Autumn 2021 Newsletter

Written by Burravoe Staff on November 1, 2021







After more than 20 years on Elwick Road, we celebrated during 2021 with the move to the prestigious surroundings of Ashford’s Old Court. Burravoe Translations was founded in 1965 as a specialist legal translation agency and so it was highly appropriate that we return to a space within a historically legal setting and next door to the police station! Located in the town centre and still just a 5-minute walk from Ashford International railway station, the physical move offered us several opportunities to assess, rebalance and refocus our business – where can Burravoe Translations gain a competitive advantage? Do we need to make a ‘digital transformation’, especially in light of the surge in remote interpreting assignments?
Answers will be revealed…

Whether over video or voice platforms, Burravoe has been able to meet the remote interpreting challenges and requests of our legal, medical and commercial clients to provide an ongoing service that has been second to none. However, just as society opens up again and face-to-face interpreting returns, we have noticed a reduction in the total number and supply of local interpreters, something that is reflected across the UK economy, and a result of both Brexit and Covid, as people have sought some security whilst in the grip of the unknown.

Our offices in The Old Court are Covid-19 secure.
If you need to visit us to deliver or collect documents, or for any other business, please now telephone us in advance on 01233 647744, or send an e-mail to:

The MENA Edition

Burravoe Translations is part of The Inkerman Group, a global business risk management company that offers a suite of intelligence and travel publications, with a particular focus is on the Middle East and North Africa.
As the news has also been dominated recently by the global movement of thousands of interpreters and translators from Afghanistan following the US-led military withdrawal, there seemed no more pertinent a theme for our latest newsletter.

There are four principal languages in the MENA region. Of these, both Arabic and Hebrew are Semitic languages while Turkish and Farsi each come from distinct family trees.

There are many loan words from Arabic in various languages of the world (think of alcohol and algebra) and while Farsi uses the same script, it is actually more closely related to English than to any of the other languages, being of Indo-European origin.

Turkish falls under the vast Turkic family of languages where there is more mutual intelligibility amongst users than perhaps with any other language family. Turkish speakers can travel through Uzbekistan, as far away as Kyrgyzstan and have some kind of conversation all the way.

Arabic – the 4th most popular language online
Arabic is spoken in more than 60 countries and is the fifth most spoken language in the world.
On the web, however, it is believed that Arabic lies only behind English, Chinese and Spanish in making up approximately 5% of all online content – and that figure is growing.
While a web presence in English will get you so far, most Arabic speakers and readers do not understand it and will not engage with it.

Websites require high-quality translations to avoid high bounce rates and to have a positive impact on a customer’s perception of your brand. Companies with a global perspective will look to permeate different markets by localising their websites down to the different varieties of Arabic, spoken in places as far apart as Algeria, Lebanon and the UAE.

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Hebrew and Turkish: Two reformed languages

Hebrew was nearly extinct 1,500 years ago. It was only during the 19th century that it was revived as an everyday language and standardised as Modern Hebrew.
Eliezer Ben‑Yehuda, born in modern-day Belarus, was a newspaper editor who wrote the first dictionaries in Modern Hebrew published in 1908 and is regarded as the “reviver” of the language. Hebrew is the only example of a natural language that had no native speakers but subsequently acquired several million.

Shortly after, the Turkish language was reformed in the early 20th century under the direction of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Firstly, the Latin alphabet was introduced to replace the traditional Arabic script. This was quickly followed by the establishment of a Turkish Language Association in 1932, which was charged with purging many loan words from Arabic and Persian and “purifying” the language.
Of the four principal languages in the MENA region, Turkish is the only one that is written left-to-right.

Babbling on?

The mythical Tower of Babel, interpreted in many ways, but often an allegory of why people who are scattered across the world cannot communicate with each other in the same language, was built in what is nowadays known as Iraq.

The origins of the word ‘babble’ have been traced as far back as the mid-13th century, but could its point of reference actually date back much further, where people talked to each other in incomprehensible languages?



Meet the Translator

Samuel has worked with Burravoe Translations since 2016.

Tell us more about yourself Samuel…
I was born in Lincolnshire but lived in the Middle East while my father was in the Air Force. I studied Arabic in school there and returned to the UK in 1993. Initially, I studied computers but discovered a translation niche in about 1994. Nowadays, I focus on translations in the legal, IT, medical and defence sectors. I was approached to do some translation for a company selling software into the Gulf, so it took around 12 months to translate the manuals, but I discovered a demand for it and it grew from there.

Do you still find translations present you with a challenge?
Yes, and I enjoy the challenge. When I started there were not so many online resources, and I have almost 200 different dictionaries in my bookcase. I always enjoyed doing research because it teaches you a lot of stuff. When you translate, you need to consider the content, the cultural compatibility and the audience for who you are writing. Covid literature, for example, needs to be simplified for the general public to understand it rather than Doctors. However, if you over-simplify things, you can easily lose direction and the audience will get a completely different picture from what it is supposed to be.
You also undertake interpreting Samuel, how did that come about, and which do you prefer?
I did the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting in 1996 and was part of the first group when the National Register was set up back then. I find public service interpreting almost humiliating now, there are no facilities sometimes, there are problems about mileage and parking not being paid, and there are different ‘levels of interpreters’. I still do some interpreting but mostly for private legal settings, depositions, statement taking, that kind of thing but I much prefer doing translations. I can work from home in a T-shirt and shorts. I have got a custom-built computer which is set up for me to avoid backache, headaches and tired eyes, and so on, and I can sit there for hours doing my work.

What about the future of translation Samuel? How are things looking?
I think it is pretty bleak at the moment. I am also a diving instructor and I am considering concentrating on that. Lots of translation work is being sent abroad as part of the drive towards globalisation and cutting costs, but there has always been the problem of quality which cannot be guaranteed.

Have you worked on any particularly memorable assignments?
I was sent a translation to review during a legal dispute involving domestic violence. A court order had been sent in Arabic to a husband who had returned to live in Morocco. Unfortunately, the Arabic translation of a “non-molestation order” was done too literally, and it opened up a new 4-month investigation in Morocco into sexual offences committed by the husband before this case could move ahead.

You become a better translator with experience, but you need to be diligent, as mistakes can be very expensive. Educate yourself on the subject matter.


Burravoe Translations set to become Inkerman Translations – watch this space.


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