Language in the news

Radio, press, films and books are on display in this tour of the Internet. Borges and translation, an interview with a former interpreter in Iraq, and a recent documentary on two scientists traveling in search of disappearing languages are just some of the offerings.

Exploring Borges and Translation 

"¿Borges presentará una vez más la transitada distinción entre dos modos de traducir para finalmente enredarse en la discusión infinita sobre las virtudes de las traducciones más o menos literales y las ventajas de las traducciones más o menos libres? Temores infundados." See Borges y la traducción by Sergio Pastormerlo.

Next stop: Ficciones y teorías en la traducción: Jorge Luis Borges by Ana Gargatagli and Juan Gabriel López Guix.

On the same site, try this one in English: Jorge Luis Borges and the Debate of Translation by Luisa Fernanda Rodríguez.

And finish with a Google Book Search preview of Invisible Work: Borges and Translation by Efraín Kristal.

The Bilingual Brain

"Parlez vous francais? Sprechen Sie Deutsches? Hablas español? If so, and you also speak English (or any other language), your brain may have developed some distinct advantages over your monolingual peers." See Brain Briefings on the SfN website for more.

Fun with Sarah

The recent US elections provided edification for students of language. Obama's speech on race has been hailed as a classic and I'm sure many a student has already worked with it in a SI class.

But the still-Governor of Alaska, loved by TV cameras both before and after resounding defeat, won many an accolade for pure entertainment value. Former TV host Dick Cavett laments her omnipresence on the small screen: "Any random channel clicked on by the remote brings up that eager face, with its continuing assaults on the English Lang." For more go to The Wild Wordsmith of Wasilla.

For additional fun with the smiling one, try The Meaning to Me Meant This. To make her more melodious, listen to the musical improvisation of palin song on YouTube. And if you agree that "diagramming a sentence provides insight into the mind of its perpetrator," then start Diagramming Sarah on Slate.

This American Life - Kill the Messengers

Ira Glass' show from Chicago Public Radio has won the International Documentary Association prize for best continuing series two years running. "If you've never heard This American Life our staff's favorite shows page provides a great introduction to what we do. You might want to start there. After a few episodes, we're sure you'll figure it out."

One March 2007 show was called By Proxy - "stories of people substituting themselves for other people, and the difficulties that can create." Act Two (minute 21) is called Kill the Messengers: "So your country has been occupied by a foreign army, and you work for that army. Who should you really be loyal to?"

You can listen online for free by clicking on "Full Episode" or pay less than a USD to download and listen at your leisure.

In search of disappearing languages - the film

"The Linguists follows David Harrison and Gregory Anderson, scientists racing to document languages on the verge of extinction. David and Greg's 'round-the-world journey takes them deep into the heart of the cultures, knowledge, and communities at stake."

Variety says that this "two-man mission to document the world's endangered tongues becomes a fleet-footed study of human communication and its limitless structural and functional possibilities."

View the trailer at the films official site.

Huck and Tom in French - the interview

Bernard Hoepffner (traducteur): "Avec des livres comme «Huck Finn», ou comme l'«Ulysse» de Joyce, on est parfois aux limites de la traduction. Soit on choisit une traduction bébête, soit on essaie d'aller un peu au-delà, mais c'est dangereux, car il n'est pas question de faire un exercice de réécriture ou d'adaptation. Ce qui me fascine, c'est cette frontière-là." Go to BibliObs for more.

Multilingualism -  Europe's daily bread

"In its new Communication, entitled 'Multilingualism: an asset for Europe and a shared commitment', the Commission gives an overview of what needs to be done to turn linguistic diversity into an asset for solidarity and prosperity." Find more info here and then review EU language policy.


"Clients-they're our source of assignments, but sometimes of roadblocks as well," says Anne Wallingford. Read more in red flags for freelancers. Take a quick look at the FAQ page to see how the site is organised. How Do I know What to Charge? is recommended reading for both novice and veteran freelancers of any ilk.

I once was lost but now I'm found

"Translation is basic to our existence as human beings. It is what creates and defines us as a species." From Found in Translation: A Multi-media Touring Exhibition. Get more information at The San Francisco Center for the Book.

Read Garfield automatically translated from English to Chinese and back.

If you like body writing, check out this interview with Tian Tang on NPR. "Tang says as a Chinese American, he felt it was his 'duty and honor to educate the public about the misusage of Chinese characters.'" You can continue your research at Hanzi Smatter - "dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in western culture". 

He found himself adopting the USA, or perhaps we should say New York City, as his home: Alistair Cooke (1908-2004). A fitting finish to this romp through language can be found on BBC News: Countries separated by a common language.

Thanks go to Jackie Harmer, Angela Keil and Philip Hill for their input.

Recommended citation format:
Luigi LUCCARELLI. "Language in the news". December 9, 2008. Accessed October 19, 2019. <>.