Archive for February, 2012

8 Exercises to Improve Your Memory


Although we can find the meaning of any word in seconds, it is quite handy to have a good vocabulary knowledge. When it comes to interpreting, knowing the words by heart is a must. We hardly have time to look up a word at the same time interpreting a sentence and still not losing our grip. While translating, we are kind of more flexible in terms of time but who does not want to finish a translation in a shorter time? I guess, if we know the words and concepts by heart, the time will get shorter. 

I remember memorizing pages of words in high school. In university, I memorized many words for the exams as well. However, as my brain gets loaded with new information everyday, I find it harder to memorize or recall the words. I have found some exercises to improve the memory. The source is a website called “learningmind”. There are also games and quizes about improving the memory if you are interested. I will do the exercises from now on. Do you want to try as well?

1. 5-10 minutes after you wake up count backwards from 100 to 1 as fast as you can.

2. Repeat the alphabet, finding a word for each letter. If you have forgotten a letter or can’t find a word, don’t stop. Pace is important.

3. Find twenty male and female names.

4. Select any letter of the alphabet and find twenty words starting with it.

5.Close your eyes and count to twenty.

6.You may learn poetry. The point is to do it gradually and regularly, constantly increasing volume of memorized text. You should like the poetry you learn. If you will learn it by force you are not going to achieve good results.

7. In the evening before going to bed, remember all the events of the day, watching them like a movie, in reverse order from the evening to the morning. You should try to remember as more details as you can. The main rule of this exercise is not to concentrate on negative events.

8. Make associations. You can try to memorize events, giving them associations. For example, while reading imagine walking down the street. Each word is a part of this street. So placing facts/words on the route you usually take to go to a supermarket, you can easily memorize them. Each time memorizing new information, take a new route.

Click here to see the source.

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Awesomely Untranslatable Words

Do you find yourself thinking in English very often? Have you ever said “I can express this better in French”? Have your friends ever looked down on you when you use a foreign word instead of your own language and you simply defend yourself “I cannot find the  of it”? I experience them all sometimes. I do not say that’s the way it should be. I am always a strong defender of protecting the integrity and the pureness of languages. However, when you know more than one language, you cannot help but use foreign words because you know you can express yourself better. In translation, such situations are more obvious. Sometimes you translate one English word as a whole sentence in your native language or vice-versa. It is not about the “richness” of a language but the culture and the history.   explains 20 untranslatable words from all over the world. Here, I paste the ones that I find interesting. You can always click on the link at the bottom for the rest. 


Yagan (indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego) – “the wordless, yet meaningful look shared by two people who both desire to initiate something but are both reluctant to start”


Indonesian – “A joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh”


Japanese – “A mother who relentlessly pushes her children toward academic achievement”


Scottish – The act of hestitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.


Tshiluba (Southwest Congo) – A word famous for its untranslatability, most professional translators pinpoint it as the stature of a person “who is ready to forgive and forget any first abuse, tolerate it the second time, but never forgive nor tolerate on the third offense.”


German – Quite famous for its meaning that somehow other languages neglected to recognize, this refers to the feeling of pleasure derived by seeing another’s misfortune. I guess “America’s Funniest Moments of Schadenfreude” just didn’t have the same ring to it.


Japanese – Much has been written on this Japanese concept, but in a sentence, one might be able to understand it as “a way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay.”


Portuguese – One of the most beautiful of all words, translatable or not, this word “refers to the feeling of longing for something or someone that you love and which is lost.” Fado music, a type of mournful singing, relates to saudade.


The author adds a very beautiful final comment: “Understanding these words should be like eating the best slab of smoked barbequeued ribs: the enjoyment doesn’t come from knowing what the cook put in the sauce or the seasoning, but from the full experience that can only be created by time and emotion”

For the rest of the article, click here.

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For the Words That are on the Tip of Your Tongue!

Sometimes you know the concept of a word but you just cannot find the exact word. You know how a word starts and ends but you just cannot utter it. You know the word/phrase contains, let’s say, “free” but it just does not come to your mind… These all happen to me a lot… No more! I have just discovered this wonderful website:!

Traditional dictionaries do not find all the words that are related to a certain concept but onelook does. It has too many options that I cannot explain them all here. The only thing I can say it will enrich my translations and it will help me tremendously while playing Scrabble because you can write like: “A word begins with “th” and ends with “ing”. There are four missing letters and you just type “????” instead of them:

Or if you want to find related words with “guitar”. All you need to do is writing “*:guitar” in the search box. You can also click on the search results to see the meaning:

You can do many more actions than these two:

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New Discovery For Language Lovers: Pronunciator!

Learning a language requires many things. After grasping the basic grammer, you have to learn many new words. Without the knowledge of a proper vocabulary, you are doomed to use dictionaries all the time, which makes it almost impossible to talk with a native speaker or to read a newspaper/book in the target language. The more words you know, the faster you talk or read. However, grammer and vocabulary together are not enough. You also need to listen and hear the exact pronunciaions.

Today, I was translating a text about Japanese poetry and I had to explain many Japanese terms in Turkish (the source text was English). In the source text, there was some Japanese text written in Latin alphabet. I wondered about their pronunciations and so I discovered this website. It is not that comprehensive, but it is quite satisfying for beginners. The url is:!

There are 30 million lessons in 60 different languages on this website. It shows the image of the word and you also hear the exact pronunciation.

This website can relax you in your leisure time. Moreover, it may also satisfy your language curiosity to a certain extent.

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Animal Sounds in Different Languages

2 years ago, I went to Romania for an EU project. We were waiting for the shuttle outside the hostel and there was a stray dog that was watching us from a distance. One of my Romanian friends said something like “ham ham”, I am not sure now. It was a very interesting experience for me because since then I used to think that we all hear more or less the similar sounds when a dog barks. However, I searched this on the internet and I came up with very different and interesting results. For example in Korean, a dog’s bark sounds like “meong meong”. It sounds like a cat to me (as a Turkish native). You can find pages of animal sounds on the internet but I have found a very practical list on and I’m pasting it here. I hope you enjoy my post. I think this piece of information can raise awareness and can be useful in our translations. Since this list does not include all the languages, if you think you have a different sound for any animal in your native language, feel free to share it here or on our Facebook page!

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Funniest Sign Language Interpreter

Although it is not “verbal” interpreting, this is a very funny video about sign language interpreting. It is also ironic in a way.

Many people who know two languages may think that interpreting is quite easy and interpreters do not need to put so much effort in their jobs. However, interpreters are like students; they have to do their homework before the conferences and meetings. They have to study terminology and the subject in general. That’s why they have a general knowledge of everything that they interpreted once 🙂

In this video, there is a similar situation. The guy who is trying to interpret what the woman says probably thinks that sign language interpreting is as easy as making some gestures. However, I am sure it requires great effort and study since body language is completely different from verbal languages.

I expect your comments after the video, especially the ones who are trained in sign language interpreting 🙂

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Chinese is interesting (and hard), isn’t it?

According to Wikipedia, almost 1.3 billion people speak Chinese. It spreads to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Southeast Asia, and other regions with Chinese communities. This is huge but this language is somehow intimidating. I have only 1 friend who is learning Chinese, but 20-30 friends learning French or Spanish 🙂 I always think that Chinese is totally different and I should dedicate myself completely to it if I ever want to learn it. With all the interesting characters, this language seems totally different from the ones written in Latin alphabet. That’s why we tend to learn languages that are similar to ours. So, is the transcription the only difference? As far as I know, the answer is “no” because the pronunciation is also unpredictable, the same word (technically not the same word, but it seems to be the same word to us!) can be pronounced in -maybe- 10 different ways 🙂 Here, I have an example as to how Chinese is very hard. I do not know if people who know Chinese agree with me or not. I think we need to be enlightened about the nature of this language 🙂

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SMS English

One or two months ago, I published a post about internet slang. Now , let’s move on to SMS language. In SMS, we simply pay for each letter we use. Consequently, the less letter we use, the less we pay. It is a very simple logic espacially if you want to tell many things in just one SMS. You have to save letters! In the beginning 2000s, we began to ignore the vowels first. Later, we tried to shorten the affixes. Now, we simply use a set of letters instead of a proper word. Not just in English, but this also happens in every language. I have found a list on internet but I do not know who wrote this. Here is the list:

For internet slang, click here.

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