This week in languages: June 17, 2016

by on June 17, 2016



Students in Singapore will no longer be penalised for using some Singlish terms in their essays and exams, The Straits Times reported on Monday. The Ministry of Education’s caveat: “Singlish words should be used only appropriately, usually in direct speech”, as in “I have decided to ‘sabo’ my friend and play a nasty prank on him“. On the heels of a move by the Oxford English Dictionary to codify 19 Singlish terms, this announcement has gathered mixed reactions from teachers, parents, and students.

In a bid to improve the usage and development of the Maltese language (a Semitic language that is one of the official languages of the European Union), a group of Maltese translators have developed a publication called l-aċċent which has since gotten a respectable readership around Europe. Plans are being made to build on this success further in the future.

The Assyrian community of Chicago, a Christian group orgininating from what is now Iraq and the majority of which has since fled from the militant ISIS group, is turning to technology to keep the dying Syriac language alive. While their efforts have thus far been relatively successful, it remains to be seen if this would be enough to stave off extinction.

Commentaries and Features

Microsoft has added Afrikaans language support to all versions of its translator apps as well as to Skype translator for Windows desktop. Spoken as a primary language by more than seven million people, Afrikaans—a derivative of eighteenth century Dutch—is used mainly in western South Africa and southern Namibia.

The Third National Geez Language Forum which was held in Ethiopia last week has called for more usage of Geez in the country, as a way to tap into the vast store of wisdom on a variety of subjects including astronomy and philosophy. Proposed initiatives include supporting scholars to write, disseminate and translate the language.

Writing after the crowning of Miss Tibet 2016 who speaks poor Tibetan, Ugyen Gyalpo discusses language shaming and the significance of the language to its people.

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