Archive for January, 2013


Posted on January 25th, 2013 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

French language purists L’Académie française have a new word on their hit list. L’Académie française was established in 1635 and is charged with ensuring that no pesky foreign words infiltrate the French language. They are required to publish a French dictionary and often offer alternative French words for foreign words that have gained popularity within France. Although they make rulings on such matters, the people of France are not required to follow their advice. The latest word to irk L’Académie française is hashtag, which has no doubt gained popularity because of the rise of Twitter. Hashtag is by no means the only word for French language purists to panic about.

Already, the French culture ministry has a huge list of English words on its website which it fears are in danger of slipping into common French usage.

These words include email, blog, supermodel, take-away, parking, weekend and low-cost airline.

The site, which has a blacklist vocabulary of 65 pages, also features obscure terms like detachable motor caravan and multifunctional industrial building.

Mot-diese has been offered as an alternative for the French to use instead of hashtag. Although L’Académie française offer alternative French words, they are not always adopted. Courriel was offered as an alternative to e-mail but many French people have not adopted it and still use the English word.

via: Truth Dive

Driving Test Translators

Posted on January 15th, 2013 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The U.K. is set to scale back translation services for people undertaking driving tests. Both practical and theory tests can currently be undertaken in 19 foreign languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bengali, Cantonese, Dari, Farsi, Gujarati, Hindi, Kashmiri, Kurdish, Mirpuri, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Pushto, Spanish, Tamil, Turkish and Urdu. The U.K. currently has the most accommodating driving test language system in Europe. Unlike the scale back of translation services in councils, this move has been taken because of cheating.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin ordered the crackdown to stop rogue interpreters helping people who cannot speak English cheat their way to a UK driving licence by telling them the answers to questions in both the theory and practical tests.

More than 850 test passes have been revoked since 2009, while nine interpreters have been banned.

It is unfortunate to think that because of the errors of a few, some people will now be unable to drive in the U.K.. Although 850 test passes being revoked may seem like a large number ‘about 675 learners a week take the test with an interpreter in the back seat. A further 2,100 use them or rely on voice-overs for their theory exam.’ Although the move is apparently not due to saving money, the ‘Department for Transport figures say the crackdown will save £230,000 a year.

via: The Daily Mail & The Sun


Posted on January 12th, 2013 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

New research from the University of Portsmouth suggests that children should be taught English in a different way. Children are currently taught how to read and write by phonetics, sounding out words. This is why children are often taught the phonetic alphabet (ah, buh, cuh), before learning the alphabets actual letters. Phonetics works by treating sounds as the building blocks of language. A critique of this method though is that children are not taught how the English language works. Psychologists from Portsmouth University found that this critique is one we should be paying attention to.

”When children were taught to understand why English works the way it does, we saw a leap in their ability to learn to read and write.

”The written word is about conveying meaning, not the sound of speech.

”Expecting children to just figure out the rules of our language is worryingly common and it isn’t helping them become as proficient and confident as young children in many other languages.”

The different approach to teaching children English the psychologists trialed is called morphology. Rather than just teaching children the sounds of words, the approach teaches children about the meaning and sources of words. For example, ”’saying”, ”said” and ”says”, which all have the root word of ”say”.’ Phonetics is used around the world to teach languages but unlike other languages ‘about half of all the words in English are exceptions to the rules of phonics’. After trailing morphology on ’120 children aged five to seven [the researchers] found the average reading age increased by 14 months after just six months.’ These results are impressive and it appears that morphology could be the future of teaching English to children.

via: Southern Daily Echo

Evolving English

Posted on January 5th, 2013 by Jake in Uncategorized | No Comments »

British people love to bash American English. Many people grimace at an Americanism infiltrating a British English sentence. But when you set aside a few linguistic differences: chips for crisps, elevator for lift, it is remarkable how similar the two versions of English remain.

The grammars are almost identical. One of the few differences is the American “gotten”, but even that turns out to be only half a difference. Americans use it only when they mean “acquired” – “we’ve gotten a new car” – and use the same form as the British when they mean “possess” or “obliged to” – “I’ve got a pen” or “I’ve got to write a letter”.

This may not seem an incredible feat but one must remember that ‘the first permanent settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, was in 1607, when Shakespeare was still alive’. Anyone that has read Shakespeare is aware of how different modern English is to the English of Shakespeare’s time. That both British and American English have evolved and changed into languages that are essentially the same is quite unusual. For example ‘the 17th century Dutch settlers in South Africa ended up speaking Afrikaans, a substantially different language’.

So, instead of focusing on the differences of spelling and words, why not focus on the remarkable similarities between two versions of English that could be unrecognisable to each other.

via: The Financial Times