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  • Shanghai Targets Non-Standard Language Use on Street Signs Shanghai Targets Non-Standard Language Use on Street Signs 2015-05-30

    The Shanghai government has stepped up itsefforts to standardize and improve foreign-language translations of streetsigns. After enacting the first government regulation in the country forappropriate use of foreign languages in public on January 1, authorities openeda hotline and an online service to encourage residents to report non-standardtranslations. Translated signs are often comical but confusing for foreign visitorsto Shanghai. Since the build-up to the Shanghai World Expo, however, Shanghai'sgovernment has been paying close attention to the informal use of foreignlanguages on signs and advertisements in public. According to experts at theShanghai Commission for the Management of Language Use, the main mistakes onpublic signs include incorrect grammar, misspellings, and inappropriatewording. The government's regulation stipulates that all shop signs, cautionarysigns, and billboards be in Chinese in addition to a foreign language. Inaccordance with national guidelines on translation, the meaning of words in aforeign language should be the same as the Chinese words. Foreign translationson public signs should follow international custom without ambiguity toforeigners. Using foreign signs indiscriminately may lead to a fine or penaltyfrom the industrial and commercial administration. In recent months, Pudong'sdistrict government has waged a campaign in the main shopping districts andstreets to correct poor usage of foreign language in public. Officials alsoplan to set up an assessment system on the standardization of language on thestreet. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Municipal Committee has formed a MunicipalExpert Committee on Translation Service to provide a standard translation forguidance. Residents can read the online guidelines for English translation onpublic signs and report poor translations to the website. "Theinternational image of a country always lies in the details. In order to improvethe level of translations on the street, we must strengthen the guidance andenable more citizens to join the fight against bad usage of language,"says Ling Xiaofeng, deputy of the Shanghai Commission for the Management ofLanguage Use. From "Shanghai Targeted inNon-Standard Usage of Language on the Street" CCTV.com (China) (05/12/15)

  • Putin Calls for Purer Russian Language Putin Calls for Purer Russian Language 2015-05-30

    In a recent meeting with the Council forInterethnic Relations and the Council for Russian Language, Russian PresidentVladimir Putin criticized the growing use of foreign-derived words in theRussian media. Putin specifically pointed to grammatical errors and theunnecessary use of "linguistic borrowings " as evidence of culturalinfringement. He called for striking a "balance between preservingtraditional values and identity on the one hand and avoiding isolation from theglobal cultural processes on the other." In a veiled reference to Ukraineand the Baltic states, Putin chastised countries that "ignore or limit theright of significantly large ethnic groups to use their native language, [inorder] to conduct a tough, aggressive policy of linguistic and culturalassimilation." Ukraine and the Baltic states do not recognize Russian asan official language, despite the presence of significant Russian minorities.Putin ended his comments with the warning that these policies of culturalassimilation would divide a society into citizens and non-citizens, ultimatelyleading to ethnic conflict. From "Putin Calls for Purer RussianLanguage, Free of Foreign-Derived Words" Moscow Times (Russia) (05/19/15)Nechepurenko, Ivan

  • The Mini-Revival of the Irish Language The Mini-Revival of the Irish Language 2015-05-30

    There seems to be a general perception thatIreland's national language is perpetually on its last legs. But according toIreland's Higher Education Authority, the number of students studying Irish atthe college level is not only very healthy, but has been described as enjoyinga "mini-revival." There are many possible reasons for the resurgenceof interest in the Irish language. Some point to the steady rise ofIrish-language preschool and primary education since the 1970s, which may nowbe contributing to an increased demand for Irish-language courses at thecollege level. Others suggest that innovative programs at universities andcolleges have revolutionized the way in which students relate to languages. Onthe international front, the Fulbright Commission Ireland, which sponsorsstudent and teacher exchange programs between the U.S. and Ireland, has beengrowing steadily since 2006. Currently, it has links to around 50 college-levelU.S. institutions and 90 community organizations involved with teaching andpromoting Irish. Liam Mac Mathúna, emeritus professor of Irish at UniversityCollege Dublin and editor of Irish studies magazine Éigse, points to thedevelopment of postgraduate research and international interest in languages ascontributing factors in the rise of Irish studies. Mathúna says two otherfactors include the Official Languages Act of 2003 and the fact that Irish isnow one of the official working languages of the EU. "The reason whypeople are so interested [in studying Irish] is that they're realizing there'sa difference between the curriculum that's in the schools and what the languageactually is," says Oisín Ó Doinn, who is working on a PhD on the use oftechnology in teaching Irish. "I'm always surprised at people going, 'Whywould anyone want to learn Irish?' My question would be, 'Why would theynot?'" From "The Mini-Revival of the IrishLanguage" Irish Times (Ireland) (04/27/15) Wallace,Arminta

  • U.S. Falling Behind in Language Education U.S. Falling Behind in Language Education 2015-05-30

    Since 2009, language education in the U.S.has consistently lost ground in the battle for relevance and funding. The shiftin national budget priorities has resulted in some language programs beingdiscontinued and others being scaled back. At the same time, the number ofcollege students enrolling in language courses has steadily declined. This lossin enrollments has been compounded by the problem of students studying thewrong languages. For example, in 2013 approximately 198,000 U.S. collegestudents were enrolled in French language courses, while only 64 students werestudying Bengali. The reality is that 193 million people around the world speakBengali, while fewer than 75 million speak French. Language education is alsofighting the commonly held belief that only those with a natural gift forlanguages can become proficient. Richard Brecht, who oversees the University ofMaryland's Center for Advanced Study of Language, says, "It isn't thatpeople don't think language education is important. It's that they don't thinkit's possible." Not everyone agrees that it's important. Educators argueamongst themselves about the value of learning a language, especially when mathand science programs are competing for the same limited funding. And those whodo value language education disagree about which languages should be studied.In the end, advocates for language education say this is not one problem, butmany. They add there is no simple solution. From "America's Lacking LanguageSkills" The Atlantic (DC) (05/10/15) Friedman,Amelia

  • Crown Disciplined for Ignoring Canadian's Language Rights Crown Disciplined for Ignoring Canadian's Language Rights 2015-05-30

    Ontario Court of Appeal Justice PaulRouleau has ordered the federal Crown to cover the costs of a prolongedpreliminary hearing for a defendant in a cocaine trafficking trial because ofvarious language rights violations. Christian Munkonda was one of eight peoplecharged in 2010 with offenses related to allegations of cocaine trafficking.Six of the accused chose to be tried in English. Munkonda and anotherdefendant, who was eventually discharged, chose to have their preliminaryhearing in French. The Criminal Code requires that a judge must order aproceeding to be held in both of Canada's official languages under certainconditions, such as when there are two or more accused who speak either Englishor French. The code also stipulates the provision of a bilingual judge andprosecutor and that all court documents need to be in both official languages,including transcripts at the preliminary hearing. Rouleau determined theprosecution did not respect the appellant's language rights, and the treatmentit provided to the accused who exercised their right to have their preliminaryhearing held in English was superior to the treatment it afforded to the accusedwho chose French. Among the examples of ignored bilingual mandates the Court ofAppeal cited was the filing of more than 1,000 conversations in four differentlanguages into the court record, but only in English. "The originalversion of the texts of conversations in French was not included in thetranscripts," Rouleau notes. Moreover, two of the three federalprosecutors were unilingual, as was the court reporter transcribing thetestimony. "In conceptual terms, a bilingual trial or preliminary inquiry isa merger of a proceeding in French and a proceeding in English," Rouleauexplains. "To the extent possible and provided that it is reasonable, thelanguage rights of each of the accused must be respected." Jean Richer,who represents Munkonda, says the ruling is very clear about the requirement torespect the statutory language rights of defendants. "The court is sendinga message. Stop ignoring these sections. They are mandatory," says Richer,who adds that they are not "ideals" but provisions that must befollowed. From "Judge Orders Crown to Pay CostsOver Language Rights Violations" Canadian Lawyer (Canada) (05/06/15) Kari,Shannon

  • Avengers Movie Subtitles Leave Chinese Baffled Avengers Movie Subtitles Leave Chinese Baffled 2015-05-30

    Poor subtitling of the new Avengers movie,Age of Ultron, has left many Chinese moviegoers disappointed. The most commoncomplaint is that the film's translation is far too literal, resulting incompletely changed meanings. Examples abound. Captain America's statement"I'm home " is translated as "I'm good." A line abouthaving to wait too long is subtitled "I am very old." In Iron Man'srally to fight to the death, his statement "We may not make it out of this" is translated as "Let's back off now." Social media has beenrelentless in tracking the blunders, with some commentators laughinglysuggesting that the subtitles were done by Google Translate. But this isserious business for most Chinese moviegoers. One blogger reported that thewoman in front of him almost cried before saying, "Let's go home, I can'tput up with it." From "'Avengers: Age of Ultron'Subtitles Leave Chinese Baffled" Hollywood Reporter (CA) (05/13/15) Coonan,Clifford