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Reports of English’s demise in US have been greatly exaggerated, experts say

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

News that US is now world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country belies the fact that America breeds English: ‘Spanish dominance, it’s not going to happen’

The news was striking and, to some, alarming: the United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico. It has 41 million native Spanish speakers and 11.6 million who are bilingual – more than Colombia or Spain – and is on course to be the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens.

The study, published this week by Spain’s Instituto Cervantes, made global headlines and dismayed those in the US who fear linguistic pollution. “I thought we spoke ENGLISH here,” tweeted Scott Rogers, a Florida-based conservative blogger.

Coming on the heels of the Spanish-language network Univision dumping Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant over his disparaging remarks about Mexican immigrants, it underlined a sense of surging Hispanic power.

Reality turns out to be a bit more complicado. Spanish is not becoming an all-conquering cultural force. It is not turning swaths of the US into Spanish-only realms. It may, in fact, eventually shrivel. More.

See: The Guardian

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AIIC Germany announces new award for young interpreters

Source: AIIC
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Prize is a reflection of ongoing outreach to interpreting schools and students in Germany, and aims to facilitate the transition to professional practice.

The annual Young Interpreter Award is a material expression of AIIC Germany’s activities involving outreach to both interpreting schools and budding interpreters. The prize strives to bridge the gap between recently qualified conference interpreters, as well as those still in training, and AIIC with its extensive and varied activities within the world of professional conference interpretation.

The prize also aims to bolster the recognition of interpreting courses at German universities, which are currently under increasing funding pressure.

AIIC wishes to reach out in a constructive way to those entering the profession, and thus to promote the professional and ethical values and standards which act as guarantors of excellence and ensure that conference interpretation will continue to flourish in an ever‐changing professional environment. More.


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Metaphor map charts the images that structure our thinking

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Huge project by Glasgow University researchers plots thirteen centuries of startling cognitive connections

Metaphor is not the sole preserve of Shakespearean scholarship or high literary endeavour but has governed how we think about and describe our daily lives for centuries, according to researchers at Glasgow University.

Experts have now created the world’s first online Metaphor Map, which contains more than 14,000 metaphorical connections sourced from 4m pieces of lexical data, some of which date back to 700AD.

While it is impossible to pinpoint the oldest use of metaphor in English, because some may have been adopted from earlier languages such as Germanic, the map reveals that the still popular link between sheep and timidity dates back to Old English. Likewise, we do not always recognise modern use of metaphor: for example, the word “comprehend” comes from Latin, where it meant to physically grasp an object.

The three-year-long project to map the use of metaphor across the entire history of the English language, undertaken by researchers at the School of Critical Studies, was based on data contained in the Historical Thesaurus of English, which spans 13 centuries.

Dr Wendy Anderson, the project’s principal investigator, said that the findings supported the view that metaphor is pervasive in language and is also a major mechanism of meaning-change.

“This helps us to see how our language shapes our understanding – the connections we make between different areas of meaning in English show, to some extent, how we mentally structure our world”, she said. More.

See: The Guardian

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New gender neutral pronouns and titles: “Hen” and “Mx”

Source: TermCoord
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] In the last months two favourable changes in this field have occurred: First, the Swedish neutral pronoun “hen”. In second place, the much talked of, although not yet official, “Mx” to use alongside “Mr” and “Ms”.

“Hen”, the new Swedish neutral pronoun

The dictionary of Swedish language is adding “hen” as one of the 13,000 new words. This is a gender-neutral pronoun used for objects and people instead of “hon” (she) and “han” (he). It has been included for being used by transgender people who prefer identifying themselves as belonging to a third gender or non-gender and for people who dont want to reveal their gender, either because they think that it is irrelevant information or because they reject the division of male/female gender roles.

There are others who consider it also as a way to economise language, since it allows us to use inclusive language with only one word, avoiding the sometimes untidy and more complex form “she/he”.

“Mx”, the gender neutral title

The Oxford English Dictionary is considering including this neutral-gender honorific to be used alongside Mrs, Mr, and Miss. This will represent the most significant addition to the official list of honorifics in the last years. Although it hasnt been included yet in the OED, in English, the term is very popular and there are some institutions and companies that have included it already. One of them is the Brighton and Hove council in Sussex that adopted it on its council forms in 2013 after a vote that gave the support to the big trans* community of Brighton. Also two English bank companies and the Royal Mail introduced the term given the requests from customers. More.

See: TermCoord

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Multiple revenue streams, “productizing,” and passive income

Source: Thoughts On Translation
Story flagged by: Jared Tabor

[...] Way back in 2009, I wrote a post on diversifying your income through multiple revenue streams. I’m still a fan of this strategy, and when I ran my numbers for 2014, I found that my income is divided into three fairly equal pie slices: about 1/3 from working for direct clients and individuals, about 1/3 from working for agencies, and about 1/3 from teaching, consulting and book royalties. To me, this means that I’m diversified, but not too diversified. As Walt Kania observed in his post on multiple revenue streams,, “A few prongs is good. With twelve prongs you have a manure fork.” I’m happy with my three prongs, for various reasons:

  • Sometimes when one thing is down, another is up. Or you feel really jazzed by marketing one of your services, but not so much for the others. With multiple revenue streams, it’s harder to let yourself do nothing. Here’s a non-work parallel: a while back, I ran two marathons. Part of the reason the training was a grind was because it involved one thing: running. Then running some more. Later I did a couple of triathlons; it turns out that, for me at least, it’s a lot harder to talk yourself out of swimming, biking, and running, so I trained a lot more. The same is true of marketing multiple revenue streams.
  • You can experiment a little, without too much risk exposure. For example I recently launched two new online courses. I had some questions: would people sign up? Would the new courses draw students away from my existing, more expensive courses? So far the answers to these questions seem to be yes (for #1) and no (for #2), but the point is that I’m not make-or-break dependent on the classes: they’re one component of the 30% of my income that comes from teaching and writing. I translated two books this year: same deal. I couldn’t afford to just translate books, but as one component of my direct client income, it works.
  • You don’t have to deal with all of your frustrations all of the time. Every client base (direct clients, agencies, individuals, publishers, etc.) has its frustrations. Whether it’s price-sensitivity, or not knowing anything about translation, or wanting to know whether translators charge for “the little words” (an actual example!), it can be hard to stay helpful and patient all of the time, and I firmly believe you need to do that if you want to succeed as a freelancer. But with multiple revenue streams, you get to juggle your challenges around a little bit, and that helps. More.

See: Thoughts On Translation

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Ruiz: Diversity of New York City languages makes staying involved in kids’ education difficult for immigrant parents

Source: NY Daily News
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

New Yorkers, who come from every corner of the world, speak 180 languages. Not surprisingly, nearly half of public school students speak a language other than English at home.

This makes life difficult for the city’s Department of Education, which, according to federal law and its own regulations, must provide translation and interpretation services to the thousands of parents of those children whose first language is not English. It is not an easy task.

As a just-released report by the New York Immigration Coalition makes clear, even though these services are technically available through the DOE’s Translation and Interpretation Unit, they fall far short of what is needed.

“We release this report with hopes that the DOE will take immediate action to address the serious language access barriers parents face when trying to engage in their children’s school lives. Currently, the DOE has only two people who are responsible for monitoring and supporting more than 1,700 schools on translation and interpretation,” said Steven Choi, the coalition’s executive director.

Lack of translation and interpretation closes the doors for immigrant parents who would like to be engaged in their children’s education. More.

See: NY Daily News

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Columbia University Press to publish new translations of Russian literature

Source: The New York Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

MOSCOW — Russian and American academics, publishers and Russian government officials announced on Saturday that they would collaborate on an ambitious new series of Russian literature in translation to be published by Columbia University Press.

The idea, tentatively named the Russian Library, envisions dozens, and perhaps more than 100, new translations of Russian modern literature and classics, selected by the publisher with support from a committee of Russian and American academics.

Academics at the conference said that the collaboration presented a chance, at least informally, to build the relationship between the two countries, at a time of heightened tensions.

“Think about the good work that can be done by making available a wide variety of perspectives on Russia both from the past and the present,” said Stephanie Sandler, a professor in the Slavic Department at Harvard University and one of several American professors to travel to Moscow for the conference. More.

See: The New York Times

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Ellen Magnin Newman was a translator at the original UN Conference 70 years ago (podcast)

Source: UN Dispatch
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Ellen Magnin Newman was a star high school student in San Francisco in 1945 when world leaders came to her city to negotiate the United Nations Charter. They needed translators and she was fluent in Spanish. So, at the age of 16 she took a job with the San Francisco Conference.

Today, June 26 2015, marks the 70th anniversary of the signing. Mrs. Magnin Newman will be at City Hall for an event to mark the occasion with Ban Ki Moon and other civic and international leaders.

She is one of the few living links back to the original conference that created the United Nations and I caught up with her in her downtown San Francisco office. In the clips below, she tells the story of how she got the amazing gig, reflects on the historic nature of the event, and recalls a tender compliment she received from Harry Truman.

Direct link to podcast:

See: UN Dispatch

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#language: evolution in the digital age

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The hashtag, or #, has recently been named UK children’s word of the year. Children’s dictionary writers at Oxford University Press analysed 120,421 entries to BBC Radio 2’s annual short story competition. They found that under 13s were using the hashtag symbol in a new way: to add emphasis or to signal a comment in their story-writing. According to Vineeta Gupta, head of children’s dictionaries at OUP, examples of this phenomenon might include: “This is a wonderful day, #sunny” or “I have the best family, #fantasticfamily”.

This finding is remarkable in two ways. First, the hashtag is self-evidently not a word. It was developed for use in Twitter feeds. So how is it that it can take on a new meaning, a trait normally the preserve of language? Celebrated examples of language change include the word “queen”, which 1,000 years ago could mean woman or wife. Today, it refers exclusively to a female monarch. Or take the change in the meaning of the word “gay”; until the late 19th century this was used primarily to describe feeling carefree or showy. Second, the hashtag, developed for use in digital communication, is now crossing over into more traditional modes of language production, such as story writing. So what has prompted children, normally too young to hold Twitter accounts, to begin to use the hashtag in this new way? And what does this innovation say about new forms of digital communication: is technology giving rise to new types of language?

In the realm of natural languages – English, Italian, Japanese – words and other grammatical expressions take on new meanings, which start off as flavours of a pre-existing meaning. For instance, the English preposition “over” has its standard meaning, as when we say: “The picture is over the sofa”. But it has also developed a “covering” meaning, as in ‘The clouds are over the sun’. It may even take a moment’s reflection to realise that in this example “over” doesn’t in fact mean “above”: after all, from our Earth-bound perspective, the clouds are below the sun. But this “covering” meaning is listed as a distinct sense for “over” in any decent desk dictionary. More.

See: The Guardian

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US now has more Spanish speakers than Spain – only Mexico has more

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The United States is now the world’s second largest Spanish-speaking country after Mexico, according to a new study published by the prestigious Instituto Cervantes.

The report says there are 41 million native Spanish speakers in the US plus a further 11.6 million who are bilingual, mainly the children of Spanish-speaking immigrants. This puts the US ahead of Colombia (48 million) and Spain (46 million) and second only to Mexico (121 million).

Among the sources cited in the report is the US Census Office which estimates that the US will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making it the biggest Spanish-speaking nation on Earth, with Spanish the mother tongue of almost a third of its citizens. More.

See: The Guardian

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Romeo and Juliet translated into Maori for Matariki

Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] This Matariki, or Māori New Year, will see the world premiere of Rōmeo rāua ko Hurieta at Auckland Museum’s Māori Court.

It is the first time William Shakespeare’s most famous work has been translated into Te Reo Māori, and one of only two of the bard’s plays that have been performed in Te Reo.

Both of these have been translated by Te Haumihiata Mason, the Māori Language Commission’s kaitiaki reo (language guardian).

Mason was approached by director Tearepa Kahi – known for his acting on landmark Māori language film The Māori Merchant of Venice, and more recently directing the film Mt Zion – to translate the bard’s much-loved work. More.


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Unicode 8.0 character database, code charts and annexes

Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Unicode Consortium has announced the Character Database, Code Charts and Annexes for version 8.0 of the Unicode Standard. Updates include a total of 7,716 characters, encompassing six new scripts and many new symbols, as well as character additions to several existing scripts.

See: MultiLingual

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Peru officially recognizes 24 indigenous languages

Source: Language Magazine
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Peruvian Ministry of Education worked with indigenous communities to officially recognize the alphabets of 24 indigenous languages. The measure states; “Thus, these 24 alphabets should be used by public entities every time they have to issue written information addressed to these ethnic groups, as it is established by the Law 29735, which regulates the use, preservation, development, recovery, foster and spread of the indigenous languages of Peru […] In this way, the right of children and teenagers to be educated in their own native language is respected. It’s been proven that this is the way they can learn better, as they feel more motivated, their cultural identity is respected, and their self-esteem becomes stronger.”

The Ministry of Education is also working on a policy to produce and distribute educational materials translated into native languages, continuing its support of intercultural bilingual education among indigenous groups. The newly recognized languages come mainly from communities in Peru’s Amazon rainforest. The Peruvian Times reported that the languages include: Harakbut, Ese Eja, Yine, Kakataibo, Matsigenka, Jaqaru, Nomatsigenga, Yanesha, Cashinahua, Wampis, Secoya, Sharanahua, Murui-Muinani, Kandozi-Chapra, Kakinte, Matsés, Ikitu, Shiwilu, Madija, Kukama Kukamiria, Ashaninka, Ashawi, Awajún and Shipibo-Konibo.

See the full post in Language Magazine here:

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New words added to the OED

Source: OxfordWords Blog
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The online Oxford English Dictionary (OED) launched on 14 March 2000, and since theOED generally does not add neologisms until they have had some time to establish themselves, the newest words in the early updates tended to be terms that had emerged in the 1990s. Fourteen years on, that has begun to change, and this update contains dozens of items which are not recorded before the 21st century, but which are now widely used in English, including jeggings (2009), photobomb (2008), crowdfund (2008), totes(2005), staycation (2005), and sext (2001). More.

See: OxfordWords Blog

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Welsh is considered a model for language revitalization, but its fate is still uncertain (podcast)

Source: PRI
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Welsh is just another of those ancient languages that aren’t going to be around for much longer, right?

Maybe. Maybe not. It’s difficult to tell.

But it is a test case, a minority language with a chance of surviving. If Welsh can do it, maybe others can too.

The stakes are high, not just for the 740,000 people who speak Welsh today but for speakers of thousands of minority languages around the world.

Like its Celtic cousins Scottish Gaelic and Irish, Welsh suffers from its proximity to the English-speaking world. But Welsh has stuck around while the other Celtic languages have lost most of their speakers. In Scotland, many assert their difference from Britain by voting for independence. In Wales, they do it by speaking Welsh.

A few decades ago, things weren’t looking so rosy. Welsh was in sharp decline. If parents spoke it, they didn’t pass it on to their kids, who didn’t learn it at school either. In the population centers of South Wales, Welsh was long gone. More.

Read the full story in PRI and listen to the podcast here:

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What’s the deal with translating Seinfeld

Source: The Verge
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] Dolores represented one of the toughest puzzles Sabine had encountered: “Dolores” doesn’t rhyme with any German words for a body part, and a fabricated name would detract from the joke. Just because Jerry’s friends guessed “Bovary” as a legitimate name option in English didn’t mean she could throw any old name around in German.

It was just another day in the life of a translator tackling Seinfeld. But it was a particularly vexing one.

More so than the average American sitcom, Seinfeld has had difficulty reaching global audiences. While it’s popular in Latin America, it hasn’t been widely accepted in Germany, France, Italy, and the Netherlands. Two decades after it went off the air, Seinfeld remains relevant to American audiences — thanks in part to omnipresent syndicated reruns — but in much of Europe it is considered a cult hit, and commonly relegated to deep-late-night time slots. Its humor, it seems, is just too complicated, too cultural and word-based, to make for easy translation.

With the show now finally coming to streaming services for the first time this month,Seinfeld had another shot at gaining a worldwide audience. But the fact that today it began streaming on Hulu, not Netflix, is telling: Netflix is available across dozens of countries around the world — Hulu is only available in the United States and Japan.

Jokes are the hardest things to translate into another language, another culture, another world. A good script for dubbing an American sitcom for foreign consumption does more than literally translate. It manages to convey the same meaning, the same feeling, the same story — the same direct hit to the lower frontal lobes of the brain that produces a laugh, even though those frontal lobes are steeped in a completely different cultural brew.

And because of Seinfeld’s unique approach to comedy, it poses special translation problems. In one Radboud University study of Dutch viewers’ reactions to Seinfeld, viewers commonly reported being baffled by the show’s laugh track; the audience regularly missed the joke. More.

See: The Verge

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Translating dates in SDL Trados Studio

Source: Signs & Symptoms of Translation
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Studio usually does a good job localising source language dates in the correct target format. But sometimes the source text uses an incorrect date format or language variants cause problems. Here’s a quick look at how date auto-substitution should work out of the box, and how to tweak it if it doesn’t.


To get Studio to automatically localise dates in your target language, go to File>Options>Language Pairs>[your specific language pair]>Translation Memory and Automated Translation>Auto-substitution>Dates and Times.

The screenshot shows the options available for a long date in your target language. Select your preferred formats for long and short dates and times.

Date auto-substitution

Read the full post in Signs & Symptoms of Translation here:

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Can genes predict foreign language learning skills?

Source: The Telegraph
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Every frustrated language learner has, at some point, proclaimed that they just “don’t have the gift” of picking up foreign languages.

It’s easy to imagine that the aptitude for learning a new tongue exists somewhere beyond our control, perhaps in our blood or brain chemistry, or in the drinking water that flows through Northern Europe and feeds the frustratingly fluent English-speaking Scandinavians from Oslo to Helsinki.

Language teachers will explain to students that anyone can learn a foreign language, and that the skill comes from nurture and not nature. But does biology play any role at all? Is there any part of our DNA that can predict whether or not we can be successful polyglots?

In fact, neurobiologists have identified a gene that correlates to language. The FOXP2 gene was discovered in the 1990s through a study of a British family in which three generations suffered from severe speech problems. More.

See: The Telegraph

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Why we speak: Biologist argues speech developed from need to negotiate

Source: The Atlantic
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

[...] The reason might be that even the simplest of exchanges requires a sophisticated set of rules and understandings: How can I trust you to give me something of equal value for my shells? How do I know you won’t steal my goods and just run off? And how do we ever agree in the first place on the worth of our respective items?

This last question is in some ways the most important because the answer might just explain another enigma about humans: our possession of language. Just as we are the only species to have complex systems of trade and exchange, we are also the only species that has language, and it might just have its origins in our earliest economic behaviors.

Some might argue that language, and in turn trade, naturally emerge from the general-purpose cognitive mechanisms that came with evolving brains. But language is so specialized and trade is so advantageous that there is reason to believe natural selection zeroed in on speech as a handy adaptation. I like to think of our language as a piece of social technology, developed for managing the demands of the sophisticated social lives based on trade and specialization that our species was evolving. Perhaps we acquired language—and no other species did—because we were the only species with something to talk about. More.

See: The Atlantic

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Keep Irish alive

Source: TermCoord
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Irish is mostly spoken along the west coast of Ireland and this region is called Gaeltachatai. You have to realise that Irish can be renamed also as Irish Gaelic or just Gaelic whereas in Connacht, Munster and Ulster it is also well-known as: Gaelainn, Gaedhlag, Gaeilig, Gaeilge, Gaedhealaing, Gaoluinn, Gaeddhilic. It seems that Irish is a really tricky Celtic language which is a fusion of Cornish, Welsh and Breton.

Cruel truth
Gaelic is one of the minority languages which is declining nowadays. However, the state and law guarantee Gaeilig a status of the official language (apart from English). So, if you visit Ireland, do not be surprised at seeing Garda instead of Police, Dail stands for Parliament or Taoiseach replaces Prime Minister as the names of the public organizations and figures should always be written also in Irish. Sadly, the new report, which was made by the state agency, points out that Irish will not be existing in Gaeltach communities in ten years, even if it is still taught in schools and promoted by the state. The problem is deeply rooted in the electoral divisions in the Irish-speaking regions. As only 21 communities from 155 use Gaelic in everyday conversations. It is worth highlighting that the situation of this minority language is so dramatic, especially as less than 67% of the local population speaks Irish. If nothing changes, it is highly possible that Gaelic will  not  survive the language and generation shifts. More.

See: TermCoord

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