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“As many languages you know,
as many times you are a human being.”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Goethe was absolutely right, because behind every language lies a fascinating world which tells a new story and allows us to immerse ourselves in a unique culture. Language is more than just grammar. For this reason, translation can’t consist solely of replacing words in one language with words from another. What makes our translations so good is the culture-specific knowledge of our native speakers across 70 countries.
It’s not just because we’re based in Germany that German is one of the main languages we translate. With its connections to the whole world, the German economy itself is a significant rationale for translation. Our in-house translator team made up of German native speakers provides top-quality translations in a vast range of languages and fields.
Europe is home to a hugely diverse range of languages in a concentrated area, as well as substantial economic power and world leaders in science and technology. We translate all official languages of the EU as well as other European languages in a wide range of combinations.
North, Central and South America
English, Spanish, Portuguese and French are the most important languages in the Americas, but they differ greatly from the variations spoken in Europe and elsewhere and also from country to country. Our translators come from the countries of the target markets and will see to it that your texts are suitable for the local population.
Asia is fascinating and diverse, just like its languages. Our network includes translators who translate into and from Asian languages. This also includes languages from the prosperous economies in East Asia such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean, South Asia with some Indian languages such as Hindi and Marathi as well as Middle Eastern languages such as Turkish, Arabic, Farsi and Kurdish.
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Albanian is one of the oldest languages in Europe and isn’t closely related to any other language.
The Arabic language is written from right to left. Accordingly, books and documents are read from back to front. However, numbers are written from left to right.
From the 10th to the 12th century Belarusian was written with Arabic letters. Latin letters have also been used in the past. Today, however, the language uses the Cyrillic script.
In Bulgaria, nodding the head means “no” and shaking the head means “yes”. When Bulgarians know they are talking to tourists, they sometimes switch around and confuse the tourists completely.
The Chinese writing system contains around 50,000 different characters. However, many of these characters are no longer used in day-to-day life. Thus only 2,000 to 3,000 characters are needed to read a newspaper, for example.
The Chinese language has two writing systems: the simplified system in China, Singapore and Malaysia; and the traditional system used in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. The simplified form came into existence in the 1950s to encourage literacy.
Croatia’s currency, the Kuna (“marten”), takes its name from the use of marten pelts as a unit of value in medieval trading.
In Czech, whole sentences can be formed without vowels. For example the tongue twister Strč prst skrz krk: In English this means something like ‘Stick a finger through your throat’.
According to the 2016 World Happiness Report, the Danes are the happiest people in the world. Perhaps it’s because of hygge?
Hygge describes a particularly Danish attitude to life, which can best be translated as ‘cosiness’. It has now become a worldwide trend and even appears in the Oxford English Dictionary. The OED defines it as ‘A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality.’ In winter in particular, a hyggelig ambience exerts an enormous pull and provides a wonderful sense of wellbeing. Perhaps that’s the Danes’ secret?
Alongside Paschtu, Dari is one of Afghanistan’s two official languages.
Kindercarnavalsoptochtvoorbereidingswerkzaamhedencomitéleden was crowned the longest word in the Dutch language with 60 letters and is in the Guinness Book of Records. It refers to the committee members who organise the activities in preparation for a children’s carnival parade.
English is the national language of six countries, and a second language in another 50 countries. With 1.5 billion speakers (including 330 million native speakers), it is the most widely spoken language in the world.
There are over 14 grammatical cases in the Estonian language.
Some Persian words are also used in English, for example “bazaar” and “paradise”.
Finnish words sometimes look incredibly long. This is because Finnish is an agglutinative language. Smaller, grammatically descriptive words are appended to a root word instead of placing them in front of it as in English or German. Someone once calculated that in Finnish you could theoretically append over 2000 smaller words to a root word!
Belgium is split in two by a linguistic border. Flemish is spoken in Flanders in the north, while French is the language of Wallonia in the south. Only the capital, Brussels, is bilingual.
There are 13 ways of pronouncing the vowel ‘o’ in French.
Kabelsalat, sich fremdschämen, Schadenfreude, Wanderlust, Fernweh, Zeitgeist, Kummerspeck, Vorfreude, Geistesblitz – German has countless words that barely translate into other languages, if at all. Nevertheless, or perhaps precisely for that reason, many prefer to retain these words when communicating in other languages. That’s why some of these words have already found their way into other languages – otherwise special linguistic flair is required for their translation.
The Greek adjective meraki means to do something with great pleasure, with body and soul. To translate this one Greek word accurately, one often needs a short sentence in other languages
After Chinese and English, Hindi is the world’s third-most spoken language.
Most European languages belong to the same language family, which means that there are many similarities between them. However, this is not true of Hungarian, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages. This makes it almost impossible to guess the meaning of Hungarian words for most Europeans. With donaldkacsázás, the first part at least doesn’t seem that unusual. No wonder, because it refers to that well-known comic duck. It is used to describe someone who – like the cartoon hero – walks around the house wearing only a shirt and no trousers or underpants.
In Icelandic phone books, people are listed under their first name. Icelandic surnames are derived from the father’s (or mother’s) forename.
An extremely useful word after an Italian feast is abbiocco – it describes the state of feeling sluggish after a sumptuous meal when what you would like most is to take a nap.
The Japanese script actually consists of three scripts: the Chinese characters Kanji and the syllabaries Hiragana and Katakana, each of which has very specific functions. But counting is even more difficult: depending on what you are counting – people, flat, small or long objects, floors, animals – you will need a different word ending or an entirely new numeral. For example, futari means two people and futatsu means two objects.
The Korean script is supposed to be easier to learn than any other. It was developed in the 15th century with the specific intention of being easy to learn. In addition, there is no doubt about how each character is pronounced – this is the advantage Korean has over most other writing systems. A 15th century official is reported to have said: ‘If you’re smart, you’ll learn it by tomorrow morning. It’ll take a fool ten days.’
Kurdish is spoken mainly in eastern Turkey, northern Syria, northern Iraq and western Iran and has three variations: Kurmanji, Sorani and Palewani.
Latvian has its own grammatical form to express an obligation: the debitive form. And the quotative form clearly indicates when something is mere gossip or hearsay.
Lithuanian is such an old Indo-European language that the linguist Antoine Meillet is reported to have once said: ‘If you want to know how our forefathers spoke, go and listen to a farmer in a Lithuanian village.’
Although Luxembourgish is the native language of almost everyone in Luxembourg, official announcements are made predominantly in French.
Marathi is one of India’s 22 official listed languages. Marathi is mainly spoken in the Indian state of Maharashtra.
There are two official written languages in Norway: Bokmål (“book language”) and Nynorsk (new Norwegian). While Bokmål is based on Danish and is the written language of 85 to 90 per cent of the population, Nynorsk was developed from various Norwegian dialects. Nynorsk is the written language of 10 to 15 per cent of the population.
In Polish, “wihajster” is the word used to describe a “thingamabob”, the name of which isn’t known. This is a borrowed word from German, based on the phrase “Wie heißt er” (“What’s he called”). If you speak German, “Szyberdach” might ring a bell as well. The word is also borrowed from German, in this case the word for “sunroof” (“Schiebedach”).
Only around five per cent of all the world’s speakers of Portuguese live in Portugal. The vast majority live in Brazil.
In Brazilian prisons, there’s a programme called “Redemption through Reading”. The inmates can shorten their sentences by reading books and arguing their case in writing.
Romanian belongs to the Romance languages and as such, like French, Italian or Spanish, is derived from Latin. It is the official language in Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
If you want to become an astronaut, you need to learn Russian.
The Swedes have their own names for comic-book characters: Donald Duck is known as “Kalle Anka” and Batman is called “Läderlappen”.
The Slovakian language has several dialects. The modern written language was only defined in 1840.
Slovenian has retained one grammatical peculiarity: the dual form, which is used when referring to two of something. In most other Slavic languages this form has been replaced by the plural.
Examples: grem (I go), greva (we two go), gremo (we all go)
klobuk (one hat), klobuka (two hats) or klobuki (more than two hats)
Spanish is the official language in 22 countries – 16% of all countries in the world! After English, this makes it the most widely spoken language geographically. Spanish grammar is as old as the discovery of America – it was developed by Elio Antonio de Nebrija in 1492.
In a language competition in Paris in 1934, Ukrainian was named one of the three most beautiful languages in the world. (The top two were French and Persian.)
Urdu is Pakistan’s official language and is very closely related to Hindi. However unlike Hindi, Urdu uses the Perso-Arabic alphabet.
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