Monthly Archives: November, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope you all had a delicious food-and-family-filled day yesterday and are ready to grab some bargains (or recover) today. The day after Thanksgiving is known as Black Friday – but why? It’s traditionally the start of the holiday shopping season, so why not Red Friday? Red is a much happier and(…)


Interview with a linguist

There’s constant debate about whether endangered languages are worth preserving, but it seems fairly rare that we hear directly from those who are studying languages. The Economist’s Johnson blog has asked linguist K. David Harrison seven questions about what is lost when a language dies – his answers are pretty interesting. Take a look at(…)


A European linguistic curiosity

Bivio, a village in Switzerland, is one of Europe’s great linguistic curiosities. The population numbers less than 200, but three languages and numerous dialects are spoken by the inhabitants. Switzerland has 4 official languages – Italian, German, French and Romansch – with the majority of Bivio residents speaking some variety of German. Language barriers are(…)


Palin’s word of the year

Politics? Pah! She’s got her own TV show, and now Sarah Palin has something else to add to her resume: Coiner of a word of the year. Last summer Palin posted a Twitter message including the non-word “refudiate”. Critics were quick to jump on this and ask if perhaps she meant something else. Now the(…)


Speak up!

Some people are well-rounded in their language learning. Others have problems with certain areas. I fall into the latter category. Whilst I have generally been good at reading and writing in my target language, speaking and listening come less easily to me. Part of this is shyness and part is not wanting to be wrong!(…)


Seeing opera through the ears

Opera seems quite inaccessible to the majority of us. It’s being made more accessible to one group though – the visually impaired. Vision Australia has trained a number of volunteers to describe the on-stage action so visually impaired people can enjoy the full opera experience. The first opera seen in this way was The Pirates(…)


Is dubbing helping?

It’s standard practice in some countries to dub foreign language films into the local language. In Germany some voice actors are as famous as the people whose voices they dub. Santiago Ziesmer, for example, is the German voice for SpongeBob SquarePants as well as being the official dub voice of Steve Buscemi. However, the Czech(…)


Brain evolution led to tool-making and language skills

Researchers believe that stone-age humans developed language skills around the same as tool-making skills, according to a report in the Guardian. Both activities require complex thought and it is believed the evolution of tool-making skills helped develop the brain enough to use language. From the article: Brain scans of modern stone-tool makers show that key(…)