Translation-related know-how, examples and latest news.

More Than Just Dialects - Differences Between Mandarin and Cantonese

July 3, 2017

Mandarin, Cantonese

Hello, I am Yosshi. I entered the translating business two years ago, dreaming of an international career. Since then, every day I keep discovering more about the ever-fascinating world of translation.

Previously on this blog, I wrote about the differences between the two types of scripts in Chinese - simplified and traditional Chinese. Then the other day, while I was on my way back to the office after seeing a client, my supervisor asked me if I knew the differences between Mandarin and Cantonese in the Chinese language... So I decided to look it up.

Mandarin and Cantonese - Completely Different Languages

According to Ecom Chūgokugo Net, different languages are spoken in different regions of China. The first thing that popped into my mind was the difference between American and British English; even in Japan, different dialects such as Kansai dialect and Aomori dialect exist, so it's no surprise that there are many in China. However, after much research, I found out that Mandarin and Cantonese are so different to the point where it's hard to communicate between speakers of the two variations!

Tulip: The Flower that Caused the 1630s Market Bubble - Why the Netherlands' Floral Emblem is So Popular

June 26, 2017

The Netherlands' Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Recently, apart from practising speaking English, I've started learning about investing.

After some research, I read about the era during which the Dutch were obsessive with investing, and I was astonished to find out that they all had their eyes set on tulip bulbs.

Tulips' Long-lasting Popularity in the Netherlands

It was said that although tulips were native of Turkey, ever since the 16th century when the Turkish king gave some tulip bulbs to a Dutch diplomat, tulips have been widely cultivated across the Netherlands and became their national flower.

At that time, wealthy Dutch gardeners branded themselves florists and were engaged in the breeding of different plants. Easy to grow and pleasant to the eye, tulip flowers soon gained great attention within the gardening industry, and various tulip gardens were established across the country.

Rhododendron: Nepal's Floral Emblem - The True "Flower of the Heights"

June 19, 2017

Nepal's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Did you know that August 11 is this year's "Mountain's Day" in Japan?

In Fact, Nepal's floral emblem rhododendrons are known as the "flower of the mountains" among local hikers .

Said to be the origin of the Japanese expression "flower of the heights" ("Takane no hana," often used to describe a prize beyond one's reach, an unattainable object, etc.), rhododendrons are also flowers of unexpected secrets.

Nepal's National Color: the Rhododendron Red

In Japan, rhododendrons are often grown in luxurious apartments and house gardens. With their showy, gorgeous blossoms, rhododendrons are sometimes called the "Queen of flowers," and adored by many.

Although rhododendrons grow in multiple colors such as pink, white and yellow, the type that was designated to be Nepal's national flower is the red variation called the "laliguras." To Nepali people, the red color evokes such strong feelings that it is used on their national flag. In Nepal, one can also see airplanes, sports team uniforms, etc., painted in red.

Blue Passion Flower: A Symbol of Suffering - The Surprising Origins behind Paraguay's Floral Emblem

June 12, 2017

Paraguay's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Time management is extremely important at work. I personally like keep a clock on my desk to remind me of how precious time is.

There is a flower that looks just like the dial of a clock, and that is the blue passion flower - which is also the floral emblem of Paraguay.

Surprisingly, however, this flower used to be associated with something distinctively different to a clock.

Blue Passion Flower: Symbol of Suffering?

With its petals resembling the short hand and the long hand of a clock, the blue passion flower looks just like a dial plate, which is why the flower is called "rokei-sou" (the clock plant) in Japanese. However, back in the day, the blue passion flower was often associated with something distinctively different.

The "passion" in "passion flower" does not mean "enthusiasm" in this context, but rather "suffering." This association came from the facts that petals of the flower form the shape of a halo and that its stamen and pistil look like the image of Jesus Christ bearing the Cross.

Plum: Taiwan's Floral Emblem with Colorful Meanings

June 5, 2017

Taiwan's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Just finished my work lunch - plain rice with umeboshi (pickled plum), that's the typical Japanese bento for you!

In fact, the plum flower is Taiwan's floral emblem, and it bears deep meanings to the region as a whole.

Taiwanese Values Hidden Behind the Plum

Plum blossoms usually start in February or March, when it's still very cold in the northern hemisphere . It's also said that the more bitter the weather, the more beautiful the blossoms. Perhaps through the hardy flowers of plum, Taiwanese people saw a soul that perseveres and stays strong against the nature's adversity, and thus made it their floral emblem.

Plums flowers are attributed symbolic value in the island of Taiwan. The five round petals of a plum each represent one of the five branches of the Taiwanese constitution: legislation, administration, justice, examination and inspection.

Pansy: Poland's Floral Emblem

May 29, 2017

Poland's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Do you know anyone who overthinks everything? - Well, I'm exactly like that.

Today, I would like to talk about a flower that I've always liked, and that happens to be Poland's floral emblem, the pansy.

Etymology of the Word "Pansy"

Pansies often feature some black blotches in the centre of the flower. If you stare at it from a certain distance, the black blotches may start to look like a person's forehead and chin, and some even say that they can see a person's face from the flower.

Lily of the Valley: An Innocent Flower Grown in Northern Europe - Sweden's Floral Emblem

May 22, 2017

Sweden's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. When autumn comes, my circulation usually gets poorer.

Compared to my sensitivity to cold weather, Sweden's floral emblem lily of the valley is extremely hardy, to which the cutting wind of winter is nothing but a gentle breeze. Today I would like to write about Sweden and its national flower, the lily of the valley, a "tough" flower despite its innocent and fragile looks.

The Difference between European and Asian Lilies of the Valley

The lily of the valley is a flower that's familiar to Japanese people. However, the variation found in Japan is relatively smaller compared to the species native to Europe, which also tends to have a stronger fragrance. Sweden's floral emblem is the latter, also called "doitsu suzuran" ("German bell orchid") in Japanese. As the name suggests, the plant features small bell-shaped white flowers blooming from the ends of its upright stems. Most of the little white blossoms are upside-down, looking like the definition of "innocent".

Lilies of the valley do not cope well with high temperature and humidity, so we need to keep them in a shady environment with good ventilation in the summer. If the leaves suffer damage from the heat, they might not be able to grow fully, thus affecting the flowering in the year to come. The blossoms naturally fall in late autumn, and it is recommended to take extra care of the leaves. That being said, the plant is extremely tolerant of cold, so there's no need to keep it warm in the winter.

Frangipani: The Flower of Tropical Islands! Secrets behind Laos' Floral Emblem

May 15, 2017

Laos' Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Mid-summer is around the corner, and I simply can't wait to travel to the southern islands ! For me personally, the flower that has the most tropical feeling has to be the frangipani.

Frangipanis are known as one of the most commonly used flowers in making Hawaiian leis, but in fact, the flower of frangipani is also the floral emblem of Laos.

Laos: A Country of Colorful Frangipanis

The floral emblem of Laos is the frangipani, which is also a pattern often seen in hair accessories, and such. Frangipanis are called "champa" in the Lao language, and a botanic garden located in a suburb of Vientiane (the capital city of Laos) is called the Champa Garden, where one can see plenty of frangipanis in bloom.

Although Laos' floral emblem is officially the variation that's white in color with a tinge of yellow in the middle, frangipanis actually grow in multiple colors such as red, yellow, pink, and even black.

Lotus: Vietnam's Floral Emblem and Buddhism

May 8, 2017

Vietnam's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. I tend to read a lot more during summer, and recently I have been enjoying a book that includes a collection of quotes from Buddhism, whose words made me feel calm and relaxed.

As I read on, I learned that the lotus, Vietnam's national flower, is also considered an important symbol in Buddhism. Today I would like to write about the warm meanings Buddha has given the lotus, and some facts about Vietnam. Here we go!

Why Buddha Sits on a Lotus

It is said that the lotus was chosen to be Vietnam's floral emblem because it's highly appreciated among Buddhists, who comprise nearly 70% of the Vietnamese population. The lotus features large, pink petals and bears important messages in Buddhism. Not only is it often depicted as Buddha's seat, the flower also appears in many Buddhist legends as a key symbol.

Lotuses grow in muddy waters, and the thicker the mud, the larger the blossoms. The flower is also well-known for the fact that its beautiful petals are never stained despite the environment it grows in.

English Rose: the Characteristics of England's Floral Emblem

May 1, 2017

England's Floral Emblem

Hello again, Naho here. Recently I've been doing quite some tidying up around my room, and the desk area is now all cleared up, neat and lovely. Putting my favorite rose fragrance diffuser on the desk, the ultimate relaxing atmosphere is officially complete. I'd gladly get some work done in an office like this.

The rose has always been adored by the English. Today I would like to write about how this flower was made England's floral emblem, and some facts about gardening in the UK.

Wars of the Roses

The story of the symbolic English Rose traces back to the Wars of the Roses, one of the most well-known series of wars in world history.

The wars were fought for control of the throne of England in the 15th century between the "white rose" (of the House of York) and the "red rose" (of the House of Lancaster). The final victory went to the House of Lancaster, thus the red rose was made a national symbol of England.

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