Language Helps a Community in Crisis

Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers address a community meeting with the help of a Spanish Interpreter from Translation By Design

Photo Credit - Monterey County Herald, Seaside Police Chief Vicki Myers addresses a community meeting with the help of a Spanish Interpreter from Translation By Design

In the first 11 days of 2015 the city of Seaside, CA was the scene of 5 shootings. This followed two homicides from shootings in November and December.

The normally peaceful city of 33,000 residents, just a few miles from our office and the idyllic communities of Carmel and Pebble Beach, was left reeling. Community members clamored for answers from the city and law enforcement.

“What is happening to our town?”

“What are you going to do to stop this violence?”

“What can we do as a community to help?"

The Chief of Police and the Mayor scheduled a town hall meeting immediately to address the spate of recent violence. They offered suggestions to help reverse the influx of drug and gang related activity that had descended upon their town.

The only barrier left was language.  

A third of the residents speak Spanish at home. If there was hope for a community-based solution the city officials would need to communicate with those families.

They would need to speak to the hearts of the entire community.

TBD was called to provide a Simultaneous Spanish interpreter for the presentation and audience Q&A session that followed. The 300+ English and Spanish speakers that crowded into the community center left with a greater sense of connection and a shared mission to tackle this problem together.

That would not have been possible without our Spanish interpreter, proving again the truth in what Nelson Mandela said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, it goes to his head, but if you talk to him in his language, it goes to his heart.” Then change is possible!

This is why we’re passionate about what we do. No matter if we are interpreting at a community meeting in Seaside or at a high-stakes deposition in New York, whether our team in Taiwan is translating a financial report or we are consulting with a Silicon Valley start-up to take their app to Europe, every assignment is equally important.

We get to help your message reach the hearts of important communities, customers and colleagues!

Thank you for the opportunity to do that work.


- The TBD Team

Translator vs. Interpreter - Understanding the DIfference


We get calls often where the client will ask for a Translator. Common requests are for conferences, legal depositions, business meetings and familiarization tours or tour escorts. Invariably the caller really means they are searching for an interpreter. 

The rule is:

Spoken = Interpreter 

Written = Translator

This TEDx Talk will teach you the difference and entertain you as well! 

Each spring the Middlebury Institute for International Studies hosts the TEDx Monterey conference. One of the sessions last year focused on the important role interpreters play in enabling effective communication between people who speak different languages.

This video explains the difference between translation and interpretation, along with the differences between simultaneous interpretation and consecutive interpretation.

Yes, there are two types. If you are now asking yourself, "What kind of interpreter do I need?" You can watch this video can call us. We'll be very happy to help. 


The Three Friends of Winter

"For his residence, earth was piled to form a hill and a hundred plum trees, which along with lofty pines and tall bamboo comprise the friends of winter, were planted.”

That is a translation taken from the earliest known writing mentioning the Three Friends of Winter from the Song Dynasty writer Lin Jingxi (1242-1310 AD). They are referred to as the three friends because they do not wither in the cold days of winter as most other plants do. In China (and other Eastern Cultures) the three represent symbols of thriving under adverse conditions.

The pine represents longevity and endurance. The bamboo represents vitality, durability, and flexibility as it will bend in a storm but does not break. The Plum, which offers the first flower of the New Year, represents renewal, perseverance, and purity. The plum blossom also has 5 petals. The number 5 is an auspicious number in Chinese culture as it is associated with the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth which are essential for a good life. The plum blossom is also a symbol associated with the Chinese New Year also known as the Spring Festival.

This is a particularly poetic example of how the Eastern Cultures approach thought and symbolism. It’s beautiful in art and poetry but it can be frustrating and costly if your business doesn’t take it seriously. Check out information about our cross cultural training services that will train your teams and company executives on the cultural nuances you’ll want to understand before doing business within new countries and cultures.

Happy New Year & 新年快乐 (Xin Nian Kuai Le)

The team here at Translation By Design hopes your 2015 is off to a great start. And to our Chinese clients, language industry colleagues and friends we’d like to wish an early, 新年快乐 or "Xin Nian Kuai Le."

The Chinese New Year, also called the Spring Festival, is celebrated this year on February 19th.

Chinese New Year is celebrated in countries and territories with large Chinese populations, including mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Chinatowns around the world. Often, the evening preceding Chinese New Year's Day is an occasion for Chinese families to gather for the annual reunion dinner. It is also traditional for families to thoroughly clean their homes, in order to sweep away ill-fortune and make way for good luck. Windows and doors will be hung with red paper decorations with themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.

This coming year is also the year of the Goat. Goats are thought to love peace and to be kind and popular. Chinese Zodiac signs are also paired with one of the 5 elements; water, fire, earth, wood and metal. This years element is wood. This symbolizes, for those born under this year’s sign of the Goat, a nature that is loving, peaceful, helpful, and trusting, but also clinging and resistant to change.

We're passionate about understanding other cultures. This hardly does the history and meaning of the holiday any justice. For a better understanding of the culture you should spend some time in the country, take a language class for Mandarin or Cantonese or make friends with someone who is from China. If you'd like a better understanding for your business we can help you with cross cultural training for understanding how to do business in China.

Through Giving, We Receive

Wishing you a joyous holiday season surrounded by your loving family and dearest friends, and a peaceful and prosperous New Year from your team at Translation By Design. Here’s our president Sandra DeLay with Bixby and Quigley, the company's twin 西施犬 (shih tzus). They insisted…really!


Through giving, we receive.

Question: What do translators and interpreters have in common with year-end holiday celebrations?

Ugly sweaters?

No. The answer is, they bring people together…only they do it every single day of the year.

Bringing people together, facilitating communication and commerce, and building better understanding between cultures globally is the mission of the linguists that give their expertise to the translation industry.

What a gift it is to give!

Yet similarly to the invisible intersection where different cultures and languages meet, the work these talented individuals do is frequently unnoticed and often unglamorous. Even though the work is vitally important to an interconnected global economy.

What kind of work is it?

It's a Portuguese translation of a Material Safety Data Sheet that is going to keep employees safe at work so the job site runs smoothly and those employees can go home to their children.

It's an interpretation assignment for a deposition of a foreign executive accused of “borrowing” some intellectual property from a competitor. If the case is successful it means the originator of the idea will maintain market share and jobs for their employees.

It's a multi-lingual implementation of a financial institution's website so customers around the world have easier ways to access and move (spend) their money.

And sometimes it's a translation for Translators Without Borders where, within minutes of completion, the work is being relayed across the world to a crisis zone where an NGO is waiting to save lives with critical health information.

It's not always glamorous...but it is a gift.

We give our talents to improve understanding and communication between cultures. We receive joy knowing that our efforts are contributing to your success.

And the gift of working with you is the gift we’re happiest receiving.

Thank you for sharing 2014 with us.

See you in the New Year!

The Team @ TBD

December Holiday's Around The World


Happy Festivus?

With all of the hype in the media and at the mall this time of year we thought it would be appropriate to shine a light on few other important holidays and celebrations that occur around the world during the month of December (even a few fake ones!).


In Buddhism

Bodhi Day: December 8th – Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha experienced enlightenment


In Hinduism

Pancha Ganapati: December 21–25  a celebration in honor of Lord Ganesha, celebrated by Hindus in USA.


In Judaism

Hanukkah: Ḥănukkāh, also known as the Festival of Lights, Feast of Dedication, is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.


In Paganism

Winter Solstice: December 21 – The turning point. Celebration of the longest night of the year and the beginning of lengthening days.


In Christianity

Krampusnacht: December 5th – The Feast of St. Nicholas is celebrated in parts of Europe on 6 December. In Alpine countries, Saint Nicholas has a devilish companion named Krampus who punishes the bad children the night before.

Our Lady of Guadalupe: December 12th – An day honoring Mexico's Patron Saint

Las Posadas: December 16th – 24th – A procession to various family lodgings for celebration and prayer. A re-enactment of Mary & Joseph's journey to Bethlehem.

Christmas Day: December 25th – Day celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ



Dongzhi Festival – On or around December 22nd. A celebration of Winter Solstice in China.

Kwanzaa: December 26th – January 1 – A pan-African festival celebrated in the US

Hogmanay:  The Scottish New Year's Eve celebration


Fictional or Parody Holidays

Feast of Winter Veil: December 15th – January 2nd – A holiday in the video game World of Warcraft. Cities are decorated with lights and a tree with presents. Special quests, items and snowballs are available to players during this time.

Festivus: December 23rd – A parody holiday introduced in TV show Seinfeld as an alternative to Christmas. Created by George Costanza’s father. Among other things it replaces the traditional Christmas tree with the Festivus Pole - typically an aluminum pole set in a bucket of concrete.

Decemberween: December 25th – A parody of Christmas that features gift-giving, carol-singing and decorated trees. Decemberween traditionally takes place 55 days after Halloween.


A Final Thought - The Park Bench


The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read
Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.
Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown,
For the world was intent on dragging me down.

And if that weren't enough to ruin my day,
A young boy approached me, all tired from play.
He stood right before me with his head tilted down
And said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"

In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,
With its petals all worn - not enough rain, or too little light.
Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,
I faked a small smile and then shifted away.

But instead of retreating, he sat next to my side
And declared with overacted surprise,
"It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too.
That's why I picked it; here, it's for you.”

The weed before me was dying or dead.
Not vibrant of colors: orange, yellow or red.
But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.
So I reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I need.”

But instead of him placing the flower in my hand,
He held it mid-air without reason or plan.
It was then that I noticed for the very first time
That weed-toting boy could not see he was blind.

I heard my voice quiver, tears shone in the sun
As I thanked him for picking the very best one.
"You're welcome," he smiled, and then ran off to play,
Unaware of the impact he'd had on my day.

I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
A self-pitying man beneath an old willow tree.
How did he know of my self-indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight.

Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
The problem was not with the world; the problem was me.
And for all of those times I myself had been blind,
I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that's mine.

And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose.
And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand,
About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

Merry Christmas in the Languages of Europe

Merry Christmas in the Languages of Europe


This is a nice looking map by Jakub Marian showing the way other countries write/say, "Merry Christmas." 

Wikipedia does a good job of covering all of the countires where Christmas is an important holiday and tradition.


Planting a Tree in Sierra Leone

According to the World Bank the average person in Sierra Leone earns the equivalent of $1,750 USD per year. Incomes like that don’t make attractive markets for the latest smartphones or computers or cars. Fact is there really isn’t a lot of reason for the global economy to pay much attention to Sierra Leone.

Unless it’s possibly the source of a virulent virus that has the potential to spread across the whole world and cripple global commerce. 

The Ebola outbreak is a serious reminder of how small and interconnected our world is -- and how it’s getting smaller. Increasingly easy communication and increasingly easy transportation of people and goods are fueling this. The areas where different cultures intersect are often areas of friction and misunderstanding but for people in business they are areas of opportunity.

No matter what business you are in, software, manufacturing, legal services, publishing, if you answer the right question or solve the right problem with your product or service you can open up new markets anywhere. But how do you solve a customer’s problem or answer their question when it’s being asked in a language you don’t understand? How does a consumer know you have what they are looking for if the words they’re using to search don’t exist in the language your website is written in?

A recent survey of 2500 consumers around the world showed that more than 50% would not buy a product whose packaging, website, etc... was not in their language. 

If you could speak another language to improve your business today, what language would you choose? 

Mandarin? Hindi? Arabic? Portuguese?

There’s a Chinese proverb that says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

There are markets and opportunities waiting for you out beyond your cultural comfort zone (And it can get uncomfortable if you have the wrong approach). If you’re ready now, or you’ve thought about it in the past and felt it was too difficult…we can help you understand those markets and help those markets understand you. 

And it’s not just all about China. Even markets like Sierra Leone have potential. Incomes there have risen about 250% since the year 2000. Where do you think that number will be in 20 years?

Maybe you should go plant a tree. (We’ll help you translate your website into Temne.)

The Success of Translated Novel "Another" Leads to Hardcover Release

Another, a novel by Yukito Ayatsuji, was translated from Japanese into English by Translation by Design

Congratulations to Yukito Ayatsuji and Yen Press (Hachette) on the success of the novel "Another" and for it's upcoming release in hardcover! We received pre-sale copies as a thank you from Yen Press for our work translating the book into English from Japanese. 

Another is a bit of a phenomenon in Japan having spawned a live action film in Japanese theatres, manga releases (Japanese Comics/Graphic Novels) and a 12 episode anime series. 

Translation of novels, particularly fiction, can be very challenging because the subject matter springs from the imagination of the author. For a novel like Another to be a commercial success in a different language you need a skilled and creative translator who can capture the magic of the author's meaning and imagination and recreate (translate or trans-create) it in a such a way that it makes sense and is appealing to the buyers in the new market.

Translation By Design has worked with publishers for over 10 years and we have a great team of translators across most of the major languages including Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French and German.

The success of Another proves that good translation is an excellent investment. The ebook proved popular enough to justify producing a much more expensive hardcover for the printed release in the U.S.

Translation By Design provided the book translation from Japanese in to English for Another, Volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 is being released in hardcover on October 28th, 2014

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