Monthly Archives - January 2011

Translation Services: Foreignising or domesticating?

Translation services make up a wide and interesting area of the language services industry. One of its academic branches is translation theory, dealing with how a text should be approached and what underlies the translation process. A leading translation theorist is the American Lawrence Venuti, who in his book ‘The Translator’s Invisibility’ presents an interesting argument. He writes that when we read prose fiction in translation, we – and most book reviewers – appreciate the fact that the text [...]

Tourism & Business Translation Services

The International Tourism Trade Fair, Fitur, recently took place in Madrid. After the “Word Travel Market”, which takes place in London in November, Fitur is the world’s second most important international fair for travel and tourism. What support can business translation services provide to this hugely influential sector?Thousands of tourism professionals, companies and providers of tourism services (hotels, travel agents, tour operators, government bodies..) from the entire international tourism industry, representing over 170 different countries and regions, meet to [...]

How do you sign…?

Sometimes when we think about languages in general, we might be likely to miss out Sign Language, and especially British Sign Language (BSL). Just to give you an idea, BSL was recognized as a minority language in Britain in 2003 and it is spoken as a first language by between 30,000 and 70,000 people in the UK. Even if it is not spoken, you can still find regional variations and even ways of signing that exist only in a [...]

Ofsted reports poor language teaching in UK

Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, has criticised the standard of language learning in British schools, referring to language lessons in secondary schools as “weak”. It reported that many pupils had few opportunities to use the language they were learning, and that teachers were often reluctant to use the language they were teaching, meaning that students “were not taught how to respond to everyday requests”.Language learning stopped being compulsory in 2004, and uptake of language classes has fallen [...]

Want to learn a foreign language? Move abroad!

If you really want to learn a language, the best thing you can do is move to the country that speaks it. At least, this is what my personal experience has showed me.You can take plenty of language courses, which will undoubtedly be useful in improving your level. But if you really want a fluent command of a language, it does not matter how well you know each of the grammar rules, verb conjugations and big lists of [...]

Technical Translation Services: Machines are Stupid

Actually, they are not. Watching a translation engine at work, reconsidering translation choices within split seconds as more information becomes available, is impressive. If only I could think that fast! Why is machine translation viewed in a negative light by linguists? To take the example of technical translation services, machines can think fast but they can’t think like humans, that’s why they make such bad translators. Human communication isn’t just governed by syntactic and semantic principles but also by empathy and [...]

U.S. University Releases 2011 Banished Words list

Lake Superior State University recently released their 36th annual ‘List of Words Banished from the Queen's English for Mis-use, Over-use and General Uselessness’ for 2011. As is clear from the name, the list is a protest against the over- and misuse of popular buzzwords, and can be found here:One of my most hated words (‘fail’ as a noun, in case you were wondering) made the list, but surprisingly only came in at number 3. The winner of the grand [...]

New Year’s Resolutions

So what’s yours? You are going to quit smoking; lose twenty pounds; go to the gym every day; stop watching reruns of CSI and finish George Steiner’s After Babel instead; meet all your deadlines, and finish those tricky technical translations; not max out your credit card ever again; never lose your temper with your young children or aging parents; cheat neither on your partner nor your tax return; run a marathon; learn three new languages and become a super [...]

Translation Services: Going Crackers

The festive season is just over and most of us will have enjoyed sharing a cracker while gathered around the Christmas table, looked for the paper crown and maybe moaned about the useless presents found inside. Although this is very familiar to most people in the UK (and now even to me), the first time I heard people talking about crackers I was a bit confused. In British minds, a cracker resembles more or less this:Whereas for us Italians [...]

Can Esperanto aid language acquisition?

Ever heard of Esperanto? Neither have a lot of people, but it has been suggested that it may be a useful tool in developing language learning skills.Esperanto is a constructed language, and is the only one to have native speakers. It was devised by L. L. Zamenhof as a means of achieving international understanding and breaking down barriers between communities. The word Esperanto is derived from the pseudonym (Doktoro Esperanto, meaning Dr. Hopeful) which Zamenhof used in the [...]