Enid Blyton’s books, such as popular ‘50s series The Secret Seven, and Malory Towers, which Blyton started writing in the ‘40s, are about to get a language overhaul. Publisher Hachette UK has obtained the rights to Blyton’s entire body of work, excluding Noddy, and plans to bring the language used in the books up to date in a bid to boost sales and to attract new readers.
The stories themselves will remain unchanged, but the language will be updated. The intention is to make the text “timeless” and will not contain any modern slang or references to modern culture.
This year marks the 70th anniversary of The Famous Five, which was modernised last year, to some controversy. Phrases such as “it’s all very peculiar” were amended to “it’s all very strange,” and “mercy me!” to “oh no!”
The books will also be republished with new artwork from illustrators such as Quentin Blake, who is best known for his work with Roald Dahl.
What do you think of this? Should classic children’s books be updated or can children appreciate that the books were written in another time? Or is there value in keeping the original language in books as a historical marker?
Travel magazine Wanderlust recently published an article entitled 10 Most Ridiculous Travel Fashion Items. I was amazed to see on it a Phrasebook T-Shirt.
The idea behind this is, using international airport style graphics, the wearer can simply point to what they want with no need to interact with the locals. I think it might just be the laziest invention ever! It’s no longer available to buy, however, so anyone thinking of getting it is out of luck…
I’ve always thought of my multi-lingual friends as supremely clever people, and it turns out this belief is now supported by science!
Researchers at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, have found that bi-lingual people have a heightened ability to monitor their environment. Lead researcher in Speech Production and Bi-lingualism, Albert Costa Martinez, explains further; “Bi-linguals have to switch languages quite often — you may talk to your father in one language and to your mother in another language. It requires keeping track of changes around you in the same way that we monitor our surroundings when driving.”
The study compared bi-linguals with monolinguals whilst monitoring various tasks. The research concluded that the bi-linguals not only performed better, but they used less brain activity to assess behavioural tasks, indicating that they were more efficient at it.
Source: New York Times
The British Library has released the first ever audio CD of clips of Shakespeare plays spoken in the original pronunciation. The recording includes some of Shakespeare’s best known speeches, such as the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet’s To Be Or Not To Be, and the Friends, Romans, countrymen… monologue from Julius Caesar.
The “new” pronunciation makes lines which were meant to rhyme actually rhyme, and demonstrates the importance of pronunciation in communications.
You can listen to some of the clips here. I think the accents used sound like a cross between Yorkshire and West Country styles. What do you think?
If you are further interested, the British Library will be holding an event with actors from the recordings. Shakespeare’s Original Pronunciation – Live! will be held on Friday 4th May. Tickets are available here and are priced £7.50 / £5.
Following on from the news of the development of a new program to help us speak languages; the latest buzz in the technology world is a device which will translate sign language to text. The intention of the program, named the Portable Sign Language Translator, is that it will be used as an app on a tablet, Smartphone or laptop, and will allow deaf people or people with speech difficulties to communicate with hearing people more easily.
A camera will record the user’s hand signs, and then import the recording into the program, and translate it to text. Researchers and scientists at Aberdeen University, who are developing the project, say that the program will be customisable to the user’s needs, and will even allow users to develop their own signs for words and phrases they may need for work or studies.
The program is expected to be released next year.
Too lazy to learn a new language? Curious to see what you sound like speaking in Mandarin? Or maybe you use your Windows-compatible smartphone on holiday? Microsoft is developing the perfect program for you! The software will record your voice, then translate it into another language for you, and then play your voice back speaking in that language. There is no release date for this yet, but Microsoft researchers say the program will require an hour of training to learn your voice. At the moment, the program can translate between 26 languages, including English, Spanish, Italian and Mandarin.
For full details and sample audio clips, click here.
Source: Technology Review
Fancy a bit of culture this weekend?
The new Weighted Words exhibition, which runs until June 10th at the Zabludowicz Collection in London, features pieces by artists who explore language and words within their creations. Glenn Ligon‘s works feature heavily.
According to the Zabludowicz Collection website,
“Weighted Words seeks to focus on the affect of language, rather than its purely cerebral aspects. The works in the exhibition deliberately seek to elicit emotional, visceral or somatic responses, rather than foregrounding concerns for semiotics or linguistics as such. The works use language in singular ways, through written text and spoken word as well as via its absence or vagaries.”
Visitor details as below:
176 Prince of Wales Road, London, NW5 3PT
Nearest tube station is Chalk Farm
Open Thursday – Sunday, 12-6pm
This morning I read in the local newspaper about the celebrations planned for today – St Piran’s Day. St Piran’s Day, for those not in the know, is the national day of Cornwall, and as I know there are usually Cornish language workshops held around here for children, I wondered if there was anything to support adult learning too.
If you have an iPhone or iPad, you’re in luck. For today only, the Cornish Soundboard app will be free. The app features Cornish people from across the county saying typical Cornish phrases, so you can be sure to imitate them correctly with the right accent! Plans are underway to create a sister app for the Cornish language.
Those who want the app after March 5th can find it in iTunes for 69p.
I’ve posted in the past about using foreign language films as a fun way to learn languages. For Londoners and visitors to London, March is a great time to catch up on world cinema, with several foreign film festivals.
First up is Kinoteka, the annual Polish Film Festival, which runs from 8th to 22nd March. This is also running, on a smaller scale, in Belfast and Edinburgh.
Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the festival, a host of events are planned. Last night (11th March) was the gala preview of this years’ Oscar nominated film, In Darkness, ahead of the UK release on Friday 16th March. There is also a series of Kinoteka Retrospective screenings at the Polish Cultural Institute.
Tickets for the festival are available for all budgets. As well as free screenings, Riverside Studios are running special ticket deals for Kinoteka screenings. More information and full programme is available here.
Later on this month is the 14th annual London Asian Film Festival, Tongues on Fire. This runs from 16th to 24th March.
Hindi language film Michael is one of the launch highlights of this popular festival. This film is showing at the BFI on 16th March, and tickets are available here. The last night of the festival will be celebrated with an awards ceremony at BAFTA. Tickets are available for £100 – email email@example.com for more information.
Full programme and information is available on the official website.