Today is Thursday the 28th of November, a very special day for many Americans. It’s Thanksgiving! Although Thanksgiving is generally considered a typically American holiday, it’s also celebrated on some of the Caribbean islands and in Liberia. It’s celebrated nationally every year on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada. Originally, Thanksgiving was a harvest festival with historical roots in religious and cultural traditions, but nowadays it is also celebrated as a secular holiday. Also, Thanksgiving is becoming more popular around the world, and the Netherlands and the UK are by no means immune to the expanding interest in this particular holiday (as well as in Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when many stores offer highly promoted sales). Although people in the Netherlands and the UK don’t celebrate Thanksgiving to the same extent as people in the United States, there are those who celebrate Harvest Festival (even though this is a bit earlier in the year than Thanksgiving). Moreover, there are a number of special Thanksgiving-themed events across the UK (for example the Thanksgiving Day service at London’s St Paul’s Cathedral).
The different ways in which the Americans and the British celebrate this holiday got me thinking about another difference between the two people. A difference which perhaps isn’t as festive or exciting (unless you’re a linguist or a translator), but a very important one nevertheless: the difference between American English and British English.
The differences between American English and British English may appear trivial to some, but if you’re working in the language industry, it’s important to be aware of the differences not only in spelling and pronunciation, but also in vocabulary and specific cultural expressions.
In British English, Thanksgiving is a cosy holiday, the traditional Thanksgiving turkey and gravy are flavoursome (that is, if the person who is doing the cooking has had a bit of practise), and at the end of the night everyone’s unbuttoning their trousers because they’ve ingested too much food. In contrast, in American English, Thanksgiving is a cozy holiday, the turkey and gravy are flavorsome (but again, only if the person doing the cooking has had a bit of practice), and after the meal everyone’s pants are uncomfortably tight due to an overload of mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce.
(On a side note: please don’t think that I don’t appreciate the tradition of giving thanks, or that I believe that Thanksgiving is just about having dinner with your family. I simply wanted to highlight the differences between American English and British English. Also, to be fair, when you Google the word ‘Thanksgiving’, the first pages of images that pop up show tables that almost seem to give way beneath the weight of enormous roasted turkeys…)
If you want your message to be understood by people who do not speak your language (or, in this case, your ‘version’ of a language), you can count on Ludejo to provide you with a translation which addresses cultural and non-textual components as well as linguistic issues. We use localisation (or, as we would say in American English, localization) to convert your message from one language (or, as I mentioned earlier, one ‘version’ of a language) into another while taking culture, background, and the location of the reader/user into account.