Articles for Languages/Linguistic curiosities

French government bans inclusive writing in schools but accepts other changes that feminize language

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village In the French language, all pronouns, nouns and adjectives carry the gender of the object or person they refer to. In English, the discussion around “gender neutral” language focuses on pronouns (“they”), in Romance languages such as French it is ...

The new Head of the UNICODE Emoji Subcommittee is advocating for more diverse and inclusive emoji

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village American artist, designer and art director Jennifer Daniel is the first woman to chair the Emoji Subcommittee for the Unicode Consortium, the official gate-keeper for new emoji. Today most of our online communication is typed: emails, text messages, Facebook, Twitter ...

Dainas, four-line Latvian poems created over 1,000 years ago, are getting a new major English translation

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Like haikus in Japan, Latvia has its own poetic form, dainas, four-line poems that are either sung or recited. The origin of dainas, which have historically been transmitted orally from generation to generation, is still uncertain. The first dainas were ...

Today, more than 90% of the indexed articles in the natural sciences are published in English. That wasn’t always the case

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village For centuries science has been a polyglot enterprise, conducted in a number of languages whose importance waxed and waned in popularity over time, depending on politics, war, economics, and institutions, says Michael D. Gordin, Professor of History of Science at ...

Making the case for semicolons, the saddest, most unfairly represented victim of the current regime of punctuation austerity

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village In a delightful recent article for the New York Times American writer Lauren Oyler describes her love of punctuation, which, she laments, “despite its unflagging service to the essential project of communication, is often subject to pointless regimes of austerity”. ...

“International Francophonie Day” celebrations include the launch of a revolutionary new French dictionary

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village A new online dictionary launched on International Francophonie Day, March 20, 2021, includes French expressions from all the countries where the language is spoken. Promoted by the French government, the dictionary reflects not only the language’s evolution but also the ...

Diversity, equity and inclusion may be the real issues at stake in the debate around the Amanda Gorman translation

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village “One of the more unexpected twists of an unprecedented year is that the little-known business of literary translation has become a source of public controversy”. This is how the Los Angeles Times comments the heated debate around the translation of ...

Romance languages are rooted in a binary vision of the world: this poses challenges for educators seeking to create a more inclusive environment in the classroom

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village In languages like Spanish, French and Italian people, objects, adjectives, and articles are either male or female. In English, the discussion around “gender neutral” language focuses on pronouns; in Romance languages it is more complicated, says poet, translator and academic ...

A new wave of exophonic writers with a migration background is reshaping and enriching the language of their country of adoption

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village The term “exophony”, which is the practice of writing in a language that is not one’s own, is quite recent. It was introduced to cultural and literary circles in 2007 by linguists Prof. Dr. Susan Arndt, Dr. Dirk Naguschewski and ...