About Language

Writing for translation

The London-based author Kazuo Ishiguro writes with translation in mind. ‘I want my words to survive translation,’ he says. ‘I know when I write a book now I will have to go and spend three days being intensely interrogated by journalists in Denmark or wherever. That fact, I believe, informs the way I write – with those Danish journalists leaning over my shoulder.’ Ishiguro concedes that the process of globalisation, of appealing to and ensuring that one is understood by audiences around the world, may lead to a ‘greyness’ of language: ‘There are a lot of things I don’t write now. I stop myself writing certain things because I think, for instance, that it wouldn’t work once it’s translated out of English. You can think of a line that’s brilliant in English — with a pun or two, you know — but of course it becomes nonsense once translated into a different language, so I don’t use it.’

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Does a second language open the door to business success?

Following news that the popularity of language learning is declining year on year (The Telegraph), it’s clear that less young people are considering modern foreign languages to be an important consideration for their future careers. Yet ongoing research consistently suggests that this doesn’t match up to the needs and expectations of UK Business. Back in 2013, the British Council published a report in which they pinpointed ten languages that would be crucial for the UK’s long-term prosperity, security and influence, using various indicators such as export trade, emerging markets and diplomatic concerns. The results were as follows (in order of importance): 1 Spanish 2 Arabic 3 French 4 Mandarin Chinese 5 German 6 Portuguese 7 Italian 8= Russian 8= Turkish 10 Japanese The report found that 75% of the adults polled were unable to hold a conversation in any of the languages highlighted, and the British Academy declared the UK to be trapped in a ‘vicious cycle of monolingualism’ whereby […]

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How to Avoid a Branding Blunder

Following the decision of a Judge in France to prevent parents from naming their baby girl ‘Nutella’, this has sparked debate over words that should be deemed suitable, and indeed unsuitable, to be used as a name. In this case, the French courts deemed that the name would ‘lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts’ (BBC News) due to its association with the popular hazelnut spread. This certainly isn’t the first case of its kind, but brings to mind an interesting point regarding our word associations and the power held within language. There are few instances where this becomes more apparent than in the translation world.

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Académie Française elect controversial member

Académie Française

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“Bestie” and “E-ticket” are now in the Oxford English Dictionary

  Since The Millenium the Oxford English Dictionary has added new words every 3 months in order to keep-up with modern times.  In this latest revision, a bumper crop of over 900 new entries including “beatboxer” and “Old Etonian” have been approved by the publication. So why do we have so many new words?

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