How do we measure language fluency?

language fluency

“The first and central culprit is the idea that fluency is an absolute status, that the world of each language is divided into two groups: “fluent” and “non-fluent”. But here’s a brief example of how muddy these waters can actually be: if I am born in Moscow, but then move to Toronto at 14 and never speak a word of Russian again for the rest of my life, am I still fluent at 89? Language is a living thing; it always happens within a context and relative to that context, and those contexts often do not have any exterior criteria by which they could be termed standard.”

From “Let’s Bust Some Myths About Fluency” by Noah Harley, a short essay over at babbel.com.

Babbel Voices | Myths of Fluency

Wikipedia says: “Language fluency is used informally to denote broadly a high level of language proficiency, most typically foreign language or another learned language, and more narrowly to denote fluid language use, as opposed to slow, halting use. ”

Lesson Planet: Ready . . . Set . . . Read! Teaching Reading Fluency – There are many activities and lesson ideas that teachers can use to reinforce reading fluency skills.

Image lifted from Almost Fearless.

Hands on with the latest Google Translate App

WordLensExmaples

“Real time translation, the kind we imagined in science fiction is finally within reach”, writes Mashable. “In the space of just a few months, Microsoft has introduced live translation services to Skype (still in preview) and now the latest Google Translate features live, language-detecting, two-way audio translation on its free iOS and Android apps.

Google Translate [iTunes link] can handle dozens of languages and will understand and return text and audio translations in real time.”

Mashable had a closer look.

The Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary

Star Wars English-Japanese DictionaryHere’s a great new way to study Japanese or English: using this awesome Star Wars English Learner’s Dictionary from Japan that teaches you through Star Wars quotes. It’s much easier to learn a language when you can connect it to knowledge you already have, and this might be a great way for you or your Padawan to study! So do, or do not. There is no try!

For sale at Jbox.

Lost without translation – Accurate scientific translation is vital, say Meredith Root-Bernstein and Richard Ladle.

translation_highlighted_in_dictionar_450

Excerpt from an essay: for “Times Higher Education”:

“A misplaced preposition or poor choice of verb can ruin a convincing narrative, reducing the probability of publication in a top international journal and limiting the impact of the research. Not only is this bad news for scientists struggling to communicate their work, it is also bad for science.
Science needs more trained personnel who can bridge the language gap. The need is particularly urgent in areas such as the environmental and agronomical sciences in which it is increasingly appreciated that regional and local interventions can have global impacts.

In an effort to disseminate their work, many foreign scientists spend precious research funds on private translation services. But standard translators may not understand the science, the structure of scientific papers or the technical language. The only alternative is to rely on bilingual colleagues to provide translation services as a favour.”

Read the article here.

Authors:

Meredith Root-Bernstein is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford and at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Richard Ladle is senior visiting research associate at Oxford and professor of conservation biogeography at the Federal University of Alagoas, Brazil.

How to Talk Australians – Season 1

TalkAustralians2From director Tony Rogers (Wilfred) and writer Rob Hibbert, (Images You Should Not Masturbate To) comes How to Talk Australians, a comedy web series set in an Indian call centre training college.

Presented in the format of an elaborate educational video, the series delivers a satirical take on the Australian way of life. An assembly of Indian teachers dissect our national identity, as they perform re-enactments, conduct lectures in linguistics, and attempt impersonations of famous Australians.

Mining the depths of every aspect of the Australian stereotype, the 8-part series presents us with a unique outsider’s perspective, and asks us to visit that most Australian trait: to laugh at ourselves.

Use Text-to-Speech Functions for Better Proofreading

osx-text-to-speech

Ever proofread an email and realize after you have sent it that it contains a glaring error? You know those errors — these are the ones that you miss because your brain inserts the missing word or overlooks spelling errors such as “wiht” that really should be “with.”

The Unofficial Apple Weblog has a solution we have been using here at translabor for quite a while and we would highly recommend this method too: “The best way to avoid some of these common errors is to read your writing aloud so you can hear what you have written. If you are unable to talk aloud or feel silly doing so, you can take advantage of the text-to-speech feature available on your iPhone or Mac and let your device read to you instead.”

Lifehacker has the link for Text-to-Speech using Windows, Android and Chrome.

Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache

Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache

The Wörterbuch der deutschen Umgangssprache is a rather obscure source for German slang, but we kind like it and we would really like to recommend mundmische.de, a quality choice to find out that words like Schniposa do exist for real.

English explodes in India – and it’s not just Hinglish

Hinglish
Anyone who travels beyond Delhi and Mumbai to India’s provincial cities will notice English words cropping up increasingly in Hindi conversation,” writes BBC. While some of these terms fell out of use in the UK decades ago, others are familiar, but used in bold new ways.

Picture the scene. I’m chatting to a young man named Yuvraj Singh. He’s a college student in the Indian city of Dehra Dun. We’re talking in Hindi. But every so often there’s an English word. It’s Hindi, Hindi, Hindi, and then suddenly an English word or phrase is dropped in: “job”, “love story” or “adjust”.

What should we make of this? It’s not that Hindi lacks equivalent words. He could have said the Hindi “kaam” instead of “job”. Why mention the English words? And what’s Yuvraj speaking? Is it Hindi, English, an amalgam “Hinglish”, or something else?

In 1886 Henry Yule and Arthur Burnell published Hobson-Jobson, a guide to words from Indian languages that had passed into English.

You can search through it for references to the origins of words such as “shampoo” and “bungalow”. But now many Indian citizens are using English words in the course of talking Hindi – or Tamil, or Bengali etcetera.”

Read on at the BBC.

Links:

BBC: Hobson-Jobson – The words English owes to India
On Wikipedia: Hobson-Jobson
Digital Dictionary – Hobson-Jobson: A glossary of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases, and of kindred terms, etymological, historical, geographical and discursive.
Digital Book at archive.org:

The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

sorrow
The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows is a compendium of made-up words written by John Koenig. Each original definition aims to fill a hole in the language, to give a name to an emotion we all feel but don’t have a word for.

Videos

Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Sonder


sonder /SAHN-der/
n. the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

Keta


keta /KAY-tah/
n. an image that inexplicably leaps back into your mind from the distant past.

Dialect Survey Maps

Dialect Survey Maps
Test your American dialect down to your hometown
Based on your responses, the map at right shows the overlap between your speech and the various dialects of American English, as measured by data from the Harvard Dialect Survey, conducted by Bert Vaux and Scott Golder. Try it here.

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