Archive for the ‘Mandarin’ Category

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]

A language in 2 days

Posted on June 8th, 2011by Michelle
In Language acquisition, Mandarin | Leave a Comment »

Often I see websites proclaiming that you can “learn a language in a year” or “learn a language in three months”. But this has got to be a first – a language teacher in London is claiming to be able to teach a language in just two days.

Mandarin is reputed to be one of the toughest languages to learn, mainly because it is tonal. It’s a challenge for non-speakers who live in China to learn the language, as a friend of mine has discovered. So what can a beginner pick up in two days?

As a writer from The Guardian discovered, quite a lot:

Day one begins in the present tense, progresses to questions and then on to the past and future. By day two I am playing fast and loose with pronouns, possessives and conditionals, albeit with a very limited vocabulary.
(Source: The Guardian)

The process is apparently meant to “emphasise relaxation and experimentation, [but] there are rules. Writing anything down is banned, as is all technical jargon”. This is in line with the language trainer’s belief that languages are a practical subject that you need to be trained in.

The writer tested his language skills at a Mandarin restaurant. The verdict?

There are obvious deficiencies in what I have learned. Chief among them the fact that I know so few nouns; not even, for example, numbers, or months, or farmyard animals, which school language classes had conditioned me to think of as essential. I can, however, convert a verb into the past and future tenses, and say that I, you, we, they, he or she did it, and add an if, a but or a because, and offer, when the situation demands, to buy a stranger’s mother or sell them a photographer. Which is more than I ever managed in five years of French at school. Have I really learned Mandarin in just two days? Well, yes and no. Mostly no, but sort of. Hao.

Schoolgirl interpreter

Posted on April 20th, 2011by Michelle
In Education, French, Mandarin, Spanish, Translation | Leave a Comment »

A girl aged just 10 has become an interpreter for the European Parliament… although just for a day.

Alexia Sloane has been blind since the age of two, and is fluent in four languages – English, French, Spanish and Mandarin. She is currently also learning German. Her mother is half French and half Spanish whilst her father is English, and Alexia has been trilingual since birth. By the age of four, she was reading and writing in Braille.

After winning a young achiever of the year award, Alexia chose to visit the European Parliament as her prize. East of England MEP Robert Sturdy invited her as his guest and Alexia worked with the head of interpreting to get hands-on experience of life as an interpreter.

She continues to harbour ambitions of becoming a full-time interpreter, revealing: “The trip was more than a dream come true. Unfortunately, I have to wake up to reality now.

“I am now more determined than ever to become an interpreter in the future and to return to Brussels in the not too distant future – to see all the wonderful people I met.” (Source: Digital Spy)

What incredible ambition from someone so young!

Language and social structure

Posted on January 28th, 2010by Michelle
In Culture, English, Mandarin, Research | Leave a Comment »

A new study has shown that language structure may be more closely tied to social structure than previously thought.

Psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Memphis have published a new study on linguistic evolution that challenges long-held views of how languages became so different. Traditional thinking holds that languages developed because of “random change and historical drift”. The differences in space and time throughout history have evolved the separation between English and Mandarin, for example.

The “Linguistic Niche Hypothesis”, however, argues that languages evolve within particular socio-demographic niches.

The researchers found striking relationships between the demographic properties of a language — such as its population and global spread — and the grammatical complexity of those languages. Languages having the most speakers — and those that have spread around the world — were found to have far simpler grammars, specifically morphology, than languages spoken by few people and in circumscribed regions. For example, languages spoken by more than 100,000 people are almost six times more likely to have simple verb conjugations compared to languages spoken by fewer than 100,000 people.

Larger populations tend to have simpler pronoun and number systems and a smaller number of cases and genders and in general do not employ complex prefixing or suffixing rules in their grammars. A consequence is that languages with long histories of adult learners have become easier to learn over time. Although a number of researchers have predicted such relationships between social and language structure, this is the first large-scale statistical test of this idea.

The results draw connections between the evolution of human language and biological organisms. Just as very distantly related organisms converge on evolutionary strategies in particular niches, languages may adapt to the social environments in which they are learned and used. (Source: Science Daily)

Happy Christmas!

Posted on December 24th, 2009by Michelle
In Arabic, English, French, German, Hints and Tips, Italian, Japanese, Language acquisition, Mandarin, Portugese, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

Santa and childYesterday I posted about Christmas songs in different languages, and now it’s time to wish you a very happy Christmas, again in a few different languages! So….

Miilaad Majiid (Arabic), Joyeux Noël (French), Frohe Weinachten (German), Buon Natale (Italian), Meri Kurisumasu (Japanese), Shèng dàn kuài lè (Mandarin), Feliz Natal (Portugese), Feliz Navidad (Spanish), and finally Merry Christmas (UK)!

Try this Omniglot page for more translations in more languages, including some audio recordings.

From all of us at Language Museum, we wish you a safe and happy Christmas. See you in the New Year!

European Day of Languages 2009

Posted on September 26th, 2009by Michelle
In Arabic, Culture, English, Events, Hindi, Language acquisition, Mandarin | 1 Comment »

European Day of LanguagesFirst celebrated in 2001, the European Day of Languages has grown to encompass a whole week of events!

The first EDL was organised jointly by the Council of Europe and the European Union, who chose 26th September as the designated day. The aims of the day are:

To alert the general public to the importance of language learning
To promote linguistic and cultural diversity and increase intercultural understanding
To encourage lifelong learning

Watch Pedro Chavez from the European Commission talking about the day.

I recently posted about the proposed idea to adopt Latin as the official language of the European Union, but as I concluded then, the EU is committed to multilingualism, so it’s unlikely to happen. Europe is incredibly diverse, with around 225 indigenous languages as well as non-European languages such as Arabic, Hindi and Chinese.

So, get involved and become one of the many Europeans who are multilingual! Try here to find out what activities are happening near you – there are events all over Europe. And if you can’t make it to any of them, try some of these online activities.

A pirate’s life for ye?

Posted on September 19th, 2009by Michelle
In English, Events, French, German, Mandarin, Pirate, Swedish | Leave a Comment »

Talk_Like_a_Pirate_DayAhoy, me hearties! Shiver me timbers, it’s Talk Like a Pirate Day!

Created in 1995, Talk Like A Pirate Day (TLAPD) started between two friends, and went nationwide in America (and then international) after being promoted by syndicated humour columnist Dave Barry, in 2002. From an idea between friends, the day has grown into a huge ‘holiday’, celebrated by pirate (and fun) loving people all over the world.

So why celebrate? Well, first and foremost, it’s very amusing to try and talk in pirate all day! Not only will you be learning a new language (albeit of limited use), you can raise money for charity by doing so. Check out some of the events here and here. As a truly international day, you can also learn how to talk like a pirate in Swedish, German, French, and Mandarin Chinese.

Aarrr! Want to celebrate but got a problem with your pirate-speak? Check out the video below of the founders of TLAPD to learn some of the basics of pirate lingo. And if you need a bit of a hand translating more difficult phrases, set your Google to Pirate and search away! You can also try out the Facebook English (Pirate) option, but sadly you can’t do the same on Twitter yet.

A-pirating we go!

From English to Mandarin

Posted on June 30th, 2009by Michelle
In Culture, English, Language acquisition, Mandarin | Leave a Comment »

Speak Mandarin Campaign posterA couple of posts ago I was talking about Singlish, and the Singaporean government’s attempts to promote English.

Now it seems, however, that Mandarin is the favoured language. Whilst the Speak Mandarin Campaign has been around for a long time, now it is being actively promoted over English. This seems to make economic sense at least, with Mandarin spoken by approximately 870 million people and the Chinese economy being the third largest, as well as the fastest growing in the world.

Interestingly, the Minister promoting the campaign also actively discourages dialects, saying:

Learning dialects will add to our children’s burden, and take away time and energy from English and Mandarin. Dialects also cause negative interferences on the learning of English and Mandarin, due to differences in their vocabulary, phonetics and syntax.

With Mandarin, we can connect with the whole of China and its 1.3 billion people. Dialects will confine us to our original village or town or at the most, the province of our ancestors.

Personally I think this is a shame as dialects contribute to the diversity of languages and can be an integral part of a person’s cultural identity. There is debate among linguists however, as to whether people should be encourage to eliminate these “non-standard” ways of speaking. This Singaporean certainly seems to have a stong opinion on the subject.