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.

Bloomberg’s Warnings Lost in Translation

New York City has had one heck of a week. First, a mild earthquake shook the city. Then, just a few days later, Hurricane Irene blew in from the Caribbean. Luckily, the city dodged a bullet when the storm weakened before it struck land.

As New York breathed a sigh of relief and began to clean up Irene’s mess, one way people coped with the ensuing aggravation was through humor – and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was a prime target.

You see, New York is a diverse city, and the two most commonly spoken languages are English and Spanish. To make sure the Spanish-speaking inhabitants were kept informed of the safety measures the city was taking, Mayor Bloomberg summarized them in Spanish. That’s definitely a nice gesture, but as you can see from the video below, young Mr. Bloomberg probably wasn’t the teacher’s pet in Spanish class:

Note the person laughing in the background and the decidedly uncomfortable expressions on the faces of the men behind him in the video.

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New York City Parents Seek Out Bilingual Babysitters

Most parents want what’s best for their children. In New York City, that desire is increasingly translating into a desire for babysitters and nannies who can do double-duty as both caretakers and language teachers. Parents are looking for babysitters who will speak to their children exclusively in another language. The idea is that the children will grow up learning to speak English from their parents and learning to speak the second language from their childcare provider.

As the New York Times points out, this is a big shift from previous conventional wisdom, which was that babies should be spoken to in English at all times to ensure that their English proficiency developed normally. But does having a bilingual babysitter really help kids become smarter?

Not necessarily, says Ellen Bialystok,  a professor of psychology at York University in Toronto. Ms. Bialystock told the New York Times:

“It doesn’t make kids smarter. There are documented cognitive developments,but whatever smarter means, it isn’t true.”

In fact, raising a truly bilingual child can even delay the rate at which they talk and begin to acquire language skills, although they tend to catch up to their peers are they get older. Bilingual children also tend to be better at solving certain types of problems requiring flexible thinking, and of course they also tend to pick up additional languages easily.  Plus, in today’s multicultural world, being able to speak more than one language has advantages of its own.

However, Ms. Bialystock questioned the benefit of hiring a nanny or babysitter to help a child grow up speaking more than one language. She told the New York Times:

“It’s an interesting solution; it gives young children a consistent exposure. But how long will the nanny be around, and who else will the child use that language with?”

New York Garbage Grant to Study Gaelic

It’s amazing how much learning another language has the potential to change your life. For example, check out this New York Times article on Ed Shevlin, a garbage collector born and bred in New York.  He’s perhaps one of the last people you’d expect to speak fluent Gaelic, but actually he’s been studying the language for the past few years and can communicate in it quite well.

Shevlin’s mother was from County Cork, and he began learning the language as a way to connect with his Irish heritage. His studies have literally changed his life, bringing him opportunities for travel, romance, and hopefully a new, post-retirement career. Read more

NYC French Language Bookstore Set to Close

Librarie de France bookstore in New York City which specialises in French Language books looks set to close after being in business for 74 years. Librarie de France has said it is being forced to close because of the high rental costs that threatened to triple to $1 million a year. According to store owner Emanuel Molho the shop lease ends on the 30th September 2009.

Molho is quoted as saying: “New York is becoming impossible for retail”.

Librarie de France is world famous and is the only bookstore of its kind in the United States. Each member of staff who works in the bookstore can speak at least two languages. The business was started by Molho’s father, Isaac in 1928. In 1935, the shop moved to its current location, the La Maison Francaise building near the Rockefeller Centre skating rink.

It’s a shame that such a specialist language bookstore will go out of business due to the extortionate rents being imposed on New York’s retail businesses.

The “Gossip Girl” Guide to New York

Following on the secret #5 on watching the sensational American TV show Gossip Girl in my post “From Tourist to Real New Yorker”, I decided that today is the day.

The day for what you would ask? Good question. The day to be your favourite character for 24 hours straight of course! Serena, Chuck, Jenny, Nate, Blair, Dan or Vanessa? Time for you to make your pick.

Get your bag, your coat and your “Upper East Side” attitude and let’s go!

Palace Hotel

Let’s start by breakfast with Serena and her mum Lily at their suite located on 455 Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan. If you remember, the Van der Woodsen apartment is being renovated, so they moved to the Palace Hotel where they occupy a whole luxury suite to themselves. What a dream! Of course, let’s not forget about Chuck who is part of the family too but living on the penthouse on the top floor… I think you would never eat such expensive croissant than there, so enjoy! 🙂

Palace Hotel

Constance Billard and St Jude’s school for boys

Sorry guys but breakfast is over and you need to rush to school right now. Get your uniform, your books, your headband and most important your cell phone. You wouldn’t want to miss on some juicy gossips… Constance Billard and St Jude’s school for boys are on 75 East 93rd street, so you better hurry if you don’t want to miss the 1st class! Oh no, Penelope is wearing the same Chanel green cardigan. (Damn it!)


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