Thursday, November 03, 2005
new test for wannabe brits
Foreigners hoping to become British citizens will have to answer questions on everything from Geordie accents and single parent families to workers' rights and elections under a new test of 'Britishness' which will be compulsory from today.
The Church of England, how to visit Parliament and minimum ages for buying alcohol also feature in the subjects covered by the new exam, which must be passed before someone can become a British citizen. British history and culture, however, is not included in the 45-minute multiple choice test.
Under the scheme, people applying for citizenship will have to answer 24 questions in a computerised "Life in the UK" quiz designed to show their grasp of British society and institutions. They must answer around three-quarters of the questions correctly to pass. But candidates who fail the exam will be able to re-take it as many times as they wish.Read more: British
cultural differences relating to knees
What are our knees for? The answer should be very simple. They are joints that allow our legs to bend so that we can walk.
But the answer is not so simple when we consider some of the cultural connotations of the word 'knee.'Read more: Knees
the bbc is anti-religion
The BBC harbours an anti-religious attitude, with its correspondents having little understanding of religious issues and soaps ridiculing religion, a parliamentary committee on the future of Britain's public broadcaster has been told.
Representatives of the Hindu, Sikh, Christian and Muslim faiths - all broadcasters and contributors to British Broadcasting Corporation Radio 4's thought for the day - gave oral evidence on Wednesday to the House of Lords select committee on the BBC charter review about the coverage of faith and the role of religious broadcasting.Read more: BBC
german firm bans moaning
A German company has made whingeing in the office a sackable offence.
Ramona Wonneberger, head of the Leipzig IT company, Nutzwerk, has introduced a "two moans and you're out" policy to clamp down on the "negative energy" that she thought was damaging the company.
"Unfortunately, Germans are the world's most inveterate whingers and bellyachers, particularly concerning things they cannot change, like the weather or a late train," she said. "I thought I had to do something to change this mentality."Read more: Germans
language learning in UK schools
Learning a modern language beyond the age of 14 is now compulsory in only a quarter of England's state secondary schools, a survey suggests.
In a similar survey a year ago, by the National Centre for Languages, the figure was more than a third. But the centre said languages could attract pupils if they had support from the senior management in a school.Read more: Languages
new translation technology
Imagine this: You want to whisper something to a co-worker in Spanish, but you can't speak the language. So you simply mouth the words in English, without uttering a sound, and they immediately pop up in Spanish on your colleague's computer.
The premise may seem far-fetched, but researchers are working toward making it a reality. As Carnegie Mellon doctoral student Stan Jou mouthed words in Mandarin recently, 11 electrodes on his face and throat sensed what he said by the movement of his facial muscles and promptly translated it into English and Spanish.Read more: Mellon
site tests knowledge of italian language and culture
Foreigners thinking of studying or working in Italy can test their competence on the new, improved website of Italy's premier language and culture institute.
The Dante Alighieri Society's new site takes foreigners through the six levels of exams needed to get a proficiency certificate recognised by the foreign and labour ministries . The site also has more than 300 interactive language games for students and lovers of Italian, ranging as far as knowledge of dialects and the correct use of accents on rare words.Read more: Italy
china has 103 million internet users
The number of netizens in China rose to 103 million by late June this year, according to Mao Qian, head of Optical Telecommunications Committee of China Telecommunications Society.
Mao cited the statistics from a report that was just finished based on the 16th survey into the development of the Internet in China, while addressing the on-going 4th Optics Valley of China Int'l Optoelectronic Expo and Forum held in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, central China.Read more: China
70% of internet users are non-English speaking
According to a new study published by Byte Level Research, less than 30% of the world's Internet users are native-English speakers. By 2010, that number will drop to less than 25% as such emerging markets as China, Russia, and Brazil drive millions of non-English-speaking people to the Internet.
“This data makes clear that the next Internet revolution will not be in English,�? said John Yunker, president of Byte Level Research. "While English isn't becoming any less important on the Internet, other languages, such as Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese, are becoming comparatively more important. Web globalization will become increasingly vital to succeeding in this emerging global marketplace."Read more: Yunker
canadian internet use
Three-quarters of Canadians have at least one computer in their homes and are spending an average of 13.5 hours a week on-line, according to a new study, detailing the use of Internet and technology in the country.Read more: Canada
word of the day: mores
mores \MOR-ayz; -eez\, plural noun:
1. The fixed customs of a particular group that are morally binding upon all members of the group.
2. Moral attitudes.
3. Customs; habits; ways.
But even before that, the increasing secularization and urbanization of society, the employment of women in large numbers and diverse occupations, the suffragette movement (culminating in the acquisition of the vote after the war), the widespread practice and, no less important, the candid discussion of contraception, the advent of automobiles providing an unprecedented degree of mobility and freedom -- all of these led to a relaxation of traditional social and sexual mores. --Gertrude Himmelfarb, One Nation, Two Cultures
Colonel William Mann, after all, proved a thorn in society's side because he claimed to understand its mores, to have found out just how his presumed betters were violating the code that should have governed them, and then rebuked them by wielding it not only more expertly than they did but more lethally. --Mark Caldwell, A Short History of Rudeness
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
mexico celebrates its dead
Mexican families left tamales, tequila shots and a blazing trail of marigold petals in cemeteries across the country on Tuesday in the annual celebration of their dead.
Laying gifts on elaborate marble tombs and humble mounds of soil, they sought to lure home the spirits of departed loved ones in an ancient rite that dates back to pre-Hispanic times.
"We bring fruit, sweet breads and tamales because we want the dead to come back and eat," retiree Julia Perez said as she tended a dusty plot where her parents, grandparents and two younger brothers were buried.Read more: Mexico
Language Standards for Global Business Summit
Global Meeting Services, Inc. has opened registration for “Language Standards for Global Business Summit,�? taking place on December 12-13, 2005 in Berlin, Germany. Unlike most conferences, the Summit will be non-commercial with no sponsors and no exhibitors. Presentations and delegates will focus on the importance and evolution of language standards in supporting global communications and commerce.Read more: Conference
netsuite unveils multilingual support
On-demand software provider NetSuite has unveiled new translation and multi-language capabilities to meet the needs of businesses operating in multiple countries. Languages available in this release are traditional Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, German and French, with simplified Chinese to be available before year-end.Read more: Netsuite
wells fargo's chinese advertising campaign
Wells Fargo Bank said Tuesday that it quietly launched its largest-ever Chinese-language advertising campaign as it reaches out to the Chinese small businesses in the Bay Area.
Wells is testing the ad campaign in San Francisco. It will extend through November. As part of the initiative, the San Francisco bank will host small-business seminars, which will be conducted in Mandarin and Cantonese.Read more: Wells
nextup.com launches asian language capability
NextUp.com, developer of TextAloud software, today announced the availability of Chinese, Japanese and Korean voices text-to-speech voices from NeoSpeech. TextAloud lets users convert text into spoken audio for easy listening, study, and comprehension. Text can also be converted to MP3/Windows Media files for easy playback on portables like the iPod®, PocketPC®, and a wide range of portable devices. By offering these new voices, NextUp addresses strong demand from Asian consumers who have been early adopters of both text-to-speech and portable audio technologies.Read more: NextUp.com
first quran in roma language
Muharem Serbezovski, a famous Bosnian Roma singer of Macedonian origin, Wednesday presented the first printed copies of the Islamic holy book of Quran translated into the Roma language.
Reports said the first ever copy of the Quran in the Roma language was presented to coincide with the Eid el-Fitr holiday to mark the end of the holy month of Ramazan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar.Read more: Quran
word of the day: subfusc
subfusc \sub-FUHSK\, adjective:
Dark or dull in color; drab, dusky.
The tea-cosy, property of one Edmund Gravel -- "known as the Recluse of Lower Spigot to everybody there and elsewhere," as the book's first page informs us -- is haunted by a six-legged emcee for various "subfusc but transparent" ghosts. --Emily Gordon, "The Doubtful Host," Newsday, November 8, 1998
Her inscrutable figure -- imposing in designer subfusc, slightly donnish, reminiscent of Vita Sackville-West, to whom she was distantly related -- baffled and intrigued some. --Yvonne Whiteman, "Obituary: Frances Lincoln," Independent, March 6, 2001