Message in a bottle

Message in a bottle

A French love letter was found near Falmouth, Cornwall last week.

The beer bottle was found by Martin Leslie, a coastguard manager, and his family as they walked on Praa Sands, near Falmouth.

The bottle was poking out of the sand; its top was sealed with red candle wax. Inside was a three A4 pages handwritten in French and dated September 28th.

Mr Leslie had a go at translating the letter using the internet but could only decipher words relating to love, death and missing someone.

He assumed that the letter must be a suicide note and handed the letter to Falmouth Coastguards to pass onto their counterparts in France.

According to the Telegraph Mr Leslie said the woman said she and her lover shared magical moments together but that she understood that he had to return to his wife. She finished by saying she hoped to find another man like him with whom she could live a beautiful life.

The letter said ”These magic moments are pure secret. The secret of life and pleasure without limits. In twenty years, it will still be here, the previous moments of happiness, when life will get dreary, we will be able to tap into these memories to remember what it is to live again.”

Mr Leslie plans to keep hold of the letter which is unsigned and has no contact address on it.

FBI Behind on Translating Intelligence

8 years after 9/11, the FBI is still behind when it comes to translating intelligence information.

According to a report issued by the US Justice Department’s inspector general, the FBI has lost approximately 3 percent of its linguists since 2005. Plus, they are taking longer than ever to hire new contract linguists.

There is a lot of work to be done. According to Reuters, between 2006 and 2008, the FBI collected 4.8 million foreign language documents and intercepts in terrorism and criminal cases and 46 million electronic files. To date, 31 percent of the electronic files have not been examined. Between 2003 and 2005, the FBI collected 4.8 million audio hours worth of material via surveillance campaigns-25% of that material hasn’t been reviewed, either.

Part of the problem seems to stem from the length of time it takes to do the necessary background checks and other reconnaissance on potential translators. Apparently, it takes 14 months to do the necessary reviews and investigations to make sure that the applicants aren’t terrorists themselves.

According to Reuters’ Front Row Washington blog, some of that un-translated material was pertinent to a case against two Chicago men who planned to attack a newspaper in Denmark. Affidavits in the case state that:

“While translators have attempted to transcribe the foreign language conversations accurately, to the extent that quotations from these communications are included, these are preliminary, not final translations.”

So, what would it take to get the FBI caught up? 100 linguists working 40 hours a week for seven years, according to the inspector general’s report.

So, if you’re looking for a recession-proof job and you think you can pass an extremely detailed background check, here is my suggestion: Start learning Arabic!

Internet Regulator Approves Multilingual Web Addresses

The internet regulator Icann has voted at its annual meeting in Seoul to allow non-latin-script web addresses. This means that  you could have domain names in Arabic, Chinese and other scripts.

This move is set to transform the internet and will be the most complicated code change in over four decades.

Icann were set up by the US Government in 1998 to oversee the development of the internet. The US Government eased its control over the non profit body last month after years of intense criticism. They signed a new agreement which gives Icann independence for the first time since it was set up. The agreement came into effect on the 1st October and this puts it under the scrutiny of the global internet community.

In some countries they have already introduced solutions to the language barrier, setting up alternatives to the standard Latin-script. This allows users to enter web addresses in their own language. However, these are not internationally approved and do not work on all computers.

The BBC suggests that it will most likely be Chinese and Arabic script, followed by Russian that are the first non-Latin internet addresses.

Icann said it would accept the first applications for IDNs by 16 November, with the first up and running by “mid-2010”.

According to the BBC Icann president and CEO Rod Beckstrom said “Of the 1.6 billion internet users today worldwide, more than half use languages that have scripts that are not Latin-based. So this change is very much necessary for not only half the world’s internet users today but more than half, probably, of the future users as the internet continues to spread.”

Learning a Language? There's an App for That!

When you’re trying to learn a new language, practice makes perfect.  How many times have you said to yourself, “I would love to learn another language in my spare time?” Since many of us lead very busy lives, finding that spare time to practice and learn can be challenging. However, if you have a smartphone, there are plenty of apps available that give you the opportunity to practice on the go.

Here’s a list of some of the better apps available for the iPhone, Blackberry and Android devices:

•    WordPower (iPhone and Android): WordPower helps you learn new vocabulary in one of several   languages, teaching you the “core” 2000 words most important words you need to communicate. You can read foreign vocabulary, listen to native pronunciation, then give it a go yourself. You can also record yourself to see how your pronunciation measures up.
•    24/7 Tutor (iPhone): Learn Spanish, French, Italian or German with this collection of iPhone apps. Learn vocabulary, listen to native speakers and track your progress with quizzes.
•    Byki (iPhone): According to their website, Byki helps you learn a new language especially quickly because it “hacks” into your memory and fills it with foreign words and phrases.” Interesting…
•    GidRapid (Blackberry): GidRapid makes language learning apps for the Blackberry in a variety of different European languages, featuring flash cards, word lists and quizzes.
•    CardLingo Language Flash Cards (Android): This app lets you type in new words and phrases as you learn them, then turns them into flash cards that you can review anywhere.

There are so many apps for iPhone, Android and Blackberry that this list doesn’t even scratch the surface of what’s available.

So, next time you’re waiting in line somewhere, why not find an app you like and start learning another language?

Desperately Seeking Glaswegian Interpreters

An advert has appeared in the Herald newspaper recruiting Glaswegian interpreters and translators. The successful candidates needed to understand general vocabulary, accent and nuances.

The firm told the BBC that so far 30 people had applied for the positions – some of them applied in Glaswegian.

The translation company who placed the advert recently had a number of requests for Glaswegian translators and interpreters and decided to recruit to meet demand.

Glaswegian English can be difficult for tourists and business professionals visiting the area to understand.

Here are a few examples of Glaswegian patter
Baltic (very cold)
Boost (head off)
Buckie (tonic wine favoured by youngsters)
Cludgie (toilet)
Eejit (idiot)
Hampden roar (score)
Hee haw (nothing)
Hen (term used to address a woman or girl)
Laldy (enthusiastic participation)
Maw (mother)
Midden (rubbish tip)
Pure (very)
Moroculous (drunk)
Messages (shopping)
Scooby (clue, rhyming slang – Scooby Doo)
Shoot the craw (leave in a hurry)
Stooky (plaster cast)
Swatch (look)
Toaty (small)
Ya dancer (fantastic)
Yersel (yourself)

Cloud Computing, C'est Quoi En Français ?

Cloud Computing, C’est Quoi En Français ?

It is becoming increasingly difficult for the French language to keep up with the pace of technology, according to this article in the Wall Street Journal. New buzzwords like “cloud computing,” “social media” and “web 2.0” are introduced frequently, and since new French translations for English words have to be created by a committee and approved by France’s General Commission of Terminology and Neology and other regulatory bodies, the French language often lags behind.

For example, the Wall Street Journal notes that it took a committee that specialises in coming up with French equivalents for English computing technology terms 18 months to come up with a translation for cloud computing. The result, “informatique en nuage,” which literally means “computing on a cloud,” was deemed unsatisfactory.

So, until the committee comes up with a new translation, the French language is left without a standard term to describe what Wikipedia defines as “a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualised resources are provided as a service over the Internet.”

In the Wall Street Journal article, Xavier North, the head of the General Delegation, defends the approval process, saying, “Rigor cannot be compromised.” However, at this rate, by the time they get a translation approved, “cloud computing” will be old news instead of the “next big thing.”

Each year, about 300 new French terms make it through the approval process to become part of the French language. Creating French alternatives to imported English phrases is an important part of keeping the French language healthy and relevant, but it seems like the process needs to move a little bit faster to keep up with the increased pace of technological change.

To ensure you get the best quality from your language project choose a trusted provider. Our French translation services are relied on by governments and businesses worldwide, contact us today to find out more

 

Scots Gaelic Gets EU Recognition

Scots Gaelic has been approved for use in EU meetings in a new memorandum of understanding, according to the BBC. The move is an important step forward for Scots Gaelic,although it still does not have the status of an EU “official” language like English.

In addition to being used in meetings, Gaelic speakers can now write to the EU in Scots Gaelic and get a response back in the same language.

In Scotland’s 2001 census, about 58,652 people reported being able to speak Scots Gaelic, while an additional.33,748 were able to understand it.

The Scottish Government will be footing the bill for the costs of translation for EU meetings and correspondence as part of their efforts to increase the use of the language in Scotland.

Use of Scots Gaelic, has declined significantly, especially over the past 100 years.  For example, according to Wikipedia, in 1911 there were 183,998 Scots Gaelic speakers. Also, in 1991 there were 7,300 more Scots Gaelic speakers than there were in 2001-a decline of 11 percent over 10 years!

In the BBC article, Scottish Culture Minister  Mike Russell commented on the news, saying, “This is a significant step forward for the recognition of Gaelic both at home and abroad and I look forward to addressing the council in Gaelic very soon.”
“Seeing Gaelic spoken in such a forum raises the profile of the language as we drive forward our commitment to creating a new generation of Gaelic speakers in Scotland.”
In honor of the occasion, here are some common words and phrases in Scots Gaelic, along with their English translations:

Halò: Hello
Ciamar a tha thu: How are you?
Madainn mhath: Good Morning
Feasgar math: Good Afternoon
Oidhche mhath: Good night
Dè an t-ainm a tha ort?: What’s your name?
Slàn leat : Goodbye
Slàinte: “Health,” usually used as a toast, like “cheers.”

Google and Facebook Release New Translation Tools

Both Google and Facebook released new translation tools for websites over the past week. Both companies announced the new tools on wednesday, in honor of International Translation Day.

Google’s website translation gadget allows you to make your web content available automatically in 51 different languages. To use it, all you have to do is insert a few lines code into your page.

The code checks the browser settings of your site’s visitors to see what language they use. If their preferred language is different than the language your page is written in, they will see a banner offering them the option of automatically translating the page into their language. All they have to do is click on the magic button, and presto, your website is translated for them.

Facebook’s translation tool, called Translations for Facebook Connect, also translates the text of your page to make it more accessible to your visitors. However, it’s a little bit different…instead of automatically translating the text; it allows you to crowd source the translation process to other Facebook users. You also have the option to translate the page yourself. However, the translations only work for visitors who are on Facebook and log in to Facebook Connect.

These automatic translation tools are a great way to expand the number of people you can reach with your website. However, if you are aiming for viewers from a particular country or language group, it is still worth it to invest in professional translation.

As Jeff Chin of Google noted in his blog post announcing the new website translation gadget:

“Automatic translation is convenient and helps people get a quick gist of the page. However, it’s not a perfect substitute for the art of professional translation.”

Once You Learn a Language, Do You Ever Forget It?

Many people who studied a foreign language in school don’t continue to practice it after they graduate. The conventional wisdom is that if you don’t speak a language, you will forget it rather quickly. As my Spanish teacher used to say: “Use it or lose it.”  But is that really the case?

The results of a new study published on the Science Daily website suggests that when it comes to learning languages, this conventional wisdom isn’t completely true. Even many years later, the brain retains some memory of the languages you used to know. The study looked at native English speakers that spent time overseas as small children and who had learned either Hindi or Zulu during that time.

In vocabulary tests, the volunteers were unable to remember any of the words of the languages they had spoken as children. However, Hindi and Zulu both have phonemes (the smallest unit of sound in a spoken language) that don’t exist in English. When the researchers taught both the volunteers and a control group to recognize these phonemes, the volunteers that had learned the languages as children picked them up much faster than the volunteers who had not.

So, apparently, you never entirely forget a language you once knew. Of course, if you don’t remember any of the vocabulary, remembering what the phonemes sound like doesn’t help much if you need to communicate with someone in that language. However, it is comforting to know that if you try to pick up the language again, you won’t be starting from scratch.

The researchers who wrote the study concluded by recommending that children be exposed to different languages as much as possible, saying that “Even if the language is forgotten (or feels this way) after many years of disuse, leftover traces of the early exposure can manifest themselves as an improved ability to relearn the language.”

Translator Collapses at UN General Assembly

New York is currently holding the UN General Assembly. It has been reported that a translator who works directly for the Libyan leader, Moamer Gaddafi collapsed during Gaddafi’s 75 minute marathon speech.

The translator was struggling with the torrent of words. The interpreter eventually came to the end of their tether and shouted live into the microphone, ‘I just can’t take it anymore’ in Arabic and then collapsed according to the New York Post.

The UN’s Arabic section chief, Rasha Ajalyaqeen, then had to take over for the final 20 minutes of Gaddafi’s speech.

Another UN Arabic Interpreter told the New York Post, ‘his interpreter just collapsed – this is the first time I have seen this happen in 25 years.’

Gaddafi broke UN protocol by bringing his own interpreters rather than using one of the 25 Arabic translators supplied by the UN.

The speech will probably be one of the most memorable speeches of the UN General Assembly referencing issues as diverse as the John F. Kennedy assassination, Philippine migration and swine flu. Whilst Gaddafi was talking many fellow leaders gradually drifted out of the room.