29 aprile 2010


Young Unwitting Costly Kids – a dubious acronym for adult children who rely on financial support from their parents.

Writing for The Telegraph, Bryony Gordon confessed: My name is Bryony and I am a Yuckie. It’s not quite the word I wanted to use to describe myself, but there it is, the latest acronym trotted out to denote what I am: a Young Unwitting Costly Kid, sapping my baby-boomer parents of all their hard-earned savings, and probably their will to live. New research released this week has found that an incredible 93 per cent of parents contribute to the finances of their Yuckies. Previously I have been a KipperKids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings – while other members of my generation – I think that we are Generation Y, or perhaps I; one can never quite be sure – have been described as boomerang kids, returning to live at home when they really should know better.
According to a survey by a UK charity, two thirds of parents have reduced their own living costs to assist their 18–30-year-old children, and a third are going so far as to remortgage their homes. As the Telegraph noted: It is the latest evidence of how so-called Babygloomers are feeling the financial squeeze of funding both their own children and their parents.

published on: Schott's Vocab


Kids In Debt, Diligently Eroding Retirement Savings.

According to Australia’s Sunshine Coast Daily, solicitor Paul Brennan is responsible for this improbable initialism: Mr. Brennan said an increasing number of his cases involved parents wanting to ease their child’s financial strain. He has even coined a phrase to describe the trend: KIDDERS, which stands for “kids in debt, diligently eroding retirement savings.” Mr Brennan tells his clients they need to exercise some “tough love.” He said parents getting involved could compound the problem by giving creditors a new target with perceived deep pockets.
Incidentally, in 2005, the BBC reported on the trend of KIPPERS.:… the drain on finances created by grown-up children is a financial burden that exacerbates the difficulties posed by longer life expectancies.
The modern-day dilemma has spawned the term kippers, standing for “kids in parents’ pockets, eroding retirement saving.”

published on: Schott's Vocab


The increasingly blurred distinction between online play and labor. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr are pulverizing the final distinctions between work and play.

As Rob Horning noted on his blog Marginal Utility last month, “social networks are harvesting and reselling the details of our cultural cry of self, conveniently translated already by our volunteer labor into terms of brands and trademarks already on the market. "This process even has a cute neologism – playbor, which was the focus of “The Internet as Playground and Factory,” a recent academic conference in New York. “Social participation is the oil of the digital economy,” explained organizer Trebor Scholz on the conference website. “It has become increasingly difficult to distinguish between play, consumption and production, life and work, labor and non-labor.”Writing recently in Wikinomics, Naumi Haque contributed some examples:The simple idea driving the playbor discussion: What happens when we collapse the often conflicting interests of work, personal ambitions, and entertainment into a single activity? We already see examples of this happening on the Web. Consider Google’s Image Labeler, which creates a game out of the legitimate task of tagging and creating metadata for Web images. A less contentious example is Free Rice, which hosts a word game and has sponsors donate 10 grains of rice to the World Food Programme for every right answer submitted by players. Media theorist Julian Kücklich, who has written about how computer game modifiers (“modders”) contribute unpaid labor to the gaming industry, defined playbor thus: Like other forms of affective or immaterial labour, playbor is not productive in the sense of resulting in a product, but it is the process itself that generates value. The means of production are the players themselves, but insofar as they only exist within play environments by virtue of their representations, and their representations are usually owned by the providers of these environments, the players cannot be said to be fully in control of these means. Playbor is suffused with an ideology of play, which effectively masks labour as play, and disguises the process of self-expropriation as self-expression.

published on: Schott's Vocab


The acronym, which stands for ”wives and girlfriends”, has become popular during the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It has been used by the British press as a way of referring to the partners of the England national football team, but currently indicates the partners of the football players in general. The stereotype of the WAGs is that of beautiful women, always wearing expensive sunglasses and bags and whose main activity is shopping. With a similar meaning we may find the acronym HABs referred to ”husbands and boyfriends” of well-paid sportswomen, in particular tennis players.

L’acronimo, che significa ‘mogli e fidanzate’, si è diffuso durante la Coppa del Mondo di calcio del 2006 ed è stato usato dalla stampa britannica per indicare le mogli e le fidanzate dei calciatori della nazionale inglese. Attualmente, viene comunemente usato per indicare le mogli e le fidanzate di tutti i calciatori. Lo stereotipo della WAG è quello di una donna bellissima che indossa sempre occhiali da sole e borse costose e la cui principale attività è fare shopping. Con lo stesso significato possiamo trovare anche l’acronimo HABs che indica ‘mariti e fidanzati’ di sportive ben pagate, in particolare le tenniste.

published on: Englishfor

Which words make you merry?

So we know you hate 'moist' and 'stakeholder' and 'nice', but which words do you love?

Words with soft sounds such as "l", "m" and "n", and long vowels or diphthongs, reinforced by a gentle polysyllabic rhythm, are interpreted as "nicer'" than words with hard sounds such as "g" and "k", short vowels and an abrupt rhythm.

There are always two reasons why people love or hate a word. One is the meaning, the other is the sound, and it's difficult to disentangle the two. Concentrating on the sound can best be done when meaning is taken out of the equation, by comparing synonyms.

Some inveighed against clichés ("solutions'"), Americanisms ("math"), Latinate words ("defenestrate"), colloquialisms ("like", when used for, like, quoting), political correctness ("chairperson"), nouns as verbs ("critique"), irregular spellings ("inveigle") and much more. Only a minority actually focused on the phonetics, and when they did, Gratak-sounds ruled.The vast majority of the hated words were short - one or two syllables - with short vowels and hard or hissing sounds: "crotch", "sac", "fiscal", "gusset", "nappy", "gutted", "rectum", "gash", "pustule". Slightly longer hates were "obligate", "spatula", "privilege"' and "masticate". The most interesting suggestions were those where the meaning of the word was pleasant, or at least neutral, but the sound still got on someone's nerves: "kudos", "bap", "boobs", "feisty", "veggie", "kooky", "pasty", "pamphlet", "spouse'" and - ironically - "poet".The forum started off with someone hating "moist". That's an interesting one, because it begins with soft sounds and a diphthong and ends with hissing and hard sounds. I'd expect opinions to be evenly divided there - and indeed, it wasn't long before "moist" had its defenders. "Flange" was another that brought divided opinions.Did anyone restore the balance, sending in words they liked the sound of? Yes, a few: "miasma", "lilt", "eland", "bland", and the mouth-watering "oligopoly".

published on: Guardian

Twenglish Police: The self appointed Twitter Scolds

published on: NYTimes

JOHN CUSACK tweets with his iPhone and, much like the characters he plays, his style is fast and loose. “I’m pretty new to it, and if there’s a spell check on an iPhone, I can’t find it,” he said by telephone. “So I basically get in the general ballpark and tweet it.” Consequently, Mr. Cusack has birthed strange words like “breakfasy” and “hippocrite” and has given a more literary title to his new movie: “Hot Tub Tome Machine.” Most of his followers ignore the gaffes. But a vocal minority abuse him about it nonstop, telling the star that as much as they liked “The Sure Thing,” his grammar and spelling sure stink. “If you’re going to be political, maybe learn how to spell Pakistan, and all words in general,” wrote one supposed fan. “The vitriol was so intense that at first I didn’t think they were serious,” Mr. Cusack said. “Because, like, who would care?” They do. A small but vocal subculture has emerged on Twitter of grammar and taste vigilantes who spend their time policing other people’s tweets — celebrities and nobodies alike. These are people who build their own algorithms to sniff out Twitter messages that are distasteful to them — tweets with typos or flawed grammar, or written in ALLCAPS — and then send scolding notes to the offenders. They see themselves as the guardians of an emerging behavior code: Twetiquette. “It would be kind of nice if people cleaned up their grammar a little bit and typed in lowercase, and made the Internet a little bit smarter,” said one of them, Nate Fanaro, a 28-year-old computer programmer in Buffalo, whose Twitter handle is CapsCop. Last October, Mr. Fanaro wrote a simple program that detects tweets written in capital letters and automatically sends one of several snappy responses, like “This isn’t MySpace so maybe you should turn your caps lock off.” So far, he has issued more than 130,000 of these helpful reminders, including at least 205 to one particular user, a woman in Singapore. (Oddly, with little effect.) “Some people don’t really understand that it’s just not good Internet etiquette” to type in all capital letters, Mr. Fanaro said.

Distracted driving buzzwords

published on: Consumer Report

The issue of distracted driving has become a hot-button safety topic in the past year and has generated a great deal of discussion about solutions to this growing problem. The group behind the simulator has come up with a few terms related to the distracted-driving phenomena. We’re not sure whether these will make it into Webster’s Dictionary, but here are a few of our favorites.

Textgating: Like tailgating, this refers to driving dangerously close to another car because your attention is focused on texting or other distractions.

Textident: A collision caused by someone who's too busy with their phone to drive safely.

Smerge: The combination of swerving and merging due to driving distracted.

Crash-test dummy: Someone who will likely get into an accident due to using a phone, texting or some other distraction behind the wheel.

28 aprile 2010

Una rete sempre più fitta di neologismi e acronimi

tratto da: Il Sole 24 Ore

Spesso rispecchiano in modo semplice ed efficace una loro peculiarità come nel caso di «Information silos» o «Sistem-on-a-chip»; altre volte nascono dalla fusione di più termini o concetti (E-book, Cyberwar e Micro web tv), ma non ci si deve sorprendere più di tanto se Avatar affonda le sue radici nella religione induista e «Tragedy of the Commons» risale alla tradizione giuridica anglosassone. E forse non tutti si rendono conto che quell'irrinunciabile voglia di consultare la posta elettronica, partecipare ai social network, navigare sul web sempre e in ogni occasione può nascondere un disturbo nervoso dal nome quasi impronunciabile: Discomgoogolation, ovvero sindrome da astinenza da internet, che si contrappone ad «always on», la possibilità di essere sempre connessi al web.
Invece sono tutti ancora da scoprire l'accoglienza e l'impatto che avrà il futuribile attuatore a impulsi neurali, (Neural impulse actuator), la nuova frontiera del "dialogo" tra uomo e computer. Il termine è fresco di conio e per poter acquistare negli Usa il dispositivo si dovranno attendere ancora pochi mesi.
Il mondo delle nuove tecnologie è una fitta rete di neologismi e acronimi. Le parole nascono, balzano all'onore delle cronache, molte volte ingenerando grandi aspettative, e in un arco di tempo che si può misurare in un paio d'anni nei casi più fortunati (in media impiegano tra i cinque e i dieci anni) entrano in tutte le case e aziende, lentamente ma sempre più inesorabilmente fanno parte della nostra quotidianità. Altre parole restano invece in stand-by, in attesa che i tempi diventino maturi; altre ancora precipitano addirittura nel limbo del dimenticatoio, perché le tecnologie sono troppo evolute o troppo costose. È stato il caso degli E-book, il cui primo progetto vide la luce addirittura nel lontano 1971, o del «paperless office», l'ufficio senza carta, di cui si iniziò a parlare concretamente nella seconda metà degli anni Ottanta, con l'avvento delle prime reti locali nelle aziende. Le reti sono diventate pervasive, eppure è aumentata in maniera esponenziale anche la quantità di carta sulle scrivanie, allontanandoci così dalle promesse e dagli obiettivi del «paperless office».

Neologismi sì o no?

da: Il Sole 24 Ore

Su Facebook, riserva dove proliferano i difensori di qualsiasi cosa, dai pini montani agli aeroporti milanesi, poteva mancare il gruppo di difensori della lingua italiana? No. Infatti, ecco il gruppo "Aboliamo i neologismi e gli stranierismi", dove si leggono appelli per sostituire la parola "cocktail" con un futuristico "polibibita" oppure per usare una semplice e pulita "notizia" al posto di "news".
Ma i neologismi, quelli sì che è difficile abolirli, anche perché la creazione della lingua è anarchica, le parole si autogenerano e diffondono in modo virale, incensurabile e incontrollabile, fino a consacrarsi termini ufficiali quando entrano nelle pagine dei vocabolari. Il Devoto Oli versione 2010 ne contiene 500 in più rispetto all'edizione 2009, più o meno lo stesso numero del Garzanti, mentre lo Zingarelli ne propone addirittura 1200.
L'ufficio – assieme alle aule scolastiche - è uno dei laboratori prediletti dalla creatività linguistica, un ecosistema dove le relazioni, il lavoro e la tendenza ai continui aggiornamenti (vuoi dei sistemi di comunicazione interna, vuoi della pagina web rinfrescata a forza di F5) generano un flusso continuo di nuove parole che si diffondono con l'immediatezza dell'invio di una mail. Una delle ultime tendenze in materia è prendere un verbo inglese - che gli abitanti d'oltremanica o d'oltreoceano usano correttamente nei loro uffici – e si superare la fatica di tradurlo in italiano con una semplice applicazione della desinenza verbale.
Sempre più numerosi sono gli esempi di questi ogm linguistici, dal draft-are un documento (cioè farne una bozza) al deliverar-are (banalmente, inviare) fino allo zippare (cioè comprimere file pesanti con l'omonimo programma Windows). Ma c'è anche l'oggetto/attività/persona performante (termine che evoca la potenza dei motori) e la terribile "deadline", macabra contro-traduzione per la comune "scadenza". Fra questa varietà di "neologismi da ufficio" abbiamo selezionato dodici fra i più usati e – ci permettiamo di definirli tali – fastidiosi.

What do top English words tell?

Ten years ago, no one had heard of “H1N1″, “Web 2.0″, “n00b”, or talked about “de-friending” someone on “Twitter” or “Facebook”.

Now these are part of people’s everyday vocabulary.The world is changing. Inevitably, so are our words.The English language is going through an explosion of word creation. New words are coined – some, like “n00b”, may not even look like words; old words take on new meanings – “twitter” today bears little relation to the Middle English twiteren. According to the Global Language Monitor (GLM), in 2009 the English language tipped the scales with a vocabulary of one million words. Not good news for the 250 million people acquiring English in China.

GLM, the San Diego-based language watcher, publishes annual lists of top words and phrases by tracking words in the global print and electronic media, the Internet, blogs, and social media such as Twitter and YouTube.

Each year’s list reflects major concerns and changes taking place that year. For instance, from the 2009 list, we have to acknowledge the fact that technology is reshaping our ways of living (twitter, web 2.0).We need to face up to the after-effects of a “financial tsunami” (stimulus, foreclosure), a pandemic (H1N1), the death of revered pop icon (MJ, King of Pop) and the debates over “healthcare reform” and “climate change” that mark the year.A quick rundown of GLM’s top words/phrases of the decade is precisely like watching clips of a documentary of the decade. From the lists we are reminded of the series of world-shaping events from 9/11(2001), tsunami (2004) to H1N1 (2009), and we see the huge impact the Internet and new technologies have made on our lives, from the burst of the “dot.com bubble” (2000) to blog (2003), Google (2007) and Twitter (2009), which represent a new trend in social interaction.The lists are also witnesses of the influences of entertainment sector such as the film “Brokeback” (2004) a new term for gay to “Vampire” (2009), now a symbol of unrequited love. Michael Phelps’s 8-gold-medal accomplishments at the Beijing Olympics had created a Phelpsian (2008) pheat.

yes but.. what does N00b mean?

N00b: a derogatory term to define either a new user to a game/forum or someone who acts stupidly regardless of account age or time played.. not be confused with "newbie" 
a person who is just new to a game, concept, or forum.

Sources: Global Language Monitor, Urban Dictionary

Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of 2000-2009

published on: Global Language Monitor

In conjunction with the SXSW Interactive conference held in its hometown, The Global Language Monitor has released the most confusing high tech buzzwords of the decade (2000-2009). Topping the list are HTTP, Flash, God Particle, Cloud Computing, and Plasma (as in plasma TV). Rounding out the Top Ten were IPOD/IPAD, Megapixel, Nano, Resonate and Virtualization.The most confusing Acronym for the decade was SOA (Service Oriented Architecture).“SXSW has long been a harbinger for future directions in popular culture and now the gathering has taken on the added dimension of technological innovation,” said Paul JJ Payack, president of the Global Language Monitor, “The words we use in high technology continue to become even more obtuse even as they move out of the realm of jargon and into the language at large.”The Global Language Monitor uses a proprietary algorithm, the Predictive Quantities Indicator (PQI) to track the frequency of words and phrases in the global print and electronic media, on the Internet, throughout the Blogosphere, as well as accessing proprietary databases. The PQI is a weighted Index, factoring in: long-term trends, short-term changes, momentum, and velocity.The Most Confusing High Tech Buzzwords of the decade (2000-2009) with Commentary follow:1. HTTP — HyperText Transfer Protocol is used for HTML (HyperText Markup Language) files. Not to be confused with text on too much Starbucks.2. Flash — As in Flash Memory. “Flash’ is easier to say than “ I brought the report on my EEPROM chip with a thin oxide layer separating a floating gate and control gate utilizing Fowler-Nordheim electron tunneling”.3. God Particle – The Higgs boson, thought to account for mass. The God Particle has eluded discovery since its existence was first postulated some thirty years ago.4. Cloud Computing – Distributing or accessing programs and services across the Internet. (The Internet is represented as a cloud.)5. Plasma (as in plasma TV) — Refers less often to blood products than to a kind of television screen technology that uses matrix of gas plasma cells, which are charged by differing electrical voltages to create an image.6. IPOD – What the Alpha Whale calls his personal pod. Actually, Apple maintains that the idea of the iPod was from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. The origin of the word IPAD is a completely different story.7. Megapixel – Either a really large picture element (pixel) or a whole mess of pixels. Actually, one million pixels (that’s a lotta pixels) OK, what’s a pixel? Computer-ese for picture element.8. Nano – Widely used to describe anything small as in nanotechnology. Like the word ‘mini’ which originally referred to the red hues in Italian miniature paintings, the word nano- is ultimately derived from the ancient Greek word for ‘dwarf’.9. Resonate – Not the tendency of a system to oscillate at maximum amplitude, but the ability to relate to (or resonate with) a customer’s desires.10. Virtualization – Around since dinosaurs walked the planet (the late ‘70s) virtualization now applies to everything from infrastructures to I/O.11. Solution — Ever popular yet still an amorphous description of high tech packages of hardware, software and service12. Cookie — Without cookies with their ‘persistent state’ management mechanism the web as we know it, would cease to exist.13. Robust — No one quite knows what it means, but it’s good for your product to demonstrate robustness14. Emoticon A smiley with an emotional component (from emotional icon). Now, what’s a smiley? :’)15. De-duping – Shorthand for de-duplication, that is, removing redundant data from a system.16. Green washing – Repositioning your product so that its shortfalls are now positioned as environmental benefits: Not enough power? Just re-position as energy-saving.17. Buzzword Compliant — To include the latest buzzwords in literature about a product or service in order to make it ‘resonate’ with the customer.18. Petaflop — A thousand trillion (or quadrillion) floating point operations per second Often mistaken as a comment on a failed program by an animal rights’ group.19. Hadron – A particle made of quarks bound together by the strong force; they are either mesons (made of one quark and one anti-quark) or baryons (made of three quarks).20. Large Hadron Collider – The ‘atom smasher’ located underground outside Geneva. Primarily built to re-create the conditions of creation, 1 trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.21. Versioning – Creating new revisions (or versions) with fewer bugs and more features.22. VoIP – Voice Over IP, itself shorthand for Voice over Internet Protocol, which in plain English means the ability to talk on the phone over the Internet.23. Web 2.0 – Now there’s talk of Web 3.0, just when we were finally getting used to the advances web services called Web 2.0.24. Word Clouds – Graphic representations of the words used in a text, the more frequently used, the larger the representation.25. WORM — Not only not a computer virus anymore, let alone a slithery creature of the soil, but “a Write Once, Read Many file system used for optical disk technologyMost Confusing High Tech Acronym of the DecadeSOA – Service Oriented Architecture. Far-and-away No. 1. If it’s so easy to understand, why are hundreds of books written trying to explain exactly what it is.Early Candidate for Most Confusing High Tech Buzzword of the 2nd Decade of the Century (Possibly a very short decade, Indeed.)B’ak’tuns – According to the Long-Count Mayan Calendar (high tech for the late A.D.600’s) the end of a ‘Great Cycle’ of thirteen b’ak’tuns (periods of 144,000 days each) since the Mayan creation date of August 11, 3114 BC. According to popular belief, December 21st, 2012 will be the End of the World.

I, Translator

Published on: NYTimes

EVERYBODY has his own tale of terrible translation to tell — an incomprehensible restaurant menu in Croatia, a comically illiterate warning sign on a French beach. “Human-engineered” translation is just as inadequate in more important domains. In our courts and hospitals, in the military and security services, underpaid and overworked translators make muddles out of millions of vital interactions. Machine translation can certainly help in these cases. Its legendary bloopers are often no worse than the errors made by hard-pressed humans. Machine translation has proved helpful in more urgent situations as well. When Haiti was devastated by an earthquake in January, aid teams poured in to the shattered island, speaking dozens of languages — but not Haitian Creole. How could a trapped survivor with a cellphone get usable information to rescuers? If he had to wait for a Chinese or Turkish or an English interpreter to turn up he might be dead before being understood. Carnegie Mellon University instantly released its Haitian Creole spoken and text data, and a network of volunteer developers produced a rough-and-ready machine translation system for Haitian Creole in little more than a long weekend. It didn’t produce prose of great beauty. But it worked.The advantages and disadvantages of machine translation have been the subject of increasing debate among human translators lately because of the growing strides made in the last year by the newest major entrant in the field, Google Translate. But this debate actually began with the birth of machine translation itself. The need for crude machine translation goes back to the start of the cold war. The United States decided it had to scan every scrap of Russian coming out of the Soviet Union, and there just weren’t enough translators to keep up (just as there aren’t enough now to translate all the languages that the United States wants to monitor). The cold war coincided with the invention of computers, and “cracking Russian” was one of the first tasks these machines were set.

Globish: the worldwide dialect of the third millenium

published on: Guardian

More than a lingua franca, the rapid adoption of 'decaffeinated English', according to the man who coined the term 'Globish', makes it the world's most widely spoken language.
The House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee has just published a report Global Security: UK-US Relations whose headline conclusion (The "Special Relationship" is Dead) interests me. This, it seems to me, is potentially another milestone in the evolution of the phenomenon I've occasionally referred to on this blog as "Globish". Full disclosure: for the past four years, I've been working on a book, Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language, which argues that a seismic shift in the foundations of our lingua franca has transformed it from an expression of Anglo-American cultural sovereignty into a supra-national phenomenon, with its own powerful inner dynamic. Penguin Books will shortly publish this in the UK, and I'm on a state of alert for examples of Globish, because as I see it, this is a breaking story.What is Globish? For me, it's not just linguistic, and it all began in 2005. In September that year, Jyllands Posten (the Jutland Post), a culturally influential Danish newspaper, published a sequence of satirical cartoons poking fun at the prophet Muhammad, which provoked riots in which 139 people died. Possibly the most bizarre response to the affair, which surfaced again in January 2010 with an assault on the home of the artist, Kurt Westergaard, was a protest by Muslim fundamentalists outside the Danish embassy in London. Chanting in English, the protesters carried placards with slogans such as "Vikings Beware!", "Butcher Those Who Mock Islam", "Freedom of Expression Go to Hell" and (my favourite) "Down with Free Speech".This collision of the Koran with Monty Python, or perhaps of the OED with the Islamic Jihad, was the moment at which I began to reflect on the dramatic shift in global self-expression (I didn't have a word for it then) that was now asserting itself in this crisis, through a world united by the internet. What more surreal – and telling – commentary on the anglicisation of the modern world could there be than a demonstration by devout Muslims, in London, exploiting an old English freedom, and expressing it in the English language, to demand the curbing of the libertarian tradition that actually legitimised their protest?Then, in 2007, still puzzling over the phenomenon of British and American English as an evolving lingua franca, I came across an article in the International Herald Tribune about French-speaking retired IBM executive Jean-Paul Nerriere, who not only described English and its international deployment as "the worldwide dialect of the third millennium" but also gave it a name.In a posting in Japan in the 1990s, Nerriere made an important observation. He noticed that, in meetings, non-native English speakers were communicating far more successfully with their Korean and Japanese clients than British or US executives, for whom English was the mother tongue. Standard English was all very well for Anglophone societies, but out there in the wider world, a non-native "decaffeinated English", declared Nerriere, was becoming the new global phenomenon. In a moment of inspiration, he christened it "Globish".

F.B.I Is Slow to Translate Intelligence

Published on: NYTimes

The F.B.I.’s collection of wiretapped phone calls and intercepted e-mail has been soaring in recent years, but the bureau is failing to review “significant amounts” of such material partly for lack of translators, according to a Justice Department report released Monday. “Not reviewing such material increases the risk that the F.B.I. will not detect information in its possession that may be important to its counterterrorism and counterintelligence efforts,” said the report, which was issued by the office of the department’s inspector general, Glenn A. Fine.In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said that it was working to reduce its backlog of unreviewed audio recordings and electronic documents, and that it continued seeking to hire or contract with more linguists.“The F.B.I. remains committed to reviewing all foreign language material in a timely manner and setting priorities to ensure that the most important material receives the most immediate attention,” the agency said in a statement.The government’s ability to review and translate materials quickly has been a subject of concern since the 2001 terrorist attacks. Two previous inspector general reports also faulted the bureau for significant backlogs in reviewing information in other languages. Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican who has pressed the F.B.I. to improve its translation abilities, praised the bureau for its recent arrest of several terrorism suspects inside the United States but said that its linguist department remained “a big hole.”“Today’s report appears to point to more of the same by the F.B.I. with its translation department,” Mr. Grassley said in a statement. “The F.B.I. needs their feet held to the fire in order to make substantive changes in the translation area.”

27 aprile 2010

"Il lavoro a Bruxelles non va avanti senza interpreti"

tratto da: Repubblica

Pochi lo sanno, ma più si allarga e più si integra, meno l’Europa studia le lingue per comunicare. Le istituzioni son alle prese con una penuria di interpreti che rischia di diventare drammatica. Marco Benedetti, direttore generale del servizio di interpretazione della Commissione, è talmente preoccupato che ha fatto preparare video su You Tube e su Facebook per spiegare i vantaggi della professione. “Le scuole e le università europee non producono abbastanza interpreti per far fronte al fabbisogno attuale. Tantomeno a quello futuro, spiega.
Quali sono le prospettive?
“Oggi la Commissione impiega 585 interpreti assunti come funzionari e 250-300 freelance. Ma già per la cabina inglese facciamo fatica a fornire i servizio di interpretazione a tutte le riunioni. In prospettiva, nei prossimi dieci anni, 200-300 interpreti di madrelingua inglese nel complesso delle istituzioni europee. Del resto, le iscrizioni ai corsi universitari di francese e tedesco, In Gran Bretagna, sono calate in dieci anni del 75%.
E le altre lingue?
“Non va molto meglio. Il fabbisogno di interpreti francesi è valutato in circa 200. Altrettanto per il tedesco. Quanto all’italiano, nel prossimo decennio dovremo reclutare almeno una quarantina di interpreti fissie una cinquantina di freelance.”
Ma non si potrebbe reclutare al di fuori dell’UE?
“Al contrario. Le altre grandi istituzioni internazionali, come ONU e Fondo Monetario, sono anche loro a corto di interpreti e vengono a reclutare in Europa”

"Restare aggrappati alla nostra lingua ci fa perdere milioni"

tratto da Repubblica

L’Italia perde ogni anno molto più di quel mezzo milione che costa la cabina dell’interprete: ci rimette in risorse che potrebbero arrivare se i nostri rappresentanti parlassero l’inglese e il francese. È l’opinione del linguista Tullio De Mauro.
Professore, c’è chi sostiene che l’uso dell’italiano negli organismi europei vada difeso.
“Per me sarebbe semplice: gli italiani, e in particolare le nostre delegazioni politiche all’estero, dovrebbero studiare le lingue. Cosa che, per motivi misteriosi, nel nostro Paese riteniamo inutile fare, anche se ci rimettiamo economicamente”.
I costi degli interpreti in effetti sono alti.
“Ma non sono nulla di fronte a tutto ciò che non riusciamo a farci dare come contributi europei per l’Italia. Saper trattare in più lingue in riunioni e commissioni di varia natura, porterebbe soldi, che invece vengono regolarmente dirottati verso Grecia e Spagna. Spagnoli e greci sanno le lingue e le sanno usare: trattano e ottengono”.
Il lessico inglesizzante che ci ha invasi, come mai non aiuta a padroneggiare almeno quella lingua?
“In realtà i nostri inglesismi sono inferiori agli italianismi dei britannici, ma comunque il problema è il nostro analfabetismo. Abbiamo pochi diplomati alle superiori, nel confronto internazionale. E c’è il modo di insegnare le lingue: anni di studio, ma senza mai un periodo di applicazione intensiva. Quindi non arriviamo a padroneggiare la lingua studiata”.
Un suggerimento per i nostri politici? Qualche corso intensivo d’inglese e francese?
“Sono davvero molte le cose che non studiano e non sanno. La lingua, non è la più grave”.

26 aprile 2010

Facebook speak: Teenagers create secret online language

Teenagers on social networking sittes are creating a secret language to stop adults knowing what they are up to, researchers say.

published on: Telegraph

The teens are using it to stop parents and employers judging them by their social activities such as partying and drinking.Instead of writing they are drunk, teens post 'Getting MWI' - or Mad With It.
Being in a relationship is known as 'taken' or 'Ownageeee', and 'Ridneck', a corruption of redneck, means to feel embarassed.
Meanwhile, girls posting 'Legal' are indicating that they are above 16 and legally allowed to have sex.
Lisa Whittaker, a postgraduate student at the University of Stirling, who studied teens aged 16-18 on Bebo in Scotland, said the slang had been created to keep their activities private, and cited the example of one young girl who was sacked after bosses found pictures of her drinking on the website.
"Young people often distort the languages they use by making the pages difficult for those unfamiliar with the distortions and colloquialisms," she said.
"The language used on Bebo seems to go beyond abbreviations that are commonly used in text messaging, such as removing all the vowels.
"This is not just bad spelling, which would suggest literacy issues, but a deliberate attempt to creatively misspell words.
"The creation and use of their own social language may be a deliberate attempt to keep adults from understanding what is written on the page.
"By doing this they are able to communicate with their in-group and conceal the content from the out-group. This further adds to their online identity."
She said that one reason for encoding their messages was to keep adults in the dark about their drinking or smoking. She is due to present her research at a seminar at the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data and Methods in Cardiff on Tuesday.

A God-given way to communicate

Fears about the demise of Arabic are misplaced

published on: Economist

THE Arabic language is dying. Its disloyal children are ditching their mother tongue for English and French. It is stagnating in classrooms, mosques and the dusty corridors of government. Even such leaders as the Lebanese prime minister, Saad Hariri, and Jordan’s foreign-educated King Abdullah struggle with its complicated grammar. Worse still, no one cares. Arabic no longer has any cachet. Among supposedly sophisticated Arabs, being bad at Arabic has become fashionable.
That, at least, is an opinion prominently aired in the National, an English-language newspaper in Abu Dhabi. It reflects a perennial worry in the Arab world about the state of the language. Classical Arabic, the language of the Koran, and its modern version, Modern Standard Arabic, known in academia as MSA, are a world apart from the dialects that people use every day. Spoken and written in the media and on stuffy occasions, this kind of Arabic is no one’s mother tongue. It is painfully acquired through hours of poring over grammar textbooks and memorising the Koran. Could it one day become obsolete?
Arabic certainly faces competition. Clive Holes, a professor of Arabic at Oxford University, concedes that learning formal Arabic tends to be undervalued by students in the Middle East, many of whom increasingly see it as divorced from success in the real world, especially in the international sphere, where English prevails. A lack of investment in education by Arab governments means it is often badly taught. In the Gulf countries Westerners and Asians, neither with much Arabic, far outnumber native speakers.
But that hardly means the language is dying. Arabic is the essence of Arab identity. Arabs are inordinately proud of their linguistic heritage. Handed down by Allah, many believe the Koran must be read only in the classical mode in which it was written. Even non-Arabic speaking Muslims force themselves to learn enough of it to read it. Stumble though they may, Arabs from different countries are enabled by MSA to communicate.
The popularity of a recent television programme beamed from Abu Dhabi in which people competed to see who could best recite traditional Bedouin poetry suggests there is plenty of appetite for Arabic in all its forms. In the absence of an authentic Arabic word, people may instead use an English word like “zip”, as the writer in the National laments. But such changes and borrowings are inevitable and may be quite healthy. Arabic will evolve from the prescriptions of the grammar book, taking in new words and discarding obsolete ones. But as Mr Holes points out, this is a sign of dynamism rather than demise.

24 aprile 2010

Tech Words

Dwelling: Dwelling is what happens when you move your mouse or touch on a portion of a screen, hold for a while, and a pop-up appears. For example, on Netflix.com, when you dwell your mouse over a thumbnail of a movie, a pop-up shows you the movie’s description.”

Ideation: “An ideation is an idea that germinates over time, like a new business start-up idea or some concept that a group discusses in a meeting and creates together.”

Mi-Fi “A new version of ‘Wi-Fi’ (or a wireless network), Mi-Fi is a variation that means ‘my wireless’ and is a small credit-card shaped device that connects to a cell phone network. Multiple people can use that same device to connect to the Internet over the cell phone signal. Both Verizon and Sprint offer the products. The big advantage: one person can sign up for data service, but several can use it.”

Bokode “A bokode, originally developed at MIT, is a new type of barcode that contains more detailed information. Based on the Japanese term bokeh, which is a blurred effect, a bokode is about the size of a pinhead but still contains the same barcode info. Yet the right scanner can read the barcode even from a few feet away.”

Qubit “Not to be confused with the classic arcade game Qbert, a qubit is a unit of measure that can be a zero, a one, or both a zero and one at the same time. The concept comes from quantum mechanics. From this field of study, we know that an electron circling the nucleus of an atom can be in multiple positions at once, but only locks into one spot when we observe it. It also explains why Lindsay Lohan seems to be in multiple places at once – if you go by the tabloids.”

Dittoism “According to Doubletongued, a dittoism is defined as a penchant for Internet users to agree on the same topic only because that’s the established norm. For example, when most reviewers ranked the new Apple iPad as revolutionary, a dittoism is that everyone agrees, even without trying one.”

Source : Schott's Vocab

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