The Struggle to Preserve Endangered Languages

September 24, 2013 by Acclaro
Category: "Spot" on Language, Language Translation Services

In the next hundred years, about half of the roughly 7,000 languages spoken around the world will disappear. With a current world population of seven billion people it would seem that there are plenty of languages to go around. However, 87% of the world's population only speaks the 85 largest languages. That means that the 3,500 smallest languages have only 8.25 million speakers total. But not all endangered languages are vanishing. Read on for an inside look into how preserving these words is helping more than just the people who speak them.

23 Words That Survived the First Global Warming

July 11, 2013 by Acclaro
Category: "Spot" on Language, Language Translation Services

A team of evolutionary biologists headed by Mark Pagel of the University of Reading in the UK have traced back some 100 known regional languages through the seven basic Eurasiatic tongues. The team came up with 23 “ultra-conserved” words whose sounds and associated meanings would likely be understood by our ancestors back 15 millennia.

Fast Facts on the Irish Language

June 18, 2013 by Acclaro
Category: "Spot" on Language, Language Translation Services

The Irish language is much more than just Éirinn go Brách ("Ireland forever"). With a unique word order, a strange lack of irregular verbs, and no words for "yes" or "no," this language boasts a history just as rich as the people who speak it. Ready to learn more about Irish yourself? 

Klingon: The Art of Inventing a Language


Among the 40 million Star Trek fans worldwide, die-hard Trekkies have more in common than pointy ears and Star Fleet insignias. While Klingon language localization campaigns have yet to go mainstream, there are new Klingon language tools, such as audio books, dictionaries and the new Microsoft Bing Translator tool Klingon features for transliterated and Kronos script. Klingon is more than just a gimmick, and today's post explains a bit of its history and place in popular culture.

The Varieties of Spanish

April 2, 2013 by Sandra De Luca
Category: "Spot" on Language, Language Translation Services

Spanish is an extremely varied language, spoken in at least 20 countries and even differing among regions within the same country. Finding an easy way to express yourself with a single Spanish translation can be a challenging, but not impossible, task. Knowing your specific regions and working with good in-country resources or a translation agency can help make sure you avoid using the wrong term in the wrong area. 

Modern Technology for Ancient Languages


Here’s one for the hardcore language nerds out there (like us!). We couldn’t resist sharing this article we discovered recently about a computer program developed by UC Berkeley and the University of British Columbia to reconstruct the vocabularies of ancient languages.

While you certainly won’t need to have your brand translated into proto-Austronesian anytime soon, the implications of the technology and its relationship to human linguists is fascinating to consider.  Read on for a brief look into how computer scientists and language historians join forces to take us on a tour of major mother tongues.

Multicultural, multilingual Canada


The French and English may have been the first wave of immigrants to arrive on Canada’s shores but they certainly weren’t the last. Throughout its history, immigrants have come from the four corners of the world to live in North America's vast north, weaving a rich cultural and linguistic tapestry that cannot be described as merely bilingual. When you think about your customers north of the 49th parallel, you may want to consider that other languages in addition to the official ones, English and French.

Completed Demotic Dictionary Unlocks Common Life in Ancient Egypt

Demotic Dictionary

Dictionaries are an important part of any translation process, particularly if the language is no longer spoken. Take ancient Egypt. While we might think of hieroglyphs as the language of ancient Egyptians, the language that everyday people wrote and spoke was quite different. Known as Demotic (from the Greek meaning "the tongue of the demos," or the common people), this language was one of the three scripts on the famous Rosetta Stone (shown above, along with Greek and hieroglyphs) that enabled scholars to translate the meanings of the hieroglyphs and unlock an entire period of history.

Scholars at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago have completed an almost 40-year project of a Demotic dictionary, expected to further unlock the many unpublished manuscripts from this period in history. Read on to find out more about Demotic, the dictionary making process, and why this language is relevant today.

Kraft Foods: A Lesson In Global Marketing

Kraft Foods created the name “Mondelez International” for a portion of their international snack business. Unfortunately, part of that name carries a, shall we say, decidedly NSFW meaning for Russian speakers. How did Kraft negotiate the slip-up? Read on to find out.

12 Untranslatable Words for 2012

March 20, 2012 by Acclaro
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture, Language Translation Services

Do you ever find yourself searching for a word that's not there? Perhaps it's a term you're sure should exist, a certain feeling, or an adjective that you just can't quite pinpoint. If you know more than one language, we know you've searched for a term in one, only to come up short in another. With all the richness of words in the world, there are certainly some words and expressions that are untranslatable when it comes to English. Because language and culture are so closely intertwined, it's no wonder that we cannot fully render all words into all languages. Read on to find out the meanings behind mysterious words like jayus, tartle, and prozvonit.

Translating for the Arabic-speaking World

How do you begin to market to 300 million Arabic speakers worldwide? Is there such a thing as standard Arabic? The short answer is yes; the long answer is yes...and no. An understanding of Arabic's history may help raise your voice in and help define your global business strategy for this huge linguistic region.

Speak 12 Languages Instantly This Holiday With Our Card Creator

December 8, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture, Language Translation Services

The best thing about our Go Global Holiday Card Creator is that you (yes, you!) get to send free e-cards with holiday greetings to friends, family, business associates and/or parole officers around the world, in any one of twelve languages. From a secretary in Shanghai to an uncle in Umbria, put a smile on someone’s face in a different time zone.

Chinglish and the Art of Translation

November 3, 2011 by Ben Howdeshell
Category: Culture

Translation isn't as easy as you'd think. It's not a matter of simply replacing words or letters in one language with those of another. Learning all the words in a foreign language dictionary, for example, may give you a great vocabulary, but that is a far cry from understanding how that language operates. If you take translation too lightly, as we mentioned in our earlier post on marketing missteps, the results can be less than ideal for your business. They can also be quite funny, which is what David Henry Hwang's play Chinglish is all about.

Why and How To Learn Russian

November 1, 2011 by Guest Author
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

Russian, ostensibly full of complicated grammar and vocabulary that can seem unfamiliar to other languages, has gotten a bad rap as far as learning languages goes. With the right techniques, though, it's not as bad as it seems. A little working knowledge of Russian can go a long way, as it is either the primary or secondary language of some 300 million people, according to Wikipedia, a large majority of which are located in growing global economic centers. Susanna Zaraysky demystifies the process and provides some great techniques to get you started. Next stop: Novosibirsk!

Learning A Language On The Go

July 21, 2011 by Acclaro
Category: Technology, Mobile, International Business

Mobile Language Apps for the Very Mobile Traveler

Calling all business travelers and international frequent flyers!  Don’t have time to study your foreign-language phrase book or get to a class before you take off? These days, it’s easy to take along a plane app iconlanguage-learning app and hone your language skills while you’re on the go.

In most languages, a basic vocabulary of just about 100 words will get you by quite nicely – and that’s a very doable goal that a mobile language app can help you reach.

Whether you just want to learn to say hello and order a meal in Norwegian, ask directions to the museum in Dutch, or buy some souvenirs in Japanese, there are loads of apps (both paid and gratis) for your smart phone or your laptop. Right here we’re going to suggest a few free mobile apps that can help you learn to speak up in almost any language. 

1. Byki – For multiple destinations and simple phrases
Quick, essential phrases in Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and Taglog are at your fingertips with this app. In three easy steps, you can master everyday cordialities that will take you across Europe and Asia. Byki also offers a database of vocabulary around themes. Want to know how to order a beer in every country you visit? This is the app for you.

The Best-Traveled Language in the World

June 15, 2011 by Lauren Kerr
Category: "Spot" on Language

When our clients ask us to translate or localize into Spanish, the first question we ask is "Which kind of Spanish do you want?"

That’s because Spanish is the official or de facto language of 23 countries, from the obvious (Mexico) to the surprising (Antarctica — the Argentinian and Chilean sections, that is).  It’s spoken by half a billion people on five continents. Yet those 500 million speak many different varieties of this most diverse Romance language, from the original Castilian and Andalusian of Spain to the distinctive trade route Spanish of Cuba and Puerto Rico.  

puerto rican day parade

Español traveled from the ports of Spain along with Spanish explorers, spreading out all over the world to Mexico, Central America, and most of South America (the exception is Brazil). The language even arrived in Equatorial Guinea.  Along the way, Spanish grew and changed in unique ways with every culture it encountered, adapting to a multitude of indigenous tongues, each country creating its own unique vocabulary and accent.

Three Secrets of Learning Arabic

May 9, 2011 by Garner Gollatz
Category: "Spot" on Language

Arabic, the Middle East's most widespread language has a unfamiliar alphabet, a fiendishly complex grammar, and a vocabulary enriched by 1400 years of literary culture. According to the U.S. State Department, only Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, and Cantonese are as hard for native English speakers to learn.

Still, maybe you're undaunted. Maybe you need to learn Arabic for your career. Or maybe you're one of those travelers who long to step off the tourist trails and immerse themselves in a fascinating new culture.


If you've had some experience with foreign languages, you already have an idea of what it takes — above all, an appetite for hard work. But Arabic has special features that make it a different challenge from, say, Spanish or French. Here are few tips to make your journey easier.

Practice your ‘ayns. Unfortunately, Arabic has several consonants that don’t exist in English or any other Western language. The king of these is the ‘ayn (Arabic ع)—a perfectly ordinary sound for native speakers, but a major challenge for most novice learners, since it’s pronounced with muscles English speakers rarely use in speech. With diligent practice, though, even the ‘ayn can become second nature. If you put in the time and effort to master it and other difficult sounds at the outset, you’ll spare yourself a lot of trouble in the future (and perhaps impress new friends abroad with your accent).

Saving A Language

December 27, 2010 by Stephanie Engelsen
Category: Culture

database of endangered languagesAccording to UNESCO, there are 3,000 endangered languages around the globe. Since 1950, 350 languages have become extinct.

The recently released Endangered Languages Database from the University of Cambridge World Oral Literature Project lists languages from around the world that are extinct, endangered or nearly extinct. In Brazil alone, there are 35 critically endangered languages; in Europe, 49 languages are spoken by less than 10,000 people; in Vietnam 37 languages are in the database, ranging from extinct to vulnerable.

With so many languages about to vanish, what can you do? On the Acclaro Blog in March, we suggested four ways that you can help to save a language. Perhaps this is could be a New Year's resolution for 2011? It may seem like one person cannot save a language, yet a 21-year old Frenchman proved that this is indeed possible.

Into Africa: Languages and Emerging Economies

The African continent is one of the most linguistically diverse places in the world. According to Wikipedia, over 2,000 languages have been identified among its 54 countries, with over 500 languages actively spoken in Nigeria alone.

Economically, as of 2008, the McKinsey Global Institute reports that the continent’s combined GDP of $1.6 trillion is expected to surpass $2.5 trillion by 2020, with consumer spending forecast at $1.4 trillion by the same year. Eighty percent of the continent’s GDP in 2005 was shared between 15 of its africa globecountries, chiefly among natural resources, commerce, farming, and telecommunications. Private foreign capital spiked dramatically from $10 billion to almost $90 billion from 2003 to 2007.

In addition, McKinsey suggests that “four groups of industries together will be worth $2.6 trillion in annual revenue by 2020. These are consumer-facing industries (such as retail, telecommunications, and banking); infrastructure-related industries; agriculture; and resources.”

Being an emerging economy with a wealth of spoken languages, how does African commerce communicate?

In Defense of French: Ten Reasons to Learn the Language Part Two

November 1, 2010 by Alyssa Paris
Category: "Spot" on Language, Culture

Let's continue exploring the numerous values of the language of love. We know there are many Francophiles in the world. We understand that speaking French will help us network with them. We know that it will enable us to speak cuisine and wine fluently. We saw that French is spoken on virtually every continent and that French colonization planted the seeds so that it would flourish across the globe. Why else should we study the language of Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Christian Dior, Gerard Depardieu and Nicolas Sarkozy?

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Smart, fun and useful. Acclaro shares news and tips on translation, localization, language, global business and culture.


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