Tag Archives: translation

DRONGO language festival 2017 Two days all about language

I love to meet other language lovers so language festivals are great. Unfortunately I came across Drongofest too late last time so I want to make sure you don’t miss out too. so over the them….

This year the DRONGO language festival has assembled a two day programme full of fun sessions, interesting lectures, challenging labs and topical debate.

Like one of the keynote sessions: Artificially Intelligent Language

For dozens of years, we have been laughing at ‘the computer’ for its poor language skills. Computer voices were ugly, monotonous and difficult to understand. Because it went wrong so often, voice recognition was mainly amusing. In the end it wasn’t even funny anymore, the translation engines delivered such crippled sentences.

All this is beginning to change, among other things because the computer has learned to learn. On all forms of language skills, the computer is making spectacular progress. Take for instance Watson, the IBM computer, which beat the best human players in the extreme difficult quiz Jeopardy by understanding and interpreting the questions and most of the time, offering the correct answers in spoken form. Also think of chatbots taking over the communication with customers and making a lot of support staff redundant. Furthermore, free apps are helping tourists looking up words, understanding texts and even making conversation in countries of which they do not know the language. And Ronald Giphart, a Dutch bestseller author, is even trying to produce literature in cooperation with a robot.

What is possible nowadays, and what not yet? Do support staff, interpreters, translators and even authors have to fear for their income? What forms of machine language proficiency do we actually need ? This DRONGO session will try to find the answers. Technology journalist Herbert Blankesteijn will be interviewing questioning guests working in science, industry and the government. Gadget expert Boris Boonzajer Flaes will do the introduction with a couple of amazing examples of machines and apps with language skills.

Curious? There is more to do, see and learn on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 September. Check out www.drongotalenfestival.nl

Use Bidvine to find a singing teacher

I was asked by Bidvine to have a look at their site, so here goes.

As one who sings regularly I realise I need to protect my voice. I’ve sung for a long time but had very limited professional training. I’ve been thinking about getting some singing lessons for a while, so this brought the perfect opportunity.

My first reaction was surprise at the range of services available on Bidvine,

They have:

Writing, translation and transcription

Business

Photography

Repair and technical support

Personal

Legal

I was gobsmacked by the range of services on offer: from Pokemon Go training to personal chefs, from bodyguard services to songwriting, from Cantonese translation to software development. Anyway, I was actually looking for singing lessons. I sing a lot, in classes, at home and professionally. I’m aware that I need to look after my voice, and I’ve been meaning to book some singing lessons for a very long time.

I went though to this page https://www.bidvine.com/singing-lessons
As I was looking for singing lessons, there was a form to fill out about my current musical skills, past training, styles of music I like to sing, etc. It seemed a really comprehensive list, so my teacher would be fully informed before the lesson and we could get going almost as soon as the first lesson started.

As soon as I had submitted my reply, there was an e mail in my inbox to acknowledge it all.

The process was really simple and straightforward I found it really easy to use.

Bidvine is perfect for people who do not have time to trawl through the Yellow Pages (retro) or the Internet to find what they need.

The website itself is very clean and nice looking. It is really simple to navigate your way around.

There is even an app if you want to search on the go…

I had no idea that Bidvine existed before. I’ll definitely be using it again.

Disclaimer.

This is a sponsored post. I received payment for this post but these are my own views.

Casper’s inspiring language learning story

This week we are really lucky to hear Casper’s inspiring language learning story.

When I was a kid, I always woke up very early on Saturdays and Sundays to watch TV with my little sister. We used to watch Cartoon Network for hours! The cartoons were in English but (luckily) there were always Dutch subtitles. I honestly believe that subtitles are the main reason that most Dutch people speak English at a sufficient level. Also, when me and my sister weren’t watching English spoken TV, we would listen to English music.

When I was about 10 years old and went to elementary school, to my delight, me and my classmates were introduced to English class. Another great way of learning English!

In high school we were also taught English. Furthermore, we could choose between French and German – I picked German because it is similar to Dutch. Easier to learn, I thought… I thought wrong! German is a difficult language to learn, but so is French… If only we could choose between French, German and Spanish!

In 2016, I completed my bachelor course ‘International Business & Languages.
The program consisted of a number of marketing-related subjects and three languages: English, Spanish and German. A very broad study program which, in my opinion, is not a bad thing at all. I learned a lot about many different aspects of marketing and languages.


I spoke English and German before I started the 4 year bachelor study, and I learned Spanish in these 4 years. It was a very intensive program; I spent 7 months in Spain to improve my Spanish and three months in Australia to use my English. I also have a Spanish friend who lives in Germany (very convenient in order to maintain both languages!)

Many people, including myself, think it is an absolute must to maintain your language skills by practicing. If you master a language, and want to keep it that way, you should keep practicing. You can do so without traveling; listen to the radio, watch TV with subtitles, write your ideas down in another language and, most importantly, interact with people in the desired language!

I personally learned a lot in class, the basic knowledge for example. But it’s when I actually had conversations with people who were native speakers of Spanish, German or English, that I started to apply my previously learned knowledge and really picked up the language skills.


Fun things when learning a language:

You automatically develop an accent – there is nothing you can do about this. I spent seven months in Zaragoza, and when I speak Spanish with a Spaniard, they often tell me I speak with the accent of a “Zaragozano”.

Also, I found out that, when you’re not a native speaker of a language, you will never reach the same level as a native speaker; even if you really want to. Think of expressions and proverbs. In Dutch, which is my mother tongue, it is very difficult for non-native speakers to use the correct preposition. I know some people who have lived in the Netherlands for over 40 years, their Dutch is nearly perfect, but even they sometimes use the wrong preposition.

Not too long ago, in February 2017, I launched “Your International”.
A small translation company with experienced translators all over the world. What makes the company unique is the fixed fee of € 0.07 per word. Also, when we feel like it, we translate documents as an exchange service. A while ago we translated a promotional text from Dutch to English and Spanish: in exchange, we received two bottles of wine… Delicious wine, I should say! We’re always interested in new assignments, whether as an exchange service or as a paid service. Head over to www.yourinternational.com or find us on social media!

https://www.facebook.com/YOURlNTERNATIONAL/

https://twitter.com/yrinternational/

Want to share your language learning story? Get in touch in the comments below.

My big fat Greek adventure

Greek inscription on an exhibit at the British Museum

This week we have a guest blog from Maik my hubby so here goes, his big fat Greek adventure.

Well, or it may also have been “Greek – An unexpected journey”. But let’s start right at the beginning. The beginning in this case was a family visit to the British Museum at the beginning of 2016. As a family we’re incredibly lucky to live near London, which means a day trip to amazing places such as the British Museum is no problem for us. Among the breathtaking range of artefacts from around the world and different eras, my personal favourites have always been the ones from Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and it was in Room 78 containing classical inscriptions from the 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD that it all began. Being a polyglot family, of course my children expected Dad (me) to be able to understand each and every inscription – dads know everything of course! While I didn’t have too many problems with Latin (thanks to five years if learning it in school and a recent refresher with uTalk), I didn’t really know where to start with Greek. I decided then, that Greek would be one of the languages I wanted to learn this year.

Fast forward a few weeks into May to the Polyglot Gathering in Berlin.I had not yet made any firm plans for learning Greek, as I had been working on Esperanto. However, as luck would have it the first talk I attended at the Gathering was about Greek, with the lovely Lilia Mouma from Mango Languages giving a talk on Greek history and language ranging from the Ancient to the Modern. This was also when I found out two more important bits of information: First, that the Polyglot Conference later in the year would take place in Thessaloniki, Greece; and second that Mango Languages where running a competition to learn Greek (the modern variety) for 20 weeks learning with their app and weekly 1:1 tutoring. Well, I entered the competition, and a short while later found an email in my inbox informing me that I had won! OK, so language learning resources for Greek were sorted.

I have to admit that Greek has been one of the more difficult languages for me. Learning the alphabet took a week or two, but internalising it well enough to be able to read semi-fluently or even write took many more weeks. However, it has been an immensely rewarding experience. What I liked most about the approach taken by Mango Languages was that it was quite different to my normal approach. For one thing, at least in the app, grammar is not explicitly taught, everything is taught in the context of a conversation. Secondly, sentences are spoken at full speed by native speakers rather than the slowed down conversations I have come to expect. Yes, this makes things more difficult to begin with, but with invaluable once I actually got to Greece as (unsurprisingly) real Greeks don’t exactly speak slowly! Of course, having the weekly support from top notch online tutor Vasiliki Baskos helped as well. Although my focus was on Modern Greek, as I had been given access to all of Mango’s language courses, my inquisitive nature led me to sneak a peek at their offering of Ancient and Koine Greek as well. I was pleasantly surprised that they use authentic texts from the very first lesson – the Iliad and the Greek New Testament respectively. I may well end up subscribing once I lose my free access. The range and quality of resources are a language lover’s dream come true … I was able practice my Greek at a restaurant in Germany.

The white tower at Thessaloniki

So,moving forward in my big fat Greek adventure, how well did it work? When I finally arrived in Greece for the Polyglot Conference at the end of October, I managed a basic conversation with the taxi driver who took me to the hotel, I ordered food at the restaurant in Greek and I bought bus tickets, water bottles etc. etc. in Greek. Road and shop signs actually made sense to me, adding to the sense of achievement. It was a special treat to be able to meet Lilia (again) and Vasiliki, my online tutor, in person for the first time. I absolutely loved Thessaloniki, and being able to speak and understand Greek definitely helped at lot. I must go back with the family sometime!

So how did my My big fat Greek adventure end? Coming full circle, back to the British Museum. Despite the Greek language having changed a lot from ancient to modern time, the alphabet has remained the same across thousands of years. So when our family returned to the British Museum for the spectacular exhibition “Sunken cities – Egypt’s lost worlds”, or course I just had to pay another visit to the Ancient Greek galleries. Given that inscriptions tend to contain a lot of names (Alexandros = Alexander the Great for instance), I could now work out a lot of what was written, and the children were suitably impressed. Result!

Are you planning to learn a new language in the new year? Let us know in the comments below.

Song translating fun.

Savez-vous-planter-les-chouxThe songs we use in our classes are a mix of those familiar English nursery rhymes and songs like Incy Wincy spider and traditional songs in the target language to help the families appreciate that culture. We have a few French songs I’d love to use but we’ve not yet got English translations that can be sung to the same tune to help introduce the song. We’re also starting working on our French CD so it all becomes a bit more urgent!

We were sat round the table having Sunday tea and I asked my family for ideas. This is how it went…

The first song was Mernier tu dors

Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop vite. (roll arms)
Meunier, tu dors, (mime sleeping)
Ton moulin, va trop fort
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms faster)
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin (roll arms backwards)
Va trop fort.
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop vite
Ton moulin, ton moulin
Va trop fort.

My eight year old started and after five minutes we had this translation which can be sung and keeps the feel of the song.

Miller, wake up
The wind it is blowing
Miller, wake up.
The wind it is strong.

Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill, your windmill,
is too strong.
Your windmill, your windmill,
It is too fast.
Your windmill your windmill,
is too strong.

It you don’t know the song here is a live version we recorded last year.

This second song, I’ve wanted to use for ages. It has a fun tune, is silly and is a great way to learn body parts. It must be fairly old as my mum learned it at school!

Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode, à la mode
Savez-vous planter les choux
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec les pieds
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le genou
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le genou
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le nez
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le nez
À la mode de chez nous

On les plante avec le coude
À la mode, à la mode
On les plante avec le coude
À la mode de chez nous

The google translate of this is hilarious !

“Do you plant cabbage
Fashionable, trendy
Do you plant cabbage
The way we do it at home”

After a few minutes we came up with.

Cabbage planting is such fun
Like we do it, like we do it.
Cabbage planting is such fun,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our feet,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our knee,
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our nose,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our nose
Like we do it, come along.

We can plant it with our elbow,
Like we do it, like we do it.
We can plant it with our elbow
Like we do it, come along.

Next term’s French class we’ll be reading “la petit poule rousse” The little red hen. We’ll finally we using this song.

I need to find a cabbage prop! Any ideas where?

Do you use songs in your language learning? Do you have fun translating them. Let me know in the comments below.