This week in languages: August 12, 2016

by on August 12, 2016



Ride-hailing firm Uber has raised complaints against Transport for London’s (TfL) new regulation that drivers applying for private car hire licences or renewing existing ones must pass tests in spoken and written English. Drivers from countries where English is not spoken by the majority will be affected by the new rules.

A new gender-neutral form of Hebrew is now being used in seven Zionist youth Habonim Dror camps across North America, in a bid to make summer camps safe spaces for children to express themselves and hopefully set an example for Hebrew-speakers around the world. Team cheers were rewritten to include gender-neutral Hebrew. “Plural masculine nouns in Hebrew—including any group of people that includes at least one man—typically end in im, while feminine nouns end in ot. At Camp Moshava, all groups of both boys and girls now end in a blend: imot.”

Commentaries and Features

The Guardian‘s long read section profiled retired teacher Linda Lambrecht and the Hawaii Sign Language (HSL), which was only recently discovered in 2010 when Lambrecht, one of the last fluent speakers of the language, brought it to the attention of researchers at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. HSL remains critically endangered, although documentation work with Lambrecht and other remaining speakers hopes to preserve at least some of the language before it dies out completely.

Lakota is the endangered Native American language of a people who, like many other marginalised groups, have higher-than-average rates of poverty, suicide, and drug use. But in areas where efforts are being made to increase access to and fluency in the Lakota language, such problems have begun to decrease. Thunder Valley Community Development Center is a non-profit organisation that has worked for the past ten years to preserve Lakota and to honor Lakota traditions, all while working to eliminate the systemic issues facing this community.

An undergraduate student from Singapore made a trip to IKEA and “channelled his inner ‘auntie'” by creating a video exemplifying Singlish (that is, Singapore English) pronunciations through product names!

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