Have you ever thought where words such as ‘booze’ originated from? No? It’s not surprising as many actually think that words such as ‘booze’ are typical British words and therefore originated from there. Astonishingly, this happens in a number of cases due to thousands of decades of languages becoming merged together.
Marmalade, royalty, bungalow are also considered to be typical English words when in fact these just like most other common words do not belong to us at all.
The English language originally derived from German dialects though there are many other individual languages where English has borrowed words from and added to its vocabulary. For example zombie and vampire – ever-popular characters in English-speaking films have roots in West Africa and Hungary.
John Worne, director of strategy at the British Council, said that examining the roots of these words can offer an insight into our history. ‘Many of our most popular and evocative English words – words we couldn’t live without – came from other countries and cultures,’ he said. ‘When we look at their roots, we get a fascinating insight into how the language has been influenced throughout its history. English is not just “our” language – it truly belongs to the whole world, and brings real benefits to anyone who can speak it. 
So how did loanwords become a fixture in the English language? In fact it’s all down to myths. Myths that have been told for years upon years make it seem as if these loanwords originated from a particular country due to the story behind it. For example an urban myth implied that the word bungalow was invented when a builder was told to ‘bung a low roof’ on a house after running out of bricks. However, it actually originated in the Bengal region of India.
Here are a few words which are listed in the English language but are in fact loan words derived from other languages across the world:
1. Dollar (German)
2. Booze (Dutch)
3. Bungalow (Hindi or Bengali)
4. Tomato (Aztec Nahuatl – Mexico)
5. Zombie (West African via the Caribbean)
6. Vampire (Hungarian)
7. Parka (Russian)
8. Shampoo (Hindi)
9. Magazine (Arabic)
10. Avatar (Sanskrit).
Have you come across any words that are similar to your native language whilst learning another language?
Chinese New Year was celebrated globally on Sunday 10th February – introducing the year of the snake. Across the world, from New York to Beijing and London the world brought in the New Year with various and diverse celebrations including fireworks, lion dances in the streets, and worship in temples. Chinese New Year consists of 15 days of feasting, within this period gifts are given, special ceremonies are held, families and friends are reunited along with many wishes of prosperity. As far as the celebrations are concerned for Chinese New Year – the louder, the better!
The year of the snake comes around every 12 years in the Chinese zodiac – 1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, and again in 2013. According to the snake zodiac sign, people that were born in the year of the snake are thoughtful and wise when faced with problems therefore thinking rationally and logically. However the snake sign is not the most welcomed sign out of the Chinese zodiac due to its aggressive and poisonous reputation.
So, what are your plans in the year of the snake? With more than 2,541 pupils in the UK  sitting Mandarin exams, will you also become one of the many (and still growing in numbers) to take up Chinese Mandarin this year? Let us know!
“Gung Hay Fat Choy” from all at Euro London Appointments!
“Best wishes and congratulations. Have a prosperous and good year”
Learning a new language is a thrilling experience, but after vigorously studying a language for a matter of either weeks or even months the novelty can abruptly wear off. Therefore, here at Euro London we thought we’d have a bit of fun when it comes to language and the art of learning. So take a break and have some fun with us by tongue twisting!
For those of you that don’t know what a tongue twister is; it’s a phrase that is designed to be difficult to articulate properly, and can be used as a type of spoken or sung word game. Right, so we’ll begin with a few short tongue twisters and progress onto the challenging ones later on (if you dare).
Remember to keep repeating it and as fast as you can: go, go go!
‘She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.’
‘Red Lorry, yellow lorry’
‘Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled pepper?
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper,
Where’s the peck of pickled pepper Peter Piper picked?’
‘How much wood would a woodchuck chuck
If a woodchuck would chuck wood?
A woodchuck would chuck all the wood he could chuck
If a woodchuck would chuck wood.’
So, how did you do? Do you know any tongue twisters in another language? If so please do share them with us, we’d love to have a go at some foreign tongue twisters in our offices.
With over 7,000 languages in the world, communicating can sometimes be more than a struggle. The typical and also sometimes comical thing for two people that do not speak the same language is usually to speak louder and slower. However, have you ever stopped to consider the different types of non verbal communicative ways that are universally known? Some of these include gestures, signs and symbols (such as hazard warnings, fire exit signs, no smoking signs and many more) all of which are equally useful.
Gestures are universal and can help us communicate our emotions and expressions in the same way we are able to via speaking. These can be expressed via facial expressions, body movement and body language allowing people from different cultures and different speaking countries to (usually) understand one another. Gestures can be a beautiful tool to help two people from different speaking backgrounds to communicate. William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted writers of inspirational maxims once said – “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness” – something so simple acts as a communicative tool.
However just because gestures and expressions can be understood worldwide it doesn’t particularly mean that is the meaning behind the gesture – it simply depends on cultural understanding. For example a gesture which was started in the time of the second world war – the Victory “V” gesture, that by an interesting twist of semantic fate, has been co-opted by the peace movement and is widely known as the “peace sign.”. All over Europe the Allies and their supporters adopted the victory sign; this was shown by making a fist and raising the index and middle finger with the palm either facing forwards or backwards. While the position of the palm made no difference in most of Europe, it made a big difference in the UK as making a V with the palm facing backwards is a serious insult equal to sticking up one’s middle finger. 
The example above illustrates how easily a gesture can be misunderstood – something which is considered to be a nice gesture in one country can mean the complete opposite in another. So why risk getting lost in translation due to a different culturally known gesture? Why not learn a new language as a means of communication? Now obviously every language in the world cannot be learnt by one human, but knowing more than one language is a step towards a better understanding between two people.
In 2011 there had been a rise in mobile phone subscribers with a staggering 87%  of the worlds population being mobile subscribed. It could be argued that our language is a suffering victim due to mobiles and the slang they create. If this is true, what are the consequences for the future generations of the world?
According to research figures show that, 95% of 18-24-year-olds own a mobile phone and 97% of them text on a daily basis. Last year alone 8 trillion text messages were sent. Simon Fraser, a University linguist is trying to determine whether these texts are in any shape or form ruining our language. As well as French professor Christian Guilbault collecting more than 7,500 texts messages from several provinces as part of his Text4Science study to also determine this hypothesis.
One study suggests that texting, in relation to the effect it has on our language, is not as bad as we may have thought. Abbreviations are being used just as equally as the real thing for example; “u r” / “you are”, “please” / “pls”, and “thank you” / “thx”.  On the other hand, another study suggests that people who text often are less likely to accept new words than people who read more traditional print media. The theory behind this is that traditional print media exposes people to a variety and creativity in language that is not found in colloquial peer to peer texts.
Research concluded that texting would not have a lasting impact on the spelling and grammar with the younger generations. Many may argue that the way we text depends on whom we are speaking to, just as face to face conversation is altered. So although there are a number of abbreviated words such as ‘OMG’ and ‘LOL’, it in general lays no bearing on how people would write. Academic writing will not be tainted by this as people realise that there is different context. It is a must to realise that language is evolving over time and if this wasn’t the case we would all be speaking just like Shakespeare.
Do you think texting has altered our language in any way (negative or positive)?
Bad spelling – the cause of feverish frustration for some and immense hilarity for others. Whether it be on posters or menus, food labels or road signs; spelling mistakes can be found everywhere – just take a look at these examples found throughout the UK.
However, in a recent BBC article it was the impact of misspelling on internet businesses that took the focus. Charles Duncombe, the online entrepreneur, found that dodgy spelling had the power to reduce online sales by a massive 50% – wiping out both website credibility and customer trust.
With the need for international businesses to reach out to a global audience, a multilingual online presence has become increasingly necessary. This is in line with research that shows consumers spend more time on websites that are in their own native language.
However with the introduction of multilingual websites, the scope for mistranslation has also soared – pathing the way for inaccurate accents and grammatical gaffes. A rather amusing example highlighted in a recent article, saw Braniff Airlines offering Spanish customers the chance to ‘fly naked’ with their airline rather than on their leather seats!
In light of research conducted into the impact of misspelling on website sales, it is therefore more important than ever to recruit individuals that have an accurate grasp of the relevant foreign language to provide good quality translation. It again reinforces why languages are such a valuable commodity within a global business and why Euro London’s clients are constantly seeking multilingual candidates.
This article will be part of a series of blogs focusing on language graduate employment.
Here at Euro London, we often encounter students who are unaware of the career opportunities available to language graduates – with many perceiving translation or teaching as the only options to utilise their language skill. We aim to dispell this myth!
Although a career in translation is a viable option for many multilingual individuals, it only represents a small minority of the employment opportunities available. We deal with companies that want multilingual individuals for a diverse range of sectors, recruiting professionals with languages into banking, office support, igaming, HR, marketing, sales, IT and customer service – proof that languages are a valuable commodity within a wide range of careers!
While a language will not always be advertised as essential to a role, it can be advantageous to an employer. In particular, languages provide an important means of communication to businesses with overseas clients. Within international businesses it is also increasingly expected to trade in the buyer’s language, therefore fueling the need for those with language skills.
So whether you wish to to be in HR or PR, an accountant or an actuary, your language may have a niche value. Taking a look at these broader options will enlighten you to the alternative career choices that your language degree could hold!
Don’t forget to check out next week’s blog for ways that you can add value to your language degree…
We spend a lot of time spreading the message that there are a wide range of jobs you can do with languages – anything from a football analyst to a games tester – and that linguists don’t have to choose either teaching or translation as a career path. However should you want a career in interpretation, it’s a great place to be.
I recently found an article about the interpretation industry which I thought was really interesting. Here are some key facts it points out about the industry:
- Under the Human Rights Act of 1998, law courts now have an obligation to provide interpreters for people involved in a case who cannot understand or speak the language being used.
- In the UK, Her Majesty’s Courts Service pays interpreters a minimum of £85 a day, rising to at least £110 a day for weekends or public holidays. An interpreter can charge more if the language they speak is less common.
- For simultaneous interpreting – where the interpreter translates the words as the speaker is talking – it can rise to as much as £550.
- The NHS also has obligations to offer equal access to healthcare for non-English speakers under legislation including the European Race Directive and the Human Rights Act, allowing translators to save lives.
- The languages currently most in demand are Urdu, spoken by people from Pakistan, Pashtu (Afghanistan), Punjabi (India), French and Polish.
To read the rest of the article click here.
Phones seem to be able to anything these days. Calls are just the beginning – now we can surf the web, listen to music and play games on our handsets too. But those technology pioneers over at Google are preparing the next big thing when it comes to phones: translation. It is building software to translate languages almost instantly – your very own translation machine.
Google are building the software from a combination of automatic translation and voice recognition technology, and aim to have a basic version ready within the next two years. Will it work? That remains to be seen. The existing online translation tools are handy if you want a rough translation, but can’t be relied on for accurate interpreting – as I’m sure many of us have experienced before! The question is: if the people at Google do pull it off, will it spell the end of language learning?
Personally, I don’t think so. First of all, even if you did have a tool like this to enable you to communicate in another language, what about the cultural knowledge of the country that is so crucial? What about the use of slang? What if your machine breaks?! There really isn’t a substitute for learning another language, and although this would be a great tool to help you out, I don’t think it will replace the old fashioned way.
We know how valuable language skills are to the workforce and the economy, but it seems like there’s even more evidence now to show that there’s a high price tag attached to the lack of language skills across the English speaking world.
A new report shows that a shortage of translators in Ireland, capable of translating documents into Irish, has cost the government there over €1.5 million since 2007. The department of education was the biggest spender, with the department of social and family affairs also spending significant amounts.
This means that not only are the UK and Ireland both losing out on valuable contracts through the lack of language skills in their workforces (as we reported recently) but this skill shortage is actually costing us a lot of money too. This comes as another report states that around a fifth of UK primary schools could miss a target to offer languages by 2010. Without this pipeline of talent, the situation is going to get even worse.