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Category: Society/Culture

  • Apr 23, 2012
  • 05:25 PM

Next year in Hebrew

Abby Wisse Schachter / The Jewish Chronicle
Hebrew is the Jewish people’s religious language and its national language. To understand Hebrew is to be permanently linked to the Jewish past, present and future. Problem is, few American Jews know Hebrew and fewer still recognize that this ignorance is a problem.
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 06:24 PM

Ancient language controls crime rings (video)

Crystal Gutierrez / KRQE News 13
SANTA FE (KRQE) - Some gang members serving prison sentences are using an ancient language to try to keep control of their criminal organizations on the outside as corrections officers work fast to crack the code. Capt. Joe Lytle said the inmates are sending out messages written in Nahuatl, a 1,400-year-old Aztec language.
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 06:18 PM

Language students build bridges between two continents

Luo Wangshu / China Daily
Beijing Foreign Studies University was approved by the Ministry of Education in 2005 to start its Icelandic program three years later. It is still the only university in China that has such a program. Zhang Yuchong, 23, who is also studying Icelandic, said he is worried about his career prospects after graduation. "But I don't regret studying Icelandic as my major," he said. "It has opened a door for me to a unique culture, and I love it."
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 05:55 PM

Timor Leste, Tetum, Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia or English?

J. Ramos-Horta / Jakarta Post
Timorese leaders and people, though islanders, are very outward-looking, open to cultural influences, eagerly learning and absorbing the good (and bad) we see, read and hear around us. We are among the most polyglot people in the world. A very large percentage of us manage as many as three to five languages — a native language, Tetum, Indonesian, English and Portuguese.
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 05:18 PM

Saving a "dying" laguage thru song

Asian Journal
When a Pangasinense steps in another province, give him a week and he could speak the native language in the area and converse with its natives. But when a person from another land comes to Pangasinan, it would seem forever for him to study and speak the native tongue.
  • Apr 22, 2012
  • 04:43 PM

President responding to people's wishes through Trilingual SL

Disna Mudalige / Ceylon Daily News
The 10 year national plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka provides the blueprint for the first determined effort by any administration since 1987 to seriously implement the provisions for a Trilingual Sri Lanka already available in the law with the passing of the 13th amendment to the constitution, said Presidential Adviser and coordinator of the Special Presidential Initiative for a Trilingual Sri Lanka, Sunimal Fernando.
  • Apr 20, 2012
  • 05:52 PM

Belgium's German-speaking cantons ponder their position

Richard Connor / Deutsche Welle
As well as Belgium’s French and Flemish-speaking regions, a handful of municipalities speak German. But, with increasing division between Flanders and Wallonia, the eastern Cantons have been looking at their options.
  • Apr 20, 2012
  • 12:17 PM

Tanzanians debate if English is key to success

Anna Patton / Washington Times
Like the majority of Tanzanians, these students were taught in the Kiswahili language throughout seven years of primary school. But moving to secondary school means an abrupt shift to learning all subjects in English, which many educators, students and parents say affects how much learning actually takes place.
  • Apr 20, 2012
  • 12:34 AM

In the shade

Deepa Ganesh / The Hindu
“On so many occasions, when we were looking for a Tamil book, we've had to really go hunting for it. A bookstore selling regional language books in a cosmopolitan city makes a lot of sense,” says Subodh. But it's a minority that reads and speaks in their mother tongue.
  • Apr 18, 2012
  • 06:19 PM

Researcher: State English learner program is 'subtractive education' (audio)

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez / 89.3 KPCC
The default policy in California schools immerses students in English without building on what they’ve learned in their native languages. At the same time, a growing body of research underscores the benefits of speaking two or more languages early in life.
  • Apr 18, 2012
  • 05:49 PM

'No obstacle for Turkey to run in Eurovision with a Kurdish song'

Hurriyet Daily News
Artists who represent Turkey in the annual Eurovision song contest are free to compose their works in languages other than Turkish, İbrahim Şahin, director of the country’s state-owned broadcasting station TRT, said yesterday in a written statement.
  • Apr 17, 2012
  • 09:26 PM

Sweden Adopts a Gender-Neutral Pronoun

Kevin Mathews /
Swedes are shaking up their language with a new gender-neutral pronoun. The pronoun, “hen,” allows speakers and writers to refer to a person without including reference to a person’s gender. This month, the pronoun made a big leap toward mainstream usage when it was added to the country’s National Encyclopedia.
  • Apr 17, 2012
  • 09:16 PM

Mandarin becoming the second language of luxury

Mandarin is slowly becoming the second language of business, according to not one, not two, but three articles in The New York Times over the weekend. A front-page story in Sunday`s paper noted that high-end retailers have begun to employ salespeople who speak Chinese to handle the rising numbers of well-funded tourists from the People`s Republic.
  • Apr 14, 2012
  • 09:00 PM

Opinion: Anglos have seen the enemy, and it is us

Don MacPherson / The Gazette
..So, out of the idealism of the 1960s, long before Bill 101, they did what speakers of the world’s dominant language normally don’t do: they began to learn another language, and to have it taught to their children. And when others fled the first Parti Québécois government, they stayed; they bet their futures, and those of their children, on Quebec.
  • Apr 13, 2012
  • 10:40 PM

Under Threat of Extinction

Victor Ugborgu / Newswatch
In Nigeria of the three major languages of Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba, the most endangered are the last two. Newswatch investigation revealed that, despite the fact that; Igbo and Yoruba are being promoted in schools, colleges and universities, not all parents and guardians from these ethnic groups consciously make enough efforts to teach their children or wards their mother tongues at home.
  • Apr 13, 2012
  • 03:52 PM

Should Israeli Science Speak Hebrew?

Nathan Jeffay / The Forward
Israeli scholarship is widely cited the world over. But if state linguists have their way, much of that research will become a whole lot less accessible to those who don’t speak Hebrew. The Academy of the Hebrew Language is asking the Education Ministry to require universities to use less English — the language in which many graduate-level courses are taught, and in which much of Israel’s scientific research is conducted.
  • Apr 11, 2012
  • 04:48 PM

South Sudan: Is Arabic Language a Bouncing Ball About to Take Its Place Amongst Local Languages?

Emmanuel Monychol /
..It means that Arabic language, whether it is Africanized or pure still has a room in South Sudan, since South Sudanese are Sudanese, who have been influenced over the years by Arab cultural heritage, a Sudanese culture amidst other African cultures and languages in the South. Although Arabic language has been chucked out in the constitution, it still hangs over us like a bouncing ball about to fall down and takes its place.
  • Apr 11, 2012
  • 04:35 PM

Samoans challenged to use language more

Radio New Zealand
The association of Samoan language teachers says New Zealand's third most common language will keep slowly dying until it becomes more widely taught in schools. The call was made at a meeting, or fono, of about 30 experts and teachers from Samoan language organisation FAGASA in Dunedin on Wednesday.
  • Apr 11, 2012
  • 04:10 PM

Welsh-only education will damage economy, say business leaders

Rachael Misstear / WalesOnline
A row has erupted over plans to phase out teaching pupils in English at a primary school in a Welsh language stronghold. Business leaders say the move could hinder the economy. Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi is the last remaining dual language primary school in the Cardigan area, with the nearest school teaching in English more than 20 miles away in New Quay.
  • Apr 11, 2012
  • 12:41 AM

Ordinary Quebecers, not bureaucrats, are the true guardians of French

Craig McPherson / The Gazette
Do you know what I think is the best protection and promotion of French? It is the sense of camaraderie of francophone Quebecers toward their English co-workers, helping them to feel comfortable speaking French and expanding their fluency, while at the same time taking back some of the same in English.
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 10:41 PM

Ghana calls an end to tyrannical reign of the Queen's English

Afua Hirsch / The Guardian
"There has been a significant change now, away from those who think sounding English is prestigious, towards those who value being multilingual, who would never neglect our mother tongues, and who are happy to sound Ghanaian when we speak English."
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 06:03 PM

Thai language course offers Cambodian students better hopes for the future

Bangkok Post
Mrs Phumjit said the need for people who are able to speak Thai in Cambodia has been increasing with growing investment, the expansion of the country's tourism industry and closer Thai-Cambodian relations. She said this need will continue for the foreseeable future. Cambodian students with Thai language skills are still able to apply for various jobs with Thai employers in Phnom Penh and other cities in Cambodia.
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 05:38 PM

India's teachers face 'native-only' bar

Mitali Parekh / The Guardian
English is the second official language of India, bequeathed by British colonisation. And yet, Indians are not considered "native English speakers", as those competing for English language teaching jobs have found. It would be easy to label this as racism but the prejudice is a combination of ignorance and the sometimes poor reputation of the Indian education system.
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 05:18 PM

Apartheid had mercy on indigeneous languanges

It is disturbing to me at least that most political leaders speak their languages in the UN, but all Africans, bar our Arabian brothers in the North, read their prepared speeches in their colonial masters languages, this is in English, French or Portuguese.
  • Apr 10, 2012
  • 03:28 PM

Do Moroccans Speak Arabic?

Matt Schumann / Morocco Board News Service
Arabic is unique in its diglossia. This term refers to the fact that Arabs speak multiple 'Arabics', usually a 'high' variety, or the Modern Standard Arabic referred to above, and a 'low' variety, i.e. the colloquial Arabic dialects. In other words, the Arabic that is printed in books is different from the Arabic that people grow up speaking, or their mother tongues.
  • Apr 09, 2012
  • 02:50 PM

Tribes embrace native names to preserve culture

Dennis Wagner / AZ
Indigenous words denote a sense of culture, and their use reflects an evolving trend in Indian country. Still, as tribes attempt to resurrect history and instill pride through native place names, they face a gamut of political, practical and financial obstacles from Alaska to Arizona.
  • Apr 09, 2012
  • 02:36 PM

Prisoners' Interest in Learning Estonian on the Increase

Kristopher Rikken / ERR
The ministry said teaching the official language to prisoners is an important part of rehabilitation as it increases the chance of a law-abiding lifestyle in liberty. "About 700 study places are planned for Estonian at various levels. Prisoners gladly take the opportunity to take the Estonian proficiency examination in prison so that when they are released they have better possibilities of finding work," ...
  • Apr 08, 2012
  • 04:52 PM

VIista Latina: Fusion of English and Spanish along the border creates a distinct dialect

Julio Morales / Imperial Valley Press
A native of Mexicali, Jose Martinez said that if one listens intently, different varieties of Spanish can be heard spoken in the Imperial and Mexicali valleys. While regional Mexican accents are common, he also has taken note of how English language constructs have influenced the type of Spanish spoken along the border.
  • Apr 08, 2012
  • 03:03 AM

Soon, Konkani set for a tongue lashing

Gauree Malkarnekar / Times of India
PANAJI: Konkani is already beginning to feel like a stranger in its own home, statistics thrown up by the new 2010-11 nation-wide survey of the union human resource development ministry on MOI in schools have indicated.
  • Apr 08, 2012
  • 02:57 AM

Preserving Aymara language and culture on Wikipedia

Ruben Hilare-Quispe / Watching the Watchers
Among the nearly 90,000 active contributors to Wikipedia, there are many different motivations for editing. For some, it's a hobby; for others it's a mission to advance free knowledge. For Ruben Hilare-Quispe, contributing to Wikipedia is a way to promote and protect his language and culture.