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For years, English-speaking visitors to Beijing could enjoy taking their chances with dishes such as Wood Moustache Meat or Red Burned Lion Head. But now the city’s government is making dining out a little more boring, by producing an official book of translated dishes. They’ve translated 3000 traditional food items into English to reduce confusion.
The great thing about web marketing is you can get people all over the world talking about your brand. But this can also be a problem – if you’re not sure what they’re saying!
They’re the building blocks of language, and are constantly being invented in every living language. Last year, around 400 new words were added to the Concise Oxford English Dictionary. And that’s not to count old words that take on new meanings, such as “follower” and “tweet”.
It might be overshadowed by Mardi Gras and Carnival celebrations this year, but today is International Mother Language Day. Founded by UNESCO, it’s a day to celebrate the roughly 7000 different world languages, and promote the benefits of multilingualism.
Machine translation might seem like a new phenomenon, but it’s actually 58 years old this month. Researchers at IBM and Georgetown University began developing an automated Russian to English translator in 1954, with operators laboriously punching messages onto cards.
Like many simple questions, this is one with no easy answer. For one thing, it’ll depend whether it’s a complex technical report, a novel, or just an email in another language.
Could a lack of translation be bad for your health? That’s the theory of a team of researchers who will be studying the link between local language translation and social and health issues in Africa. They believe that a lack of information in multiple languages can leave people feeling powerless and unable to participate fully in society.
At first glance, you might think the internet is reducing language diversity. English and Chinese are dominant, with 80 per cent of online communication in just 10 languages.