“An object-lesson in how not to contract out a public service”. That’s how the Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, described the centralised system for supplying interpreters to the justice system. (See also my previous post on Ministry of Justice language services). Headlines have included: “Court interpreter farce halts murder trial” […]

I became an “empty-nester” when my daughter moved away in September to attend Leeds College of Music. Harry, our son, had left two years earlier. So lots of changes — emotional changes and practical ones too (for example, loading up the washing machine far less often and struggling to get to 30 items to qualify for […]

Do you ever find that a certain word or phrase keeps cropping up in your work? In your source material, I mean, not your end-product. For me right now it’s “credibility” (or credibilità, to be precise). That’s because I do a lot of translation and editing for Italian government organisations and Italy is focused on […]

Earl Bush served for many years as press secretary for Richard J. Daley, a controversial mayor of Chicago who was a forerunner to another Bush, George W., in his mangling of the English language. Examples are: “Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all — the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman […]

I’ve got Google.com set up as my browser home page. I usually just glance at the little announcements under the logo and search box. However, this morning I noticed the announcement on the changes to their terms and conditions. It said: We’re changing our privacy policy and terms. Not the usual yada yada. Learn more […]

The “As a Linguist” blog has a new post, Wait, who just died?, on the problematic pronunciation and spelling of Colonel Gaddafi’s name. I’ve been “translating” his name (from the Italian version, Gheddafi) just about every day since the Libyan uprising began (I work with another translator on the English version of the Italian Foreign Ministry’s website). So […]

It seems that Italy too has got problems with spelling and punctuation, though in this case at graffiti rather than local authority level. The text in black above should read “L’orgoglio non serve”. Roughly translated, “Pride doesn’t serve any purpose”, to which an Italian Lynne Truss has responded “But apostrophes do”. This picture is from a […]

Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, has carried out a review of energy companies’ pricing practices. The review found that competition is being stifled by a combination of tariff complexity, poor supplier behaviour, and lack of transparency. The Chief Executive said: Consumers have told us that energy suppliers’ prices are too complicated. It is no surprise that […]

Tuesday’s post (15 March) was inspired by Newcastle University’s study of Japanese- and English-speakers’ perceptions of the word “blue”. From an English-Italian translation perspective, “blue” is an interesting word, and something of a false friend. The Italian “blu” refers to dark or navy blue, while “azzurro” is used for other shades of the colour. And […]

As I’ve been putting together the last few posts on books as Christmas gifts, it’s been a lovely surprise to discover so many publishing houses specialising in their own niche markets or in helping little-known authors get published. Sparkling Books: are publishers of non-fiction and fiction. Our series are: Sparkling Perspectives – non-fiction Sparkling Imaginations – […]