Alpha Omega Blog

The Four Most Important Languages of Israel

Israel is one of the youngest countries in the in the Middle East. It is a haven for persecuted Jews, and has developed into a strong military power. Its population is made up of a variety of ethnicities, most of whom practice Judaism, but does include other religious groups. Israel and Palestine have been in conflict since Israel was declared a sovereign state after World War II. The stances the Israeli government holds about Palestine and some other countries has stirred controversy over the years.

Given that about 75% of the population is originally from somewhere else, it’s no wonder there would be a great amount of linguistic diversity in Israel. In July of 2018, Israel posted a controversial “nation-state” law. Among other things, this law declared Hebrew as the “official language” of Israel and downgraded Arabic, to a language with “special status.” As with many laws and regulations related to language, this law has both political and commercial implications.

The four most common languages spoken in Israel are:

1. Hebrew

Being the language of Judaism, it makes sense that in a self-proclaimed Jewish state, Hebrew would be at least one of the official languages. It is used for official purposes from government to education and even court sessions. Hebrew is a required language in Arabic schools from the third grade on, and in Israeli schools students have to pass a Hebrew language exam to matriculate. Besides Israel, there aren’t any other countries with Hebrew as more than a minority language. Israeli immigrants may have brought it to some communities, but mostly it remains a liturgical language outside of the country.

2. Arabic

Although Arabic is no longer an “official” language in Israel,  it is still widely spoken by Israeli citizens of Arab descent. Arabic speakers make up 20% of the population of Israel, although most are also fluent in Hebrew. Beginning around the year 2000, it became common to see Arabic on road signs, labels for food, and in any government messages. It is unclear what effect the new law will have on signs and paperwork. Those wishing to do business in Israel are still advised to translate documents into both Hebrew and Arabic.

3. English

Thanks to British colonization, English used to be one of the official languages of what would become the independent state of Israel, but this changed after 1948. Now, English has no real official status, but it is the most common language in the arena of foreign exchange and relations with other countries. Most Israelis can speak it fairly well, as it is a required second language for students in both Hebrew and Arabic schools. Israelis who travel tend to have very high levels of English, which makes it easier for them to get around.

4. Russian

This might be a surprising language to find on this particular list, but the truth is that Russian is the one non-official language that is spoken by highest number of people in Israel. There was a time of mass immigration from the USSR by Russian Jews, who make up a good portion of the Jewish population of Israel. In fact, about 20% or more of Israelis can speak Russian fluently, which gives you an idea of how often you might hear it in Israel. Many businesses, and the government as well, make sure to provide information in Russian, and there is even an Israeli TV channel in Russian.

Other languages commonly spoken in Israel include Yiddish and French.

For an overview of our translation expertise, visit our technical translation service page.

Word Count Inconsistencies

Counting words, characters, and/or lines is a crucial subject for clients as it is the foundation for pricing translations. However, if you have been relying exclusively on the Word Count feature in Microsoft Word to get the word count of your document, you may get a much lower word count than actually translated. Different word processing programs and translation tools often produce different word count values for the same document. Sometimes those differences can be quite significant. They are due to the use of different rules for counting as well as deficiencies in the applications themselves.

If you have been using the Word Count feature in Microsoft Word to check the word count, you have received a lower word count as Microsoft Word does not count comments, headers, footers, embedded objects and files, and—most importantly—text boxes. If a file has been run through an Optical Character Recognition program, these programs tend to create a lot of text boxes. Word does not count the words in text boxes, and yet they need to be translated, proofread, and edited.

The same problem exists with Excel and PowerPoint. PowerPoint does not count embedded Excel spreadsheets. PowerPoint also does not offer character counts, which means translators in languages that rely on character counts should consider using a third party counting tool for this reason.

There is also a problem with version consistency. Every version of Word, PowerPoint, etc. has different rules regarding words and word count. PowerPoint 97 and 2000 are not consistent with the Word counting rules. For example, they count hyphenated words as two words. Fortunately  PowerPoint XP corrects this difference. In plain text, this means that two different users with different PowerPoint versions may disagree about the word count on the same document. So if clients contest the quoted word count, the reason may be because the client is using a different version of Word, PowerPoint, etc.

In our comparison of counting tools, PractiCount and Total Assistant came out the clear winners. PractiCount is easy to use due to its tabbed interface and adjustable settings, and it can also generate invoices. PractiCount can count footers, headers, text boxes, inserted Excel and PowerPoint documents, comments, WordArt and more. Total Assistant can produce a word count of multiple files in just two steps and counts unfriendly formats such as PowerPoint and Adobe Acrobat. Total Assistant is a more basic but also cheaper program than PractiCount.

Some of the available word count tools are AnyCount (which comes with Translation Office 3000 or can be purchased as a stand-alone tool), TextCount, and FreeBudget.

The translation of a document can have many complexities. The most important factor when quoting a file will always be the total number of words that a file has. Therefore, it is essential to be absolutely precise about the word count of a file, since there is no room for differences. Any differences in the amount of words can lead to differences in the amount owed.

A common problem that usually arises when analyzing a file is the word count for manuals in MS Word. In general, these technical manuals are documents that include several image files, designs, graphics, etc., that make the manual itself heavier than normal. Generally, these are very large files (sometimes exceeding 50 MB), which make the task of analyzing very difficult using basic tools mentioned above.

In these cases, it is quite common, when analyzing the file using word count from Word, for the client to note that the manual has a certain amount of words. However, when quoting, translation agencies analyze files with professional tools such as Trados, memoq, etc. and the difference between the initial count when analyzed in Word is substantial. For example, a Word file that shows a count of 30,000 words, may have a word count that exceeds 100,000 in Trados or memoq. This may be due to several factors: hidden text that Trados , problems with tags, with images.

To make sure your document is being translated with the correct word count, make sure to work with a professional translating service equipped with the correct translation tools.

Translating the Language of Love

scrabble titles showing love to illustrate love languageThe language of love is universal … or so we’ve been told. The truth is that just like any topic, translating romantic sayings from one language to another is not as easy as translating individual words. Romance and love, and the ideas around romance and love are very culturally specific, and therefore so is the language.

Many languages have phrases about love or romance that only exist in their language. For example, in Tshiluba, a language spoken in DR Congo, the word ilunga has been described as the most difficult word to translate. It is commonly understood to mean a person who will accept poor treatment once, tolerate it twice, but never put up with it three times. It is almost impossible for someone who is not a part of that culture to understand why the word would even exist. In Hindi, the word viraag means the emotional pain of being separated from a loved one. This is a common feeling around the world, but not a feeling that all languages specifically name.

Here are some fun hard-to-translate romantic phrases:

Language Phrase Meaning Literal Translation
Spanish Media Naranje My other half, my partner Half an orange
Turkish Kara sevde Intense, passionate love Black love
French Mon petit chou Sweetie, loved one My little cabbage
Portuguese Juntar as panelas To move in together To combine pans
Hebrew Chatich/Chaticha An attractive person A piece of something
Spanish Que mono How cute How monkey
Hungarian Házisárkány Bad spouse, but used ironically to refer to “your other half” similar to jokingly calling someone your “ball and chain” Home Dragon
Japanese Koi no yakan Different than love at first sight, this is a feeling that you will eventually fall in love with this person Love’s premonition
Arabic Ya’aburnee A declaration of love that means you hope you die before the other person because you can’t live without them. You bury me

Sayings around the end of a relationship can also be difficult to translate. In Dutch, the phrase een knipperlicht relatie describes an on again-off again relationship. The literal translation though is “a cut light relationship.” In Italian a cavoli riscaldati is a relationship that you try to start up again, maybe one you want to turn into een knipperlicht relatie. The literal Italian translation is “reheated cabbage.”

We can laugh at these various phrases until we start to think about how hard to translate some of our own favorite sayings are. Bae has come to mean lover, but it’s a shortened version of “baby,” which is itself an odd phrase for a romantic partner. Literally translated breaking up might not indicate the end of a relationship as much as a serious physical injury.

Valentine’s Day may turn our thoughts to the language of love, but looking at some of these more interesting and difficult to translate phrases is an important reminder that translation is not just a literal act, it requires an understanding of, and sensitivity to, culture. That’s why although the course of true love may never run smooth, your translation needs should. At Alpha Omega we have over 25 years of translation and localization experience, meaning that we know how to translate your documents in a way that makes not just literal sense, but cultural sense, too. Let us know how we can help you.

The eLearning Trend Means More Work for Translators

By 2020 the global corporate eLearning market it projected to reach an approximate revenue of $31 billion. That figure does not include other likely eLearning outlets such as higher education and primary and secondary school education. According to the eLearning industry, eLearning is growing in five main areas: education, healthcare, information technology, retail and ecommerce, and construction. Construction may surprise you as an outlet for eLearning, but there is a growing need for engineers and contractors to be able to access and assess information quickly.

What does the growth of eLearning mean for translators? It means more work.

Most non-academic eLearning programs are developed for workplace training. As companies become more international, and remote workplaces become more common, eLearning as a way of conducting even basic employee training is becoming more common. Employee training is definitely not an area where companies want to leave things to chance and rely on amateur translators. Compliance laws, international laws, local laws, and technical language all require professional translation services in order to be effective. For companies branching out to more remote areas either as employers or as service providers, localization services are incredibly important.

Companies wishing to take advantage of the possibilities that eLearning presents would be wise to consider professional translation services as a way of saving time and money, while reducing employee turnover. Many companies already view eLearning as a cost-saving technique. Remote learning reduces travel and trainer costs and makes regular updates to course content (based on new systems, guidelines, or laws) more cost effective. Developing a high-quality training course and then translating and localizing it is clearly a more cost-efficient approach than developing multiple courses and sending the courses, and instructors around the world. Having courses properly and professionally translated also saves time and money over relying on untrained employees to do the translation. Making sure that your training materials are easy to access and understand in the employee’s language of choice may help reduce employee turnover, as employees will feel more confident about their work.

While most of the eLearning translation work will come from large multinationals, smaller companies would also do well to consider developing eLearning materials, and having the materials professionally translated. Remote work and training can help smaller companies who wish to recruit in remote locations or those with a niche business that may require translation into less common languages.

As the trend towards eLearning continues to grow, it only makes sense that companies make sure all of their materials are appropriately translated. At Alpha Omega we specialize in both technical and business needs, making us a perfect fit for your eLearning translation needs.

Machine Translation Still Needs People

The worlds of international commerce, research and collaboration require translation services. It would be difficult for an international or multi-national company or research facility to hire expert linguists they need in order to conduct business and so the most common way of getting translation done is to go through a translation agency. However, for the past several years, there has been an ongoing trend towards reliance on machine translation. The evolution of machine translation has been quick and impressive. This summer, the CEO of a translation service told Forbes that within the next one to three years he expected machine translation to handle 50% of the current work in the translation industry.

Although machine translation is improving, and may be able to replace some of the current translation work, it will never replace the need for a human translator for a very simple reason, machines do not understand culture. Machines do word to word translation. If you’ve ever typed a word into Google Translate, or even used a dictionary, you know that simply being able to look up the meaning of a word is not the same thing as understanding a language or a sentence. Slang, idioms and even names vary not just from language to language but within a language or culture as well. Words and idioms also vary due to context, something a machine cannot understand. If your mother tells you to “shut the front door,” she probably means that you left the door open. However, if a teenager tells you to “shut the front door,” they mean that they’re surprised by what you just said. In some parts of the United States, if someone tells you that you “left the barn door open,” they mean you left a barn door open and a horse is getting out, in other places they mean that the zipper on your pants is undone. None of these differences would be understandable by a machine.

In addition to machines not understanding culture, they also fail to understand context. Even a relatively simple sentence such as “Before he left the house, the baseball pitcher left the pitcher of water on the left side of the room” could become nonsense when run through a machine translation service. Part of understanding the context of a word or a sentence is understanding the tone in which the sentence was written. Every piece of writing has a style and tone. Translating a document includes capturing that tone and style. Because a machine can’t tell the difference between academic writing, poetic writing, and humorous writing, a machine will never be able to fully translate a document. Due to regional accents, speech issues, and quixotic language usage, live translations and transcripts are even more difficult for machines.

It’s true that machine translations are becoming more efficient and the quality of the translations produced is becoming better. However, humans are still needed. After a machine creates a translation, there have to be copyeditors and proofreaders to ensure that the translation is grammatically correct and comprehensible and a human translator is still needed to localize the piece and enhance it for the target audience. As machine translation services improve, human translators will be able to use them more and more to supplement and improve their own work, but given that works are written for people by people, removing humans from the translation of the work would be foolish.

At Alpha Omega Translations we’ve been combining the best of technology and people for over 20 years. Let us help you with your machine and human translation needs.

Protecting Intellectual Property with Patent Translation Services

Congratulations! You’ve navigated the application and approval process of a utility, design, or plant patent through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). We know how hard it was to get this patent. Wouldn’t it be horrible if it was all for nothing? As difficult as it was to achieve your patent, a US patent is fairly meaningless in other countries where you may conduct business. If you’re competing and doing business in other countries, patent translation services are critical for protecting your valuable intellectual capital in each and every country where you conduct business. Not protecting your patent in other countries could result not just in a loss of income, but in the loss of your patent rights in that country.

In the past, the only way to secure foreign patent protection was to have legal representation in every country where intellectual property protection was needed. This was a difficult, costly process with many opportunities for error. More recently, the Internet has created a way for patent translation services to be streamlined with easy access to the subject matter expertise required for international patents.

If you’re interested in international patent translations the following websites may be of interest:


International Law Research Guides

World Intellectual Property Organization

Keep in mind though that the fact that patent translations can be done online does not eliminate the need for a skilled patent translator, such as Alpha Omega Translations.

Benefits of Alpha Omega’s 20 years of Patent Translation Service Experience


It’s hard for anyone to be an expert in everything. If researching Patent Translations doesn’t seem like a good use of your time, consider using Alpha Omega Translations instead. Alpha Omega Translations has the subject matter expertise to translate patents in all scientific domains in all major languages. We have been translating patent material in over 220 foreign languages for over two decades. Whether the intellectual property that you’re bringing to international markets is in medical, engineering, information technology, electronic, biotech or any other domain, we have experience.

Some examples of our recent and rewarding patent translation services include:

  • Translation of hundreds of thousands of words for French language patents related to research on vaccine for a law firm
  • Translation of a 20,000-word Chinese chemical patent for the USPTO in one week
  • Translation of Japanese patents into English, over 35,000 words in one week, for a patent law firm
  • Translation of a 325-page chemical patent application from English into Spanish, French and Arabic for a patent attorney
  • Translation of 90,000 words of French patents and related documentation in ten days for an opposition filing for a major IP law firm.


Patent translations are one of our primary specialties and represent our single largest type of document translated. With more than 50 clients for whom we provide patent translation services on a daily basis, including top patent law firms, IP search companies and the USPTO, we are a leading provider of patent translations.

Not only are our translators skilled in the complexity of legal languages and terminology, they also have industry-specific knowledge in fields including medical, mechanical, chemical, electronic, and information technology. This allows us to offer patent translation services that go beyond the scope of general legal terminology to include the intricacies and statutory requirements of foreign legal and cultural systems.

If you have patent translation needs, contact us today.

Please see our full list of our available legal translation services, including patents and other intellectual property needs.

Legal Translation Needs in the Global Marketplace

With the growth of Internet connectivity, the ability to conduct business in the global marketplace is more accessible than ever before. This accessibility also opens opportunities for new types of risks and the demand for multilingual translation in legal departments and law firms is on the rise. Global law firms and international companies require specialized support from outside expertise to meet their needs with complete accuracy and fast results.

In today’s multinational business environment, corporations are increasingly exposed to foreign legal transactions or litigation. To be successful, your legal team along with other participating members of the judicial system must clearly understand the primary documentation and supporting materials.

In these situations, the translated legal documents and correspondence must be a perfect match of the originals in intent and all salient aspects.

At Alpha Omega Translations, our legal translators have mastered the language of the law – domestic and foreign – to guarantee judicious interpretation of the original records and effective legal translation. In-depth knowledge and understanding of the differences of the legal systems of the countries involved and cultures impacting them are a critical piece of legal translation.

Not only are our translators skilled in the complexity of legal languages and terminology, they also have industry-specific knowledge. This allows us to offer legal translation services that go beyond the scope of general legal terminology to include the intricacies and statutory requirements of foreign legal and cultural systems.

We have provided superior legal translation expertise to the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, The Office of the Federal Public Defender, law firms, legal departments of corporations, international organizations and more.

Alpha Omega Translations provides the following professional legal translation services in over 220 foreign languages:

  • International Litigation
  • Dispute Resolution
  • Intellectual Property
  • Patents
  • Anti-trust matters
  • Competition Law matters
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • International arbitration
  • Criminal investigations
  • Compliance


Our clients rely on us for completely accurate document review, translation, editing and proofreading in over 220 languages including:

  • Interpretation for depositions
  • Litigation support
  • Patent litigation exhibits
  • Financial documents
  • Court transcripts
  • Acts of law
  • Witness statements
  • Summons and complaints
  • Evidentiary and financial documents
  • Judicial proceedings
  • Foreign statutes
  • Legal contracts
  • Depositions
  • Transcriptions
  • Expert opinions
  • Codes of conduct
  • Anti-bribery and anti-corruption policies
  • Judicial transcripts and statutes

For more information about Alpha Omega Translations, please visit our

Translation and Localization of Your Tech for Global Business Expansion

Give Your Product Global Reach

The technology and connectivity available today gives companies limitless opportunities to become relevant and competitive in the global market. More and more commonly, companies are outsourcing translation and localization of their software, websites, mobile applications and other technical content in order to expand their international footprint. As technology continues to rapidly advance, so does the need for expertise in the specific technology and also in the language native to the market you are planning to enter.

Translation of your company’s software, applications and other technical branding into the native language of that market is critical, however, the localization process also involves adapting the product to the new international market for cultural relevancy.

Why is Localization Critical?

You have become an expert at conducting business in the United States and now you’re ready to take things to the next level. It should be fairly simple to have your software or mobile applications translated into whatever language is appropriate for your next target market, right? Well, sure. However, that is only part of the story. Each country has their own way of doing business – formal, relaxed, strict, spontaneous, etc. Whatever your current business culture is, it may not align so easily in another country. In the worst-case scenario, your brand could be viewed as unprofessional or impossible to understand. This does not help you reach your goal of becoming competitive in that new market and could possibly tarnish the way your brand is perceived before you even had a chance to begin.

Important Localization Considerations

There are so many nuances between cultures that only an expert native in both the language and culture along with the specific technology for your product would be able to successfully reposition your brand in the new market. Some critical areas of consideration for localization of software, mobile applications or other technical products are:

  • Localizing Layout and Site Navigation – Translation often impacts layout requiring more or less room and considerations for right to left, top to bottom and which pages are available are critical when localizing software and mobile applications.
  • Adapting Pictures to the Audience – Cultural messages can be particularly misconstrued or understood in pictures. Unknowingly or intentionally portraying negative connotations, humor, irritating or offending viewers in new markets must be strongly considered. Images should be carefully reviewed and potentially replaced based on each new market.
  • Localizing Symbols – Symbols, like pictures, can cause unforeseen issues with localization. Western symbols can mean different things to each international audience and the messages they convey in each target international market are potentially serious. Fingers, houses and animals often need to be modified. Other issues result from more obvious areas such as time and date display, units of measurement, currency, numbering systems, fonts and more. Symbols are a critical component of localization of software and mobile applications.
  • Adapting Colors to Cultures – Proper color choices can also have an impact on the user acceptance and avoid hidden meaning for software or mobile application products in other countries. Avoiding subtle and no-so-subtle meanings are important considerations.
  • Brand Names – How the brand name of a software product translates into each country’s language and how it is interpreted by potential customers is important. The software or mobile application may require a new name for each international market.

Localizing software products for multiple international markets is highly complex and requires specialized expertize beyond traditional translation services. Alpha Omega Translations is uniquely positioned to provide the expertise necessary to manage software and other technical translation and localization projects. Alpha Omega can translate and localize your software into any major European, Asian, Middle Eastern, African, or Latin American language.

Whether your company is in the development stages of a software or mobile application product that will have global reach or simply entering the international market with an existing product securing expertise in translation and localization is vital to launch success in each new market. Alpha Omega Translations can provide specialized expertise to adapt software and mobile applications to launch in any market.

For more information on Alpha Omega’s software translation and localization services, visit