The Symbols of Green in Different Cultures

Today is the day to pull all the green you own out of your wardrobe to show off your best St. Patrick’s Day spirit (or to avoid getting pinched). But, as linguists, we are always thinking about how aspects of culture are interpreted around the world. What effect does the color green have in other societies? What is the significance of this color around the world?


Beautifully nicknamed, “The Emerald Isle” by poet William Drennan, green holds an important symbolic meaning for Ireland, not only for its glorious green countryside but also for St. Patrick. The holiday and the color both have a spiritual significance in the country.

Western (except Ireland)

In Western cultures, green symbolizes luck, money, and jealousy. On St. Patty’s day, it also usually means pub-hopping.

Latin America

Though South America is known for its rich forests, green usually symbolizes death. In Mexico, green is associated with independence since it is one of the main colors on the country’s flag.

Muslim World

Green is very important to Islamic cultures because it was supposedly the prophet Muhammed’s favorite color. The flags of Iran and Saudi Arabia include the color. It can also symbolize respect, which causes it to be held to a high honor.


In Asian cultures, green usually symbolizes eternity, wealth, fertility and sometimes, infidelity! If a man is wearing a green hat in China, it means his wife has cheated on him! Ironically, the jade stone in China also represents virtue. In Japan, green represents eternity and vitality, while in places like Indonesia, the color used to be banned.

So if you’re planning to use the color green in your next global communication campaign, make sure the color is in line with the message you are willing to share with your target audience. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to ask us!

Is it Time to Break Up with your Translation Provider?

It’s Valentine’s Day again . . . but before you get caught up in all the hearts and flowers, take a step back and think about what’s working (or not working) in your relationship with your translation provider. Just like any relationship, there are a few key factors to consider. If your provider is lacking any of these, it may be time to break up.

1. Trust. “A relationship without trust is like a car without gas: you can stay in it all you want, but it won’t go anywhere . . .” —Michael J. Herbert

Trust is possibly the most important element in any relationship, even the one with your translation service. You are trusting them with material you have invested a lot of time in and you don’t want them to weaken the quality of your work. Of course, it takes a lot of time and effort to build this trust, so if your translation provider doesn’t put in the necessary work, it might be time to call it quits.

2. Timing. “The right thing at the wrong time is the wrong thing.” —Joshua Harris

Would you want a significant other who is always late? Of course not. Having good timing in both relationships and translation helps build a strong foundation. You need someone who is there for you when you ask them to be. You have important deadlines, and your translation provider should respect them. If they’re always late with their work, it might be time to walk away.

3. Avoid embarrassing mistakes! “Do not be embarrassed by your failures; learn from them and start again.” —Richard Branson

When you take your significant other out on dates to show them off or to meet your friends and family, you don’t want them embarrassing themselves—and you! Just like it’s important that they have good manners and can carry themselves in public, your translations should be attractive to your target audience. If not, it could be embarrassing for you and your company.

4. Don’t settle. “Always know the difference between what you’re getting and what you deserve.” —Unknown

Finding a good partner is hard work, ; so is finding a translation provider.But don’t stay in an unhappy relationship to avoid dealing with the uncertainty of a new partner. Move on! Finding a new translation provider may seem a little scary, but your perfect match is out there waiting for you.

Before you make a serious commitment to your translation provider, take some time to consider these components. If you are looking for a good relationship, take a look at our clients’ testimonials. JPD Systems has never been through a bad breakup!

Connecting Worlds: The Importance of Translation in International Development

Little research has been conducted on the intersect between language and international development so far. However, given the fact that cultural understanding plays a crucial role in international development, such intersection is worth exploring. Faced with this phenomenon, here are three examples of the importance of translation in international development with a particular focus on the connection between the principal actors in this field.

First, the use of translation plays a vital role in fostering collaboration among multilateral funding organizations. Today’s development challenges – including climate change, food security, trade, and migration – are complicated and interconnected, which puts forward higher requirements on multilateral organizations to collaborate with each other in the pursuit of global development. The response to the Ebola pandemic provides an excellent example of this trend, where the mobilization of $285 million to support the three countries that were hit the hardest by the crisis was contingent on the French translation of a 28,000-word document.

Translation also plays an instrumental role in fostering exchanges between international aid organizations and the recipients of aid. According to UNESCO, “as demonstrated by the failure of individual projects underway since the 1970s, development is not synonymous with economic growth alone. It is a means to achieve a more satisfactory intellectual, emotional, moral and spiritual existence. As such, development is inseparable from culture”. Given this new paradigm, the use of translation has become critical in ensuring the success of project implementation.

Lastly, as shown by the recent growth of the nonprofit Translators without Borders, multilingual communication has become an essential element of the humanitarian response. In addition to facilitating necessary information sharing between actors on the ground, the use of translation has become a critical tool for data gathering from social media sources during times of crisis. For example, during the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, the development of a platform designed to enable the crowdsourced translation from Haitian-Creole to English and geo-location of incoming text messages reporting affected areas played a key role in launching a crisis map of the country.

From securing multilateral aid, to responding to a crisis, translation is playing an increasingly significant role in helping international development actors overcome key challenges. As our world is becoming more interconnected, it is safe to predict this year’s International Translation Day theme will hold true for many years to come.