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Vacancy: Copy editor for youthstart knowledge products, Home base

Vacancy: Copy editor for youthstart knowledge products, Home base | Metaglossia: The Translation World |

Copy editor for youthstart knowledge products, Home base
Closing Date: Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Location : home base Application Deadline : 23-May-12 Type of Contract : Individual Contract Post Level : International Consultant Languages Required :
English Starting Date :
(date when the selected candidate is expected to start) 01-Jun-2012
Duration of Initial Contract : Up to 30 days
UN Capital Development Fund is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries . It creates new opportunities for poor people and their communities by increasing access to microfinance and investment capital. UNCDF focuses on Africa and the poorest countries of Asia, with a special commitment to countries emerging from conflict or crisis. It provides seed capital – grants and loans – and technical support to help microfinance institutions reach more poor households and small businesses, and local governments finance the capital investments – water systems, feeder roads, schools, irrigation schemes – that will improve poor peoples’ lives. UNCDF programmes help to empower women, and are designed to catalyze larger capital flows from the private sector, national governments and development partners, for maximum impact toward the Millennium Development Goals.

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Metaglossia: The Translation World
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UN Careers - jobs in this network (Translators, Revisers, Editors, etc.)

UN Careers -  jobs in this network (Translators, Revisers, Editors, etc.) | Metaglossia: The Translation World |

Vacancies in this network: Translators, Revisers, Editors, etc.

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Cambridge Dictionaries, Playlingo Launches 'Lingopolis' Learning Game

Cambridge Dictionaries, Playlingo Launches 'Lingopolis' Learning Game | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
The Cambridge Dictionaries and Playlingo have recently launched a learning game for students who want to learn the English language better and easier than before.
"'Lingopolis' is a city-building social game that allows players to build a city by learning words as fast as they can, with bigger and better building levels unlocking as they progress," the company Playlingo said in a press release.
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Using the game, the players are expected to learn more than 1,000 common words that actually make up to 70 percent of the words in spoken English. Moreover, players of 'Lingpolis' will be provided help from the language learning experts at Cambridge Dictionaries. This way, they would not just learn faster but with a powerful memory algorithm.
However, once the player stops learning words in the city, game will 'fall in chaos and ruin'.
The game features a series of fun activities and puzzles to test whether or not the players have learned the English words and its corresponding spelling. For every completed task, players would advance and would be able to build a bigger and more complex city.
This game was made possible by the collaboration between Cambridge University Press and Playlingo, one of the world's leading English language teaching publishers and creator of social games for language learning, respectively.
"Research shows that the best students of English are those who know the most words, but learning vocabulary can often be demotivating," said Colin Mcintosh, Publisher at Cambridge University Press. Thus, Mcintosh said that once the students learn the words incorporated in the game, they will be able to get a great start in English.
Moreover, Ziad Dajani, Learning Designer at Playlingo and former teacher at Istanbul Technical University said that like Farmville or Candy Crush Saga, playing Lingopolis is not just fun and addictive but more of a cool way of learning.
For more information, visit
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Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops "Acorn" for "Broadband" - The New Yorker

Oxford Junior Dictionary Drops "Acorn" for "Broadband" - The New Yorker | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Panic at the Dictionary

In the early nineteen-sixties, a passel of newspapers and magazines mounted a cultural jihad against a dictionary. The book in question was Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, published by what was then the G. & C. Merriam Company. Its great offense was permissiveness. The Third, critics asserted, sanctioned scores of words—“finalize,” “irregardless,” “wise up,” “hepcat,” “ain’t”—without the ruler on the knuckles they deserved, labels such as “colloquial,” “erroneous,” “incorrect,” or “illiterate.” “This development is disastrous because, intentionally or unintentionally, it serves to reinforce the notion that good English is whatever is popular,” the Times fulminated in an October, 1961, editorial.

The paper wasn’t alone. “It Ain’t Right,” The New Republic declared. “A Non-Word Deluge,” Life Magazine exaggerated. “Anarchy in Language,” apocalypsed the Chicago Sun-Times. By far the longest and most thorough analysis, and the most caustic denunciation, was published by this magazine. In a March, 1962, article titled “The String Untuned,” Dwight Macdonald lambasted the science-y discipline of structural linguistics, of which the Third’s editor, Philip B. Gove, was an adherent, concluding that the new dictionary had “made a sop of the solid structure of English, and encouraged the language to eat up himself.” (Even today at The New Yorker, Webster’s Second, first published in 1934, is preferred to Webster’s Third—though Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, now in its eleventh edition, is consulted before either.)

Half a century later—chomp, chomp, chomp—it’s hard to fathom a fuss of such passion and duration kicking up over a book of definitions. Grouse about “imply” and “infer” all you want, but Gove’s descriptivist style has triumphed over Macdonald’s prescriptivist desires. It’s standard thinking, at Merriam-Webster, Inc., and other lexicographic joints, that language changes with time; that usage once considered “wrong” can become, if not exactly “right,” then at least widespread; and that the role of the dictionary is to show, not tell. (Sometimes what we think is newly bad or wrong has been around the block; “finalize” is at least a hundred and forty years old.)

But the lexicographic kerfuffle, thank goodness, isn’t dead. Instead of arriving cloaked in a schoolmarm’s petticoats, it comes now bristling with righteous, if polite, indignation over society’s continuing plunge into a digital abyss. Earlier this month, a group of writers headed (alphabetically, anyway) by the novelist Margaret Atwood told Oxford University Press that they were “profoundly alarmed” by the removal, from one of the publisher’s beginner dictionaries, of several dozen words related to nature, including “almond,” “blackberry,” “minnow,” and—think of the children!—“budgerigar.”

The deletions aren’t new. The words were expunged from editions of the Oxford Junior Dictionary published in 2007 and 2012. But dictionary makers don’t announce what they take out of their books. Sleuthing is required. Lisa Saunders, a mother of four in Northern Ireland, first noticed Oxford’s disappeared words in 2008. While helping her son with homework, she realized that “moss” and “fern” had gone AWOL. Smelling a rat—but not a “ferret,” which had been stricken—she went on to compare entries across six editions of the dictionary dating to 1978. Saunders was “completely horrified,” she told the Telegraph, to discover that, in addition to flora and fauna, religious terms such as “saint,” “chapel,” “psalm,” and “vicar” had been excommunicated.

The newspaper summoned a couple of academics to bemoan the changes. “I grieve it,” the master of a private school said solemnly, of the demise of “buttercup.” The story, naturally, spread. The Daily Mail quoted a “senior clergyman” who called the edits “depressing.” Columnists tsk-tsked. Environmentalists howled. Nuns lamented the passing of “nun.” The issue wasn’t just the removal of words reflecting a bygone pastoral Christian monarchy (“monarch”: gone). It was the sources of the words added in their apparent stead—words from technology (“blog,” “chatroom,” “database”), politics and economics (“democratic,” “euro,” “interdependent”), and modern life (“bilingual,” “dyslexic,” “bungee jumping”).

But especially technology. The critics of Oxford’s modest revisions to a small dictionary—the book in question is aimed at seven-year-olds—make a convenient reductive leap: that adding “broadband” while deleting “acorn” is a sure sign that the human race is going to the “devil” (subtracted) while holding an “MP3 player” (added). In their letter to the publisher, Atwood et al cite research showing that kids play outside less than they did a generation ago, and they assert that “obesity, anti-social behavior, friendlessness and fear are known consequences.” Let’s stipulate that this is true, and that these are disturbing trends. Who’s to blame? Parents? Schools? Video games? “The Oxford Dictionaries have a rightful authority and a leading place in cultural life,” the writers say. They write that the Junior Dictionary “should address these issues and that it should seek to help shape children’s understanding of the world, not just to mirror its trends.”

The job of the editors of the Oxford Junior Dictionary is no more to get children off of screens and into the woods than it is to reverse global warming or reform FIFA. Their job is to make an Oxford Junior Dictionary that people want to buy. One way dictionary publishers persuade people to buy their products is by updating old editions with new words in which potential customers—in this case, parents, teachers, birthday-present givers, even children themselves—might be interested, and that reflect changes in the language and the times. As a poster on a Reddit thread about the deletions noted, for someone growing up today, “acorn” is arguably a less important word than “broadband.”

And print lexicography is a zero-sum game. Space is limited. When a word goes in, another often has to come out. Dictionary editors make decisions about inclusion based on such criteria as frequency of usage and occurrence in published sources. When it comes to children’s dictionaries, an Oxford spokesman noted during the latest row, words familiar to children at particular ages, commonly misspelled words, and curricular requirements also play a role. With just ten thousand entries, the O.J.D. is a sampler for developing minds, not a comprehensive catalogue of the language; a typical college-level dictionary contains about fifteen times as many words.

So while “magpie” might not be in this particular dictionary, neither are hundreds of other outdoorsy words that children might come across and could stand to know, let alone see, touch, or smell. Even with the deletions, Oxford says that the latest edition still includes about four hundred words related to nature, from “daffodil” to “hedgehog” to “zebra.” The next age-level book, the publisher notes, contains “buttercup” (so let the grieving cease) and other words not found in the book for younger children. And the one after that holds presumably even more. Oxford would love for parents to collect them all.

The ruckus, half a century ago, over Webster’s Third was largely manufactured. Many of the words selected by critics to illustrate the linguistic decay supposedly permeating the Third could also be found in their beloved Second, published three decades earlier; they just didn’t bother looking. Today’s tempest over “turnip” is similarly trumped up. Sure, children should play outside more. Yes, many kids lead digital lives that are more cloistered and sedentary than ones lived back in the day. But the removal of a few words from a dictionary isn’t a sign of anything more than the removal of a few words from a dictionary, and the evolution of culture, like it or not. And besides, if a kid really wants to know what “acorn” means, she can still look it up. Online.
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'American Sniper's' Iraqi Interpreter Puts Claims of Kyle's Racism to Rest with Powerful Statement

'American Sniper's' Iraqi Interpreter Puts Claims of Kyle's Racism to Rest with Powerful Statement | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
On Tuesday, MSNBC foreign correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin shared his opinion on the box office smash American Sniper.

After agreeing that the film was compelling for its depiction of veterans and PTSD, Mohyeldin claimed Kyle was racist to Iraqis and went on “killing sprees” while he was deployed in the country. Mohyeldin’s comments gained so much attention they trended on Facebook.

IJReview talked with Johnny Walker, who was an Iraqi Muslim interpreter for many Navy SEALS, including Chris Kyle, about the claim that his dear friend was a racist. What he told us might just debunk those accusations.

Walker said:

“When we had a sniper mission, he would watch the targets. Then, sometimes I would go take care of something and he was never afraid that I was returning with my M4 and grenades. And not just Kyle, all the SEALs I worked with.

Kyle said I trust Johnny Walker with my life. When I came to America, I got invited to Chris’s book signing in La Jolla.

When Chris saw me at the event he left everyone and just came up to me and hugged me. Because he hadn’t seen me since 2007 and thought I could have died and had no idea where I was. After he signed the book, he was going to speak. Ten seconds into his speech, he said I am not an American hero. Johnny Walker is the American hero and then he made me stand up.

Then, he said that I saved more SEALs’ lives than him. Pointing at me, and I am an Iraqi Muslim. So how is this racist?

Sometimes I would forget to bring an MRE to a sniper mission. Chris would share his MRE and he would talk about family. If he was racist towards Muslims why would he share intimate details of his life with a Muslim? I don’t see that in any way as racist. I think the ones calling Chris Kyle racist are racists.

If you’re going to call Chris Kyle racist, then call me a racist too. At times we were on the base, Kyle would laugh with the other Iraqi soldiers and joke with them. Again, why would a racist engage in that behavior?

The insurgents had a $50,000.00 bounty on my head. Every time Chris Kyle killed an insurgent he saved my family, and the innocent Iraqi families too. Why would a racist man protect me and innocent Iraqi families?

People should be respecting and honoring him. It hurts Taya, his brother, his dad, his children, his whole family and everyone in the SEAL community when people say such things about a man like Kyle. He treated me, an Iraqi Muslim, like a brother. So everyone needs to give him the respect that he fully deserves, and finally let the man rest in peace.”
Walker’s personal insight and time spent with Kyle gives us a real glimpse into the type of man he was.
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Hawaii State Judiciary to hire court interpreters

Hawaii State Judiciary to hire court interpreters | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
The Hawaii State Judiciary is seeking individuals who speak English and another language to become court interpreters. Certified sign language interpreters are also encouraged to apply.

Applicants must attend a two-day state court interpreter orientation workshop, which will be held on each of the major islands in February and March. The deadline to apply is Feb. 13 at 4 p.m.

Orientation workshops will be held on the following dates:

Maui: Feb. 19-20
Oahu: March 14-15
Kona: March 3-4
Kauai: March 10-11
Hilo: March 19-20
Registration forms are available online here and from the Office on Equality and Access to the Courts at 808-539-4860.

The workshop registration fee is $120 and includes a resource binder.

In addition to successfully completing the orientation workshop, persons seeking to become a state court interpreter must pass a written English proficiency exam and court interpreter ethics exam and clear a criminal background check.

Court interpreters work on a freelance basis as independent contractors in cases when parties or witnesses are unable to hear, understand, speak or use English sufficiently.

Depending on their performance on written and oral exams, court interpreters are paid between $25 to $55 per hour with a two-hour minimum.
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Life is Strange se estrena sin traducción al castellano

Life is Strange se estrena sin traducción al castellano | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
El primer episodio de Life is Strange, lo nuevo de DontNod, llega esta semana a las plataformas de descargas, pero lo hace sin localización al castellano. La propuesta episódica que sucede a Remember Me no sigue así sus pasos.

El juego está disponible con voces en inglés y textos en inglés y francés, país de origen de sus creadores. Por el momento, se desconoce si tienen previsto lanzar una traducción al castellano en el futuro.

Life is Strange es una aventura de corte episódico desarrollada para ordenador y para consolas tanto de la pasada como de la actual generación. Por aquí te contamos más detalles sobre esta propuesta apadrinada por Square Enix.
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El fiscal acelera la traducción de la declaración de Ecclestone para no retrasar más el caso Valmor

El fiscal acelera la traducción de la declaración de Ecclestone para no retrasar más el caso Valmor | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
RAMÓN FERRANDO | VALENCIA El fiscal Anticorrupción Vicente Torres ha acelerado la traducción de la declaración íntegra del magnate de la Fórmula 1 Bernie Ecclestone para no retrasar más el caso Valmor. El fiscal entregó ayer por la mañana al Tribunal Superior de Justicia la transcripción de la declaración que prestó Ecclestone en Londres para que decida de una vez si imputa al exjefe del Consell Francisco Camps por los delitos de malversación y prevaricación. Vicente Torres ha recurrido a los servicios de traducción de la Fiscalía General del Estado. La reacción del fiscal se ha producido después de que el TSJ se escudara el martes en que la acusación de Camps se basaba «en gran medida» en la declaración de Ecclestone, que el fiscal ya entregó extractada en español. La decisión de la sala causó sorpresa y revela que no tiene claro qué hacer porque Anticorrupción también fundamentó buena parte de su acusación en los informes de la Intervención General del Estado y en las declaraciones que prestaron altos cargos de la Generalitat y que apuntaron a la supuesta prevaricación porque presuntamente no se respetaron los procedimientos legales.

La declaración que prestó Bernie Ecclestone en Londres el 18 de diciembre tiene siete páginas y la petición del TSJ de la traducción íntegra provocaba inicialmente un retraso de más de un mes. Fuentes jurídicas apuntaron a la posibilidad de que el TSJ solo haya intentado ganar tiempo para no entrar en el fondo del asunto porque las Corts están a punto de disolverse y con toda probabilidad Camps no va a repetir como diputado. El asunto „si finalmente prospera la querella del fiscal Anticorrupción„ pasará a los juzgados ordinarios en el momento en que Francisco Camps deje de estar aforado.

La querella de Anticorrupción también denuncia a la exconsellera de Turismo Lola Johnson y al empresario Jorge Martínez Aspar. Anticorrupción sitúa a Camps como responsable, negociador y avalista del desvío de fondos públicos. El fiscal presentó hace dos semanas un informe de 37 páginas en el que desgranaba al TSJ los «solidos indicios delictivos» que había encontrado contra Camps.
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No proofreaders in Terengganu? - The Rakyat Post

No proofreaders in Terengganu? - The Rakyat Post | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Said to be in Kuala Terengganu, the sign, discouraging people from swimming in the area, reads 'This region did not survive to bathe or swim'.
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30, 2015:
It was brought to our attention here at The Rakyat Post by a reader on an alleged signage in Terengganu which may not have been proofread prior to it being put up.
Said to be in Kuala Terengganu, the sign, discouraging people from swimming in the area, reads, “This region did not survive to bathe or swim.”
Also on the sign are the words “Arahan Datuk Bandar MBKT.” (By the orders of Kuala Terengganu mayor.)
However it is unclear if the signage is legitimate or that it is an edited picture being circulated over the internet.
If in fact the signage is real, it would be highly appropriate for the Kuala Terengganu City Council (MBKT) to engage a proofreader before commissioning signboards in the future.
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The climate affects how we SPEAK and how language evolved

The climate affects how we SPEAK and how language evolved | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
There are roughly 6,500 spoken languages in the world, but new research has revealed that the climate may have played a role how each one developed.

Scientists have found that humidity in different areas may have influenced the way languages evolved there.

They found that languages with complex tones - those that use one or more contrasting tones to give meaning to words like Cantonese - tend to occur in humid regions of the world.

This map shows the regions where languages with complex tones have developed (red dots), clustered in tropical humid areas, while those languages that do not use complex tones are marked with blue dots

Languages with simple tones, like many European languages including English, are found in drier regions - either in the colder north or in arid deserts.


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A leading linguist claims that within a century 90 per cent of languages around the world will die out.

Ever increasing globalisation, international travel and access to the the internet is expected to lead to just 600 of the current 6,500 languages surviving.

Already more than 2,000 of the languages have fewer than 1,000 speakers, with many on the verge of dying out altogether. 

Dr John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, said those languages that do survive will be less complicated than they are today - especially in the way they are spoken.

Lesser known cultures and their unique languages will struggle to survive, leaving widely spoken languages such as English and Chinese to swallow them up and in turn wipe them out. 

The researchers say that this is because inhaling dry air can dehydrate the vocal cords and make them less elastic, making it harder to produce complex tones in words.

Instead languages that evolved in dry climates tend to have imprecise pitch and varying intensity.

Most European languages are thought to originate from a common ancestral tongue called Proto-Indo-European that was spoken 6,000 years ago by people living on the relatively dry Pontic Steppe north of the Black Sea.

This dry climate may have led to the evolution of the modern non-tonal languages that exist here today, according to Dr Caleb Everett, a linguist at the University of Miami who led the research.

He said: 'It does not imply that languages are completely determined by climate, but that climate can, over the long haul, be one of the factors that helps shape languages.

'More broadly, this suggests another non-conscious way in which humans have adapted to their very different and harsh environments.'

Dr Everett and his colleagues, whose research is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined more than 3,700 languages.

They found 629 languages with complex tones, with most in tropical regions throughout Africa and Southeast Asia, but also some in humid regions of North America, Amazonia and New Guinea.

Vietnamese, being written by the Hmong schoolgirl in the image above, uses complex tones when spoken

The humid climate in Burma, shown above, is thought to make the human vocal cords more adaptable

Languages like Vietnamese, Burmese, all of the Chinese languages and most languages from Sub-Saharan Africa like Nigerian and Congolese are considered tonal.

Languages like Mongolian, Egyptian and Amdo Tibetan all developed in drier and more arid climates.

To produce speech the human vocal cords, which are a vibrating valve that chops up the airflow from the lungs, need to flex in length and tension to tune the pitch and tone.

It is also thought to be why learning a new language can be difficult at first and require the muscles that control the vocal cords to be trained to make new sounds.

If the new research is correct it would also suggest that people who live in drier climates may find it harder to make the sounds needed to pronounce words in tonal languages.

Dr Everett added: 'Also, there may be some health benefits to certain sound patterns in certain climates, but more research is needed to establish that in a satisfactory way.'

The spoken languages in China all use complex tones and are thought to have developed due to the humid climate in much of the country, particularly in the south, where the moist air helped vocal cords to be flexible
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Human dispersal and the evolution of languages show strong link, Stanford biologists find

Human dispersal and the evolution of languages show strong link, Stanford biologists find | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
In the largest comparison of genetic and linguistic data ever attempted, Stanford biologists find that features of language show a strong link to the geographic dispersal of human populations.


Geneticists have famously tracked small differences in the human genetic code to trace the evolution and spread of humans out of Africa. Languages can change more quickly than genes and are not necessarily inherited from one's parents, although linguists are able to follow similar clues to uncover how languages have changed and migrated over millennia.

Now, scientists at Stanford and other universities have combined large databases of globally distributed linguistic and genetic data, revealing in greater detail how languages might change in parallel with genes.

The results were recently published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The researchers incorporated genetic data from 246 worldwide populations with 728 phonemes from 2,082 languages. Phonemes are the minimal sound components that can distinguish meaning between two words. "To" means something different than "do," so "t" and "d" are distinct phonemes, said lead author Nicole Creanza, a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford. There are roughly 40 phonemes in the English language.

Through an advanced statistical analysis, the authors found that geographic distance was linked to both genetic and phonemic distance. On average, the closer together two languages or two genetic samples were to one another, the more similar they were, even when the languages compared were not in the same language family.

This suggests that some nearby languages may have borrowed sounds from one another even if they are not closely related.

In general, phoneme differences paired well with patterns of genetic variation on a local scale, which Creanza said might suggest a connection between historic human dispersals and patterns of linguistic variation. While the relationship between genes and geography represents a global pattern, there was a limit to the distance over which such phonemic differences corresponded to geographic distance.

"When language samples were more than 10,000 kilometers apart, the relationship between phoneme differences and geographic distance broke down," Creanza said. "Outside of that radius, two languages' locations did not give us information about how similar their sounds would be. Because languages can change quickly, we didn't know in advance how fast this signal would degrade."

Another interesting difference was that in contrast to the well-established detrimental effect of geographic isolation on genetic diversity, geographically isolated languages actually showed greater variance in their phonemes than languages with many neighbors.

The authors said that future studies could bring light to the extent to which genetic and geographic relationships can help explain phoneme evolution.

"Studies of human evolutionary history benefit from a multipronged approach and drawing on many disciplines that study the human past," said corresponding author Sohini Ramachandran of Brown University. "This study's integration of genetic data with linguistic data, and methodologies for studying the geographic distribution of variation in both data sets, highlight an integrative approach that we hope will be used by more researchers in the future."

Media Contact
Bjorn Carey, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-1944,

Nicole Creanza, Department of Biology:

Marcus Feldman, Department of Biology:
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The clime's speech: Data analysis supports prediction that human language is influenced by environmental factors

The clime's speech: Data analysis supports prediction that human language is influenced by environmental factors | Metaglossia: The Translation World |

Distribution of languages with complex tone (red dots) and without complex tone (blue dots) in the Phonotactics Database of the Australian National University (ANU) database. Darker shading on map corresponds to lower mean specific humidity …more
(—Human speech is not typically thought to adapt to the environment, and a standard assumption in linguistics is that sound systems are in fact immune to ecological effects. Recently, however, scientists at University of Miami and several Max Planck Institutes in Germany and The Netherlands have, in a single study, predicted that complex tone patterns should not evolve in arid climates by reviewing laryngology data on the negative effects of aridity on vocal cord movement, and – by analyzing climatic and phonological data on over 3,700 languages – found support for their prediction.

Specifically, the researchers identified a negative correlation between linguistic tone and characteristic rates of desiccation in ambient air. Furthermore, unlike previous studied correlating geography and phonemes, they relied on data from extensive experimental research on the human larynx – data that were until now not applied to the analysis of phonemic tonal languages. (A tonal language, such as Mandarin Chinese, uses pitch as a part of speech that can change a word's meaning.) In so doing, they were able to conclude that human language sound systems do indeed adapt to ecological factors.
Prof. Caleb Everett discussed the paper he, researcher Damián E. Blasi and Dr. Seán G. Roberts published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "In using findings from vocal fold physiology to predict that climatic factors constrain the use of phonemic tone," Everett tells, "the main challenge was simply familiarizing myself with the research on laryngology – which is not an area most linguists or anthropologists have investigated. However, once I began reading work related to vocal fold dehydration, the prediction made in our paper came about in a pretty straightforward way."
Everett points out that their hypothesis predicted that very dry environments should, over the long haul, block the development of complex tonality – but notes that they did not predict a simple association between tonality and humidity. For that reason, he adds, the initial regression-type analyses were limited, leading Blasi and Roberts to develop more nuanced ways to test the hypothesis while controlling for the relatedness of the languages in their databases. "The results clearly support our hypothesis, and suggest the distribution of languages vis-à-vis aridity was not due to, for instance, the presence of a few language families in very dry or humid regions." asked Everett if regarding the study's finding that perturbations of phonation, including increased jitter and shimmer, are associated with desiccated ambient air, if the causative factor might not be the lack of humidity itself, but perhaps a derivative effect such as higher concentrations of fine particulate matter (e.g., dust or sand) circulating in the ambient environment. "This is a great point," he replied, "and in fact particulate matter does associate with dehydration and a variety of laryngeal maladies. Nevertheless, in laboratory conditions without dust or sand simple dehydration results in vocal fold perturbation – meaning that while particulates in naturally dry air may be an additional factor, we need not appeal to them in our investigation."

Empirical cumulative distribution function for languages according to the MH of their locations, World Atlas of Linguistic Structures (WALS) sample. The bottom quartile of language locales (by MH) is shaded. Credit: Everett C, Blasi DE, …more
That said, Everett stresses that the paper is not suggesting that the evolution of sound patterns is motivated entirely or even primarily by ecological factors. "There are numerous cultural and language-internal factors that shape that evolution," he explains. "We're just suggesting – in contrast to what linguists generally assume – that ambient aridity is one of them. This latter assumption is, from my perspective, not really supported by much other than traditional dogma."
Moreover, Everett notes that despite projected climate change-induced increases in aridity (desertification), humidity (rain and flooding) and temperature (global warming), the scientists do not make claims regarding time scales at which these climate changes might impact human speech systems. "In addition, the patterns we've uncovered developed primarily before industrialization and associated changes to the environments people are in – so while global warming is leading to higher temperature, it is doing so in part because many people are often in air-conditioned environments, where humidity is relatively fixed."
Moving forward, Everett says that the scientists have discussed ways of investigating the effects of ambient air conditions on the production of tones and other sound patterns by attempting a study where the same speakers are tested in different contexts. "One option would be to contrast the abilities of a given population to produce or mimic certain linguistic tones, and then test that population under different natural conditions," he illustrates." Speakers would be given certain tone-producing tasks after they spend 24 hours in an extremely dry dessert, and conversely the same tasks after 24 hours in a humid locale. "We're still thinking this through, and hopefully experimental phoneticians will engage with the work and come up with other possibilities."
In addition, he continues, "there's a hypothesis several anthropologists have put forward that languages in warmer climates tend to have higher rates of mouth opening. Linguists are quite skeptical of this hypothesis, but I think it might be supported and have a similar physiological grounding. Basically, my hypothesis is that languages in very cold climates have higher rates of mouth closure because of the ill-effects of cold and dry air – and it seems there may be support for this hypothesis."
At the same time, he notes that in laboratory conditions, perturbation effects apply independently of temperature. "Low temperatures outside rarely change the temperature at the larynx, but they seem to be able to in the case of oral breathing."
Everett tells that other areas of research might also benefit from their study. "I would assume that, beyond linguists, at least physical anthropologists and biologists would be interested in the results, since they're concerned by the ways in which we adapt non-consciously to environments. The communication of some birds is characterized by ecological adaptability," he concludes, "so this work might also interest avian specialists and others."
Explore further: Tonal languages require humidity
More information: Climate, vocal folds, and tonal languages: Connecting the physiological and geographic dots, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published online before print January 20, 2015, doi:10.1073/pnas.1417413112
Journal reference: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

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The Fall of Language in the Age of English -

The Fall of Language in the Age of English - | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Award-winning Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura brings impeccable clarity to issues of identity and disappearing languages in contemporary language politics
By Peter Gordon


At the Jaipur Festival a year ago, Chinese novelist Guo Xiaolu decried the predominance of "Anglo-Saxon mainstream" in literature:
If you write in Japanese or Vietnamese or Portuguese you have to wait … to be translated, and translated literature never really works immediately as English literature unless it wins the Nobel or some big prize... In a way the easiest and laziest way is to write in English. What a struggle to write in any other language than English.
Minae Mizumura is an award-winning Japanese novelist who explored the issue as it relates to Japanese literature in a best-selling book, Nihongo ga horobiru toki eigo no seiki no naka de, published in 2008. Perhaps proving the point, it has only just now been released in an English translation by Mari Yoshihara and Juliet Winters Carpenter as The Fall of Language in the Age of English.
The Fall of Language is not, as it might first appear, of mere specialist interest. Although Mizumura discusses Japanese literature in some detail, her analytical framework is rigorous and wide-ranging, covering everything from Latin to Chinese. Anyone with an interest in language, linguistics, language politics (the English/Cantonese/Mandarin debate in Hong Kong, for example), literature, translation or education will find it well-worth the investment of a few hours; the book isn't very long.
The larger point of English's global linguistic dominance has been made elsewhere—by for example Nicholas Ostler's The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel. Mizumura points out, as have others, that English's dominance is no longer merely the result of the Anglo-Saxon dominance of economic and geopolitical affairs, something that might evaporate once China retakes its position as the world's largest economy. English is—and seems certain to remain—dominant because it is the language that non-English speakers use to communicate with each other. Even Chinese use English for this purpose.
English, says Mizumura, is today's "universal language."
The Fall of Language stands out not least because Mizumura approaches the issue from the perspective of a non-English speaker, albeit a multilingual one: Mizumura is literate in French as well as English. Her treatise, furthermore, is on the whole tightly reasoned and analytical yet remains entirely accessible to non-specialists.
Mizumura lays out a three-part model consisting of universal, national and local languages, each of which has a specific definition. She begins by noting that reading and writing in one's own language is relatively recent:
... during most of the 6,000-odd years since the human race discovered writing, people usually have not read and written the language they spoke. More often they read and wrote an "external language" – that is, the language of an older and greater civilization that exerted its influence in the region... These are what I call universal languages.
Europeans spoke any number of vernaculars but – until a few hundred years ago – those able to read and write for the most part did so in Latin. This situation still pertains today for the great many Chinese who may speak Cantonese or another variant of Chinese, but nevertheless read and write in the "external language" of Mandarin.
Mizumura's use of the term "universal" is not entirely felicitous. Latin was only "universal" in a relatively small part of the globe. She also notes that around the 18th century, French, German and English shared the role of "universal languages" in Europe. She means, instead, a sort of intellectual lingua franca.
A "local language" is what people actually speak, as opposed to what they read and write. These will for the most part be a dialect, although Mizumura does not make great use of the term. Prior to the early modern period, that is pretty much all there was: local languages and universal languages.
What one normally thinks of as "languages" – English, French, Chinese, etc. – Mizumura calls "national languages," for which she has a specific meaning. She links national languages to the rise of the nation-state on the one hand and the advent of commercial printing on the other.
Nation states begat national languages which in turn begat national literatures not least because these allowed a market to develop. Mizumura's main interest is prose. She notes that local languages had long been written down but mostly for poetry and drama. Prose, on the other hand, was usually reserved for a universal language until national languages came along. Russian, in her formulation, developed as a "national language" relatively late: Russian prose only really began with Pushkin in the 19th century.
The lines between national languages, as a function of the nation state, do not always (or even often) correspond to linguistic ones. Minae cites Chinese and Danish/Norwegian and touches on Ukranian, of particular topicality these days. When I was learning linguistics, an illustrative example was Hindi/Urdu, a common language divided by differing alphabets.
Mizumura's objective is not so much general theory as Japanese in particular; she includes a fascinating account of the development of written Japanese and its development from Chinese characters, the introduction of katakana and hiragana and the stylistic differences between one and the other, and the interaction between these and the post-War reforms to restrict the number of Chinese characters used in writing Japanese.
The foregoing summary perhaps presents the question as more matter-of-fact than it is. One of the more interesting aspects of The Fall of Language is that the "language" in the title refers to "written language." Teasing out the significance of this takes some effort.
Mizumura takes issue with what she claims is the assumption that "written language is a mere representation of the sounds of a spoken language." Quoting Jacques Derrida, she calls this "phonocentrism:"
Phonocentrism places higher value on spoken language as being more primary and thus superior to written language...
Whether "phonocentric" or not, it was a tenet of the linguistics I studied in the late 1970s that what mattered was the spoken language. Writing seemed a bit of an embarrassment, a sort of cultural artifact that trailed the "real" spoken form, best ignored if possible (something difficult in historical linguistics, of course). There was some grudging realization that feedback went both ways and the written form could also affect what people spoke.
But from the perspective of a theoretical understanding of language, I would still accept that view as largely correct: after all, language works perfectly well without writing.
This theoretical viewpoint has some curious counterparts in the real world of English, however. Written English – its bizarre spelling apart – is probably a language in which the written forms are the closest, and increasingly close, to actual speech. The French have to contend with the passé simple, a verb form restricted to writing, and speakers of Cantonese have to read and write what is in effect a foreign language. English is also devoid of the accents and special characters – to say nothing of ideograms – that bedevilled the development of mechanical and digital devices to produce, communicate and display written language.
Perhaps as a result, when most commentators discuss the global use of English, they do not usually draw much of a distinction between writing and speaking, treating them as different manifestations of pretty much the same thing. The idea that written languages can and do have a separate life from spoken languages is something that need hardly impinge on discussions about English.
Because written language tended not to correspond well – if at all – with what people actually spoke, it therefore involved translation and some degree of bi- or even multi-linguality. The development of national languages and national literatures however meant that one could be literate in one's own language and that would suffice:
... seekers of knowledge not only wrote texts in their own languages but also read them... It was a time of the celebration of national languages of every stripe, golden years for those languages as well as for the writers and readers of national literature.
The emergence of English as not just a new universal language but as the universal language overturned the apple cart. One's own language was no longer enough.
Mizumura is of the view that "phonocentrism" is not just obliviousness, but rather a "Western ideology" and that led to the attempts to simplify and phoneticize and even, although ultimately unsuccessfully, to romanize written Japanese.
... the introduction of Western ideology into a non-Western context often does unimagined harm... The damage inflicted on the Japanese language by postwar revisions arose because belief in the superiority of phonetic notation was in fact a mark of utopianism imported from the West... [These] mindless actions ... produced a generation increasingly estranged from its rightful literary heritage.
This is hardly unique to Japan. When Ataturk ditched the Arabic alphabet for the Latin one, "estrangement" was his objective. Uzbek switched from an Arabic script to Latin in 1928, then to Cyrillic in 1940 with Latin re-introduced upon independence in the 1990s. The arguments about the merits of traditional and simplified Chinese still rumble on and one still sees the occasional claim that the use of electronic input devices will result in the decline of Chinese characters.
The Fall of Language is structured as several interlocking essays, allowing Mizumura to develop a topic – the three-part language model, the development of Japanese writing and Japanese literature, the relationship between national languages and the novel, the global dominance of English in depth – while exploring the links between them. This very effective structure does however render the book difficult to summarize.
Mizumura includes a devastating analysis of what it means to be a writer in a language other than English—and how clueless most English-language commentators are about the issue. Works in English are automatically accessible to huge numbers of literate people worldwide, a number probably larger and certainly more widely dispersed than any other language. English-speaking scientists and economists, for example, do not need to be bilingual, something practically de rigueur for everyone else.
This trend is, she argues, deleterious to literature as well:
... in the age of English we face the possibility that, depending on how people treat their national languages, some countries' literatures may witness a gradual fall. What was once a national language may be reduced to nothing more than a local language; a national literature to nothing more than a local literature that no discriminating person takes seriously.
It is not difficult to identify writers that have abandoned writing in their original language for English; very few go the other way, so few that practitioners are often treated as exotic. One is reminded of Samuel Johnson's remark about an activity being "like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."
Mizumura claims that Japanese literature has declined. I am not competent to judge, but this is the sort of thing that is said with considerable regularity about every national literature and literature in general. Mizumura at least provides some concrete analysis and explanations. And what goes for Japanese goes for French, she says, and in spades, therefore, for everyone else whose literatures circulate even less.
Is she convincing? Her analysis and descriptions of the processes underway are rigorous and enlightening; English-language readers rarely get well-articulated views on this subject from those whose perspective derives from other languages. Will the result be a decline in literature and—by extension—intellectual diversity? This sort of thing is very hard to measure at the time; it may be several decades before one really knows. However, if maximizing circulation were the driving goal of all writers, we wouldn't have poets. The literary quality of writing doesn't seem particularly well correlated to outside factors.
Along the way to this perhaps and hopefully disputable conclusion, Mizumura journeys down some fascinating byways. Here is a succinct discussion of literary translation:
As the novel continued to evolve, works became more difficult to translate... Writers began to quote from, allude to, and parody the "texts to read" written in the same national language ... and play them off against one another; they also exploited the peculiarities of their own language through dialects and wordplay. The untranslatability that had been more or less characteristic of poetry all along began to extend to novels as well...
Among the plethora of reactions to her book when it first came out in Japanese, note the translators in their Introduction, were those that called Mizumura "privileged," "an elitist" and "reactionary," epithets that in some contexts might be worn as badges of honor. But one might be forgiven for suspecting that Mizumura might be a bit of a snob. "I myself cannot imagine," she writes reading Pride and Prejudice in French with the same pleasure that I find when reading it in English, or reading Le Rouge et le noir in English with the same pleasure I find when reading it in French.
The Fall of Language is best when Mizumura sticks to an impersonal development of her thesis. The book opens with an account of her sojourn at the International Writing Program in Iowa and a subsequent chapter (entitled "From Par Avion to Via Air Mail: The Fall of French," leaving the reader in no doubt of the point she's making) about a lecture she gave in Paris. The purpose is to set up the discussion of national languages, and above all, writing in national languages, but instead one learns more than one needs to about her personal peeves and medical history. Mizumura's treatise stands on its own; the personal anecdotes are unnecessary.
One should not be put off by the first two chapters: from the third chapter on, this book is a cracker.
Peter Gordon is editor of The Asian Review of Books.
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Season 5 Game of Thrones trailer leaked but no new book in 2015

Season 5 Game of Thrones trailer leaked but no new book in 2015 | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
If you aren’t already hyperventilating with the excitement of seeing two episodes of the Game of Thrones television show on an IMAX screen, how about the full trailer for the upcoming fifth season, debuting in April?

Caveat: the quality is less than sterling but that’s never kept the Internet from devouring every shred of Game of Thrones it can get its grubby hands on. Here it is, in all its creaky, hand-held cam glory, via io9.
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Webster's Dictionary Deletes the Word 'Literally,' Blames Joe Biden

Webster's Dictionary Deletes the Word 'Literally,' Blames Joe Biden | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
NEW YORK— The editors at Merriam-Webster have confirmed that "literally" will no longer appear in future editions of the company's family of dictionaries, saying that the word has been so abused by Vice President Joe Biden that it must now be "extirpated from the language and smited into the black oblivion."

"Our decision had nothing to do with politics," says Kevin Webster, the president of Merriam-Webster and a great-grandson of the famed lexicographer Noah. "We had simply seen the word misused by Mr. Biden so often that we finally felt fed up. Disgusted, you could say. Appalled. Scandalized. Sorry…I've been working on our thesaurus all week."

Biden has become quite well known in linguistic circles for his broad interpretation of the word "literally," which, strictly speaking, means the opposite of "figuratively" or "metaphorically." For instance, last October the vice president told a crowd at a campaign rally that "Republicans literally mix the tears of poor children into their morning mimosas." Only a few weeks ago, Biden was picked up on a hot mic during a ceremonial dinner telling the prime minister of Japan that, "I'm not very hunrgy because I had — literally — 45 million chicken wings for lunch."

Dictionaries often remove entries that have fallen out of use or become archaic, although this appears to be the first time that a word has been scratched out in a seeming rebuke to an individual person. "We've tried to hold the line on 'enormity' and 'bemused,' and the whole 'nauseous' versus 'nauseated' confusion still makes me sick to my stomach," Webster says. "But this was a bridge too far. When the second in command of the free world is out there saying 'literally this' and 'literally that,' then what's the point anymore? I might as well just start my car engine and close the garage door."

Some experts have defended Biden's usage. "Look, human speech is simply arbitrary throat vibrations," argues Larry Blonker, chairman of the linguistics department at New York University. "Words mean whatever we want them to mean. If I look my wife deep in the eyes and sweetly whisper 'janky spork pantaloons,' she knows that what I'm really saying is 'I love you.' The sounds themselves don't matter."

Others, however, remain critical. "If you use the word 'literally' like that, you're never going to get a job!" yells your abusive eighth-grade English teacher, who still haunts your dreams after all these years. "Stop watching so much TV and read a book once in a while, you little runt, unless you want to end up in juvie."
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Journal Pages: Getting lost in the translation of technology

Journal Pages: Getting lost in the translation of technology | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Journal Pages Susan Emerson
In the Jan. 18 issue of the New York Times Book Review, Leon Wieseltier, a contributing editor to The Atlantic, wrote a three-page essay titled, “Among the Disrupted.”
I took it to be an unabashed condemnation of the maddening conspiracy of a world obsessed by technology.
Catching my immediate attention was the second sentence: “The streets of American cities are haunted by the ghosts of bookstores and record stores, which have been destroyed by the greatest thugs in the history of the culture industry.”
And while I don’t feel quite “haunted” as I pass my own “ghost of a record store” on Main Street, there the building does stand, naked, sans its “Gloucester Music” sign of 35 years. I see that it’s undergoing the “make-over” that any old retired gal deserves, and will move on to a different life.
But Wieseltier’s reference spoke less to structures, I think, than to a world dangerously smitten with technology. Worshipers of the World-Wide Web, perhaps we are in danger of sliding into the shadow of a modern day version of the chilling Big Brother in George Orwell’s “1984.”
I sensed in Mr. Wieseltier a kindred spirit as I read through his entire piece several times, with Webster’s dictionary at the ready (what a vocabulary!).
Yes, I do know there’s a dictionary in my computer. And yes, I do know how to access it. But I actually prefer the 4.7-pound heft of Webster’s dictionary in my lap as I fly through its pages and columns, deftly locating a word in question and then sneaking a peek at its neighbors on the page. Have you ever witnessed, in the last few years, a student trying to look up a word in the dictionary? Another lost skill, as “alphabetizing” bites the dust. I remember when that was, in and of itself, a school subject.
A temptation for me in touting Wieselier’s essay is to quote him, or at least paraphrase his conclusions as I hope to share his very thoughtful words. His is a brave slap in the face to what he suggests are the limitations of today’s technology and what it asks us to accept as the only truth.
Reading and re-read his words, I felt my own courage mounting in protest against such a current pop culture and its theories. What if we embraced and accepted that: “in our journalistic institutions … words cannot wait for thoughts” and, “first responses are promoted into best responses,” and, “patience is a professional liability”?
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Court interpreters needed

Court interpreters needed | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
LIHUE — The Hawaii State Judiciary will hold a court interpreter orientation workshop March 10-11 at the 5th Circuit Court House 3970 Kaana Street in Lihue.
The judiciary is seeking individuals who speak English and another language to become court interpreters. 
Completion of the two-day workshop is one of the requirements to become a state court interpreter.
Registration costs $120 and deadline is Feb. 13. Court interpreters typically earn between $25 to $55 per hour with a two-hour minimum.
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El Campus Duques de Soria acogerá un curso de traducción de software y videojuegos

El Campus Duques de Soria acogerá un curso de traducción de software y videojuegos | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
El Campus Duques de Soria organizará en febrero un curso de localización de software y videojuegos destinado a estudiantes de Traducción e Interpretación, profesionales en estas materias y público en general. Se celebrará, concretamente, los días 11, 12, 16 y 17 de 16.30 a 20.00 horas. A estas 18 horas se suman otras siete no presenciales con el campus virtual como apoyo. Las jornadas persiguen dos objetivos. Primeramente adquirir conocimientos esenciales sobre los aspectos teóricos y prácticos de la localización, tanto de software y archivos multimedia como de videojuegos. En segundo término potenciar que los participantes desarrollen un proyecto real para presentarlo al ‘LocJam 2015’, una competición de carácter internacional gratuita sobre localización de videojuegos.

El curso está organizado por la Facultad de Traducción e Interpretación del Campus y coordinado por la profesora Susana Susana Álvarez Álvarez. Este curso formativo se impartirá siguiendo un enfoque eminentemente práctico y participativo. Los contenidos teóricos serán seguidos por ejercicios reales y prácticos que permitirán la consolidación de los conocimientos y estrategias por parte de los estudiantes. El plazo de inscripción se abrirá el lunes y finalizará el día 10. Para miembros de la comunidad universitaria se ha fijado un precio de 60 euros, que asciende hasta los 75 para el público general. Se requiere un mínimo de 15 alumnos, aunque se ha establecido un máximo de 30.

Las jornadas están estructuradas en cuatro talleres, uno por día. ‘L10N - Localización: Función y desafíos del traductor en el mercado global’, a cargo de Carlos la Orden Tovar; ‘Localizar videojuegos: fases, desafíos y logros’, por Elia Maqueda López; ‘Desde los binarios hasta las apps: pasado, presente y futuro de la localización’, por Manuel Mata Pastor y ‘LocJam 2015: localización improvisada de juegos. Hacia el ocio como profesión’, por Carlos la Orden Tovar.
El Campus lidera un plan de diversidad cultural y multilingüismo internacional
Sobresaliente cum laude tras más de seis años en la elaboración de su tesis
Romera: “El Campus de Soria tiene un muy buen presente y un estupendo futuro”
Bonilla: “Hay que aprovechar la ampliación para hacer aulas y un área científica tecnológica”
La UVa pone en marcha un ‘spin-off’ del sector forestal vinculado a Agrarias
José Ángel Miguel Romera tomará posesión este viernes como director de Agrarias
Kevin Rincón, en la élite
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Un congreso analiza los nuevos horizontes en los estudios de Traducción e Interpretación - University of Malaga

Un congreso analiza los nuevos horizontes en los estudios de Traducción e Interpretación - University of Malaga | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Un congreso analiza los nuevos horizontes en los estudios de Traducción e Interpretación
Se celebra en la UMA y cuenta con más de 250 participantes

La Universidad de Málaga acoge desde ayer un congreso Internacional sobre “Nuevos Horizontes en los Estudios de Traducción e Interpretación”, que organiza la Asociación Ibérica de estos estudios (AIETI) y que se celebrará hasta mañana.

El Congreso Internacional AIETI7 fue inaugurado en la Facultad de Filosofía y Letras de la Universidad de Málaga por la vicerrectora de Investigación, María Valpuesta, y la catedrática Gloria Corpas. En el acto se destacó la importancia de la investigación en la Universidad como motor de desarrollo para el conocimiento en todos los ámbitos y concretamente el de la Traducción e Interpretación.

El encuentro cuenta con más de 250 participantes procedentes de África, Asia, Australia, Estados Unidos, Sudamérica y Europa (Suiza, Italia, Hungría, Polonia, Rusia, Alemania, Finlandia, Bélgica, Reino Unido, Francia, Portugal y España).

La organización de AIETI7, presidida por Gloria Corpas, ha convocado a especialistas de reconocido prestigio internacional en este Congreso como son el profesor Daniel Gile, catedrático emérito en la Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle (París); Guy Aston, catedrático de Lingüística inglesa (Universidad de Bolonia); Ruslan Mitkov, catedrático de Lingüística computacional (Universidad de Wolverhampton); África Vidal, catedrática de Traducción e Interpretación (Universidad de Salamanca) dentro de las conferencias plenarias.

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29 janvier 1635, naissance de l'Académie française

29 janvier 1635, naissance de l'Académie française | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Le 29 janvier 1635 est officiellement crée à Paris l'Académie française, par lettres patentes (décret) de Louis XIII, mais sous l'impulsion de Richelieu. La mission de l’Académie française, hier comme aujourd’hui, est de défendre et de perfectionner la langue française, mais c’est aussi de rédiger un dictionnaire de référence. La première édition de ce dictionnaire est parue à la fin du XVIIe siècle, et nous en sommes aujourd’hui à la 9e édition.

Une 9e édition sur laquelle les immortels planchent depuis près de 30 ans. Mais le travail avance. Aux dernières nouvelles, soit en août dernier, les académiciens en étaient à la lettre R. A ce rythme, 21 mois par lettre, on peut donc raisonnablement espérer que la 9e édition du dictionnaire de l’académie française sera terminée dans ...14 ans.

Les fêtes du jour

A noter aussi dans votre éphéméride de ce jeudi, l’anniversaire de l’inoubliable interprète moustachu de la série Magnum, Tom Selleck, 70 ans,
Enfin en ce 29 janvier, n’oubliez pas de fêter les Gildas, et les Valère.

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Language barriers: A challenge for healthcare abroad

Language barriers: A challenge for healthcare abroad | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Dr Heidi Kaspar, is currently conducting ethnographic research on international medical travel to Delhi. In this article she highlights the importance and role of interpreting and interpreters in international medical travel. On the basis of primary ethnographic data collected in Delhi NCR, she argues that the complexities of interpreting are basically acknowledged, but tend to be underestimated.

Although it generally doesn’t, health care can go terribly wrong. More than in any other realm, miscommunication in health care can have far-reaching, irreversible consequences. The difficulties mount when patients travel to places where very few people speak their language.
The relevance of communication in health care
The vital role of good communication in health care is commonly acknowledged – and so is its complexity and difficulty. Gathering a comprehensive medical history is by no means a simple task for a doctor. It is equally demanding for the patient to convey her ailments and medical history and to understand the suggested treatment. Medical jargon is difficult to understand, and a doctor's status and busy schedule does not encourage people to ask for further explanations. The potential for misunderstanding increases considerably if doctors and patients do not speak the same language.
In the context of international medical travel, it is the norm, rather than the exception, for doctor and patient to speak different languages. Contrary to common perception, many medical tourists don’t speak English. Moreover, many of them come from poor countries and have only a limited education. Communicating with a doctor is even more challenging for these patients. However, the language barrier does not prevent these patients from travelling; coming from countries with very limited health care facilities, they have little alternative if they want to receive treatment.
Engaging interpreters to tackle the language problem in international medical travel 
Health care providers catering for foreign patients and medical travel intermediaries recognized the relevance of language at an early stage. They therefore offer websites in different languages and, where applicable, providers highlight their staff’s proficiency in English. India, for example, greatly prides itself on the fact that health professionals speak English. Most importantly, hospitals offer a complimentary interpreting service for non-English speaking patients. For example, a 350-bed hospital in Delhi NCR employs around 20 interpreters mostly from Arabic, but also from Russian, French and other languages. Hospitals usually rely on a mix of regularly employed and freelance interpreters. However, patients may also bring with them a relative or friend or a translator provided by a medical travel agency, or hire an interpreter.
The findings of an ongoing ethnographic research project looking at three key players in Delhi NCR’s medical travel industry indicate that health providers tend to consider that they have addressed the language challenge by ensuring that their staff are proficient in English, and by offering complimentary translation services. Indeed, the primary data we have collected so far shows that foreign patients really appreciate these services. The data also shows that hospital interpreters’ tasks go far beyond merely translating between languages.
The job of interpreting in corporate hospitals catering to an international clientele – much more than mere language translation…

In the hospitals studied, interpreters complete or help with a whole range of tasks. They pick up patients from the airport, arrange accommodation after discharge, recommend places for shopping in the city, deal with bureaucratic necessities, make appointments with doctors, collect medical reports, guide patients around the hospital and sit with them in the doctor’s office during the consultation or for a chat in the cafeteria. Interpreters see patients on a daily basis and seem to have more time than doctors or nurses.
Additionally, interpreters mediate not only between different languages, but between different cultures too. For instance, most Arabic interpreters in Delhi are Muslim Indians and hence have a common background of religion with patients from the Middle East. At an emotional level, their shared religion creates familiarity and, in a context that is generally perceived as predominantly Hindu, it can even establish a particular bond between the patient and the interpreter. At a practical level, Muslim hospital interpreters can act as cultural mediators. They intuitively understand when a patient’s customs, such as prayer times and dress, threaten to interfere with hospital routine, and can seek solutions. Hence, interpreters are well equipped to ease the unsettling feeling of being foreign. If foreign patients call interpreters their friends, then this reflects the interpreter’s ability to make life easier for them.
To sum up, interpreters are mediators in language and culture, guides through the procedural and spatial jungle of the alien hospital and the unfamiliar city, an approachable point of contact who take care of foreign patients’ non-medical needs. In fact, interpreters tend to shoulder a large part of the emotional work required to make foreign patients feel comfortable.
… and yet transmission is sometimes less than precise
However, as I outlined above, interpreting in a medical context is a complex, responsible and consequential task. Accordingly, we would expect that the intermediary task of interpreting deserves significant attention from hospital management. Based on the data we have collected so far, we suggest that there is considerable room for improvement. First, hospitals do not require a medical background for interpreters; language expertise seems to be considered sufficient for effective communication. A manager made the responsibilities clear: doctors are bearers of medical expertise, while interpreters translate their words.
Yet interpreting is difficult, particularly when it comes to transmitting complex, subjective issues including unpleasant messages. The requirements regarding language proficiency are relatively low; a certificate or diploma is usually considered sufficient. However, the lack of practical experience might impede communication, particularly when patients speak a dialect. Furthermore, a rich vocabulary is needed to convey nuances, for instance when a patient describes the kind of pain she is feeling, interpreting implies not only translating words, but also a deeper, contextual understanding of how physical and emotional states are expressed in the relevant culture. Since interpreters usually belong to either the source or (more commonly) the destination culture, and often have limited experience of the other, conveying the accurate meaning is challenging.
If a leg has to be cut off to save a patient’s life, this has to be transmitted with professional clarity. Doctors treating foreign patients made it clear that counselling via an interpreter is challenging and that the interpreter’s competence and experience has a large impact on her counselling. If a doctor expresses doubts as to whether her words have been translated accurately, this echoes the fact that there is not only room for improvement, but indeed a need for it.
Contrary to the prevailing understanding, many foreign patients in Delhi NCR are not wealthy. The bulk of international patients coming to Delhi leave their home country because this kind of treatment is non-existent there. They travel to India out of necessity. Their journey for affordable health care is not the savvy choice of a well-informed, rational consumer, as is often assumed. Rather, it is an act of seizing the one chance they have got. Accordingly, these patients reach for a cure with desperate hope and for extra-medical care with modest expectations. Communication challenges are unlikely to keep these patients away, since they have few, if any, other options. However, the lack of alternatives does not release providers from their responsibility to facilitate optimal health care and not simply a medical cure. This entails that they adequately address the challenge of nuanced and clear communication across cultural and language boundaries.
To do so, there is a need to acknowledge the full complexity of trans-cultural doctor-patient communication needs. Interpreters with a high level of language proficiency, in-depth knowledge of the source culture and a medical background are a major part of achieving this goal.

This research is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). I am deeply indebted to all those who shared and entrusted their stories, experiences and knowledge to me. Without the generous permission of the hospitals involved in this study, this research would not have been possible. Data collection is being conducted by the author and Jyotishmita Sarma, who took notes during the interviews and translated from English to Hindi, and vice versa. Further thanks go to Dr. Sunita Reddy at the Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and Prof. Lawrence Cohen at the Anthropology Department, University of California, Berkeley for supporting this project in many different ways.
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Microsoft adds scottish gaelic language to Its lexicon support list -

Microsoft adds scottish gaelic language to Its lexicon support list - | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
The Scottish Gaelic language has made it on to the map at Microsoft. The firm has added it to the list of supported languages and dialects in Microsoft Office, Tech Week Europe has reported.

Scottish Gaelic becomes the 96th language supported by the software suite and will now have proofing functionality across popular programs such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh earlier this week Chris Forrest, managing director of Microsoft Scotland, said: "This is the result of several months of hard work with our partners at the at Bòrd na Gàidhlig and we are proud that Scottish Gaelic speakers will now be able to use the features of Microsoft Office in their preferred language."

Minister for learning, science and Scotland's languages, Dr Alasdair Allan MSP, called it an important step forward for the language. He commented: "On the one hand, it acknowledges the currency and enduring vitality of the language and will help raise its profile through social media and online, giving it even greater prominence and connecting even more speakers from across the world."

He added: "I hope others will follow Microsoft's lead in supporting the thousands of speakers and the Gaelic businesses contributing significantly to our economy."

Around 60,000 speakers of Scottish Gaelic are believed to reside in Scotland, with other speakers of the language around the world.
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What Languages Will We Speak In The Future? Ask Your Questions Now

What Languages Will We Speak In The Future? Ask Your Questions Now | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
What languages might go extinct in the future, and how can we expect the surviving ones to change? Linguist John McWhorter is here to answer our questions.

Top Image: Language Tree by Minna Sundberg / SSSScomic.

McWhorter teaches linguistics, American Studies, philosophy and music at Columbia University. He has a PhD in linguistics from Stanford University and is the author of a number of books on languages and their formation. He frequently writes for Timeand other outlets, including this recent essay on what the next century might hold for existing languages in the Wall Street Journal.

What languages will still be around in 100 years?
Over on there is an interesting essay on what the author, a linguist named John McWhorter,…
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He'll be joining us from 11:00 a.m. - noon (Pacific time), so start asking your questions about dead or thriving languages and what we might expect our linguistic future to look like in the comments now.
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BOOKS - Rumi work translated into Kurdish

BOOKS - Rumi work translated into Kurdish | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
Masnavi’ has been so far translated into 23 languages. Now it will be available in 10 more languages.
Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi’s epic work, the “Masnavi,” will soon be published in Kurdish and Ottoman Turkish following translation work by the Konya Metropolitan Municipality Cultural and Social Affairs Department.

Rumi, a famous 13th-century Sufi from Central Asia who made Konya his home, wrote the original work in Persian. Since 2005, when translation works began, it has been published in 23 languages. The book was recently translated into Azeri and will now be published in Ottoman Turkish and the Kurmanci dialect of Kurdish, which is spoken by most of Turkey’s Kurds.

Alphabet will be Latinized

Translated into Kurdish by Iranian Kurdish intellectual Molla Ahmet Şerefhan, the “Masnevi” will be Latinized by the municipality and put on the market in the coming months.

Konya Mayor Tahir Akyürek said works were continuing to translate the work into various languages.  He said the book was being translated into 10 languages at the moment and that their goal was to translate it into 50 languages.
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Plotting the global spread of languages on an interactive map

Plotting the global spread of languages on an interactive map | Metaglossia: The Translation World |
The map (pictured) was created by Brazil-based Easy Way Language Centre. Type a word in any language into Word Map to hear it being translated globally.
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