Interpreting in the news

A miscellaneous selection of news on language trends and events from around the world.

Photo credits: Newspaper Press Run End © alswart (fotolia)

This month we track the news behind our lead article and follow up on some of our favorite topics from past issues. Check out some faces on the web, learn Globish, find out what Nushu is and what it looks like, discover what will be coming to your television screen in 2005…it’s all just a click away.

Universal Forum of Cultures

This was a huge event, as you know or are about to know through Danielle Grée’s article. It was also a novel idea: a major international happening organised around culture and ideas, and by a city (Barcelona), not a country. The forum website will provide you with more background. You can learn about how the idea was born through a video presentation, check out books and magazines in the library, or view plans for the next edition in Monterrey, Mexico.

The Whisperers

A year ago we reported on a documentary to be made about interpreters – The Whisperers. Now we have been informed that the film is done and will premier on ARTE television on 25 Feb 2005.

Disappearing Languages

The late Kenneth Hale, MIT Professor of Linguistics, once said, “When you lose a language, you lose a culture, intellectual wealth, a work of art. It's like dropping a bomb on a museum, the Louvre.” As we saw in our last issue, languages are dying and few seem to notice.

A recent India Times article quotes David Crystal, linguist and researcher of the English language, as saying, “Linguistic diversity preserves the mental health of the planet, and every time a language dies, we lose a vision of the world. To be left with one or two languages would spell intellectual disaster."

Nushu, probably the world's only female-specific language, has lost its most capable speaker. Chinese linguists say Yang Huanyi was the last woman to possess a genuine knowledge of a 400-year-old tradition in which women shared their innermost feelings with female friends in a way incomprehensible to men. Read this China Daily article for further information and a glimpse at Nushu calligraphy.

Evolving Languages

“It's a sair fecht fan yer nichts are disappearin'and yer lochs are in danger o' becomin' locks.” If you want to know more about what that is or means, you’ll have to go to The Herald.

“Larpers and Shroomers: The Language Report” charts the creation of new words in English over the past 100 years. Did you know that the term “generation X” was first used in 1952? Or “wonderbra” dates back to 1947? Chick CBC Art News to find out more.

Devolving Language?

“L'objet de ce site et du livre dont il découle, décomplexera tous ceux qui peinent à parler le bel anglais d'Oxford - ou de Mickey. Pour communiquer partout dans le monde, il est préférable de se contenter d'une langue simple et d'autant plus efficace: Le globish.”

Globish is based on 1,500 English words used in a simplified fashion to assure good communication. But don’t believe me; go to the site and see what Jean-Paul Nerrière himself has to say or go directly here to compare American English and Globish.

Picture and name!

Not many interpreters get their photograph published in a national paper, at least not with their name attached. But AIIC member Yuko Matsuoka is different. She is also the translator and publisher of the Harry Potter books in Japan, and Japan Today just had to report on her.

Arabic in translation

“It is probably fair to say that the average well-educated American or Briton has never read any Arabic literature in translation. If pushed to name an Arab writer, they might - after some head-scratching - come up with Naguib Mahfouz, the Egyptian Nobel winner, or Kahlil Gibran, the Lebanese mystic.” Brian Whitaker talks about why that is in this Guardian article.

Silence is Golden?

Apparently not in the conference room, according to Alex Duval in his article Guardian Europe Finds itself Lost for Words. “Europe's ability to speak with one voice suffered a new setback last week after politicians attending debates at the European Parliament found long silences in their headsets. They were told that officials had failed to recruit enough interpreters to enable the enlarged EU to understand itself.”

Body Language

This account of the importance of body language in the US presidential debates basically says that seeing is believing… or disbelieving. We’ll be having more on this subject in our January issue.

A Quick Lesson in Gujarati?

If you are about to take a trip and want to know how to say “please” or ask for a single room with bath in some 80 languages, visit It might be advantageous to know how to count to ten. Audio files are available so that you can hear the pronunciation.

Recommended citation format:
Luigi LUCCARELLI. "Interpreting in the news". October 25, 2004. Accessed July 11, 2020. <>.

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