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Written By: Billette on August 29, 2010 1 Comment

Does Your Language Shape How You Think?

The debate rages on, no?

Written By: daveski on June 10, 2010 No Comment

Referees are brushing up on swear words in 17 languages for World Cup starting tomorrow, according to this article from the New York Times. The player to listen for in U.S.-England match: English striker Wayne Rooney, say the potty mouth experts.

Translation project, anyone?


Written By: daveski on June 3, 2010 No Comment

Christine Kenneally’s NewScientist article (“Language lessons: You are what you speak“) following the work of Nicholas Evans of the Australian National University in Canberra and Stephen Levinson of the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands points to an age-old (or at least decades-old) question: Do all […]

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on May 12, 2010 2 Comments
Accentism in Arizona

A recent piece in the Wall Street Journal caught my eye, summarized in these unsettling lines:

The Arizona Department of Education recently began telling school districts that teachers whose spoken English it deems to be heavily accented or ungrammatical must be removed from classes for students still learning English.

It is […]

Written By: Jonathan Haddad on April 26, 2010 1 Comment
When Tajik just doesn’t cut it

This article in the Washington Post raises an important dilemma facing a new generation of American spies:  How to speak Farsi like a native when University Persian studies programs are built around antiquated notions of academic scholarship:

Fewer than a dozen universities grant degrees in Persian, said Pardis Minuchehr, a […]

Written By: daveski on April 26, 2010 3 Comments

In his column in the Washington Post, “Why waste time on a foreign language?” Jay Mathews argues that much foreign language education in high school is a waste of time–this after mentioning that two of his own children “were serious Spanish students…and today, as adults, use the language at […]

Written By: Marie Joelle Yveline Thuillier on April 26, 2010 3 Comments

Check out this article!

Written By: daveski on March 31, 2010 No Comment

A recent Vancouver Sun article, “Translating the language of texting“, seems to be written mostly for clueless parents who are trying to figure out all the acronym-filled text messages of their kids–note the big chunk of the list devoted to expressions like “POV” (parent over shoulder) and “KPC” (keeping parents clueless). And, while […]

Written By: daveski on February 16, 2010 No Comment

The National Capital Language Resource Center’s “Culture Shocks” blog is offering prizes for 200-word-or-less vignettes of culture shock experiences that get published on their blog. Take a look at the stories there–and post yours here on FIT, too, while you’re at it! 🙂

Written By: daveski on January 5, 2010 14 Comments
On aliens, difference, and the language of Avatar

Among other topics, the hit movie Avatar has been getting a lot of attention for the constructed language of the inhabitants of its far-away forested land of Pandora. Called Na’vi (also the name of its speakers), the language is an example of what’s known as “cinematic xenolinguistics” – a language constructed […]

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on December 28, 2009 No Comment
Translating the Self

It doesn’t matter that it has been a mere three and a half months since I was last in India; the immediate shock of unfamiliarity inevitably holds me in its grip every time I return home. To begin with, it’s a different season: when I’d left, the temperature hovered in the mid 40s (in degrees […]

Written By: daveski on December 1, 2009 2 Comments

SFGate’s “The Tech Chronicles” points out in this November 30 post from Penny Evangelista that “Twitter” was the most popular English language word of 2009, beating out “stimulus” and “vampire”.


What’s YOUR vote for most popular English word of 2009? Or is it too early to tell? We still have 1/12th of the year […]

Written By: daveski on November 20, 2009 1 Comment
Whose university?

As I write this post there are hundreds of Berkeley students and community members surrounding barricades and police tape (“POLICE LINE – DO NOT CROSS”) around Wheeler Hall, the site of a student ‘occupation’ (see updates here too) after the UC Regents’ passage of a budget including an unprecedented […]

Written By: daveski on November 19, 2009 3 Comments

No doubt scholars and students far and wide are mourning the passing on November 13 of Dell Hymes, one of the most influential thinkers in folklore studies, linguistic anthropology, and other fields. The University of Virginia published this article yesterday on the news of his death; one of the undoubtedly many […]

Written By: daveski on September 13, 2009 No Comment
FIT for animals?: “Bowlingual” dog translator

OK, so this news has already been out for a few months now, but given that Usree’s “Animal Sounds in Different Languages” is the most-viewed post on FIT, I thought it only fitting that we give some blogtime to the latest in canine translation technology. “Bowlingual” (Japanese site) is […]

Written By: daveski on August 31, 2009 No Comment

An interesting article from Zachary M. Seward at the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard U., pointing out how the New York Times has been sifting through its data generated when readers highlight words to look up their definitions. Not only does the Times’ tracking its own data like this show us what […]

Written By: daveski on August 30, 2009 2 Comments
Un-de-re-en-ciphering ‘Chinglish’

Last week, on the same day, I got emails from both my brother and a Linguistic Landscape research group discussion list, with links to the same article on the BBC News’ site. I knew this thing must be going around the internet…how often do multilingual signs make the news?

The featured article was actually a slideshow […]

Written By: daveski on June 18, 2009 No Comment

Foreign language programs, and language studies in general (including English) stand to be severely cut in the latest round of budget cuts announced by the California state government. For those not on the UCB mailing lists, I’ll reproduce below the entire letter sent out by Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau and Exec. Chancellor and Vice Provost […]

Written By: daveski on June 5, 2009 4 Comments

The White House website announced that the State Department has prepared translations of President Obama’s major “A New Beginning” speech delivered at Cairo University .

There are translations into 13 languages so far: Arabic, Chinese, Dari, French, Hebrew, Hindi, Indonesian, Malay, Pashto, Persian, Punjabi, Russian, Turkish, Urdu and Portuguese. And at the […]

Written By: Usree Bhattacharya on May 17, 2009 4 Comments

Today’s Op-Ed column in the New York Times by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Maureen Dowd, entitled “Cheney, Master of Pain,” is the talk of the blogosphere. The big story is that Dowd plagiarized the following section which appears in today’s column:

More and more the timeline is raising the question of why, […]

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