Archive for November, 2013

From Print to Screen: Preserving Papers from the Past

Posted on November 29th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The North-China Daily News is back for everyone to read! Well, not a new edition, but a digital copy of the original newspaper. Being the first English-language newspaper in China, the North-China Herald (later renamed) was launched by a British auctioneer in 1850.

Weekly editions were printed until 14 years later when it became a daily newspaper and changed its name to the North-China Daily News. Approximately 8,000 copies were read each day and it was considered to be the most influential foreign newspaper in China. Expats in Shanghai looked to the newspaper as a source of news and reviews on diplomatic and current events. It became widely noted amongst Chinese officials and merchants as a way to understand Western attitudes. And although it had English founders and was a Western media outlet, the newspaper didn’t always hold the same views as the British government, for example, in matters such as the Opium Wars.

Nowadays, those original newspapers are too fragile for people to read and have been stored in the Shanghai Library. Finally, after four years of hard work, Shanghai Library has finished digitalizing the printed editions of China’s first English-language newspaper which spanned 100 years. Now that the newspapers have been digitally protected, historians and media researchers have already begun reading through them as the newspaper is considered to be an invaluable reference point from which to study Shanghai’s history.

Following in the same digital footsteps, the Shanghai Evening Post and Mercury, which was founded by a US expat living in Shanghai in 1929, is currently being digitized by Shanghai Library.

How important do you think media sources are for expats in their native language?

Bad Translations to Tickle the Funny Bone

Posted on November 24th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

We have access to numerous translation devices, with new designs continually being released. There are Internet translation sites, and many companies’ websites have built in translations in various languages. There are handheld translation devices where you can type in the words for an instant text translation, and there are many innovative hi-tech devices that allow you to hear or see translations in real time. But with all of these systems at our fingertips, occasionally the resulting phrases don’t quite translate how they were originally intended to and produce some fairly amusing translations. Chinese translations into the English language are perhaps the funniest. Known for their literal way of thinking, their translations often reflect this.


Lost in Translation

Some well-known signs that have been translated from Chinese to English are:


Little grass has life, please watch your step. (Keep off the grass).

Deformed man toilet. (Disabled toilet).

Hand grenade. (Fire extinguisher).

Slip and fall down carefully. (Be careful not to slip and fall).

Execution in progress. (Construction in progress).

Beware of missing foot. (Watch your step).

Please don’t touch yourself, let us help you to try out. (Please do not touch. We’ll help you try it on).


What translation devices, apps or websites have you used and how accurate do you think they are? What amusing translations have you come across?

Conversational Convenience or a Hostile Takeover?

Posted on November 18th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

As with many other languages, German has adopted some English words into its own, and this is becoming more frequent and more normal. With the increase in social media, this trend was inevitable as communication between countries has become easier and cultural terminology has been spreading.

Duden, the German dictionary equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary, recently updated its 26th edition and added nearly 5,000 English words to it in the process. Although this isn’t the first time that English words have been added to the dictionary, this particular edition has caused outrage among the more old school German linguists. An organization which sets about protecting the German language, known as the German Language Society, were furious when the new edition went to print and have labelled the editors of Duden as the ‘language adulterers of the year’.

Not all Germans, however, share the German Language Society’s views. Most people in their 20s and 30s speak a good level of English and have adopted the English changes into their own language quite naturally. They flit quite happily between the two languages, often choosing the easiest words from either language mid-sentence. Others are more reserved in this linguistic takeover, believing that internationalization is creeping up too quickly and they are being forced to change by globalization.

The learning of languages should be looked upon as a bridge between countries, and as an opportunity to expand our horizons, both socially and in the workplace. Do you agree with the integration of another language into your own one, or do you feel that languages should be independent of each other, strictly upholding their own national identity?

Talking Up For the Tourists

Posted on November 16th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

You’ve heard of Spanglish, a mixture of Spanish and English, and Franglais, a combination of French and English. Chinglish popped up just before the opening of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, being a blend of Chinese and English. Now, Brazinglish is gaining in popularity ahead of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Unlike the other language mixes, Brazinglish hasn’t quite got off to such a good start, with awkward translations causing unexpected issues, even with official translations to public signs. At a football stadium in Salvador, for example, the exit gates were marked with the sign ‘Entrace’, being both misspelled and mislabelled. Other such translations have led Brazilians to make fun of themselves with nonsensical English translations on social media sites; in-house humour that outsiders would struggle to understand, let alone get the joke.

Nonetheless, with increased tourism looming on the horizon, English language schools have appeared everywhere in an attempt to welcome tourists into the country. Offering guarantees of how quickly they can teach people to become fluent in the English language, these schools have become very popular. The Ministry of Tourism has even created a programme, ‘Hello, Tourist!’ to encourage people to attend English classes. An estimated 6,088 franchises of 77 language schools have been created, according to the Brazilian Association of Franchising. A host of English words have already been adopted by Brazilians, although the meanings have been slightly changed in the process.

So what does hosting the World Cup hold for Brazil in the way of its new Brazinglish language? Calm conversation or chaotic confusion?

Singing for Survival

Posted on November 9th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

You’re excited. You’re about to start a new job which will take your career into a completely different direction. Not just your career, but your current lifestyle as it happens, as you have to relocate abroad for the privilege of this new employment opportunity. That’s ok though, as you already speak the language and will soon make friends. The kids are already enrolled in a school and they´ll no doubt start making friends as soon as they land. But what about your mum? She’s moving with you as you’re worried about her staying behind on her own; she doesn’t want to be so far away from you and she wants to spend time with her grandkids. Learning a new language at her age though won’t be so easy and, being retired, she doesn’t have the advantage that you do of meeting people so easily.

This is a common worry for the older generation which is often overlooked by others, assuming they´ll be fine and will ‘get by’. Being away from everything familiar to them and with no comprehension of what’s going on around them due to a different language can leave people feeling isolated and lonely.

Learning through Lyrics

This is exactly the problem that’s being overcome by a Russian singing group in the US. Formed by a trained musician who teaches English as a second language, the elderly Russian immigrants meet once a week and sing show tunes, patriotic songs and Frank Sinatra hits in English. For just one hour a week, they get together for the chance to make new friends, learn some English and have lots of fun. This creative way of learning English – which consists of singing along to a DVD of 60 songs with on-screen lyrics, lyric sheets and a piano accompaniment – also helps them to bridge the gap with the younger generation who have undoubtedly progressed with the language in leaps in bounds.

As new friendships are formed and the language gap with others is reduced, for these Russian immigrants at least, they can finally feel that they have found a home away from home. What challenges have you faced with regard to a language barrier and how did you overcome them?

Can’t Hear, Can Speak!

Posted on November 6th, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Just become someone is hearing impaired, it doesn’t mean they can’t speak. This unfortunate complaint usually applies to those who were born deaf. Relying on sign language and those around them having an understanding of it, it is the quickest and easiest way for deaf people to communicate. Until now!

The Prototype

A new prototype has just been launched in China. A hi-tech language translator will finally bridge the gap between those who can hear and those who can’t, those who can sign and those who haven’t mastered that ability. By way of a Kinect camera which recognizes the gestures made when signing and a computer with an on-screen avatar, this translation technology is able to convert signs into both verbal speech and written language for those who can hear and, conversely, can translate words spoken by a hearing person into sign language on the screen for deaf people to see.

Research for Real Time Communication

A team of researchers in China came up with this communication device with vital input from corporations and institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Microsoft Research Asia, Microsoft Research Connections and Beijing Union University. Currently operating in both English and Mandarin, this language translator works in real time allowing people with hearing impairments to have genuine conversations with others. The initial aim is to place this cost-effective technology in doctors’ surgeries as well as in areas such as airport kiosks which would provide the hearing impaired with communicative jobs and other opportunities.

With an estimated 360 million people worldwide who suffer from a complete or partial loss of hearing, this prototype is the start of their new communicative future. What other places would benefit the most from having one of these language translators and what opportunities could they open up for the hearing impaired?

Media for the Millennials

Posted on November 3rd, 2013 by Melanie in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In response to an increasing demand from young millennials in the US, particularly those of Hispanic origin, Univision (the Spanish-language programming powerhouse) and ABC News have collaborated in a joint venture to form their new English-language network, Fusion.

Responding to the Requests of a Young Audience

The key feature of Fusion is that the content will be entirely in English and will deliver unique content to young people in a fresh way, including news and information, humour and pop culture. Switching easily between English and Spanish, US Latinos have often stated a preference to be informed and entertained in English. Young Latinos in particular have stated that that want access to more media in English and that current English-language sources often don’t directly include news items regarding the Latino population. With 20% of the millennial demographic (18 to 34 years of age) being Hispanic, the new network is aiming to fulfil that need, not necessarily by targeting them specifically, but by including them as a core part of their audience and giving them diverse and enjoyable content.

Keeping It Fresh At Fusion

As the creators of Fusion are aware, they need to keep the tech-savvy network fresh and up-to-date in order to entice their target audience away from other digital resources and spend time watching the television channel, but made sure that they began their online presence last year, before Fusion even had its name, and will continue to increase their online coverage. The 24-hour news and entertainment channel was launched in 20 million homes last week. So, as yet, it’s far too early to tell how successful this network will be but, with a high demand and a lack of competition, things are looking good for Fusion.

Have you seen Fusion yet? How far do you think it goes to meet the needs of its audience?