Archive for February, 2010

Death of the Bo language

Posted on February 5th, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, Events, Hindi, Indigenous languages | Leave a Comment »

Boa Sr - Bo languageBig news yesterday with the announcement of the death of another language.

Boa Sr, the last person fluent in the Bo language of the Andaman Islands, died and took with her an ancient tribal language. The Andaman Islands are a union territory of India in the Bay of Bengal.

The Bo language was one of the ten Great Andamanese languages, and took its name from a now-extinct tribe. The languages are thought to date back to pre-Neolithic human settlement of south-east Asia. Many of the indigenous languages survived unchanged for years, before the modern world encroached on the tribes that spoke them.

Linguists now hope that they can preserve other tribal languages, after Boa Sr spent her last years unable to converse with anyone in her mother tongue. She sounds like an incredible woman – speaking Hindi and another local language as well as songs and stories in Bo. She lived through the 2004 tsunami, reportedly climbing a tree to escape the water.

“Her loss is not just the loss of the Great Andamanese community, it is a loss of several disciplines of studies put together, including anthropology, linguistics, history, psychology, and biology,” Narayan Choudhary, a linguist of Jawaharlal Nehru University who was part of an Andaman research team, wrote on his webpage. “To me, Boa Sr epitomised a totality of humanity in all its hues and with a richness that is not to be found anywhere else.” (Source: The Guardian)

Listen to a clip of the Bo language at the BBC website.

English exam for barristers

Posted on February 1st, 2010by Michelle
In Education, English | Leave a Comment »

If you’re at court, you would expect the lawyers to be fully conversant and confidently expressing themselves, much as you see in the many American TV shows dedicated to courtroom drama.

A report published in 2008 showed that trainee barristers didn’t think much of their fellow students linguistic abilities, however.
The Bar Standards Board is now introducing a test that aims to get prospective barristers to prove their fluency in English, the Financial Times reports.

The [2008] report highlighted deficiencies among both native and non-native speakers, including an “inability to speak fluently, with close attention to grammar, vocabulary and syntax, and an inability to write clear, correct and well-structured English prose”.

The diagnosis is a far cry from the renowned articulacy of legendary advocates such as the fictional Rumpole or the real-life Sir Edward Marshall Hall, whose persuasiveness helped win acquittals for defendants in a series of sensational murder cases during the late Victorian and Edwardian era.

Instead, the islands of inarticulacy among trainee barristers now seem to have grown so large that, as one person put it to the profession’s own investigators: “The problem is not the course, nor the staff, but the students.” (Source: Financial Times)

This is definitely one of the professions where excellent linguistic abilities are needed, so hopefully these measures will help safeguard the profession and the system.