January 19th, 2010


Buscando en "gugel"

I think that not long ago, somebody asked how English sounded in another language. In the case of a lot of Spanish speakers, English looks "weird", as the one letter -> one sound rule barely applies. For quite a significant number of Spaniards, going the way around, that is, guessing how you write something you know how it "sounds" in English using Spanish rules, is quite challenging.

Of course, a lot can be said here, such as that even Spanish is confusing on the use of V/B, silent H, I/Y and the like for its speakers, spelling issues that plague the Internet. This case not only includes wrong transcriptions but also transcriptions that even don't work in Spanish, because we say "guguel" and not "gugel".

A blog publishes today a list of the least to most common Google searches on celebrities using "approximate" transcriptions of English names into Spanish. I say "approximate" because there are even some flagrant errors and it's how non-educated people write those names with this pseudo-transcription. Don't forget to read aloud in Spanish - Don't dare in English

"Españoles buscando en Gugel": http://www.luispablos.com/busquedas-en-google-humor-y-no-tanto-0

Llid Y Bledren Dymchwelyd

Television Programs in Spanish, French, German

Anyone want to share their favorite things to watch on TV in Spanish, German, and French? Crime series, game shows, reality TV, whatever ... I'm looking for stuff that's interesting and exciting, where I want to keep watching because it's enjoyable, and not just a language exercise, you know? Anything I can watch online is a bonus. I've just had it up to here with Telemundo telenovelas.
Athena of Pireus
  • fpb

Things are not always getting worse and culture is not always declining

Dante is the father of the Italian nation. No other poet in any other language has anything like his claim on the very identity and language of his country - not Cervantes, not Shakespeare, not in a million years Voltaire or Goethe or Pushkin or Tolstoy.

And that is not only because, in the view of those who can read them all, he is, purely as a writer, the greatest of them all. It is that he made the Italian language. There was no Italian vernacular before him - no language capable of coping with the heights of intellectual life and the complexities of an advanced society; the official documents of Italian states and the philosophical tracts of giants such as Anselm and Thomas Aquinas were written in Latin. There was a groping towards such a language, inspired by contemporary French and Occitan models; but nobody had really gone beyond a simple, warm-hearted daily speech, capable of love and hate poems and of the devotion of St.Francis, but not of the high intellect of Thomas or of the complexities of the lawyers. For those you needed Latin.

Dante came, seized the language of the Florentine streets, and made out of it a medium worthy of philosophy, of high artistry, of legal and scientific communication. He foreshortened in his own volumes the work of generations of writers. And he did that while never for a moment losing the peculiar quality of daily language - the main reason, I think, why he called his work a "comedy". Would any other devotional writer be capable of the salty and astringent plebeian force of: "Christ never said to His disciples gathered/ 'Go forth and preach the world any old rubbish'"? (It is even better in the original: Non disse Cristo a Suo primo convento/ "Andate e predicate al mondo ciance".) Not even GK Chesterton and CS Lewis, and not in a million years any other modern Christian writer, however good; it is more like the style of a modern American thriller.

For this reason it is good news, I would say quite extraordinarily good news, that Dante continues to be a national and even a popular concern. A recent TV reading of the hundred "songs" of the Comedy, by Academy Award winner Roberto Benigni, has drawn up to twelve million spectators per episode. (A reading, mind you; a man - even a man like Benigni, born to clown - standing in front of the camera and reading out loud. What most TV executives would regard as the epitome of bad TV.) And it may even be seen as good news that two learned bodies are at daggers drawn over the man whom Puccini called "our Great Father Dante". The ancient and prestigious Societa' Dantesca of Florence, in charge of the definitive edition of the Comedy, is in a permanent rage at the upstart Centro Pio Rajna, which is taking charge of the commented edition after publishing an epoch-making edition of the earliest commentaries. There have been injunctions and an academic meeting broken up by police. But even that may be a sign of health, because it shows life and passion in the study of a poet seven hundred years old, and yet more alive than most of us.

The 'No-Duh!" (But Possibly Useful) Post

Because I'm in the US, most of my suggestions are probably only helpful to language learners in the US~

For those of you working on developing a language, did you know that you can convert most electronics and websites and such into that language, and be faced with it on daily? If you're in the US, it's especially easy to be immersed into Spanish because half of the products on the shelves are bilingual anyways. But if you're got a Myspace, a Facebook, iPod, a messenger service, or really, whatever, just poke around until you find the language setting.

You can also go through your DVDs and look for audio tracks and subtitles in your target language - but this isn't particularly useful if you're learning something outside of Spanish, French, Portuguese, or Chinese, for the poor choices we get to play with. Even if you're not planning on becoming fluent, it's always fun to hear your favourite movie in a different way and/or learn your favourite quote in a new language.

I know this is all painfully obvious, but I also know that while some things are painfully obvious to one person, they may not be to another. And one should never assume.
from a painting

More Questions on Arabic Programs

I'm very interested in continuing my beginner-level Arabic studies and today I started taking a look at available audio courses. According to experience or word-of-mouth, would Pimsleur Eastern Arabic (Levels 1-3) or Michel Thomas Arabic (Beginner and Advanced) be better? I'm purposely leaving out the Egyptian Arabic Pimsleur course because there's only one level of it. And I saw Al-Kitaab today at the bookstore; it looks like a very decent book.

French and Creole speakers - help direct aid in Haiti

A friend of me passed me this and I hope it's suitable for this community.


Basically, it's a service set up by a Haitian mobile phone network. It allows text messages from people in Haiti to be sent to a live number to request help/report a crisis. You can help translate the messages if they're in French or Creole, and/or help pass them along. It only takes a minute or so per message, but so far I'm finding the Creole impenetrable. Worth a shot if your French is more fluent than mine, though.

EDIT: turns out Creole and French are further apart than I thought. Worth leaving this up for Creole speakers, though. If anyone can help, I'm sure the aid workers will appreciate it.

Let me know if this is inappropriate and I'll delete it.