In spite of great logistical and manpower challenges, the Canadian federal government is aiming to introduce simultaneous translation of the House of Commons proceedings in indigenous languages, reports Radio Canada International. Proceedings are currently available for simultaneous translation in the country’s two official languages, French and English. “If nothing is done within the next 10 to 15 years on these Indigenous languages in a significant way, they will be gone. We’re actually at the cusp of the end. This is it.”
A relationship exists between atypical brain activity of six-month-olds at risk of developmental dyslexia and their reading and naming speeds at age 14. This was found in a longitudinal research, where pseudo-words contrasted in the length of their consonants were used as experimental stimuli. The research was undertaken “as part of the Jyväskylä Longitudinal Study of Dyslexia”. The atypical brain responses are proposed to hinder the development of effective mental connections needed for speakers to effortlessly access words in their mental dictionary.
The United Nations has included Turkey’s whistled bird language—currently used by about 10,000 people in Çanakçı district of Giresun province—in its list of endangered languages in need of “urgent safeguarding”, reports Hurriyet Daily News. Technological development and emigration have contributed to the decline of the whistled tongue.
As 2017 comes to an end, the people of Japan have selected the Kanji of the year: 北 (pronounced kita; meaning ‘north’). The organisers of the annual poll, the Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation, found that the character encapsulated instances that kept Japan on its toes this year: ballistic missile threats from North Korea and the potato shortage in Hokkaido (北海道), the northernmost island of Japan.
Commentaries and Features
On language living and learning: Livia Gerber writes about her research on German backpackers’ language learning journeys in Australia and her time at the 11th International Symposium of Bilingualism at the University of Limerick, Ireland, which saw more than 900 delegates from 60 countries converge to talk about work in the area of ‘Bilingualism, Multilingualism and the New Speaker’. New speaker here derived from studies on language revitalisation, referring to non-native speakers of a language.
With every screening of the first major Khmer-language (subtitled in English), Hollywood-standard film “First They Killed My Father” in the US came a rush of melancholy memories for Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans, writes VOA News. Shot in the Khmer tongue, the film evoked a strong response from the audience who recalled the language control imposed by Pol Pot’s regime during the Khmer Rouge era; for example, banning the use of the Khmer pa ‘father’ in favour of a less common and less “foreign-sounding” word, puk.
☞ If you’ve got a Netflix account, you can watch the film here!
Còsagach: the Gaelic response to the fashionable Danish concept of hygge, denoting cosiness and good vibes. Who knew that putting a name to such a nice feeling enabled the Danes to reap economic benefits via tourism? For The Guardian, Libby Brooks argues that the term, used by Scotland’s tourism body VisitScotland, is farcical and contains connotations that differ from VisitScotland’s definition of the word, as “snug, sheltered or cosy”, and instead implies something of a cosy, mossy abode for small creatures.
Need help with transcribing spoken data (in Google-recognised languages)? Leah Fessler and Jacob Templin from Quartz present you with a free and quick hack rendering few mistakes. All you’ll need is a set of earphones and Google Docs.