ULG’s Language 101 Blog

What Makes English Such A Difficult Language To Learn?

As the international language of business, science, and academia, English is the most studied language in the world. There are 1.5 billion English language learners and 527 million native English spea...

The Preservation of Culture One Language at a Time

It is estimated at least one language dies out every two weeks – taking the culture and all of its unique expression along with it. In 1999, an idea was proposed to the General Conference of the Unite...

At What Age Is it Easiest to Learn a New Language?

Are you trying to raise multilingual children? Or perhaps you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, but now you’re afraid you’re too old? If so, you may be asking yourself “ At what age it’s easie...

Nietzsche, Zeppelins and Wagner: English Words Derived from German

You may have heard that English is classified as a Germanic language. Although English has also borrowed heavily from Latin, Greek, French, and Norse (keeping in line with the patterns of trade and co...

5 English Idioms That Are Utterly Confusing

One of the fun parts of learning or translating a language is discovering the idioms that are unique to a region or culture. All languages have those expressions that seem incomprehensible to anyone w...

Amusing Irish Expressions Translated into English

The Irish are well known for their colorful proverbs, idioms, and figures of speech. In honor of St. Patrick's Day, here are 9 of the best Irish expressions along with their English translations. is m...

Inspiring and Notable Women Throughout Translation History

Like many other fields, translation has been dominated by men for much of its history. Historically speaking, female translators didn't have the same opportunities and weren't taken as seriously as th...

5 Intriguing Facts About International Mother Language Day 2019

Every year on February 21, UNESCO observes International Mother Language Day. In celebration, here are five intriguing facts about International Mother Language Day, its history and how it’s celebrate...

What Valentine's Day Traditions Mean Around the World

February 14th is Valentine’s Day. In the US and the UK, that means heart-shaped cards, stuffed animals and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. But what does Valentine’s Day mean to people in other count...

Happy Chinese New Year! Welcome to the Year of the Pig!

For Western countries, the New Year has come and gone - but if you go by the Chinese zodiac calendar, a new year is just beginning. Say goodbye to the Year of the Dog and say hello to the Year of the ...

The Internet's Language Barrier and How to Fix it

Siri, how do you say “hello” in Norwegian? I can’t translate into Norwegian yet. How about Punjabi? I can’t translate into Punjabi yet. Korean? I can’t translate into Korean yet. Siri’s lack of transl...

8 New Year’s Traditions from Around the World

There's something special about the start of a new year. It's a blank slate, full of potential. If you're like most people, you want to maximize your chances of health, good luck, and prosperity in th...

Five Fascinating Facts About St. Lucia Day

December 13 is just another day to most Americans, however, in Sweden, it's a holiday. Saint Lucia's Day is one of the most unique elements of the Swedish holiday season. Here are five facts about thi...

7 Interesting Facts About the Hebrew Language for Hanukkah

December 2nd marked the beginning of Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. To celebrate, here are seven interesting facts about the Hebrew language. Around the world, approximately 9 million people...

5 Interesting Facts About Pashto

Have you heard of the Pashto language? If you haven’t, you’re not alone. Most Americans aren’t familiar with it, but perhaps we should be. It’s is the language of the Pashtuns, an ethnic group that ha...

How Halloween is Celebrated Around the World

It’s Halloween season! These days, people around the world are familiar with the American version of the holiday: costumes and trick-or-treating, jack-o’-lanterns and fun-sized candy bars. Of course, ...

Some Little Known Facts About the Hawaiian Language

Unless you’re from Hawaii, your knowledge of native Hawaiian language and culture might be limited to pictures of hula dancers and the word “Aloha.” It’s time to change that. Here are 6 little known f...

9 Interesting Facts About the Greek Language

You might have heard the saying "It's all Greek to me"? To English speakers, the Greek language looks and sounds exotic, yet somehow familiar. If you've ever wanted to learn more about this language w...

8 Intriguing Facts About the Czech Language

The Czech language doesn't have the same name recognition as more widely spoken languages like French or Spanish. However, it's an interesting language in its own right. Whether you're planning a visi...

Four Interesting Facts About Translation in Literature

September 6th is National Read a Book Day. So, why not read a book translated from another language? Reading literature in translation gives you a unique perspective on other cultures, and it's an exc...

7 Fun Facts About the Dutch Language

The Netherlands is famous for many things: windmills, tulips, art, and the forbidden pleasures of Amsterdam all come to mind. But what about the language? Here are seven fascinating facts about the Du...

5 Fascinating Facts about Norwegian

If you’re like most English speakers, the only thing you know about the Norwegian language is words like lutefisk and fjord. Let’s change that. Here are 5 fascinating facts about Norwegian. Norwegian ...

When Words Are Not Enough: Bridging Cultural Gaps to Improve Health Equity 

Are you planning to learn a second language? The benefits are well-documented, ranging from a reduced risk of dementia in your old age to a more lucrative career. But which language should you study? ...

Traditional Chinese Vs Simplified Chinese: What’s the Difference?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese? To non-Chinese speakers, having two versions of the same language might seem confusing—especially sinc...

4 Reasons Australian English is Unique

You’ve probably heard the phrase “divided by a common language” used to describe the differences between British and American English. But what about Australian English? Australian English is sometime...

10 Interesting Facts About The Irish Language

The Irish language is a unique and resilient language that has persevered through centuries of adversity. Did you know that at least 33 million Americans have Irish ancestry? Whether you’re one of the...

8 Facts About the Russian Language You May Not Have Heard Before

There's no way around it - Russian is an important language. In fact, Russian is one of our most-requested languages. Here are eight interesting facts about Russian language and translation that you m...

THE ICEBERG MODEL: LOCALIZATION AND CULTURAL CONTEXT

Crossing cultural gaps is a determining factor in any global marketing plan. A comprehensive understanding of people and places around the world has to guide the development of any international marke...

Pirahã: Brazil's Extraordinarily Mysterious Language

A tiny tribe living deep in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest has some of the world’s top researchers questioning the fundamentals of human language. The Pirahã tribe speaks a rare and mysterious language of...

Diwali: India’s Festival Of Lights

This week marks one of the biggest holidays celebrated in India. Diwali kicks off Oct. 17 and is a five-day celebration, one of the most popular in the country. Diwali, or “series of lights” in Sanskr...

‘Itchy Feet’ Comic Creator on Language Learning & Cultural Competence

For Malachi Rempen, the decision to create an online comic wasn’t exactly an intentional one. The creator of Itchy Feet Comics had planned on a career in film, but his comic strip about learning langu...

The History and Politics of the French Language

The politics of the French language is an interesting case that ties together language and the state. Foreign companies planning to do business in France are well advised to learn something about Fren...

Why Google Translate Is Bad For Business

In 2014, Brian Krebs made an interesting discovery. The security writer and analyst found that when he keyed “lorem ipsum” into Google Translate, he got a number of different translations in Chinese. ...

Persian: A Beautiful Language with a Vibrant Past

Do you know much about Persian? This ancient language is one of our favorites, and we're learning a bit about its complex past. The History of Persian Persian—also known as Farsi by native Iranian spe...

9 Intriguing Facts About the Italian Language

When it comes to sheer numbers of speakers, Italian can't compare with languages like English and Chinese. And yet, it's one of the most popular and influential languages in the world. Chances are you...

The Many, Many Languages Of the European Union

July 14, 2017 The European Union continues to be a strong proponent of multilingualism, prioritizing and promoting language diversity. That emphasis on multilingualism has permeated many parts of life...

Speaking Around The Boot: The Regional Languages of Italy

When most of us think of the Italian language, Standard Italian comes to mind – “ciao bella, come stai?” and “buon giorno,” and so on. In fact, Toscano, or the Italian originally written by the mediev...

Important Social Media Platforms in Europe and Russia

The social media habits in Europe and Russia oftentimes look similar to other parts of the world—the tried and true platforms are incredibly popular. However, there are some differences in social medi...

Canadian French vs. French: 7 Important Differences You Need to Know

Is your business looking for French translation services or interpreting services? Well, which French do you mean? Is your intended audience in France or Canada? Don’t make the mistake of thinking the...

Turkish: A growing language with a rich past

The language now known as Turkish has a rich history that spans far more time and geography than the country now known as Turkey. Today it is natively spoken in Turkey and Cyprus, by Turkish diaspora ...

Lao: How to translate an untranslatable language

In the country of Laos, made up of many ethnic groups, the population speaks about 86 different languages! The lingua franca there is Laotian, also known as Lao or Thai Noi (“lao language”). It is the...

Demystifying the complex Hmong language

Hmong—also known as Hmoob—is part of a dialect cluster called the Chuanqiandian cluster in English. Western Hmongic is also known as Chuanquandian. There are three main dialects of Hmong: Hmong Daw (a...

8 Facts About Asian Languages and Cultures for Asian Pacific Heritage Month

It's Asian-Pacific Heritage Month! This month, we honor the history and culture of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. To celebrate, here are 8 facts about Asian languages and cultures ...

5 Facts About the Portuguese Language That Might Surprise You

In the world of languages, Portuguese is an up-and-comer. No longer stuck in the shadow of Spanish, it now has too many speakers and too much economic muscle for global businesses to ignore. How much ...

Korean Translation: 8 Facts You Need to Know

Although it’s often overlooked in favor of Chinese or Japanese, Korean is a unique and fascinating language. Are you considering translating some of your business content into Korean? Are you looking ...

How Movie Actors Perfect Accents

In America, the 2000 film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a massive commercial and critical success, as many critics commended its ability to blend drama, martial arts, and gorgeous scenery togethe...

The Evolution of Pidgin Languages

To some, pidgin languages can initially sound like a broken variation of more commonly spoken languages, and assumptions are made that pidgin speakers are using slang. This has caused some to categori...

Do You Experience Polychronic or Monochronic Time?

When do you have to wake up to get to work on time? When’s that important meeting? What time are you meeting friends for dinner? How you answer these questions will depend on whether you experience po...

The Hinglish Phenomenon

History has proven that language is not a static form of expression. Over time, vernaculars change as different words and expressions pop in and out of vogue. A “smartphone” would mean nothing to some...

Communicating in High Context vs. Low Context Cultures

How people communicate with one another varies wildly from culture to culture. In our fully globalized times, it is more important than ever to understand these differences and where they come from. O...

Are (Un)Lucky Numbers Universal?

Paraskevidekatriaphobia – believe it or not, this crazy combination of letters is written in English. Paraskevidekatriaphobia refers to the fear of Friday the 13th, a phobia that affects nearly 10 per...

Numeronyms 101: Localization Lingo

L10N? I18N? G11N? What do these phrases mean? If you’re not privy to the localization and translation lexicon, these abbreviations are probably confusing. These brief descriptors are referred to as nu...

Do you really need to work in 122 languages to do business in India?

A while back we came across an article from Quartz Media “To compete online in India, businesses will soon have to work in 122 languages” and we had to find out if it was true. With 1.25 billion peopl...

Gaelic vs. Irish: What’s the Difference?

St. Patrick’s Day, cable-knit wool sweaters, and lush, green rolling landscapes are what people often associate with the country of Ireland. What people don’t generally know, though, is that while the...

The Death of Language

In many parts of the world, languages are in danger of going extinct. It might be tempting to believe that English has become the lingua franca of global business and the Internet, but when languages ...

Know the Difference: Canadian French vs. European French

Canada is a bilingual country; both Canadian French and English are official languages. The demands of being a bilingual nation made Canada one of the earliest adopters of machine translation technolo...

What is Universal Spanish?

Spanish is one of the world’s most commonly spoken languages, with upwards of 400 million native speakers. It’s the official language of 21 countries across the world and it is often learned as a seco...

Writing Global English: Beyond the Basics

Global English and writing for language translation is a valuable skill set that is related to, but also different from, good writing in Standard English. Taking simple steps like shortening sentences...

Esperanto: A Language for World Peace

In the latter half of the 19th century, Ludovik Lazarus Zamenhof had an idea. The Jewish ophthalmologist believed there needed to be a commonality among all people in order to foster peace and accepta...

No Need for Humans? Taking Language Lessons From a Chatbot

Forget the days of pocket dictionaries and in-person classes. There’s a new way to learn a foreign language. Chatbots, a relatively recent form of artificial intelligence that can interact with humans...

How it Works: Simultaneous Interpretation of the Presidential Debates

Millions of people have been tuning in to watch the 2016 US presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. And Americans aren’t the only ones watching. People in places like Israel, Ge...

No Longer a Mystery: 2,000-Year-Old Bible Excerpt Deciphered

What was once thought of as only a charred, ancient remain found at the site of a synagogue has been restored and discovered to be an original text from the Bible. Last week it was revealed that an ex...

The Power of Language or; Why North Korea Banned Sarcasm

News broke this past week that sarcastic language is now banned in North Korea. In a series of mass meetings held over the month of August, representatives of the government warned citizens that phras...

Highlights and challenges of the Burmese language

Myanmar (also known as Burma) is located in Southeast Asia and is approximately the size of Texas. Burmese, the official language of Myanmar, is spoken by approximately 32 million as a first language ...

Should I select Traditional or Simplified Chinese for my translation?

When it comes to Chinese, there is a distinction between the spoken and written forms of the language. There are dozens of dialects in China, but the most widely spoken ones are Mandarin and Cantonese...

Languages of the Pacific Islands

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. Many organizations celebrate this this month, including The Library of Congress, National Park Service and the Smithsonian Institution. We’re joining them...

The Top 5 Asian and Pacific Island Languages in the US

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month. To celebrate, let's take a look at the top 5 Asian and Pacific Island languages in the United States. Chinese Chinese is the most widely spoken language i...

Understanding the Difference Between Tagalog and Ilocano

Filipinos speak several languages, two of the more common of which are Ilocano and Tagalog. There is often confusion regarding the differences between them, so it’s time to break down what sets them a...

Missing The Joke: Why Humor Doesn't Translate

In 2011, an Australian news anchor who was interviewing the Dalai Lama with the aid of an interpreter opened the exchange with a joke: “The Dalai Lama walks into a pizza shop and says, ‘Can you make m...

Want to Work at Apple? Siri Localization Experts Needed

“Your wish is my command,” as Siri says. If your wish is that Siri would speak more languages, then you’re in luck. A voice-recognizing virtual assistant integrated into various Apple products, Siri a...

New Brazilian Portuguese Spelling Reform

In 2009, all Portuguese-speaking countries underwent a language reform that aimed to establish a common orthography, or spelling system. Countries involved in the overhaul included Brazil, Portugal, A...

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