Just a short word of thanks today to the team from Translation Commons who helped me enormously with the research for the 12-part “Language Watch” series.*
As we’ve seen throughout our series of Translation Postcards, you can find translators in historic villages, towns and cities all over the world, but few of us live in a place that boasts over 3,400 years of recorded history. Home to Plato’s Academy and Aristotle’s Lyceum, Athens (Αθήνα) is widely referred to as the cradle of Western civilisation and the birthplace of democracy, largely because of its cultural and political impact on the European continent, and in particular the Romans.Read More
Many are the reasons we change countries in the course of our lives. For the majority of us, those reasons are innocuous enough – we are drawn to different cultures, or climates, or lured by romance. And yet such life choices are sometimes far harder, as we’ll see in the case of translator and interpreter Mahdi Abdulbasit, who fled Ethiopia for Egypt in 2016.Read More
Persecution: enslavement, forced assimilation, segregation, genocide perpetrated by Nazi Germany during World War II, and other human rights violations – the history, both ancient and modern, of the Roma of East-Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans, is a litany of suffering.Read More
In this week’s Language Watch, we head for the first time to Canada, and the indigenous peoples known collectively as the First Nations. We zoom in on the northern boreal and Arctic regions and on the Dene people, who speak a group of languages that are described as Northern Athabaskan.Read More
It may not be a pretty city, but it’s certainly a historic one, with roots that date back to the pre-Viking, Anglo-Saxon era, and a port that was already a busy international transit hub when William the Conqueror was on the throne in the 11th century. Some of the ancient city walls are still visible – the most famous relic being the iconic Bargate.Read More
The world’s deaf communities have long suffered from discrimination. Aristotle himself deemed the deaf unteachable, paving the way for centuries of prejudice. It was not until the 16th century that Italian physician Girolamo Cardano proclaimed that the deaf-mute people could “hear by reading and speak by writing”.
In fact it turns out the story’s logical enough, especially as Mozambique and Brazil share the same language. Carlos Kwengwe’s mother is a white Brazilian, who met his father, a black Mozambican, when they were studying together in Brazil in the 80s, at a time when Mozambique was still being torn apart by civil war.
Take a look at the video below and within seconds you’ll realise where we’re headed in this week’s Language Watch. So far in our series, we’ve travelled to Asia, Africa, North and South America, and Europe, shining a spotlight each time on minority and endangered languages throughout the world. Now for the first time, we’re in Oceania, in Australia’s Northern Territory to be precise, and the world of the Yolŋu Aboriginal people.Read More
It’s the city that gave us both Lionel Messi and Che Guevara, and the birthplace of the Argentine national flag. For those reasons alone it’s worth taking a much closer look at Rosario, the third largest city in Argentina, set on the pampas alongside the broad brown waters of the Paraná, which gets its oxide and colour from its origins far to the north in Brazil. Scorching hot in summer, and cold and wet in winter, at least Rosario escapes the snow.Read More
Some of the communities and languages we focus on in this series may be vaguely familiar to you. Many others are completely unknown in the wider world – and barely even recognised or understood in the countries in which they have lived for centuries. Such is the case of the Mru people of Bangladesh – one of the many tribes that populate the Chittagong Hill Tracts, an underdeveloped and heavily militarised region in the South-East of what is already a country facing momentous struggles of its own.Read More
She’s a one-woman United Nations, born of Moroccan parents in Spain, now living in the USA and married to a man of British descent, who grew up in a part of the USA dominated by Pennsylvania Dutch families, who are in fact German. Today the street where she lives in New York City’s “forgotten borough” of Staten Island has the highest Liberian population outside of Liberia, plus plenty of Mexicans, Jamaicans and myriad other nationalities. And if that weren’t enough to endorse her candidature for Secretary-General, Nawal Kramer is one of those rare people who is genuinely bicultural.Read More
Cherokee, Sioux, Apache, Navaho… all names that trip off the tongue easily enough, just as the music in this video might ring familiar, but how much do we really know about the history, cultures and languages of the indigenous peoples in what are now the United States?
Very little in fact – most of our mental imagery is probably a product of Hollywood, and the very names of these great nations have been co-opted by car makers, songwriters and other avatars of popular culture.
Of all the destinations we’ve visited in our travelling armchairs, few are more iconic than Paris. The French capital is a global centre for art, fashion, gastronomy and culture, and its landmarks, from the 12th-century Notre-Dame to the Arc de Triomphe and perhaps above all, the Eiffel Tower, are world-famous. Paris is no less renowned for its museums, luxury goods, booksellers along the Seine, grand 19th-century boulevards, and of course its café culture – there can be few greater pleasures than tucking into a fresh crusty baguette or a delicious croissant with a piping hot café, as you watch the world speed by.
A quick glance at the first photo and you might think you were looking at a traditional dance in some Portuguese village. However, look more closely at the faces and you realise with a start that the scene is more likely taking place in Asia. Your initial confusion is understandable, because these are in fact Eurasians, and they belong to the Kristang community in Malaysia. See this video for a few examples of this fascinating language…