Sunday, December 25, 2005

Is your training boring?

Try this if you think your lessons or your training are boring

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How to write accents with the keyboard

If you are having trouble to type foreign language accents, or special characters from other languages, you'll surely find this site useful. Most of the times, special letters can be written by typing a number code in the keyboard. ASCII codes for some of the symbols and letters not found on a regular keyboard
It explains how to type french accents, spanish accents and other characters such as the German umlaut and even Japanese characters, for Macintosh or Windows PC.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Multilingual Glossary of medical terms

The presentation may not look too appealing but this can be a useful resource if you need translation of medical terms. This Multilingual Glossary of technical and popular medical terms includes description and translations in nine European Languages of words related to medicine.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Less Spanish translation in the European Commission?

Rumours about a supposed reduction of translators of Spanish are arising in the European Commission.

The worse is that it appeared to be a consequence of the decreasing number of Spanish citizens with Spanish as mother tongue vs. other official languages of Spain, (such as Catalan or Basque). According to a recent report on languages by the EU, Castilian (Spanish) is the mother tongue for 87% of the Spanish population, vs. Catalan 9%, Euskera 1%, and other 1% of citizens with "other languages" as mother tongue. Surprisingly, also an additional 2% of the population has as mother tongue other European languages.
However, in the EU Treaty, the official language for Spain is Spanish and thus, translation work is to be rendered only in Spanish.

Fortunately, the spokesman for Education, Training, Culture and Multilingualism, Frederic Vincent, has assured that the Commission will not reduce the number of Spanish translators based on the number of Spanish citizens with Spanish as mother tongue.
Instead, what the Commission seems to be considering is a proposal for reducing translation services for all languages depending on their current situation in the CE. The European Commission Translation Service will in fact need to adapt to the new linguistic situation after the latest enlargement to 25 countries, which has increased the number of official languages.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Translation in the global world

Translation in the global world: lexicographic, terminological and cognitive aspects is the name of the translation course to be held in Soria, (Spain) on November 16th and 17th. Some of the world's most prominent experts in lexicography, terminology and cognitive linguistics.
Among the speakers we may mention Enrique Alcaraz Varó, sworn translator and author of important works on lexicography and didactics of translation, as well as of several bilingual specialised dictionaries, (Dictionary of Economic, Financial and Commercial Terms ; Spanish and English Legal Dictionary, Dictionary of linguistics, etc.)
Other participants will be Sven Tarp, renowned translator and lexicographer, who has developed the idea of joining a linguistic corpus and a dictionary through the Internet. Aquilino Sánchez, editor of the Great Dictionary of the Use of Spanish, and many other specialists in the fields of translation, terminology and linguistic research.

El curso La Traducción en un mundo global: aspectos lexicográficos, terminológicos y cognitivos se celebrarán Soria los días 16 y 17 de noviembre. Este curso contará con algunos de los expertos más importantes del mundo en el campo de la lexicografía, la terminología o la lingüística cognitiva. Entre los ponentes se encontrarán Enrique Alcaraz Varó, traductor jurado, autor de valiosas obras sobre lexicografía y didáctica de la traducción, así como de numerosos diccionarios bilingües, español-inglés, especializados (Diccionario de Términos Económicos, Financieros, y Comerciales; el Diccionario de Términos Jurídicos; el Diccionario de Lingüística; el Diccionario de Términos de la Propiedad Inmobiliaria; el Diccionario de términos de turismo y ocio, etc.).
El curso también contará con Sven Tarp, prestigioso traductor y lexicógrafo, impulsor de la idea de unir un corpus y un diccionario a través de Internet. Aquilino Sánchez, editor del Gran Diccionario de uso del Español actual y con otros especialistas de la traducción, la terminología y la investigación lingüística.

Friday, October 28, 2005

don Quijote de la Mancha-mania

Un excelente artículo sobre la fiebre por la famosa obra de cervantes de Chrisptophe, mi belga favorito. También puedes visitar el museo virtual de don Quijote :)

In a student city like Salamanca, where the streets are awash with quixotic, aspiring intellectuals, it is not at all uncommon to inadvertently become involved in a philosophical debate. Such a thing happened to me recently when I became entangled in a discussion about the definition of art, always a tricky business.
I suddenly started noticing el Quijote everywhere: street names, businesses, English language (although I must admit I had to go a little out of my way to use the word quixotic in a sentence

Friday, October 21, 2005

Scholarships to learn spanish abroad

20 scholarships for spanish teaching institutions for promoting Spanish language.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Rosetta translation project

The Rosetta Project is a global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers working to build a publicly accessible online archive of ALL documented human languages. Their goal is to create the most broad and complete reference work on the languages of the world to date- a reference work of relevance for academic researchers and educators as well as native communities looking for materials in support of language revitalization work.

At Rosetta they are creating anunprecedented digital library of human language through an open contribution, peer review process and everyone is invited to participate. All documents and data sets are freely available through their growing online database as well as archived on an extreme longevity micro-etched nickel disk- a contemporary "Rosetta Stone" for the languages of the world

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Traducción jurada

Una traducción jurada se caracteriza por estar firmada y sellada por un traductor jurado autorizado para ello y por que constituye un documento de carácter oficial ante las autoridades. Organismos como los ministerios, juzgados e instituciones académicas requieren traducción jurada de documentos acreditativos, títulos, etc. En una traducción jurada el traductor asume la responsabilidad de la taducción con su firma y su sello reconocidos, convirtiéndose en algo parecido a un "notario interlingüístico".

En España, la traducción jurada sólo la pueden realizar intérpretes jurados nombrados por el Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, que son los únicos profesionales independientes con capacidad para hacer este tipo de traducción.

Existen dos formas de obtener el título de intérprete jurado en España:
1. A través de la Licenciatura de Traducción e Interpretación siempre que el plan de estudios de esta cumpla determinados requisitos académicos fijados por el Ministerio
2. Superando el exámen del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores que se convoca anualmente

Para más información sobre los requisitos y procedimientos para ser intérprete jurado en España visite esta web:

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Translator or interpreter

There is a difference between translating and interpreting!
Guess who's who?

1. The person who works in a booth during a conference and communicates what the speaker is saying to the audience in a language different from that of the speaker.
2. The person who takes notes of a speech and repeats it later to the audience in a different language.
3. The person who sits next to politicians, actors, football players, etc, and repeats what the speaker says in another language

These three examples describe different kinds of interpreting, the people developing these roles are interpreters, number one describes simultaneous interpreting, number two is consecutive interpreting and number three would be an interpreter "de liason".

What we usually call translation actually includes many different branches of work related to language translation. On a first level we can differentiate between translation and interpreting, but also in translation itself we can differentiate several fields of study including such “exotic” matters as proofreading, subtitling, translation of movie scripts, etc.

Monday, September 26, 2005

día internacional de las lenguas

Hoy lunes 26 de septiembre se celebra el día internacional de los idiomas.
En Quito, Ecuador se han programado numerosas actividades, para conmemorar este día de los idiomas que se celebra, bajo el auspicio del Consejo de Europa, desde el año 2001 cada 26 de septiembre.
Hoy en Quito se puede disfrutar de un completo programa gratuito para impulsar el aprendizaje de idiomas que incluye demostaciones de distinas lenguas, películas, documentales, concursos, música y diversas presentaciones artísticas en distintos idiomas.

En esta celebración participan prestigiosas organizaciones linguísticas como: la Asociación Humboldt (enseñanza de alemán), la Alianza francesa (francés) la Sociedad Dante Alighieri (Italiano), The Benedict Schools (enseñanza de inglés), el instituto Brasileiro-Ecuatoriano de Cultura (Portugués) y el Instituto Cervantes que representará la lengua española, entre otros. Con lo que estarán presentes los seis idiomas más difundidos en el mundo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

common mistakes in Spanish

Here are some common mistakes which you should try to avoid when speaking or writing in Spanish:

EE.UU. is the correct form of the abbreviation for Estados Unidos de América (USA) in Spanish. The first letter of "Estados" is duplicated since it is plural, followed by the period of the abbreviation, and the "U" of "Unidos" is also duplicated, followed by the period of the abbreviation.Example: George Washington fue presidente de EE.UU.

Latinoamérica vs Hispanoamerica
Latinoamerica refers to countries in America that were colonized by European countries whose languages derived from Latin (Spain, France and Portugal).Hispanoamérica is the word used for countries in America where Spanish is the official language.
Méjico es uno de los grandes países de Hispanoamérica
Brasil es el país latinoamericano con más extensión.

Femenine nouns with masculine articles
The word eagle, in Spanish “águila” is a feminine noun, however the word is used with the masculine article “el” (instead of the feminine “la”). The reason is purely phonetic, feminine nouns beginning with stressed “a” are preceded by the masculine article to avoid having to pronounce “la + á”
Here is an example showing that the masculine article goes before the word “águila” while the adjective is correctly used in feminine (blanca and not blanco)El águila blanca

Monday, June 20, 2005

New blog about Spanish Language

I will be collaborating from now on with a new blog for teachers and students of Spanish. So I may not write too regullarly here, I am afraid. You can keep on reading and commenting on Spain and Spanish in this new blog:
Thank you all

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Adquisición del segundo idioma - Second language adquisition

De niños, todos aprendemos a hablar nuestra lengua materna sin ningún problema, pero, ¿por qué esto no ocurre con las segundas lenguas? ¿Cuál es el mejor momento para aprenderlas? ¿Existen recetas mágicas?
Por muy extraño que nos resulte, la mayoría de los habitantes del planeta son plurilingües. Y es que sí existe una aptitud para aprender idiomas diferente de lo que se considera la inteligencia general (aunque muchas veces vayan asociadas), pero relacionada con ciertas habilidades como buena memoria asociativa, rápido dominio de nuevos códigos o un buen oído para las claves fonéticas. Carmen Muñoz e su libro "Aprender idiomas" pone a prueba nuestras destrezas a este respecto con sencillos tests y actividades.
En cualquier caso siempre es posible aprender idiomas. A pesar de que en la edad adulta muchas personas experimentan una sensación de fracaso por no haber podido adquirir con éxito una segunda lengua, con persistencia y motivación puede lograrse este propósito, puesto que "todas las personas que han aprendido una primera lengua pueden aprender una segunda y una tercera"
Entre los distintos métodos de enseñanza, desde el método tradicional hasta el comunicativo y sus diversas variantes, pasando por el audiolingual, no existe un método milagroso gracias al cual aprendamos una segunda lengua con total garantía de éxito, sino que todo depende de las necesidades e intereses particulares de cada alumno. Por ello, conviene que conozca cuál es su estilo personal de aprendizaje. El libro incluye un test para ayudarnos a descubrir nuestro estilo perceptivo (visual, auditivo, manual, cínetico), una cuestión que no sólo marca diferencias individuales, sino también culturales o nacionales.
En el aprendizaje depende en gran medida de la motivación e interés del sujeto. Sin embargo, en este proceso también inciden factores que, a priori, no podemos controlar, como el nivel cultural del entorno o la influencia de la personalidad. Resultan muy positivas, con relación al aprendizaje de idiomas, cualidades como extraversión, alta autoestima, alta disposición a correr riesgos, insensibilidad al rechazo social, tolerancia hacia la ambigüedad y baja ansiedad, que surtirán efecto si van de la mano de los factores principales: la motivación y el esfuerzo.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Russian for Spanish Speakers - La lengua Rusa

This a site with basic rusian for spanish speakers. Although the Spanish sentences are not always correctly spelt it has some useful sentences in Russian. Quite helpful if you are going to speak with Russian children who to not know a word of Spanish, like me! I am meeting the daughter of my Croatian friend today, she is 3 and speaks only Russian... I am looking forward trying to communicate with her :-)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Frase del día - Quote of the day

Ask me no questions, I'll tell you no lies
No me preguntes y no te mentiré
Ne me possez pas des questions et je ne vous mentirez pas
Non farmi domande e non ti mentiró

Frase del día - Quote of the day

After a storm comes a calm
Después de la tormenta llega la calma

The alternative Spanish dictionary

Including bad words in Spanish and tricky terms with double meanings. To make sure you know what you're saying. Some words of the dictionary are used in Southamerica and not so much in Spain, and most are quite rude, but you may need to know them.
My favourite ones:
güebo which is terribly badly spelt. It should be huevo (egg)
Cutre: widely used in Spain to refer to dirty, worn-out clothes or not cool places.
Dabuten: A word not so oftenly used now, similar to the english "cool"

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Great Flash video in English

Grocery Store Wars, Join the Organic Rebellion!
This is a great flash video based on Stars Wars Movies, with characters such as Chu-brocoli, Master Yogurt, Dark Tatoe, Princes Lettuce and Cucum Skywalker.

May the Farm be with you!
¡Que la granja te acompañe!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Spanish food!

Which are your favourite dishes of the Spanish Cuisine?
Gazpacho - Tomato and pepper soup mixed with white bread and water, delicious cold drink to be taken as a starter.
Tortilla de patata - Spanish omelette. Potatoes, onions and eggs are the ingredients for this delicious dish. Taken hot or cold, tortillas are the stars of every tapas bar and picnic days in Spain
Paella – perhaps the better known Spanish dish. Rice is the basis of the dish with includes vegetables, seafood or chicken depending on your preferrences.
Cold meats - Our typical “saussages” such as chorizo, salchichón. Lomo, and of course Jamón (cured ham) the best jamones are the "iberico", "de jabugo" and "pata negra" varieties.
My favourite dish is simply fried eggs and potatoes (fried with olive oil) and a slice of cured ham. Yammmmi.
Karlos Arguiñano is one of the best known cooks in Spain, here you will find his recipes in Spanish
Althoug this is not Spanish cuisine, I love the recipes of this web

Monday, May 23, 2005

Mejor blog en Castellano 2005

Contest for blogs in Spanish organised by the journal "20 minutos" (
3.000 Euro for the best blog in Spanish to be chosen among the participating blogs by the users.
There are 20 different categories in which you can register your blog: best personal blog, best educational blog...and the most popular category: best unclassifiable blog!

Fun with Spell check!

I have a spelling checker
It came with my PC
It plainly marks four my revue
Mistakes I cannot sea.
I've run this poem threw it,
I'm sure your pleased to no,
Its letter perfect in it's weigh,
My checker told me sew.

Spanish Fiestas: San Fermin

In Spain, nobody will ever forget the date of the most important fiesta held in Pamplona: July 7th is San Fermin! An ancient lyric reminds us of it:

Uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril
cinco de junio, seis de julio, siete de julio ¡San Fermín!
An easy way to learn the numbers in Spanish, the months (at least till July) and to remember the date for the famous Fiesta, since everyone in Spain knows the chant.
The festival of San Fermin is by far the best known event taking place in Pamplona. Spectators are surprised, impressed and shocked every year when they watch the bulls running in the streets of the city behind the brave (or crazy) runners.
San Fermin is a mixture of the official and the popular, both religious and profane, order and chaos for local people and outsiders, all of it packed into one long week starting with a bang at midday on the sixth of July and ending by midnight on the fourteenth.
This fiesta, as most in Spain, has religious origins still visible in the Procession on the morning of the seventh. The religious celebration is in perfect harmony with the cult of the bull -a symbolic animal- and with the cult of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. The Sanfermines are, in short, a total, absolute and radical festival in which the people of Pamplona play the leading part, but in which outsiders feel immediately at home, there's no question of being a mere onlooker, as for nine days Pamplona becomes the world capital of happiness and chaos.
Here is the official website of the government of Pamplona with more information about Sanfermines celebration in Spanish:

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Bilingualism in children

Bilingualism can be defined as an equal ability to communicate in two languages. Being perfectly fluent in two languages is not easy to achieve, the natural and traditional way of becoming bilingual is being growth in a community in which two languages are used. This community can either be the family core or a more extended environment such as the school, the group of relatives and friends, the neighbourhood or the city. There are different theories about which is the best way to teach a child to use two languages. Most researchers agree that a child, who is exposed to two languages from an early age, and simultaneously, will naturally learn to use both languages. Children will surely go through some periods of mixing the two languages and borrowing vocabulary to express ideas, sometimes within the same sentence. However the child will gradually get to separate the two languages. A good way to help the child to separate the two languages from the beginning is providing an association for each language, for example, when one language is used with the father and other with the mother. It is also frequent that one language is used in less formal contexts and for events related to home and family while the other may be reserved for formal situations and used outside the home. There may also be periods when one language is used more than the other. Some children suffer speech language problems when being taught to be bilingual but these are less likely to happen when both languages are introduced early and simultaneously. The probability of speech problems increases when the second language is introduced during the preschool years after another language was used exclusively. Some people believe that if a second language is introduced before the first language is fully developed, the development of the first language may be slowed or even regress. However realising that a child has some delays in both languages does not necessarily indicate a serious trouble for the child as delays are characteristic of a two language learner.

Monday, May 16, 2005

How many languages are there in the world?

I have been doing a bit of research, and here are some surprising statistics (at least for me) There are approximately 6,800 languages spoken on the world. But more than 90% of the languages existing are spoken by only 4% of the world’s population Europe is the continent with the least linguistic diversity, with only 230 languages spoken (only 3% of the world’s languages). Most of the languages spoken in Europe belong to the Indo-European family which includes Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, Romance, and Slavic languages, in addition to Albanian, Armenian, and Greek that don’t have any close relatives. Europe is also home to some scattered members of the Uralic family, such as Finnish, Estonian and Hungarian. You may have also heard of Basque – a language spoken in Spain that does not belong to any known language family.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New English Language?

1500 words are enough to make business in English!
Some years ago I heard about Eurospeak, now Globbish is here!
Eurospeak emerged as a variation of English language with special terminology and prases referred to the context of the European Union. Verbs like "market" instead of "import and export" appeared within a new framework of business and free movement of goods in the EU.
Now, the globalisation of English language, has given birth to what sociologues call globbish, (from global and English). 1500 words are enough for dealing with business and daily situations with this simplified English. English language may loose richness but gains effectiveness.
We may consider Globbish as a variety of English, but some say that it is more a tool than a real language. Perhaps Pragmatics are now taking over to Grammar?
Here is an article from the Herald Tribune about this

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Spanish monarchy is saved!

I can't help but to comment on the latest new released yesterday by the Spanish Royal House (la Casa Real Española), our monarchy is saved! Prince Felipe and his wife are expecting their first son... or daughter, future heir to the Spanish Crown. With a government that proposed to change the Spanish Constitution so that women and men had equal rights to inherit the Crown, the question to whether it would be a boy or a girl is asked once and again to the poor couple. The Prince and "doña Letizia" (as we are told to call her in Spain), got married last year in one of the most popular love stories of the European Monarchies, since Letizia was a journalist who had worked on the news in the public television. She was very talented and makes a beautiful princess doesn't she? It's a pity that she will have to stand so much pressure during her pregnancy as the media and the public opinion will watch her from close.

Eurodicautom tool for translators

A opporturnity to profit from the European Union's team of translators and interpreters. This is a really professional and realiable tool specially for translations related to the European Union. Eurodicautom means something like European dictionary automatised and is defined as European Commissions multilingual term bank. It gives you translations of words and phrases in 12 different languages with the advantage of choosing from which to which language among all the 12 available: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Spanish, English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Swedish and even Latin! More advantages of this tool are that it is easy to use and that it gives full context of the term to be translated with the option "display all fields". The weak point of the database is that it is limited to words that have appeared in European Union texts, so you may not find translations for some everyday words.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Mothers day

Isn't it funny that so many countries celebrate mother's day, but on different dates. Our dear mothers really merit a day if not a whole week of homage, but the thing that strikes me the most is that the date is not the same for different countries. In Spain, El día de la Madre is always the first Sunday of May. This year it happened to be the 1st of May which is actually also Worker's day in Spain. In the U.S.A, Belgium, Canada and Australia for example it will be on May the 8th. And in France La fête des mères is on the las Sunday of May or the first Sunday of June. So, unless you are in Spain, you are still on time!
¡Feliz día de la madre!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Untranslatable words

There are words difficult to translate in all languages, but here you will find a list of words really impossible to translate, at least into English.
You will find more in the new book of the Linguist Christopher J. Moore, In Other Words: A Language Lover's Guide to the Most Intriguing Words Around the World with Renee Montagne. Some examples include the l Spanish term duende literally goblin - noun (although the author states it's an adjective) used specially in the South of Spain to refer to a mixture of artistic flamenco spirit, passion and charm stlyle. It collocates with the verb "tener" as in "tiene duende" for example.

Irish names

Using Irish last names is becoming more and more popular, specialy in the USA, where names like Kelly and Shannon have been popular for years, and names like Braden and Kennedy are zooming up the charts. Here is a list of surnames you might like to use for first names. Most Irish surnames, in their Gaelic form, start with Ó, Mac, or occasionally de (which indicates a name of Norman origin). Ó means 'grandson of', Mac means 'son of' and de means 'of'.
The name Erin has also been popular for decades in the USA, this is a derivation from Eire, the Gaelic name for Ireland (I mean the Republic of Ireland, different form the Ulster)

How to pronounce Quixote

This year we celebrate the IV centenary of the don Quixote book, first published in 1605. The name of don Quixote or don Quijote, is a popular one these days, maybe that's why one of my French friends asked me which is the correct pronunciation of the name of the "hero", so here is a short explanation about how to pronounce the name of don Quixote
Don Quixote is really don Quijote in Spanish. The original pronunciation in Spanish changes de soft “xo” sound for a hard “jo” sound, which should be pronounced similar to the English “ho” from “hotel”. The Spanish "J" is sometimes difficult to pronounce for foreigners since the correct sound is harder than the initial “h” of English.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Holiday in Paris

Just back from my holiday in Paris. I must say that the city has done a great effort to face the election of the siege for the olympic games in 2012. Paris was so beautiful and charming! Everything was pretty clean and quite safe compared to my last visit almost 3 years ago. I spent a whole week there, practiced some French and visited lots of different spots in the city. If you are ever going to Paris do not miss the walk from the Louvre musseum up to Place de la Concorde, the colourful tiny flower market in Ile de la Cité, and of course Notre Dame, Le Sacre Coeur and the Luxembourg Gardens. If you need advice to plan your trip count on me!

Picture of Sacre Coeur Church in Montmartre, Paris.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Translating literature

Translating literature and poetry are both a challenge and a beautiful adventure for any translator. Producing a good text in the target language can be really difficult to achieve, sometimes it demands changing the original words to produce in the reader the same effect as the original. As a translator you seek to offer the receiver the same feeling, the same flavour, the same spirit that the author gave to the original. If good literature and poetry are difficult to write, imagine how difficult it can be to translate them.
Here is a "simple" bit of Hugo, in French. You can give it a try and give your translation
On doute
La nuit . . .
Tout fuit,
Tout passe;
Le bruit.

This is one possible translation to get you started:
Of night,
I pause . . .
The round
World fades,
And space
The sound.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Get your own manga portrait

Here you can get your own manga portrait done, for free. I got this link from, a good blog that I enjoied a lot visiting. When I find out how to do it I will include a list of my favourite blogs...

Monday, April 18, 2005

Spanish Words for the Feria de Abril

Probably, the most important celebration in Adalusia. So famous that is also celebrated all over Spain. In the Feria de Abril you can see women dressed with the colourful flamenco dresses or with the black costume and hat typical from Cordoba (one of the regions of Andalusia). People on beautifully ornated horses or horse-drawn carriages, music and dancing everywhere, make of this a party time for all andalusians and visitors to Seville. Here is some useful vocabulary related to the Feria the Abril
Manzanilla - Usually referred to camomile, it is also a white wine typical from Andalusia
Rebujito - drink made with lemonade, manzanilla wine and ice, although sometimes they add some other spirits, like martini, to guarantee the "Feria- effect"
Casetas - The Feria takes place in different "tents" which compete to see which one helds the best "fiesta"
Feria - Fair in its origins, now it is more related to a party held outside.
Sevillanas - Women from Seville but also the most typical dance from Sevilla, almost any Spaniard knows how to dance it, although it is composed of a series of different steps and movements, quite difficult for begginers.

More blogs about languages

I have recently discovered this blog about languages, although it may be too specialised, (only for advanced students and linguists) it contains a lot of information and useful links for anything related to languages.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Flash comic in Spanish

Calico Electronico is a genuine Spanish comic character, half-hero half-silly.
A funny way to practice Spanish is watching this comic animations in Flash. It may be a bit difficult to understand for begginers in Spanish but it is worth giving it a try.

Friday, April 15, 2005

The problem with SER and ESTAR

One of the most difficult things for a foreigner to learn, and for a native Spanish speaker to explain, is the difference between the two spanish verbs: Ser and Estar, which correspond both to the English verb to be, the French être, and the italian essere.
Why do we have two different verbs in Spanish for this unique verb in other languages, is a mistery; although a theory states that languages evolve, specialising in semantic fields for which there is a certain need in that society. For example in Eskimo language there are many differents words for "snow".
However, the troubles with ser and estar are the origin of multiple funny situations with foreign spanish students (funny at least for me..)
Here are some important things to remember if you do not want to be the victim of our jokes (bad, bad spanish natives...)
Soy bueno - in English: I am good
Estoy bueno - I am really good looking!
Soy malo - I am bad
Estoy malo - I am ill
Estoy caliente - I am hot now (sexual)
Soy caliente - I am always hot (sexual)
With caliente, you will always make the laughs, so if you are hot, just say "it is hot" - hace calor.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Happy Posted by Hello

How to choose a good dictionary

Dictionaries can become the best friends for translators, they are a great help for students and quite necessary if you are learning a language. One of my first lessons at the Translation Faculty was entirely devoted to advice on how to choose a dictionary. Today 10 years later, I still remember how useful that class was.
We may tend to think that electronic aids can replace dictionaries, but I really advice you to get a good dictionary if you are studying a foreign language. Good dictionaries are more trustworthy than any program or online dictionary you can find.
When you are choosing a dictionary, the first think to consider are your needs, what to you want the dictionary for?
For advanced learners and translators big dictionaries and specialised glossaries can be the best choice, while a pocket size paper-back dictionary can be more helpful for a traveller.
Here is a good article about how to choose a dictionary:

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Tongue Twisters

You can have a hard time when trying to pronounce certain words in other language, but
it is so charming to hear a foreigner struggling to pronounce difficult words! As if isolated words were not difficult enough we have tongue twisters, short sentences, difficult to pronounce sometimes even for natives, real phonetic games!
Here are some tongue twisters (trabalenguas in Spanish) for you to have fun with:

Spanish -Tres tristes tigres tragaban trigo en un trigal
English - Shelly sells sea shells on the sea shore. the sea shells she sells are seashells she is sure
French - Les chaussettes de l'archiduchesse sont-elles sèches? Archisèches!
I really can't get right the tres tristes tigres one!

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

No Reason to Learn French?

An entire conference aimed at reviving French language in Asia couldn't even come up with enough reasons. This isn't really surprising (sad perhaps, but certainly not surprising), but what is interesting is some of the comments made by the Belgian ambassador who said that "English is vastly more useful than French in the business world and French companies would be well advised to use English if they wanted to succeed in Korea.
" Catherine Tasca, former French minister of culture said English was "not a quality language." What exactly is a "quality language"?

Monday, April 11, 2005

The best place to study spanish

If you have decided to learn Spanish, and you want to take a course abroad, where would you go?
There are so many countries and places where Spanish is the native language that sometimes it is difficult to choose a destination.
If you live in the US, in Canada or in any other place of the American continent you will realize that the variety of Spanish most widespread is Latin-American Spanish, including Mexican Spanish, Spanish from Argentina, Spanish from Chile, etc. Therefore a good option can be studying Spanish in one of these countries.
Mexico and Argentina, for example, are popular destinations, although not the only ones to be considered. If you decide to go for Mexico, I can suggest you the city of Guanajuato, with good language schools and a lively atmosphere.
But the origins of Spanish are in Spain, and this can be an excellent destination if you live in Europe or you are ready to take a locger journey.
Popular destinations in Spain are Barcelona, Madrid and the Costa Blanca, but there are less known cities such as Salamanca, located in the region which can be considered the cradle of Spanish. With one of the oldest universities to be built in Europe, Salamanca is the favourite destinations for students from other regions of Spain. It has become an important cultural spot in Spain, as well as one of the best places to experience the Spanish "fiesta".
Read more about Salamanca here
Let me know if you are coming to see it with your own eyes...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

What language should you learn?

Learning a foreign language or improving it is quite appealing to almost anyone.
The more languages you speak the more options and advantages you will have when searching for a job, a career improvement and of course when planning a journey, specially to a foreign country. Anything else? of course, speaking other languages will also help you to communicate with people. Making new friends, meeting other cultures, and even finding your "better half" can be at the reach of your hand.
Now, if you decide to learn a foreign language, ¿what language should you learn? different factors can help you to take your decision. English, Chinese and Spanish are the most spoken languages on the world, but you can also think about your interests and the countries that you would like to visit, for example, or even the people that you would like to meet.
To help you decide here is a test to help you choose which language to learn
Enjoy it!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

don Quixote's translations

Miguel de Cervantes' book Don Quixote - regarded as the first modern novel - is still a global bestseller and source of inspiration, 400 years after it was published.
Since 1605, it has been interpreted in a huge number of ways and today it is reputed to be the most widely read and translated book on the planet after the Bible. The 400th anniversary of the tale of an eccentric knight errant and his long-suffering squire Sancho Panza has also prompted a spate of new editions of the book. They include one in Spanglish by Ilan Stavans, Professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College in Massachusetts and one of the world's major experts on Don Quixote. He told the BBC World Service's Outlook programme that the book's enduring appeal was down to a central character who "moves across history, presenting different masks, and being appreciated - sometimes as a madman, sometimes as an idealist. "It is a character that not even Cervantes himself imagined to be so elastic."
You could approach Don Quixote from the American perspective, or the French, or the Soviet - and each individual in those contexts would be able to understand him and identify him."
In the communist Soviet Union, for example, Don Quixote was perceived as a rebel anti-capitalist hero.
The book's enduring popularity is reflected not only in the sheer number of translations and editions, but the number of efforts to bring it to other media - despite a superstition that any adaptations are doomed to failure.

More news about don Quixote here

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Juegos de palabras

El término free software, como muchos ya saben, tiene un doble significado en inglés (como bien explicó Antonio en las primeras páginas de su traducción de Free Culture). Richard Stallman, el Jesucristo Superstar de la comunidad de Software libre lo explicó con un chiste: free as in freedom, not as in free beer.

Monday, March 21, 2005

¿Tienes un mal día?

If you look like this today, don't worry too much.
It is Monday morning, what do you expect from me? This is really the best I could do after fighting with the mirror this morning, so give me a break!

And what about language learning?

Exercise 1 - Learn how to say it in other languages:
Spanish: Tener un mal día
Italian: Avere una brutta giornata
French: Avoir une mauvaise journée
German: Einen Schlechten Tag haben
Dutch: Een slechte dag hebben

Exercise 2 - The ambiguity of language: try to find out all the hidden meanings of "petting the pussy"

Vacas Posted by Hello

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Barzellette in italiano - Italian jokes

Let's brush up that Italian a bit! See if you understand the jokes

2 mutande in lavatrice. Una fa all'altra:
- Sei stata al mare che sei cosí abbronzata?
- No, ho solo avuto una giornata di merda!

2 amiche si confidano.
- La prima: Ieri sera mi sono fatta 2 martini, non ti dico come ho lo stomaco
- L'altra: Ieri sera mi sono fatta 2 negroni, non ti dico come ho il culo

Ufficio immigrazione:
- NOME? - Muhjatil Ahamed
- SESSO? - 5 volte a settimana
- No importante....a volte anche con cammelli

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

English - Spanish language tips

Learn something new every day!
Here are some useful language tips for my readers, at last! :-)

Inglés: Todas las palabras que comienzan por th se pronucian como "dz" excepto 3 palabras que se pronuncian como una "t": Thames (el rio), Thomas ( el nombre propio) y thyme (tomillo)

Inglés-Español: ¿Ya has oido hablar de los false friends? Son palabras-trampa que parece que te las sabes pero suelen llevarte a meter la pata, cuidado con estas:

constipated en inglés no es constipado sino estreñido
actually no es actualmente sino en realidad
eventually no es eventualmente sino finalmente
notice no es noticia sino aviso
curse no es un curso sino una maldición
discussion no es una discusión sino una conversación (sin duda,los ingleses son más civilizados que nosotros :-)


Back from holiday!

This is the hotel where I stayed in Tenerife, have a look at the website, it's really nice.
It was my second time there and I am already thinking of going back once more. We had a lovely week enjoining some sunshine (some rain too), a lot of jacuzzy, fresh sea air and.... laziness, of course.
If you are ever going to Puerto de la Cruz don't forget to try any of the delicious cakes, at Rancho Grande, for example.

Next holiday break comming in two month's time by the end of April
Possible destination: France

Thursday, February 17, 2005

My city: Salamanca, Spain

Here is my home town, Salamanca. Spain Posted by Hello

Why Siesta?

Existe un mito entre nuestros colegas extranjeros sobre la siesta de los españoles.

- ahhh! So in Spain shops close at midday because you sleep siesta? I see...

En realidad hay otras razones para que los comercios cierren a medio día; el horario de jornada partida, la semana laboral de 40 horas, la tradición de una comida copiosa, el placer de compartir ese momento del día con la familia, etc.
En las grandes ciudades cada vez es menos frecuente que los negocios permanezcan abiertos de 9 a 9, mientras que en las ciudades de tamaño medio sigue siendo rentable para los comerciantes cerrar sobre la 1.30pm y volver a abrir al rededor de las 4.30pm, una maniobra que les permite ahorrar costes en personal.
Respecto a la siesta, supongo que todavía hay un porcentaje de población que sí que la practica. ¿Quién se puede resistir a una siesta el domingo por la tarde después de una buena comida?
Aqui van algunos consejos si quieres probar:

How to sleep a Siesta:

To fully enjoy a siesta it is very important to have a good lunch with friends or/and relatives.

1. The real siesta takes place in bed, but a comfortable sofa is also fine if no bed is not available.

2. Timing is very important. A siesta should last between 15-30 minutes, no more. (I supposse that I don't observe this rule myself)

3. Don't let anything disturb you. The siesta is a very serious business. Some people can't enjoy a siesta unless the TV or radio is on. If these kind of things help you to fall asleep, use them.

4. The best way to wake up from a siesta is to hear a delicate human voice. If you don't have anybody near, remember to use an alarm clock.

Right after the siesta, a glass of water and a piece of chocolate will make your life easier.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

A good site for Spanish

This is a good site where you Spanish lovers, can find useful tools, information and free services.
Para los amantes del español!

Translation Studies

Translation studies had a boom in Spain during the 90's. It was then when the new Faculties for translation began to emerge in Spain, training professional translators and interpreters for many different fields and purposes.