Around the web – June 2016

Unsurprisingly the run-up to and aftermath of the British referendum had a tendency to dominate news stories this month, including articles about translation and language.

  • Because this brings a smile let’s start with these possible names for EU exits for all members of the EU (my favourites are those for the Czech Republic and Hungary).
  • This article, written on May 9th, asks what Brexit could do to the UK’s translation industry.
  • Brexit also brought about linguistic queries from the USA concerning British use of the terms ‘surgery‘ and ‘hokey-cokey‘, as well as American attempts to try and use bollocks
When a US newspaper uses a front page full of Britishisms...

When a US newspaper uses a front page full of Britishisms…

'Time immemorial' is now used to mean “time beyond memory” or “time out of mind”, but it began life as a legal term in mediaeval England referring to anything that happened before the coronation of Richard I, on 6 July 1189.

‘Time immemorial’ is now used to mean “time beyond memory” or “time out of mind”, but it began life as a legal term in mediaeval England referring to anything that happened before the coronation of Richard I, on 6 July 1189.

Although I don’t teach English I recently recorded a short podcast for language learners, and chose as my subject what it’s like to be a translator in Reunion Island. You can listen to and/or watch the podcast (and 101 others!) for free at Anglais.re’s website.

My podcast is titled 'The Invisible Woman'.

My podcast about translation is entitled ‘The Invisible Woman’.

Related articles:

Around the web – May 2016

I had the pleasure this month of receiving a copy of a photography book that I’d translated – it’s always a pleasure to see one’s name in print, isn’t it? Anyway, here’s a round-up of the most popular articles about language and translation that appeared online in May.

  • Alina Cincan of Inbox Translation undertook a mammoth task this month when she compiled a blog post with the favourite tools of 72 professional translators, including yours truly. CAT tools were excluded, and everything listed is either free or very affordable.
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I love this photo mosaic!

  • How do you deal with translating references to songs? Should they remain the same in your translation?
  • Could understanding other cultures’ concepts of joy and well-being help us reshape our own?
The Positive Lexicography Project aims to catalogue foreign terms for happiness that have no direct English translation. ILLUSTRATION BY JULIANNA BRION

The Positive Lexicography Project aims to catalogue foreign terms for happiness that have no direct English translation. (Illustration by Julianna Brion)

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He, she, they: it’s as easy as one, two three (Credit: Alamy)

I’ll leave you with this quote that I came across recently.

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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 – 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.

 

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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?

 

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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:

 

Around the web – October 2015

I was lucky enough to spend two weeks this past month in Oman, and I’ll soon be blogging about the diversity of languages that can be found in this peaceful Middle Eastern country. In the meantime here’s a round-up of language and translation-related articles that have appeared online in October.

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In an age of marriage equality, the concept of ‘maiden name’ seems increasing outdated. (Photograph: Alamy)

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An example of a food-related idiom in French

Finally, if you haven’t yet signed Red T‘s petition to Urge the UN to protect translators and interpreters worldwide please do so soon. They have 17,000 signatures, but still need at least 8,000 more.

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Related articles:

Around the web – September 2015

I was delighted to attend my first ever translation conference at the beginning of this month: IAPTI‘s 3rd annual conference in Bordeaux. It was great to meet hitherto virtual colleagues as well new ones, attend some great presentations, and it was altogether very well organised. You can see tweets from the conference, and watch the closing video here.

Group photo of the attendees at the IAPTI 2015 Bordeaux

Group photo of the attendees at the IAPTI 2015 Bordeaux conference

Anyway here’s a round-up of translation- and language-related articles that have appeared online in September, with a few pieces from July and August thrown in for good measure.

  • Quebec needs English-speaking immigrants, but struggles to accept them. Find out more in this BBC video.
  • Colleague Steve Dyson listed some tips for translators, including the advice to stop trying to multitask.
  • What are the advantages of being self-disciplined, and how can we make a start?
  • The Guardian wondered if working at home in your pyjamas is bad for business.
 ‘If you wake up feeling grotty and put on clothes that reflect that, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.’ Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Feature

‘If you wake up feeling grotty and put on clothes that reflect that, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.’ Photograph: Everett Collection/Rex Feature

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Scots also have 369 words for marbles

Fun:

This Gaelic signs says ‘Welcome to the doorway to the beauty of Penis Island’.

This Gaelic signs says ‘Welcome to the doorway to the beauty of Penis Island’.

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