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Want to learn a language? Don’t try so hard

Source: TIME
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

If at first you don’t succeed, trying again might not help you when it comes to learning languages.

A new study from MIT shows that trying harder can actually make some aspects of learning a new language more difficult. While researchers have known that adults have a harder time with new languages than children do, the latest findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, suggest that adults’ stronger cognitive abilities may actually trip them up.

Children have a “sensitive period” for learning language that lasts until puberty, and during these years, certain parts of the brain are more developed than others. For example, they are adept at procedural memory, which study author Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, describes as the “memory system we get for free.” It’s involved in tasks we learn unconsciously such as riding a bike, dancing, or subtle language rules. It’s a system that learns from observing and from experience; neural circuits in the brain build a set of rules for constructing words and sentences by absorbing and analyzing information—like sounds—from the world around them.

“The procedural memory is already in place for an infant and working well, and not interacting with other brain functions,” says Finn. However, in adulthood, this system is gradually replaced with one that’s less based on such exploratory, and energy-consuming processes. “As an adult, you have really useful late-developing memory systems that take over and do everything.”

In essence, adults may over-analyze new language rules or sounds and try to make them fit into some understandable and coherent pattern that makes sense to them. But a new language may involve grammar rules that aren’t so easily explained, and adults have more difficulty overcoming those obstacles than children, who simply absorb the rules or exceptions and learn from them. That’s especially true with pronunciation, since the way we make sounds is something that is established early in life, and becomes second nature. More.

See: TIME

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Across Language Server v6

Source: MultiLingual
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Across Systems GmbH, a manufacturer of corporate translation management systems, has released version 6 of the Across Language Server with a redesigned user interface. New features include the Across Dashboard, crossWeb Review Mode, Across Data Cube and Project Management Cockpit.

See: MultiLingual

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Future-proofing the profession: Equipping the next generation of translators

Source: Europe in the UK
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Are translators being trained to meet the future expectations of work providers and users of translation services? Are they equipped with the skills they need to deal intelligently with technological change? What part can academic institutions, professional bodies and international organisations play in preparing new and current practitioners for the challenges facing the profession?

These were just some of the questions on the agenda at the Translating Europe Workshop organised by the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Translation, the Chartered Institute of Linguists and the Institute of Translation and Interpreting at London’s Europe House on Friday 11 July, which brought together representatives from the EU, CIOL, ITI and the worlds of academia, business and technology to discuss how best to support the next generation of translators and make recommendations to key stakeholders.

This first Translating Europe workshop is just one of several that will take place across the EU in the coming months to discuss the future of the language professions, alongside the Translating Europe Forum to be held in Brussels on 18-19 September. More.

See: Europe in the UK

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Spanish still world champions for translations

Source: Digital Journal
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Data from One Hour Translation, the world’s fastest human translation agency, reveals that during H1 2014, translations into Spanish (Spain and Latin-America) are the most popular, accounting for approximately 21% of all translations worldwide, followed by French and then German which account for 11.30% and 12.18% respectively. The biggest growth comes from IT related translations, specifically software and e-commerce translations into Spanish which have seen a 5% growth over the past months.

The data illustrates that whilst the Spanish economy emerged from its recession last September and is coming to terms with the related consequences of the downturn, international consumers are still seeing significant opportunities in the Spanish market. Additionally, interest in Latin America has remained positive through the first half of the year, especially following statements made by both China and Russia that the two global powerhouses were seeking full-scale trade cooperation with the states in the region. More.

See: Digital Journal

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¥80 million earmarked to translate Japanese books into English to aid PR drive

Source: The Japan Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The government will allocate ¥80 million to translate Japanese books into English as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s campaign to boost the country’s image in foreign countries, officials said on Wednesday.

A panel of seven Japanese intellectuals, including university professors and former government officials, will select candidate books over the next month. The government will then subsidize the translation work and publication costs, the officials said.

The Abe Cabinet has recently increased spending for overseas public relations efforts. This project is part of that campaign, they said.

The intellectuals held their first gathering at the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday. During the meeting, one of them lamented that the number of books about China in foreign languages has recently far surpassed those about Japan, according to two government officials.

“Books will be selected to call attention to positive aspects of Japan,” one of the officials said, adding that the size of the budget is far larger than similar government projects in the past. More.

See: The Japan Times

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How do we teach literary translation? Katy Derbyshire on the BCLT summit

Source: Ampersand
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Katy Derbyshire is the translator of All the Lights by our very own Clemens Meyer. She’s currently working on a 927-page(!!) novel by Jan Brandt, while her most recent project weighs in at the other end of the scale - David Wagner’s Berlin Triptych, available from Readux Books.

For obscure reasons, literary translation is officially hot – to riff on Berlin’s mayor Klaus Wowereit, it is badly paid but sexy. It’s a thing people want to learn. Over the past three or four years I’ve been asked to lead several workshops on literary translation, at various levels and in various places. Every time I do it I die a thousand deaths, never knowing whether I’m doing it right. And then along came bcltuea’s Summer School Summit, which, we were told, would “bring together experienced literary translators from the UK and around the world who are interested in translation workshops and teaching methodologies.”

A chance, then, for those of us who teach literary translation by ear to sit down and talk about how we do it and how we could do it better. As far as I’m aware, it was the first time that conversation had taken place in the UK, although Germany’s translators do have “training the trainers” programmes in place. The BCLT summit followed a similar model on a larger scale, shepherding 38 participants through a series of very different workshops and then getting us talking about them in informal sessions afterwards.

I was asked to lead one of these sample workshops, alongside one on taking translation into schools by Sarah Ardizzone, one putting us in the strange position of understanding not a word of the Bengali original and few of the cultural specifics with Arunava Sinha, one on birdsong by poetry translator Sasha Dugdale, and sessions on editing and creative writing with Mitch Albert and Sarah Bower. The wide range of workshops reflects the many facets of teaching literary translation, with different age groups, aims and settings. More.

See: Ampersand

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Impact of inconsistent terminology management

Source: TermCoord
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

What is the impact of inconsistent terminology management in companies on us, consumers?

Creating a strong, consistent corporate identity is the most effective way for business success. In order to get new consumers and keep existing ones, a company needs to grab their attention by means of an active marketing approach, which includes an eye-catching product and/or service branding strategy. When communicating with clients, it is of foremost importance to choose the right words and any other non-verbal means of communication, so that consumers can remember the brand and relate it with the products and/or services of that specific company.

Consumers however also need other type of information – usage and problem solving related. This brings us to technical documentation, where documents such as guides, specifications, reports, online help and even marketing material are included. All these documents are part a knowledge base that, in particular without consistent use and management of terminology, can be misused, the information in it misunderstood, and may even lead to business failure.

Within a company, terminology – and the need of terminology management – is present at different levels. One can identify at least three: corporate terminology – as part of communication in and among companies; process terminology – used in the communication by the different players that take part in the production of a product or service; and product and/or service terminology – which follows the whole product lifecycle, from development to marketing.

Terminology is not necessarily about creating each and every word that a company uses. It is a communication process that includes management and control of key terms that constitute the corporate identity. The use of consistent, precise and adequate to target audience terminology within and outside the company – from the engineer to the end-user – is therefore essential to make proof of and guarantee the quality of a company’s products or services, and, as a consequence to its success. More.

See: TermCoord

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Breathing life into modern foreign language A-levels

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Proposals for changes to the A-level curriculum focus on reinvigorating passion for languages

As part of its revamp of the A-level curriculum, the government has launched a consultation on the way modern languages are taught at sixth form. If introduced, the changes herald a real boost to the teaching of A and AS modern languages, that could help reinvigorate subjects which have been waning in schools and universities.

The proposals take in those of wider reports on A-level content by the A Level Content Advisory Board (ALCB), set up by the Russell Group. It is proposing “significant changes… designed to produce a rich and rewarding qualification”. The report focuses on the three modern foreign languages most widely taught in the UK – French, German and Spanish – but also on ancient Greek and Latin. In the executive summary, the report notes that the panel was guided by the view that:

“The study of modern foreign and ancient languages at AS and A level is valuable in developing communication skills and critical thinking, in gaining insight into other societies and cultures that can only be achieved through the language and in enriching the lives of students.”

Such a view goes well beyond the simple hope of attaining a degree of fluency and passing an exam. It hints at the kind of passion and life-enhancing effect that language-learning can have on students, and is followed by proposals to change content in a way that will: “produce a rich and rewarding qualification, with an appropriate level of cognitive challenge and suitable for progression to university study or to employment.” More.

See: The Guardian

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Recalcitrant language: An interview with Ottilie Mulzet

Source: Paris Review
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Translators of the Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai are a daring few, but they tend to win awards. This year’s Best Translated Book Award went to Ottilie Mulzet for the first English translation of Seiobo There Below, a dazzling, far-ranging novel even by Krasznahorkai’s standards. At 451 pages, the novel took Mulzet three years to translate; it required familiarity with everything from the terminology of Russian icon painting to the existence of Arcade Fire. The story, told in a series of loosely linked episodes, addresses small matters of death, time, divinity, and the transcendence of art. And that’s not to mention the sentences—intricately constructed puzzles designed to disorient and amaze the reader. They can be up to fourteen pages long.

Krasznahorkai is developing a cult following in the English-speaking world—he’s had one for decades in Hungary—and he draws packed crowds at readings. A recent appearance at Columbia University was so crowded that people were turned away. The author read in a dark room with only a pinpoint of light on the manuscript, for dramatic effect.

I caught up with the woman working under the name Ottilie Mulzet—a partial pseudonym, somehow not surprising from an artist affiliated with Krasznahorkai—to find out how she does it, and what else she has in store.

Tell me about your history with Krasznahorkai. How did you become his translator? How do you work with him?

Before I ever met him, I translated one of the stories, “Something is Burning Outside,” from Seiobo There Below. It appeared on the Hungarian literature website www.hlo.hu, and in June 2009, it was picked up by the Guardian for a series of translated short stories from Eastern Europe twenty years after 1989. I met Krasznahorkai briefly sometime around then. We corresponded, and I mentioned I’d be willing to take on the translation of Seiobo. Krasznahorkai was understandably a little hesitant at first, given the extraordinary complexity of the work. But I translated Animalinside, which was met with a very positive reception and went into a second printing fairly quickly. The following spring, I sent a sample chapter of Seiobo to New Directions.

Krasznahorkai and I communicate a lot by email. If I have any questions at all, he is absolutely wonderful about answering them. We communicate for the most part in Hungarian. There are times when he issues explicit instructions. For example, he didn’t want any of the foreign words in Seiobo italicized, and I could understand why, because they’re even more disorientating when they’re seemingly innocently integrated into the text. For me that was a pretty radical gesture.

What are the strengths and particularities of Hungarian as a language, and what challenges does it present to translate it into English?

I feel extremely close to Hungarian as a language. I love the sound of it, I love how it works grammatically, I love the vocabulary, the astonishing mishmash of words from so many different languages, I love what writers can do with it. Hungarian is an agglutinative language with vowel harmony—it has seemingly endless suffixes and amazing possibilities for compound words, and it has absolutely flexible word order, depending on what you want to emphasize in the sentence. And I would certainly mention the unbelievable elasticity of Hungarian—it’s like a rubber band. It can expand and expand, until you think, Well, this rubber band is going to break at any moment now, or it can shrink into just a few sparse words, where all the most important parts are left out and you just have to know.

English, despite how global it is, is a lot less flexible. Maybe the kind of English that’s spoken in the Indian subcontinent—where it’s partially subjugated to the tendencies of Hindi—would be a more suitable English for translation from Hungarian, but I have to work with the language I know the best. You have to struggle to make sure the sentences don’t seem too jam-packed with information, and yet, when there’s some pretty serious elision going on, you have to test the boundaries of English, with its rigid subject-verb-object structure and having to have all your indicators in place. Hungarian can look like just a splash of ink on the page. There are sentences—or, in Krasznahorkai’s case, subclauses—of just two or three words. I’m intrigued by all of this elision, and fascinated by the problem of conveying it in a recalcitrant language like English—just trying to get English to do something it’s not really meant to do. English today is the global language of commerce and trade, so while it’s dominant, it’s also in some respects deeply impoverished. It desperately needs these transfusions from other languages.

Read the full article in the Paris Review here: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2014/07/21/recalcitrant-language-an-interview-with-ottilie-mulzet/

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Language quiz: does the world look the same in any language?

Source: OxfordWords blog
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The Japanese language has a single word that encompasses both green and blue colors, whilst the Russian language has separate terms for different shades of blue. So does this mean that people who speak Russian and Japanese perceive these colors differently from English speakers? And even more questionably: are we only able to form concepts of things for which we have a name?

Many people argue that language does indeed shape the way we view the world—and that cultures with different ways of naming things will see the world differently. The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, first formulated in the 1930s, famously advances this view. The hypothesis grew in influence amongst linguists, anthropologists, and psychologists and the media often argue that having distinct names for particular colors makes people perceive them more vividly.

However, according to linguist John McWhorter, this hypothesis is just plain old wrong. In his new book The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language, McWhorter reveals that no such connection has ever been discovered. Even though a language’s vocabulary and grammar may influence its speakers’ culture, it does not determine the way they see the world. Thus, someone living on the other side of the world from you—speaking a different language and doing very different things— will see the world in the same way as you see it. More.

See: OxfordWords blog

Related Translation News post:

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A translator who talked

Source: The National Law Journal
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

And who posted Toyota’s secrets on the Internet.

Toyota Motor Corp. has subpoenaed a former translator-turned-whistleblower, hoping to discover how she secured access to hundreds of confidential documents that she posted on an online blog, including information relating to computer code it considers its “crown jewels.”

The translator, a former subcontractor named Betsy Benjaminson, is a self-proclaimed whistleblower, providing internal Toyota documents to news organizations including CNN and Corporate Counsel, an affiliate of The National Law Journal, involving alleged defects that caused Toyota’s cars and trucks to suddenly accelerate out of control.

Benjaminson, who was forced to flee her home in Sderot, Israel, to avoid Hamas rocket attacks this month, confirmed she had received the subpoena via email on June 28. “I’m retaining counsel and will defend myself from the subpoena,” she said.

Toyota, which recalled more than 10 million models for the faulty accelerator pedals and floor mats it blamed for the problems, has paid billions of dollars to resolve hundreds of consumer lawsuits, regulatory fines and a criminal investigation. It also is attempting to settle lawsuits brought on behalf of people injured or killed due to sudden acceleration, many of whom blame the accidents on glitches in Toyota’s electronic throttle control systems. Toyota has rejected those assertions. More.

See: The National Law Journal

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New tools and products changing the language-instruction market

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

To learn a new language travelers often turn to time-tested solutions like Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur or actual classes with native speakers. Yet a number of new, creative and often more affordable tools are aiming to help you rattle off “table for two” and “how much does this cost?” in no time.

Will they get you through the most complex grammar? Not necessarily. But beginners are likely to appreciate these fresh approaches — especially if you’ve had difficulty sticking with traditional language-learning programs. At the end of this column, I’ve also included some free tools to supplement your lessons.

Chineasy

This book by ShaoLan Hsueh, who grew up in Taiwan, the daughter of a calligrapher, aims to help people read Chinese characters by associating them with simple, colorful illustrations. For instance, one meaning of an open square with two little tabs at the bottom is “mouth.” To help you remember that, the book shows the character (a square with tabs) in black with white teeth and a red tongue inside the square, as if a mouth is stretched wide open. You can see how Hsueh’s system works by watching an excellent instructional video under the “films” tab on the Chineasy website. The Chineasy book ($24.99; available online for less) recently arrived in U.S. stores, and a second volume is in the works. You can also learn by visiting the Chineasy Facebook page, which offers daily lessons. More.

See: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Lifting the lid on Ireland’s District Court

Source: The Irish Times
Story flagged by: DLyons

A new book offers a critical appraisal of Ireland’s busiest courtrooms

[...] Dr O’Nolan devotes considerable attention to the significant numbers of non-Irish nationals who pass through the doors of the District Court and finds that courtroom procedures to deal with non-English speakers have “evolved with little evidence of planning”.

While she believes the standard of interpreting has improved, worrying stories of hesitant and “silent” interpreters persist, and the author describes scenes that suggest certain judges do little to adjust the pace of proceedings to allow for full and accurate interpreting.

“Even when interpreters are provided, there seems to be no expectation that they should diligently endeavour to accurately translate all the court proceedings, and at times their presence constitutes little more than window dressing,” she writes. More.

See: The Irish Times

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No, your language doesn’t influence how you experience the world (podcast)

Source: Slate
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Listen to Slate’s show about The Language Hoax, in which author and linguist John McWhorter pushes back against the idea that language affects culture.

It’s become fashionable in recent years to tout the notion that the language you speak affects the way you think, and even influences how you experience reality itself. It’s an attractive idea, and one that makes some visceral sense. English, with its unique structure and grammar and vocabulary, will necessarily bestow a particular worldview that is different from that of Russian, say, or any of the other roughly 6,000 languages still spoken on Earth, right? That’s simply not true, says linguist and Columbia University professor John McWhorter, who tears apart the more hyperbolic claims in his manifesto, The Language Hoax: Why the World Looks the Same in Any Language. Listen to a conversation with Mike Vuolo, Bob Garfield, and McWhorter, who explains how the popular media get the so-called Whorf Hypothesis all wrong. More.

See: Slate

Direct link to podcast: https://soundcloud.com/slateradio/lexicon-valley-no-38-fishermans-whorf/s-bccsa

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Can books cross borders?

Source: Financial Times
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Have we arrived in an era of global literature, or is it important that writers share a common language, culture – or at least context – with their readers?

Is it in any way “important” to read writers from our own country? Is there even any real difference in reading a book from home and a book from abroad?

Or to put it another way: when I pick up a novel, is it merely a question of a free-floating individual, the absolute, unconditioned me, picking up any literary performance from any time or clime and simply deciding after an hour or two whether I like the thing or not, so that when the final page is turned it is immaterial whether this book was written in Manchester or Melbourne and whether I grew up in Gloucester or Grozny?

I am trying to find a frame for the recent debate on the English school literature syllabus, a way of considering the question that will take us beyond the merest collision between supposedly blinkered nationalism (UK education secretary Michael Gove wants Charles Dickens) and supposedly enlightened openness (the writer Robert McCrum and Guardian readers prefer John Steinbeck). I also want to suggest that the fact this debate is taking place at all is part of a deep change occurring in the way literature is written and read across the world, a change also reflected in the decision to open the Man Booker prize to all fiction written in English. More.

See: Financial Times

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Okwiri Oduor wins 2014 Caine Prize for African writing

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

Described as “Joycean in its reach,” Kenyan author’s short story My Father’s Head is named winner of £10,000 award

Kenyan author Okwiri Oduor has won the 2014 Caine Prize for African Writing for her short story My Father’s Head.

Described as “an uplifting story about mourning,” Nairobi-born Oduor’s 2013 work begins with the narrator’s attempts to remember what her father’s face looked like as she struggles to cope with his loss, and follows her as she finds the courage to remember.

“Okwiri Oduor is a writer we are all really excited to have discovered,” said Scottish author and chief judge Jackie Kay, as the prize was presented at the Bodleian Library in Oxford tonight. “My Father’s Head’ is an uplifting story about mourning – Joycean in its reach. She exercises an extraordinary amount of control and yet the story is subtle, tender and moving. It is a story you want to return to the minute you finish it.”

Now in its fifteenth year, the annual £10,000 award celebrates short stories written by African authors published in English.

Oduor, who is now working on her first novel, had been shortlisted with South Africa’s Diane Awerbuck for her short story Phosphorescence, Efemia Chela from both Ghana and Zambia for Chicken, Zimbabwe’s Tendai Huchu for The Intervention, and Kenya’s Billy Kahora for The Gorilla’s Apprentice. Each will take home £500 prize money. More.

See: The Guardian

See also: A Golden Age for the African Short Story in English PEN

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Gili Bar-Hillel: Translation Tip Project – in English

Source: Brave New Words
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

English-to-Hebrew translator Gili Bar Hillel recently asked other translators, including me, for tips for new translators, which she then posted on her blog. Her original post was in Hebrew, but due to popular demand, she’s now put an English version up.

See: Brave New Words

See also: Translation Tip Project – in English in Gili Bar-Hillel’s blog

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When languages die, ecosystems often die with them

Source: PRI
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

You probably know that much of the world’s environment is under threat. But a new study says languages are disappearing alongside plants and animals.

The study, from the World Wildlife Fund, measured the threat to languages using a scale that tracks how threatened species are. Not only are many languages steadily losing speakers, says co-author Jonathan Loh, but “the rate of decline, globally, is actually very close to the rate of decline in populations of wild vertebrate species.”

There’s the obvious threat of in-demand languages, which many people start speaking more and more as the speakers of smaller languages dwindle. “Thousands of indigenous languages spoken around the world are being replaced by one of a dozen or so dominant world languages like English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese,” Loh says.

But Loh, who’s also a research associate at the Zoological Society of London, says that languages are dying off due to many of the same issues that plants and animals face.

“Some of the drivers that are driving the extinction of biodiversity — such as increasing global population, increasing consumption of natural resources, increasing globalization and so on — are applicable to languages as well,” he says.

And that’s no coincidence. Loh explains that languages have a lot of specific local knowledge built in. “The cultures have evolved in a particular environmental context, so they have an extraordinary amount of traditional ecological knowledge — knowledge of the local species, plants, animals, the medicinal uses of them, the migration patterns of animals behavior,” he says. More.

See: PRI

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How I created the languages of Dothraki and Valyrian for Game of Thrones

Source: OxfordWords blog
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

In a guest blog article, David J Peterson uses his experience as a language creator on Game of Thrones, Defiance, and Dominion to discuss the world of conlang.

My name is David Peterson, and I’m a conlanger. “What’s a conlanger,” you may ask? Thanks to the recent addition of the word “conlang” to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), I can now say, “Look it up!” But to save you the trouble, a conlanger is a constructed language (or conlang) maker—i.e. one who creates languages.

Language creation has been around since at least the 12th century, when the German abbess Hildegard von Bingen created her Lingua Ignota—Latin for “hidden language”—an invented vocabulary she used for writing hymns. In the centuries that followed, philosophers like Leibniz and John Wilkins would create languages that were intended to serve as grand classification systems, and idealists like L. L. Zamenhof would create languages intended to simplify international communication. All these systems focused on the basic utility of language—its ability to encode and convey meaning. That would change in the 20th century.

Tolkien: the father of modern conlanging

Before crafting the tales of Middle-Earth, J. R. R. Tolkien was a conlanger. Unlike the many known to history who came before him, though, Tolkien created languages for the pure joy of it. Professionally, he became a philologist, but he continued to work on his own languages, eventually creating his famous Lord of the Rings series as an extension of the linguistic legendarium he’d been crafting for many years. Though his written works would become more famous than his linguistic creations, his conlangs, in particular Sindarin and Quenya, would go on to inspire new generations of conlangers throughout the rest of the 20th century. More.

See: OxfordWords blog

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What makes a language attractive – its sound, national identity or familiarity?

Source: The Guardian
Story flagged by: Maria Kopnitsky

The allure of a language may have more to do with perceptions of that country’s status and social values than its actual sound

Je t’aime, ti amo, te quiero mucho! Sounds nice doesn’t it? If you swoon over sweet nothings whispered in French, Italian or Spanish, you’re not alone. But while learning to speak a language famed for its romance may increase your sex appeal, the reason for your preference of one vernacular over another may have little to do with how the sounds roll off the tip of your tongue.

Polyglot Roman emperor Charles V declared: “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.” While the 16th century ruler’s views may still hold true to some today, his unflattering opinion of the latter language is more likely to be influenced not by the power and status of the country at the time than the tone of its speakers.

Sociolinguists believe the attractiveness of a language is determined by how positively we view a particular group of people who share a cultural outlook. According to Dr Vineeta Chand of the University of Essex, if we have a positive perception of a particular community then we tend to have equally positive views of the language they speak.

Language value and attractiveness is, she explains, linked to the prestige of the speaker. In other words, the socioeconomic and mobility advantages the language affords. Chinese, for example, is gaining in popularity because it is seen as an area of economic growth and speaking that particular tonal tongue means better job prospects.Languages spoken by a community that are less economically powerful may not be seen in the same positive light. More.

See: The Guardian

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