Austin Area Translators & Interpreters Association

English evolving toward global language?

Photo by Mauricio AlejoChinese efforts to provide signage in English as the 2008 Olympic Games approach inspired Wired Magazine writer Michael Erard to speculate about the future of English as a global language.

The expected “Chinglish” translation boners are cited, but the author also looks at some of the ways English is being changed in different ways in different parts of the globe, similarly to the way Latin and Arabic splintered into a number of locally-influenced dialects.

Thanks to globalization, the Allied victories in World War II, and American leadership in science and technology, English has become so successful across the world that it’s escaping the boundaries of what we think it should be. In part, this is because there are fewer of us: By 2020, native speakers will make up only 15 percent of the estimated 2 billion people who will be using or learning the language. Already, most conversations in English are between nonnative speakers who use it as a lingua franca.

English is “mingling with so many more local languages than Latin ever did, that it’s on a path toward a global tongue—what’s coming to be known as Panglish.”

  • Filed under: diversions
  • Castro grammar workshop a great success

    Xosé Castro [right] leads grammar workshop Spanish translator, writer and editor Xosé Castro played to a sold-out house at last Saturday’s workshop. As Marta Blumenthal writes in her review (below), who would have thought that a six-hour workshop on grammar could have been so witty and so thoroughly entertaining? Marta was the driving force behind this workshop and its main organizer. On behalf of all of us who had the pleasure of participating in the workshop: ¡Gracias, Marta!

    Castro serves up grammar feast:
    a review by Marta Blumenthal

    Who would’ve thunk that a six-hour grammar workshop could be useful and enjoyable at the same time? Spiced with humor and wit, the “English-Spanish Contrastive Grammar Workshop” taught by Xosé Castro was a toothsome grammar feast.

    On April 5th, fifty-one eager-to-learn translators from the four corners of Texas and beyond met at the International Center of Austin, the new AATIA office site, for the first workshop at this venue.

    Sponsored by AATIA’s Spanish Special Interest Group (SpanSIG), the workshop covered translation from Romance languages, sociologic issues, market trends, neologisms, politically correct language, and symmetry between source text and translation: how to produce the same understanding, reaction and emotion conveyed in the original text.

    Xosé encouraged the participants to practice the healthy exercise of re-thinking in Spanish to achieve natural-sounding translations. Ask yourself, he suggested, “How would my mother say it?”

    Drawing from real life examples, Xosé covered lexicon, idiomatic expressions, syntactic structures, spelling, and taboos. He reminded participants to be aware of false cognates; to translate concepts, not words; and, in some cases, just to translate (terms such as “display,” for example, which translators of computer documentation and ad copy may tend to leave in English, assuming that everyone will understand what a display is).

    Xosé has been a freelance translator since 1989. He resides in Madrid and works with clients who translate for Spanish-speakers in the US and Latin America, as well as Spain. This experience has afforded him the opportunity to grapple with the linguistic challenges that confront many of us every day in our work

    Participants left eager to continue exploring the topics discussed during the day and willing to come back to more workshops.

    AATIA members are encouraged to communicate with Laura Vlasman, AATIA Workshop Coordinator, or Maurine McLean, AATIA Director of Professional Development, if they have suggestions for future workshop topics and presenters.

  • Filed under: learning, SIGs
  • Forvo: All the words in the world, pronounced

    forvo Forvo is a site where you´ll find words pronounced in their original languages. Ask for that word or name, and another user will pronounce it for you. At this time Forvo boasts of "2.609 words 2.516 pronunciations,  177 languages."

    Caveat: since dialects vary widely, and any user may submit a recording, you may not get a "standard" pronunciation.

    Grammar workshop filling fast

    Only a few places remain in the English-Spanish contrastive grammar workshop, to be presented by Xosé Castro on April 5th. If you’ve been intending to register, but haven’t done so, don’t delay! Contact Laura Vlasman to find out whether there is still room in the workshop.

  • Filed under: learning, SIGs
  • The Yellow Beetle: a localization story

    Localization is a crucial element in the process of translation because it involves the precise understanding of meaning. This is obviously a factor when communicating a message from one language to another. But it also comes into play within languages, for example from one region to another. As in this story about a chance encounter.


  • Filed under: diversions
  • Chinese Color Etymologies

    chinese-yellowThe character etymologies and modern associations for the Chinese words for six common colors that are associative compounds are discussed in a recent COLOURLovers article.

    90% of modern Chinese characters are phono-semantic compounds: they are part semantic (a portion of the character, called a radical, provides the general meaning) and part phonetic (the other portion of the character tells you how it is pronounced). The characters for red, green, blue, and purple in Chinese are phono-semantic (all bearing the radical for silk, ?), but a few color characters are associative compounds: two or more ideographic elements combined to create another meaning.

  • Filed under: diversions
  • Register now for Xosé Castro workshop

    ATA-certified translators may earn 6 continuing education points for the Xosé Castro contrastive grammar workshop, which is scheduled for April 5.

    The registration form and flyer for are now available. Space is limited, so register today!

  • Filed under: learning
  • A helpful word

    Have you ever asked yourself: “If I can postpone something why can’t I prepone it?”

    Well, you definitely can. It’s just that sometimes we are not aware of the word. Prepone is an everyday word in India, where meetings, elections, weddings, movie releases, exams, court cases, and more are preponed all the time:

    prepone (pree-PON) verb tr.
    To reschedule an event to an earlier time.
    [Modeled after the word postpone, from Latin pre- (before) + ponere (to put).]

    This item was published by Those interested in words might like to visit this site and sign up for their word-a-day.

    AATIA is one of the nation’s leading resources and advocates for the translation and interpretation community. Our mission: to serve AATIA members through education, networking, and promotion of translation and interpretation professions.

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