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Localization services – Words and Sayings with strange origins

Localization services – Words and Sayings with strange origins

Localization services

English is a language that, throughout history was influenced by many other languages. The Germanic roots were influenced by Scandinavian and Norman French invaders, and by Latin and Greek. This made it easy for English to adopt words from other languages but it is quite a challenge for companies that provide localization services.

That’s why we shouldn’t be too surprised when we hear the origins of these next few words and sayings. Here is a list of five words’ weird origins:Localization services

  • The word salmon comes from the Latin words salmōn-em and salmo, which are derivatives from salīre, meaning “to leap”, related to the way they swim.
  • There are many notions regarding the word butterfly but none of them are definitive. Some say that it may be based on the idea that insects consume butter or milk that is left uncovered. Others say that it may be related to the pale yellow colour of many species, or even to the colour of their excrement.
  • The word vodka has its origins in 1802 Russia, where “voda” means “water” and the “ka” makes it a diminutive, meaning “little water”.
  • There are words which don’t relate very well to their corresponding objects. One of them is orchid which has its origins in Latin as “orchis” and Greek as “orkhis” and in both languages means “testicle” because of its root shape.
  • Dog comes from the word “docga” from Old English, a rare word referring to a powerful breed of canine. There are many expressions from the 1600s such as “a dog’s life” or “go to the dogs” which showed that the animals were used for hunting and not as pets. In ancient times, “the dog” was the worst throw in dice.

With strange word origins we also have strange sayings. When it comes to localization services, a beginner translator might have issues translating and localizing phrases like:

  • Barking up the wrong tree” dates back to the times when dogs were used to track, catch and retrieve prey. They were trained to bark at the tree in which the prey took refuge.
  • The origin of the expression “beat around the bush” is also related to hunting, in this case for boars. These animals usually hid under the protection of low growing bushes which made it dangerous for the hunters’ beaters to drive the animal out. That’s why they preferred to “beat around the bush”.
  • You have probably heard this expression before – “bite the bullet”. It means to show courage in the face of danger or punishment or medical procedure. This was actually an army practice in the 1850s when soldiers were equipped with British Enfield rifles. Before every shot they would have to bite the head off the cartridge to expose the explosive to the spark which would ignite it. Any error in this practice would have put in danger the soldier.
  • A well known saying which is very much used in show business is “break a leg” to wish good luck. It’s strange, but it also has various explanations behind it. In the superstitious age it was considered that jealous forces would be provoked to do their evil work by a good luck wish and a curse, like “break a leg”, would cancel it.
  • Now, the expression “bury the hatchet” can be used by anybody as it means ‘to make peace’. Originally, this was a practice of the North American Indians when negotiating peace. They would bury all their tomahawk, scalping knifes and clubs so they wouldn’t be able to continue fighting.

We can safely assume that many of our actions and ways of thinking and communicating will result in the creation of future words and sayings, in the same way it happened to our ancestors. This is one of the reasons we only employ professional translators that don’t have issues with such sayings when it comes to providing website translation and localization services.

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