Leap Day Around the World

The Father of Leap Year, Roman dictator Julius Caesar added one day in 46 B.C.E. that would occur every four years, to make up for the gaps in time between the ancient Roman calendar’s lunar and solar calendars. Ever since Caesar’s decree, most of us today use this calendar system. As with any event that occurs just once every four years, many cultures around the world have come up with their own special ways to celebrate Leap Day.

Women propose first

According to legend, one day in Ireland, St. Brigid took issue with the fact that women had to wait for men to propose to them. St. Patrick allowed one day every four years for women to propose to their men first. This is said to balance out traditional marriage roles, much as Leap Day balances out the calendar.

Bachelors’ Day

Going “hand-in-hand” with the tradition above, Leap Day is commemorated in some European countries as Bachelors’ Day. According to tradition, if a man refuses a woman’s marriage proposal on a Leap Day, he must buy her 12 pairs of gloves. This is supposedly so a woman can conceal the fact that she doesn’t have a ring on her finger!

Solar Calendars

It isn’t just the Gregorian calendar that uses leap years! The modern Iranian calendar uses a 33-year cycle solar calendar with 8 leap days throughout. As the Iranian calendar begins each year on the vernal equinox as observed from Tehran and Kabul, this actually makes the Iranian calendar much more accurate than the Gregorian.

Anthony, New Mexico/Texas

The bordering twin cities of Anthony, NM and Anthony, TX (which are now incorporated into Anthony, TX) is considered the Leap Year Capital of the World. In 1988, local resident and ‘Leapling’ Mary-Ann Brown began a Leap Day celebration, complete with a Worldwide Leap Year Birthday Club. Since 1988, over 400 ‘Leaplings’ have been invited to the Birthday Club, and members from all over the world have flown out to Anthony to celebrate this special birthday holiday at the Leap Year Capital!

New rule on U.S. visa eligibility could prevent Afghan translators from refuge

In September 2015, the U.S. Congress voted and passed a rule change that would require interpreters seeking U.S. visas to give two years of service – increased from the original one year. For Afghan translators who have interpreted for the U.S. military and are applying for visas, this rule change could mean that they are no longer eligible to receive an American visa.

The rule change works retroactively, even for interpreters who submitted their visa application months – even years before the rule was passed. Advocates estimate that this retroactive change will affect over 3,000 Afghan veteran interpreters under threat from the Taliban.

Many of these interpreters volunteered with the U.S. military on dangerous missions, often unarmed and without any body armor. For these interpreters, a U.S. visa would protect them and their families. One veteran interpreter and visa applicant, who worked with the U.S. military for over seven years, received multiple letters of recommendation and certificates from military officials, dating his length of service for the U.S. military and praising his bravery and dedication.

Unfortunately, in 2014 the U.S. embassy in Kabul rejected his visa, citing “insufficient length of employment” and claiming that he failed to satisfy the retroactively applied two-year requirement.

Advocates for veteran interpreters say that the new rule change furthers complications in an already-inefficient system.

Attorneys are now working hard on these cases to give qualified and eligible Afghan interpreters the opportunity to seek refuge in the United States.

The History of ‘Thank You’ Around the World

January is not only the start of a new year, but it’s also recognized as National Thank You Month. How did English speakers get the phrase “thank you?” According to Merriam-Webster, the first known use of “thanks” occurred before the 12th century, but it didn’t exactly translate to “gratitude” back then.

The word “thank” stems from the Latin word tongēre. The root tong- means “think.” Loosely translated, the expression might read “I will remember what you have done for me.” However, English is not the only language where “thank you” derives from Latin roots.

In Spanish, the word gracias means “thank you” and derives from the Latin phrase, gratias agere, which means “to express thanks.” In Italian, grazie is used to say “thank you” and it also derives from gratias agere. Although there are similarities between English and Spanish, French has a different origin for its phrase of gratitude.

Merci derives from the Latin word mercēs, which translates to “wages, fee, or price.” However, the modern use of merci comes from the Old French meaning of the word mercit which means “reward, gift, kindness, grace, and pity.” The Old French meaning of merci is where the English word, “mercy,” derives from.

In Japanese, ありがとう (Arigatou) is the phrase used to say “thanks.” It is derived from the word, arigatashi. We can break the word down into Aru, meaning “to exist,” and katai, meaning “difficult.” Japanese-speakers would use this phrase to mean “extremely uncommon” and “rare and precious.”

Even though the language of “thank you” dates back hundreds of years ago, the concept of gratitude has always been a piece of human interaction. The fact that nearly every language today embodies the idea of thanking someone is incredible and goes to show how human communication can survive across different cultures and times.

Today, take the time to say “thank you” to anyone and everyone who deserves gratitude. Whether it’s in English, Mandarin, or sign language— show your appreciation for those around you. Need help translating or interpreting your message? Call Access 2 Interpreters for your needs. We speak your language!

Celebrating Access 2 Interpreters’ 10 Year Anniversary!

This month, Access 2 Interpreters is celebrating our tenth corporate anniversary! We are so thankful to our devoted staff and our loyal clients who have supported us over the past decade. A lot has happened since Access 2 Interpreters opened our doors for business.

CEO and Founder of A2I, Yana Schottenstein, started this company ten years ago with a goal to fill the language gap in many companies’ daily operations. From providing face-to-face interpretation services to document translation, Access 2 Interpreters uses the professional lingual expertise of over 400 employees and contractors to serve the local central Ohio region.

Access 2 Interpreters offers tele-interpretation services in over 180 languages, face-to-face interpretation in over 70 languages locally, and written translation services all across the globe.

A2I also offers in-house and external education via our uniquely developed Access Academy. The Access Academy fills an important role in professionally training interpreters in the National Code of Ethics, as well as procedure and specialty training for interpreters working in professional fields such as healthcare or law. A2I’s training seminars help corporate clients acclimate to working with interpreters in the field or in the office, and allow our clients to use their interpreters effectively.

It is incredible that we have been able to grow this much as a business in just ten short years. Access 2 Interpreters moved into a larger, centrally located office on South High Street in downtown Columbus, with plenty of room for our expanded staff and services!

This business started with a vision of filling a community’s need, and now over 10 years later, we are a leading interpretation and translation company in Ohio, dismantling local and global language barriers.

Thank you so much to our employees and clients, and we are eager to continue working with all of you for an even brighter, more successful future!

5 Fascinating Facts about Language in the United States

Language is such an important part of our everyday life, and many people in the United States come from widely diverse language backgrounds. Two thirds of all English speakers in the world live in the United States, but we also have the fifth largest Spanish speaking population in the world. Here are some interesting facts about our country and the languages that we speak.

The United States does not have an official language

Although 80 percent of Americans speak English, the United States does not have an official language. The Continental Congress did not declare an official language when creating the laws of the United States. This was due to the vast amount of languages that were spoken in the States at the time. Many settlers spoke Dutch, Spanish, French and German, but there were also thousands of Native American languages. Since then, the linguistic landscape of America has remained widely diverse, and there is still no official language.

The United States has more Spanish speakers than Spain

Our country is the home to the second largest Spanish speaking population in a country, with 52.6 million people Spanish speakers living in the U.S. according to a report from Instituto Cervantes. The Spanish-speaking population of the United States has grown 210 percent since 1980, and according to the report and U.S. Census data, by 2050, the United States will surpass Mexico with the most Spanish speakers at 132.8 million people.

California is a hotspot for different languages

According to the 2011 U.S. Census, California is home to about 15 million people who do not speak English at home. This adds up to about 5 percent of the United States’ population alone! Spanish is the most popular non-English language in California with around 10 million speakers, and there are also a lot of Asian languages that are well represented in the state.

According to the U.S. Census, about 3,375,028 people who primarily speak Asian languages live in California. The most popular Asian language used in California is Tagalog, a native language of the Philippines. Filipinos account for over 1.5 million of the state’s population.

French is still growing in the United States

Some people may assume that because French is not as popular in schools anymore, it is not used as much as it once was. Contrary to this belief, over 1.3 million people speak French in the United States, which is a 28 percent increase since 1980. Most Francophone communities are located in areas near French Canada, such as Northeast Maine. Louisiana is an exception to this because many people in rural Louisiana speak Cajun, a dialect of French, that has been passed down from generation to generation since the French controlled Louisiana back before the United States bought the territory in 1803.

Arabic is a growing language in the United States

Nearly a million people speak Arabic in the United States now, and the population has grown nearly four times since 1980. A large number of American Arabic speakers live in the Detroit Metropolitan area, specifically Dearborn, which accounts for 30 percent of its population of Arab descent. The growth of Arabic speakers in Michigan originated with Henry Ford’s famous invention. People immigrated from the Middle East during the early 20th century to work in Ford’s auto factories, thus bringing the Arabic language and culture to Michigan and the United States!

Why I Chose a Career in Interpretation

Interpretation is a massive growing career field in the American economy. With the rapid development of globalized business and the flourishing non-English speaking population here at home, interpreters and translators are more in demand than ever before.

In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that from 2012 to 2022, careers in interpretation and translation were projected to grow 46 percent – that’s much faster than the average growth rate for all occupations, which is 11 percent. As an interpreter, your work can take you anywhere from the hospital ICU to Silicon Valley.

When I first arrived in the United States, I spoke English, but I was nervous to speak with the airport staff and couldn’t ask for a bottle of water for my then 9-year old daughter. Even with my doctorate in linguistics from St. Petersburg University, the language and cultural barrier was difficult to overcome. For emigrants without a formal background in the English language, the language barrier is nearly impossible without the help of an interpreter.

This was when I realized that there was a massive opportunity for business here. According to the 2012 U.S. Census, about 43% of the foreign-born population who live in the U.S. reported that they spoke English less than ‘very well’, while about 13% did not speak English at all. There is a significant market of individuals who require interpretation and translation services, right here in our community.

As I had experienced the challenges of moving to another country, I wanted to provide access to basic services for others within my community. Necessities like understanding your doctor or being able to find a job, hinge upon having good English-speaking skills.

I established my interpretation and translation services business, Access 2 Interpreters, in Columbus, Ohio to provide certified, professional interpreters to non-English speaking people. Prior to interpreter regulations and requirements, the Ohio judicial system depended on bringing in bilingual speakers with no formal interpretation training – in fact, a 2006 survey of these interpreters showed that many had never received any formal training in court interpretation. This meant that in some cases, non-English speaking parties were receiving fragmented, and even completely false information.

To combat this issue, Access 2 Interpreters began a preparation course for legal interpreters, which fully certifies and trains interpreters in a specific field. Today, the Access Academy provides training for the healthcare, social services, and business fields, and many more areas of interpretation.

With the digital age expanding our offices, translation and interpretation services are becoming more and more vital to a business’ survival. Tele-interpretation services are often used to facilitate international conference calls, so branch managers from different countries can communicate efficiently and without room for misunderstanding.

Interpretation spans across a vast range of work. From opening up local resources to the individual, to facilitating a vital business meeting for a Fortune 500 company, interpreters connect the world around us.

Native vs Non-Native Conversation Habits

People Talking


If you have ever tried learning a new language and practiced with a native speaker, you are probably familiar with some of the unique habits that come up between native and non-native linguists.

One of the best components of learning new languages is the interaction with native speakers. You may have noticed some of these interesting conversation habits that come up when you and a conversation partner get together.

Non-native speakers tend to use perfect grammar

The first thing you learn in a new language is the basic construct of grammar. You start by practicing the language with the perfect tense and put subjects and objects exactly where they belong. It takes a lot of practice and immersion to learn a language’s natural slang and casual abbreviations – and it’s a bit of a learning curve to understand native speakers on the street.

Where a native might say something like “You gonna be there tonight?” A non-native speaker might say the more grammatically correct “Are you going to be at the dinner tonight?”

Native speakers have common euphemisms

Euphemisms are used in language to soften a difficult topic. For example, in U.S. English, animal euthanasia is rarely referred to as “euthanizing the dog”, but instead as “putting the dog down”. Particularly in the English language, some euphemisms are so commonly used that they have become accepted as the default term.

Non-native speakers find themselves surrounded by new, unfamiliar euphemisms all the time, and it can be an interesting challenge to learning which euphemistic sayings are appropriate in a setting.

Non-native speakers unintentionally mimic accents

Accent mimicry is one of those annoying quirks about learning a new language that also serves as a fun party trick. Learning how to speak a new language is all about listening to native speakers and trying to copy how they speak, down to the intonation. You become very skilled in mimicking native speakers, and this talent may take over even when you aren’t trying to mimic others.

At one international language conference hosted in English, a native Chinese speaker was chatting with someone from France, who naturally spoke French-accented English. By the end of the day, the Chinese speaker found herself speaking English in a French accent, because she couldn’t turn off her listening skills!

Native speakers talk quickly

When you are a native speaker, it becomes easy to blend words together and speak very quickly, because you are used to other native speakers being able to understand you. Native speakers may take this skill for granted, and forget to pace themselves to be understood when they are around non-native speakers.

You should be careful to not patronize a non-native speaker, and don’t “dumb down” the conversation for their sake – but be patient and willing to take a learning moment from your dialogue together.

Non-native speakers are unable to tune out

Much of the language-learning process is in attentive listening. When you get accustomed to a new language, you have to strain to listen and make sure you are hearing all the important parts of a sentence, because you don’t have the advantage of native speaking skills to help you fill in the blanks when you miss pieces of a conversation.

Unfortunately, this means that when you are using a new language, you lose the ‘cocktail-party effect’, or the ability to tune out background noise and just hone in on your speaking partner. This can be a unique challenge if you are traveling overseas and want to visit a crowded venue with locals!

What You Can Learn from Being an Interpreter

Portrait Of Young Muslim Businesswoman

What You Can Learn from Being an Interpreter

Have you ever wondered what your job might be like if you were a professional interpreter?

Many people in the interpretation field have varying experiences and different aspects of the job that they love. We gathered some insight from seven language interpreters from all over the world, and they had a few unique experiences to share about their interpretation career.

They shared a few lessons that they got from interpreting. Here are a few things you might learn if you decide to become an interpreter yourself!

You learn to adapt quickly

When you are working as an interpreter, you have to be quick on your feet. It is one thing to speak two languages, but quite another to be an expert in cultural context. If someone who you’re interpreting for uses an idiom, you have to be able to shift that phrase over to another language that may not have an equivalent saying.

Furthermore, if a speaker’s voice fluctuates or if they are mumbling, you have to be able to interpret effectively. There’s no interrupting someone to ask them to repeat themselves!

You learn the lingo

With technical settings like the hospital or the courtroom, you have to go through specialized training to learn the lingo. For example, if you are a medical interpreter, on top of all the regular language learning, you also have to know a dearth of healthcare terms, and be able to interpret very accurately.

Sign language interpreters may also have to learn additional signing terms if a client uses a slightly different dialect of signing. (Did you know? From Louisiana to New York, ASL signers can have different ‘accents’.)

You learn to work in pairs

Interpreting is hard work. You often work with at least one other fellow interpreter and switch off every half-hour or so, because it takes so much mental energy to keep up with two languages simultaneously.

You and your partner will need to make sure you are comfortable with each other’s speaking styles and preferred terminology.  This is to lessen confusion on the speakers’ end. How confusing would it be if two interpreters used slightly different terms for a medical ailment?

You learn to be impartial

Perhaps the most important thing about your job as an interpreter is the impartiality. Interpreters act as ‘invisibles’, or someone that both speaking parties should essentially pretend is not even in the room! Impartiality is often one of the hardest parts of the job, many interpreters-in-training say.

If you work in the legal or medical field, you will often come across emotional situations. Keeping your body language and tone consistent is hard work, but impartiality is what makes you a successful interpreter.


Interpreting is definitely hard work, but all of the interpreters above agreed that it was a fulfilling profession. If you are looking for a job that keeps you on your feet and presents you with fresh challenges each day, then interpreting may be the right path for you. Of course, it comes with a lot of training, learning and control, but with the right skills and practice, you can become a great interpreter!

The History of American Sign Language

The History of American Sign Language

When asked to think of a language other than ‘English’, what is the first thing that comes to mind?
With so many spoken languages throughout the world, it can be easy for people to forget that “sign language” is a great response! Sign language has its own rich history and culture across many countries, and what some people may not realize is that just like spoken language, sign language in the United States is different from sign language in Russia.

American Sign Language (ASL) has its own nuances and linguistic structures, and even as you travel from Nevada to Louisiana to New York, ASL shifts among signers from different regions. New Yorkers tend to sign quicker and with sharper motions, and southerners sign with a more relaxed manner, spelling words out more often. This is called sociolinguistic variation, and goes to prove how rich the ASL dialect is in the United States.

With the history of the American spoken dialect, you might initially think that ASL takes its influence from British Sign Language. In fact, ASL stems from Old French Sign Language – a sign system created in mid-18th century France by deaf individuals. However, sign language didn’t officially make its way to America until 1814, when Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet met 9-year old Alice Cogswell, a bright girl without access to education because there were no American schools for deaf students like her.

Inspired to create an educational system for deaf children, Gallaudet traveled to Europe and found himself in Paris, where he learned a French signed language from Laurent Clerc and Jean Massieu at the Institut Royal des Sourd-Muets. Clerc accompanied Gallaudet back to America, and together, they founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut in 1817.

Another famous figure in deaf history is Laura Bridgman. Although she did not sign American Sign Language, she was the first formally educated blind and deaf woman – first taught a full 43 years before Helen Keller was even born! Bridgman’s teachers introduced her to the ASL alphabet by signing the letters into her hand, and she was able to sign back by pressing letters back into her fellow conversationalist’s hand. Her fame spread rapidly throughout America, and little girls aspired to be like her.

laura bridgman

Formalized American Sign Language is just over 200 years old, but there is so much vibrant history to this powerful language! A Columbus-based company, Access 2 Interpreters prides itself on providing reliable, 24/7 interpretation services for American Sign Language and over 189 other languages.

4 Benefits of Learning Multiple Languages

Learning a new language is a big investment. It requires time, commitment and a great deal of patience. However, learning multiple languages is an investment that pays off. Knowing more than one language enhances worldview and perception, and studies consistently show that people who speak multiple languages not only enjoy higher cognitive abilities; on average, bilinguals also earn 5 to 20% more in wages and salaries than monolinguals do.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 20.7% of Americans speak a language other than English at home. Knowing multiple languages grants a person access to many diverse cultures, and learning to appreciate other cultures can be life changing. Charlemagne once said, “To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

Here are just a few of the many benefits to learning multiple languages:

Open-mindedness and cultural appreciation

People who speak multiple languages claim their multilingualism has helped them to think about the world in different ways. When someone processes new languages and ways of thinking, they are more open-minded. Knowing another language also opens an individual up to that culture, and they can enjoy that culture’s books, music and film. One trilingual said, “Life never becomes boring, because there is more than just one language available.” As someone learns multiple languages, they can travel further, immerse themselves in local cultures, and intimately connect with global communities.

Higher cognitive development and abilities

Different languages operate using unique syntaxes and logical forms. Grammatical structure varies widely across different languages, and being able to understand complex rules sharpens one’s cognitive skills. Speaking multiple languages also improves cognitive skills unrelated to linguistics, such as problem solving, creativity and memory. The cognitive benefits of learning a second language are even greater for young children. Research shows that bilingual children perform higher in basic cognitive skills in elementary school, and score higher on SATs as compared to their monolingual peers.

Ability to learn other languages easily

A study at the University of Haifa reported that bilinguals find it easier to learn a third language, because fluency in two languages boosts the skills needed to learn a third language. Prof. Abu-Rabia explained, “[Languages] reinforce one another, and provide tools to strengthen phonologic, morphologic and syntactic skills.” The study also revealed that in an English proficiency test, bilingual students who spoke Russian and Hebrew scored 13-35% higher than students who knew only Hebrew. Learning a third language also improves one’s understanding and skills in previously learned languages.

Job marketability in globalizing business

The world is globalizing more each day, and corporations are seeking tomorrow’s leaders. One out of three corporations in the U.S. are owned or based overseas. Employers value fluent multilingual employees, because they can communicate with overseas subsidiaries and partners. A University of Guelph study showed that even if employees do not speak their second language at work, on average they still earn more than monolinguals do. Prof. Christofides stated, “Second-language skills may indicate those individuals are stronger in unmeasured labor market characteristics such as ability, cognition, perseverance and quality education.”

Learning multiple languages is extremely challenging, but the benefits and rewards that follow are life-long. After mastering a new language, it is important to continue exercising and speaking the language daily, as the benefits of multilingualism can fade away without diligent practice.

Access 2 Interpreters understands the difficulty of learning a new language, and provides top-notch interpretation and translation services to lower language barriers.