April Fool's Day Across the Globe

For one day a year, it is widely recognised and socially acceptable to be silly and play tricks on one another. In a tradition that dates back to the times of the Ancient Romans, pranking has evolved from slipping salt into tea instead of sugar to huge international companies fooling nations with their “newest inventions” (such as the PlayStation Flow) or latest “breaking news”.

As part of our mission to break down language barriers, we thought it would be a good idea to share some April Fool’s day traditions from across the globe. They say knowledge is power and the question is, will you use this knowledge wisely to avoid pranksters or will you become the prankster?


A straight-faced nation gets permission to be silly on the first of April every year. In England, you have until midday to play your tricks on your friends. I remember April Fool’s being especially fun when I was a child as we would add special “sugar” to our Dad’s tea which reacted in such a way that it would foam out of the cup. But it’s not just children that get involved as you have to be careful what you watch on the news on this particular day. 

One of Britain’s most famous pranks on the nation was pulled in 1957 when a BBC documentary was made on Spaghetti farming. The documentary showed a family in Switzerland growing spaghetti on ‘spaghetti trees’ and people even wrote to ask how they could grow their own spaghetti!


The French have a slightly more innocent trick to play on one another as they celebrate Poisson d’Avril (April Fish). The clue is in the name as children make a paper fish and stick it to their friend's back. They then have to run away and scream "Poisson d'Avril!", letting everyone within hearing distance know that they have just successfully pulled a prank. 


If you happen to be in Portugal this April Fool's, be very weary of passersby who appear to be concealing something in their hands. Chances are it is going to be a handful of flour as the Portuguese celebrate 'Dia da Mentira' by throwing some flour in a poor, unsuspecting friend's face. 


India have  a tradition that is similar to Portugal's as they blow colourful powder at people to celebrate April Fool's day. Just as messy as Portugal, but in true Indian style, very colourful. Indian companies have pulled their nation's collective leg on more than one occasion but take a look at this advert for a new smartphone app that can kill mosquitoes - after all, there's an app for everything, right?


The Swedes also love to have some fun on the 1st of April each year and much like the French, they have a short rhyme to say at the end of their pranks: “April, april din dumma sill, jag kan lura dig vart jag vill” (April, April you silly herring, I can fool you anywhere I want to). 

One of the most famous Swedish pranks pulled was in 1962 before the days of colour TV. The nation was told in a news bulletin that new software had been installed on their television sets and all they had to do was pull a nylon stocking over it to watch in colour. 

Turns out Sweden love their jokes so much that if you fail to trick someone on the 1st of April, you can try again on the 1st of May shouting “Maj, maj måne jag kan lura dig till Skåne” (May, May moon, I can trick you to Skåne) instead!

So there we go, some fun facts about April Fool's day in different cultures. I myself was perfectly fooled a few years ago as I tried to find an interesting article about Spanish festivals for homework. I came across an article on the internet about a fish and chip festival and thought I had struck gold. I even printed it out and started planning my presentation before I realised it was published on the 1st of April!

How do you celebrate April Fool's Day in your country? Or what is the best prank you have seen? We would love to hear from you!

Finally, if you're planning an office prank this year perhaps you should take some tips from the master of tricks Jim Halpert.

Katie Lovell

The adventure of the translation of names in Don Quixote

Quixote; Iribu - iribuilustracion.blogspot.com 
400 years after the death of Cervantes, his immortal Knight of the Sorrowful Countenance trouble continues to for translators and editors (transmitters of cultures and literatures in the world), when faced with the precious treasure of Cervantine place and personal names. In this important 2016 anniversary, we continue to argue about whether the proper names should be translated ... or not.

We want to take advantage of this year that is full of events in honour of Cervantes, and also pay our small tribute to this great master of language that gave so much importance to the invention of proper names and their meanings:

       ¨ ... and it seemed to him that neither the Bucéfalo de Alejandro nor Babieca el del Cid equalled him.Four days were spent on thinking what name to choose..."
       ¨ ... and so, after many names that he formed, erased and removed, added, unmade , and remade in his memory and imagination, he finally came to call him Rocinante, his name seemed high, resonant and meaningful "
       Once named, a name he was most pleased with, he decided to choose one for himself, and in this thought he spent eight days, and afterwards he came to be called Don Quixote

Those are the giants translators have to face, to convert into their language this motley crowd of names of characters and places in Don Quixote. The fantastic inventions of extraordinary semantic and symbolic value, converted into windmills for conscious and meticulous translators.

We invite our readers from all corners of the world to share the translation of the 10 most powerful names of Don Quixote (second most translated book in the world):

1.            Caballero de la Triste Figura
2.            Caballero de la Ardiente Espada
3.            Caraculiabro
4.            Alifanfarón, señor de la grande isla Trapobana
5.            Miaulina, hija del duque Alfeñiquén de Algarve
6.            Brandabarbarán de Boliche, señor de las tres Arabias
7.            Pentapolín del Arremangado Brazo
8.            La doncella Placerdemivida
9.            Quirieleison de Moltalbán
10.          Espartafilardo del bosque (Rastreamisuerte)

Now we're really in the thick of it!

Manuel José González - Guest blogger
Katie Lovell - Translator

La aventura de la traducción de los nombres propios del Quijote

El Quijote -Iribu - iribuilustracion.blogspot.com
Transcurridos 400 años de la muerte de Cervantes, su inmortal ¨caballero de la triste figura¨ continúa trayendo de cabeza a traductores y editores (transmisores de culturas y literaturas por el mundo), a la hora de encontrarse con el valiosísimo tesoro de topónimos y antróponimos cervantinos. En este señalado aniversario de 2016, continuamos discutiendo sobre la si deben traducirse...o no los nombres propios.

Queremos aprovechar nosotros este año lleno de eventos en homenaje a Cervantes, y rendir también nuestro pequeño tributo a este gran maestro del lenguaje que tanta importancia otorgaba a la invención de los nombres propios y a su significado:

  • ¨...y le pareció´ que ni el Bucéfalo de Alejandro ni Babieca el del Cid con él se igualaban. Cuatro días se le pasaron en imaginar qué nombre le pondría...¨
  • ¨...y así, después de muchos nombres que formó, borró y quitó, añadió, deshizo y tornó a hacer en su memoria e imaginación, al fin le vino a llamar Rocinante, nombre a su parecer alto, sonoro y significativo ¨
  • ¨Puesto nombre, y tan a su gusto, a su caballo quiso ponérselo a él mismo, y en este pensamiento duró otros ocho días, y al cabo se vino a llamar Quijote¨

Gigantes a los que tiene que enfrentarse el traductor, para trasladar a su lengua esta variopinta multitud de nombres de personajes y lugares del Quijote. Las invenciones fantásticas de carga semántica y valor simbólico extraordinarios, convertidos en molinos de viento para traductores conscientes y meticulosos.

Invitamos a nuestros lectores de todos los rincones del mundo a que nos transmitan la traducción de los 10 nombres más impactantes del Quijote (segundo libro más traducido del mundo):

  1. Caballero de la Triste Figura
  2. Caballero de la Ardiente Espada
  3. Caraculiabro
  4. Alifanfarón, señor de la grande isla Trapobana
  5. Miaulina, hija del duque Alfeñiquén de Algarve
  6. Brandabarbarán de Boliche, señor de las tres Arabias
  7. Pentapolín del Arremangado Brazo
  8. La doncella Placerdemivida
  9. Quirieleison de Moltalbán
  10. Espartafilardo del bosque (Rastreamisuerte)

Esto si que es meterse en camisa de once varas!

Manuel José González - Guest blogger