Translators and interpreters – a new guide


The media – and consequently the general public too – are always conflating translators and interpreters.

To help alleviate their ignorance a new graphic has been produced.

graphic showing difference between translators and interpreters

Hat tip: Anna Szenfeld.

grafitti reads you are now entering Barton Hill. Have a nice stay

Visit Bart Nil


The shadowy East Bristol Tourist Board has recently been in action, welcoming visitors to Barton Hill, an ancient settlement recorded as Barton [Regis] in the Gloucestershire pages of the 11th century Domesday Book.

Barton itself derives from the old English ‘bere-tun‘ corn farm, outlying grange of barley farm.

From the visit of the Domesday assessors to the present day much has changed. The area still has one church, now St Luke’s, but the two mills mentioned in 1086 have long vanished. However, the area’s changes over the centuries – and those of surrounding districts – are being charted by the Barton Hill History Group.

grafitti reads you are now entering Barton Hill. Have a nice stay

This cheery message above can be found at the junction of Ducie Road (formerly Pack Horse Lane; there’s a street name that could tell a story. Ed.) with Lawrence Hill.

Have a nice day, y’all! 😀

Update 20/08/17: The cheery welcome message has now been painted over. Does this mean visitors to Barton Hill are no longer welcome? In the immortal words of Private Eye: I think we should be told!

Proofreader, what proofreader?


Evidence that accuracy is not a priority at the Temple Way Ministry of Truth abounds every day in the online edition of the Bristol Post.

Below is a screenshot of the most egregious example of a lack of quality control in what passes for today’s local news since the title’s takeover by the quality-unconscious Trinity Mirror plc.

headline reads Barclays warns online banking service won't work intermittently for five months

For those interested, the title’s sub-editors, the people that exercised quality control over what was actually published, were all made redundant many years ago. It is now up to the folk who write the copy to check it themselves.

That being so, your correspondent does wonder whether standards of English language teaching have declined in the five and a half decades since he first entered full-time education, or whether the teaching he received was of an exceptional quality.

If you have any thoughts about the quality of media reporting or language teaching, please feel free to comment below.

Mr Gove pays a visit

Yesterday the BBC reported on the visit of DEFRA Minister Michael Gove (the man who, when Education Secretary, wanted all schools to be “above average”. Ed.) to the Antrim Show in the company of DUP MPs Paul Girvan and Ian Paisley.

The DUP are of course the minority Conservative government’s new best friends, having bribed them with £1.5 bn. from the “magic money tree” (© Prime Minister Theresa May) to prop it up in crucial parliamentary votes.

Whilst courting his party’s new best pals in the DUP, Gove managed at the same time to snub half of the Northern Irish electorate by pulling out of a meeting with Sinn Féin at the last minute.

However, the BBC fails to make mention of the sterling groundwork done by DEFRA civil servants in communicating the pre-visit wisdom of the Minister to the local media. In this context we should be grateful to Belfast freelance journalist Amanda Ferguson for posting the following on her Twitter account.

shot of Defra statement for Gove's Antrim visit mentioning Welsh lamb

No, you didn’t misread the above. Gove mentioned Welsh lamb, a product with a protected food name, the implication of this being that he believes this fine product from west of Offa’s Dyke actually comes from even further west from over the Irish Sea.

One has to wonder whether Mr Gove could find his backside with both hands with such a poor grasp of geography. It was evidently not a subject at which he excelled at Aberdeen’s independent Robert Gordon’s Academy, to which he won a scholarship.

For your ‘umble scribe this is yet further proof that the government in Westminster and their sidekicks, the mandarins in Whitehall, care little for anywhere in the country outside the M25 and the metropolitan commuter belt and tend to view the devolved regions of the United Kingdom and the English regions too as little more than colonies of London and therefore ripe for exploitation and patronising treatment.


Throughout my professional life, writing so that one’s meaning is clear and there is no room for misinterpretation has been of paramount importance.

However, writing without ambiguity is a skill that’s evidently bypassed those who currently write the news headlines for Yahoo’s UK website…

caption to news story reads bride-to-be shot dead by police in her pyjamas

Enquiries are continuing as to how the cops came to be in the woman’s pyjamas in the first place. 😀

Tidy Barton Hill

Bristol Clean Streets logoYesterday, along with Kurt James, Bristol City Council’s co-ordinator for the Bristol Clean Streets campaign, and local resident Eric Green, I joined a group of volunteers from Tawfiq Mosque in Barton Hill (usually rendered as “Bart Nil” in the local vernacular. Ed.😉 ) for a community litter pick.

Starting at 10.30 in the morning, we split into 6 groups and tackled six different parts of the area for the next 2 hours, picking up litter and noting any larger, fly-tipped items for reporting later.

While picking, we did get passers-by thanking us for our efforts, but ultimately I’m sure all those taking part would prefer it if our fellow citizens didn’t mess the area up in the first place. 😀

It was a successful event and I was most encouraged by the cheerful enthusiasm and commitment of those involved. The photo below shows just some of the stuff we collected.

litter pickers and litter picked

Some of the litter picked up assembled at the Urban Park collection point.

Your correspondent understands the mosque plans to make this a regular event. If so, I’ll try and get along again to assist.

In the meantime, if you spot a problem on a Bristol street, be it an abandoned vehicle, litter, fly-tipping, a blocked drain or anything else, please report it to the council for attention.

Child superheroes launch campaign against litter

Superheroes picture

Photo courtesy of Bristol City Council

Local ‘superhero’ schoolchildren are the stars of a new publicity campaign to reduce litter in Bristol.

As part of Mayor Marvin Rees’ Clean Streets campaign, children from schools across Bristol have been taking part in litter picks to improve their neighbourhoods and now they’re encouraging all Bristolians to do their bit by not dropping litter in the first place.

Each year Bristol Waste Company collects 3,700 tonnes of litter from the city’s streets, not including rubbish that is fly-tipped or residents’ residual waste. That’s equivalent to the weight of over 290 double-decker buses.

Chesney, one of the children taking part in the campaign, has been helping with the clean-up as he felt sad at seeing litter in the park. “You try to make a difference but then people just litter again, and it’s like a consistent circle.” says Chesney.

Taking inspiration from these youngsters, the council is asking everyone in Bristol to help keep the city clean. The message is simple: Use a bin or take your litter with you.

Find out more at

Defective by Design button

Day against DRM

Defective by Design buttonToday, Sunday 9th July, is the Day against DRM.

DRM is the software that comes bolted to your digital media and computerised devices and tries to police your behaviour. The major media companies are its masters, and they justify it as a necessary evil to prevent file sharing.

However, it does more than that and also does worse than that: DRM gives its owners power over our cars, medical devices, phones, computers and more; in addition, it opens a deep crack in our digital rights and freedoms – a crack will only get wider and more dangerous as our societies continue to interweave with technology.

I support the global campaign led by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to raise the awareness of issues related to the so-called Digital Rights Management software. As any other proprietary technology, DRM is killing user freedom of choice and should therefore always be avoided.

For more details, see Defective by Design’s dedicated Day Against DRM page.

IATE reaches double figures

As a linguist one of the great developments in the way I work has been the development of online resources in recent years.

These vary from dictionaries to terminological databases and it’s one of the latter that this post is about.

Last week, IATE celebrated its tenth anniversary of being accessible to the public and proudly publicised its entry into double figures.

screenshot of IATE website celebrating 10 years

As can be seen from the screenshot IATE is short for InterActive Terminology for Europe; and it’s a great resource. Searches can be conducted in language pairs from the following languages:

  • Bulgarian
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • German
  • Greek
  • English
  • Spanish
  • Finnish
  • French
  • Irish
  • Croatian
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Latin
  • Lithuanian
  • Latvian
  • Maltese
  • Dutch
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Romanian
  • Slovak
  • Slovenian
  • Swedish

Searches can also be refined by picking specialist subject areas from, for example, accounting to the wood industry.

It’s a particularly good resource for terminology involving the European institutions, political matters and international relations in general, but is also no slouch when it comes to specific terms for, say, forestry.

History & background

IATE is the EU’s inter-institutional terminology database. IATE has been used in the EU institutions and agencies since summer 2004 for the collection, dissemination and shared management of EU-specific terminology. The project partners are:

  • European Commission
  • European Parliament
  • Council of Ministers
  • Court of Justice
  • Court of Auditors
  • Economic & Social Committee
  • Committee of the Regions
  • European Central Bank
  • European Investment Bank
  • Translation Centre for the Bodies of the EU

The project was launched in 1999 with the objective of providing a web-based infrastructure for all EU terminology resources, enhancing the availability and standardisation of the information.

IATE incorporates all of the existing terminology databases of the EU’s translation services into a single new, highly interactive and accessible inter-institutional database. Legacy databases from EU institutions have been imported into IATE, which now contains some 1.4 million multilingual entries.

The IATE website is administered by the Translation Centre for the Bodies of the European Union in Luxembourg on behalf of the project partners.

Download the database

Having been produced at public expense, the entire database has been opened up to the public can be downloaded, all 1.4 million entries!

Happy birthday, IATE! Here’s to the next 10 years

Post politics

The Bristol Post, the city’s newspaper of (warped) record, hasn’t had and doesn’t have a reputation for accuracy in reporting – a situation which has not improved since it and all the other Local World regional newspaper titles were taken over by Trinity Mirror.

This is more than evident in the title’s reporting of politics today.

The last (New) Labour government had a reputation for authoritarianism and what can best be described as “control-freakery“, so it is no surprise to see the Post assigning the comrades an authoritarian and control freak role amongst today’s headlines.

text reads Labour Party This is where police mobile speed cameras will be in the Bristol area this week

Mind how you go now! 😉

Furthermore, for the sake of balance and impartiality, the Post also includes some news of the Conservatives, as per the following screenshot.

text reads Conservative Party Shocking robbery, YoBike vandalism, van crashes into scaffolding and more - Bristol's top videos this week

At this point, a small history lesson might be in order.

The nickname of the Conservative and Unionist Party – to give them their full name – is the Tory Party.

As a piece of English vocabulary, Tory has interesting origins. Etymologically, it’s derived from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe, which equates in modern Irish to tóraí and to tòraidh in modern Scottish Gaelic. It has the meaning of outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, since outlaws were “pursued men”.

It appears that since the term was coined, the Conservatives’ outlawry has expanded to encompass vandalism and careless driving. 😀

If more classes of crime can be ascribed to the party, please mention them in the comments below.

Update: as of this afternoon, one of these howlers has been corrected by the residents of the Temple Way Ministry of Truth. However, the Conservative Party are still responsible on the Post website for robbery and mayhem. 🙂

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