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Your End-of-Summer Language News Digest

And just like that, summer is over.  Feeling left behind? Here are 7 interesting stories about language and translation to keep you in the know!

Britney Spears’ French Teacher is Probably Dying of Shame Right Now 

8514687036_83acba7062_bSo, this week Britney Spears released a new album. One of the songs, “Coupure Electrique,” is sung entirely in French. How sophisticated! Except she obviously didn’t get a French translator to help with the lyrics. To quote Bustle,

“The French lyrics in this track are not actually grammatically correct, so a direct translation would result in English lyrics that actually don’t really make that much sense.”

But if you’re interested in what she’s trying to say, Bustle does a good job of trying to parse the lyrics into understandable English.

United States Finally Settles on a Spanish Translation of the Miranda Warning

26682691294_385a8a19c4_bIf you’ve watched an American cop show, you’ve heard it: The Miranda warning, which advises suspects being placed under arrest that they have the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney, etc.

But if what if the suspect doesn’t speak English? The US now has the world’s second-largest population of Spanish speakers. Only Mexico has more. But until this month, the US did not have a standard translation of the Miranda warning. And that has caused all sorts of problems. According to Vice, there have been “dozens of instances of bad translations, including the use of Spanglish, and completely made-up Spanish words like “silento.” (The Spanish word for silent is “silencio.”)

Finally, a half-century after the Miranda warning became the law of the land and standard police operating procedure, the American Bar associaton has voted to create a standard Spanish-language Miranda warning.  Read more

8 Stories About Language and Translation for September

Are you having trouble getting over the hump this week? Could you use some midweek motivation? Why not take a few minutes to catch up on all the news you’ve missed over the past month from the world of language and translation? We’ve handpicked 8 interesting stories, so grab a cup of your favorite pumpkin spice-flavored beverage, sit back, relax and enjoy:

Should you learn a local dialect instead of a global language?

That’s the idea behind this article from Quartz. The article posits that since Google Translate already has global languages covered (yeah, right!), it makes more sense to learn a local language like Welsh or Irish instead.

We’re all for more people learning smaller local languages, obviously. But machine translation still has a long way to go, and it will be a long time, if ever, before being able to speak another global language becomes an “obsolete” skill.

That said, there’s evidence that once you’re fluent in two languages, it’s easier to pick up a third. So, maybe you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Looking for some global language learning suggestions?  See The Top Languages To Learn in 2017 Read more

Translation News: 5 Stories to Keep You In The Know

Can you believe we’re already one month into 2016? Neither can we! Life moves fast. Here are five language and translation news stories you may have missed.

boromir google translate

Google Translate Fail: Russia is “Mordor”

We’re not even out of January yet, and already Google Translate has made a high-profile (and hilarious) error. The online translation service’s algorithms somehow decided that when translating from Ukrainian to Russian, “Russia” should be translated as “Mordor.”

Additionally, the service translated  Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov’s name as “sad little horse.” No word on whether Putin became “Sauron” or not.

The error was probably caused by online chatter from Ukrainians about Russia, which took a turn for the dark side after the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Google released a statement on the matter which almost perfectly demonstrates why you should think twice about using Google Translate for your business:

“Google Translate is an automatic translator – it works without the intervention of human translators, using technology instead. This means that not all translations are perfect, and there will sometimes be mistakes or mistranslations. We always work to correct these as quickly as possible when they are brought to our attention.”

Read more