This week in languages: July 22, 2016

by on July 22, 2016

15/07/2016–22/07/2016

Headlines

Researchers at University College London have found that people who use sign language can experience synaesthesia—for example, seeing different colours when watching someone sign. This is the first study to document synaesthesia among sign language users.

Just ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, a different sort of Olympics is taking place in Berlin—this one for young German language-learners. Participants in this year’s competition, known as the International Deutscholympiade, range in age from 14–19 and represent 64 countries. Over the course of the two-week event, they will have a chance to get to know the German capital and to compete for the grand prize of a three-week trip to Germany.

Commentaries and Features

“Google, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, Reddit, Imgur… All of these platforms are ways or VERBS to connect with each other through content. They are also companies AND they are also BRANDS.” Canadian fashion designer Adrian Wu candidly details how branding and interaction has changed the way people talked about technology, 45 years after the advent of the Internet, for The Huffington Post.

Despite the status of English as a worldwide lingua franca, only a small number of Brazilians can claim basic English proficiency. Although this could be potentially problematic during this year’s summer Olympics, the Brazilian government seems convinced that the country’s friendly people will allow tourists to enjoy their visit despite the language barrier. Pre-Olympics English classes are also being offered to service industry employees, Olympic volunteers and the civil police force.

Despite musings that English would cease to be an official EU language post-Brexit, Donal Carey of The Irish Times is convinced that it will not. English, he writes, allows “the Polish official talk to her Italian colleague who in turn [needs] to seek advice, in English, from their Finnish boss.” It has in many ways become the language of the world, and is too deeply ingrained in EU policy and procedure for its status to change—even with the UK poised to leave.

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