Multilingual guides are sought after for the summer season in the Outer Hebrides. Thousands of tourists are expected to descend on the Western Isles of Scotland in the next couple of months, and demand exceeds the 27 existing multilingual tour guides.
Joan Morrison, of the Western Isles Tour Guide Association, said:
“We are pretty desperate and really need people fluent in Finnish, Swedish, Spanish or Italian, and willing to undergo training. We need people as soon as possible within the next couple of weeks so we can start training.”
Gaelic remains the main language spoken by inhabitants of the islands.
Google has announced that over 200 million people use its’ Translate service every month.
Google Translate launched in 2006 offering Chinese and Arabic translation, and now offers translation in 64 different languages.
Google Research Scientist Franz Och said in an official blog post:
In a given day we translate roughly as much text as you’d find in 1 million books. To put it another way: what all the professional human translators in the world produce in a year, our system translates in roughly a single day. By this estimate, most of the translation on the planet is now done by Google Translate.
Whilst the translation system isn’t as precise as a human translator, there’s no denying it’s popularity and usefulness.
Back in November, I posted about Globe to Globe, which is just one event in the calendar of the World Shakespeare Festival taking place around the UK. The Festival launched today, which is the 448th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birthday. The date also marks English Language Day at the UN.
During the next 6 weeks, the Globe Theatre in London is showing 37 of Shakespeare’s works in 37 different languages. The festival kicked off today with Troilus and Cressida in Maori, which has already been performed in Auckland and Wellington in New Zealand to standing ovations.
Director Rachel House advises audiences to “relax and enjoy it and not panic about the fact they don’t understand the language.”
She added, “there are tones and expressions and emotions that are easily identifiable because they are so universal.”
You can still book tickets to some shows here.
Source: BBC News
Paul McCartney’s music video for his latest single My Valentine features actors Johnny Depp and Natalie Portman using sign language to convey the lyrics of the song.
It has been widely reported that there are some errors in the sign language used, most notably, that both actors use the sign for ‘tampon’ rather than ‘appear,’ and ‘enemy’ instead of ‘Valentine.’ Whilst in British Sign Language, the sign is for ‘tampon,’ it’s important to note that the actors are using American Sign Language, for which the signs for some words differ slightly. Therefore, the sign they used to signify ‘appear’ is correct. There are actually two ASL signs for the word ‘appear;’ one means ‘to show up’ and the other is ‘to seem.’ Natalie Portman used the correct sign.
It’s a shame that Johnny Depp remained expressionless throughout the video, as all sign language relies on facial expressions to bring the language to life. Nevertheless, it’s nice to see sign language brought to the spotlight!
You can view a Johnny Depp solo video, a Natalie Portman solo video, AND the video featuring both actors on Paul McCartney’s YouTube channel.
Language students, you may very well be preserving your mental health! New research demonstrates that learning another language could prevent the onset of the cognitive disease dementia. Being able to speak two languages makes the brain work harder, and is therefore more resilient in later life; according to the study, which was conducted at Toronto’s York University.
The researchers examined hospital records of patients diagnosed with a variety of different types of dementia, and found that those who were bilingual were diagnosed with dementia three to four years later than patients who were only able to speak one language.
Dr Ellen Bialystok, respected psychologist and leader of the study, said
“Our conclusion is that lifelong experience in managing attention to two languages reorganizes specific brain networks, creating a more effective basis for executive control and sustaining better cognitive performance throughout the lifespan.
‘It should not be surprising that intense and sustained experience leaves its mark on our minds and brains, and it is now clear that the bilingual brain has been uniquely shaped by experience.”
Source: Trends in Cognitive Sciences Journal
The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) have called for languages to be made compulsory in schools until AS levels, in order to help the future economy. Modern languages had previously been a mandatory subject for GCSEs, but this was changed in 2004. French and German were the most popular choices offered by many schools, but the number of students taking those subjects has halved in the last 16 years.
Last summer, 154,221 pupils took French. This is in contrast to the 350,027 pupils who sat the exam in 1995. 60,887 students took the German GCSE last year, compared with 129,386 in 1995.
Director General of the BCC, John Longworth, said:
“A renewed focus on language skills at school, as well as helping companies forge new connections overseas, could help ensure that current and future business owners are pre-disposed to thinking internationally.
We are already the sixth largest trading nation on earth, and the third largest service exporter, but to really secure our future as a leading exporter we need to help companies take advantage of new markets.
Giving businesses the opportunity to forge links with international firms, develop employees’ language skills, and providing compulsory education in languages for young people will transform many of the great businesses we have in the UK into success stories overseas.”
The business network also called for tax breaks for small companies which offer foreign language training to staff.
The National Curriculum is currently under Government review, with changes expected to be announced in 2013.
Source: Channel 4 News
Olympic fever is hitting London and there are some pretty condescending articles hitting the web regarding the English – American language “divide.”
Indeed, yes, there are some phrases and words which differ slightly, but we’re all adult enough to either work it out or ask if something is not easily understood. If you’re an American visiting London for the Olympics, you certainly wouldn’t ask for “chips” in a restaurant, and if you see it on a menu, you’d take it to mean “French fries.” English staff in hotels, restaurants and shops in this multi cultural city are well used to hearing a range of accents and requests. If you ask for “pants” in a clothes shop here, in an American accent, no-one would direct you to the underwear section without checking first!
The Internet, television and cinema imports all present opportunities to understand each other’s linguistic quirks. There’s no need to patronise people.
More helpfully, an Olympic Translator app has been developed to help with communicating between different languages. Users can speak into the phone and the app will produce the translation. At the moment, 5000 phrases are available for 20 different languages. Developers are working to complete a target of 50-60 languages. The app will be free for the duration of the Olympics and is due to be released within the new few weeks.
To volunteer to help translate, email email@example.com
Following the launch of the European Spanish store, online retailer Amazon.com now has a specialist Kindle shop for digital books in the Spanish language on its US site. The books on offer include an exclusive on Paolo Coelho novels, the popular Twilight and Hunger Games collections, and titles by authors such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The site also offers subscriptions to Latin American newspapers, such as La Nacion.
“We’re excited to introduce Spanish language storefronts on all Kindles, as well as a dedicated store for our Spanish-speaking customers in the US,” said Kindle Content vice president Russ Grandinetti. ”We’re looking forward to continued expansion of our store for Spanish language readers around the world.”
In addition, the company now offers customer help and support in Spanish.
US Kindle users can buy the books here.
The winner of the Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award 2012 was announced on Friday. The ceremony, which took place at the Sunday Times Literary Festival in Oxford, saw Irish writer Kevin Barry being crowned the winner.
The judging panel for the awards included Lord Melvyn Bragg, playwright Hanif Kureishi, and actor Ian Hart, as well as Joanna Trollope.
Barry’s short story, entitled Best Trip to Llandudno, beat the five other shortlisted authors to the prize of £30, 000. All the shortlisted writers win £1000 each, and the stories will be published in an anthology which will be available at Waterstones.
Judge Kureishi said:
“Our winning story performs a deft bit of alchemy, taking a very ordinary group of amateur ale connoisseurs and transforming them and their not instantly appealing tastes into something sweet, funny and unexpectedly moving. Barry follows the camaraderie and unique bond of these men on their train journey from Liverpool to Llandudno with a sensitivity that never transgresses into sentimentality.
It’s a beautifully constructed piece of writing that says something fresh about how men find comfort, support and humour in each other’s company. This is an astonishing story that is both daringly original and full of heart.”