British or American Rock Music?

Rock Music was born in the United States during the late 1940s and early 1950s. It is a combination of Blues, Gospel, Jazz and Country music.

Historically, the first rock success came basically from American singers such as Muddy Watters, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly. According to the Library of Congress,

“American rock and roll music was imitated by British groups, who then refined it and, in the view of some, improved it.”

Even if Rock Music was born in United States, musicians like Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker introduced the Blues in England. Since the birth of rock music, American and British bands reciprocally influenced and grew up together.

The 60’s were the period named the British Invasion with groups like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and The Who. It cannot be denied that The Beatles led to rock music development around the world. Who doesn’t know one Beatles song at least?! Read more

Renting out the Car Park

With our friends from Graymatter we our renting out the car park this weekend. The Foo Fighters are playing at the MK Bowl.

All proceeds go to Social Eyes and Willen Hospice.

 

Eyak: Back from the Dead?

Last year, we wrote about how the Eyak language, once spoken by a native tribe in Alaska, was being given a second chance at life courtesy of a young French student with a knack for linguistics.

At the time, 22-year-old Guillaume Leduey had just made his first trip to Alaska. Leduey is something of a language prodigy, and had taught himself Eyak via instructional DVDs.

The last native speaker of Eyak, Marie Smith Jones, died in 2008. However, before she died she taught the language to University of Alaska linguistics professor Michael Krauss. Leduey brought the total number of Eyak speakers up to two, but nobody knew whether he’d be able to continue to work with the language or not. Read more

Summer Solstice Celebrations

Last week, the Northern hemisphere experienced the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and the shortest night. In many countries, this occasion now goes uncelebrated and unremarked: you might not even know it happened. However, historically the solstice was a cause for celebration in many countries. In some places, it is still a holiday, with traditions that date back to before the spread of Christianity. Here’s a look at how the summer solstice is celebrated around the world:

Norway and Denmark– In Scandinavia, the summer solstice is an important holiday. Bonfires are a majot part of the celebrations in both Norway and Denmark. In Denmark, where the holiday is called Sankt Hans aften, the bonfire sometimes includes an effigy of a witch.

Sweden- Sweden differs from other European countries in that bonfires are not a traditional part of the Midsummer celebration. Ironically, bonfires are lit to celebrate Walpurgis Night, which falls on the first of May, while the summer solstice in June is celebrated by dancing around a maypole. Read more

Medical Translation App

Ideally, every medical patient would have access to an interpreter who speaks their language. However, these services aren’t always available, and when doctors and patients can’t communicate effectively, the consequences can potentially be devastating.

Late one night, Brad Cohn and Alex Blau, two medical students at the University of California in San Francisco, shared stories of language barriers they’d experienced while trying to treat patients and wondered, “Why isn’t there an app for that?” Inspired, they decided to build one.

In an article on the University of California website, Blau explained:

“Ninety percent of diagnoses come from the patient’s self-reported medical history, so the ability to communicate is critical. Time is not an asset doctors or patients have. You need that information when you need it.”

Read more

Learning Language With a Game

Have you always dreamed of learning a new language? Make a game of it! That’s the idea behind Memrise, a new language learning website that focuses on building your foreign language vocabulary with social games, quizzes and mnemonic devices.

To help you learn new words more quickly, Memrise introduces them with clever pictures or mnemonic phrases to help you associate the word with its meaning. For example, the Mandarin Chinese character for “child” is represented by a picture of a baby in swaddling clothes, in the shape of the symbol.

There’s also social gaming element- each new word you’re presented with becomes a seed in a virtual garden. Players “tend” the plants by practicing the word and taking quizzes. One of Memrises’ co-founders is a neuroscientist, and the quizzes are supposed to be scientifically calibrated to come at just the right time and with just the right level of difficulty to keep the game challenging but not discouraging. Read more

Losing Language

“Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash”.

This is a quotation of the artist Leonard Cohen which points out the necessity of poetry. It is the same for language. Humans need to talk and share between us but for this, reading literature is very useful. Aristotle said:

“Man is by nature a political animal”.

This means that Humans want to live in society and to develop social relationships with other citizens.

Language, in the strict sense of the term, allows us to communicate but literature and poetry allow us to embellish it. Classical language is losing its value and giving way to the modern. This is represented by mobiles and Internet language, for example “LOL” or “OMG” (oh my God).

Two main reasons can explain losing a language. The first fundamental reason is Time Acceleration: we live more quickly than before and we have less and less time to live. That is why we use abbreviations languages and news means of communication (SMS, SKYPE, FACEBOOK, TWITTER etc.). Paradoxically, people lives much more quickly but spend more time behind the TV! Time Acceleration can also cause other reasons such as Modern Technology and News means of communication. As I said above, Internet and Mobile phones caused the weakening of language even if we need it to work and to communicate .It would be difficult to do without it… Read more

The Future of Translation

Ray Kurzweil is a pioneer in technological fields including speech recognition and text-to-speech synthesis. He also believes one day soon, computers will develop their own consciousness and superhuman levels of intelligence. In fact, in an interview with the Huffington Post, Kurzweil told industry guru Nataly Kelly that he believes computers will be able to translate as well as human translators by 2029.

At the moment, it’s obvious that machine translation has a way to go. But it’s improving all the time,and what if Kurzweil is right? Is there a future for translators in the brave new world he predicts? Fortunately, the answer is yes.  Kurzweil says that:

“These technologies don’t replace whole fields, in general. What they do is replace a certain way of applying them.”

The translation field is always changing, but translation companies that are willing to change with the times should have no problem thriving, according to Kurzweil:

“These tools are going to increase our ability to use, create, understand, manipulate and translate language. The idea is not to resist the tools, but to use them to do more.”

Read more

Teaching in The Inuit Language

The Inuit, a group of native peoples living in Canada, have a graduation rate of only 25%. Obviously, something has to be done. But what? After studying the issue for more than two years, The National Committee on Inuit Education has concluded that one of the most important strategies for improving the graduation rate among Inuit children is bilingual education: teaching them in both their native language, Inuktitut, and either French or English, depending on the region of Canada.

Mary Simon, the leader of Canada’s national Inuit group, told the Globe and Mail that:

“We need to do much more to get the graduation rates up in terms of our kids who aren’t getting through school…We need to implement an era of new investment. I call on Prime Minister Stephen Harper to fulfil the words of his speech from the throne to make Canada’s North a cornerstone of its agenda and … do something truly significant for the next generation of Inuit.”

According to a UN study published in 2008, indigenous children tend to do better the longer they are taught in their native language. Plus, there is ample evidence to show that the current system is not working. A 25% graduation rate is simply not acceptable. Read more

Customers Want Website Translated

Last month, Eurobarometer released a study that examined how Europeans react to foreign-language content on the Internet. The results were clear: if you do business online and have an international clientele, translating your website could help you attract customers and may even increase sales.

English may be the most common language on the Internet, but it’s by no means a universal tongue. While the survey showed that one out of two European web surfers were willing to seek out content that wasn’t in their first language, that high percentage is skewed as citizens of some EU member countries are more likely to seek out foreign-language content than citizens of other countries. From a press release summarizing the results of the study:

“This figure hides great variations as between 90 and 93% of Greeks, Slovenes, Luxembourgers, Maltese and Cypriots indicated they would use other languages when online, but only 9% of UK citizens, 11% of Irish, 23% of Czechs and 25% of Italians said they would do so.”

When it comes to actually putting their money where their eyeballs are, the statistics are even more stark: Only 18% of the respondents were willing to buy products online in another language “frequently or all the time,” and 42% would never buy a product online if the website was in another language. Read more

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