Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

Who knew there were so many ways to tell the time?

No Comments » Written on August 6th, 2012 by
Categories: The World
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Telling the time would seem the most natural thing no matter where in the world we are. We all know we need to adjust our watches to the new time zone in a foreign country, but who knew that the way the time is told in other countries was different?

In English speaking countries, the 12-hour system with a.m. and p.m. is used in spoken and written communications, however in many European countries, such as France and Spain, it is much more common to use the 24-hour clock. In the West, time is measured in hours, half hours and quarter hours, dividing the clock up into 12 parts, one for each hour. In Germany, they adopt the same system, however when they say “Halb Sieben” (half seven), what they actually mean is not “half past seven” but “half way to seven”, what we would call half past six. In Southern Germany and Austria, they take this structure even further and say “Dreiviertel Sieben” which literally translates as “three quarters seven”, meaning “three quarters of the way to seven”, i.e. “6.45”.

If this wasn’t confusing enough, in the Middle East time is measured in hours, thirds and two thirds. So for westerners dividing an hour into quarters seems the most logical way, but for people in the Middle East saying “a third past 10”, meaning 10:20, is the norm.

In the Far East, in places such as Thailand, the time system moves even further away from what we are accustomed to.  They divide the day into four blocks of six hours. The first block of their day starts at 7 a.m. which in Thai literally translates as “hour morning, therefore 8 a.m. is said as “two hour morning”, and so on and so forth. Each block uses a time phrase to differentiate between morning, afternoon, evening and night time, however for night time, they use the word “strike” or “hit”, coming from when a gong was struck every hour during the night.

African countries near the equator use a time system called “Swahili time”.  The 12-hour clock is used, but instead of the cycle starting at 12 a.m., it starts at 6 a.m. This means that the first hour of the day in Swahili time is actually 7 a.m. in western time.

So, if you are making an appointment with a native speaker somewhere else in the world, make sure you know which time system you’re both using!

Melissa, London

Telling the time in different countries

Buy an IKEA bed and have it away in Thailand.

3 comments Written on June 13th, 2012 by
Categories: Thailand
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The IKEA Redalen bed, on sale in the global furniture retailer’s recently opened Bangkok superstore, is apparently a lot more seductive in Thailand than Sweden – Redalen sounding suspiciously like a word meaning advanced foreplay. Presumably, the bed can be bought in a job lot with the Jättabra plant pot, which appears to offer seventh heaven into the bargain. Bewildered Thais could not be blamed for attempting to invoke the local version of our Trade Description Act on discovering the products were not, after all, vested with mysterious aphrodisiac powers.

Product names getting lost in translation is an increasing problem for companies as the whole world becomes a potential market. Some other recent corkers:

The Mitsubishi Pajero: the car company noticed too late that pajero means “wanker” in Spanish. It was later renamed Montero.

When Sharwood’s spent millions of pounds launching a new curry sauce in 2003 called Bundh, the firm was deluged with calls from Punjabi speakers who said the new offering sounded like their word for “backside.”

In China, Microsoft’s search engine Bing sounds like “illness” or “pancake” when spoken in local dialects. Microsoft executives expertly changed the search engine’s Chinese name to biying, which also referred to a longer Chinese expression ‘you qui bi ying’, roughly meaning “Seek and Ye Shall Find.”

IKEA’s solution to the problem has been to employ a team of local Thai translators who purge the furniture names of stressful double entendres.

By Stuart Smith, The Politics of Marketing. To see original article, click here.