Friday, December 22, 2006

Buon Natale nel Mondo

English Merry Christmas ; Happy Christmas
Italian buon Natale
Spanish feliz Navidad ; feliz Pascua
French joyeux Noël
German frohe Weihnachten
Russian с Рождеством
Arabic ميلاد مجيد
Chinese 圣诞快乐
Afrikaans geseënde Kersfees
Albanian gëzuar Krishtlindjet
Aragones goyoso Nadal ; goyosa Nabidá
Aymara suma navidad
Basque Eguberri on
Brazilian Portuguese feliz Natal
Bresciano bu Nedal
Breton Nedeleg Laouen
Bulgarian Честита Коледа
Byelorussian З Калядамi
Calabrese buon natali
Caló bounnez funtandal
Catalan bon Nadal
Cornish Nadelek Lowen
Croatian sretan božić
Czech veselé Vánoce
Danish glædelig Jul
Dutch prettige Kerstdagen
Esperanto feliĉan Kristnaskon
Estonian häid jõule
Finnish hyvää joulua
Flemish vrolijke Kerst
Furlan bon Nadâl
Galician bo Nadal
Greek καλά Χριστούγεννα
Hebrew חג מולד שמח
Hindi क्रिसमस मंगलमय हो
Hungarian Kellemes Karácsonyi Ünnepeket
Icelandic gleðileg jól
Indonesian hari Natal
Irish Nollaig Shona
Japanese クリスマスおめでとう
Korean 즐거운 성탄, 성탄 축하
Latin Natale hilare
Latvian priecîgus Ziemassvçtkus
Leonese Bon Nadal
Lithuanian su Šventom Kalėdom
Malagasy tratrin'ny Krismasy
Maltese il-milied it-Tajjeb
Manx Nollick Ghennal
Maasai enchipai e kirismas
Mokshan Roshtuva marxta
Mudnés bòun Nadèl
Napulitano felice natale
Norwegian god Jul
Papiamentu bon Pasku
Persian کريسمس مبارک
Polish Wesołych Świąt Bożego Narodzenia
Portuguese feliz Natal
Punjabi ਕਰਿਸਸ ਖੁਸ਼ਿਯਾੰਵਾਲਾ ਹੋਵੇ
Quechua paqariku atawsami
Rapanui here noere
Romagnolo bon Nadél
Romanian Crăciun fericit
Serbian срећан Божић
Slovak vesele Vianoce
Slovenian srečen Božič
Swahili heri kwa sikukuu ya Noeli
Swedish god Jul
Tagalog maligayang pasko
Traditional Chinese 耶誕快樂
Triestino bon Nadal ; bone feste
Turkish Mutlu Noeller
Ukrainian З Рiздвом Христовим
Valencian bon nadal
Venetian bon Nadal
Welsh Nadolig Llawen

Thursday, December 21, 2006

European Babel?

New year, new members, new languages, and more translation and interpretation. The number of official languages at the European Union will rise to 23. The newest languages are Irish, Bulgarian, and Rumanian. Translators and interpreters are being hired to meet the demand created by these new languages.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Speak Irish?

As of January 1, 2007 Irish (Gaelic) is going to be the 21st official working language of the European Union. Officials are working furiously to create enough translators and interpreters to accommodate the needs. Ireland itself is planning to become a bilingual country. The government will launch a policy with 13 key objectives for the Irish language in the near future.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tongue-Tied British?

British kids are happy to be tongue-tied. As soon as they had a chance to drop French, teenagers at a school in Manchester were very happy to do so. Only 15 out of 100 signed up for French. Interest in German was even worse and the school decided not to offer it at all. “Languages are hard," according to some British students. Of course, math is just as hard. Dropping math also as soon as they can? British adults don’t do much better at languages when compared to other Europeans. Out of the 25 European Union countries the UK only beats Hungary in the proportion of its citizens able to have a conversation in a second language. A study by the European Commission showed that 30 per cent of people in the UK were able to do this, compared to 91 per cent in the Netherlands, 88 per cent in Denmark, 62 per cent in Germany and 45 per cent in France.

And Not Tongue-Tied Tuscans

97% of students in Tuscany (the people residing in the region around Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, etc.) speak English, according to a study by the Crusca academy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tongue-Tied Italians

Only one in three Italians can speak a foreign language. More than half of the Italian population has no interest in learning a foreign language. Of those who speak a foreign language, English is the most popular (53%), followed by French (37%), German (4%), and Spanish (2.8%).

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Foreign Languages Online?

Spanish and French are the most widely available foreign languages in American high schools. Some also teach German and smaller numbers even Italian and Latin. Yet, high school students in California can take a language not offered at their high school at their local community college. Some offer them online. Allan Hancock College and San Francisco City College teach Italian online and other schools will probably follow suit. More info is available at the site of the California Virtual University.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Swiss Languages: Official and Less

Switzerland has four official languages, but some are less official than others. Romansh is a case in point. A Latin-based language spoken by a tiny minority of the Swiss population, Romansh is one of Switzerland's four national languages but it remains with little representation in the country. It receives federal support and is spoken in the southeastern canton of Graubünden but in the rest of the country few people know it. For federal administrative purposes Romansh is used alongside of German, Italian, and French in Switzerland. Materials for federal elections are available in Romansh. Speakers of Romansh also speak German as natives and sometimes prefer it to their own language for practical purposes.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Lots of People and Few Last Names?

There are only 700 last names used in China (Corriere della Sera). Chinese also use a very small number of fist names which means that confusion exists to identify people. In Shangai one out ten residents has Zhang as last name. In Shangai there are four thousand people whose names are Jie (first) Chen (last name). It’s worse in Beijing where one out five residents is named Wang (last name). The most common last name in Chinese is “li.” Italy, on the other hand , has 350 thousand different last names. Last names in Italy are based on names of people, of place, professions or nicknames. Most trace their origins to the Middle Ages. Spanish has a different situation. There aren’t very many last names and it’s often the case that the first born is given the name of the father if male and mother if she is female. Yet, Spain uses a second last name (the mother’s) in addition to the fathers (Juan García Lopez). The second last name helps identifies the person although the father’s (García) would be the one determining an alphabetized list.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

No Se Habla Español?

After a generation or two the Spanish spoken by Latino immigrants is all gone. Of course, anyone who pays attention already knows that. Now there is scientific study confirming it. The study by UC Irvine and Princeton University finds that by the third generation only 7 percent of Mexican-American grandchildren speak fluent Spanish.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Keeping Indigenous Languages Alive

Although twenty-seven American states have passed laws declaring English their official languages to shore up the “common” language, the real danger is faced by other languages. Now some efforts are being made to keep American indigenous languages alive.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Speak Chinese?

A new web site to teach Chinese was launched recently by the Chinese government. It includes audio-visual presentations, interactive exercises and advice for teachers of Mandarin Chinese (free subscription) as well as photographs and descriptions of cultural icons such as the Great Wall, kung fu actor Jackie Chan and basketball star Yao Ming. The site is part of the government efforts to supplement the network of “Confucius Institutes” around the world. According to the Chinese government officials more than 30 million people around the world are learning Chinese in 100 different countries. That of course does not match the 250 million Chinese who are learning English. Yet, as the economic power of China continues its fast rise so will the popularity of the language.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

More Soccer Notes

Togo, Togo, Togo
At the end of the first half Togo was beating South Korea (1-0). Eventually, the Togolese lost 2-1. Too bad. Togo, a former French colony became independent in 1960. It has a population of about 5 million people. The coach for the Togo team is Otto Pfister who quit his job a few days before the beginning of the World Cup. There was a dispute between the team and the Togo Federation about salaries. Eventually, Pfister came back to coach but it was not good enough. The next chance is on June 19 against Switzerland.

Fire the Coach?
A Polish fan almost had a nervous breakdown because Poland lost 2-0 to Ecuador. Zygmunt Jan Pruszynski sued Pavel Janas, the team’s coach. However, he is willing to relent if Poland beats Germany in tomorrow’s game.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Tie: A Victory
Trinidad and Tobago tied Sweden in their first World Cup game. The “upset” is a real victory for the Caribbean country.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Soccer: Politics on the Field?

You can read my article on soccer and politics in the Los Angeles Daily News.

World Cup Odds and Ends

Well, it’s soccer feast these days. Just watched the first half of USA-Czech Republic. During the break I am posting a few things of interest. Mexico won yesterday against Iran (3-1). It was a sweet victory for Mexican players particularly Oswaldo Sanchez whose father had died a few days ago. Mexicans players dedicated the victory to Sanchez’ dad. In 1966 North Korea beat Italy. Korean players went home as heroes. Now North Koreans cannot watch the World Cup because the country cannot afford the broadcast rights. Not to worry. South Korea will help them out. Diego Armando Maradona went back to Italy to play for a benefit game. Italian police confiscated two Rolex watches from Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona to pay off some of his 30m euros ($39m) in back taxes. Maradona ran up the debt when he played for Naples in 1984-1990.

Friday, June 09, 2006

No Bilingual Classes: Parents Upset

Parents of elementary school kids became upset when school officials ended the dual language program their kids were enrolled in.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Speak English and More...

The Washington post has an op-ed piece on the value of English and other languages.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

1,000 Euros for English?

The cliché of the monolingual American is very well known. Now Spaniards are apparently suffering fro the same “disease.” To redress the situation Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has decided to give young people up to 1,000 euros (680 pounds) each to study English. Although the study of English is mandatory in Spain, only 20% of Spaniards can speak the language, according to a study of the European Union. Spain is one of the “weakest” countries in the knowledge of foreign languages. “Weaker” still are English-speaking Britain and Ireland.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Voting in Español?

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales does not favor the prohibition of bilingual ballots. Many House Republicans disagree and would favor the expiration of Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act. This law requires bilingual ballots if more than 5 percent or 10,000 voting-age citizens in a county don't speak English "very well," according the US Census figures, and are fluent in another language.

When English is King

Although South Africa has 11 official languages , English is the de facto national language, way ahead of Afrikaans. One of the reasons is the power of English in the world which pushes black intellectuals to publish in Shakespeare’s tongue to reach wide audiences.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Only English in the US?

The US Senate voted 63-34 to declare English the national language. One of the requirements for undocumented immigrants to become citizens would be to learn English. Some people believe that passing this kind of legislation will send a strong signal that immigrants should learn English. I have written about this topic many times and will probably do so again in the near future. In the meanwhile you can read articles I wrote about English only in the Japan Times and at La Oferta.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Bilingualism Translates into $$$$$

An increase in pay for military personnel proficient in certain foreign languages will become effective in June. Foreign language pay will go up from $300 to $1,000 a month for active military members and to $6,000 a year for reserve and National Guard members. The idea is to increase the capability in languages of strategic importance the Pentagon.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Georgia: Toward Monolingualism?

When school budgets become tight, one of the first things to disappear is the study of foreign languages. Although languages are increasingly becoming more important as the world keeps getting smaller, schools in Georgia are going to drop the teaching of foreign languages in Atlanta schools. While the study of foreign languages in a basic subject in many industrialized countries, in the US it’s a frill which schools think it can be done away. SAD.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

More English in South Korea

In South Korea parents spend significant amounts of money to send their kids to bilingual schools (Korean and English). Parents are worried that if their kids do not learn to speak English like natives, they won’t be successful in life.Some South Korean parents are going as far as putting their kids through a frenectomy—a minor surgery which lengthens the tongue by about one millimeter. The idea is that having a longer tongue will significantly affect the kids’ pronunciation when they learn English. Now the government is planning to continue promoting English even more through legislation.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

National Anthem in Spanish and Beyond

President Bush said recently that the “The Star-Spangled Banner” should be sung in English, reacting to the recording of the anthem’s version in Spanish (Nuestro Himno). In fact, there are many translations of the anthem in diverse languages. The U.S. government gave its blessing to a different version 87 years ago. That translation of "The Star-Spangled Banner," has been available on the Library of Congress Web site for two years. Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese and Armenian, versions are also available as well as Samoan and Yiddish. Because of the heated debate about immigration, which many see as Mexican and of course Spanish-language, the singing of the anthem generated controversy. Even Bush’s statement has become controversial since the President apparently sang the anthem in Spanish as well.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Irish Pensions Info in Seven Foreign Languages

Ireland is going multicultural. The Irish government will provide pension information in seven foreign languages including Polish, Arabic, and Chinese. The information will benefit the estimated 200,000 foreign workers in Ireland.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Difficult and Easy Languages

It’s obvious that some languages are easier to learn than others. A lot depends from which language you’re beginning and which is the language you’re learning. For Americans, Romance languages and many other European languages are “easy” to learn. French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, etc. are ranked as category 1, according to the US State Department. Hungarian is placed in Category 2, along with 30 others including Russian, Greek and Thai. Arabic, Cantonese and Japanese were in Category 3, the toughest. The categories are based on how long it takes an average student at the Foreign Service Institute to reach proficiency in the language. To reach level 2+, minimal professional competency, takes about 700 hours of instruction for a category 1 languages. Category 3 takes three times as long.

Difficult and Easy Languages

It’s obvious that some languages are easier to learn than others. A lot depends from which language you’re beginning and which is the language you’re learning. For Americans, Romance languages and many other European languages are “easy” to learn. French, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, etc. are ranked as category 1, according to the US State Department. Hungarian is placed in Category 2, along with 30 others including Russian, Greek and Thai. Arabic, Cantonese and Japanese were in Category 3, the toughest. The categories are based on how long it takes an average student at the Foreign Service Institute to reach proficiency in the language. To reach level 2+, minimal professional competency, takes about 700 hours of instruction for a category 1 languages. Category 3 takes three times as long.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pope: Christ is Risen in 62 Languages

In his first Easter message, Benedict XVI addressed more than 100,000 people in St Peter’s square as well as hundreds of millions of viewers on television. The Pope repeated the angel’s pronouncement – “Christ is risen” in sixty-two languages. The Pope also called for peace in the world.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Japanese Companies Seek Trilingual Employees

Bilingual skills mean more employment opportunities in Japan if one of the two languages is English. Now some companies prefer employees with a third language, often Chinese, for promotion. Some companies encourage employees to study foreign languages online.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Arabic Language Online?

The most widely studied foreign language in American colleges and universities is Spanish. Yet, the Modern Language Association reports that the number of students studying Arabic has gone up 92.3% — to 10,584 — between 1998 and 2002. The number of colleges teaching Arabic has also increased by 48%. Since there are many dialects of Arabic it’s difficult for teachers to select the appropriate one to teach. Students need to concentrate on the area they need. Right now the Arabic dialect of Iraq (LA Times, Free Subscription) is popular but other versions are just as important.
Arabic is considered a crucial language for national security reasons . But of course, learning the language is valuable for other reasons.
Through cooperation between the University of California and Brigham Young University online classes in Arabic will be offered this fall. other schools already teach languages online. First semester Italian is available online at San Francisco City College. Allan Hancock College teaches first, second, and third semester Italian online. More information on language courses online is available at California Virtual University.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Monolingualism in Colorado?

If at first you don’t succeed, try again. In 2002 Colorado voters rejected an initiative to eliminate bilingual education from public schools. Now another group is collecting signature to attempt the same thing.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bilingual Police Needed

If you’re a police officer in Tucson, you can get a stipend with your bilingual skills. The increase in Spanish-speaking residents makes their language vital for law enforcement officers. In January, 52 officers passed a language proficiency test. A total of 114 police employees and civilian employees the bilingual stipend.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Japanese Laws Translated Into English

The Japanese government intends to translate business-related technical terms and phrases from 14 major laws and whole texts of some of these laws. The idea is to avoid problems caused by misinterpretations of laws as international commercial transactions grow. About 200 major laws will be translated into English.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Driver’s Licenses in English and Beyond

Many American states allow people to take their driver’s license tests in a variety of languages. In Alabama, a lawsuit was brought up by Pro-English, an English only group which claimed that tests in languages other than English are against the Alabama constitution. Not true said a judge. Although English ahs been declared the official languages of the state, driver’s license tests can continue in 12 other languages in addition to English. However, Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming require English language tests Alaska.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Bilingual Bush?

It’s almost a cliché that Americans are tongue-tied. President Bush wants to reverse the trend as a tool to fight terrorism. He has announced a $114 million National Security Language Initiative to expand Americans' interest in the lesser studied freign languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Farsi and Hindi. The Department of Education estimates that more than 200 million Chinese children are studying English. Only about 24,000 U.S. elementary and secondary students are studying Chinese.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Tongue-Tied American Troops?

Americans troops heading overseas may be given language training before reaching their new posts. Although details have not been finalized, the plan is to provide troops with two to four week training in key languages such as Arabic or Chinese.