Posts

Translator Helps Deliver Baby

In Tucson, Arizona, a Language Line translator helped deliver a baby over the phone last weekend, according to this article in the Arizona Star. The baby’s family all spoke Spanish, so when the father-to-be called 911 to report that his wife was about to give birth, the language barrier made an already nerve-wracking situation even more complicated.

The dispatcher who received the call, James Charron, is not bilingual and doesn’t speak Spanish. He understood just enough to figure out what was going on, but not enough to communicate accurately with the family. Tucson’s emergency dispatch system relies on Language Line to translate for non-English speaking callers.

Through Language Line translator Paola Anderson, Charron was able to provide instructions to the baby’s father and father-in-law to help them deliver the child safely on their own.

During the ordeal, the woman and her family were not the only ones who were nervous. Anderson was nervous too, afraid that making a mistake in translation could have serious consequences. As she told the Arizona Star, “I thought a little mistake could have resulted in something bad.”

According to the report, the baby girl was born healthy. Both Charron and Anderson are proud to have helped bring her into the world.  “I feel like a godmother,”  Anderson told the Arizona Star.

This story underscores why it so important to have well-trained, knowledgeable interpreters. Especially in medical situations!

You Never Know When You'll Need to Translate

Students sometimes grumble about requirements that they take classes in a second language. “Why bother? When am I going to use this?” they ask.

The truth is that knowing how to speak a second language can come in handy at the most unexpected moments, even if you don’t become a world traveler or get a job as an interpreter. As often as not, the world comes to you.

I was reminded of this on a recent plane ride. Read more

Translation to Spanish, Holidays and Robbery

Travelling is great, it offers you the opportunity to see something else, explore a different country than yours, be open to another culture and overall try new things. Food, people, landscapes, habits, animals, nature, clothes…everything can be completely different from what you have experienced before. Landing in a new country is like landing on a new planet where some changes can affect you for the rest of your life, you even might want to stay there forever because you feel that you fit better in this new land than your home country. Who knows!?

However, for the majority of us, this is just a stopover in our daily life, break the habits for 1 week or 2 and escape the reality thanks to a change of scene. Leave the routine to come back fresher, relaxed and happy. I think we all need that from time to time and I’m definitely always up for a trip abroad. However, there are always few rules to keep in mind when travelling to a foreign land: get a medical insurance, check that you have all your ID and important documents with you, make sure you have enough money to survive over there (plus put some cash in your pocket in the local currency), buy a guide, book an hotel or a backpack, bring a dictionary and learn few basics in the local language if you can.

Last one is very important because if you want to be able to understand and be understood, it’s always handy to know few expressions in the language your hosts are speaking. What happens if you don’t? Well, let me tell you the story about a Spanish couple who was in holidays in France… Read more

Google Analytics gets Spanish Blog

Web giant Google have just launched a Spanish version of their analytics blog.

The blog covers a range of Google measurement tools including Google Analytics, Website Optimizer, Insights for Search, AdPlanner and others.

Both Googlers and Google Analytics Authorized Consultants (GAAC’s) who speak Spanish will use the blog to share basic tips and advanced web analytics techniques which will hopefully help the decision makers integrate data from these tools into their business strategies.

The blog has been named ‘Central de Conversiones’. Important posts from the English Google Analytics blog will be translated into Spanish and uploaded onto the new blog. There will also be original content created and share studies which will be specific to the Spanish speaking markets.

The English blog is very useful so this new blog should open Google Analytics to a much wider audiences.

Survival Spanish

Hola from Costa Rica! I’ve spent the past week here, and consequently I’ve had the opportunity to sharpen my embarrassingly rusty  Spanish skills. I was astonished at how much of the language came back to me — and also at how much was lost to time. If you’re traveling to a Spanish-speaking country, here’s a list of words and phrases you might want to memorize before you go, along with some that I wished I’d taken the time to relearn before my plane touched down in San Jose.

Pleasantries

  • “Por favor.” Please.
  • “Gracias.” Thank you.
  • “De nada” or “con gusto” You’re welcome.
  • “Buenas dias” or just “buenas”– “Good day,” used as a greeting.
  • “¿Como esta?” How are you?

Traveling/Directions

  • “¿Donde esta…?” Where is?  If what you’re asking about is plural, use “¿Donde estan?”
  • “Puente en mal estadio.” Bridge in poor condition.” We saw a lot of these signs on the way to our rural mountainside resort.
  • “El taxi.” Taxi.
  • “Gire a la derecha.” Turn right.
  • Gire a la izquierda.” Turn left. 
  • ” Un plano.” A map.
  • “¿Por favor, puedo usar los servicios sanitarios?”  Please, can I use your bathroom? (Also, muchas gracias to the wonderful Costa Rican woman who let a pregnant gringa she’d never met into her home to use her bathroom!)

Food/ Restaurants

  • “La propina” The tip. In Costa Rica, this is generally  included, though you may tip a little extra if the service was exceptional.
  • “La cuenta, por favor.” Check, please.
  • Soda : A restaurant serving inexpensive Costa Rican staples.
  • “¿Acepta usted tarjetas de crédito?” Do you accept credit cards?
  • “Quiero…” I want…

Language

  • “Habla ingles?” Do you speak English?
  • “Habla español?” Do you speak Spanish?
  • “Lo siento, solo hablo un poquito de español.” I’m sorry, I only speak a little Spanish.
  • “Hable despacio, por favor.” Speak more slowly, please.

Hotels

  • “Quisiera hacer una reservación/ Tengo una reservación.” I would like to make a reservation/I have a reservation.
  • “¿Podria llamarme un taxi, por favor?” Could you call me a taxi, please?
  • ¿Tiene el hotel acceso a Internet? Does the hotel have internet access?
  • “La llave.” Room key.
  • “El aire acondicionado en mi cuarto no está funcionando.” The air conditioner in my room isn’t working.

Can you think of any other essential travel phrases? Share them in the comments!

Photo Credit: AttributionShare Alike Some rights reserved by LeafLanguages

the-spanish-language

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

You Can Haz Spanish!

Last month, we wrote about the potentially dire consequences of the UK’s foreign language shortage for our economy. How do we get more people to learn another language? As it turns out, the common housecat  may hold the key.

Say what? According to research performed by a company called Memrise, people retain information better when it is presented in the form of cute cat pictures. As Memrise COO Ben Whately explained to the BBC:

“We wanted to know what kinds of visual mnemonics were most effective at helping people to learn fast. The pattern began to emerge that pictures of cats always featured disproportionately among the most effective.”

Now, you can channel your obsession with funny cat memes into something productive: learning another language. Read more

Does the UK Need More Foreign Language Speakers?

Is the UK facing a shortage of foreign language speakers in the near future?  That seems to be the case, a new study from the CBI confirms.

Last year, the British Council released a report describing the potential economic harm caused by not having enough UK workers with the right foreign language skills.

The 2014 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey supports those conclusions. According to the CBI survey, two thirds of UK employers prefer to hire employees with foreign language skills.

Which languages are companies looking for? The most requested language was French, with 50% of businesses looking to hire French speakers. 49% were looking for German speakers, and 44% were looking for Spanish speakers. However, the number of businesses looking for Mandarin and Arabic speakers is growing. For example, 31% of the firms surveyed considered Mandarin a  useful language for their business. In 2012, only 25 percent did. Likewise, demand for Arabic language skills is up 4 percent since 2012.

In a statement,  CBI deputy director general Katja Hall expressed concern about the number of UK students learning these languages:

“With the EU still our largest export market, it’s no surprise to see German, French and Spanish language skills so highly prized by companies. But with China and Latin America seeing solid growth, ambitious firms want the language skills that can smooth the path into new markets. It has been a worry to see foreign language study in our schools under pressure with one in five schools having a persistently low take-up of languages. The jury remains out as to whether recent government initiatives can help spur a resurgence in language learning. Young people considering their future subject choices should be made more aware of the benefits to their careers that can come from studying a foreign language.”

To address this problem, the  government is making foreign  languages mandatory in UK schools starting at age seven.

Is there anything else we should be doing to encourage British children to learn foreign languages? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Photo Credit: Attribution Some rights reserved by mklapper

The Spanish-Language Rule Book Gets a Much-Needed Update

Spanish is spoken all over the world. It is the official national language in 21 countries, but in each of those countries, it sounds just a little bit different.

For example, according to Wikipedia, in Spain, butter is called mantequilla. In Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, it is called manteca. Coche means car in Spain and Mexico, but almost everywhere else Spanish is spoken, it means “baby stroller.” There are also variations in which verb forms are used when.

Historically, the Spanish Royal Academy has determined what “proper” Spanish sounds like, but since they only focused on the language as it was spoken in Spain, their guidelines were out-of-step with the way Spanish is spoken by the majority of the world’s Spanish speakers. That’s why the Spanish Royal Academy’s new guide, the Nueva Gramática, is so important.

To write the  Nueva Gramátic, Spanish-speaking scholars spent more than 11 years looking at how people speak Spanish in every country where it is commonly spoken. The result is a 3,000 page, 2 volume guide that describes Spanish in all of its many regional variations. Since the last grammar guide was released in 1931, this represents a much-needed update.

According to the Latin American Tribune, in a presentation ceremony for the new book, the Spanish King Juan Carlos called the work “an historic service to the unity of Spanish and, overall, to better cohesion among the Hispanic peoples.”

The director of the Spanish Royal Academy, Victor García de la Concha “comes from the people and seeks the people. Here are all the voices, all the ways of speaking forming a great polyphony. Within the lines of scientific analysis a discourse of humanity circulates throughout (its) 4,000 pages.”

US Healthcare Website Lost in Translation?

Spanish is the second most commonly spoken language in the United States, so the US government has made a concerted effort to include Spanish speakers in the roll-out of the country’s new healthcare laws. However, their outreach efforts have come under criticism a number of times.  The most recent example is CuidadoDeSalud.gov, the Spanish-language version of Healthcare.gov, an official website where Americans can view and purchase insurance plans available under the Affordable Care Act.

According to a recent Associated Press Story, the website was full of translation errors. The AP called the translation “Spanglish” and said  “the translations were so clunky and full of grammatical mistakes that critics say they must have been computer-generated — the name of the site itself can literally be read “for the caution of health.” Read more