Archive for November, 2012

Love Language

Posted on November 30th, 2012by jake
In Uncategorized, Words | Leave a Comment »

Is it possible to know how much two people are attracted to each other just by the words they use? New research published in Psychological Science suggests yes.

James Pennebaker and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin recorded 40 men and 40 women as they participated in a speed-dating exercise in which they talked to 12 strangers of the opposite sex for four minutes apiece. Later, the subjects rated each date based on how much they seemed to have in common and whether they wanted to see the person again. Pennebaker analyzed the participants’ conversations based on their use of pronouns and articles, such as “him,” “the,” “and,” “as” and “be.”

The results were quite surprising. The couples that used similar function words the same amount of times were more likely to want to see each other again. This raises the interesting question as to whether couples are attracted to each other because they speak in a similar way, or do couples modify their language to sound similar to each other. Pennebakers conclusion was that language ‘predicts relationship success because it reflects how well couples listen to each other’.

[via: Scientific American]


Posted on November 28th, 2012by jake
In Chinese, Swahili | Leave a Comment »

Chinese student Shen Yuning has set himself the laborious task of compiling a Swahili-Chinese dictionary.

The 26-year-old plans to include 25,000 words in the dictionary by August before he heads back to university in Germany, where he studies African languages.

“There is an increasing exchange of labor between Africa and China, but many Chinese workers here can speak only Chinese, while locals only speak Swahili and poor English,” said Shen, an exchange student at Kenya’s Kenyatta University.

In writing for this site it has become apparent to me that the world of business has a dramatic impact upon language. Once again we find language learning is being undertaken in order to increase business relationships between nations. Swahili is spoken by many countries including Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and there are more than 80 million speakers worldwide

There was one Swahili-Chinese dictionary compiled in the 1970s, but this hasn’t dissuaded Shen from continuing.

“Vocabulary changes over time. Many words and meanings have gone through immense changes over the past decades considering China’s tremendous changes during the same period,” Shen said.

. [via: China Daily]

Web Language

Posted on November 25th, 2012by jake
In Chinese, English, Technology | Leave a Comment »

According to TechInAsia 24% of web content is now written in Chinese.

At the end of 2011, 27 percent of web content was in English, while 24 percent was in Chinese. Despite that, the graphic’s creators, the translation management platform Smartling, lament that the web is still too monolingual, with “56 percent of online content [being] English-only.” It calls for a more multilingual approach to the web.

Considering that North America and Europe account for 26% of web users whereas Asia accounts for 45% it is quite surprising that the statistic for Chinese web content is not higher. In the year 2000 39% of web content was written in English which shows a dramatic reduction to only 27% in 2011. In 2000 only 9% of web content was in Chinese now soaring to 24%. From these statistics it is quite likely that Chinese will become the majority language of the web, and it is quite likely to happen soon. The statistics offered in the article were complied by Smartling who also offer the astounding statistic that ‘China added more internet users in three years than exist in the U.S.’.

[via: TechInAsia]

Czechs Learning ‘Business Languages’

Posted on November 22nd, 2012by jake
In Chinese, Mandarin, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

The Prague Daily Moniter has written an article about the decline of English learning amongst young Czechs. Although the article suggests that ‘almost all young Czechs know some English now compared with the early 1990s’, it suggests that knowledge of more than one foreign language increases young Czechs career prospects. The foreign languages being chosen by young Czechs appear to be dependent upon ‘business trends that now put emphasis on Spanish, Russian and Chinese’. Orientalist Sarka Litvinova told the paper that ‘Czechs choose mainly Spanish and Russian as a second foreign language according to her statistics.’

It is not just Litvinova’s statistics that indicate that learning English is being surpassed by other languages, the trends are also partially confirmed by the data of the Education Ministry.

Russian is now studied by almost 30,000 children compared with about 11,000 in 2004, according to the ministry.

The number of students interested in Spanish more than doubled in the same period. It rose from 11,000 in 2004 to 24,000 now, the ministerial data show.

The article suggests that these increases are the result of Czechs wanting to do business with Russia and South America. Interest in Chinese is also growing within the country due to China’s ever increasing economy and presence on the global stage.

[via PDM]


Posted on November 18th, 2012by jake
In Culture, Indigenous languages | Leave a Comment »

The Coushatta Indians are attempting to revive their naive language Koasati as the number of Koasati speakers has dramatically declined in recent years being largely replaced by English. In an interview with KPLCtv Bertney Langley, the heritage director of the Coushatta Indians, blamed the decline of Koasati speakers on the Coushatta tribe being small with many members marrying outside the tribe. As spouses from outside the tribe are unlikely to speak Koasati, English becomes the primary language.

Tribe leaders gathered to tackle the crisis five years ago and wrote the language down for the first time, choosing to transcribe Koasati using the English alphabet to facilitate learning. It is understandable why the tribe feel so strongly about retaining their language when later in the interview Langley says that tribe elders used to tell him that if the people lose their language ‘that we should not consider ourselves as Indian people’. The tribe now teach Koasati classes and have even created their own text books. Langley remembers as a child learning English and feeling as if a new world had been opened to him, he expresses hope that the younger generation now learning Koasati for the first time will have a similar feeling and will gain a greater understanding of their heritage.

[via KPLCtv]

New Iraqi National Anthem

Posted on November 14th, 2012by jake
In Arabic, Culture | Leave a Comment »

Since 2004 Iraq’s national anthem has been “Mawtini” which was chosen for the nation by America. Now a new national anthem has been chosen to replace the temporary “Mawtini”. What is interesting about this new national anthem is that it will be multilingual. The majority of the anthems lyrics will be in Arabic but Turkmen, Kurdish and perhaps Assyrian will also be included to reflect the many languages spoken in the country.

Iraq’s multilingual approach to their national anthem is rare but not the only anthem to embrace diversity of languages. The Independent reports:

The Republic of Suriname, wedged between French Guiana and Guyana, has a two-verse anthem: the first stanza in colonial Dutch and the second in Sranan Tongo.

Though the real tongue-twister comes for the sportsmen of South Africa. They are required to sing an anthem that traverses the lingual terrains of Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, English and Xhosa.

Perhaps Britain should add a Welsh verse to God Save The Queen and maybe a few lines of Cornish too. On the other hand I’ve heard English people attempt to pronounce the Welsh letters ll and ch and it isn’t a pretty sight. Perhaps we should leave God Save The Queen alone.


Posted on November 10th, 2012by jake
In English, Invented languages | Leave a Comment »

When I was younger my friends and I used a language called gibberish to conduct secret conversations. I remember when I first attempted to speak it my tongue was tied and it seemed as if I would never be able to speak at the pace my friends could. After a little bit of practice I could waffle away at a fast pace for hours without even thinking about it.

Gibberish has very simple rules yet is very difficult to decipher if you do not know them. For single syllable words the rules are very simple. The first sound of the word is followed by an uther, and the second part begins with a g. For example, car would be cuther gar. Tree would be truther gee. Coin would be cuther goin. As each syllable is treated as it’s own word in Gibberish two syllable words are split in two. Money would be Muther gun uther gee. Sister would be Suther gis tuther ger, and so on. Now you know the rules try to decipher the word below.

Chruther gist muther gas

Tips To Help You Learn

Posted on November 7th, 2012by jake
In Education, French, Hints and Tips, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

When learning a new language there are a variety of supplementary ways to help you on your way. The teaching network section of The Guardian posted an article (which can be found here) that reveals different approaches that school teachers take to teach languages. One teacher suggests music as a way of making languages more fun.

Music videos are a great way to introduce students to the culture of French-speaking countries and develop speaking/writing projects.

This got me thinking about the recent global success of Psy’s song Gangnam Style. The vast majority of the lyrics to Psy’s song are in Korean yet people all around the world are humming along to the song, even learning the words, despite perhaps never having considered learning Korean. Below are some musical suggestions for you to listen to. Try to learn the words to one of the artists songs and any words you do not know make a note of and look them up.

Korean:  2NE1, Psy, Wonder Girls and Big Bang.

Spanish: Mala Rodriguez, La Casa Azul, Chimo Bayo and Miguel Bosé.

French: Yelle, Raï’n’B Fever, Edith Piaf, and Sylvie Vartan.

Japanese: Perfume, L’Arc~en~Ciel, Ayumi Hamasaki and Hikaru Utada.

Polish: Kasia Stankiewicz, MIG, Daab and Halina Frąckowiak.