No more learning languages – thanks to an earplug

E-Post: The Languages of Scandinavia

Die ewigen Weiten Skandinaviens. Sie schenken uns romantisch geprägte Vorstellungen, in die einige von uns gerne mal abschweifen. Ewige Tundra, «You are the dancing Queen» singende, blonde Amazonen auf Rentieren und Lordi. Ihre Sprachen, so melodisch und manchmal melancholisch anmutend, verlocken viele zur Annahme, dass die Sprachen der Skandinavier ein und dasselbe sind. Nur, was sind diese Sprachen eigentlich? Woher kommen sie? Und wie vertragen sich eigentlich falsche Freunde?

Skandinavische Sprachen – TRANSLATION-PROBST AG

Skandinavische Sprachen kennen feine, aber entscheidende Unterschiede.

Drei Sprachen zum Preis von einer
Seien Sie jetzt ganz stark! Auch wenn man in schwachen Momenten dazu neigt, Dinge in die gleiche Schublade zu stopfen, so verdienen die drei Schwestern Svenska, Norsk und Dansk zumindest ihr eigenes Fach in dieser Schublade. De facto sind sich die festlandskandinavischen Sprachen aus linguistischer Sicht sehr ähnlich. Auch sprachhistorisch entspringen Sie einer gemeinsamen Wurzel. Schon im Schriftbild sieht man sofort, dass diese Sprachen miteinander verwandt sein müssen: vad heter du? / hva heter du? / hvad hedder du? (Wie heisst du?). Fakt ist aber, dass Norwegisch und Dänisch keine Dialekte des Schwedischen sind.

Drei Sprachen mit einer Klatsche
Egal, ob man nun Svenska, Norsk oder Dansk spricht oder lernt, es sind dankbare Sprachen. Die Kompetenz in der einen Sprache eröffnet mit etwas Übung das Verständnis in den anderen. Das heisst aber noch lange nicht, dass Schweden und Norweger die Dänen problemlos verstehen oder vice versa. Nur einen Kötbullar-Wurf entfernt war es dank der geografischen, aber auch politischen Lage der Länder möglich, über Jahrhunderte hinweg ihr Sprachinventar auszutauschen oder durch Dominanz den Wortschatz zu prägen. Das war vor allem in Norwegen unter der Herrschaft Dänemarks möglich. Die Aussprache unterscheidet sich zwar hörbar, dennoch teilen beide Sprachen einen ähnlichen Wortschatz. Auch Schwedisch und Norwegisch nähern sich in ihrer Aussprache an, nutzen aber teils ein anderes Vokabular.
Sprachen mit einer so engen Verwandtschaft und geografischen Nähe teilen sich schwesterlich das Vokabular. Stimmt! Aber nur bedingt. «Falsche Freunde» − das sind Wörter, die gleich geschrieben und ausgesprochen werden, aber jeweils eine andere Bedeutung haben – sorgen für so manch feuchtes Auge; Bezeichnet ein Däne einen Norweger als nett, nennt er ihn rar – der Norweger wird aber recht verärgert sein, denn wer wird gern als «seltsam» bezeichnet? Möchte sich der Norweger hingegen sein kneppe, also sein Hemd, zuknöpfen, dann möchte ich lieber unkommentiert stehen lassen, woran der Däne hier denken könnte … Nun ja, interkulturelle Kommunikation birgt einige Fallen.

Was ist mit Finnisch?
Vorweg möchte ich anbringen, dass Finnisch und Schwedisch nicht dasselbe sind. Auch wenn einige hartnäckig an diesem Glauben festhalten wollen. Es lohnt sich auch hier der Vergleich: vad heter du? vs. mikä nimesi on? Grund für diese Differenz ist die Herkunft des Finnischen. Als uralische Sprache unterscheidet sich Finnisch einfach in ALLEM von den anderen Sprachen. Andere Grammatik, anderer Wortschatz und viiieele Fälle – nämlich 15! Zum Vergleich: Das Deutsche kennt gerade einmal vier, wovon der Dativ dem Genitiv sein Tod ist und somit, zumindest umgangssprachlich, nur drei Fälle übrig blieben.

61!
…das ist die Anzahl der Buchstaben, die das längste Wort des Finnischen zählt. Schauen Sie mal, welche Wunder der Linguistik das Finnische bereithält und lesen Sie es für sich einmal laut vor: lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas. Na? Sie sehen das Wort vor lauter Buchstaben nicht mehr? Beschreibt dieses Wurm-Wort (in der Fachsprache auch Kompositum genannt) nun eine besondere Praxis der finnischen Sauna? Leider nein. Ganz unromantisch handelt es sich hierbei «nur» um einen «Flugzeug-Jet-Turbinenmotor-Assistenz-Mechaniker, Unteroffizier, in der Ausbildung». Sowieso lieben Finnen Komposita. Ein deutscher Satz kann im Finnischen durch nur ein Wort ausgedrückt werden … und genau das führt dazu, dass ganz Europa die Finnen für schüchtern und schweigsam hält … höpö höpö (was ein Quatsch).

Lange Wörter kurzer Sinn. Würde Abba auf Schwedisch singen, würde man sie auch in den anderen skandinavischen Ländern verstehen, solange sie sich nicht überschwänglich falscher Freunde bedienen. Die Finnen hingegen verlieren sich in ihren langen Wörtern und vergessen manchmal, wie der Satz in einem Wort beendet werden wollte.

Kippis! Trinken Sie ein Glas Bier, wenn Sie das nächste Mal mit einem Dänen reden möchten.

Ihr Kai John vom Team der TRANSLATION-PROBST AG

Skandinavische Sprachen – TRANSLATION-PROBST AG

Skandinavische Sprachen kennen feine, aber entscheidende Unterschiede.

Word of the Week: “integration”

Some are calling it the largest refugee crisis since the civil war in Rwanda 20 years ago. Others are going so far as to compare it to the Second World War. The fact is, as the latest events in Paris also show, our world is in upheaval. Extremely large numbers of people are fleeing conflict and so the topic of integration is being raised over and over again. We asked four of our employees from other countries for their thoughts on the matter.

The dictionary is full of definitions, such as “the act of combining into an integral whole”, “consolidating two or more things” and “integrating a racial or other ethnic group”. But how do you as a stranger gain access to a larger existing group, and how do you learn the different cultural and social codes?

Verena, Floriane, Pascal und Julia (im Uhrzeigersinn)

Verena, Floriane, Pascal und Julia

Emigrating for love
Our employees Julia (Germany), Floriane (France), Verena (Germany) and our comic illustrator Pascal (France) all have something in common: They left their job, their circle of friends and their entire life in their native country, upped sticks and moved to Switzerland for love. All four of them chose a similar strategy for integrating in Switzerland.

Integration thanks to working and making friends
Meeting locals and finding a job sums up their recipe for success. Pascal commented: “I wanted to integrate no matter what it cost and so I took on any job, whether it was well paid or not.” Julia also believes that working is positive for integration. “The team at TRANSLATION-PROBST Ltd. makes it easy to feel you belong.” Thanks to her Swiss boyfriend, Verena was able to meet Swiss people quickly, and Floriane made friends during her studies and, thanks to her young son, met other parents, first in his day nursery and then at school. It all sounds easy in theory, but putting it into practice is what counts.

Polite and helpful but reserved
Often newcomers face not only language barriers but also cultural differences. Julia described a communication problem: “Swiss people in general are politer and less direct than Germans. I have to be very sensitive and tactful so that I also understand what is expressed indirectly and do not offend anyone with my directness.” In Floriane’s opinion, the Swiss are much more reserved than the French: “For example, it was difficult for us to find out how we should treat our neighbours without alienating them.” Verena finds that older people in particular are not very open: “I still have problems with older Swiss people because they are often very conservative and narrow-minded and not exactly open to foreigners.” Pascal addressed another topic: orderliness.

The Swiss and their fixation with order
Every single one of the employees agreed that Switzerland is very clean, neat and orderly. Pascal is fascinated by how all of the vehicles near Lake Zurich are parked precisely in their spots in a parking garage. “All of the vehicles are pointing in the same direction in the parking garage. That is crazy and unbelievable for a Parisian.” Verena marvels at the Swiss mania for cleanliness: “I find many Swiss a bit fussy and very clean as a rule.” Julia has the same impression: “The country appears idyllic, orderly and clean, and everything is very efficient here.” Floriane likes it that everything is so orderly in Switzerland: “At the beginning, I was surprised by how many rules there were and that everyone obeyed them. In the meantime, I have come to appreciate this aspect of Switzerland.”

The language, the orderliness, the Swiss mentality – these are all things that you have to get to know and understand before you can integrate fully. The same applies to translations. Only those who are very familiar with the culture of a target country or audience can deliver an accurate translation. For this reason, TRANSLATION-PROBST Ltd. employs only native-language translators who are acquainted with the cultural nuances of the target audience.

Finally, our interviewees offered a few more tips for successful integration:

Pascal: “You have to be punctual in Switzerland!”

Julia: “For me, integration is a feeling. You need to try to create a social network so that you gain a sense of belonging.”

Verena: “The key is language, no matter what. You don’t have to speak Swiss German but you have to be able to make yourself understood.”

Floriane: “Meet people from different social settings, don’t give up and be patient.”

Word of the Week: “copywriting”

Texts play a vital role in day-to-day business if you want to be successful in the professional world. Is writing more difficult for you than you would like? Prof. Dr. Daniel Perrin, head of the Institute of Applied Media Studies at the ZHAW in Winterthur, has some copywriting tips for you.

rof. Dr. Daniel Perrin, head of the Institute of Applied Media Studies at the ZHAW

rof. Dr. Daniel Perrin, head of the Institute of Applied Media Studies at the ZHAW

TRANSLATION-PROBST Ltd.: Why are accurate texts vital in the professional world?
Prof. Dr. Daniel Perrin: Because it is easier to reach your target if you can hit the bull’s-eye. In other words, if you want to reach your target group and stand out from the crowd, you must accurately match its specific tastes and language. This can only be achieved with accurate texts.

Writing is often done under pressure during a regular business day. What is the best way to deal with this?
The important thing is to concentrate exclusively on the writing assignment and not be distracted by the umpteen other tasks that are waiting. This merely causes additional stress and is not helpful. Create a window of time for yourself in which you can write without being interrupted. In short: Organise your time well – and keep calm.

How can you tell if your own text is well written?
A text is well written if it moves test readers from the target group in the desired direction. You can test this by giving your text to a person to read who represents the target group or is very closely connected to it. If this is not possible, give it to somebody who is capable of putting themselves in the shoes of the target group. In any case, the more people who read it and give you feedback, the better.

Are there any tricks that can help while copywriting?
Know what you want and read a short sample of excellent writing beforehand to get yourself in the mood. It’s contagious. And what is excellent writing? In my opinion, it is using common words to express unusual things.

What is the best way to overcome writer’s block?
Many people, when they have writer’s block, keep rereading what they have already written. This doesn’t help. A change of scene, on the other hand, can work wonders. You have to choose what works best for you. My own method, for example, is to eat an apple and then return to my computer, cover up what I have already written and keep writing just where I left off.

Would you like to add anything else?
Being able to write something clearly and simply means that you have already understood it. Thus, writing is a tool not just for communicating but also for thinking. This makes writing research and writing for purposes so exciting for me – and very significant for everyone who wants to write well and enjoy it.

As you can see, a clear focus and an apple could work wonders when writing. If you still do not feel completely confident, you can find many more helpful tips in Prof. Dr. Daniel Perrin’s book, “Schreiben im Beruf” (www.danielperrin.net).

What would Christmas be without apples?

Wrapped up warm in jackets, scarves, woollen hats and mittens, people stroll through the streets enjoying the Christmas lights that decorate the houses and shops. Back at home, they treat themselves to sweet mandarin oranges with Christmas punch, and the aroma of cinnamon, cloves and mulled wine fills many houses. It is not hard to tell that we are in the midst of the Yuletide season. Did you know that apples are also a symbol of Christmas?

Green, yellow or red and available all year round in Switzerland, apples represent love, beauty, fertility, temptation and sin. Even Adam and Eve could not resist the shiny red fruit and paid for it by losing their place in paradise. Snow White was also bewitched by an apple and dropped dead after the first bite.

Apples – the original Christmas tree ornamentCloseup on apple in chocolate glaze on plate

There is more to apples than just murder and death, however. They contain numerous vitamins, minerals, trace elements, fruit acids and easily digestible carbohydrates and are thus ideal for keeping you healthy during the cold winter. For this reason and because they can be stored for very long periods, apples were a very important food in northern Europe in the past and were hung on Christmas trees as ornaments. Later, apples were given silver and gold coatings, which is why they are considered the predecessor of the ball-shaped Christmas tree ornaments, manufactured in 1830 for the first time. Although the ornaments were only available to wealthy families initially, in time the tradition was adopted by ordinary people as well. Shiny, coloured ball ornaments still decorate Christmas trees around the world today.

Not just a Christmas treat

Apples have played a role throughout history, in fact. The story of William Tell, for example, includes the hero shooting an arrow from his crossbow into the heart of an apple sitting on his son’s head. Accuracy was vital for this task, since a miss would have had fatal consequences. TRANSLATION-PROBST Ltd. is also a great fan of accuracy. With our top-quality translations, we hit the bull’s-eye when it comes to your target group.

So, if you find yourself sitting beside a Christmas tree decorated with apples this year, you will now know how they got there. TRANSLATION-PROBST Ltd. wishes you a golden-delicious Christmas and an accurate New Year.