Top Language Twitterers 2016

Every year since 2009 Blabla language portal has held its Top 100 Language Lovers competition. There are five categories:

The nominations received have been narrowed down to 100 for each of the five categories. For the fourth year running I’ve had the pleasure of being nominated in the Language Twitterer category for my account @Smart_Translate. Last year I arrived 8th in the Twitter category (having previously been voted 4th in 2014).

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50% of the final score will be based on user votes. You can participate in voting here, or by clicking on the button to the top right, until June 6th. Note that twitterers are listed by name (e.g. Cath Cellier-Smart), not by Twitter handle. There’s no need to be on Twitter yourself to vote, as the link takes you to a web page where you just click on a link. You can also vote in the other categories by clicking on the links above.

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Ranking and results will take place June 7th-8th, and results will be published on June 9th.

P.S. You can follow and/or tweet about the competition (all categories) on Twitter using the hashtag #tll16.

If you’d like to find about more about the competition see this article.

Around the web – April 2016

I spent a day this month participating in a training course for sworn translators. Have you done any CPD recently? Anyway, here’s your monthly round-up of the most popular articles about translation and language that appeared online in April.

The French greeting: Should it be 'tu' or 'vous'? (PHOTO: ISTOCK)

The French greeting: Should it be ‘tu’ or ‘vous’? (PHOTO: ISTOCK)

Map of the word 'tea' in European languages (source)

Map of the word ‘tea’ in European languages (source)

 

Related articles:

The Languages of Namibia

Namibia is a large country in south-west Africa that has been independent from its neighbour South Africa since 1990. Before that it was a German colony between 1884 and the First World War, and pre-colonially it was inhabited by Khoisan tribespeople, later joined by Bantu. With less than 2.5 million inhabitants in a country covering more than 800,000 km2, it’s also one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.

Himba woman, Namibia

Himba woman, Namibia

Ethnologue lists 27 individual languages for Namibia, all of which are classed as living, and 22 of which are indigenous. Almost half the population speak the Bantu language Oshiwambo, or one of the eight dialects thereof. Other Bantu languages spoken include Kavango, (Otij)Herero and Caprivian (aka Lozi, whose spoken form places strong emphasis on social status),  TswanaGcirikuFweKuhaneMbukushu, and Yeyi. Khoisan dialects spoken include Nama (aka Khoekhoe and formerly known derogatorily as ‘Hottentot’),  NaroKung-Ekoka, and ǂKxʼauǁʼein.

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Map of language distribution in Namibia

Linguistically Namibia’s colonial heritage means that both German and especially Afrikaans are spoken and understood (especially by the white population), as they were the country’s official languages until 1990; Afrikaans is somewhat of a lingua franca. Portuguese is also spoken in the far north due to proximity with Angola. Although only 1% to 3% of the population speaks English as a mother tongue, at independence the ruling party decided to institute English as the sole official language in order to avoid tribal divisions and the colonial overtones which stigmatise German and Afrikaans. The idea was to harmonise the country and avoid “ethnolinguistic fragmentation”. English is widely used in the civil service, education and the broadcasting system and it helps with international relations, as English-language materials are the most easily available; it’s also the language of instruction in schools from secondary level onwards. However this monolingual policy has resulted in a high rate of school drop-outs and in individuals whose academic competence in any language is low.

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Driving across Namibia

The UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger lists Khwe (Kxoe) as a ‘definitely endangered’ language, with only 5,000 speakers in 2000, however Ethnologue considers it as ‘developing’ and lists Mashi, Mbalanhu and !Xóõ as threatened languages.

A pup at Cape Cross seal colony

A pup at Cape Cross seal colony

Incidentally Khoisan dialects feature clicking sounds (created by slapping the tongue against the teeth, palate or side of the mouth). In writing these are represented by ! ,/, //, or ‡. On my recent visit to Namibia I found it fascinating to listen to; here’s a short video of a San bushmen explaining how to capture a porcupine.

Further reading:

You might also enjoy:

My travel blog articles about Namibia can be found here.

Around the web – March 2016

Did you celebrate Easter? Jakub Marian created an interesting map of the word ‘Easter’ in various European languages. March also saw the first anniversary of the new version of my website. Anyway here’s a round-up of the most popular articles about language and translation that have appeared online this past month.

Does this give you allergies or hayfever?

Does this give you allergies or hayfever?

  • Staying in North America, the Quebec Association of Certified Translators, Terminologists and Interpreters is currently running a one-month advertising campaign aimed at the business community & general public (article in French).
One of OTTIAQ's advertising posters

One of OTTIAQ’s advertising posters

Why do we say "It’s brass monkeys outside"?

Why do we say “It’s brass monkeys outside”?

Related articles:

Around the web – February 2016

This month I was very pleased to be back at the Career Fair of a local junior high school for the third year running, giving a morning of presentations about the translation and interpreting profession. As well as being the month of International Mother Language Day, of course February also sees Valentine’s Day, and it turns out that both women and men rank grammar as more important than confidence in a potential relationship! Anyway here’s a round-up of the most popular articles about translation and language that have appeared online this past month.

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 One of the many recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

One of the many recent additions to the Oxford English Dictionary. Photograph: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Dutch word for whipped cream is 'slag room'...

The Dutch word for whipped cream is ‘slag room’…

In French:

 

Related articles:

Around the web – January 2016

Has 2016 got off to a good start for you? I was pleased to see the publication this month of one of my side projects: the Insight Guide to Mauritius, Reunion & Seychelles, for which I revised and updated the Reunion section. Anyway here’s a round-up of the most popular language and translation-related articles that have appeared online this past month.

The realities of speech are much more complicated than the words used to describe it. (David Gray / Reuters)

The realities of speech are much more complicated than the words used to describe it. (David Gray / Reuters)

  • Aside from the obvious spelling differences between theatre (UK) and theater (US), did you know there are also differences in meaning? Lynne Murphy tells all in her Separated by a Common Language blog.
  • Colleague Simon Berrill blogged about the trustworthiness (or not) of his personal accounting system. How many clients have you failed to invoice?
  • If you’re a French to English, German, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese translator you’ll find this list of France’s official Ministry & Minister title translations handy.
  • English to Italian translator Valentina Ambrogio blogged about her experience with translation scammers.
  • As a freelancer, where do you find is the most product place to work? Coffee shop? Co-working space? Home?
  • Ever get fed up with the question “so how many languages do you speak?” when you meet someone for the first time? Well here’s a way to strike back.
 A handy guide to atmospheric elevation of spoken communication

The linguists strike back…

  • Do you use ‘air punctuation’? Or get annoyed by people who do? Take a look at this tongue-in-cheek guide.
A handy guide to atmospheric elevation of spoken communication

(Part of) A handy guide to atmospheric elevation of spoken communication

In French: Il me court sur le haricot. What it means: He’s annoying me. (James Chapman / BuzzFeed)

In French: Il me court sur le haricot.
What it means: He’s annoying me.
(James Chapman / BuzzFeed)

  • Finally, if you don’t know Alexandra Hispafra’s blog, do take a look (in French). Amongst other posts she regularly interviews linguists, and I was delighted to be January’s guest translator.

 

Related articles:

Invitée de Hispafra

Je suis ravie d’avoir été la première invitée de 2016 sur le blog de collègue Alexandra Le Deun, Hispafra. Depuis maintenant trois ans, Alexandra publie régulièrement des entretiens avec des traducteurs aux profils différents (parmi lesquels Simon Berrill, Caroline Subra-Itsutsuji, Andrea Halbritter …) afin de mieux faire connaitre notre profession. Je vous laisse découvrir l’article ici.

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I’m delighted to be 2016’s first guest on Hispafra, a blog by colleague Alexandra Le Deun. This is the third year that Alexandra has been running her interview series with translators in order to make our profession better known. Past interviewees have included Simon Berrill, Caroline Subra-Itsutsuji, and Andrea Halbritter. You can read the interview, in French, here.

You might also like:

Most Popular Tweets of 2015

Here, in ascending order, are the 10 most popular* tweets about language and translation I shared during 2015 from my @Smart_Translate Twitter account:

10. Whether you’re an American planning to land in London or a Brit plotting your tour of New York, take care, these 12 English words mean something completely different to Brits and Americans.

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“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit”

9. Le site de traduction en ligne Reverso est victime de son succès. Des internautes sont tombés sur certaines phrases porno qui se sont malencontreusement glissées dans la base de données.

8. This one has been largely shared in the media: Google Translate error sees Galicia celebrate ‘clitoris festival’.

7. Here are some rude Italian terms that just don’t translate word for word into English.

6. La traductrice Sarah Wafflard-Walker, une conseillère municipale, était mortellement poignardée en novembre.

5. A quiz from Oxford Dictionaries: test how good your Canadian English is.

4. Angela Merkel inspired a German dictionary manufacturer’s youth word of 2015.

BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 16: German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets students at the Sophie Scholl school during a visit on the fifth European Union school project day on May 16, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The nationwide initiative is meant to foster a stronger understanding young people of the role of the European Union. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

BERLIN, GERMANY – MAY 16: German Chancellor Angela Merkel greets students at the Sophie Scholl school during a visit on the fifth European Union school project day on May 16, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. The nationwide initiative is meant to foster a stronger understanding young people of the role of the European Union. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

3. The Local France gave 20 French words a ‘Franglais’ makeover

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Time to add a few words to your vocabulary. Photo: Lagotic/Flickr

2. What are the advantages of self-discipline for a translator? An article by Dutch and English to German translator Désirée Staude.

1. And the winner is … 15 Hilarious Translation Fails In Video Games

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

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

P.S. In June this year I was delighted to come 8th in Blabla‘s Language Lovers Twitter competition, a list of the Top 25 Twitter Accounts world-wide to do with translation, language interpreting, linguistics, bilingualism and everything about languages.

Do you have a favourite article published in 2015 you’d like to share? Don’t hesitate to leave it in the comments below.

* ‘most popular’ = most clicked on, according to Hootsuite.

Related articles:

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.

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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.

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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.

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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: