Happy Valentine’s Day from all at Kwintessential. Here’s a small multilingual guide to saying those 3 magic words in another language!
Intercultural Communication and Translation News
Archive for the ‘Learn a Language’ Category
Businesses and the commercial powers that be are starting to recognise the importance of reaching a global audience through the internet and their websites. As a result many are starting to branch out by translating their web content so that it can be understood by as many people as possible and therefore maximise revenue.
Take North Africa for example. More than 65% of the region’s population is under 30 and therefore making great use of the internet (and this is a massive number of potential customers). If you are looking for proof about the potential the internet has to influence in North Africa then you only have to look at the revolution in Libya that was powered mostly by the internet.
Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages that is appearing in web based content, so smart businesses should be looking at ways to create content in Arabic that will reach out to this large demographic.
You only have to look at the way in which the revolution in Libya was orchestrated largely through the web to really appreciate what the internet can do for language barriers. The organisers were able to communicate with many across the web and orchestrated a massive political movement as a result.
It would make sense then that businesses should in theory be able to harness the same power in order to grow their brand or product.
The key of course to reaching as many people as possible is getting in trained linguists and translators who can interpret your web content and therefore maximise effective communication.
UK tabloid newspapers are reporting that Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow and her rock star husband Chris Martin are looking for a multilingual tutor for their two children who are aged five (Moses) and seven years old (Apple).
Paltrow and Martin have supposedly placed an advert with the prestigious tutor agency “Tutors International” in the hope that they will find a multilingual tutor for their two children.
The famous couple lead a very busy lifestyle and will no doubt be looking for an adaptable tutor who will be able to fit in with their international lifestyle. When you add into the mix that the successful tutor will also have to put up with the family living in the media spotlight due to their A-list celebrity status, then it makes for quite a job.
According to the UK press the couple plan on paying the multilingual tutor around $90,000 per year, along with any travel expenses and also giving them the use of a flat in London (which works out to be quite a benefit package!).
However, the tutor that Paltrow and Martin pick will have to be of top notch quality in order to bag this cushy job. Although the actual advert has not been publically released sources close to the couple have said that the multilingual tutor must speak Ancient Greek, Latin, French and Spanish. The couple also require the tutor to be grade 8 standard in at least two instruments (obviously linking to Martin’s passion for music), and be keen about sailing and other outdoor pursuits.
However, despite the fact that finding such a person might seem like a tall order it certainly means that the couple won’t accept anything less than the best for their children.
It has long been suspected that many British people are quite lazy when it comes to learning new languages. Our blasé attitude towards foreign language skills means that the British public are losing out on key jobs, work and business opportunities in Europe.
According to a recent report it seems that British workers are only getting 5% of work and business opportunities within the European Parliament as a result of not having the sufficient language skills to carry out the work. This is in spite of almost 12% of British people making up the European population.
The EU Parliament had its first British jobs fair on Monday 9th May in the hope that it would encourage more British people to learn foreign language skills and take on work and jobs in Europe. The EU Parliament has been expressing concern at the way British people are under-represented within the administrational centres of Europe. It was reported that if British people were to learn better foreign language skills then they would be able to work in jobs ranging from administration to policy makers in the European Parliament and Commission.
This latest move by the EU Parliament seems to prove that it is committed to including the British public in more European jobs. However, since the government made it possible to drop foreign language studies at GCSE level, the number of British students learning a foreign language has dropped considerably which in turn severely affects their chances of getting international jobs or becoming involved in international work and business opportunities.
Clearly, if the British people want to be able to compete in Europe within business and jobs then we have to start to lose our snobbery when it comes to English and learn a foreign language.
The publication of a new Ofsted report into Modern Language teaching in the United Kingdom (titled ‘Modern Languages –Achievement and Challenge 2007-2010’) has revealed that, although “significant efforts” have been made to improve teaching, students are being hindered by teachers’ “unpreparedness” to use languages in class.
The report follows up on Ofsted’s previous 2008 survey and highlights the main weakness in secondary language teaching to be the unwillingness of teachers to provide students with the opportunities to “listen to and communicate in the target language” in class. This might result in teaching that is restricted to textbooks, pre-prepared ‘conversations’ (where a student uses a language to explain their name, location, interests etc. to the teacher) or restricted grammar teaching.
Students are not prepared for the everyday spontaneities and rules of a language, meaning that they could be left unsure of how to participate in conversation with a speaker in their native location, for example on a family holiday or student exchange programme. The report specifically references that students “were not taught how to respond to everyday requests” and that “routine work” and “spontaneous” usage of languages was often limited.
The problem is the attitude taken towards language teaching. It is widely accepted that starting a child early in a linguistic environment significantly improves their chances of acquiring a second language. Bi-lingual children learn to associate objects, places or feelings with specific words in the two or more languages they use in their everyday life. If students are therefore restricted in the ‘normal’ uses of such languages then they could acquire a kind of external knowledge source that seems to have no relationship to their everyday lives.
Is this a problem with the way teachers are trained to teach languages, within the teaching body itself or is down to the curriculum-driven nature of the British education system? The change to non-statutory status in 2004 has certainly resulted in a decline in the student uptake of GCSE Modern Foreign Languages from 61% in 2005 to 44% in 2010. Again, if students feel that a subject has little relevance to their lives or if they haven’t enjoyed learning a language in the past then how can they be expected to spend two years furthering their education within the field.
Ofsted was clear to praise the work done in primary education, with “good progress” being made; this is important in that if students develop a taste for languages early then they might be more inclined to continue learning them throughout their time in secondary education. Yet more needs to be done to make languages seem relevant and important to the fourteen year olds who will be given the choice as to whether to pick a language to study at GCSE level.
In subjects such as Science and English efforts are often made to contextualize the curriculum to everyday scenarios; from the modern-day translations of Shakespearean colloquialisms to the application of scientific theorems onto everyday issues such as physics and driving or biology and plastic surgery. There needs to be a shift within the curriculum of languages to place more importance on the phattic exchanges of the everyday, rather than the usage of rigid question and answer-based oral examinations.
With more and more schools applying for academy status as the result of the Conservative-Liberal coalition, it will be interesting to see whether a broader less-restrictive curriculum in these institutions will have any effect on both the efficiency and uptake of Modern Foreign languages. Then we may be able to see whether it really is the teaching or the curriculum that is to blame for the state of language teaching in Britain.
A Kwintessential Relationship Manager recently apologised to a client “for any incontinence caused” [rather than inconvenience]. Luckily the client saw the funny side of things as did the rest of our office. In honour of the typo we thought we would search out some of the funniest typos, examples of bad grammar, etc to brighten your day.
God only knows what this Chinese translator was looking up when he chose this brand name!
You simply can’t beat a bag of fresh crap…
I bet this sold quickly!
Simply poetic! Go tell those pesky immigrants how to spell…
I think the author of this road marking should have gone to…yes, school.
January 19th saw the official launch of Korean channel SBS-CNBC at a ceremony at the Ritz Carlton hotel. This channel will operate twenty-hour hours a day and focus on both global and specifically Korean business.
This channel is an important collaboration between the Asia Pacific branch of CNBC (Consumer News and Business Channel) and SBS (Seoul Broadcasting System). As a symbol of the new relationship between the networks government and business officials, as well as the Chairman of SBS and President of CNBC, attended the VIP launch night.
Launched under the collective name of both networks, SBS-CNBC will present Korea’s daily business news, including feature Closing Bell that examines the markets during the final hour of trade, alongside wider CNBC coverage from across the globe. High hopes are held for the long-term collaboration of the two networks, which aim to provide a service that will connect the intricacies of the Korean domestic market with the more extensive business community. The President of CNBC Asia-Pacific, Satpal Brainch, states that although CNBC “has long been the number one global brand in financial news and information…[it has] never lost sight of delivering the news with local relevance”. The co-ordination of the massively successful brand of CNBC with the rich understanding SBS has of the Korean market is, in Brainch’s words, “what SBS-CBNC is all about”.
This new channel enables Koreans to keep up to date with the everyday business situation of their own economy whilst simultaneously bringing the global business world to their doorsteps. Opening Korean television to the global business world will offer a new vantage point for Korean businesses; they will now be able to view the global markets for the first time in their own language and alongside their own domestic markets.
On a business level, for that after all is the channel’s focus, CNBC will gain a better understanding of an increasingly important market and SBS will benefit from the global brand that is its partner and all the globalization experience it brings. The media is ever expanding, could such collaborations provide the starting point for the future of televisual factual broadcasting? Could this presentable format be the move that brings television closer to its trendier more multi-lingual brother, the Internet?
As our economies become more linked, countries paradoxically strive for new ways to hold onto their cultural identities. Through the integration of linguistic specificity and international information, SBS-CNBC certainly hopes to pave the way in this medium and improve the future of both its partner companies.
A survey has revealed that more US college students are studying languages than ever before. The increased interest in previously unpopular languages, such as Korean, has resulted in more crowded language classes at community colleges, but how much longer can this trend continue when faced with fierce budget cuts?
The survey, released by the Modern Language Association last month, reports that the number of students enrolling on language courses increased by 6.6 percent between 2006 and 2009. The Association also states that this new intake has resulted in the highest numbers of students taking languages since the survey began in 1960; this continues a growing trend in enrollment that had previously seen a 12.9 percent increase between 2002 and 2006.
Popular languages such as Spanish, French and German continue to carry high enrollment figures alongside huge increases in the take up of previously less popular languages. Arabic has itself the biggest climber with a significant 46 percent increase in enrollment and a jump from 10 to 8 on the ‘most popular’ languages list. Other languages that saw double-digit enrollment increases included Korean (up 19 percent), Chinese (18.2 percent) and Portuguese (10.8 percent).
Experts state that these figures are expressive of a growing trend within students to broaden their geographical horizons beyond the USA. The globalization of the Internet, an increased knowledge of world events and more frequent inter-continental travel are all factors that can be attributed to this movement towards language uptake.
On a wider cultural level this evidence could be taken to show the more pluralistic and tolerant views of many Americans in the 21st century. Since 1960, race relations have improved dramatically, alongside a better understanding and appreciation of the US’s Native American heritage and a growing dependency on the tourist trade within large cities. Although there is still a way to go in many of these areas, there is no doubt that the movements made have been in a more egalitarian, global direction.
US students do not want to be insulated against the world anymore (if they ever truly did). They know that large companies want multi-lingual employees and also that many humanities-based subjects strongly encourage students to have some knowledge of another language.
However there is a problem. The global economic downturn has hit language departments hard. Whilst 35 new languages were being taught last year that were not taught in 2006 (including Native American), in the last 30 months alone 70 language programmes at 30 institutions have been either threatened with closure or terminated completely. Even large institutions such as the University of Stanford have been forced to terminate courses that allowed students to major in French, Italian and Russian.
But if languages are so increasingly popular then why is funding being withdrawn? Perhaps they are not so popular as they seem. In an odd twist although the uptake of languages by students is increasing, the overall number of graduate enrollments is falling. Graduates are the foundation of language departments in that they will not only go on to teach the students of tomorrow but in many cases are also teaching the undergraduates of today.
As Professor Berman of Stanford states it is “perplexing” that language courses are being threatened in such a way given the “increased student demand…and the need for Americans to become more aware of the world around them”. If the study of languages at colleges is to continue leading students towards a better linguistic (and cultural) understanding of the world then more needs to be done to protect the financial security of departments and to encourage students to continue developing their language skills through graduate study.
Promoter of American musician Lady Gaga has revealed that the performer is thinking of recording future records in languages other than English.
Ralph Simon revealed in a recent interview to a Russian news agency that he has approached Lady Gaga about recording one of her “big songs for next year in Russian”. The move would be an attempt to broaden the appeal of the artist, particularly within the younger demographic. Simon believes that the “young community” would feel a stronger connection to the artist if she were to use their native tongue; furthermore she would also win over current non-fans by making them believe that she “thinks about Russia” and not just her charting in the US and UK.
Lady Gaga is in many ways the ideal performer to take the next step into multilingual recording. She is already a global star within the English language and can therefore afford to risk branching out. Also as the possessor of both Italian and French roots, she has a ready made non-English language ancestry that she could play up for the European market; her latest song ‘Alejandro’, released in May 2010, showed a musical progression towards the European continent as it channelled the synthpop beats of giants such as ABBA and Ace of Base. In the past Gaga has already sampled other languages within her songs, such as Swedish for the video of ‘Paparazzi’ (2008) and French for the lyrics of ‘Bad Romance’ (2009), showing that she does already consider the linguistic reaches of her music.
The idea is currently in its infancy under the suggestion of Simon, but there is the possibility that Gaga may use “Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese and Hindi” as the primary languages for selected songs featured on her forthcoming album ‘Born This Way’, which will be released in May 2011.
If this does come into fruition then Gaga looks likely to strength her existing fanbase outside of the US/UK by being able to directly address her audiences on tour. Moreover she could also draw on a new audience who condemn the pressure faced by artists, especially in the pop genre, to sing in English and welcome the nativism of her new tracks. Evidence of this English-bias includes the predominance of English-language songs within the Eurovision Song Contest, including the 2010 German winner Lena and her English-language song ‘Satellite’. Recent artists who have transplanted their own languages for English include t.A.T.u. (Russian), Basshunter (Swedish), Robyn (Swedish), Hi-Standard (Japan) and Shakira (Columbia- Spanish).
Not just satisfied with global domination could Lady Gaga also be the woman that opens the flood-gates for equality in the language of pop music?
When foreigners learn the English language, they tend to learn it through the use of the standard English accent. But what is the ‘standard English accent’? In Britain, we have so many different accents that are difficult to decipher even for the British people – never mind people from other countries. The story doesn’t stop here – how are people from other countries supposed to understand the local dialects that accompany the regional accents?
The American’s are known to have trouble understanding many British accents. There are numerous websites dedicated to training American’s to learn and understand British accents. So, although both America and Britain speak the same language, we seem to be lost in translation.
We have all heard that the X Factor is going to be aired in America where Cheryl Cole is reported to be a judge. However, there is concern that Cheryl’s North East Geordie accent may slightly damage her ‘likeability’ factor in America because of the worry that the American’s won’t be able to understand her accent. For example, the British television hosts, Ant and Dec had only a fleeting career on US television. This was because their accents were so incoherent to viewers that the produces had to make use of an interpreter to decipher words and phrases that couldn’t be understood. Perhaps the same will happen for Cheryl Cole.
So, although countries across the world are becoming virtually closer (due to business immigration, technology and translation help with cross cultural communication), we still remain faced with the problem of how people who speak the same language can understand each other!