Language in the news

Our searchlight shines on the controversy surrounding certification, books, webcasts, blogs and apps, and much more in the wide world of words.

Views on Certification

Following up on this issue’s article on Interpretation and Certification, I typed “translator interpreter certification” into my search box and got some noteworthy results.

You can get a panorama of certification in the USA from Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator. Scroll down to page 36.

Translorial is the journal of the Northern California Translators Association. Check out their article on The Great ATA Certification Debate, Part I and Part II.

Another discussion on aspects of certification can be found in this Translators Café forum.

In the Japan Times, read about what happens when an Interpreter Certification Group Decides to Fold.

The World in Words

Public Radio International’s The World in Words “focuses on language. We cover everything from bilingual education to the globalization of English to untranslatable foreign phrases.”

When you click on an episode, you’ll be taken to a short introduction and be invited to listen to or download the sound file. Consciousness, Poetry and Bilingual Babies might be a good bet, or you can find out why the French are not happy about a recent English language proposal.

Speaking about France…

Early readers of this issue will still have time to make it to an event sponsored by the French region of AIIC on April 2nd to promote cultural diversity and the use of languages in international conferences. In addition to talks and discussion, David Lescot’s play l’Européenne will be performed.

For more information and updates go to the website of the French region of AIIC.

An inevitable decline?

Globish haters take heart! Korean daily The Chosunilbo reports that “British linguist Nicholas Ostler says the English language's days as the global lingua franca are numbered even as it enjoys unheard-of global dominance.”

Get more of Oster’s views from an interview with Penguin Books.

Read the Guardians‘s review of Ostler’s recent book, The Last Lingua Franca: English until the Return to Babel.

Over at the Sunday Times, Kerstin Hoge reads Ostler and asks: Will English survive as a lingua franca, or will translation technology make it unnecessary?

But Robert McCrum, in another Guardian article, says he is not convinced that English must inevitably lose its global dominance.

14th EU Interpretation-Universities Conference

It’s a year old but by taking a look at this webcast you’ll be ready for the 15th edition. Go to the European Commission Webcast Portal and find the link to the conference in the left sidebar. Click on “View” and voilà. You’ll able to choose among original (floor language), English, French and German.

You can also go to the search function in the right sidebar, paste in the name of this event, narrow the dates to 15 March 2010 to 20 March 2010, choose “event” rather than “presentation” and hit the search button. The results will give you not only links to the video, but also downloadable PDF files of the presentations.

T&I on Best Careers List

US News and World report has named translation and interpretation as one of its 50 Best Careers for 2011, in the category of creative and service jobs. Among other tidbits, the overview notes that:

  • Choosing this occupation means learning more than a foreign language; you also must thoroughly understand the subject you're communicating about.
  • Once you've gained enough experience, you can transition to a more difficult or prestigious assignment—like conference interpreter.
  • Conference interpreters and literary translators can expect competition because of the small number of jobs in these specialties.

Blogs and Journals

Here’s an abstract of What Translation Blogs Have to Offer Translation Studies. If you want to read the full article, however, you’ll have to purchase it from St. Jerome.

Also of interest to all you teachers out there is their journal The Interpreter and Translator Trainer, a recent issue of which examines Ethics and the Curriculum.

Common Sense Advisory offers information on the state of the language services market as part of their consulting business. You’ll be able to get an overview of what they offer clients by looking at their public blog Global Watchtower and their Research summaries.

Translation Apps

You may be able to walk the walk, but can you talk the talk? Not to worry, now your phone will do it for you with a multitude of new translation applications on the market.

Get a quick overview replete with photos of what’s available in New Apps for your iPhone and Android from ReadWriteWeb, or one person’s opinion on the Best iPhone Language Translation Apps from Bright Hub.

Of course Google Translate is now available free of charge for both iPhone and Android. Before downloading it you may want to read Bob Tedeschi’s review in the NY Times or Spanner Spencer’s on Know Your Mobile.

PCWorld says: “The Oxford Dictionary of English app, by Handmark, does a tremendous job of capturing all the OED's information, and making it available on your Android phone… The chief difference between the print version of the OED and the Android app is that the Android app has an abbreviated number of examples of the use of each word in sentences.”

Linguee: the web as a dictionary

I just came across Linguee. According to the founders, it allows you to “Search many millions of bilingual texts for words and expressions. Every expression is accompanied by useful additional information and suitable example sentences.”

In addition to the English version (above), you can also use Linguee in Spanish and French. One complaint: interface language options are not shown on the home page and are difficult to find. That said, the search function does indicate language pair options clearly, and is easy to use.

A useful Financial Times review notes that: “You can see through its interface how translators have taken a phrase or word in English, for example, and translated it into German in its particular context of, say, a paragraph from a legal document or business news report.”

My own perfunctory trial run included searches for translations of a stitch in time into Spanish, marear la perdiz into English, and pussyfooting around into French. The results indicate that Linguee could indeed be a useful tool. Of course, it’s up to the user to decide if what others have done is good enough for her.

New technologies no threat to translator

Madrid daily ABC reports on a recent conference on legal and court interpreting in Salamanca where: “La jefa de sección de la Dirección General de Interpretación de la Comisión Europea, Helen Campbell, ha asegurado… que las nuevas tecnologías ‘no van a sustituir al traductor o al intérprete’, aunque ha reconocido que desarrollan ‘un papel muy importante porque el mundo avanza muy rápidamente’.”

But all my relationships are online!

I’m fascinated by a spate of opinions about how new technologies are reshaping our minds. Now MIT Professor Sherry Turkle enters the fray, urging us to unplug in Alone Together.

Fast Company interviewed Ms. Turkle: (FC) “I didn't realize MIT hired Luddites.” (ST) “Well, I'm no Luddite. I think this book is not the book of a Luddite. This is the book of someone deeply appreciative of technology.”

Check out reviews on Salon, The Daily Beast and Le Monde.

Recommended citation format:
Luigi LUCCARELLI. "Language in the news". March 15, 2011. Accessed July 2, 2020. <>.