Fancy an iTunes Gift Card?

Because March was the month of the Rio Carnival, we organised a special competition to celebrate it. As today is the last day of March, the competition will end tonight at midnight.

Our readers are important to us and that’s why we want to give you the opportunity to enter the competition as well.

Get in the party spirit with some great music by entering our exclusive draw to win 2 iTunes gift cards worth £25 each.

[This competition is now closed]

Good Luck!

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Try your luck…

Scottish Finger-Signing Gets Its Own Documentary

We often read about the struggle to document and preserve endangered spoken and written languages.  But what about disappearing sign languages? Deaf people all over the world have their own regional languages and methods of communicating, some of which are also vanishing.

For example, a new documentary by the Highland Council’s Deaf Communication Project aims to capture Scottish Highland finger-spelling before it is completely replaced by standard sign language. As project manager Jenny Liddell explained to the BBC:

“Older deaf people don’t use as many signs, but instead use their fingers to spell out individual letters. It sounds like a slow way to communicate, but in fact it’s amazingly fast and beautiful to watch, and its part of our heritage.”

Read more

Survey Says: Native Languages Best for Ads

Indian marketing firm Ozone Media has a message for companies doing business there: Translate your ads into local languages for best results. That’s the takeaway from a new survey the company just released that compares the response rates of online ads in English versus ads in local languages –  at least for most products and services.

The exception to this rule, oddly enough, was in the “matrimony” category. The study found that resident Indians, Indians still living and working in India, were more responsive to English-language ads for matchmaking services. Meanwhile, non-resident Indians, those living and working outside the country, were more responsive to ads in their local languages. Perhaps this is due to homesickness and nostalgia? Read more

It's Official: OMG is Now a Word

Don’t look now, but I think my old English grammar teacher is doing somersaults in her grave: No less an authority than the Oxford English Dictionary has declared “OMG” a word, along with two other popular 3-letter abbreviations, “LOL” and “FYI.”

Language purists may scoff at the new additions or even consider them a sure sign of the decline of Western civilization. However, in it’s latest update, the OED notes that both OMG and LOL have jumped out of the confines of electronic screens and are now:

“found outside of electronic contexts, however; in print, and even in spoken use…The intention is usually to signal an informal, gossipy mode of expression, and perhaps parody the level of unreflective enthusiasm or overstatement that can sometimes appear in online discourse, while at the same time marking oneself as an ‘insider’ au fait with the forms of expression associated with the latest technology.”

Read more

Deaf Puppy Joins Deaf Family, Learns Sign Language

With her floppy ears, black spots and one blue eye, you’d think Alice the springer spaniel would have no problem finding a home.   However, the adorable pup was actually neglected and cast off by a breeder after it was discovered that she was born deaf.

The Blue Cross took her in, but was afraid that it would be hard to find her a “forever home” because of her special needs.

Fortunately, Marie Williams and her partner Mark Morgan saw Alice’s profile on the Blue Cross website. Williams and Morgan are both deaf, and they decided that Alice was meant to join their family. Read more

Want to See the World From a New Perspective?

Learning how to speak another language can be a lot of fun, and knowing how to speak one is a useful, marketable skill in today’s world. But there’s another reason to learn a new language. It may sound like a cliché, but a new study indicates that learning a second language can actually change the way you see the world.

The study looked at people who spoke Japanese, people who spoke English and people who spoke both languages, and asked them to distinguish between different shades of blue.

Why blue? The Japanese language differentiates between light blue (mizuiro, or “the color of water”) and dark blue (ao) in a way that English does not. Read more

Kodiak Alutiiq Speakers Reinvent Their Language

Just last year, the Alutiiq, a group of Native Americans who live on the coasts of Alaska, were in danger of losing their language, the Kodiak dialect of Alutiiq, completely. The dialect is down to about 50 living speakers.

For the past four years, however, the Alutiiq Museum has been working on a project to document and preserve the language. Called Living Words, the project involves talking with and recording the elders who can still speak Alutiiq.

But in addition to documenting the language as it exists today, the Alutiiq are also looking to the future by adding new words.  According to the Kodiak Daily Mirror, tribal elders have been holding “New Words Councils” to create words for modern phenomena like text messages and ATVs. Read more

British English is diverging from American English

The world may be getting smaller, but the distance between the Queen’s English and the American version is actually growing. A new study by the British library shows that “British English is diverging from American English,” library curator Jonnie Robinson told the Guardian.

As part of the study, researchers are having Brits and Americans pronounce a set of 6 different words, many of which, like “schedule,” are traditionally pronounced differently depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on. Read more

Is English Threatening German?

Is the German language in danger? According to The Guardian, some German linguists think so.  Apparently English, German’s bigger brother, is encroaching on its sibling’s turf.

The problem is especially notable when it comes to technology – English is coining new buzzwords like “follower” and “livestream” and exporting them at an astounding rate, so quickly that the English versions catch on before German translations can gain traction.

The German Language Association, or VDS, has been trying their hardest to play catch up. This month, for example, they suggested that Germans say”Anhänger”instead of “follower”, “Direkt-Datenstrom” instead of “livestream” and “Geselligkeit” instead of “socializing.” Read more

Translation Errors In Free Trade Agreement

In February, the European Union approved a new free trade agreement with South Korea.  However, the pact sparked a controversy in South Korea after Korean lawyer Song Ki-ho uncovered numerous translation errors and discrepancies between the English language version of the agreement and the Korean one.

According to the Korea Times, some of the translation errors were quite significant. For example, the English version of a section on licensing for architects says that architects licensed in Europe can become licensed in Korea by passing a simplified exam only. The Korean version says that architects must have 5 years of experience and an exam, as per existing Korean law. According to Mr. Song, if left uncorrected this could have led to European architects being able to get Korean architect’s licenses more quickly and easily than Korean architects. Read more

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