintenance of bodily functions. In Christmas terms, Nativity refers to the birth of Jesus.

Offerings – Gifts of money made in the spirit of Christmas gift giving and used to aid the needy.

Parade – A ceremonial procession involving people marching and also sometimes decorated vehicular floats. Christmas is a popular time for parades with many cities holding official parades.

Santa Claus – An imaginary man who circles the globe on Christmas Eve distributing gifts. Believed to be a derivation of Saint Nicolas, the patron saint of Children.

Shepherd – Someone who watches over a flock of sheep, usually in the fields. This concept has been expanded to mean anyone caring for another group of beings, such as a Pastor who watches over and cares for a group of people.

Sleigh – A vehicle used in snowy conditions, traditionally pulled by animals. Used by Santa Claus on his Christmas Eve journey.

Twelve Days of Christmas – A popular Christmas song representing the twelve days from December 35 to January 6. It is thought that the song was a means to teach the tenets of the Catholic faith during times when Catholicism was banned, although this is open to debate.

Wassail – From the Middle English “Waes Haeil”, meaning to be in good health, the custom of toasting to each others health, a custom that has woven itself into Christmas traditions.

Wise Men – Magi/Sages/Medicine Men from the East who visited Jesus with Mary and Joseph shortly after he was born. Although never stated, it is assumed they were three in number as they brought three gifts for the child; Gold and Frankincense and Myrrh.

For more words, click here.

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Translation Arouses Your Curiosity

I always hear: “Translation of this book is ok but you should read the original version to get much of it”. Translation arouses the curiosity to learn other languages. If you read the books of, let’s say, an Indian author. After reading a couple of books and after hearing some remarks about the original versions, you may want to learn the original language itself. If you like Indian authors, you would probably want to get to know Indian culture and you would most possible plan a trip to India. Without knowing Indian, you just cannot comprehend a certain culture 100%. Language defines the way people think and therefore, kind of defines the culture. Once one of my philosophy professor said: “Every language is a radical view of life”. That’s so true. You are kind of restricted to the area that is defined by your language. To cross the borders, you have to learn other languages and translation helps a lot to promote other languages. As in my example, if you like the books of a certain culture, you want to learn the language. I learn French because I like old French songs a lot. At first, I was trying to find the translations of the lyrics, then I learned French (not advanced though) and I went to Paris as well. Language learning process is like a chain most of the times 🙂

All these thoughts derived from the following article 🙂 They may not be very relevant but after reading it, all the ideas just came into my mind. What I’m trying to say, shortly, translation makes people curious about a culture and therefore about a language. Here is the article by :

“At the beginning of the 21st century, the world remains a patchwork of more than 5,000 separate and competing languages. But for those who still dream of the restoration of a universal language, the outlook has rarely been brighter: 2011 has been an extraordinary year for the art of translation. Could the tower of Babel actually be rebuilt?

Many language scholars now accept philosopher Noam Chomsky’s ground-breaking perception that, notwithstanding mutually unintelligible vocabularies, “Earthlings speak a single language” – an observation Chomsky claimed would be evident to a visiting Martian. For a variety of reasons, we are perhaps closer than ever to making it intelligible…Read more

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What is the Best Way of Improving the Second Language?

As translators or language educators, we are almost proficient in our second (or more) languages. I am sure you are often asked: “How can I improve my English?” “What should I do to be able to speak more fluently?” What’s more, even your parents or relatives ask “Can you teach me English?” J I am sure you are familiar with at least one or two of these questions. I want this article to be guide to those who want to improve their second language. With this aim, I want your contributions and comments because there are always other ways to learn a language.

Let it be English or another language, learning techniques are more or less the same. We can count the ways roughly as follow:

1. Reading newspapers in your second language

Preferable original ones, not the translations. For example, in Turkey, we have “Turkish Daily News” but it is not an original newspaper. Well, it is in English but probably some Turkish translator translates the Turkish news into English daily. As translators, of course we aim to sound as natural as possible but sometimes the logic of our mother tongue fails us and we may translate thinking in our native language. Instead of such newspapers, you should prefer the original English sources like New York Times or The Guardian. In a newspaper, you find many articles about any topic. In this way, you learn many words and concepts.

2. Listening songs in your second language

This is still helping me a lot. Firstly, you get familiar with the real spoken languages. The lyrics of many songs help you understand how easily people can play with the language and how flexible a language is. You should definitely add some English (or other) songs to playlist.

3. Watching movies with English (or other) subtitles

After some time, you will realize that you understand your second language more easily. You read what you hear and you learn the exact pronunciations.

4. Making foreign friends

When I was in primary school, I used to have a pen pal J. She was in UK and one or two times a month, I wrote two pages of letter in English. We are still friend but on Facebook J Anyway… What I’m trying to say is such kind of friendship forces you to write pages of English texts. If you talk online, it forces you to find quick answers. If you go Skype, it forces more but it also helps more. Once you see that you can communicate with native English (or other) speakers, you will be more confident. Just do not be shy J

I suppose that’s all I can say. I want to hear your ways to learn a second language!

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Why Glossaries are Vital for Translators?


Today, one of my articles was published in a French blog about translation (Trad Online). I also would like to share it with you. I also want to thank you to Evelyn who gave me the chance to write for an international blog. Here is my article with a short review by Evelyn: 

“Müge Yildirim, freelance translator, shares her thoughts on the importance of creating glossaries in order to save time and efforts during our translation activities. Do not hesitate to share your comments on our blog.”

Almost all the texts are formed around a certain terminology. While translating technical texts, you definitely need the glossary of the related terminology. You can always say “There are hundreds of online/traditional dictionaries out there. There is no need to get my own glossary for every topic. I can always search and find the equivalent of any word”. I used to think like that, too.

In time, I have understood that glossaries make your translation experience faster and better. Picking a word from a dictionary is like picking a dress in a shopping center. Although you know what kind of dress you want, first you have to find the right store for it. After finding that store, you, again, have hundreds of dress choices. You want a black dress, well; you still have tens of different dress types. Finding the one you want takes more time than you anticipate. Similarly, without glossary, you go to an online dictionary and write the word. You have hundreds of choices. Let’s say your text is about medical, you go ahead and find this section out of hundreds of equivalents. When you go to medical terms part, you see there are at least four-five equivalent. Which one to choose? You do some Google search and in the end you use the one giving more related search results in a similar context as yours.

On the other hand, when you have a glossary that you prepared with your previous experiences in medical translation, you just find the word and you see the most general equivalent that you used in other medical translations.

Glossaries save time and give you the most possible equivalent of the word that you saw in similar translations before. Nothing can replace a glossary that was prepared with previous experiences 🙂

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Learning a New Language: Acronyms

At first, I was planning to talk about the acronyms of EU that confuses us a lot. Considering the translations of these acronyms as well, there are thousands of them, which is like another new language. On internet, I was searching a list of acronyms that I can use in this article then I came across to another marvelous web site: Acronym Finder!

It is amazing because it finds acronyms in every language. There is more! It also explains what the acronym stands for.

Let me explain this with an example. I wrote in the search box TFF (Turkish Football Federation). The web site gave me the list of the names that TFF stands for. I found Turkish Football Federation and when I clicked on it, it also gave me brief information about TFF! When I wrote TBMM (Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi), I also gave me the English translation of the full name .

It is very useful in our translations.

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The Funniest Way of Learning New Words

Recently, I have discovered a web site thanks to one of fellow translators who commented on my blog. I literally spend hours when I visit this web site. It is funny and very useful. When I began learning English, I used to memorize lists of words. I was categorizing words and writing them on a paper. Generally I did not know real pronunciations and memorized them with a wrong pronunciation.

This web site works on eleven languges basicly but you can find more by clicking on Add Your Language or Archived Languages. The site has grammer rules and vocabularies with pictures. When you point one of the pictures, you hear the pronunciation. The pictures are funny and the vocabulary is enough at least for beginners.

I immediately bookmarked the site. When you give a break or something during the day, you can just visit this site and learn a couple of words 🙂

The website:

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The Best Books of 2011

I am somehow happy that our reliance on traditional paper-books still continues. Internet is a vast source of information; however, there are only few decent web sites that you can follow all the time. When it comes to grammar, word choice and sentence structure, internet –not always but- generally fails. In my opinion, grammar mistakes can be reduced to minimum either by studying a grammar book or reading books in the languages you know. Especially nowadays, many people do not read book or newspaper regularly. They just check online news sites and that’s all. They are full of grammar mistakes and in time, as you see a mistake several times, you begin not to see them as mistake but the true form. This is the most dangerous thing that may happen to a language because it results in generations (like ours) who are not aware of real grammar rules. So, here is the list of books of 2011 by Guardian. As far as I see, this list is a result of a discussion, so they are the reader’s choices. I will write the names in an order, you can click the link at the bottom for their reviews. Let’s read- not only the article but also the books 🙂

  1. Sebastian Barry’s On Canaan’s Side
  2. Thomas Penn’s Winter King: The Dawn of Tudor England
  3. Glyn Hughes’ A Year in the Bull-Box
  4. Eileen Battersby’s Ordinary Dogs
  5.  Alice Munro’s New Selected Stories
  6. Ali Smith’s There but for the
  7. Sarah Raven’s Wild Flowers
  8. Philip Hensher’s King of the Badgers
  9. Richard Lloyd Parry ‘s People Who Eat Darkness
  10. Elen Caldecott’s Operation Eiffel Tower

For more books and reviews, click here.

Ten translated novels that you should know, click here.

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