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The Origins and Importance of the Spanish Language

The Spanish language or Castilian, as native speakers sometimes refer to it, has become one of the most popular languages used in the world today. Its history is vast and it has spread and developed steadily throughout the centuries.

The name Castilian originates from the Castile region in the Cantabrian Mountains in northern Spain where Latin mixed with indigenous dialects was spoken after the decline of the Roman Empire. As the kingdom of Castile spread, so did the so-called Vulgar Latin commonly spoken in this region. With the conquest of the southern regions, this northern dialect, by then known as Castilian, spread south, replacing other provincial dialects.

As Castilian became more widespread it adopted vocabulary from Moorish Arabic and was influenced by medieval Judeo-Spanish (Ladino) and Mozarabes (the Romance speech of Christians living in Moorish territory). Sadly, these languages died out in the late 16th century as Spanish took over the peninsula. Read more

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Twitter is Changing Language

One of the most intimidating parts of learning to use Twitter is the lingo. Confronted by words like “retweet,” “hashtag” and the “Twittersphere,” new users often find themselves wondering:

“What language are these people speaking?”

English, as it turns out – Twitter is just changing the way we speak it, adding new vocabulary words and even influencing the way people talk and write when they aren’t using the service. No less an authority than the Oxford Dictionary just added the words “Twittersphere” and “ZOMG” to the lexicon, according to Time Magazine.

Meanwhile, digital anthropologist Brian Solis observes that the popular social networking service  is also changing the way people communicate outside of Twitter, even offline:

“At some point, a chasm emerges between those who use Twitter and those who do not. In other channels where Twitter users and other non-users are connected, for example email or text messaging,  the culture of conversation becomes noticeably divergent. To begin with, Twitter users, like texters, are groomed to speak with brevity.”

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Urinal Drink translation

Translation Higher Priority‎

You’re familiar with the phrase “The customer is always right,” right? Unfortunately, when it comes to translation,newresearchfromTransPerfect shows that businesses aren’t taking that advice to heart.

The survey examined attitudes towards translation among consumers and executives from across the globe. Clear, quality translation was a priority among the respondents who completed TransPerfect’s survey, with 63 percent of the respondents stating that they would be more likely to buy products from websites that have been properly translated into their native languages. When presented with a website with no translation options, consumers were forced to either “make do” with automatic tools like Google translate or to simply give up on the purchase.

The sample size of 200 respondents may seem small, but the results dovetail quite nicely with a survey published by Eurobarometer earlier this summer, which found that 42% of consumers wouldn’t buy a product online if the website was in another language. Really, can you blame them? Not being able to understand the terms and conditions of the website you are buying from is a recipe for poor customer experiences and dissatisfaction. Read more

Brand Name In China

Thinking of moving your business to China? A word to the wise: hire a skilled translator! As a recent article in the New York Times points out, translating a business name into Chinese requires

much more than Google Translate; you also need a deep understanding of the nuances of Chinese culture to avoid utterly humiliating yourself.

As the Times explains:

“More than many nations, China is a place where names are imbued with deep significance…Given that China’s market for consumer goods is growing by better than 13 percent annually — and luxury-goods sales by 25 percent — an off-key name could have serious financial consequences.” Read more

Spotlight on Mirandese

The New York Times recently ran an article by Seth Kugel, the Frugal Traveller, describing a recent visit to the Mirandese-speaking region of Portugal. Today, Mirandese is Portugal’s second official language, but before it was officially recognized as such in 1999, it was sometimes treated as a rural (and therefore undesirable) dialect of Portuguese.

However, it’s actually been a distinct language since around the 12th century, when it branched off  from Astur-Leonese. Mirandese does have many similarities to Portuguese; the two languages share a common ancestry and they have been spoken side-by-side for centuries. Despite these commonalities, Mirandese has its own phonology, morphology and syntax and is actually much more closely related to Asturian. In the New York Times, Mr. Kugel lists one of many differences that make the language unique:

Most memorable was how Mirandese distinguishes grandmother and grandfather, both of which are spelled abó. When necessary, grandfather becomes l abó de las calças (grandparent of the pants) and grandmother is l’abó de la saia (grandparent of the skirt). Insensitivity to male cross-dressers and female jeans-wearers notwithstanding, can we all agree that that is adorable? Read more