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Word Wednesday
Mar 23

Word Wednesday – Malicia

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Welcome to Word Wednesday, a weekly showcase for words that I think need a bit of special attention. One word will make it onto the podium each week – it could be a worthy word, a weird word, or a witch word that should be exorcised from the dictionary. The word will come from different languages, but will mostly be in French, Spanish or English (just because I know them best).

Today’s word is a worthy one – although it’s most definitely associated with witches.

It’s been plucked from the Spanish language:

Malicia Mr Burns Meme


I chose this word because I watched a programme on Channel 4 online last night that was called “Malicia”. It was an Argentinian psychological crime drama, but I gave up on it because it crossed the line from “Hmm, intriguing, what is this all about?” to “I’m sick of trying to figure this out and I don’t like feeling stupid.”

Anyway, it reminded me of what an amazingly menacing word “malicia” is.

It’s pronounced “mal – ee – see –ah”, which I think sounds way creepier than the English version, “malice.”

Unlike the English, “malicia” also has a slightly softer usage, and can mean “mischievous” or “naughty”. For example, “Sonrió con malicia” – “He smiled mischievously”.



Interestingly, though, “tener mucha malicia”, which would literally be “have a lot of malice”, can  be used to say someone is sly or cunning.

“A mi gato no hay quien lo engañe: tiene mucha malicia.”

This means “Nobody can fool my cat: he’s a sly one.”


Malicia cat


Word Wednesday
Mar 16

Word Wednesday – Psittacism

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Welcome to Word Wednesday, a weekly showcase for words that I think need a bit of special attention. One word will make it onto the podium each week – it could be a worthy word, a weird word, or a witch word that should most definitely be exorcised from the dictionary. The word may come from different languages, but will mostly be in French, Spanish or English (just because I know them best).

Today is weird word day. It was’s Word of the Day earlier this week, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share it round.



This decidedly weird word means ‘mechanical, repetitive, meaningless speech; parroting’

It’s a tough one to pronounce, so here’s a helping hand: [sit – uh – siz -uh – m]


Where it comes from

Psittacism comes from the Latin for the word parrot, psittacus, and made it into English from French in the 1800s. It’s fossilised since then, but I’m sure we could find a use for it again. Here’s how we might use it in today’s world:



Trump 'I know words, I have the best words'


Samantha Eyeroll Trump Psittacisms


Got any good examples of psittacisms? People who psittacise? Share them below!


Word Wednesday
Mar 09

Word Wednesday – Pesado

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Welcome to Word Wednesday, where we will be looking at the usage and meaning  of a word or pair of related words – it could be a worthy word, a weird word, or a witch word that should be exorcised from the dictionary. The word may come from different languages, but will mostly be in French, Spanish or English (just because I know them best).


Today’s  language is Spanish, and I have selected a worthy word to share with you all.




Pesado (or pesada for feminine nouns) means ‘heavy’ in Spanish. You can use it to describe the usual things, like a big book: Este libro es muy pesado (this book is very heavy).

Now, you’re probably thinking this isn’t a terrible exciting revelation. However, pesado can be used to describe other kinds of things – things that are  a pain in the (insert profanity here).

So, you might get something like:


Luke Skywalker and Darth Vadar meme 'Eres tan pesado papá'



This translates as ‘You’re such a pain dad, leave me in peace.’


Or you might find a situation really boring or annoying, and complain:


What I like about this word is the association with heaviness. It drags you down. It’s a dampner on your spirits.

You can also get a good spit from the ‘p’ and ‘s’ combination, making it particularly satisfying when you’re in a bad mood.

Word Wednesday
Mar 02

Word Wednesday – Life Hack

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Welcome to Word Wednesday, where we will be looking at the usage and meaning  of a word or pair of related words – it could be a worthy word, a weird word, or a witch word that should be excised from the dictionary. The word may come from different languages, but will mostly be in French, Spanish or English.

Because I’m in a ranting mood, today’s a witch word day.



Now, hack is in itself a good solid word. It is an attacking word. You hack a tree. You get a hacking cough. You hack into a computer.


But bad things have been done to it.


It all started when hack got used to describe a quick fix or solution (not necessarily the prettiest one) to a conundrum in the programming world. That was actually ok.


After that, though, something truly awful happened. The ‘life hack’ was introduced into our common linguistic currency. Tech writer Danny O’Brien is to blame. At a conference in 2004 he gave a presentation called “Life Hacks – Tech Secrets of Overprolific Alpha Geeks.” These were fixes to improve productivity outside a strictly programming environment, like managing your email mountain.


It was a  clever enough turn of phrase – the first time it was used. Maybe even the second or the third. Better, it was safely confined to geekland.


Then some bloggers got hold of it. Then even more bloggers. And more and more. The world exploded with ‘life hacks’, monstrous mundanities that cause blood to leak out of my eyes every time a new list is shoved into my inbox.


Things have recently gotten even worse. Hack is being tacked onto every other word in the English language. There are gym hacks, travel hacks, brain hacks, growth hacks, even hard-boiled egg hacks. If we don’t do something soon, the entire English vocabulary will have been colonised by this once worthy, but now decidedly witchy, word.


Many of you will know that ‘hack’ has long had another meaning which I haven’t yet mentioned: a writer, especially a journalist, who specialises in the commonplace, the clichéd and the commercial.


And that, people, is exactly what a ‘life hack’ is to advice.


To finish, here’s a fantastic demolition of the life hack by the comedian, Maddox.


Feb 05

Digital Brighton

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

One of the best things about my current habitat, Brighton, is the dynamism and creativity that seems to fill the air here like oxygen. More and more artists and innovators are drawn here every year, and it is steadily gaining a reputation as a UK hub for digital start-ups, with sector-related meet-ups and happening events every other night of the week.


Last Wednesday, I managed to squeeze two such events into one evening. The first was organised by the Digital Catapult Centre Brighton, an initiative led by Coast to Capital LEP in collaboration with the University of Brighton and Wired Sussex to deliver a range of innovative projects designed to be accessible to start-ups and SMEs.

‘Tech Beyond the Screen’


This event was part of a series called ‘Tech Beyond the Screen’, which looks at the opportunities and challenges that will arise as digital technologies move from screen-based devices to becoming embedded in the real world.

Due to my later engagement, I was only able to stay for the first talk, delivered by Shane Mitchell, “a business strategist focused on the market applications of technology, future of cities, communities and global innovation networks.” One of the things that most caught my attention about his presentation was this slide he reproduced from the KPCB internet trends report.

Internet Trends KPCB

KPCB Internet Trends Report 2015

As we can see clearly, there is still plenty of room for the internet to impact on the public sector, including education. As a translator and former language teacher, it got me thinking, what kind of innovation would I find useful in language education? There is already a lot going on, with a host of free and commercial apps to choose from, including DuoLingo, Memrise, and Babbel.


Memrise language-learning app


However, most of them stop at fairly basic, functional levels. You might finish a course able to carry out a conversation with someone in the foreign language, read the newspapers and understand the fundamentals of its grammar. However, I know from experience that students tend to plateau once they reach Advanced Level. They’ve learnt all the grammar, have a large functional vocabulary, can manage complex sentences and express themselves clearly in spoken and written language.

In short, they have professional proficiency. But most of them will still make mistakes, albeit small ones. Even more will sound obviously foreign through their choice of words and sentence structure. Very few will ever write English with complete naturalness and fluidity. And even when they can write well, it is usually only in a narrow field with set phrases and vocabulary, for example, a technical report or query e-mail. This is why it is always recommended to find a translator who translates into their native language.

Writing well is hard!


Writing well is a difficult skill to master, even in your native language, and a depressing number of students enter university with only a vague notion of proper punctuation and principles of good style. (Though some of the linguistic poverty of their essays may have been a product of a severe hangover rather than a functioning brain.)

My own Spanish and French writing skills are nothing to write home about (bad joke intended). So for me, then, some kind of app or online language course that teaches you to excel at foreign language writing would  be extremely useful. On a more basic level, it might provide sample structures for writing business e-mails and reports, or allow you to choose from a database of set phrases. Even better, it could analyse your piece of writing, highlighting common ‘direct translation’ mistakes and providing a better alternative. Unfortunately, as I’ve written in a previous post, once computers get really good at translating routine texts, many translators will find themselves out of a job! That’s why I plan on staying creative.

Brighton Digital Women


Brighton Digital Women

Brighton Digital Women

The second event I attended was a relatively new networking group called Brighton Digital Women. It was founded by Rachel Finch, Lana Burgess and Alice Still to bring together women working in digital marketing and related disciplines. With the digital tech industry still being heavily male-dominated (for reasons nicely laid out this infographic on the BDW website), the purpose of the group is to inspire and empower women to forge successful careers in digital and thus close the gender gap. It is also an opportunity to share ideas and experiences – and being pro-diversity, men aren’t excluded from attending!

There were about 16 people there, (including two men), with the discussion centring around digital mentors – seasoned professionals we could invite to speak about different aspects of the industry. It was inspiring and motivating to be surrounded by a group of independent-minded, entrepreneurial and creative women, and the group’s increasing visibility will hopefully encourage more women to enter the digital sector and add their own unique perspectives to our rapidly changing technological environment.

Jan 14


By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Clients looking for translations, especially if they are first-timers, don’t always know what to expect, whether it’s related to the price, the time it takes to produce a translation, or how to get decent quality for their money. So I’ve produced this handy little infographic that will hopefully shed some light on the process and reduce frustration all round!


(Note, some changes have been made to the original image which was posted on14.01.2015).

Dec 10

Julie Bindel’s Anti-Boxing Rant As Bad As Fury’s Homophobia

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Radical feminist Julie Bindel has reacted to the Tyson Fury furore with a Guardian piece as ignorant and prejudiced as the heavyweight champ’s remarks about women and gay people.


Fury, if you didn’t know already, has made a number of controversial mysoginistic and homophobic statements that have led to a recent petition, which now has over 100,000 signatories, calling him to be removed from BBC Sport’s Personality of the Year list.


Bindel claims we shouldn’t be surprised by Fury’s comments because boxing is basically evil and wrong. Let’s take a look at some of her more outrageous statements:

“Since when were boxers ever role models? The majority are railroaded into the so-called sport from massively disadvantaged backgrounds.”


This was very well countered by one of the commentators on the article, and I won’t try to improve on it:

Guardian commentator boxing role models

Guardian commentator on Bindel’s piece













“I grew up close to some Irish Traveller families where bare-knuckle boxing was encouraged as soon as the boys reached five years old.”


Kickboxing. FlickrCommons. Eric Langley.


I’m sorry, but you can’t equate modern boxing with bare knuckle fighting. Boxers wear gloves – very, very large gloves, to lessen the impact of a blow. They wear gum shields so that their teeth don’t fall out. Amateur boxers wear headguards. Kickboxers add foot pads and shin guards. There are rules to safeguard the combatants.



“The ultimate aim in a boxing match is to inflict a blow to the head and render the opponent unconscious. Violence is endemic to this sport.”

No arguing with the fact that boxing is violent. But the ultimate aim of all boxing matches is not to render the opponent unconscious. In pro-boxing and MMA, okay, you’ll win a fight sooner that way. But in amateur boxing and other full-contact martial arts it’s all about points scoring. Did I mention the protective gear?

Amateur martial arts are actually safer than rugby, as I discovered when I decided to try out this ‘middle-class’-dominated sport.

Rugby Injury

Rugby Injury. FlickrCommons. Colin Howley.

I never came out of rugby training without numerous bruises and at least one strained muscle. Recovery time was a minimum of two to three days. Nobody wore headguards despite repeated blows to the head endured as a result of tackles. The risks of concussion are high, and rugby has been slow to introduce adequate safeguarding in its rules. Recent tragic deaths have emphasised the urgent need to address the issue.

On the other hand, during my many years as a martial artist, the most serious injury I have suffered was a pulled hamstring. That wasn’t even in combat. I was stupidly trying to throw a kick too high for my range. I also got winded a few times, a nasty experience that happily lasts just a few minutes. I did not pummel my opponent into the ground in a vindictive rage afterwards. I learnt to defend better instead.

“Whether we enjoy watching it or not, boxing exploits working class people, is dangerous, and it celebrates violence and individual competitiveness.”

What stupid fools working class people must be, to offer themselves up as sacrificial lambs for the entertainment of their wealthy overlords.

This is anti-working class prejudice disguised as its opposite and is immensely patronising.

And anyone who has a clue about combat sports knows they the attract middle classes in proportional numbers. The various gyms I have trained at in Ireland and the UK at least 40% of those training were “middle class”. One of those gyms was in East London.

“don’t expect those we exploit in such a way to have been on many equality and diversity training courses.”

Only homophobic, misogynistic men are attracted to violent sports?

Has she heard of British Boxer, Nicola Adams? Or, turning to the UFC, of US MMA fighter Liz Carmouche?

Liz Carmouche vs Ronda Rousey, UFC

Liz Carmouche wearing her rainbow gumshield vs Ronda Rousey

Both female and LGBT. They also come across as incredibly nice people.



“If your job is to knock somebody unconscious, it’s unlikely that they have been raised to think that solving an argument with their fists is wrong.”

If Bindel had ever stepped inside a combat sports gym, she would know that one of the first things you are taught is self-control and respect for others. Combat sports also build self-discipline and self-confidence. They’re fun. They provide a safe space to channel aggressive feelings.

Of course, this whole piece all boils down to Bindel’s crusade against male violence.

Uncontrolled violence against either men or women, inflicted in order to threaten and control, is terrible and wrong. But combat sports are governed by rules – because they are sports, not wars or street fights. Bindel could do with going on a few equality and diversity courses herself.

The worst thing about it all, though, is that this demonstration of ignorance and prejudice just gives feminists a bad name.

Christmas traditions around the world
Dec 03

5 Christmas Gifts for Language Nerds

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

(Featured Image: Christmas in La Candelaria, Bogotá, Columbia. FlickrCommons, photo by Liz.)



December has descended, the scent of pine needles and mince pies fills the air, and merry-making has spread across the land…

Meanwhile, people  are banging their heads against shop windows in despair.


If someone on your list is a language nerd, though, help is at hand! Here’s a list of 5 gift ideas for wordy people:


  1. The Oatmeal Grammar Posters. The Oatmeal is possibly the funniest comic writer on the internet, and his grammar posters live up to his reputation. Particularly useful for those who never quite got the hang of semicolons or figured out to whom ‘whom’ actually refers.
Grammar poster

How and why to use ‘whom’ in a sentence














2) I Love Baking My Cat and Leaving Out Commas Mug. I love cats, baking, commas, and tea, so this one is a winner for me. The design also comes on prints and t-shirts.

Grammar, leaving out commas

I Love Baking My Cat and Leaving Out Commas












3) USB Typewriter Keyboard. Too clunky to fit in my bag, but so geekily amazing that I had to include it. It will reassure people who don’t know how they ended up in the 21st Century.

Typewriters for 21st Century Linguists

USB Typewriter Keyboard














  1. Rosetta Stone iPad Mini Case. Yes, it’s kitsch. But it’s also kind of great.
Linguist Rosetta stone ipad mini case

Rosette Stone ipad mini case












  1. “Speak Italian. The Fine Art of the Gesture”, by Bruno Munar. Understand what Italians are really saying with their hands! This quirky handbook of Italian gestures was first published in 1958 by renowned Milanese artist and graphic designer Bruno Munar. It’s full of charming black-and-white photos and wry captions that evoke an Italy of days gone by. This is a bilingual edition that will please speakers and non-speakers of Italian alike.
Language, italian hand signals

Speak Italian. The Fine Art of the Gesture.

















Come across any other geeky Christmas gifts? Share them below!

International Translation Day 2015
Oct 08

International Translation Day – Translator Training and Employability

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Last Friday, I went to my very first International Translator Day event at the British Library, organised by the Free Word Centre. While the various sessions I attended were all excellent and informative, I’m going to limit myself here to the seminar on Translator Training and Employability. It was led by Rosaline Harvey and Ruth Martin of the Emerging Translators Network, as well as Amanda Hopkinson, Visiting Professor in Literary Translation at City University.

A lot of the talk centred on how well MA courses are preparing future translators for the jobs market. Plenty of positives emerged, but many in the audience also thought that MAs in the UK tend to focus too much on translation theory and not enough on actual practice. The other common gripe was that there is very little, if no, training on the business aspects of being a translator. Graduate translators go out in the world without essential business skills, such as negotiation techniques, how to find clients, how to communicate professionally, or how to write an invoice and file your tax returns.

The counter-argument is that it’s impossible to fit everything into an MA, and there was a suggestion that MAs might include extra, optional modules that would focus on currently neglected business aspects.

This could work. Personally, when it comes to MAs, I think the best solution is to have two, very distinct types of degrees.

1) Degrees which are more academic and literary, focussing on translation theory and literary translation to prepare those who are thinking about going on to do a PhD, or who want to work exclusively in academic or literary translation.

2) Degrees which are more practice oriented, with modules on business skills and rigorous training in specialized commercial areas such as technical translation, legal translation, and medical translation, etc. UCL’s MSc in Specialized Translation is a good example.

This touches on another complaint by students: the lack of clarity in MA programme descriptors. Many students enroll on MA programmes, unaware that they will mostly study translation theory and/or be working almost exclusively on literary texts. This creates disillusionment, frustration and, of course, a sense that many thousands of pounds have been wasted. As one attendee said, it was galling to spend around £6,000 on a Masters, and then fork out another £300 plus to take part in the ITI’s training course on how to become a freelance translator. (However, that course did come recommended!).

My own gripe is that there is a lack of courses for people who are not interested in doing an MA for various reasons. For me, it is because I already have a PhD in Languages and I feel I really have spent enough time studying at university. There is also the sad fact that books, while eminently wonderful, are no good to eat.

However, I am very keen on professional development, and I’m planning to enroll on an online Localisation course at UCL’s Centre for Translation Studies the next time it starts. In a parallel world, I might have done computer science and become a games programmer, and I don’t know how many times I have googled programming degrees oriented towards this. I eventually concluded that this ship had long ago sailed and that I was quite content in my own linguistic boat. But now that there’s a possibility we might sail together, I’m getting excited.

Finally, for anyone who can’t afford an ITI course, I can recommend two excellent books and one blog on which will provide you with a lot of the business nous required: Chris Durban’s The Prosperous Translator, and Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator (slightly more US focussed). Corinne’s blog, Thoughts on Translation, is also a great source of information and discussion.

Finally, check out the posts written by other ITD attendees:

A great round-up of the whole event by  Kristen Gehrman.

Thoughts on the self-publishing seminar by Rachel Ward and Tina Tenneberg.

Other related musings by Lesley Lawn and Saskia Vogel.

Sep 29

The Secret to a Powerful Author Brand | Kristen Lamb’s Blog

By Eloise McInerney | Uncategorized

Kristen Lamb’s blog is always an interesting read. As a new blogger, I found this one to be pretty eye-opening. Now I just need to try out some of her tricks…

The Secret to a Powerful Author Brand

Original Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Anurag Agnihotri

Last time we talked a little about our author brand and why, these days, our brand is almost as important as the books we write. It is an awesome time to be a writer, but also a scary one. Why can’t it be like the good old days when all we had to do was write the book? Because that world no longer exists and, frankly, it wasn’t all that great to begin with. Granted, in the pre-digital publishing

we authors didn’t need to tweet or blog or be on-line, but it was also a world with a 93% failure rate. According to the Book Expo of America, as late as 2006, 93% of all books (traditionally and non-traditionally published) sold less than a 1000 copies. Only one out of ten traditionally published authors would ever see a second book in print.


These days, anyone can be published. This is good and bad and we can talk about that another time. But with more titles than ever before and bookstores becoming an endangered species? Our brand is our lifeline. Whether we decide to self-publish or traditionally publish is a business decision only we can make, but we still must have a viable author brand if we hope to sell books.

Source: The Secret to a Powerful Author Brand | Kristen Lamb’s Blog