Around the web – November 2015

I spent two very rewarding days at the end of November at a local Careers Fair talking to students who are thinking about a career in translating and interpreting. While some already knew that they were interested in the field, others just like languages and were still hesitating about choosing a profession.

Me, manning (or should that be 'womanning'?) my stand at Reunion's Career Fair.

Me, manning (or should that be ‘womanning’?) my stand at Reunion’s Career Fair.

Anyway here’s a round-up of translation and language-related articles that have appeared online this past month.


The Harry Potter series has been translated into 68 languages

This particular phrase became an internet sensation around the turn of the millennium.

This video game phrase became an internet sensation around the turn of the millennium.

Where does the phrase ‘in a nutshell’ come from?

Where does the phrase ‘in a nutshell’ come from?


Related articles:

The Languages of Oman

Although Arabic is the official language, you don’t need any language other than English to travel in Oman, a country I recently spent two weeks visiting. However as a linguist  I couldn’t help but take an interest in the country’s languages. Modern Standard Arabic is the country’s institutional language, but a number of distinct local Arabic dialects are spoken colloquially: Omani, Gulf, Shihhi (spoken in the Musandam peninsula), Bahrani and Dhofari. This being my first stay in an Arabic country I was interested to see that although the language is written from right to left, numerals are read from left to right.

Roadsign in Oman

Road sign in Oman

Additionally you will hear Baluchi, an Indo-Iranian language with eight vowels, also spoken in Pakistan, eastern Iran, and southern Afghanistan; and Swahili, due to the shared history of Oman and Zanzibar.


Endangered indigenous languages in Oman include five South Arabian Semitic languages: Jibbali (also known as Shehri), MehriBathari (nearly extinct), Harsusi (unwritten, and reportedly similar to Mehri but usually considered a separate, albeit moribund, language), and Hobyot (spoken near the border with Yemen by approx. 100 people); and two Indo-Iranian languages:  Kumzari (spoken in the Musandam peninsula), and Luwati, which has 37 consonants.

Language families in Oman (source: Ethnologue)

Language families in Oman (source: Ethnologue)

English is widely spoken, and is taught at school from an early age; virtually all signs throughout the country are bilingual in Arabic and English.


A significant number of residents also speak Urdu and various Indian dialects due to the influx of Pakistani and Indian migrants during the late 1980s and the 1990s. Oman also has its own sign language.


Further reading: