Friday, June 25, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Friday, June 18, 2010
Senators are exploring ways to improve U.S. agencies' ability to understand and translate foreign languages, as experts and government reports express continuing concerns that the foreign-language deficiencies may undermine national security.
"Changing threats to U.S. national security as well as the increasing globalization of the U.S. economy have greatly increased federal agencies’ needs for personnel proficient in foreign languages," the senator's office said in a release.
One GAO report found that the Defense Department lacked a strategic plan for addressing language skills. Meanwhile, the other found that 31 percent of State Department officials in language-heavy posts were not qualified for their positions in 2009, up two points from 29 percent in 2005.
Experts and officials say that agencies have made varying levels of progress in bolstering their language capabilities in the last decade. But they add that there is no single quick fix and that the problem runs deep, with a lack of interagency coordination and not enough emphasis on foreign languages in U.S. education.
"The U.S. education system ... simply has not made the investment in language required to provide the government with an adequate pool of linguistic expertise from which to recruit to meet its needs," Richard Brecht, executive director of the Center for the Advanced Study of Languages at the University of Maryland, said in written testimony at a 2004 House Armed Services Committee hearing.
Homeland Security spokeswoman Amy Kudwa said in a statement that the department, which fulfills its language needs through hiring, training and contracting, "is considering the implementation of a more consolidated approach to the Department’s diverse foreign language needs."
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Having started in 1925, The Scripps Bee is still very popular and has reached new heights over the past decade. "It combines performance and scholarship - two things that we Americans really enjoy," Mr. Thampy, the 2000 Champion says. He thinks spelling was pivotal to his success, teaching him "a love of learning and an attention to detail and incredible appreciation of the languages and systems that underpin our society".
However, some people criticize the bee for encouraging unhealthy levels of stress and competitiveness in its young contestants. As a reply of the concerns, Scripps Spelling Bee spokesman Tim King points out that the camaraderie and fast friendships that develop during the finals can be the proof that the kids are not nursing deep wounds.
Past Winning Words:
· 2009: Laodicean, meaning lukewarm or indifferent in religion or politics
· 2008: guerdon, meaning something that one has earned or gained
· 2007: serrefine, meaning a small forceps for clamping a blood vessel
· 2006: ursprache, meaning a parent language
· 2005: appoggiatura, meaning an accessory embellishing note or tone preceding an essential melodic note or tone
This Year's Contestants
· 273 spellers made the national finals
· 68% attend public school
· 42 have no siblings
· 20 have at least one relative who previously made finals
· One speller is competing for the fourth time
· The median age is 13
· One competitor is eight
· The most popular book is Harry Potter, film is Avatar and food is pizza
Source: BBC News
Friday, June 11, 2010
Not everyone calls this tournament the "World Cup". In French it’s the "Coupe du Monde". In German, it's called the "Weltmeisterschaft". In Spanish, the "La Copa Mundial" and in Italian "Il Mondiale". And in Hindi it’s "विश्व कप", which I cannot begin to pronounce.
Below is a list of every translation I could find:
Arabic: كأس العالم
Belarusian: Кубак свету
Bulgarian: Световно първенство
Catalan: Copa del Món
Czech: Světový pohár
Danish: Verdenmesterskab (or VM for short)
Dutch: Wereldkampioenschap voetbal
Flemish: Weireldkampioenschap sjotten
French: Coupe du Monde
Galician: Campionato do Mundo
German: Weltmeisterschaft (or WM for short)
Greek: Παγκόσμιο Κύπελλο
Hebrew: גביע העולם
Hindi: विश्व कप
Hungarian: Világ Kupa
Indonesian: Piala Dunia
Irish: Corn an Domhain
Italian: Il Mondiale
Korean: 세계 축구
Lithuanian: Pasaulio čempionatas
Macedonian: Светско првенство
Malay: Piala Dunia
Maltese: Tazza tad-Dinja
Persian: جام جهانی
Portuguese: Copa do Mundo
Romanian: Cupa Mondială
Russian: Кубок мира
Serbian: Светско првенство
Slovakian: Svetový pohár
Slovenian: Svetovni pokal
Spanish: La Copa Mundial
Swedish: Världscupen (aka VM)
Turkish: Dünya Kupası
Ukrainian: Кубок світу
Vietnamese: Cúp bóng đá thế giới
Welsh: Cwpan y Byd
(Extracted from Worldcupblog.org)
Thursday, June 10, 2010
The ability to speak a second language isn’t the only thing that distinguishes bilingual people from their monolingual counterparts—their brains work differently, too. Research has shown, for instance, that children who know two languages more easily solve problems that involve misleading cues. A new study published in Psychological Sciencereveals that knowledge of a second language—even one learned in adolescence—affects how people read in their native tongue. The findings suggest that after learning a second language, people never look at words the same way again.
Eva Van Assche, a bilingual psychologist at the University of Ghent in Belgium, and her colleagues recruited 45 native Dutch-speaking students from their university who had learned English at age 14 or 15. The researchers asked the participants to read a collection of Dutch sentences, some of which included cognates—words that look similar and have equivalent meanings in both lan guages (such as “sport,” which means the same thing in both Dutch and English). They also read other sentences containing only noncognate words in Dutch.
Van Assche and her colleagues recorded the participants’ eye move ments as they read. They found that the subjects spent, on average, eight fewer milliseconds gazing at cognate words than control words, which suggests that their brains processed the dual-language words more quickly than words found only in their native language.
“The most important implication of the study is that even when a per son is reading in his or her native language, there is an influence of knowledge of the nondominant second language,” Van Assche notes. “Becoming a bilingual changes one of people’s most automatic skills.” She plans to investigate next whether people who are bilingual also process auditory language information differently. “Many questions remain,” she says.
Source: Scientific American
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
For 2008 Olympic Games, Beijing replaced thousands of English signages, which included 400,000 street signs and 1,300 restaurant menus, such as Dongda Anus Hospital was rechristened Dongda Proctology Hospital; Racist Park was rechristened Minorities Park. Now it's turn for Shanghai. To greet millions of visitors, Shanghai is taking great effort to eliminate mangled English of Chinglish. "The purpose of signage is to be useful, not to be amusing," said Zhao Huimin, the former Chinese ambassador to the United Sates.
However, while the Chinese people are striving to eliminate Chinglish, Oliver Lutz Radtke, a former German radio reporter, put forward an opinion that Chinglish deserves preservation. "If you standardize all these signs, you not only take away the little giggle you get while strolling in the part but you lose a window into the Chinese mind." Jeffrey Yao, an English translator and teacher offered an example: for the warning "Keep Off the Grass", Chinese version tries to express it into a gentle way, that is "The little Grass Is Sleeping. Please Don't Disturb It." "Some Chinglish expressions are nice, but we are not translating literature here," said Mr. Yao, " I want to see people nodding that they understand the message on these signs. I don't want to see them laughing."