Amount of French Content in the Olympics Ruffles Feathers in Canada

The Olympics are supposed to be about mutual respect and harmony. However, the games that bring the world together are reigniting a long-simmering cultural feud in Canada. Canada is officially bilingual; French and English are both official languages. But, the Opening Ceremony left some French-speaking Canadians feeling slighted, according to this article on CTV.ca.

Olympics Mascott

Although the opening of the Games was announced in French and then in English, the speech given by Games CEO John Furlong was almost entirely in his native tongue, English. Also, there was only one French-speaking performer in the line-up, which also included English and First Nations performers.

Complaints have been voiced by Canadian government officials including Quebec Premier Jean Charest, Heritage Minister James Moore, and Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff. The Official Languages Commissioner’s office has also begun an investigation.

Adele Mercier, a professor of philosophy specializing in language at Queen’s University, told CTV.ca that:

“I think the problem is that the French were treated . . . as just another subculture that Canada has, that we are all happily tolerating. This is irksome for official and historical reasons…It strikes a chord among French Canada because French Canadians have a historical memory…the first colonists’ approach to French Canadians was to try to assimilate us and this was almost as good a representation of the fact that it has succeeded.”

Hopefully, the closing ceremony will be enough to make up for the opening ceremony for those who felt slighted. The Globe and Mail quotes executive producer David Atkins:

“The closing ceremony actually [has] a little more French in it, to be honest, and it was a creative choice we made right from the outset. I think that the critics of the amount of French content, hopefully, will find the closing a little more palatable.”

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

Did you know that February 21st was International Mother Language Day?

UNESCO declared the day a holiday in 1999, but its roots go back much deeper into the past. According to Wikipedia, International Mother Language Day started in 1952 in what is now Bangladesh. At this time in history, Bangladesh was still part of Pakistan. Most of the people in what was then called East Pakistan spoke Bangla, but in 1948, Urdu, a language spoken primarily in West Pakistan, was declared the official language for the entire country.

On February 21, 1952, Students at University of Dhaka and Dhaka Medical College started a peaceful protest of the decision, despite the government having banned any sort of meetings and gatherings in the area. Police fired on the protesters, killing some of the students.

Since then, East Pakistan and later Bangladesh have celebrated “Language Movement Day” on February 21. In 1999, UNESCO made it an official worldwide holiday to celebrate linguistic diversity.

The holiday is celebrated with local celebrations in many communities, and at UNESCO headquarters in Paris. This year, UNESCO is holding a 2-day symposium on Translation and Cultural Mediation on February 22nd and 23rd.

The focus of the symposium will be using translation to bring together people from different cultures across the world, allowing a more balanced exchange of ideas while still promoting linguistic diversity.

In a statement promoting the event, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO, stated that:

“Multilingualism, the learning of foreign languages and translation are three strategic axes for the language policies of tomorrow. On the occasion of this 11th International Mother Language Day, I am appealing to the international community to give the mother language, in each of these three axes, its rightful, fundamental place, in a spirit of respect and tolerance which paves the way for peace.”

Is Romance the Best Way to Learn a New Language?

Here’s a special Valentine’s Day tip for learning a new language- find a foreign sweetheart! According to an article from DallasNews, a love affair is the best way to become fluent in another language.

That may sound incredibly cheesy, but consider this striking statistic: language learners who have either a significant other or a parent who is fluent in the language they are trying to learn will become fluent themselves in about the half the time it takes someone without a parent or romantic partner who speaks the language.

In the article, Philip Sweet, a professor of German at Radford University in Virginia, explains why becoming involved with someone who speaks another language can help you become fluent so much more quickly:

“Emotion is the printing fluid of memory. If you’re with somebody that you’re in love with, it makes a lot of things – really everything – that you’re doing exciting. Those phrases that you hear … you’re more likely to remember them.”

The article follows two Italian/American couples who met in Italy. Both couples found that their fluency in each other’s languages blossomed along with their relationships. In fact, when Italian Alessandro Cannali moved back to the US with his American-born wife, he tried to take an English As a Second Language class but was advised he was already too fluent, and would need to take an English class for native speakers.

Of course, if you’re already happily settled with a fellow native English speaker, there’s no need to indulge in an illicit affair to learn a new language. Being “in love” helps, but according to Chiara Crippa, the managing director for an Italian school called Italiaidea, you can just as easily fall in love with the culture:

The student doesn’t need an Italian sweetheart, Crippa insisted. Infatuation with the country’s language, food or music will suffice if it pushes a student to learn, for example, indirect object pronouns.

TSA Sued by Student Detained Over Arabic Flashcards

In America, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a reputation for jumping at little things like fingernail clippers (or Congressional Medals of Honor) while letting major threats (like guns in carry-on baggage) slip through unnoticed. The TSA argues that it’s bad reputation is largely undeserved. It’s true that there are many competent personnel working for the TSA who do a great job, and that a lot of critics are people who just don’t appreciate it when new security measures are applied to them.

Unfortunately, they also provide a lot of fodder for their critics. Take, for instance, the case of Nicholas George, a student who wants to become a foreign diplomat someday and is studying Arabic.

According to the Los Angeles Times, George was detained for four hours at the Philadelphia airport for trying to learn Arabic on the plane. Intending to get some studying done, George had packed Arabic flashcards. The flashcards included a variety of common Arabic words, including “bomb” and “terrorism”- understandable when you consider how common those particular events are in the Middle East, and therefore in Arabic-language newspapers.

The TSA confiscated the flashcards during the pre-flight screening, and began questioning him. According to CNN, the questions they asked included things like “Who did 9/11?” and “Do you know what language he spoke?” “Do you see why these cards are suspicious?” Then, they called in the FBI.

According to George, he was held for 4 hours and cursed at by an FBI agent, who also asked him if was a Muslim, a member of a “pro-Islamic” group, or a communist. George told the LA Times that if he was detained for his flashcards,”then we’ve got a real 1st Amendment issue here. I have a right to study Arabic.”

It probably wasn’t just the flashcards-the stamps on his passport showed that the young man had been to Arabic countries like Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, and travel to Arabic countries tends to cause you to receive extra scrutiny in the airport. Still, he didn’t have anything dangerous on his person or in his bag, so detaining him for 4 hours and making him miss his flight seems a little excessive.

The US needs more people who understand the Arabic language and who are interested in using that knowledge to serve their country. It would probably be best if the TSA didn’t treat automatically treat the Arabic language as a security threat.

With the help of the ACLU, George is suing the TSA, the FBI and the Philadelphia police department.

China Seeks Chinese Language Tutor For Panda

Friday, China celebrated the arrival of two pandas from the United States, Tai Shan and Mei Lan. The two pandas are being treated like the celebrities they are, and China is sparing no expense when it comes to making them comfortable in their new homes. That includes hiring a Chinese tutor for Mei Lan, the female panda born in a zoo in Atlanta.

Although she was born in the USA, her parents were loaned to the Atlanta Zoo by the Chinese government, and under the agreement, all giant pandas and their cubs must go home to China after a specified period of time.

In the Los Angeles Times, Huang Xiangming, director of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding’s animal management department,explained that:

“Mei Lan has been living in the United States since she was born, and she must be unfamiliar with Chinese.”

In an article posted on China Daily, Cui Kai, a worker at the breeding center, said that:

“She will be taught Chinese with a Sichuan dialect. She will become familiar with some simple phrases. For example, she will be taught the phrases for returning to the cage or coming out from the dormitory.”

According to China Daily, 14 people have already applied for the job of teaching Chinese to the panda. The US sent back another panda, Tai Shan, on Friday as well. However, there is no need for a Chinese tutor for Tai Shan-he will be kept at the Bifengxia Base of China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda, and handlers there are bilingual, able to speak both English and Chinese.

Both pandas are expected to be introduced into the breeding program, and the Chinese government has set up a website to allow citizens to vote on a “boyfriend” for Mei Lan.

RIP Boa Sr, Last Speaker of the Bo Language

On Friday, Boa Sr, the last surviving member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands, died.

Boa Sr the last surviving member of the Bo tribe of the Andaman Islands

The Bo language, of which she was the last surviving speaker, died with her. The Bo tribe is believed to have inhabited the islands for over 65,000 years.

Boa Sr was born in the northern Andamans, when her tribe still lived traditionally in the jungle. However, in the 1970’s, the Indian government forced all of the Greater Andamanese tribes to give up their traditional way of life and move to a single island. There, the Bo tribe’s’ numbers dwindled due to alcoholism and other diseases, until only Boa Sr remained. According to linguist Professor Anvita Abbi, she spent the last 30 to 40 years of her life, after her parents died, unable to speak her native language to anyone. However, she was able to communicate using a local dialect of Hindi and by speaking Great Andamanese, a lingua franca made up of bits and pieces of all 10 Great Andamanese languages.

Professor Abbi told Bernama.com that the loss of the Bo language was important because the language, one of the world’s oldest, was “a vital piece of the jigsaw” that could have helped scholars piece together how languages have evolved. She further explained that “The Andamanese are believed to be among our earliest ancestors,” with many of languages on the islands believed to be 70,000 years old.

When the British began to settle on the Andaman Islands in the late 19th century, the island was already inhabited by the ten Great Andamanese tribes, with a total population of about 5,000, as well as other, smaller tribes. Now, there are only 52 Great Andamanese tribes people left. However, some of the smaller tribes still survive, with varying degrees of contact with the outside world.

Before she died, Professor Abbi recorded Boa Sr singing and telling the story of the 2004 tsunami in the Bo language. You can watch the video below.

I Love you

I Love You in 25 languages

To help you to be extra romantic this Valentine’s Day we have posted  numerous translations of I Love You below… Good Luck!

I love you in Bulgarian: Обичам те
I love you in Catalan: T’estimo
I love you in Chinese: Cantonese: 我愛你 – Mandarin: 我愛你; 我爱你
I love you in Croatian: Volim te
I love you in Czech: Miluji tě
I love you in Danish: Jeg elsker dig
I love you in Dutch: Ik hou van jou
I love you in Estonian: Ma armastan sind
I love you in French: Je t’aime
I love you in German: Ich liebe Dich
I love you in Greek: Σ’ αγαπώ
I love you in Hungarian: Szeretlek
I love you in Irish Gaelic: Tá grá agam ort
I love you in Italian: Ti amo
I love you in Japanese: 大好き
I love you in Latvian:  Mīlu tevi
I love you in Polish: Kocham cię
I love you in Portuguese: Amo-te
I love you in Romanian: Te iubesc
I love you in Russian: Я тебя люблю
I love you in Slovene: Ljubim te
I love you in Spanish: Te amo
I love you in Swedish: Jag älskar dig
I love you in Turkish: Seni seviyorum
I love you in Welsh: ‘Rwy’n dy garu di

Good luck!

and… (thanks to Mark Angel Brandt)

I love you in Norwegian: Jeg elsker deg

 

French is often considered the language of love, to make sure yours isn’t letting you down choose a trusted provider. Our French translation services are relied on by governments and businesses worldwide, contact us today to find out more

 

The Language of Love

Valentine’s Day is approaching fast, a time when we express our love with cards and presents. Love is honoured on this day throughout the world.

Valentine’s Day is shrouded with myths of sacred marriage, fertility and romance. The true St. Valentine was a Christian saint but very little is known about him. Originally St Valentine’s Day was celebrated as a Christian feast but it was abandoned due to lack of solid information. There are many Valentine’s in history martyred by the church and until 1969 the Catholic Church actually celebrated 11 Valentine’s Days throughout the year.

Language is a very important part of the Valentine’s celebrations. Billions of cards are sent on Valentine’s making it the second most popular time to send cards behind Christmas. What is said in the card can mean so much to the receiver even when the sender sticks with tradition and sends their words anonymously.

There are certain languages which have an association with love, French and Italian being the most famous romantic languages.

French has a reputation for being the language of love; its flowing sound makes it perfect for flamboyant love poems. Descending from Latin, French is one of the ‘romance languages’ and is spoken as a first language by approximately 128 million people around the world.

Valentine’s Day has no real connection with French but the perception is that the French are very romantic. This may or may not be true, I would guess that it depends on the individual but the smooth, romantic tones of their language impress people from around the world on this day for lovers.

Valentine’s Day has become a very commercial event perhaps we should do something extra special this year, learn a phrase in French and recite it to your loved one. Below we have included some examples to get you started….

Bonne Saint Valentin! – Happy Valentine’s Day!

Je t’aime – I love you

Mon amour pour toi est éternel – My love for you is eternal

Je t’aime de tout mon cœur – I love you with all my heart

À toi, pour toujours – Yours forever

Tendres baisers – Love and kisses

Je veux passer la reste de ma vie avec toi – I want to spend the rest of my life with you.

Tu es la femme de ma vie – you are the woman of my life

Un bouquet de fleurs – a bunch of flowers
Une bague – a ring

With it being Valentines Day those romantic men among you may want to ask….
Veux-tu m’épouser ? – Marry me? (Will you be my wife?)

Or if you want to be cheeky….
On va chez toi ou chez moi ? – Your place or mine?

Chinese Takes Over in American Schools

American school systems, often strapped for cash and forced to divert resources toward preparing kids for standardized achievement tests, have been slowly decreasing their foreign-language offerings. According to the New York Times, “thousands” of American schools have dropped languages from their foreign-language programs in the past decade. Japanese has been especially affected, but the number of schools offering instruction in European languages like French and German is also declining.

However, even though the study of foreign languages in general has declined, the number of American students learning Chinese is on the increase. Over the past 10 years, the number of American schools teaching Chinese has increased substantially, from around 300 to around 1,600.

There are a couple of different factors driving this trend. One reason, of course, is China’s growing economic clout. Another is the fact that the Chinese government, through Hanban, a language council affiliated with the Chinese Education Ministry, sponsors Chinese “guest teachers” to come to the US and teach. Hanban contributes $13,000 toward each guest teacher’s salary, with the school district paying the rest. To a school district having trouble making ends meet, the extra money makes a big difference.

For example, here’s what Parthena Draggett, the director of the world languages department at Ohio’s Jackson High School, told the New York Times:

“We were able to get a free Chinese teacher. I’d like to start a Spanish program for elementary children, but we can’t get a free Spanish teacher.”

So far, Hanban, which works with the College Board to administer the guest teacher program, has sent 325 teachers to teach in US schools. The two organizations also offer a program that subsidizes trips to China for American educators. It’s wonderful that more American students are learning Chinese, and that the program helps cash-poor school districts offer more foreign language classes. At the same time, it’s sad that other foreign language offerings are becoming scarcer, especially in the younger grades, when it’s easier to learn a new language.

CIA Increases Language Requirements for Top Staff

The Central Intelligence Service (CIA) announced on Friday that it is increasing its language requirements for employees looking to be promoted to the top ranks of the agency, the Senior Intelligence Service (SIS).

Agency director Leon Panetta sent out a note to all CIA staff, stating that he expects the high-ranking employees:

“to lead the way in strengthening this critical expertise.”

The agents require language skills anyway bit this announcement is about keeping those language skills fresh and up to date.

Agents who are promoted to SIS will have one year t meet the language requirement. If the language requirements are not met within one year the agent will return to their previous, lower grade.

According to CBS news Panetta said:

“the change will allow the CIA to be better positioned to protect the American nation in the years ahead.”

This new policy is part of a much bigger five year imitative which aims to double the number of analysts and collectors who are proficient in a foreign language, expand the number of agents proficient in ‘mission critical languages’, including Arabic, Pushto and Urdu and make language skills more important in CIA hiring decisions.

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