Language of the Week: Hindi 7

Translating Adopted Words

On any given day in my household, you will hear my mom announce, “I’m going to the super [shoo-puh]! Do you need anything?” Where do you think my mom is going?

When I asked my American friends, their guess was unanimously “superintendent” (of an apartment building). Actually, Koreans have adopted the word “super” as a shorthand for “supermarket.” While the full compound word, “supermarket,” and its common, North American shorthand, “market,” are also used, “super” is the most popular way of calling grocery stores.

This confusion isn’t limited to multilingual settings:

“I like your pants, ” I told a friend, alluding to her trousers. While none of the North Americans gave it a second thought, the Brits did a double-take. “Pants” in North America mean trousers, whereas the word is synonymous to undergarments in the UK.

Language conforms to people, not the other way around. The process of mixing and borrowing words is neither new nor uncommon. Even within one language, definitions and connotations continually change. Here are some English words that have changed definition over time:

  • heartburn
    • used to mean: jealousy or hatred
    • now means: an unpleasant hot feeling in your chest caused by something you ate
  • artificial
    • used to mean: full of artistic and technical skill
    • now means: not natural or real or sincere
  • awful
    • used to mean: commanding awe
    • now means: extremely bad or unpleasant

(see more from source)

The inevitable and continual evolution of language challenges content creators, translators, and consumers. Creators and consumers must be conscious about word choices, and consider possible discrepancies. Of course, it is impossible for one person to be aware of all literal and cultural meanings, so we must opt for the most reasonable definitions. For the content middleman (ie. translators, interpreters), there is an extra step. They must understand the original text and culture so perfectly that its translation fits into the second culture naturally.

Machines have successfully replaced people in many professions. But in the realms of translation, our ability to understand a piece of text on multiple levels has proven invaluable and irreplaceable. Vocabulary and grammar is one aspect of language and translation, but understanding the undertone and emotions behind those words cannot be taught or programmed.

The basic qualification of translators is their fluency in two languages’ grammar and vocabulary. The second qualification is the cultural understanding of places in which those languages are spoken in. Translation professionals must be up-to-date on cultural hot-words, changed definitions, unspoken rules and connotations.

Have your seen our blog post on hilarious translation fails?


Who are we?

Agence de traduction AlltradisAlltradis is today a key player in translation and conference interpreting.

Since its creation in 1995, Alltradis has translated over 19,000 written projects in various language combinations, organized simultaneous interpreting for the largest international conferences and gathered a long list of loyal clients. Alltradis has truly become a fundamental part of their success. We specialize in diverse industries such as; medical/pharmaceutical translation, cosmetic/luxury product translation, technical and industrial translation, marketing/finance/HR translation, legal translation, etc.

Many world leading companies trust our expertise – what are you waiting for? For more information, visit our website:


Interview de Solange H., interprète de conférence et directrice du CETIM Toulouse 5

When Google translation makes you giggle…

Hi there,

We said we wanted to discuss machine translation again, and here it is! We won’t go into the philosophy or big theories this time – we just want to provide you with a few laughs (which everyone appreciates once in a while!). We want to make you aware of the risks that some translations carry in terms of their impact on a given culture and people, not to mention the unintended results. Entrusting machine translation software or inexperienced translators with communicating your message could not only cause unintended laughs, but could also destroy your brand’s international image in a matter of seconds! Investing in a solid communications strategy would prevent all this.

At Alltradis, we are all translation professionals and would be happy to guide you in developing your brand internationally. Our documents are checked and re-read before being printed, and you give us the go-ahead to send your final proof for printing! With Alltradis, there are no surprises: quality and customer service is our priority!


Qui sommes-nous? 

Agence de traduction AlltradisL’agence de traduction Alltradis est aujourd’hui incontournable sur le marché de la traduction et de l’interprétation de conférence.

Notre expérience, acquise depuis quasiment 20 ans à travers la traduction écrite de plus de 19.000 projets multilingues et la traduction simultanée des plus grands congrès mondiaux, nous confère aujourd’hui un statut de référence qualité dans plusieurs domaines (traduction médicale/pharmaceutique, traduction cosmétique/luxe/mode, traduction technique, traduction juridique,  traduction marketing/finance/RH, etc).

Pour en savoir plus, veuillez consulter notre site web: