"There is more to life than increasing its speed."Gandhi
Chad W. Post has compiled a list of the top twenty books in translation for Publishers Weekly. And, as the director of Open Letter Books, which specializes in great books in translation, and the person behind Three Percent, an online resource for international literature, it's safe to assume that he knows of which he writes!
This week, Verbal Ink is giving back to the American Red Cross as they respond to Typhoon Haiyan. The global Red Cross network is responding to emergency needs in the Philippines with food, water, and relief supplies, and the American Red Cross is lending people, expertise and equipment to this massive effort.
Here's a pretty funny article from The Guardian's Stuart Heritage, in which he suggests that it might be possible that Google Translate is to blame for the decline in specialized modern language courses at British universities. We doubt that this is actually the case, but that didn't keep us from heartily laughing at some of Heritage's reasons why Google Translate will never be a substitute for truly learning a second language. Here are some of our favorites:
John McWhorter presents a very interesting TED talk on fantasy constructed languages -- a/k/a conlangs -- such as Klingon, Elvish, Dothraki, and Na'vi. Even though these languages are "made up," they contain all of the complexities of actual languages.
This week, Verbal Ink is supporting the American Cancer Society - thanks to our friend Dave P. for the great suggestion! For nearly 100 years, the American Cancer Society has worked relentlessly to save lives and create a world with less cancer and more birthdays. Together with millions of its supporters worldwide, ACS is helping people stay well, helping people get well, finding cures, and fighting back against cancer.
A recent Slate article reports on the boorish behaviors of the language bully - that irritating person that uses their advanced language knowledge to embarrass others. It's a fascinating explanation of why some people are compelled to provide persnickety corrections of arcane grammar rules.
This week, thanks to a recommendation from our client Yael W., we're supporting The Nature Conservancy. The Nature Conservancy is the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since its founding in 1951, the Conservancy has protected more than 119 million acres of land and 5,000 miles of rivers worldwide.
You know how most government forms and letters seem specifically engineered to drive you batty with jargon, contradictions, and nightmarishly bureaucratic legalese? Turns out that's not just an American problem -- and even language experts find these things very difficult to understand.
34 minutes. That's how long it takes to earn enough to buy a single Big Mac when working at the U.S. minimum wage. Strategists at ConvergEx Group compared fifteen different countries using the Big Mac index -- which sounds like a joke, but was actually devised by The Economist in 1986 as a simple way to compare currencies.
Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a great essay for The Atlantic, "Or Perhaps You Are Too Stupid to Learn French." Much as we'd like to, we're not going to repost the entire thing here, but he raises a fantastic point: One of the greatest obstacles to learning a new language is our own fear.
The Miller Center at the University of Virginia is using audio transcription in a very cool way. Their Presidential Recordings Program works to make historical recordings more accessible to scholars, teachers, and the general public. What kind of historical recordings? Funny you should ask.
Gizmodo - by way of Doghouse Diaries, who originally compiled the list - brings us a list of old sayings that have been updated to reflect today's modern age. No longer will you have to explain why a straw might have broken a camel's back, or why somebody might have earned a cigar for being better-than-close. These creaky old idioms have been translated into high-tech Webspeak, and here are some of the results:
Time to document another Google Translate fail! Univision reports that, up until a couple of weeks ago, Google Translate was incorrectly translating the Spanish term for "undocumented" as "illegal immigrant." In doing so, the accuracy and fairness of numerous news reports were compromised.
As you know, this month we're looking at what it means to identify our fears and then be open to taking small steps to conquer those fears. With this in mind, we think Business Insider's article on the possibility of curing fear is fascinating -- even though such a cure might take the fun (or growth, or value) out of our own work here.
This week, we're supporting Defenders of Wildlife - thanks to our friend Leigh B. for the great suggestion! Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. Founded in 1947, Defenders of Wildlife is a major national conservation organization focused solely on wildlife and habitat conservation and the safeguarding of biodiversity.
OK, let's nip this in the bud. There are all sorts of common phrases that often end up being said incorrectly. Dominique Jackson at Lifehack has compiled 25 great examples. We're not going to give you all of them -- we wouldn't want Mr. Jackson to exact revenge on us! -- but here are three of our favorites...
Publishers Weekly reports that the National Endowment for the Arts will provide $250,000 in grants to sixteen U.S.-based translators this year. The grants will cover translation projects involving poetry, novels, short stories, plays, and creative nonfiction. In total, thirteen different languages, including Arabic, German, French, and Turkish, will be translated into English. Here are a few of the lucky - and talented! - grant recipients:
This week, we're supporting Illuminate India - thanks to our friend Jonah W. for the excellent suggestion! Illuminate India exists to advocate for and help impoverished children in India. By efficiently providing basic needs and therapeutic and supportive resources, Illuminate India helps improve existing circumstances for orphans, vulnerable children, and children with special needs.
Thanks to Gretchen Rubin at PsychCentral for reminding us that it's been too long since we last read The Breakfast of Champions! Her post of Kurt Vonnegut's rules for creative writing highlight what an endearing and ultimately kind writer Vonnegut was. We're not going to post all of the rules, but here's a quick sample for you:
So, remember last month's Verbal Ink Awesome Mustache Competition? We received a ton of fantastic entries from clients and transcriptionists alike! After a grueling deliberation period, the Verbal Ink judges have selected these two images as the winners of this year's contest:
This week, we're supporting the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) - a tip of the hat to Gerard L. for the excellent suggestion. The first humane society to be established in North America, the ASPCA was founded by Henry Bergh in 1866 on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans, and must be protected under the law.
The New York Times reports that a new language, Warlpiri rampaku, or Light Warlpiri, has been discovered in a remote village in northern Australia. The language, discovered by Carmel O'Shannessy, a linguist at the University of Michign, is spoken by about 350 people in the remote village of Lajamanu.
Here's another case -- actually, a federal case -- where it's blindingly obvious that accurate Spanish translations are required: Miranda warnings. The Oregonian reports that the conviction of a Spanish-speaking defendant was overturned after finding that translated Miranda warning that he received "failed to reasonably convey his rights."
We're all about catching typos here at Verbal Ink - how else would our transcriptionists maintain a 98% or better accuracy level? Here's another reason why we always run spell check and check everything twice: typos can be very expensive. Mental Floss has compiled a list of ten very expensive typos. Here are some of our favorites:
Learning a new language? You might consider trading in those Berlitz tapes for karaoke tapes. The Telegraph reports that singing may make it easier to learn a new language. Specifically, listening to words that are sung, and then singing them back, takes advantage of the deep links between music and memory.
This week, we're supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare - thanks to our friend Nicholas R. for the excellent suggestion! Founded in 1969, the International Fund for Animal Welfare saves individual animals, animal populations, and habitats all over the world. With projects in more than 40 countries, IFAW provides hands-on assistance to animals in need, whether it's dogs and cats, wildlife and livestock, or rescuing animals in the wake of disasters. IFAW also advocates saving populations from cruelty and depletion.
Parents of surly adolescents, rejoice! The Week has published a linguistic guide that deciphers common teenage grunts and groans. No more will you need to wonder whether that "duhhhhh" is using a diphthong or if that voiceless velar affricate is a sigh of sarcastic sass. Check it out:
About Cypress Consulting: Cypress Consulting helps IT companies enhance marketing programs by writing compelling deployment success stories and product collateral. Initially focused, on case studies, the firm's marketing services now include solution messaging, content planning, product whitepapers, and demonstration videos.
This week, we're supporting the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network - thanks to our friend Heather O. for the great suggestion! The Pancreatic Cancer Network is a nationwide network of people dedicated to working together to advance research, support patients, and create hope for those affected by pancreatic cancer.
As you know, we're exploring our third pillar, "Make everything easier and more fun," during the month of July. David Pogue's TED talk, 10 Top Time-Saving Tech Tips, is a perfect example of how to make the technology that surrounds us just a little bit simpler and more useful. Enjoy!
This week, we're supporting Seattle's Sojourner Place - thanks to our friend Chelsea W. for the excellent idea! Sojourner Place is a refuge for women who are committed to working on the causes of their homelessness. It offers respect, compassion, and support for these women as they transition into self-determined independence.
We're continuing to explore Verbal Ink's core values, affectionately known as our "six pillars." We try to practice the pillars in our company culture as we seek to learn and grow, both as a team and on a personal level. For the month of July, we're having a great time with our third pillar: Make everything easier and more fun.
This week, we're supporting Chicago Wilderness - thanks to our friend Catherine G. for the excellent suggestion! Chicago Wilderness is a regional alliance that connects people and nature. More than 250 organizations work together to restore local nature and improve the overall quality of life, by protecting nearly 370,000 acres of lands and waters.
This week, we're supporting the American Lung Association - thanks to our friend Howard S. for the excellent suggestion! The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease through education, advocacy, and research.
This week, we're supporting PAWS Chicago - thanks to our friend Alan D. for the excellent suggestion! PAWS Chicago is the city's largest no-kill humane organization, focused on solutions to end the killing of homeless pets. Since its founding in 1997, the number of homeless dogs and cats killed annually has dropped by more than 50 percent.
During the next several months, we’re exploring Verbal Ink’s core values, affectionately known as our “six pillars.” We try to practice the pillars in our company culture as we seek to learn and grow, both personally and as a team. This month, we’re looking at the idea of what it means to forgive ourselves and others. While forgiveness isn’t typical water cooler conversation, it’s one of life’s fundamental tenets.
It doesn't seem as though it should be possible to think without language - in fact, thinking about thinking without language feels as though it's tying our brains into knots. However, a recent article in The Week suggests that sophisticated thinking is occurring, even before language has been learned.
This week, we're supporting the Harlem Children's Zone Project - thanks to our friend Sarah B. for the excellent idea! Harlem Children's Zone is a community-based organization serving over 17,000 children living in a 100-city-block area in Harlem, NYC. Its programs support each child from before birth all the way through college.
Our challenge for this week: Is it actually possible to unplug from our smartphones, our computers, and – dare we say it! – even Facebook and Twitter? This challenge is different from the others that we've featured this month, in that we won’t be attempting it at work. We tried, but we couldn't figure out a way to turn off our PCs and still take care of all of our wonderful customers.
This week, we're supporting Portland's DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital - thanks to our friend Shevonne S. for the excellent suggestion! DoveLewis is the Pacific Northwest's only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and ICU animal hospital. On average, they treat over 12,000 animals each year.
Our challenge for the week of May 20th: Can we find better focus through a ten minute walk? Leo Babauta’s excellent book Focus suggests the idea of a refocusing ritual - a small break in the everyday routine that can be used to shake away distractions and re-energize for the next project. One idea is a short walk to clear the head, enjoy the fresh air, and get the blood circulating.
The Telegraph reports that a new phonetic writing system has been developed by a trilingual investment banker. Jaber George Jabbour launched the Spell As You Pronounce Universal, or SaypYu, project last year, as an attempt to make the irregularities of the English language at least somewhat less bewildering for a new English speaker.
This week, we're supporting The Gentle Barn - thanks to our friend Benjamin G. for the wonderful suggestion! Founded in 1999, The Gentle Barn is a six acre ranch in Santa Clarita, California that heals and rehabilitates abused farm animals, then invites at-risk youth and vistiors with emotional and physical challenges to bond with them.
This week, we're supporting Autism Speaks - thanks to our friend Felicia M. for the great suggestion! Founded in 2005, Autism Speaks has grown into the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, dedicated to funding research into the causes, prevention, treatments, and a cure for autism; increasing awareness of autism spectrum disorders; and advocating for the needs of individuals with autism and their families.
...and folderol, codswallop, and flapdoodle too! We loved Louie Castoria's recent article in the Half Moon Bay Review that suggests that "the poverty of modern English comes about through homogenization." In other words, we've settled too often for the lowest common denominator when being descriptive, instead of reaching for more unique terms or phrases.
What is true growth? Growth is a process that ultimately results in us becoming that which we always knew we were, but doubted we might ever become. It feels both familiar, yet scary all at the same time. It is the process of releasing the old and being open to the new.
First, a disclaimer: We're not actually offering to proofread or copyedit any potential bank robbers' stick-em-up notes. Of course not. We're just pointing out that, no matter what profession you might be in, proofreading and editing services can really come in handy. So, with that out of the way...
This week, thanks to a great tip from our friend Chuck B., we're supporting Ohio City Writers (OCW). OCW is a Cleveland-based non-profit creative writing center that helps elementary and high school students hone their writing skills. Ohio City Writers builds alliances with members of the local writing, journalism, arts, and music communities so that students may benefit from the guidance of accomplished and passionate writers.
WorkAwesome recently put together this list of six simple proofreading hacks and we thought it was worth sharing! We're not sure that we agree that proofreading is boring -- some of us here at Verbal Ink really enjoy it! -- but we definitely agree that it's an essential part of writing.
Linguist Geoff Nunberg recently took a look at the words we use to describe tragic events. Two words - "horrific" and "surreal" - stood out. Why have these two words become the go-to terms for newscasters and eyewitnesses? Why do they carry more weight than similar words like "scary" or "horrible?"
Moist. Nougat. Cornucopia. It's not a pile of Milky Ways in the rain a la 'Macarthur Park.' Instead, these are just some of the words that can trigger the phenomenon known as word aversion. What's word aversion? Per Slate, it's a strong reaction triggered by the sound, sight, or thought of certain words.
This week, Verbal Ink is supporting Meals on Wheels - thanks to our good friend Peggy W. for the excellent suggestion! The Meals on Wheels Association of America (MOWAA) is the oldest and largest national organization composed of and representing local, community-based senior nutrition programs in all 50 states.
John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University, makes the bold claim in this TED talk that texting shorthand is something new and special. In fact, he goes so far as to claim that it's a new form of speech, which is "actually a miraculous thing." ORLY?
A recent article in Forbes discussed a study that Grammarly conducted on one hundred native English speakers' LinkedIn profiles. Each person in the study had worked for no more than three employers during the first decade of their career. Half had been promoted to director level or higher during that time period, and half had not. The results are quite interesting:
This week, we're supporting Colorado's Mental Health Partners - thanks to our friend Sarah for the great suggestion! Mental Health Partners began in 1962 as a clinic, received non-profit status in 1964, and was federally designated as a comprehensive community mental health center in 1971.
We'll admit that Google Translate can be useful for simple, literal translations that don't require much in the way of parsing meaning or context. Turns out that spammers find it to be a useful tool, too! CRN reports that spammers are using Google Translate to hide links and avoid triggering spam filters.
Oh sure, everybody knows that you can use transcription to capture class lectures, make sense of market research, and earn great search results for podcasts and video presentations. Aspiring filmmaker,s take note: Transcription can also be a useful tool to capture all of the brainstorming and storytelling that takes place when creating a movie. See, for example, Raiders of the Lost Ark.
The Huffington Post recently compiled a great list of reasons why every American should learn Spanish. We're inclined to agree - after all, Spanish is the second most spoken language in the U.S. Plus, from a purely selfish perspective, it would make it easier for us to find more amazing Spanish language transcriptionists to add to our team.
This is one of our all-time favorite news items from America's finest news source, The Onion. Perhaps we should have waited to post this one until April 1st, but we did think it was pretty funny that some of what follows doesn't look too much different from some of the computer-based translation results that we've seen...
Full disclosure: None of us at Verbal Ink are true oenophiles - sure, we can appreciate how a good glass of wine complements the flavors in a meal, but we'd be hard pressed to describe the overtones of musk, vanilla, and tobacco, or the hibiscus notes in an otherwise oaky cabernet. Trying to accurately describe wine is a difficult task in English, so we can empathize with the connoisseurs that are attempting to describe it to a Chinese populace that doesn't recognize many of the fruits used as adjectives.
This week, we're supporting the National Kidney Foundation - thanks to our friend Heather T. for the excellent idea! The National Kidney Foundation, a major voluntary nonprofit health organization, is dedicated to preventing kidney and urinary tract diseases, improving the health and well-being of individuals and families affected by kidney disease, and increasing the availability of all organs for transplantation.
This week, we're supporting the World Wildlife Fund - thanks to our friend RuAnn K. for the great suggestion! The world's leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by 1.2 million members in the United States and close to 5 million globally. WWF's unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.
We'd always assumed that the Eskimo language didn't actually have fifty words for snow - that it was a cutesy bit of folkloric hokum, long since debunked (specifically, by GK Pullum's The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax essay). Turns out that it may actually be true!
Per a recent article in The Telegraph, some languages are much easier to learn than others. There are two reasons for this: first, English is linked to many other European Germanic languages; second, the English language has absorbed thousands of words that originally came from Latin or French.
In honor of Valentine's Day, here's how to say "I love you" in one hundred different languages. Whether you're single, in a relationship, or "it's complicated," there's one thing we can agree on: the green conversation hearts are totally disgusting!
This week, Verbal Ink is supporting TreePeople - thanks to Douglas F. for the excellent suggestion! TreePeople is an environmental nonprofit that unites the power of trees, people, and nature-based solutions to grow a sustainable future for Los Angeles. Simply put, their work is about helping nature heal our cities.
Short Circuit's Johnny 5 notwithstanding, computers can't yet use or understand slang terms. Fortune magazine recently spoke with Eric Brown, the research scientist that works as the "trainer" for the Watson supercomputer. As you may recall, Watson won a million dollars on Jeopardy back in 2011, handily beating his human competitors.
This week, we're supporting UNCF (United Negro College Fund) - thanks to our friend Joan B. for the great suggestion! UNCF is the nation's largest and most effective minority education organization. They provide operating funds for 38 member historically black colleges and universities, scholarships and internships for students at about 900 institutions, and faculty and administrative professional training.
OK, this is incredible. A team of genetic scientists has stored audio information in synthetic DNA, in hopes of finding a feasible solution to longterm data management. Along with a text file containing all 154 of Shakespeare's sonnets, a PDF of Watson and Crick's 1953 paper describing the structure of DNA, and a color JPEG, the researchers stored an MP3 containing a 26 second excerpt of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech as actual DNA.
The Commission Générale de Terminologie et de Néologie strikes again! The French government office, which works to keep the French language from being watered down with - quelle horreur! - English terms, has banned Twitter's hashtag. Their replacement? A new term, "mot-dièse," which literally translates to "sharp word."
Here's an excellent translation fail - Harvard geneticist George M. Church was quoted in the UK's Daily Mail as looking for an "adventurous woman" to serve as a surrogate mother for a "cloned cave baby." That sounds mighty adventurous, indeed... but Church never actually said anything of the sort!
This may be the only time that Verbal Ink endorses the use of poor grammar - New Scientist reports that new research suggests that using incorrect grammar in one's passwords may actually make those passwords more difficult to guess. Per the article, a new password-cracking algorithm developed at Carnegie Mellon University was able to solve long passwords which, as a phrase, make grammatical sense.
This week, we're supporting Oxfam America's efforts to create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and injustice - thanks to Rich L. for the excellent suggestion! An international relief and development organization that works with individuals and local groups in 94 countries, Oxfam saves lives, helps people overcome poverty, and fights for social justice.
The Utne Reader just published a fantastic article on crowdsourced microtasking (e.g., Amazon Mechanical Turk) and the many ways that this new type of outsourcing devalues workers. New to microtasking? Here's the quick explanation: Small, repeatable tasks are posted online and outsourced to anonymous workers. The workers complete the tasks at their home computers and are then paid a few pennies for each finished job.
Design student Pei-Ying Lin has created a fascinating project, The Unspeakableness. The project, which investigates the essence of human emotions, aims to serve as "...a stepping stone to discover mysterious qualities of the unspeakableness between human emotions and communications." The part of the project that we're most interested in is The Untranslatable Words Database.
Climate change is having a negative impact on various species and places; bull trout, sea turtles, and grizzly bears are threatened by global warming. One unexpected result of climate change: losing language. One geologist suggests that the ancient Sumerian language may have been killed off by a 200-year-long drought.
There are 23 officially recognized languages in Europe, more than sixty indigenous regional languages, and many more non-indigenous lanaguages that may be spoken by non-native communities. So it stands to reason that almost all Europeans must be able to speak more than one language, right?
Mathematicians at the University of Vermont have discovered that English is an optimistically biased language. When assistant professor Chris Danforth and colleagues began their experiments to evaluate the emotional significance of English words, their assumption was that the majority of words would be neutral, with an equally-weighted number of positive and negative valences.
Or, more specifically, how different languages represent laughter in blog posts, emails, and instant messages. This article from The Atlantic highlights the words and numbers that various cultures use to express laughter on the Internet. To be clear, this isn't a look at of the formal translations of the word laughter (e.g., risotadas, rire, or risata). Instead, we're learning about the informal equivalents of American LOLs, lulz, and hahahahas.
A Montreal-based ice cream parlor has received repeated threatening visits from official language inspectors. The inspectors are, and we promise this is not a joke, concerned about the use of English words like "sprinkles" and "brownies" on the menu. Before we dish up this story, we should explain the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF).
New York City is home to around 800 different languages, making it a linguist's delight. New research suggests that it's also one of the best places to find the last speakers of some of the most endangered languages. Anthropologist and linguist Mark Turin, Program Director of the Yale Himalaya Initiative, has the full story.
This week, Verbal Ink is giving back to The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) - thanks to our friend Tamra A. for the suggestion! UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children's lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
Here's one of the stranger stories from the Wall Street Journal: The Cyrillic alphabet contains two letters, e and ë. The dots over the letter - technically known as diacritics, or umlauts à la Mötley Crüe - have separate pronunciations (yo versus ye); they also have a fascinating backstory. See, the letter ë was invented in the late 1700s to reflect colloquial pronunciation - sort of the lesser, or vulgar, version of the letter e.
When we write about audio transcription, it's usually in the context of transcribing MP3s or cassettes into Word documents. For John Barstow, audio transcription was a little bit different - because none of those things existed. Barstow was a schoolboy who copied a patriotic tune between the pages of his math exercise book in 1777. The math book is stored at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American Histoy; the tune, titled "The Amaricans Challings" (i.e., "The Americans' Challenges"), is bloody and brash.
We've known for a while now that Google's free translation service is... well, you get what you pay for, right? In a fairly serious example of this axiom having real-world consequences, the Copenhagen Post reports that Copenhagen police have admitted to wrongly confronting a Kurdish man accused of financing terrorism with a text message that had been improperly translated by Google Translate.
Way back in 2002, UBS World Report presented a statistical summary that showed that the Bible had been translated into at least 392 different languages or dialects. One of the most recent translations to arrive is that of the Jamiacan Patois New Testament. First proposed by English teacher Faith Linton in the late 1950s, the Bible Society of the West Indies has just published print and audio versions of Di Jamiekan Nyuu Testiment.
Have you ever thought that the dictionary would be better if it was missing a few words? Maybe wanted to trim out a couple of phrases that you really don't like? Apparently, you're not alone - the dictionary world has been rocked by linguist Sarah Ogilvie's claims that Robert Burchfield, the late editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, expunged words from the OED.
This week, we're supporting South Park Inn's work to help the homeless population of Hartford, CT - thanks to Amy L. for the great suggestion! South Park Inn provides temporary and long-term housing, supportive services, and solutions advocacy for the homeless, and helps nearly 1,500 people every year.
Happy Translation Tuesday! We're pleased to report that 1,000 year old jokes that have been translated from Arabic to English are still kind of funny. Emily Selove, of the University of Manchester, recently translated an 11th century book written by al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, a revered Muslim scholar. Somewhat surprisingly, the book turned out to be a satirical guide that explains how to crash parties.
This week, we're supporting Washington Trails Association (WTA), the voice for hikers in Washington state - thanks to Katie D. for the great suggestion! WTA's mission is to preserve, enhance, and promote hiking opportunities in Washington state through collaboration, education, advocacy, and volunteer trail maintenance.
New research from the Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna, reveals that a 22-year-old male Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) born and raised in captivity, spending intensive amounts of time exposed to human speech from trainers, veterinarians, guides, and tourists, seems to have been imitating Korean speech sounds for eight years.
A couple of months ago, we posted about Australian neuroscientists that are working to translate emotions into music. Now, researchers in China are using electroencephalography (EEG) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in tandem to translate the brain's electrical impulses into music.
Our transcriptionists hear all sorts of accents during the course of a normal work week - everything from Californian dudespeak to Jamaican patois. Now, researchers from Queen Mary University of London have discovered that humans aren't the only mammals to have regional accents.
When it came time for the team of lexicographers at Oxford University Press USA to pick the word of the year, the choice was obvious: It had to be GIF, the verb. Other contenders included "Higgs Boson," "superstorm," "Super PAC," and "YOLO."
Researchers at the University of Chicago have completed a 37-year project to compile a Demotic Egyptian to English translation dictionary. What's Demotic Egyptian? The common language of Egyptians from about 500 B.C. to A.D. 500. Demotic was used in everyday Egyptian documents and letters, said Janet Johnson, a University of Chicago Egyptologist. The researchers compiled the words in the dictionary from Demotic on stone carvings, papyrus and broken fragments of pottery.
It doesn't look like this is still an active competition, but a few years ago, the Ultimate Typing Championship was held to "identify and award the fastest typers around." The winner, Sean Wrona, earned $2,000 and was crowned Ultimate Typing Champion.
This week, Verbal Ink is giving back to Venice Family Clinic - a tip of the hat to Daryn E. for this week's suggestion. Founded in 1970 by Phillip Rossman, MD, and co-founder Mayer B. Davidson, MD, it has grown from a small storefront operation into the largest free clinic in the country, with eight sites in Venice, Santa Monica, Mar Vista, and Culver City.
It's Election Day, so we're taking a brief reprieve from Translation Tuesdays to ponder this very important question: Do astronauts floating around in zero-gravity still get a say in the country's future? It turns out they do. For several years now, adventurers aboard the International Space Station (ISS) have been able to cast their votes via encrypted email.
This month, the American Literary Translators Association held its annual meeting. The topic? "The Translation of Humor, or, the Humor of Translation." Jascha Hoffman covered the event for the New York Times in Me Translate Funny One Day as the translators mulled over comedic tone, laughed about deliberately skewed translations, and debated whether it's really possible to translate a joke.
The New York Times reports that an economist for the US Treasury recently found a historical, and previously unknown, treasure: a transcript of the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that set the foundations of the modern international monetary system. Kurt Schuler, a Treasury Department economist, was browsing uncataloged material in the Treasury's library when he found the document, which has been described as "the economists' equivalent of a Bob Dylan fan finding unknown lyrics."
The Wall Street Journal recently posted a great article detailing the difficulties of creating translations of film dialogue for subtitles. The author, Anthony Paletta, captures a key point about all forms of translation: Even the simplest line requires finesse and understanding of the original language and of English. Another quote from the article that make it clear why machine translation isn't a good option for anything beyond very simple projects:
The Engineer Online reports that technology that translates sign language into text is being developed by scientists at Aberdeen University. The software application is claimed to be the first of its kind in the world, and will theoretically bridge the gap between sign language and other forms of communication. When completed, the Portable Sign Language Translator (PSLT) will work as an app on laptops and smartphones, harnessing those devices' cameras to convert visual cues into text. Very interesting!
Musician and composer Clotilde Arias, an immigrant from Peru living in New York City, won a competition that was sponsored by the State Department and the Music Educators National Conference. The competition asked musicians to create an original Spanish translation of the national anthem that could be sent to U.S. embassies in Latin America and shared with Latin American embassies in Washington. For her efforts, Arias received a contract that paid her $150. The fascinating full story can be read here: Washington Post: Smithsonian Features Spanish Translation of National Anthem.
Another fascinating use for transcription - the Ur Digitization Project is attempting to transcribe thousands of documents related to the excavations of the ancient city of Ur. The excavations, which took place in the 1920s and '30s, were a joint expedition of the University of Pennsylvania Museum and the British Museum, under the auspices of the the Iraqi Department of Antiquities. Documents to be transcribed include field notes, letters, sketches, and reports. The project is funded by the Leon Levy Foundation and conducted by the original excavating museums in Philadelphia and London.
In an attempt to woo the 64,000 Hmong-Americans in the Minneapolis-St.Paul area, McDonald's recently posted Hmong language billboards advertising their breakfast offerings. Unfortunately, the translation was missing a few spaces, turning the original statement into a confusing puzzle for both English and Hmong speakers. The billboards have since been corrected, with a better translation that more accurately reflects the intent of the original pitch. Thanks to TwinCities.com for the original article!
No, New Zealand isn't actually going to "welcome the opportunity to cooperate with the US in the next conflicts." But, that's what an incorrect transcript of a conversation between New Zealand Prime Minister John Key and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton suggested. The actual phrase in question? "...[W]elcome the opportunity to cooperate further, in that context..." The US State Department has since corrected the error, which it blamed on heavy wind noise. Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't point out that Verbal Ink's team of awesome transcriptionists can tackle even the poorest audio recordings and heaviest accents! Read more about the Clinton press conference transcription errors in the New Zealand Herald online.
Verbal Ink offers translation services for over twenty different languages, but we're not yet able to translate emotional impulses into music. Click here to read about the Australian neuroscientists who are!
This is interesting: The California State Assembly recently approved Senator Alex Padilla's Senate Bill 1233, which would require that all ballot initiatives and petitions be translated in all languages covered by the Federal Voting Rights Act. If approved by the Senate, translation would be required for the Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Korean, and Tagalog languages.
Here's another wonderful way that people are using transcription - preserving the Hawaiian language. Over 6,500 volunteers worked to transcribe 15,000 pages of Hawaiian language newspapers so that they could be searchable online. One of the biggest takeaways from the article is that "no computer software is precise enough to handle the Hawaiian language." Verbal Ink gently points out that no computer software is precise enough to transcribe the English language either... Click here to read the full article.
This week, Verbal Ink is supporting Community Animal Rescue & Educational Shelter (CARES) – thanks to our friends Jeff and Meghan for the suggestion!
Popular representations of scientists render them dry and humorless. They have surprised us again—rebelling against “the man” with Comic Sans font! Read more here: http://www.cbc.ca/news/yourcommunity/2012/07/do-you-use-the-comic-sans-font.html
Nearly half of the world's 7,000 languages are endangered and at risk of vanishing within the next 100 years. The team behind the Endangered Languages Project hopes to keep this from happening, by serving as a hub for language research, linguistic documents, and - hopefully - revitalization possibilities. Verbal Ink currently offers translation services for fifteen different languages, and is eagerly looking forward to supporting the remaining 6,985!
Verbal Ink is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2012 Verbal Ink Transcription Services Scholarship: Aida Villarreal-Licona from University High School in Tucson, Arizona. Aida's essay stood out for its wit, passion, and poise, and truly captured the many ways that language has added meaning to her life. With Aida's permssion, we're delighted to provide an excerpt of her scholarship essay here: