English Across the Pond

English: Across the Pond.

When you consider the differences between the United States and Britain, it’s not hard to conclude that they are, ultimately, much the same. While there is 3,000 or so miles separating these tiny Isles in Northern Europe from the vast continent of the North Americas physically, it’s merely a drop in the ocean in most ways. Read more

Chinese Translation of Finnegan’s Wake Sells Out

“Finnegan’s Wake,” the last novel written by Irish author James Joyce, is one of the most critically acclaimed novels in the English language. It’s also one of the most perplexing and difficult to parse. Consequently, most of the general English-speaking public has not even attempted to read it.

But, as IrishCentral.com reports, while Finnegan’s Wake may be one of the more obscure English classics, it’s huge in…China?!? Read more

"Neanderthal Baby Plot" Was A Translation Error

The story made for great headlines, and spread across the Internet like wildfire. The Daily Mail screamed: “Wanted: ‘Adventurous woman’ to give birth to Neanderthal man – Harvard professor seeks mother for cloned cave baby,” and other publications quickly followed suit.

According to the stories, Harvard professor George Church not only believed that he could reconstruct Neanderthal DNA, he was also actively seeking a woman to carry a cloned Neanderthal baby to term.

It sounded like something out of a Hollywood movie- too sensational to be true. Naturally, it was. Read more

An Irish Message from Space

It was one small tweet for a man, but one giant leap for Irish on Monday, when the language was used in space for the first time.

The milestone came courtesy of Canadian astronaut Commander Chris Hadfield, an avid Twitter user who has also been honing his photography skills from the International Space Station.

On Monday night, he tweeted a gorgeous photo of Dublin from space, captioned with the following text: Read more

Ponglish: Diary of a Pole

Ponglish: Diary of a Pole

Eight years ago I arrived in the UK with my fellow countrymen: rocket scientists, brain surgeons, state attorneys, film directors and hairdressers. They let us flow out of the plane and spread all over the country.

Back home, in Poland, I grew up watching Mr. Bean, listening to Brit Rock and thinking every Londoner has marmalade on toast with tea for breakfast. Having lived here for nearly a decade I have developed an affection to my current whereabouts. I can’t really imagine living without this beloved dry humour! Even though Mr. Bean is yet to be spotted.

Apart from the friendly mentality of the Brits (most of you will frown now), I like the language. Which paradoxically becomes a lingua franca even amongst the Poles themselves. Some fifteen years ago I had my auntie come over from the USA, she tended to throw in some odd American-sounding words into her ever exaggerated statements. Back then I thought: “What did she catch out there?!” Read more

The World’s Sexiest Languages

You already knew that learning another language can help keep you sharp and stave off dementia. But did you know that it might also help you get a date? Rocket Languages, an online language learning company, recently commissioned a survey to unearth the world’s sexiest languages. Let’s take a look at the findings.

French Really is the Language of Love

According to the Atlantic, the survey pool consisted of 5,000 Rocket Languages users from around the world. 1,300 of the respondents were American.

Out of that group of 5,000, 41% declared French to be the sexiest language. 15% chose Italian, and 15% chose Spanish. From the results, it seems that French really is “the language of love.”  Read more

The ALC Unconference

I have to admit I was a little sceptical about taking 3 days out of the office and travelling 5000 miles to something called an unconference.

As a new CEO/business owner in the language industry I am always looking for opportunities to develop my own knowledge and grow my company so threw caution to the wind and took the chance.

After a day’s journey from London I arrived on Wednesday at the first Association of Language Companies’ Unconference at the PGA National Resort Florida.

First impressions were good!  Read more

Manx: A Language Reborn?

At its peak, the Manx language was spoken all across the Isle of Mann. However, by the 19th century, it was disappearing. Parents stopped speaking it to their children, believing that their offspring would have more opportunities if they spoke English. In fact, the island’s inhabitants began to view the language as backward, better off forgotten.

As 78-year old native Brian Stowell recalled to the BBC:

“If you spoke Manx in a pub on the island in the 1960s, it was considered provocative and you were likely to find yourself in a brawl…In the 1860s there were thousands of Manx people who couldn’t speak English. But barely a century later it was considered to be so backwards to speak the language that there were stories of Manx speakers getting stones thrown at them in the towns.”

The last native Manx speaker, Ned Maddrell, died in 1974, leading UNESCO to declare the language extinct in the 1990’s. For most languages, the death of the last native speaker is indeed the end of the road- but not so for Manx. While it’s still listed by UNESCO as “critically endangered,” about 100 adults speak it fluently. More importantly, it’s being taught to children in schools. In fact, there is one primary school on the island where children are taught exclusively in Manx.

But is this good for the children involved? Or were the parents of the 19th century right to teach their kids only English?

While there may not be much of a market for Manx language skills off the island, we now know a lot more about how children acquire languages than we did then. Studies have shown that being bilingual gives both children and adults certain cognitive advantages, and there’s some evidence that it makes learning additional foreign languages easier, as well.

Those advantages have not been lost on the parents who choose to send their children to the Manx primary school. One mother, Donna Long, told the BBC:

“The best thing is that it will hopefully unlock their brain to learn other languages easily too. They were all completely bilingual in Manx and English by the age of six.”

Sounds like a win-win situation!

A Welsh Play in London

According to the 2011 UK Census, the number of Welsh speakers has fallen slightly since 2001, even in Wales itself. With that in mind, you might be forgiven for thinking that putting on a Welsh-language play in the middle of London would be a losing proposition.

Aled Pedrick hopes to prove you wrong. The actor and director is putting on a production of Gwenlyn Parry’s “Saer Doliau,” which translates to “The Doll Maker.” The play will run at the Finborough Theatre until the 19th of February.

Pedrick told WalesOnline that while staging a Welsh language play in London was bound to be challenging,

“[W]hen the Invertigo Theatre Company – two of whom are Welsh-speaking graduates from my alma mater, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama – approached me with the idea, I was intrigued. And, being a London-based Welsh speaker myself, I knew that there was quite a sizeable community of similar sorts living here, many of whom work in the theatre themselves. So I figured there’d be quite a bit of interest in something like this from the off.”

The play is written and performed entirely in Welsh, but Mr. Pedrick told WalesOnline that “while the actors’ dialogue might be in Welsh, what they’re saying isn’t tied down to one single nationality.”

“Saer Doliau” tells the story of a Welsh doll mender tormented by two mysterious strangers, both of whom may or may not be hallucinations. The set incorporates a subtitle machine, so even if you don’t speak Welsh at all, you can understand what’s going on.

This review calls the subtitles “spare” and says that the setup “works very well for those who do not know any Welsh but offers a great deal more to those that do, for whom it should definitely be compulsory viewing.”

If you’re in the area and interested in attending, tickets and showtimes can be found here.

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by Magnus D

Local Language Project Preserves Unique British Dialect

According to the latest census, 92% of people living in England and Wales speak English as their primary language. However, that doesn’t mean it’s spoken the same way all across the country. Unique, quirky regional accents and dialects abound. As you’ve probably experienced, in some areas, there’s a good chance you’ll be confronted with at least a few English words or phrases that you don’t quite recognize!

The area around Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire is famous for its unique way of speaking. As the BBC notes, there’s some dispute as to whether there’s one Shropshire dialect or several, but there’s no doubt that the region is linguistically distinct.

Unfortunately, though, the dialect (or dialects) may be disappearing, as more young people opt for a standardized version of English reinforced by mass media. Read more

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