Articles for Languages/Linguistic curiosities

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 ...

“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 ...

Dilemmas translators face with Romance languages, where every adjective betrays more information than in English

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Daniel Hahn is a writer, editor and translator, as well as founder, in 2017, of the TA First Translation Prize, awarded annually for a debut literary translation and shared equally between writer and translator. In a recent entry for his ...

Sci-fi is a fertile breeding ground for neologisms: some have entered everyday language and even scientific jargon

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Many words we consider everyday vocabulary like "spacesuit”, “blast off”, “deep space”, “zero gravity” and “alien” have their roots in science fiction, and not in science, as one might think. The word "robot" was first used to denote a fictional ...

The “Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows”, a project to give names to our most profound emotions

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village The name of the “Sonder café”, recently opened in Cape Town, South Africa, takes its inspiration from one of the neologisms listed in the "Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows". “Sonder” means “the realisation that each random passerby is living a life ...

Children’s classics in translation can contribute to nurturing threatened languages and bringing dormant ones back to life

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village A growing movement of language activists, cultural stakeholders, and scholars across the world is seeking new ways to preserve endangered languages and bring dormant ones back to life, through everything from digital dictionaries and apps, to cultural events such as ...

Translations of low-resource languages can now be monetized and contribute to language survival

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Adéṣínà Ayẹni is a Nigerian Yorùbá language and culture advocate, anthropological researcher and translator. Yorùbá is a language spoken in West Africa, mostly in the South-West, by ethnic Yorùbá people. Despite having an estimated 45-55 m speakers, it is still ...

In defence of jargon – it might be annoying but it also has its uses, including for status compensation

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Jargon is, by definition, “exclusionary” and can get in the way of understanding crucial information, says Andre Spice, Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of London, writing for The Conversation. Research has shown that when used by doctors it ...

Tokarczuk’s translated works have opened up life changing opportunities for her and helped boost Polish literature

by Pisana Ferrari – cApStAn Ambassador to the Global Village Jennifer Croft is best known for being one of the English translators of Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk. It is thanks to Croft’s English translation of the novel Flights that Tokarczuk made her international breakthrough, first with the  International Man Booker ...