The Most Famous Multilingual People in History

Being interested in language isn't a new phenomenon. In fact, history is full of instances of figures who knew more than one or two languages. Let’s take a look at some famous historical figures that you may not know were polyglots.

The Most Famous Multilingual People in HistoryElizabeth I (September 7, 1533 – March 24, 1603)

Being royalty or a politician means getting a lot of benefit from knowing multiple languages. Someone in a position of power needs to be able to communicate fluently with many different officials and citizens. Now people in power have translation tools that can allow them to get by, but in the olden days? You had to fully rely on language proficiency to communicate. Maybe that’s why Elizabeth I (pictured above) knew seven different languages: English, Flemish, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Greek and French.

Sir Richard Burton (March 19, 1821 – October 20, 1890)

Perhaps the most gifted linguist in the world, some totals of the number of languages Sir Richard Burton knew are as high as 29. Language fluency wasn’t just a hobby, but instead was a necessity based on his various lines of work. As an explorer, soldier, writer, cartographer, spy, ethnologist and diplomat, it’s plain to see why he could benefit from having a large language repertoire. Among the list of the known languages he spoke are English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, Hindustani, Gujarati, Marathi, Persian and Sindhi.

Friedrich Engels (November 28, 1820 – August 5, 1895)

You likely know of Karl Marx, but do you know who Friedrich Engels is? Co-author of The Communist Manifesto, Engels helped to found Marxist theory without getting any of the naming credit. Engels worked as a businessman, journalist, philosopher and social scientist while also being an established polyglot. Known languages he was fluent in include English, French, Polish, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Irish Gaelic and Milanese dialect (a form of Italian).

J.R.R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892 – September 2, 1973)

Most readers are familiar with J. R. R. Tolkien's writing credits, including the iconic novels “The Hobbit” “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Silmarillion.” Unlike others on this list, Tolkien’s status as a linguist doesn’t stop at known spoken languages, but instead extends to making his own language systems. Tolkien could speak 35 different languages, but also developed Quenya and Sindarin, both seen in the aforementioned books.

José Mourinho (January 26, 1963 – Current Day)

A modern example of a polyglot is José Mourinho, manager of Premier League football club Manchester United. Originally from Portugal, Mourinho is considered to be an incredible soccer coach, named among the 10 greatest coaches since the founding of UEFA by the administration itself. In an interview with Jeffrey Marcus, Mourinho announced that he could speak English, Spanish, Italian and French.

One More Polyglot...

Want to know another polyglot? Me! As the author of this blog and fellow language enthusiast, I can currently speak English, Spanish, French, Dutch and German. It may not be as impressive as Tolkien or Sir Burton, but anyone who is willing to learn more than one language should be applauded.

I have an extreme passion for the translation industry, and that requires being familiar with multiple languages. The world contains many languages, and content should be written to cater to the needs of the global language system. Is your content global-friendly?

Acronyms and Common Translation Industry Terms That May Puzzle You

translation-acronymsYou might think that an industry focused on translation to ensure effective communication would avoid using puzzling acronyms, abbreviations, terms and jargon. Nevertheless, the fact is that when you discuss translation industry terms, you'll encounter all of these — and it can be difficult to figure out what the latest bit of alphabet soup and word salad refers to. This guide for those of you who are not familiar with the jargon used in the translation industry should help you understand them a little better.

CAT Tools

Not to be mistaken for the popular pet, in the translation industry, CAT is the acronym for Computer Assisted Translation. CAT supports and facilitates the translation process. Actually, like an actual feline, it has proven to be a great companion… for translators.

CAT accelerates the translation process by transforming source text into smaller translatable segments and organizing them to make the translation process easier for the human translator. As a result, the entire process of translating becomes more time-efficient. These computer systems aid translators with the ability to edit and manage their translations — a collaboration between human and computer that results in  more efficient translation process. However, CAT it is not to be confused with machine translation.

MT (Machine Translation)

Machine translation differs from CAT. It performs the simple substitution of words from one language to another, without the ability to recognize whole phrases, like idioms, that may translate to something entirely different. On this blog, we frequently keep up with stories about advances and problems of MT — it is a promising field that has made great progress over the years, but many argue that MT will never be able to replace professional human translators.

TM (Translation Memory)

A translation memory or TM is a database where “segments” are stored. These segments may be sentences, paragraphs, headings, titles or just about anything that has been translated previously. Translation memories are used in conjunction with CAT tools.

A translation memory is a bilingual file that stores all translations. You can analyze new texts sent by customers against the TM to ensure consistency and even provide discounts for repeated segments of text.

New Words

“New words” are words, sentences or segments that are identified by the CAT tool as not having been repeated in the text, and they're present in the translation memory. Sometimes, these “new words” are the ones that are taken into account and priced accordingly.


As the name implies, repetitions are words, segments or sentences that repeat themselves in the text and that generally do not need to be translated again. However, even in cases of 100% matches, it is important for a human translator to check for changes in context that may require a change in the translation.


Fuzzies are segments or sentences that exist in the translation memory, as a whole or partially, and are not considered as new translation or new words. Fuzzies can also be names or numbers. These might qualify for discounts.

Fuzzy matching is a technique that helps speed up the translation process by finding matches that are near perfect between text segments and other entries. This applies to sentences and phrases. Fuzzy matches are saved in the TM database, and translators will typically perform a search for segments that are between 70 and 99% similar to the phrase or sentence they wish to translate.

We hope this quick overview of some translation industry terms and acronyms helped explain a few things. Are there any other terms that you're unclear about? Let us know!

Global B2B Marketing: Top 3 Reasons Why Translation is Essential

As companies continually strive to expand into international markets, B2B marketing strategies also need to catch up and adapt. To achieve global success, organizations need to apply an approach that takes into account how different cultures will receive the marketing messages, and translation becomes a critical tool in its implementation.

Here are the top 3 reasons why translation is essential in any global B2B marketing campaign:

1. Improving Brand Experience to Meet Cultural Demands

For a B2B marketing campaign targeted at an international market to be successful, we need to clearly distinguish between translation and localization.

Translation being the process of changing the source content by "simply" substituting the words from one language to another, some elements may get lost in translation. Translation services are aware that they need to go beyond literal translations and refine their messaging to bridge language and cultural barriers. Your goal is ultimately to adapt your marketing efforts to the linguistic and cultural peculiarities of a culture. In this way, your clients can relate to the product or service that you propose, while still retaining the essence of your brand.

Translation providers are now “leveling up” by having native-speaker linguists not just translating the words, including context and idioms, but also offering localization tips. This includes suggesting layouts, colors, imagery, fonts, and overall tone. When your potential buyers can relate not only to the words but to the overall presentation of your marketing campaign, you have a captive audience compared with the one you would have lost if they had been confused by a poor choice of words or imagery.

global b2b marketing top 3 reasons why translation is essential2. Influencing Decision-Makers in Purchasing

Despite the fact that most business people usually have a good command of English, a study shows that 75% of non-native English speakers prefer transacting and buying products in their native language, while 60% stated that they very rarely or never purchase from sites exclusively in English.

If the decision-makers with the purchasing power feel comfortable with you because you “speak” their language, then they are more likely to do business with you.

3. Gaining an Edge Against the Growing Competition

If your competitors already translate and/or localize their marketing campaigns, and transact with other businesses on an international playing field, you are losing a large chunk of the market.

Remember that not all translation services advertise that they also offer localization. This is mostly because it is unnecessary to do so. For most translators, it is a given. As they translate to their native language or from a language in which they are fluent, they realize that the most direct translation will not be suitable. Because translation providers will match your needs with the right translator, you should always specify your company’s needs, and in turn, they will let you know if something simply does not “make sense.”

Even if it seems that skipping the translation or localization step will be more cost-effective, it will clearly be a very short-term saving. In the long run, you will lose markets. When your potential customers realize that you have proactively anticipated their needs and adapted your message to their community and culture, they will respect your efforts and ultimately reward you for it.

7 Questions to Ask Before Your Next B2B Translation

If your goal is to expand your company beyond domestic or even international markets that predominantly speak English, you will realize how important it is for you communicate your message to your global market as accurately and as efficiently as you have been doing with your English-speaking customers.

You have probably recognized that B2B translation is now more of a necessity than a luxury if you want your future B2B marketing campaigns to be successful. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right translation service for your business.

1. Who is your audience?

The tone of the message conveyed will depend on the readership.

2. Is there a need for your product in that market?

When you’ve identified who your audience is, you can put your focus on the language that requires translation.

3. Would your product benefit more from a translator who also speaks the language of your industry?

Considering that B2B covers all industries, translation often needs to go beyond just basic language in many cases. For example, if you are looking to expand your services to a software company in Germany, it would be beneficial for you to have an English to German translator who is also familiar with tech jargon.

Translation services have been keen on finding translators who are not only native speakers, who can communicate accurately and on a cultural level, but who also specialize in specific fields such as information technology, healthcare, finance or insurance.

4. Which languages do you need to translate into?

Will you need French as used in France or, if your customers are in Belgium, would you prefer to use the services of a Belgian translator? This may seem like a detail when considering translating, but it can imply significant differences based on your industry.

5. Will you need to localize parts of your message?

Once you’ve established what your target market is and the language that you need to translate into, you need to recognize if there are parts of your message that ought to be localized to serve a specific region.

Localization is the second phase, going beyond basic translation to adapt the cultural background of your message and giving you a stronger connection to your audience.

6. Have you considered translating your company’s website?

If you hope to have a strong presence in the country of your target market, it would be advisable to translate your website into the language used where your products will be sold.

When you make an effort to communicate, your audience will respond positively and appreciate it. The last thing you want to do is use an automated translation option for your website, because these can’t identify context, and you may end up “saying” something regrettable and embarrassing. Not everything has a direct translation.

7. Will the country require you to comply with local regulations?

You may encounter a country or a region that will require to you translate information found on your product packaging, such as disclaimers or instructions.

Again, it is absolutely critical to have an excellent and, more importantly, accurate translation for this information, as it could lead to a lawsuit or injury if the message is not delivered correctly.

The essence of language is communication. If you have found success in communicating your products, company mission and goals in English, you should be aiming to deliver the same clear message to your international market in the language they understand and present it in a way that makes sense. Feel free to contact BeTranslated for your translation needs.

Taking the Guess Work out of Translation Rates

To many clients, the way translators and translation agencies calculate their rates must seem akin to Black Magic: you’re supposed to fill out a web form to "get a free quote", and if you’re lucky, before long, you'll get a number back. How the translation agency arrived at that number often remains a mystery. Is there a logic to it, or did they simply multiply your zip code with the phase of the moon and divide it by Pi?

It’s no wonder many clients are put off by the lack of transparency when it comes to the rates for quality translations and rather try their luck with machine translation or a sketchy low-price service — with predictably sub-par results.

How Translation Rates Are Calculated

A professional translation agency will take a number of factors in consideration when quoting rates — and the phases of the moon have nothing to do with it.

Language Pair

Translation projects are usually quoted by the word, and the source and target languages are key for the calculation of the rate. Certain language pairs are much more common and affordable than others. Supply and demand as well as the cost of living in the respective countries factors into the price. The translation community offers a list of average rates based on information volunteered by their users. Rates per word can vary wildly, from about $0.14/word for common pairs up to twice that much for more rare or difficult languages such as Icelandic or Swiss German.

Level of Specialization

The second most important factor in calculation translation rates for any given text is, simply put, the level of difficulty. A relatively commonplace text that relies on a familiar vocabulary and short sentences easily grasped by a general audience will be quoted at a lower rate than a highly specialized document that requires a lot of research or knowledge of specific jargon or context. Technical translations, medical or legal documents take more effort to get right and accordingly command higher rates.

Turnaround Time

640px-Project-triangle.svg"Gut Ding will Weile haben" is a German proverb that translates to "Rome wasn’t built in a day." A quality translation can take as much time as it took to create the source text. Still, translators everywhere are all too familiar with clients who consider this process an afterthought — if they consider it at all. More often then not, this results in turnaround times that require long nights or weekends. It should go without saying that rush jobs at a high quality level will raise the price tag on your project. As the famous diagram says: you can have it "fast", "good", or "cheap" — but you have to pick two of the three. Make sure you plan for a realistic delivery time, or get ready to pay extra.

Repeat Projects and Translation Memories

I mentioned earlier that more specialized texts can require a good deal of research from the translator to understand the context of a specific text and make sure technical jargon is used correctly. Cultural considerations and localization may also take extra time and effort. The upside of this process is that once this work has been done, subsequent texts in a similar vein can be translated more efficiently. Translators who keep working on a long-term, ongoing project can increasingly rely on translation memories and project glossaries, which cuts down on effort and price.

Other Considerations

Professional proofreading should be included in any translation quote, but a number of other factors can affect the price of your translation: are the files in a peculiar format that requires extra effort? PowerPoint presentations, XML document or InDesign layouts may add to your total. Audio transcriptions, software internationalization, the translation of web apps and other specialized services are almost sure to incur surcharges.

As you can see, there is no Black Magic involved in the calculation of translation service rates — but the factors involved can be as varied and as complex as language itself. That’s why a reputable translation agency won't give you "one price fits all" quote without taking a closer look at your project and its specific requirements.

Tools for Translators: 10 Ways to Make Evernote Work for You

evernote-translatorsMost people who spend time online have come across Evernote with its green elephant logo at this point — it's a hugely popular service that routinely appears in the top downloads of every app store on the web. But just as often, I hear from people who tell me that "they really ought to figure out Evernote" or wish they understood it better. Which is a real shame because Evernote gets more useful the more time you spend with it -- and as a freelance translator, I couldn't imagine my life without this essential tool.

Here, then, are ten tips on how to make Evernote work better for any translator. Try them and see what I mean when I say that it's changed my workflow and completely and increased my productivity immensely.

1. Collect and Store Your Translation Research

Translators deal with vast amounts of research, and the beauty of Evernote is that it can handle just about any type of information you can throw at it. Whether it's text, Office documents, image files, PDFs, audio or webpages, you can store it in Evernote and easily retrieve it with a powerful search function. There are many ways to import documents: by hand, from your mobile device, with an automated watch folder, by email, and of course there's the web clipper to easily store articles and web pages.

2. Keep Notes Organized with Tags and Notebooks

Stackable notebooks and a great tagging system make it easy to keep your projects organized. Personally, I've learned that it's most efficient to keep it simple by using a combination of tags and notebooks and rely on the search for the rest. Depending on the size of your average translation project, you could create a notebook per project or client, or simply use one catch-all notebook for your research and use tags for individual topics.

3. Track Clients, Invoices, and Hours

With Evernote, it's easy to create tables and checklists within notes, so one master note can keep track of invoices sent and payments received — or you can import your invoices individually and tag them "paid" when your money comes in. Create a saved search for untagged invoices to find out who isn't paying on time.

4. Go Paperless

Life for information workers, including translators, is increasingly moving into the cloud. Evernote is a great way to the completely paperless office by keeping all your important documents online and available at all times. You can set up your scanner to import directly into Evernote — but you can even use your cell phone camera to transfer important paper documents and keep them at your fingertips. No filing cabinet required.

5. Use reminders to stop on top of deadlines

Evernote’s reminder feature lets you create notes that will trigger a notification at a specified time — a great way to warn you of looming deadlines.

6. Keep a notebook for fun stuff

In my own translation work, I often come across interesting tidbits that I want to follow up on later, when I’m not on the clock. Whether it’s a movie, book or website I’m interested in, I simply drop it into the "fun" notebook. Later, when I'm done with the deadline and the project is squared away, I look through my "fun" notes and check out things I would surely have forgotten about without Evernote — like this archive of 98 free Korean movies.

7. Use Evernote in different languages

Not everyone likes to work in an English environment. Evernote is already available in languages as diverse as Chinese, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Korean, Spanish, Thai and Turkish. If you feel inspired, you can even volunteer to make it available on more platforms in even more languages.

8. Go Global, Go Mobile

Translators are often also travelers, living between countries and cultures. With excellent mobile apps for all platforms, Evernote is perfectly suited to this lifestyle. Notes are always tagged by location, and by using the Atlas, you can easily search according to where a note was created or updated.

9. Collaborate seamlessly with others on your team

Shared notebooks and the new work chat feature allow you to collaborate with others on individual notes or entire notebooks. It’s an easy way to stay synched and share research, finished files, and cat pictures with your co-workers.

10. Go Premium

Basic Evernote functionality is available for free, but the premium plan (starting at $5/month) offers more upload space, PDF full text searches, offline notebooks, presentation mode and other great value-added features.

How do you use Evernote for your translation work? Which features and tricks did we overlook? Which tools for translators would you like us to discuss next? Tell us in the comments!