Protected: Santa Claus and Sinterklaas

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

The other day I came across one of my direct mail letters about Santa Claus and Sinterklaas which I wrote a couple of years ago. Did you realize that Santa Claus is actually a morphed version of Sinterklaas?  Since the story is a fascinating one, I thought I would share it with you.Or so the story goes. Dutch settlers brought the Sinterklaas tradition to New York (US) in the 17th century. Dutch families got together every year to celebrate the anniversary of Saint Nicolas. And they spread the word. In the 19th century “Sinterklaas” or “St. A Claus” started to look more like the current Santa Claus with a white beard and a red outfit. Artists and poets embellished upon this enchanting figure. He became a happy, plump dwarf with reindeer instead of a white horse. At the end of the 1800s Santa Claus evolved into the Saint Nick we all know. It is strange to see one week a good-hearted man full of cheer at a Dutch shopping mall and the next week another one in a different outfit, when many years ago they were actually one and the same. Enjoy the holidays. Whether you celebrate Sinterklaas, Santa Claus or Father Christmas, they are all great traditions which bring us good tidings and lots of cheer.   Copyright photo: Barry Meyer,...

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Provocative punctuation marks

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

It might not have grabbed your attention, but apostrophe abuse has been in the news lately. After the results of an apostrophe survey were made public, blogs on the topic of the apostrophe surfaced once again. According to the survey carried out by IT firm SpinVox, nearly half of the 2000 UK adults tested were unable to use the apostrophe correctly. Apostrophe makes headlines Just consult a couple of English language style guides and you will see that this punctuation mark is one which causes native speakers a lot of trouble. On BBC’s Newsnight, the possibility of actually ditching the apostrophe was even discussed. Should you be toying with the idea of getting rid of the apostrophe, The Guardian’s Style Guide suggests that you take a look at the phrases below before making up your mind. my sister’s friend’s investments my sisters’ friends’ investments my sisters’ friend’s investments my sister’s friends’ investments If you look closely, you will see that each phrase has a different meaning. So one reason to keep the apostrophe is simply to avoid confusion. Although these examples are crystal clear, the rules regarding possessives continue to be disputed. Is it Stephens’s story or Stephens’ story? Semicolon sparks emotion across the other side of the ocean Hardly a runner-up, the semicolon is the other punctuation mark which continues to make headlines. Although The New York Times praised a New York City Transit public service writer for using a semicolon on a public service paperboard sign, the semicolon tends to receive negative attention. One of the most well-known examples is a court’s decision to reject a conservative group’s challenge to a statue regarding gay marriage due to the insertion of a semicolon. “A conservative group had asked the court to order the city to ‘cease and desist issuing marriage licenses to and/or solemnising marriages of same-sex couples; to show cause before the court.’ As the San Francisco Superior Court Judge James Warren explained, the word ‘or’ should have been used instead of the semicolon. ‘I am not trying to be petty here,’ he told reporters, ‘but it is a big deal… That semicolon is a big deal.’” Americans in general dislike the semicolon and avoid using it. As applied linguist Ann Keating in the article “Pause Celebre” (Financial Times) explains, “Americans see the semicolon as punctuation’s axis of evil.” Although I do not have any strong feelings about the semicolon, I often avoid using the semicolon just by rewriting copy. My New Year’s resolution, however, is to use use this punctuation mark more often! *A client of Stars & Tulips inspired me to write this web column *Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /...

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400 red and blue years

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

On the train back to Rotterdam, I leafed through a book I had been handed at the Mayor of Amsterdam’s reception celebrating the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama, called 1609, The forgotten history of Hudson, Amsterdam and New York by Geert Mak and Russell Shorto. Why this book in particular, I wondered? I flipped the book from the front to the back side only to discover that one side of the book is in Dutch and the other side is in English. I started reading it and entered the 17th century world of Amsterdam, with explorer Henry Hudson preparing for his trip to Asia. Once at sea, faced with near-mutiny, instead of heading towards the pole, he decided to change course and have his ship, the Halve Maen, sail across the Atlantic Ocean. “They encountered natives in several places, and traded with some and fought with others. They continued past Manhattan Island and on up, all the way north to present-day Albany, before realizing that the bed was narrowing and the water no longer salty. This was not the route to Asia. Hudson gave the order to turn about. They sailed back to Europe.” Years ago, during my vacation I used to stay with friends at their 18th century colonial riverside farm in Walden (New York), not far from the Hudson River. Hudson, obviously determined to find Asia, sailed right past Walden all the way to Albany (New York). It’s now easy to scroll up and down the Hudson River using Google; in those days Hudson in deciding which route to follow, relied partly upon information from his friend Captain John Smith. A couple of years before Hudson set sail, Smith had helped establish an English settlement called Jamestown in Virginia. Henry had concluded from Smiths’ letters that the channel which cut through the land mass somewhere to the north of the Jamestown colony was a path between the Atlantic and the Pacific Ocean.Unfortunately for Hudson, it wasn’t; and he never did find a short route to Asia but discovered New York instead! About twelve years later, the Dutch West India Company set up a colony called New Netherland in this area, with its capital New Amsterdam located at the southern tip of Manhattan. When I received an invitation to a “launch invite” in New York City some days later, things fell into place. This book was actually an introduction to coming events in 2009. The Netherlands Government, NYC & Company and the City of Amsterdam, recently launched a yearlong celebration of four centuries of Dutch-American friendship in New York City. If you are just as interested as Stars & Tulips is in the deep-rooted connection between the Netherlands...

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Transcreation for a successful global campaign

Posted by on Nov 19, 2013 in Blog, Featured | 0 comments

Key to a successful global campaign is transcreation. Your translations should target the specific (local) market or audience. This handy five-step guide by Dina Paglia of Acclaro Inc. explains how to use global marketing translation to achieve this goal and more . Five steps in marketing a global audience: assess your campaign and content bring on a qualified translation/localization team and be ready to work together closely (and patiently!) create a transcreation brief hand over to translation/localization agency transcreate. The author also explains how a translation can be edited and refined to truly sound as if it was written for the target market (transcreation). “A Five-Step Guide to Take Your Campaign Global” by Dina Paglia, Acclaro Inc. Copyright image: Davor...

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Fundraising and sea turtle drama

Posted by on Sep 2, 2013 in Blog, Featured, Portfolio | 0 comments

Leading US copywriter Richard Armstrong’s Sea Turtle Rescue Fund letter is one of my favorite fundraising direct-mail letters. It’s a compelling and convincing story about the plight of Florida sea turtles which unfolds on four pages. The technique used is one you don’t often see in direct-mail copywriting: drama. Armstrong describes it as a “little soap opera playing out right before your very eyes.” Read this letter (www.sofii.org/node/591) and you’ll want to donate to this fund. Written a couple of decades ago, this direct-mail letter could be mailed today and still work. It’s a classic without a shelf life. Not only would it still work, institutions involved in fundraising and grappling with the economic crisis, should consider using this approach in supporting their causes. Social media is all about connecting and conversing with people. What better way to reach and convince donators than by telling them an engaging story. Create a ”little soap opera” for your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn fans, and see what happens. By: Lesley J. Langelaar-Thomas Your English language copywriter in the Netherlands P.S. Read Richard Armstrong’s ”My First 40 Years in Junk Mail”: www.freesamplebook.com. Copyright photo, Rob...

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