Metaglossia: The Translation World
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Metaglossia: The Translation World
News about translation, interpreting, intercultural communication, terminology and lexicography - as it happens
Curated by Charles Tiayon
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Unprofessional Translation: The Interpreter's Accent

The Interpreter's Accent

The interest shown in the recent post about interpreters' voices encourages me to write about a related topic: their accents.

In the case of Natural Interpreters, the matter can be dealt with summarily. Natural interpreters speak with their natural accent, that is to say their normal conversational accent. For one thing, they are probably unaware that it's an issue. And for another, they work in ad hoc circumstances where they wouldn't have the time or the ability to change it.

For Expert Interpreters, however, it may have far more impact.

Some years ago, when Queen Elizabeth of England, who's also head of state of Canada, visited Montreal, she tried to please her French Canadian subjects by making a short speech in their language. It was broadcast nationally. So it was accompanied by simultaneous interpretation because only a minority of English Canadians understand French. The broadcaster, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, took care to engage a female interpreter with a mature voice. Nevertheless, they overlooked something else. Hardly had the broadcast started when the CBC began to receive phone calls of complaint – this was before the internet – from listeners who objected to hearing Her Majesty 'speak' English with an unmistakably Canadian accent. Let's call this effect of incompatible accents accent shock, by analogy with culture shock.

I myself felt it. When I emigrated from London to Montreal, I carried with me in my baggage my British accent. For a long while I didn't see it as a disadvantage. The standard BBC-type accent is well respected in Canada and in North America generally, so nobody suggested I change mine. Indeed I was approached by an eminent Polish economist to coach him in it, because he was a consultant to the United Nations, and the UNO bureaucracy – so he told me – preferred a British accent to an American one. So we swapped a veneer of British accent for the elements of cost benefit analysis. But when I took up conference interpreting I decided I had to modify it. It's a process, sometimes conscious but often not, called linguistic accommodation. I did it because it distracted listeners from giving their full attention to the speakers, and that shouldn't happen.

My awakening came at a three-day meeting of the Council of Ministers of Education, where I was the sole interpreter from French to English. Canada has no national ministry of education because, by its Constitution, education is an area to which each constituent province retains exclusive rights; nevertheless the provincial ministers meet several times a year to coordinate. The discussions take place in English except when the ministers from Quebec are speaking. Even if the latter do know English, politics require that they speak only in French, and only a minority of the other ministers understand French. So I had an attentive audience. At the last session of those meetings it was the custom for one of the ministers to say a few words of thanks to the interpreters. But on this occasion the minister added something unexpected. He said (paraphrase):
We thank the interpreters. But I must say I found it very odd to listen to my colleague from Quebec speaking English for these last three days with a perfect British accent.
And everybody laughed, so I knew he wasn't alone.

What other principles can we lay down for Experts besides avoiding accent shock of the above kind?

The great divide in English is between British, or British derived (eg Australian), and North American. As Oscar Wilde famously said, "The English and the Americans are two peoples divided by a common language." Furthermore, on the British side, accent is particularly indicative socially and disapprovals are strong. The Guardian Unlimited recently asked readers if they had encountered prejudice because of their accent. The conclusion from their responses was that approved accents include those inculcated by a 'public school' plus Oxbridge university education and the so-called 'liberal' professions like law. Disapproved include 'working class' ones like those current in industrial cities like Glasgow or Manchester. The two last are also strongly marked geographically.
Your accent still goes to the heart of who you are. It locates you not just geographically, but economically and socially too.
Upwardly mobile people often 'iron out' their accent accordingly. Non-native TESOL teachers often remain blissfully ignorant of all this. But Expert Interpreters are supposed to be highly educated, well paid people working in national and international settings. They should sound like that and, once again, their trainers should pay attention to it.

To be continued. The continuation will touch on French and Spanish.

Press Association. Lincoln: Walking Dead accent shock. The Argus (UK), 4 October 2013. It's the only other occurrence Google could find of the term accent shock.
Council of Ministers of Education, Canada.
Lucy Mangan. The language barrier. Guardian Unlimited, 24 August 2013.!
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Unprofessional Translation: Ninth of October — Work in Progress

Having more or less recovered from the tiredness that beset me after the journey to Ireland and England, I can now foresee regular resumption of this blog no later than October 23. That's the anniversary of the interpreter-mediated meeting between Hitler and Franco in 1940.

Meanwhile I'm preparing my survey and taxonomy of interpreting for publication. A Spanish translation was published some 20 years ago, but for some reason the English original has lain gathering dust. Unfortunately part of the file has been corrupted in the meantime and has to be reconstituted.

I want to thank all the people who made my Ireland-England trip possible and turned it into a happy memory. The cheerful staff of Dublin City University and the COLING conference, my fellow members of the International Committee on Computational Linguistics (ICCL), my kind English cousins who drove me around and the staff at Bletchley Park. And last but not least the ground staff of Ryanair.

Ryanair is a very successful low-cost Irish airline. Not only are their flights dirt cheap if you fly on the right days, but they operate services that nobody else does. Non-stop flights from Valencia to Dublin for example. But they don't have a good reputation for customer service. Well, I too have had a moment of anxiety with them and it's no joke navigating through their online reservation system, But I must say that on this occasion their ground service for passengers with a mobility problem was impeccable at every airport: efficient and friendly.

Incidentally, we decided in Dublin that the next COLING will be held in Osaka, Japan, in late 2016.

I break silence today because it's another anniversary. El Nou d'Octubre (Ninth of October), the national day of Valencia. For earlier posts about it, enter octubre in the Search box on the right. It's the day when King James I of Aragon entered the city, making it finally Christian. He'd arrived nearby with his army a little earlier, on September 28, 1238, and he used the intervening days to negotiate, with the aid of Jewish translators, a bloodless rendition by the Moors. Meanwhile he camped his army on the stretch of Mediterranean seashore where I now live and which is today called Pinedo. It's five km south of the city centre. There's a stone cross to mark the site, but it's had to be moved inland because of coast erosion. James wasn't only a formidable warrior, he was also a very able administrator and there are still vestiges of his administration. Hence the Valencian College of Notaries is the oldest professional association of notaries in Spain; their current building is a landmark.

Want to celebrate it with me? There's a rousing performance of the Valencian national anthem on YouTube at or click here.

But if you fancy something less political, go to YouTube or click here.

The Senyera, the Valencian flag.!
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Unprofessional Translation: At the Gateway to Spain: Hitler, Franco, Pétain and their Interpreters

October 23 marks the anniversary of the famous meeting between Hitler and Franco in the railway station of the strategic French frontier town of Hendaye (Spanish Hendaya) in 1940. Hitler came as conqueror of most of Western Europe and most recently France. Franco was the victor in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. Both were members of the alliance of fascist dictators called the Axis. Yet despite their initial cordiality and nine hours of talks, neither of them got what he'd come for.

There was a post on this blog about it in 2010. Since neither dictator spoke the other's language, the meeting could not have gone ahead without interpreters. Three interpreters were involved, two German (Gross and Schmidt) and one Spanish (the Barón de la Torres), but only Gross and the Spaniard actually interpreted that day. The single Professional Expert, Schmidt, was sidelined because he didn't work in Spanish, but he was there to supervise and observe. De las Torres was an Advanced Native Translator who had learnt German well as a foreign affairs official. As for Gross, we know about him only that he wasn't an Expert and was not really up to the task.

The post was well received; one comment described it as "like looking at a film." But 2010 is already a long time ago. So this year, with some additional information at my disposal, I've retrieved the post from where it's buried in the blog and worked it up into a full article. And for good measure, I've thrown in the post from 2012 about Hitler's subsequent meeting immediately afterwards with France's Pétain, likewise interpreter mediated.

So if you're interested in the history of diplomatic interpreting, or in Spain's ambivalent role in World War II, or in spying, get over to my page on (, or click here) and open or download the article At the Gateway to Spain.!
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Unprofessional Translation: Medical Interpreting: the Ideal and the Reality

My own experience as a medical interpreter was brief and limited to a single patient. To find out about it, enter cullera in the Search box on the right.

The organizations of professional medical interpreters always emphasize the dangers of translation errors between patients and their doctors. They often cite the tragic case of Willy Ramirez, an American Latino baseball player who was left paralyzed because of a misunderstanding over the Spanish word intoxicado. (It means poisoned and may have nothing to do with alcohol.) When children are pressed into service, it may become even more dangerous as well as very stressful for the kids. Well, those organizations are right.
"A study by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2012 analyzed interpreter errors that had clinical consequences, and found that the error rate was significantly lower for professional interpreters than for ad hoc interpreters 12 percent as opposed to 22 percent. And for professionals with more than 100 hours of training, errors dropped to 2 percent."
Hardly surprising. Ad hoc here means untrained and inexperienced. In some countries, like Britain and the United States, training is now available to those who have the time and money. What should the training cover, assuming the students are already competent as general interpreters?

1. Medical terminology and phraseology. Everyone thinks of this first, but there's more to it than they usually realize. There are different levels of medical language. There's the technical level used by health professionals between themselves; then there is the level they use to communicate with lay people who only know a popular 'register' of it or don't know it at all. Take the following example.
Technical: coronary thrombosis
Popular: heart attack
Uneducated and children: sharp chest pain.
A friend of mine at the University of Valladolid has just co-authored a paper about how medical language uses metaphors to translate between the technical and popular levels.
Expert Interpreters should know all the registers and how to use them. Many local health administrations now issue glossaries in the languages most spoken in their communities.

2. Basic knowledge of medicine, first aid and anatomy in both languages at Wikipedia or nursing level. If the doctor says, "I think your meniscus is torn. Does it hurt?" the patient will likely not know where the meniscus is, but the interpreter must.

3. Dealing with people (and with oneself) in stressful and even dangerous circumstances. Patients mustn't be made more nervous than they already are. Quite the contrary. Sometimes it's the medical personnel who are the problem, because they won't listen quietly and with an open mind for example. (In my own case I had trouble convincing the doctors that the patient wasn't drunk but suffering from dementia.) And of course we can't have the interpreer fainting at the sight of blood.

4. Medical ethics. The interpreter is part of the medical team and must respect the same rules about, for instance, what can or cannot be revealed to a patient's family.

Ideally, therefore, most medical interpreting would only be done by trained and qualified interpreters. But there are some 'flies in the ointment'. Where do you find such interpreters speaking the required languages, and how do you ensure they're available when and where needed?

Here's where we hit the reality.
"Thirteen years ago, the state of Oregon recognized the problem and required doctors and hospitals to start using professional interpreters. The Affordable Care Act also has expanded the kinds of materials that hospitals and insurers are required to translate for people who don't speak English. But more than a decade after its state law passed, Oregon still has trouble getting all patients the medical interpretation help they need."
"Eby [Helen Eby a certified medical interpreter in Oregon] says Oregon has about 3500 medical interpreters [i.e, interpreters who can be called in on medical assignments]. But only about 100 of those have the right qualifications. So, you have a 3 percent chance of getting a qualified or certified interpreter in Oregon right now,' she says, 'That's pretty low in my opinion'"
This comes in a report not from some underdeveloped country lacking medical infrastructures but from an American state with a highly developed hospital system.

Nor will the situation improve any time soon. I'm a supporter of telephone interpreting, which ought to make the limited supply of EMIs more widely available. But it turns out telephone interpreting has its own problems for medical interpreting: read the full report referenced below. Another solution ought to be to train more EMIs. However,
" She [Eby] says it takes a long time and costs a lot of money to become certified. And after going through all that training, a person may find that he or she can make more money or have a more stable lifestyle in another career – like being a translator for court reporting. That's because medical interpreters tend to be [classed as] consultants and don't get paid to travel. The hours can also be sparse and sporadic."
So part of the problem and its potential solution is financial. Upgrading courses should be directed first to working interpreters who already have general experience, and they should be low-cost and subsudized. EMIs need to be better paid, and there should be a large difference between their tariff and that of untrained interpreters so as to provide an incentive for the latter to upgrade.

Meanwhile I contend that the mass, the other 97%, must be recognized, studied and incorporated, not ignored. At very least, MS should be kept informed and given advice. Something along these lines:
"The interpreter assigned to you for this case is a competent general interpreter but has not qualified as an Expert Medical Interpreter (EMI). [Or in some instances, "The interpreter… has little or no experience of interpreting and has not qualified…] Be aware that the danger of mistranslations is substantially greater when the interpreter is not an EMI, just as the danger of misdiagnosis increases if the physician is not a specialist.

Here are some things you can do to help.

If you have a bilingual glossary or patient information material about the medical condition, get it to the interpreter as soon as possible.

Does what the interpreter is saying make sense and does it fit the clinical picture? If not, ask the interpreter to repeat, and if the inconsistency persists ask for an explanation of the translation.

Is the interpretation much shorter than the original? If so, check with the interpreter that nothing has been left out.

Do not use close relatives of the patient or children unless there is absolutely no alternative. Their translations are likely to be affected by their emotional involvement.

Interpreting is very tiring. Try to give your interpreter a break from time to time.

If the interpreter continually makes mistakes, ask for another.
And to the interpreters themselves:
You are a member of the medical team, subject to medical ethics. Do not attempt to intervene in the treatment or contest the doctors.

There are surely some things I've left out. But if the above advice were taken, it would at least be better than leaving the MS and the interpreter to sink or swim.

Kristian Foden Vencil. In the hospital, a bad translation can destroy a life. Shots, Health News from NPR, October 2014., or click here.

Beatriz Méndez Cendón et al. On the comprehension of common medical metaphorical terms / Las metáforas médicas: Un recurso para la comprensión de conceptos para el lego. Publication pending, 2014.

Doctor, patient and Spanish interpreter. Source: Shots, Health News from NPR.!
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Unprofessional Translation: The Imitation Game: Back to Bletchley Park

The film The Imitation Game (IG) has reached the cinemas and film festvals in some countries. Elsewhere many newspapers have already carried reviews of it, so I need say no more about it as a film. In case you don't already know, it's a 'biopic' based on the life of British mathematician turned computer scientist turned cryptographer Alan Turing. The prevailing opinion rates it Oscar material. But I'm a historian (see my Profile on the right), and historical films are always more or less distant adaptations of history or biography, so they irk me.

The central backdrop to IG is the converted Victorian mansion at Bletchley Park (BP), north of London, that was bought and taken over by the UK Government Code and Cypher School just before the Second World War. Now it so happens, due to one of those fortunate coincidences which have enriched my life, that I spent a day touring BP only a few weeks ago and wrote two blog posts about it. To find them quickly, enter bletchley in the Search box on the right. It was not my intent to write a history of the place; for that, see Sources below. But my source and I are closer to the historical truth than IG. The film makes too much depend on the brilliant mind of one person so as to accentuate the tragedy of his demise. I sympathise with it as biography, because when I was young Britain was still living in the Dark Ages of its hypocrisy towards homosexuals. But there were upwards of 9,000 select bright people working at BP, including as many translators as cryptologists; not to mention the little band of Polish mathematicians who had prised out the initial reverse engineering of the German Enigma machine before the War began. Bill Tutte, for instance, a Cambridge chemistry graduate, deduced through mathematical analysis how another German encryption machine, the Lorenz, worked without ever having seen one. Although Turing had the fundamental idea that all mental operations convertible into binary coding were computable, he never actually built a computer himself. His first decryption machine, the Bombe, was an electro-mechanical device. The first real programmable computer, the Colossus in 1944, was the work of Tommy Flowers, son of a bricklayer and never went to university, and his fellow Post Office engineers. All this is not to diminish Turing's importance – he was the most influential thinker and team leader at BP – but onlybto put him in perspective. Churchill said that Turing made the biggest single contribution to Allied victory in the war against Nazi Germany.

Given the innacuracies, I won't spend time here discussing the more theoretical question of whether encrypting and decrypting by crptographers can be considered a form of translating. Just one remark. The film does mention that a test for potential recruits at BP was speed at solving crossword puzzles. Some people are good at it; I for one am not in spite of my wide reading. This leads me to suspect that there is specialised wiring for it in the brain as there is for translating, and that its implantation precedes education.

Anyway I'm not the only one to condemn the film as history. An article in today's Guardian Unlimited concludes:
Historically, The Imitation Game is as much of a garbled mess as a heap of unbroken code. For its appalling suggestion that Alan Turing might have covered up for a Soviet spy, it must be sent straight to the bottom of the class.
So by all means go and see IG; but bear in mind that films are entertainment, biography is speculative, and even history can only attempt to tell the truth.

Tommy Flowers. Wikipedia. 2014.

Bletchley Park, Home of the Codebreakers: Guidebook. Bletchley Park Trust, 2005. 48 p., many illustrations. Available through Amazon.

Turing machines. Wikipedia, 2014.

Bombe. Wikipedia. 2014.

Alex von Tunzelmann. The Imitation Game: inventing a new slander to insult AlanTuring. Guardian Unlimited, 20 November 2014. or click here.

Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game
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Peter  Wuteh Vakunta, PhD— University of Indianapolis, USA

The language question in Cameroon has become the elephant in the room. Of all the burning issues that continue to plague Cameroon, the language question is the most problematic. This paper argues that Cameroon’s Official Bilingual Policy has fallen short of expectations.  We propose a Quadrilingual Language Policy that would lay the foundation for effective Multilingual Education that guarantees national unity and integration.  Our model incorporates Cameroonian official languages, indigenous languages and a lingua franca—in our case Cameroon Pidgin English (Cameroonian Creole). The merit of this MODEL is that it would normalize Cameroon’s linguistic anomalies. More than five decades after gaining token independence from imperial powers—France and Great Britain; Cameroon still does not have an implementable language policy that protects linguistic minorities.  Writing along similar lines, Ayafor (2005)notes that “language policy and planning suffer a political hijacking in which language measures are monopolized by political authority and are used as a form of blindfolding against the civil society and linguistic principles”(138).

This political bad faith violates Article 1:3 of Cameroon’s national Constitution which puts French and English at par. It states: “The official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be English and French, both languages having the same status. The State shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country. It shall endeavor to protect and promote national languages.” The fundamental flaw of this constitutional stipulation on official ‘bilingualism’ is that it fails to provide a clear working definition. It is not clear what level of linguistic proficiency must be attained by Cameroonian citizens in order to demonstrate officially sanctioned bilingualism.  Worse still, the constitution glosses over the dichotomy between individual and state bilingualism. In a linguistically pluralistic nation such as Cameroon, Bilingualism could mean anything from fluency in English and French; English and a national language; French and a national language; Pidgin English and a national  language; a national language and another national language, etc.  Besides, proficiency in any of these languages could vary from zero to near-perfection. It is in this perspective that Rosendal (2008) makes the following observation: “The extent of bilingualism in French and English in Cameroon is hard to estimate. Bilingual proficiency varies from zero to near perfect at the universities, depending on how semi-bilingualism, functional bilingualism and passive bilingualism are defined.” (25)  An interesting dimension of the discourse pertaining to official bilingualism in Cameroon is its correlation with biculturalism. Scholars such as (Echu, 2012; Tadadjeu, 1975; Fonlon, 1963, 1969) have pointed out that biculturalism is an integral component of official bilingualism. Sadly enough, official bilingualism in Cameroon has been treated with such levity that it has virtually been rendered dysfunctional. Jikong (1983) attributes the failed implementation of Cameroon’s official bilingualism to inadequate language planning. That’s why  Bobda and Tiomajou (1995) observe that “In Cameroon there is no government position on language policy and planning apart from the statement that French and English shall be the official languages of the Republic”(127).

To put this differently, Cameroon’s official bilingual policy has been presented as a mere statement of intent. According to Soule (2013), “the State is doing quite a lot to ensure the promotion of bilingualism, as stated in the Constitution, but is doing very little to ensure practical implementation of bilingualism”(13).There is no legislation on the practice of bilingualism in Cameroon. Consequently, Cameroonians who infringe the constitutional stipulation cited above cannot be held accountable because there is no institution charged with the implementation of the nation’s bilingual policy. Though strongly articulated in policy documents, Cameroon’s bilingual policy remains a mere manifesto on paper. In daily practice, French has dominance over the English language in the spheres of administration, education and the media.

The position of dominance accorded the French language is attributable to the absence of an effective language policy that safeguards the rights of linguistic minorities.  This status quo does not bode well for the nation’s quest for freedom and identity because as Echu (2004) would have it, “The Policy of official language bilingualism has created an Anglophone/Francophone divide in Cameroon that is seen in recent years to constitute a serious problem for the State” (6). Thus, though conceived to play the role of a unifying factor, Cameroon’s official language policy embodies germs of disunity.  The lackluster implementation of the nation’s language policy has been described by scholars as a harbinger of national disintegration (Soule, 2013; Echu, 2004; Ayafor, 2005; Tiomajou, 1991; Bobda and Tiomajou, 1995). Ayafor for instance, argues that “language has become one major factor among the socio-political grievances of Anglophones’ so-called ‘The Anglophone Problem’ since 1980s” (133).

 The ‘Anglophone Problem’ stems from the second fiddle status assigned to English-speaking Cameroonians by francophone members of government. This probably explains why in English-speaking towns and cities such as Bamenda, Buea, and Tiko, to name but a few, there are billboards and toll-gates with inscriptions written entirely in French. Rosendal (2008) notes that “bilingual policy implies that official documents and laws are published in both languages” (29). These examples lend credence to the fact that English remains a mere afterthought in the minds of government officials in Cameroon. In Cameroon official documents such as decrees and more are endorsed with an official seal and their content implemented without official versions in English. It is not uncommon to find English translations of important government documents fraught with mindboggling spelling and grammatical errors. These are pointers to the fact that the implementation of Cameroon’s official bilingualism has failed woefully.

There is no gainsaying the fact that what prevails in Cameroon today is tantamount to linguicide, a term used throughout this paper to describe the linguistic genocide that has been given leeway in Cameroon. Linguistic genocide is observable in all spheres of government business. In the judicial branch of government, the interpretation of the letter and spirit of the law is left to the whims and caprices of French-speaking judges who are ignorant of how the Anglo-Saxon legal system functions. This has resulted in countless miscarriages of justice. For instance, a travesty of justice was evident during the infamous Yondo Black trial[1] in the 1990s.
The National Radio and Television Corporation (CRTV) is another case in point. The preponderance of French news at the CRTV is no secret to anyone living in Cameroon. During electoral campaigns, little or no time is allotted to the campaign speeches of Anglophone opposition leaders desirous of addressing the nation in a bid to sell their political platforms. The language of instruction and daily routine in Cameroon’s armed forces, police and gendarmerie [2]is French. Anglophones recruited to serve in these forces have to fight or flee; in other words, they must learn French or perish.

Such is the crux of the Anglophone Problem in Cameroon. To eradicate these policy bloopers and save Cameroon from linguistic disintegration, this paper proposes a Quadrilingual Education System that is linguistically inclusive. Our model is calqued on previous models proposed by two of Cameroon’s most acclaimed experts in the field of early childhood second language acquisition, namely Bernard Fonlon (1963) and Maurice Tadadjeu (1975).

A Quadrilingual Educational Model in Cameroon

The Model that we propose is anchored on the acquisition of four (4) languages: English, French, a National Language and a Lingua Franca (CPE) before the Cameroonian child gets to University. We argue that a quadrilingual education model that gives pride of place to the acquisition of both official and national languages serves as a catalyst for the attainment of national unity and economic advancement; the more so because language constitutes the bedrock of nationhood and self-identity.  

In our conceptualization of the Quadrilingual Model we have espoused the  stance of Tadajeu (1975) who argues that “if language is to be the primary concern of the primary school then there is no reason for not including the vernacular languages in the curriculum at this level”(58). Tadajeu actually echoes Fonlon’s thoughts on this theme: “I must confess that the expression Cameroon bilingualism is a misnomer. It would be correct to speak of Cameroon trilingualism because even before the Cameroon child comes to school to learn English and French, he should have already learnt his own native tongue” (“A Case for Early Bilingualism…,”p.206).  Other scholars in this field have argued for the inclusion of indigenous languages in the educational system in Cameroon (Mba and Chiatoh, 2000; Todd, 1983; Chumbo, 1980; Ngijol, 1964; Achimbe, 2006). Achimbe argues that the language education policy in Cameroon largely ignores the importance of national languages. As he puts it: “In promoting its bilingual language education policy, the government has largely disregarded the multilingual make-up of the country. Indigenous languages play only a secondary role…” (96).
Similarly, Tadadjeu advocates the inclusion of national languages in the education system in Cameroon in his trilingual Education Model. The Quadrilingual Model proposed in this paper envisages the inclusion of a lingua franca (Cameroon Pidgin English) for several reasons.

Lingua Franca as Component of the Quadrilingual Model

The rationale for including CPE in our model is three-fold. First, the number of households in Cameroon where Pidgin English is the primary language of communication is on the increase. Just as French and English are mother tongues for the majority of urban kids today, Pidgin English has supplanted these hegemonic languages in many homes, especially in instances of mixed marriages between Francophone and Anglophone Cameroonians. Second, Pidgin English is the only language spoken by over 85% of Cameroonians. According to Achimbe (2006), Pidgin English acquired a national character, “representing the mother tongue of fifty percent of the population” (99). He further notes that Cameroon Pidgin English (CPE) is fast becoming the mother tongue in some urban communities. Breton and Fohtung (1991) buttress this point when they refer to Pidgin English as a language of “wider communication in Cameroon” (12).  Mbangwana (1983) lends credence to the importance of Pidgin English as a lingua franca in Cameroon as follows:

Pidgin English is very crucial as a communication bridge, for it links an Anglophone to a Francophone. It also links an Anglophone to another Anglophone, an educated Cameroonian to another educated one, a non-educated Cameroonian to another non-educated one, and more importantly an educated Cameroonian to a non-educated one(87).

Ayafor (2005) recognizes the importance of lingua franca in language planning in Cameroon when he underscores “the role of Pidgin English as a linguistic bridge between the two linguistic communities both in official and private domains” (128). He further notes that Pidgin English in not only the most widespread variety of English but it is the only language in Cameroon with the pragmatic ability to function as a contact language for all linguistic groups.

The third reason for incorporating Pidgin English into the Quadrilingual Model is that Pidgin English is no longer just a language of the streets. It has evolved into a medium of literary expression. Cameroonians are now producing works of literature in Pidgin English. A few examples would drive home the point:  Majunga Tok: Poems in Pidgin English(2008), CamTok and Other Poems from the Cradle (2010), African Time and Pidgin Verses(2001) Stories from Abakwa (2008), Je parle camerounais (2001), Moi taximan (2001)and Temps de chien (2001).
What we would like to do at this juncture is provide a succinct description of the Quadrilingual Model.

A Blueprint for Quadrilingualism in Cameroon

In our conception of a Quadrilingual Education System in Cameroon,  we have made a clear distinction between a first official language(O1), which is the medium of instruction and the second official language(O2) which is a subject to be learned at school.  At the same time, we have underscored the dichotomy between a national language (indigenous language) and a lingua franca (hybrid language used as a means of communication among speakers of other languages).  

The long-term objective of the Quadrilingual Education System would be to prepare Cameroonian learners linguistically for university studies.  The ideal would be to see each Cameroonian child literate and fluent in their mother tongue or a related regional language, the two official languages as well as a lingua franca as they work their way toward university studies. To be labelled fluent, the individual must be able to function at level 3 of the Inter-Agency Language Roundtable Scale of Descriptors.[3]

 The Quadrilingual Blueprint

§  Primary School Level
At the primary school level, the mother tongue should be the medium of instruction and the first official language (English for Anglophones and French for Francophones) would be a curricular subject. This stipulation would apply to both rural and urban schools. A proportionate number of indigenous language teachers will have to be trained in order to see this project through.

§  Secondary School Level
At secondary school level, a gradual switch would be made to the learner’s first official language (English for Anglophones and French for Francophones) as a medium of instruction. The mother tongue, lingua franca and second official language (French for Anglophones and English for Francophones) should become curricular subjects. This model ensures that learners are exposed to three languages before they get to High School.  By the end of secondary school, the Cameroonian child should be Quadrilingual in the strict sense of the word as it is used in this paper.

§  High School Level
At high school level German, Spanish, and Latin courses should be replaced by courses in Cameroonian indigenous languages.  Also, some language majors would be encouraged to participate in indigenous language literacy programs. No specific modifications are anticipated at this level as regards the teaching of French and English, except where instructional pedagogies are concerned.

§  University Level
At university level two things could occur.

                                 i.   The extension of current indigenous language courses in a bid to transform them into inter-lingual translation courses covering all national languages as well as Pidgin English.  Program designers and coordinators could conceive incentives that would encourage a greater number of students to sign up for languages related to their own mother tongues if there are no courses in their mother tongues.

                               ii.     Students with linguistics as minors or majors could be encouraged to take indigenous language literacy courses that would enrich their mastery of the phonology, morphology and syntax of indigenous languages.


This paper has unearthed the root causes of the bilingual policy abortion in Cameroon. Incontrovertible evidence has been unraveled to lend credence to the contention that Cameroon’s language policy is a non-starter and has, therefore, failed to serve as guarantor of national unity and territorial integration. To fill this lacuna, this paper has proposed a Quadrilingual Blueprint that is inclusive of Cameroonian national languages and Pidgin English. The merit of this paper resides in its broadening of the scope of the national language policy discourse in Cameroon by arguing for the inclusion of indigenous languages and Pidgin English. Most importantly, it has made the point that national language policy decisions ought to be made on the basis of sound pedagogic principles rather than on the whims and caprices of uninformed political role-players.

Works cited

Achimbe, Eric A. “Anglophonism and Francophonism: The Stakes of (official) Language Identity in  Cameroon.” Alizés: Revue angliciste de la réunion 25/26(2006): 7-26.

Amvela, Zé. “English and French in Cameroon: A Study in Language Maintenance and Shift.” In Echu G. and Grunstrom, W.A. (eds.) Official Bilingualism and linguistic Communication in Cameroon.  New York: Peter Lang, 1999.

 Ayafor, Isaiah, Munang. “Official Bilingualism in Cameroon: Instrumental or Integrative
Policy?’ Proceedings of the 4th International Symposium on Bilingualism. Ed. James
Cohen et al., Somerville: Cascadilla Press, 2005.

Bobda, S. and Tiomajou, D. “Integrating ESL and EFL: The Cameroonian Experience,” In British

                Council, Senegal. Across  the West African Divide. Proceedings of the West African English  Language Conference, Mbour, Senegal, 1995.

Breton, Roland and Fohtung, Bikia.  Atlas administratif des langues nationales du Cameroun.

                Yaoundé, Paris: CERDOTOLA, CREA – ACCT, 1991.

Cameroon, Government. Constitution of the Republic of Cameroon. Yaoundé: Government

                printer, 1996.

 Chumbo, B.S. “Language and Language Policy in Cameroon,” In Kofele Kale (ed.) An Experiment in  Nation-Building: The Bilingual Cameroon Republic since Reunification. Boulder: Westview

                Press, 1980.

Chumbo,  B.S.  and  Pius Tamanji. “Linguistic Identity across the Borders of Cameroon Triangle,” In Kweshi K. Prah (ed.) (2000):53-74.

Echu, George. “Influence of Cameroon Pidgin English on the English and

                Cultural Development of the French Language” (1991). Retrieved on

                March 12, 2014 from


 _______________. “Pidginization of French in Cameroon” (2006). Retrieved on

                February 12, 2014 from



_______________. “The Language Question in Cameroon.”(2004). Retrieved

                January 13, 2012 from http://www.linguistik-


_________________. “Influence of Cameroon Pidgin on the Linguistic and Cultural Development

                of the French Language,” Retrieved on April 23, 2013 from


Echu, G. and Grundstrom, A.W. Official Bilingualism in Cameroon: Francophone Cultures and 

                Literatures . New York. Peter Lang, 1999.

Fonlon, Bernard. “The Linguistic Problem in Cameroon: An Historical Perspective,” ABBIA 22


____________________. “A Case for Early Bilingualism,” ABBIA 4



Fouda, Mercédès. Je parle camerounais: pour un renouveau francofaune.Paris:

                Karthala, 2001.

Hirsch, E.D. Cultural Literacy: What Every American Should Know.  New York: Vintages Books,1988.

Jikong, S.Y. “Official Bilinguallism in Cameroon: A Double-Edged Sword,” Alizés:  Revue angliciste de la réunion 19(2001): 7-26

Kouega, J.P. (2003): “Camfranglais: A Novel Slang in Cameroon Schools,”

                English Today 19-2(2003): 23-29.

Kuitche, F. Gabriel. Moi taximan. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2001.

Mba G. and Blasius Chiatoh. (2000). "Current trends and Perspectives in Mother Tongue Education in Cameroon,'' African Journal in Applied Linguistics (AJAL) No. 1 (2000) 1-2.


Mbangwana, P. “Flexibility in Lexical Usage in Cameroon English,” Retrieved December 12, 2012

                from d_praqz5Z4#v=onepage&q=%E2%80%9C%20mbangwana&f=false

_____________________. Mbangwana, P.N.  “Invigorative and Hermetic Innovations in English in

                Yaounde.” World Engishes 10.1(1991):53-63.

Nganang, P. Temps de chien. Paris:  Serpent à Plumes, 2001.

Ngijol, Pierre. "Nécessité d'une langue nationale,"ABBIA No. 7 (1964): 83-99.

Nyamnjoh Francis. Stories from Abakwa. Bamenda: Langaa Research and

                Publishing Common Initiative Group, 2007.

Rosendal, Rove. Multilingual Cameroon: Policy, Practice, Problems and Solutions.

                Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg Press, 2008.

Soule, S N. “Official Bilingualism in Cameroon: Farce or Reality? The Need for Texts to Govern the   Practice of Official Bilingualism in Cameroon,” Retrieved on October 2, 2014 from

       bilingualism in cameroon: farce or

                reality%3f the need for texts to govern the practice of official bilingualism in cameroon

 Tadadjeu, M. “Language Planning in Cameroon: Toward a Trilingual Education System.” In Patterns in Language, Culture and Society: Sub-Saharan Africa. Ohio:  University of Ohio Press, 1975.

Tiomjou, D. Bilingualism in the Mass Media in Cameroon:  A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Cameroon

                Radio Television. (Unpublished Dissertation). Yaounde: University of Yaounde.

Todd, Loreto. "Language Options for Education in a Multilingual Society: Cameroon."In Kennedy, Chris (ed.): Language Planning and Language Education. London, 1983.


 Vakunta, P.W. Majunga Tok: Poems in Pidgin English. Bamenda: Langaa

                RPCIG, 2008.

_________________________. African Time and Pidgin Verses, Pretoria, Duplico,


__________________________. Cam Tok and Other Poems from the Cradle. Bamenda: Langaa RPCIG, 2010.

Wolf, H.G. English in Cameroon: Contributions to the Sociology of Language. Berlin: Mouton de

                Grutyer, 2001.


[1] On April 4, 1990, the Yaounde military tribunal was the focus of national and international attention as arguments in the trial of Yondo Black Mandengue and 10 others began. They had been arrested in February of that year for trying to create a political party. Officially, however, the accused were charged with holding clandestine meetings, fabricating and distributing tracts hostile to the Government, rebellion, and insulting the Head of State.
[2]  Police officers in francophone countries
[3] The following ILR descriptions of proficiency levels 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 characterize spoken-language use. Each higher level implies control of the previous level’s functions and accuracy. A skill level is assigned to a person through an authorized language examination called the  Oral Proficiency Interview(OPI). Examiners assign a level on a variety of performance criteria exemplified in the descriptive statements.!
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Unprofessional Translation: Young Interpreters: a Terminology Proposal

The December issue of Young Interpreters Newsletter has arrived with its usual roundup of good news from the schools that are members of the Young Interpreters Scheme (YI). YI, in case you don't already know, is a unique organisation sponsored by a British education authority for encouraging bilingual pupils to use their interpreting ability to help fellow students, school staff and other less advantaged members of their communities. Their ability, at least when they start, is largely natural; and it's important to note that they are not 'exceptionally gifted' children. Bilingualism and the translation ability that goes with it are already a fact of everyday life in multicultural Britain. (For more about YI, enter yi in the Search box on the right.)

More important, though, than the current news is the link in the middle of the Newsletter to YI's general list of does and don'ts for using children. The topic has been touched on before on this blog but the YI treatment is more complete and has official backing.

What the YI interpreters do is a form of language brokering. I've never liked the term language broker, because of its commercial connotation (as in insurance broker). But it's been in use now for at least 20 years, so we're stuck with it. However, it became apparent some time ago that it was inadequate with respect to the age of the interpreters. The people who coined it meant it to apply to children. Yet the functions of language broker don't end at such an early age. A great deal of it is done by adults for their families and acquaintances – and even for their children. A child who accompanies an adult family member to the doctor's to interpret is a language broker, but so is an adult who accompanies his or her child. So it has become customary in recent years to qualify the term in order to preserve the original intent, and to speak of child language brokers.

So far so good. But child is still a vague age indicator and certainly doesn't cover all the YI interpreters, the older ones of whom – the ones in the secondary schools – could reasonably object to being called children. It's in order to be more precise therefore, though not overly so, that I propose the following scale of terms. They can be applied not only to language brokers but to child translators in general.

1. Infant translators / language brokers. Under five years old. There are certainly children who can do some translating at that age, but language brokering is unlikely. This isn't because of language but because of the knowledge of the world around that language brokers need. Nevertheless, we should allow for it.

2. Child translators / language brokers. From five to ten years old. This corresponds to the period of primary education in most education systems.

3. Adolescent (or ado-) translators / language brokers. From 11 to 18, corresponding to secondary education.

4. Adult translators / language brokers. 18 and over. This takes us beyond the originally intended scope of language broker, but it must, for the reason given above, be allowed for.

So now what to do do about the YI interpreters, whose ages span both 2 and 3 above? We might make up a compound like child and adolescent translators. But that's a mouthful. Instead I propose to take advantage of the correspondences with the school systems and speak of

5. School-age translators / language brokers, ie, from five to 17 years old, to cover both categories.

We'll see if it catches on.

Hampshire Count Council, EMTAS. Young Interpreters Newsletter, December 2014. To receive or contribute, contact Astrid Dinneen at

Lucy Tse (University of Southern California). Language brokering among Latino adolescents…. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 1995.

J. McQuillan and L. Tse. Child language brokering in linguistic minority communities. Language and Education, 1995.

Infant translators was used as early as 1978 by Harris and Sherwood in Translating as an innate skill, which is avaialable on

School age language brokering has been used, but only with limiting qualifiers such as high school age language brokers, as in:

Sarah Louise Telford. Language Brokering Among Latino Middle School Students…, PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 2010, which also uses adult language brokering.

The same is true of school age translating.!
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Unprofessional Translation: 2015 Competition for Child Translators

On Christmas Day I was listening to a concert from Brussels on TV. One of the works was a beautifully performed Bach double violin concerto. Of the soloists, one was a young woman, young but adult. The other was a girl who was just as accomplished as her companion but who looked no older than twelve. A mere child, but gifted; a musical genius. She started me thinking about child translators.

It's not necessary for a child to be 'exceptionally gifted' to learn to play the violin. Thanks to Shinichi Suzuki and other music teachers, thousands of ordinary children do it every year. All they need is ten fingers, a perception of musical pitch and the mysterious delight in melody and rhythm which almost all children are born with worldwide. Music, for all its artificial elaborateness in pieces like the Bach concerto, is basically natural. Most of the chldren give up the violin after a while, but the basics of music that they have acquired on the way stay with them for life. Some of them persist, however; and a select few who really are exceptionally gifted reach the level of the Brussels soloist and we class them as geniuses.

Translating still awaits its Suzuki. But we know, especially from the studies of child language brokers, that child natural translators abound. All they need is to be bilingual. Yet the example of music tells us that if there are so many child translators who are not exceptionally gifted, then there should be a select few geniuses at the top of the pyramid who are, because it's a hierarchy to which all natural abilities conform. Can we find them?

At that point I had an idea for a first step. Here it is.

.........................Preliminary Announcement.....................

2015 Translatology Competition for Child Translators
-------------------------under 12 years old----------------------

First prize 400 euro
Second prize 200 euro
Third prize 100 euro

Language combination for 2015: Spanish to English
Other combinations in future years

The terms and texts of the competition will be announced in January.


Now nothing remains for 2014 but to wish my 195 Followers and all my other readers!
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Unprofessional Translation: Yet Another Bilingual Advantage

Ever since the explosive studies by Wallace Lambert and his collaborators at Montreal's McGill University in the 1960s, the tide has been turning in favour of bilingual education from childhood. (For an obit of Lambert, enter lambert in the Search box on the right.) Where I live, the discussion is no longer about whether children should learn two languages (half of them are Natural Bilinguals anyway in Spanish and Valencian) but whether they should be taught a third or even a fourth. It's true that in an officially bilingual jurisdiction like Canada or the Valencian Community we need to be on guard against research that fits too neatly into the current social and political agenda, but even so the trend is IMHO convincing. Bilingalism means more language and cultural flexibility, etc. From this year foreign languages are part of the primary school curriculum even in recalcitrant Britain.

Now comes a new twist.
"Researchers have found that bilingual children are able to concentrate better in the busy classroom environment than their monolingual peers. The research from Anglia Ruskin University [in the UK] found that 7- to 10-year olds who speak only one language were more negatively affected bu noise and were less able to keep their attention on a task when there other noises nearby. Published in Bilingualism, Language and Cognition, the study shows that the heightened performance of bilingual children is dependent on how well they know the two languages."

The Linguist, December 2014/January 2015, p. 5.

E. Peale and W. E. Lambert. The relation of bilingualism to intelligence. Psychological Monographs, General and Applied, vol. 76, no. 27, pp. 1-23. 1962.

Amanda Barton. Primary problem: how is compulsory language education shaping up on the ground? The Linguist, December 2014/January 2015, pp. 20-21.

Anglia Ruskin University. It sprang from a school of art founded at Cambridge by the 19th-century artist and critic John Ruskin.!
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Whatever the language, we're saying Happy New Year

Dear friends,

2015 is here and I wish to seize the opportunity to express my most sincere appreciation to you for lending me your company and support throughout these years. I wish you and all your loved ones the very best throughout the new year.

In Mbafeung, one of the many Cameroonian languages, they say "Ngeu' shwi pong mbeo gheo-ey!" How would they say "Happy New Year" in your heart languages? Please, share with us.

Charles Tiayon!
Charles Tiayon's curator insight, December 31, 2014 4:38 PM

Dear friends, 

2015 is here and I wish to seize the opportunity to express my most sincere appreciation to you for lending me your company and support throughout these years. I wish you and all your loved ones the very best  throughout the new year.

In Mbafeung, one of the many Cameroonian languages, they say "Ngeu' shwi pong mbeo gheo-ey!" How would they say "Happy New Year" in your heart languages? Please, share with us.


Charles Tiayon

This was the year sexist language declined and fell (and moved online)

Twitter rape threats and Gamergate cast a long shadow over an otherwise encouraging year for the demise of misogynist words

Naomi McAuliffe, Wednesday 31 December 2014 15.00 GMT

'Is misogyny just something that we feel uncomfortable displaying in public now?' Photograph: Simon Belcher/Alamy
You rarely notice the moment when you finally get over a cough; one day you just think, “Oh, I haven’t been coughing for a while.” Similarly, I don’t remember when I stopped getting comments about being blonde. Throughout my early life and teenage years, “Blondie!” would be shouted from passing cars, or there would be a lame apology right before a dreadful “dumb blonde” joke. I’ve even been asked in the past why I don’t dye my hair, the implication that I’d be taken more seriously as a brunette. But that doesn’t happen any more. There are still remarks shouted from passing cars and apologies before stupid jokes, but the significance of hair colour has faded just as my own has dulled and given way to grey.

My own experience seems to be backed up by research. The Spoken British National Corpus 2014 study has analysed 2.5 million words of conversation and has compared these to similar studies from the 1990s. A few preliminary findings have been released over the past few months, including that the use of the word “marvellous” has declined (sadly and infuriatingly replaced by “awesome”), and that we drank less sherry at Christmas but more champagne. Now the lead researchers claim that men are using fewer sexist terms to describe women than they did in the 90s.

Women are now rarely referred to as “blonde” or “sexy” in conversation and “are being described more in their own right and less in terms of their appearance”. Interestingly, there has been a rise in the term “girly girl” – seemingly because this archetype needs a special description as the cutesy-feminine behaviour of the late 20th century is no longer the norm.

But does this change in language mean a change in attitudes? Certainly there seems to be a marked difference between the “lad culture” of the 90s to what we are seeing now. Lad mags are on the decline and are radically shifting in response to changing tastes. The Inbetweeners may have popularised the word “clunge”, but at least they are acting their age and don’t seem to be aspirational (rather them than 40-year-old men going to work on a skateboard and ironically taking pictures of women eating on the Tube).

Yet 2014 seems to have been the year that “Twitter” and “rape threat” became synonymous. It’s also been the year that sexism in video game culture hit the mainstream with Gamergate, and there was the debate as to whether convicted rapist Ched Evans should be able to resume his life while his victim cannot. Even a UN expert thinks the UK is a “boys’ club”.

So is misogyny just something that we feel uncomfortable displaying in public now? And are the misogynistic conversations simply moving online? Do people talk about “lovely” women to each other, yet threaten to rape them online when they disagree?

Of course, language evolves, and just as interesting as the words that have disappeared are the ones that have emerged. Apparently new words for describing women include “international”, “gypsy” and “Italian”. Depending on the context, these could all be derogatory terms and based on appearance rather than actual nationality (although goodness knows what an “international woman” is, I just hope it’s suffixed with “of mystery”). “Italian” is obviously far from a negative term in itself, but given the size of that country’s population and recent immigration trends, it seems unlikely that there has been an influx of Italian women into Britain that we were unaware of.

Men seemed to have been increasingly pigeoned-holed by their occupation, as there is a rise in the terms “City”, “business”, “working” and “rich” in relation to them. These may hint at men’s continued power, wealth and influence but are also just monumentally boring. And just as social networks can veer towards the rapey, they can also be well used to address sexism with campaigns such as Lose the Lad Mags, No More Page 3, End Female Genital Mutilation, and the Everyday Sexism project.

As women have increasingly taken to dying their hair regularly, any claims to characteristics based on hair colour have gone from immature to nonsensical. Instead there appears to be an increased interest in ethnicity or perceived ethnicity. Perhaps another sign of the times. But there is clearly a divergence between what people say about women between themselves, and the emergent language of online interactions which are extreme, polarised, often violent and far from marvellous. Given the speed of change online, hopefully 2015 will be the year that we look back with embarrassment at old-fashioned flaming in the same way that we flinch at clips of Love Thy Neighbour and The Benny Hill Show. In the meantime, I’ll endeavour to write responsibly on Cif, yet swear like a Greenock docker in conversation.!
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The Most Annoying Word Of 2014 Is …

The most annoying word or phrase of 2014 in casual conversation is “whatever,” according to the Marist College annual poll.

“Whatever” has now grabbed top honors (43 percent this time around) for the sixth consecutive year in the survey. The staying power of “whatever” could be because it seems like a very dismissive, if not rude, way to end a discussion. “Whatever” may have entered the popular culture after the 1995 comedy film Clueless, which starred Alicia Silverstone and Stacey Dash.

Finishing in second place as most annoying in the national landline and cell phone poll of about 1,000 American adults taken earlier this month was “like” (another perennial), followed by “literally,” “awesome,” and “with all due respect.” Last year, “you know,” “just saying,” and “obviously” rounded out the top five.

As far as which word was the most overused or worn out, a separate category in the survey, “selfie” won with 35 percent, followed by “hashtag,” “twerk,” “YOLO,” Twittersphere,” and “hipster.”

Summarizing the results, the Marist Institute for Public Opinion explained that “Americans under 30 years old, 36%, are less likely than older Americans, 46%, to consider ‘whatever’ to be the most annoying” and “While a plurality of Americans 30 and older, 38%, say ‘selfie’ is the most overused word of 2014, 32% of younger residents think ‘hashtag’ was used too much.”

Although not included in the Marist polling data, additional annoying/overused words that may come to mind include “absolutely” (instead of just saying “yes”), “amazing,” “basically,” and “honestly.”

Sometimes, certain familiar phrases do appropriately match the situation to be sure, but as the year ends, do any of these that have entered the everyday lexicon get on your nerves?

“to be honest with you” [immediate red flag, as with “honestly” noted above]
“no problem” [instead of “you’re welcome”]
“throwing [someone] under the bus”
“I mean” or “so” [dropped in at the beginning of a sentence]
“my bad”
“it’s all good”
“you know what I’m saying”
“it is what it is”
“at the end of the day”
“singing Kumbaya”
“step up your/my game”
“bring it”
While on the subject of annoying conversational techniques, you may very well have noticed the rampant practice of “uptalk”(officially known to linguists as “high rising terminal”). This is the very bothersome tendency for a speaker to end a declarative sentence as if it is a question. In other words, finishing a statement with an imaginary question mark. This way of conversing apparently started with the San Fernando “Valley Girls,” but has spread across the country, if not the world, and all genders and demographic groups like a virus.

Even as far back as 1994, news correspondent Connie Chung reported on uptalk.

Uptalk, Like and Creaky Voice (Vocal Fry)

BRANDO interview Connie Chung

New Significant Changes in Watchtower Doctrine (Watchtower magazine July 15, 2013)

MADtv Connie Chung Tonight

UP Talk - UP Smart Idol

What words or phrases do you find the most annoying and/or overused in casual, day-to-day conversation?!
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The imperialism of language

LEARNING English will make you rich, and learning Arabic will make you holy. No one ever says these things out loud in Pakistan, but their premises undergird many decisions. They dominate the thinking of parents braving long lines outside the compounds of English-medium schools during admissions season. They inspire other, newer educational institutions to advertise that they teach both Arabic and English to their students — a winning recipe for the next generation ie, holiness and wealth.
Unsurprisingly, then, many regional languages in Pakistan are dying a slow and silent death. According to one report, one-fifth of the 30 regional languages spoken in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are in danger of extinction, with only a handful of some hundred people left to speak them. The languages gasping for life include Ushojo, Gawro, Gawarbati, Badeshi and several others.
According to Fakhruddin Akhundzada, a Pakistani linguist, Yidhga, a language of Chitral, is one of those recently placed on the endangered languages list by the United Nations Educational Social and Cultural Organisation. Also comatose and nearly dead is Ushojo, another language from the same area, which numbers only about 200 people among its speakers.
In Pakistan, the promotion of a language has often been equivocated with the political dominance of one or the other group.
Kalashi, the language of the once celebrated and now often persecuted Kalash tribe, is faring little better. Only a few thousand people speak it any more and of those the vast majority is in their seventies. It is quite likely that when they die, the language will die with them.
Research shows that language extinction usually comes along with economic prosperity. A study published in the British Journal of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B makes the claim that as nations develop, a single language comes to dominate the country’s political and educational spheres and people face the onerous choice of either adopting that language or being left out in the cold, economically and politically. The rise in GDP was also seen as directly correlated with the loss of language diversity in a region.
Neither of these claims makes much sense in Pakistan; the areas around Chitral and Kalash do not seem to have experienced any vast or sudden economic development or significant rise in income per capita. Their languages nevertheless are dying.
One of the reasons may be that Pakistan’s own identity crises have always been closely tied to issues of linguistic identity. In many cases, the supremacy of a language or its promotion has been equivocated with the political dominance of one or the other group. These ideas are being tested today by two developments. First, the emergence of transnational Islamism as an antidote to the confusions of post-coloniality (who were we before the British came and how can we return to that pristine place?) has equalled the ascendance of Arabic.
In learning that language, many believe, the misconstructions of a faith understood second-hand with the losses of translation can be avoided. The consequence will be Arabised Pakistanis whose Islam would be as authentic as that of the Arab forebears (fictitious or actual) whom they are so wont to connect themselves to. To learn Arabic, as per this argument, is to solve everything, a goal lovely enough to merit the sacrifice of many languages.
The imperialism of Arabic, of course, would not exist were it not for the pre-existing anointment of English. In the darkness of the colonial age, the subcontinent’s Muslims realised there was little hope of throwing off the yoke of Empire without mastering English. Perhaps the problem began then or perhaps it did not; with the continued ascendance of English as the global language, perhaps the ontology of the issue, its vexing origins, do not much matter.
Nor would the issue have been as knotty if, after the hackles of Partition had divided up the subcontinent, a single successor could have been agreed upon. Urdu was only perfunctorily crowned, and its crowning brought on ethnic war: with linguistic diversity attached to ethnic diversity, it was perhaps inevitable.
And so it happens that even as Pakistan is refused the prosperity that accompanies the loss of language diversity, it is nevertheless losing the variety of languages that it once enjoyed.
It need not, of course, be so. In a recent article, Ross Perlin, who studies language diversity, gives the example of the Basque language movement. In Spain, Basque speakers were persecuted under the fascist regime of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco. They did not allow it to defeat them or eradicate their language. By the time the 1960s came around, the language had become a groundswell, complete with secret schools, do it yourself language learning programmes, cultural festivals and ultimately recognition from the Spanish government itself.
The endurance of Basque is a lesson to all: its speakers face the same pro-English pressures that globalisation places on the rest of the world. Its speakers received little help from government institutions. It endured because the people who spoke it saw its utility beyond simply the pragmatics of better jobs in higher places or faraway cities.
At the heart of the language issue is the premise that the ascendance of one or another language means the sacrifice of another. There are good reasons to learn English and Arabic, venerable ones that make sense in terms of economics, a deeper understanding of faith, the accessibility of a global realm of research and knowledge. This should not demote the less spoken, the ancient, the foregone.
The preservation of language should not pivot on Darwinian scales that sentence the remote to obscurity and extinction. For the picture of the future is, after all, imprinted in the understanding of the past. A lost language hence represents the loss of what was before, an absence that inevitably taints all that comes after.!
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10 Words and Phrases That Should Be Banished In 2015

The faculty and staff at Lake Superior State University have been compiling a list of words to be banished since 1976. ( Facebook photo)


Saving the Queen’s English from further bastardization, a Michigan university has once again offered its list of words and phrases we just shouldn’t say.


One of the top submissions on Lake Superior State University’s 40th Annual List of Words Banished from the Queen’s English for Mis-Use, Over-Use and General Uselessness is the word “bae,” text shorthand for “before anyone else” that has wormed its way into spoken conversation – annoyingly so, it seems.

“How stupid! Stop calling your boyfriend ‘bae,’ ” Ervie Dunagan of Manheim, PA, said in her submission for the 2014 list, which will become part of an archive of more than 800 words that have been suggested for banishment since former LSSU public relations director started the list of words that annoyed him and his friends.

The tradition started by the late W.T. Rabe, who put together the first list of words people love to hate at a New Year’s Eve party in 1975, has been continued by LSSU faculty and staff. The list, first published on jan. 1, 1976, is based entirely upon nominations from around the world.

If “bae” is a too-cute way to refer to your boyfriend, don’t even think about using it to refer to ramen noodles, says S. Thoms of Sault Ste. Marie, MI. She wins the understatement-of-the-year award with her comment:

“It’s overused.”

Misuse of the word to describe the college dorm food staple aside, Thoms offered this: “If I was putting someone ‘before anything else,’ I would respect them enough to use their name.’ ”

Tell Us:

What words do you never want to hear again?
And if by bae, you really mean “babe,” take the extra time – which is no time at all – to add another consonant, k?

“I’d rather be called ‘babe’ than ‘bae’ any day,” said Alexsis Outwater of Bronson, MI.

Flush the Polar Vortex

Another phrase we should all forget we ever heard is “polar vortex.” The phrase got a blizzard of nominations criticizing its use as an overly sensationalized, fright-inducing and poorly chosen synonym for what used to be called winter.

“What happened to ‘cold snap’?” Trevor Fenton of Edinburgh, UK, panned. “Not descriptive enough?”

News Flash: Everybody’s a Foodie

Michiganders had a strong presence in a chorus of people wanting us to un-hear the word “foodie.”

“It’s ridiculous. Do we call people who like wine ‘winies’ or beer lovers ‘beeries’?” asked Randall Chamberlain of Traverse City.

” ‘Someone who enjoys food’ applies to everyone on Earth. What’s next? ‘Oh, I’m an airie; I just love to breathe.’ ‘Could we do it at 11, instead? I’m kind of a sleepie.’ “ said Andy Poe of Marquette.

And Steve Szilagyi of Mason added this:

“I’ve heard of cooks and chefs, and gourmets and gourmands, but what the heck is a ‘foodie’? A person who likes food? A person who eats food? A person who knows what food is? Sounds like ‘foodie’ is a synonym for ‘everybody.’ Foodies around the world agree; let’s banish this term.”

Here are some other words you just shouldn’t say in 2015:


Just stop it. It’s baby-talk for “crazy.” Use your adult voices and show some compassion for mentally ill people. Patch editorial comment aside, Steve Kaufman of Houston, TX, said this:

“I’ve only heard it twice and already know by the end of the year I’ll want to scream.”


No one even knows what this means anymore.

“The word ‘swag’ has become a shapeless, meaningless word used in various forms (such as ‘swaggy’) but with no real depth,” said Bailey Anderson of Washington, IA.


“A pretentious way of saying ‘selected.’ It’s enormously overused.” said Kristi Hoerauf of San Francisco, whose comment we curated for the sake of this story.


“Suddenly things that once would have been called ‘tips’ are now being called ‘hacks,’” Sharla Hulsey of Sac City, IA, said. “It can’t be because the one word is shorter or easier to say; and the actual accepted meanings of ‘hack’ have nothing to do with suggestions for doing tasks better or more efficiently – quite the opposite, really.”

Skill Set

“A skill is a skill – that is it. Phrases such as ‘I have the skill set to do that properly’ or anything resembling that phrase, shows the speaker is seriously lacking skills in the art of conversation,” Stephanie Hamm-Wieczkiewicz of Litfield Park, AZ, said. “Please try this, ‘I have the skill ... Do you have the skills ... This requires certain skills ... He is very skilled ... That was a skillful maneuve r... See? No need for a skill set.”

Enhanced Interrogation

“A shameful euphemism for torture,” said David Bristol of Byron Center, MI.


“Although a devout Wisconsin sports fan, I do not belong to Packer-Nation, Badger-Nation, Phoenix-Nation, or Brewer-Nation. Further, I am not aware of any team or mascot that has the carrying capacity to be a nation,” said Kelly Frawley of Waunakee, WI.!
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Selfie, Daech, vapotage... Ces mots qui ont fait 2014

Comme chaque année, certains mots ont fait leur apparition ou ont connu un essor tout particulier. Simple mode, histoire ou tendance, les raisons sont nombreuses. Pour Alain Rey, linguiste et conseiller éditorial aux éditions le Robert, "il y a des mots qui sont beaux mais dont le sens est pénible et des mots qui sont laids et dont le sens n'est pas désagréable".

Avant de passer le cap de la nouvelle année, revue de dictionnaire. "Selfie", "Daech", "Guerre Sainte" sont les mots de cette année pour Alain Rey. Avant d'ajouter "vapoter", "éco-responsable", "procrastiner" et même "bistronomie". 

Le mystère des mots

Mais alors, comment naît un mot ? Les médias, les communicants, la rue et même la banlieue sont les places fortes de la langue françaises. "Quand un mot de la banlieue passe dans les écoles, dans un premier temps les enfants le savent et non les parents", rappelle le spécialiste.

C'est extrêmement mystérieux car les mots sont parfois à la mode pendant 20 ans et ils disparaissent.
Alain Rey

Cependant, si certains deviennent rapidement à la mode, aucune certitude qu'ils deviennent pérennes. "C'est extrêmement mystérieux car les mots sont parfois à la mode pendant 20 ans et ils disparaissent. Il y a deux tendances dans la langue. Jouer avec elle et créer des nouveautés parfois cocasses et à l'inverse, ramener les choses dans une certaine régularité".!
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AP’s year of freaking out language geeks | Poynter.

by Andrew Beaujon
Published Dec. 31, 2014 8:07 am

In March, the editors of the AP Stylebook changed a rule that may seem obscure to non-journalists: No longer would it enforce a distinction between “over” and “more than.”

The news of this change was Poynter’s most popular post of 2014, and reactions from journalists, many of whom had treasured the rule, were sometimes sad and often hilarious.

But AP’s reign of terror wasn’t more than yet (OK, I’ll stop now). The next month it issued guidance that probably had a greater effect on journalists: “Effective May 1, the AP will spell out state names in the body of stories.” No more “Calif.”! No more looking up Wisconsin’s abbreviation! (“Wis.” just never looked right.) A lot more mnemonic devices (I use the chorus of this song to remember how to spell Tennessee).

Another change welcomed by every reporter who covers the Washington, D.C., area: They could use “District” on second reference to the District of Columbia.

Why do these changes engage our journalist meta-society so? As Jill Geisler wrote about the “over”/”more than” change, it signaled to some people that they had to let go “a part of their expert identity.” She continued:

Those who’ve made a commitment to studying language, memorizing its rules, and protecting its integrity have been correcting and coaching others for years — either as vocation or avocation. They’ve righteously talked or tussled with writers about “more than” and “over” — citing the AP Stylebook as the argument settler. Now the argument is over. Wrong is now right. On this one, everyone’s now the expert.
AP published its 2014 Stylebook in May. It included the term “selfie” (“a self-portrait photo taken with a phone or webcam and shared over a social network”). And, you know, the world somehow kept spinning — though brace yourself if “usie” ever gets enshrined.

AP plans to publish its next Stylebook in May 2015. Sally Jacobsen, a Stylebook editor, said the team “is currently reviewing and updating our entries based on suggestions from our staff, the public and changes in the use of news terms and phrases.” Want to make a suggestion? Head more than here. Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Related: 5 AP style changes illustrated with GIFs!
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Une nouvelle édition pour le Dictionnaire des Yôkai, 31 December 2014 - Manga news

Une nouvelle édition pour le Dictionnaire des Yôkai
Mercredi, 31 December 2014 - Source :Pika Edition
Dans un peu moins de deux mois, les éditions Pika proposeront une nouvelle édition du Dictionnaire des Yôkai.

Rédigée et illustrée par le grand Shigeru Mizuki, cette véritable bible sur ces créatures folkloriques nippones était initialement sortie en 2008 sous la forme d'une première édition de deux volumes de 10€ pièce, puis ressortit en 2010 en un coffret regroupant les deux volets et vendu 19,80¨€. Cette fois-ci, l'édition proposée sera une intégrale grand format (17x24cm) coûtant 20€.

Sa sortie est prévue pour le 18 février 2015.

Synopsis :

Ouvrage de référence abondamment commenté et illustré, ce dictionnaire des monstres japonais ne propose pas moins de 500 yôkai sur plus de 500 pages ! Une véritable encyclopédie dans son genre. Les amoureux de contes et légendes nippons seront ainsi ravis de découvrir Akanamé, qui lèche la crasse dans les salles de bains désertes, Dorotabô, qui surgit de la boue des rizières, Iso Onna, créature marine qui recouvre les pêcheurs endormis de ses longs cheveux ou encore Kuroté, yôkai taquin qui caresse les fesses de ceux qui vont aux toilettes...!
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Just how important was Magna Carta?

This year people in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and plenty of other nations will mark the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The document will be lauded for establishing one vital principle.

A new book about Magna Carta is published today which claims to offer new insights into one of the most famous documents in British history.

This year marks the 800th anniversary of the charter's first signing on 15 June 1215 at Runnymede on the banks of the Thames between Windsor and Staines.

The book by David Carpenter, professor of medieval history at King's College, London, contains a new translation of Magna Carta and more than 500 pages of historical background and commentary.

The charter was agreed between King John and a group of leading barons, led by Robert fitzWalter, exasperated at the king's arbitrary rule and high taxes. It was in effect a peace treaty designed to head off armed conflict. It failed.

Much of Magna Carta is impenetrable to modern readers, couched in medieval jargon and concerned with the detail of relations between the king and his most powerful feudal tenants. And the charter's most significant innovation, a "security clause" in which the king was subjected to the oversight of a panel of 25 barons, proved impossible to implement.

But the document quickly gained a central place in English political life and remains a touchstone of English liberties. However, few of us have actually read it.

This year's anniversary will be widely celebrated. Melvyn Bragg will present a four-part series on Radio 4 this month, and David Starkey will front a BBC Two documentary. On BBC Three you can watch Magna Carta 2.0, "a new documentary packed full of stunts, fun and comedy" and CBBC is offering a Horrible Histories on King John and Magna Carta.!
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Poor handwriting "caused by modern prams and car seats" warns Scottish academic

Prams and car seats have been blamed for the declining standards of handwriting among Scottish pupils.

Theresa Campbell
With the rise of computers and smart phones long held responsible for poor writing, the over-protective environment children grow up in is also a key factor, according to one expert.

Theresa Campbell, a senior lecturer from Glasgow University's School of Education, says modern babies are constantly supported from birth in cushioned prams, buggies and reinforced car seats.

She believes that, as a result, pupils grow up without the basic physical skills required to sit for an extended period.

The warning comes after The Herald revealed concerns from examiners that standards of handwriting among Scottish pupils were getting worse.

A report into this year's Higher English exam revealed ­markers had identified "near-illegible" sentences on the papers submitted by some students.

The warnings come as concerns mount that teenagers brought up using email, texting and web-based social media sites to communicate have lost the ability to work with a pen and paper.

Handwriting has not only been shown to support literacy skills such as reading, writing, and speaking, but research also shows it develops areas of the brain that improve wider learning skills.

The issue is considered so important by some private schools, such as Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School, in Edinburgh, that all pupils are expected to use fountain pens to develop handwriting skills.

Mrs Campbell said: "My concern is that in our current society we are engineering out a lot of experiences that young children need in order to prepare them for learning and give them the physical skills to write.

"What is required for writing is the skill of holding a particular posture for a long time, but young people are being denied a lot of the prerequisites that allow them to develop that postural control because prams, buggies and car seats now support the body rather than letting babies use their muscles."

Eileen Prior, executive director of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, said good handwriting was a skill that had long been valued, but was now gradually being lost.

She said: "The neat, copperplate handwriting of our parents or grandparents is largely a thing of the past. Many parents do care about their children's ­writing and it would be helpful if school approaches and policies on ­handwriting were discussed with families and parents given guidance of needed."

Ken Cunningham, general secretary of School Leaders ­Scotland, which represents secondary headteachers, said good handwriting was vital.

He said: "We recognise the way young people communicate with each other these days does not involve using longhand, but it is still an important skill. There will always be circumstances when pupils have to use handwriting and it is crucial it is legible.

"Schools and teachers need to reinforce the importance of this to all pupils, and those sitting Higher English should be ensuring their handwriting can be read."

The concerns come as new research published by the National Literacy Trust revealed a significant difference in the amount of time boys and girls spend writing.

The study found almost a third of boys never or rarely write for fun outside class while almost a third of girls write every day. Six out of ten boys say they don't enjoy writing at all.

The trust said the trend could be having a negative impact on boys' attainment at school with young people who write for fun outside school every day four times more likely to be writing above the expected level for their age compared with those who never write outside school.

Overall, the National Literacy Trust's fourth annual literacy survey of almost 30,000 8 to 16-year-olds shows that boys are much less enthusiastic about writing than girls.

The charity's report Children and Young People's Writing found boys were twice as likely as girls to say that they don't enjoy writing at all, almost a third of girls write daily outside the classroom, compared with only 21 per cent of boys.

Girls write more widely across a variety of formats such as social networking sites, text messages and lyrics. They also tweet more than boys.!
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Frontiers | On Interpretation and Task Selection: The Sub-Component Hypothesis of Cognitive Noise Effects | Cognition

It is often argued that the effects of noise on a “complex ability” (e.g., reading, writing, calculation) can be explained by the impairment noise causes to some ability (e.g., working memory) upon which the complex ability depends. Because of this, tasks that measure “sub-component abilities” (i.e., those abilities upon which complex abilities depend) are often deemed sufficient in cognitive noise studies, even when the primary interest is to understand the effects of noise as they arise in applied settings (e.g., offices and schools). This approach can be called the “sub-component hypothesis of cognitive noise effects”. The present paper discusses two things that are troublesome for this approach: Difficulties with interpretation and generalizability. A complete understanding of the effects of noise on complex abilities requires studying the complex ability itself. Cognitive noise researches must, therefore, employ tasks that mimic the tasks that are actually carried out in the applied setting to which the results are intended to be generalized. Tasks that measure “sub-component abilities” may be complementary, but should not be given priority in applied cognitive research.!
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Interview de Poutine : la traduction manipulée ?

le 31 décembre 2014 dans Médias

Autrement dit : les femmes, et en particulier, Hillary Clinton, ne sont pas assez intelligentes pour que l’on puisse débattre avec elles et il vaut donc mieux les traiter avec mépris. Le message, on le voit, est clairement misogyne.

Le problème, c’est qu’en russe, le verbe « спорить » employé par le président Poutine, ne signifie pas « débattre », au sens courant de « discuter », mais plutôt « se disputer » ou « se chamailler ». Il existe un verbe spécifique pour débattre qui est « обсуждать ».

La véritable traduction du propos de Poutine serait ainsi : « il est préférable de ne pas se chamailler avec les femmes » ou « il est préférable de ne pas se disputer avec les femmes ». Le propos s’entend ainsi davantage comme l’expression d’une galanterie, certes un rien surannée et paternaliste, que comme une tirade misogyne et méprisante. « Traduttore traditore » (traducteur traitre) disent les Italiens !

La question qui demeure est évidemment celle du caractère volontaire ou non de cette faute de traduction. Imprécision dans le feu de l’action ? Volonté de noircir le tableau ? Impossible à savoir.

Mais ce qui est sûr, c’est que la plupart des médias ont foncé tête baissé, ainsi que l’inénarrable Valérie Trierweiler, « heureuse de ne pas avoir à serrer la main de Poutine », comme elle écrivait sur son compte Twitter quelques heures après l’interview. Il est vrai que Valérie Trierweiler n’a jamais semblé particulièrement apprécier les hommes galants…!
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Drews: It’s all in the proofreading

I just finished going through the newspaper’s archives to see if I wrote about my New Year’s resolution at the end of last year. Turns out I did, and what can I say? I didn’t really complete my resolutions. Sure, I went the whole year without one cavity, but I’m not so sure I did my best at making less of myself and more of others.

How about you? Did you lose that pesky 20 pounds? Did you adopt a pet or learn a new craft? If you made a New Year’s resolution for 2014 that you completed, let me know. We might just feature you in an upcoming edition of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press.
As for me, I’ll be repeating my resolution again in 2015. My guess is that it’s something I’ll have to repeat each year for the rest of my life. We humans are a bit self-centered, aren’t we. That’s the human condition, I guess. Flashback ...
• • •
I wish that just once in my life, I could make a New Year’s resolution that would stick longer than the time it takes for me to think it up and tell someone I’m going to do this or that.
Once it’s out of my mouth, it isn’t going to happen. Good intentions. Bad execution. My New Year’s resolutions are probably a lot like yours — get in shape, have no cavities this year (Oh, wait, is that just me?), write more letters, watch less TV, create something, be somebody, and on and on we go.
I don’t know from where the idea of New Year’s resolutions came, but I know they are usually nothing more than a pain, a burden and an afterthought.
But one thing that hasn’t been an afterthought to me lately? This quote: “Real life is long on law and short on grace.”
It comes from a book called “One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World” by Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham. In the book, Tchividjian explains that life demands much from us.
And, not only does it demand much, it demands that we be the best at it — a great marriage, perfect kids, a certain standard of living, an overachiever at work or school. We spend so much time and effort trying to live up to the “laws” set before us by others, and oftentimes by ourselves, that we live with anxiety, guilt and depression. (Not that high standards cause these issues alone, but they can sometimes be the cause.)
Can I be honest? Trying to meet another New Year’s resolution in 2014 just isn’t going to happen for me. I’m too wrapped up with being anxious, stressed out and feeling discontent that I don’t live up to the “laws” in my life that a resolution might send me packing to live in a van down by the river.
I’m guessing that a lot of you feel that way, too. So here’s my proposition. How about instead of trekking through 2014 like we have to be someone or do something great or keep from getting 100 cavities, let’s extend grace to ourselves, and more importantly, to each other. Let’s take the focus off of self and put it on others.
I’m not saying let yourself go. By all means, brush your teeth. Try your best. Do something awesome. But let’s be kind to ourselves, our spouses, and other people.
Let’s extend grace to all, and realize that we’re all in this together. One New Year’s resolution at a time.!
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La RAE no quitará del diccionario la acepción de gitano como "alguien que procura engañar"

La Real Academia Española manifiesta “su máximo respeto y consideración” hacia la comunidad gitana, pero no va a cambiar las definiciones de “gitano” y “gitanada” que figuran en el Diccionario porque se usan “en el español hablado y literario desde 1500 hasta hoy mismo”.

A la asociación de gitanas les parece que el término “es obsoleto y no hace más que alimentar una serie de prejuicios y estereotipos que ya existen”Este viernes la Asociación Gitanas Feministas por la Diversidad ha convocado una concentración, ante la sede la RAE, en protesta por la entrada de “gitano” en la nueva edición del Diccionario, una de cuyas acepciones remite a “trapacero”, definido como alguien “que con astucia, falsedades y mentiras procura engañar a alguien en un asunto”. A la citada asociación de gitanas les parece que el término “es obsoleto y no hace más que alimentar una serie de prejuicios y estereotipos que ya existen” sobre este pueblo. Por tanto, le piden a la Academia que elimine “una acepción tan peyorativa como esta”. Por su parte, la Unión Romaní ha calificado la definición de “inyección de ánimo” a los “racistas del país”.

El Defensor del Pueblo ya se dirigió en febrero a la RAE para que revisara las acepciones de “gitanada” y “gitano” que se contenían en la 22 edición de su Diccionario en lo que se refería a la que imputaba en la definición “a un colectivo de personas, por el mero hecho de su pertenencia al mismo, una conducta negativa, en concreto de engaño”. El “engaño” es, según el Defensor, algo “constitutivo de delito” y “discriminatorio” y mantener esa definición contribuye “a la creación y mantenimiento de actitudes sociales racistas y xenófobas”. La RAE ya modificó la redacción respecto a la 22ª edición La RAE se ha pronunciado en numerosas ocasiones sobre las razones por las que mantenía estos términos, y de nuevo el pleno de la Academia ha vuelto a fijar su postura al respecto en un comunicado.

En su comunicado, la Academia recuerda que, desde julio de 2013 y a lo largo del presente año, ha contestado a los escritos que la oficina de la Defensora del Pueblo le cursó acerca de la redacción de los artículos “gitano” Y “gitanada” en la 23ª edición del Diccionario de la Lengua Española. Ambos artículos fueron modificados en relación al texto de la 22ª edición del Diccionario publicada en 2001. Se adjuntó, en todo caso, a la Defensora del Pueblo “cumplida documentación lexicográfica que acredita que ninguna de las acepciones reseñadas, tanto las de contenido neutro como las positivas y las peyorativas, es ajena al uso del español literario y hablado desde 1500 hasta hoy mismo”.

La RAE mantiene el “respeto” y el “rigor” “El que una palabra o acepción figure en el Diccionario de la lengua española no es fruto de una invención o de la voluntad arbitraria de la Academia, sino que obedece a la obligada incorporación a este repertorio lexicográfico de los usos léxicos del español utilizado en la realidad”, se afirma en el comunicado. La RAE no puede declinar su compromiso, mantenido desde hace tres siglos, de ofrecer al conjunto de nuestra comunidad lingüística el repertorio más fiel que sea posibleLa Real Academia Española “manifiesta su máximo respeto y consideración hacia la comunidad gitana y todos y cada uno de sus miembros”, pero “no puede declinar su compromiso, mantenido desde hace tres siglos, de ofrecer al conjunto de nuestra comunidad lingüística el repertorio más fiel que sea posible de las palabras que los hispanohablantes usan libre y espontáneamente en todas sus acepciones”.

Cuando se le plantean peticiones de eliminar del diccionario determinadas entradas o acepciones, la Academia “examina con cuidado todos los casos”, pero “no siempre puede atender algunas propuestas de supresión, pues los sentidos implicados han estado hasta hace poco, o siguen estando vigentes en la comunidad social”. “Al plasmarlos en el Diccionario, el lexicógrafo está haciendo un ejercicio de veracidad; está reflejando usos lingüísticos efectivos, pero no está incitando a nadie a ninguna descalificación ni presta su aquiescencia a las creencias o percepciones correspondientes”, indica la Academia.!
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Qwant Wants to Be Alternative to Google

The French search engine Qwant says it does not track people’s online movements.Credit
PARIS — Only a brave — or maybe foolhardy — company would take on Google.

Yet from a small office near the banks of the river Seine, a French search engine called Qwant is doing just that.

The French start-up, whose product was released 18 months ago, is tapping into growing anger here that Google has too much control over how Europeans surf the web.

Some of the region’s lawmakers have already called for the breakup of the American search giant, while the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union, is in the middle of a long antitrust investigation into Google’s roughly 85 percent share of the European search engine market.

“There’s a need for a choice,” Jean Manuel Rozan, a former financier who co-founded Qwant in 2011, said recently over a cup of coffee. “Europe is the only place in the world where people think that Google is the Internet.”

Turning Europe’s anti-Google sentiment into a successful business, however, is easier said than done.

Google and its various services, including maps and online shopping, hold a tight grip over how Europeans search for information. And despite Europeans’ perceived antipathy toward American tech companies like Amazon and Facebook, the companies continue to have strong followings across the 28-country bloc.

To stand out from the crowd, Qwant sold a 20 percent stake to Axel Springer, the German publisher, this year for roughly $6 million, mostly to buy European servers. Mathias Döpfner, the publisher’s chief executive, has openly criticized Google’s online dominance. Mr. Rozan says Qwant made about a $1.8 million profit last year but will post a loss for 2014 as the company expands into new markets like Germany. The company employs fewer than 50 people between its offices in Paris and Nice, a city in southern France.

The French start-up also has also tried to tap into Europeans’ growing distrust about how they are tracked online, as the likes of Google and Facebook use data gathered from people’s online histories to tailor advertising specifically to individuals.

Along with other Google alternatives like DuckDuckGo and Ixquick, a Dutch search engine, Qwant says it does not track people’s online movements and sells advertising based only on individuals’ search queries.

“We can build a valuable company that can deliver search results to people without tracking them,” said Mr. Rozan, who said that people made about 1.6 billion search queries through Qwant in 2014 — or less than half the search queries that Google handles in just one day.

Qwant also plans to release a child-friendly search engine — Qwant Junior — in early 2015. Google has announced similar plans, but in a sign that the French government is eager to find an alternative to the American tech company, the country’s education ministry has said that it will start using Qwant Junior in some French schools next year.

“If you have three million children who will search on Qwant, then there’ll be six million parents who will know about Qwant,” said Eric Leandri, another of the start-up’s co-founders, who added that the start-up was in discussions with Axel Springer to become the default search engine on some of the publisher’s websites. “When we launched, everyone explained to us why we shouldn’t do this. Now, they think it’s a great idea.”

Qwant’s other twist to the traditional search engine model is to include social media posts from services like Twitter directly in search results.

When people use the company’s search engine, for example, four columns appear on the webpage that offer different takes on Internet queries. That ranges from traditional search results to something called Qnowledge Graph, which offers general information based on the search, drawn from sites including Wikipedia.

“We want to give results from both the web and social networks,” said Mr. Rozan of Qwant. “If we’re just going to offer the same service as Google, we should stop now.”

The French could also learn some lessons from Europe’s past. In 2008, a French consortium — backed by the country’s politicians — created Quaero, an online search tool that was supposed to rival its American counterparts. Yet after  $240 million in public and private funding and several efforts to revamp the project, Quaero shut at the end of 2013.

Despite previous failures to a build a credible European search engine, Qwant’s co-founders hope its focus on privacy and attempts to combine social media posts and traditional search results will set it apart from Google, whose projects are as diverse as a smartphone operating system and trying to develop driverless cars.

“Google isn’t a search engine anymore,” said Mr. Leandri of Qwant. “We are just a search engine. We don’t do robots.”!
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