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6900 languages across the world; is Father Christmas a hyperpolyglot?

By |December 25th, 2012|

A different kind of ball game

By |December 21st, 2012|

Now I’m not a big sports fan but I know the difference between football and rugby. I may not know the entire lingo to go with it but I can tell them apart. So, to make matters more complicated, a New Zealand friend of mine was talking about a footie match and I was going along thinking she meant football when she started telling me the difference between that and soccer. Turns out, footie is the New Zealand term for rugby and soccer is football.
As my friend lives and works in the UK it is taking her some time […]

We all laugh in the same language!…or do we?!?

By |December 20th, 2012|

Around the world we can all recognise when someone is sharing sad or happy emotions, however we might not be able to read it with the same ease. The difference between the meanings of laughter between languages are not clear when writing! Especially when web chatting or texting!

Not only do we have different way of laughing for different situations: ha (you are funny, not too much), haha (actually expresses fun), hoho (Santa Claus style), hehe (a bit more polite), hihi( giggling), ghghghgh (stressed laugh) , ti-hi (cheeky laugh), muhaha (cartoon or bad laugh) not to mention the abbreviations like LMAO, […]

Plurilingualism and the future of translation

By |December 19th, 2012|

By Maria Ampelourgou

There has been a lot of fuss in the translation world lately about this Chinese girl who can write, not only employing both hands simultaneously, but in different directions and languages as well. Chen Siyuan is said to be able to even write poetry using different hands for consecutive sentences and, perhaps most surprising of all, writing Chinese with one hand and English with the other. However, to my mind, apart from ambidextrosity, this girl seems to have been blessed with yet another talent; she is smart enough to know what to make out of her talent by using […]

Christmas celebrations around the world

By |December 18th, 2012|

The Americas

As a predominantly Christian continent, Christmas is widely celebrated across the Americas. In the USA and Canada, Christmas is celebrated similarly to the UK, with homes decorated, traditional roast dinners, midnight mass, nativity plays and a visit from Santa Claus.

Christmas in Latin American countries is slightly more traditional, here are a couple of examples…

Columbians celebrate the Christmas Novena which takes place on the nine days in the run up to Christmas eve. Many families set up nativity scenes in their homes, sing Christmas carols and read verses from the bible. The Novena ends with a midnight mass on Christmas […]

Brace yourselves…for Dothraki!

By |December 17th, 2012|

by Maria Ampelourgou

HBO’s Game of Thrones is yet another typical case of a critically acclaimed TV series that I found myself casually following but it somehow failed to leave me breathless on the edge of my seat as it did to the rest of my overexcited friends. In any case (and given my highly probable ineptitude as far as TV series are concerned), I cannot but acknowledge and praise David J. Peterson’s attempt to render ‘Dothraki’; that is, the language of the indigenous inhabitants of the Dothraki Sea in the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, written by George R. R. […]

Christmas in Spain

By |December 14th, 2012|

by Gema Matrinez Paredes

Christmas in Spain starts with the traditional Christmas lottery draw on 22nd December.

Two days later, the night of the 24th, is “Noche Buena”, when the whole family get together at home and usually eat lamb or stuffed turkey, and for dessert, a scoop of ice cream with pineapple. After the meal the host places a tray full of turrones (nougat), chocolates and polvorones (shortbread) in the centre of the table, and while the adults toast with a glass of cider or champagne, the children sing carols to their grandparents in return for being allowed to eat nougat, […]

Are we unabashedly dropping adverbs from the English language?

By |December 13th, 2012|

At dinner with a friend the other day, during my standard babble to him about the days’ events, I was stopped dead as he corrected my grammar mid-sentence. Now, I have always loved language and although I have never claimed to be an expert at writing grammatically correct texts, I am constantly striving to ensure my written English (and other languages) are as ‘perfect’ as possible. Since starting at Veritas I have found myself questioning grammatical decisions in my writing that before I have carried out naturally as a matter of course. In both my written and spoken English I […]

Language insight: Do you like mademoiselle the Greece?

By |December 12th, 2012|

By Maria Ampelourgou

There is this old song by Greek singer Antonis Kalogiannis, referring to the notorious ‘Greek kamaki’ (pick-up lines), where one can hear the memorable line “Do you like mademoiselle the Greece?”

I can only guess that the given mademoiselle has not exactly been charmed by the eloquence of this phrase…

Accordingly, if you ever find yourselves in Greece and fancy mingling with the locals without sounding as awkward as the above must sound to an English-speaking person, here are some useful phrases from the Greek language for your everyday exchanges:

Hello – Γεια σας [yah sahss]

How are you? – […]

Teaching dogs new tricks, like teaching a new language!

By |December 11th, 2012|

For any dog lover and owner this might not be a surprise, but dogs do have the capacity to learn and understand more than one language!

Dogs are known to be able to register 1000 words on average, which is more than many humans manage to remember after years of school. Because of this capacity dogs demonstrate not only “to” be better than many human most of the time, but even smarter!

Don’t be misled by the concept that dogs speak different languages between countries or each other, woof woof and bau bau, are only human representations of the dogs barking […]

Localisation and the notorious ‘Greeklish’

By |December 10th, 2012|

By Maria Ampelourgou

Since I am a new addition to the team, one of my colleagues suggested that I might be able to offer some insight about my native language, with an article on an interesting linguistic or intercultural issue.

So here I was last night, caught between Greek on one side and English on the other. After putting my thinking cap on and gulping down some chocolate (and then some more), I came up with the obvious: ‘Greeklish’!

..I know, it does not seem to be all as obvious as I suggest. Then again, this is a good thing. It means I […]

Why do we love languages?

By |December 7th, 2012|

By Gema Martinez Paredes

We usually study other languages because we are forced to in school when we are young. At this point in our lives we’re not normally aware of the importance of learning another language and the wonderful opportunities that it can open…

So why do we love languages?

First of all, writing: Writing in another language is like putting together a puzzle, attempting to make each word, phrase and grammatical concept match each other. We may not always get the combination right, but we enjoy the attempt.
When we read, we hear those foreign sounds in our heads, and once we […]

Hand gestures in different cultures

By |December 6th, 2012|

by Maria Ampelourgou

With Christmas just around the corner, many of you might be considering spending winter holidays abroad, getting to explore new destinations and festive customs. I can picture you flipping through the pages of colourful travel guides right now, seeking the absolute travelling experience. Nevertheless, in order to make the most of your excursion, it is always a good idea to dare to straddle off the beaten tourist track and try to interact with local people. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, let me offer you a piece of advice that you probably won’t find amongst […]

The Spanish Constitution

By |December 5th, 2012|

By Gema Martínez Paredes

Tomorrow, the 6th of December, is a public holiday in our country, Spain, but why?

Spain is a very old nation historically, in 1978 it decided to regulate itself by means of civilized and democratic norms and for a document was drafted up that says how we should behave amongst ourselves and with other nations. This document is what we call “La Constitucion Española” – The Spanish Constitution and it is celebrated on the sixth day of the last month of the year.

The Constitution is the law to which everyone in Spain adheres. Spain is a democratic state, […]

A few steps to help your children learn a language!

By |December 3rd, 2012|

We all know that a kid’s mind is like a sponge! That is why many parents avoid using certain swear words in front of their offspring. The young life is indeed the best stage when we are keenest in absorbing everything that surrounds us! That makes it the perfect chance to help your children learn different languages, which in a fast-growing, international world can only be helpful and will increase their brain capacity. So what to do? Here is a brief guide:

Choose the language:
You don’t have to be restricted to 1 external language, you can also try to implement a […]

Technology and new words

By |November 30th, 2012|

You only need to compare a dictionary from five years ago to one from this year to see how many new words enter the English language due to the rise in technology. The invention of Facebook, for example, led to the verb form, ‘to facebook someone’ which seems no less strange to say than ‘to write to someone’. When Twitter came into the picture, people were ‘tweeting’ and having ‘tweetups’ which are meetings arranged through Twitter. There are others too such as ‘tablet’ which has now become something other than a sweet.

The other day on the radio, I heard yet […]

Social media and different languages

By |November 29th, 2012|

The Spanish Situation

By |November 28th, 2012|

Applications to avoid getting lost in translation on the phone

By |November 27th, 2012|

By José Antonio Martinez Aviles

Could you imagine being able to speak to a Japanese person on the phone without either of you knowing each other’s languages? Well, now it is possible!

An application has been created which provides real-time translations, allowing Japanese people to telephone abroad and for both parties to use their own language.

NTT DoCoMo, the leading mobile phone operator in Japan, has developed an application for Android devices called “Hon Hanashite Yaku”, which allows you to translate telephone conversations in real time. The tool translates each sentence of the conversation after a short pause, and a text transcript is […]

Multilingualism and language learning linked to brain growth

By |November 26th, 2012|

By José Antonio Martinez Aviles

At the Swedish Armed Forces Interpreter Academy, young recruits learn new languages at an incredibly fast pace. By measuring the brain activity of these recruits before and after the language training, a group of researchers has had a unique opportunity to observe what happens to the brain when we learn a new language in a short period of time.

In this academy, located in the city of Uppsala, young people with a flair for languages learn languages such as Arabic, Russian and Dari from scratch, becoming fluent in just over a year. From morning to night, day after […]

“The lost generation” – The current economic situation in Spain

By |November 23rd, 2012|

by José Antonio Martinez Aviles

I am a 21 year old Spaniard, and I am part of “the lost generation”.

We have acquired this title because soon there will be no trace of us in our own country as so many of us have left to seek a better future elsewhere, which Spain cannot offer us at the moment.

In my case, I have moved to the Welsh city of Swansea. When I finished my studies in Trade and Marketing I decided that I wanted to do work experience in a foreign country because, not for want of trying, I could not see […]

Some rather embarrassing mistakes – The importance of proofreading

By |November 22nd, 2012|

Over the years there have been numerous incidents in Wales involving some extremely embarrassing mis-translations from English into Welsh going public.

Back in 2006 a bilingual road sign was put up in the Vale of Glamorgan aimed at cyclists. The English, which read “cyclists dismount” was translated into Welsh as “Llid y bledren dymchwelyd”, literally meaning “bladder inflammation upset”. This mistake is said to be due to confusion between the words ‘cyclists’ and ‘cystitis’ when attempting to translate online!

In the same year a school in Wrexham was forced to remove a sign after discovering that the Welsh translation was incorrect. The […]

The culture of swearing

By |November 21st, 2012|

by José Antonio Martinez Aviles

Different words with similar meanings: Swear words are a widely used resource because, although they can be offensive, they define the mood of the person using them.

Abuse of strong swear words in our vocabulary is an attack on language and can impoverish our vocabulary, but is it necessary to entirely eliminate the use of our favourite rants and insults?

Have you ever wondered why people so often swear when they walk into a door? … Or when they drop boiling coffee over themselves? … Or when they get scared to death? Your brain searches through its […]

Día de la Revolución – Mexican Revolution

By |November 20th, 2012|

By Gema Martinez Paredes

Today, over 200 years ago, the Mexican Revolution began.

Conflict began on 20th of November 1910, with an uprising led by Francisco I. Madero against long time autocrat Profirio Diaz, and lasted for the best part of a decade until around 1920. Over time the revolution changed from a revolt against the established orders to a civil war. This conflict is often categorized as the most important socio-political event in Mexico and one of the greatest upheavals of the 20th century.

The predecendants of the conflict refer to the situation in Mexico under President Diaz, who headed the country’s […]

Learning English as a second language

By |November 19th, 2012|

by Gema Martinez Paredes

The acquisition of English as a second language usually begins once a first language has been established. Often, when a child starts school they will be introduced to a second or even third language. Children find it easier, but anyone can learn a second language at any age, you just need a lot of practice!

English is one of the most important languages in the world, mainly because it is often used as the language of business. The pace of social language learning is different from the pace of learning an academic language. According to some studies, school-age […]