Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Languages In The News: December 2013

In many western countries, spirits were probably very high in December as the festive season rapidly approached. Sadly, on 5 December, the world lost Nelson Mandela. Since we're not a politics or history blog we won't say much about this, though we felt it deserved a special mention.

On 7 December, Techcrunch.com had a fascinating article on localisation, (or localization to quote it directly), which looked at the issues surrounding the localisation process for China.

This is more likely to be sign language than anything the
Mandela interpreter signed.
Returning to the sad news of Madiba's death, there was controversy surrounding his memorial when a 'bogus' sign language interpreter marred the proceedings with fake signing. The news was covered pretty much globally, but we preferred the approach of UK newspaper The Independent,
 on 11 December.

The same day, The Independent covered news that a French café was charging rude customers extra, something that we certainly agree with.

The following day, there were developments in the sign language interpreter debacle. We saw in The Guardian that apparently the interpreter suffered from schizophrenia. Elsewhere, it emerged that he also had somewhat of a sordid past. 

Also on 12 December, the Prospero Column of The Economist covered language and thought and whether speaking German changes the way one sees social relationships.

On the 15th, we found the fascinating story of a translator who found love by translating poetry. This was covered in Russia Beyond the Headlines and is one of the most incredible and heart-warming stories we've seen about language in a long time.

The next day, the Telegraph's expat blog told a tale of the long, hard road to learning the Thai language. It may not be for everyone, but if you're a language learner interested in Thai, this may be the story for you.

On 19 December, Wired.com had an interesting article on the linguistic diversity of Wikipedia. By Christmas Eve, any semblance of productivity had left us, and thankfully, The New York Times provided us with a delightful dialect quiz showing us what our language usage indicates about our city of origin, as long as it's in the US. Hopefully there will be more quizzes for other parts of the world and other languages soon.

We can't wait to see what January and 2014 will bring us. Here's hoping it's a good one!