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This is great news for all those who cannot get enough of sweet, funny and hilarious cat pictures. According to Ed Cooke, founder of Cat Academy, linking information to vivid images of cats is an effective memory aid and learning tool. To find out if this method is the cat’s whiskers and can help you to improve your language skills visit:



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Drumroll please…the Oxford Dictionary have announced the Word of the Year for 2013 and the winner is…SELFIE!


Pronunciation: /?s?lfi/
(also selfy)

noun (plural selfies)


  • a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website: occasional selfies are acceptable, but posting a new picture of yourself every day isn’t necessary


early 21st century: from self + -ie

Although the word has already been incorporated into the online version of the dictionary, its popularity has increased rapidly over the past year, leading to its status of Word of the Year. The increase in the use of this word is illustrated in the diagram below:


It is thought that this neologism first appeared on an Australian online forum, its -ie ending is a popular feature in informal Australian English, which uses shortened spellings of certain words such as ‘tinnie’, ‘barbie’ and of course, ‘Aussie’. The latest developments of the word ‘selfie’ have led to users changing the first letter(s) of the word to give more detail about the content of their photographic self-portraits, for example, the ‘welfie’ (workout selfie), the ‘drelfie’ (drunk selfie) or reality ‘star’ Kim Kardashian’s now infamous ‘belfie’ (a photo of one’s backside).

Click the link to read the Oxford Dictionaries’ blog


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There is already a long list of reasons why learning a new language can be a great idea. Languages can help you to progress in your career, expand your cultural awareness and even, simply, make new friends! Now researchers at Edinburgh University and Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences in Hyderabad, India, have provided us with another good reason to explore a new language: it can delay the onset of dementia. Scientists examined almost 650 dementia suffers and found that those who spoke two or more languages experienced a later onset of Alzheimer’s disease, vascular dementia and frontotemporal dementia. The study showed that the advantage of bilingualism even extended to illiterate people.

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quiz 28.10.2013Do you think you have solid language knowledge, then try this language quiz http://ec.europa.eu/languages/quiz/quiz_en.htm!

This quiz is currently available in 22 languages and all its illustrations have been drawn by Imre Szmodis, a Hungarian cartoonist.


What is Esperanto?

How many Welsh speakers are there in the UK?

Follow this link and find out: http://www.theguardian.com/education/quiz/2013/sep/20/languages

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Learning a language is a tricky business. Apart from working hard to build up basic vocabulary, one has to get to grips with grammar, spelling and word order. You learn rule after rule and then the exceptions to the rules. However, one of the trickiest aspects of language learning is the spoken word and with it pronunciation.

 If you would like to test your pronunciation abilities try to read the following verses aloud:

 “The Chaos”

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy. puzzled
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

This poem was written by G. Nolst Trenite. To read the full poem visit: http://www.i18nguy.com/chaos.html.



Adam Thirlwell, a British novelist whose work has been translated into thirty different languages, has produced a novel entitled ‘Multiples’, which demonstrates the complexity of literary translation. In order to carry out this unusual project, Thirlwell contacted sixty well-known contemporary authors from various different countries, inviting them to participate in this translation experiment. Twelve foreign language stories were selected for translation into English, Thirlwell ensured that these texts were relatively unknown in order to avoid any interference in the translation. These foreign language texts were translated into English by native English speakers; the authors who collaborated on this project had varying degrees of knowledge of the language that they were translating, in some cases very little knowledge indeed. Once the English translations had been completed these were then translated into 17 other languages and then back into English, in some cases these narratives were translated from a foreign language into English and back numerous times. Thirlwell commented that his reason for creating this novel was to explore style, and what would happen when numerous authors with distinct styles worked together. He was also interested in the ‘chinese whispers’ element of the project, and therefore how much a story would change once it had passed through the hands of a number of stylistically diverse authors. Perhaps one of the most interesting elements of this project was the feedback from the translators, nearly all of whom struggled to strike a balance between fidelity to the source text and creativity in the translation. David Mitchell wondered which element is more important- “authorial fidelity or the zing of your prose”. AS Byatt decided that, “I didn’t think I had the right” to tinker with previous iterations – and remained as faithful as possible to the original text, while the majority of authors leaned towards a more creative approach.

Below is a short extract from the book, demonstrating how an English sentence can change when passed through just one language:

Tears fell like rain on a dead fox with a broken neck and the faintest ghost of a smile. [David Mitchell]

Lágrimas – como gotas de lluvia – bañaron al Zorro muerto – la nuca torcida hacia atrás – el discreto esbozo de una sonrisa. [Valeria Luiselli]

Tears bathed the dead Fox like rain, and though his neck lay twisted backward, on his muzzle was seen the discreet trace of a smile. [Jonathan Lethem and Mara Faye Lethem].

To find out more about this book, an in-depth review is available on The London Review of Books

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It’s not just the British who are going crazy over the birth of Prince William’s son. In Europe, the media reaction has been almost equally fanatical to that of UK broadcasters. Online newspapers and social media are taking centre stage in the obsessive reporting of the birth across the English Channel. French newspaper Le Figaro are particularly fixated on the “Petit Prince” with a whole tab on their website dedicated to the Royal infant! The Italians have been equally intense: they are ranked among the top 5 countries in the world for the sheer volume of their Twitter and Facebook reactions to the event.

The most intriguing aspect of this whole international obsession is the anglicisation involved in reporting on the British Royal family. The desire to convey the same sort of spirit of the hype we are experiencing in the UK surrounding the birth has led to various bizarre anglicisms, which just end up sounding hilarious to English-speakers. One common example is the refusal to translate ‘Royal baby’ (‘Das Royal Baby’ in Germany and ‘le Royal Baby’ in France). The Italians – given their tendency to embrace any form of anglicism – take it even further, opting for ‘il little boy’ and ‘il baby boy’ over their mother tongue alternatives. Although this could appear concerning in a world which communicates in an increasingly “Globish” language with every passing day, in reality this is not a threat to the conservation of foreign tongues. Without even really paying attention to it, we are constantly borrowing words from other languages. The translation of French President François Hollande’s congratulations on the Royal birth certainly reveals how much we owe to the French language in our own culture, since his reference to the Entente Cordiale was left untranslated in the British media. Of course, since it was the name assigned to the peace agreements between the UK and France in the early 20th century, a significant historical event, it is obvious that there is no real need to translate it, since it is a technical term in its own right. In the same way, Royal family terminology is becoming more and more a series of borrowed English words when it comes to translating it for overseas newspapers. Keeping particular terms in their original English certainly does not stem from a desire to wipe out a foreign language’s equivalent term. Such anglicisms are a symbol of the international media embracing the “Britishness” of historical events involving the Royal family –an attitude which it would be admirable to replicate in our own media when reporting on similar international events.

Click here for more international coverage of the royal birth




In the fast-paced world of technology new vocabulary is required on a daily basis in order to discuss the plethora of apps, social media sites and other online communication tools used throughout the world. Once an app or website gains popularity, general discussion leads to the necessity for more specific, tailored language. Twitter, for example, has leant new meaning to the noun and verb ‘tweet’. Of course this need for new language does not only exist for English speakers but for any user of new technology, whether their native language is French, Chinese, Russian or any other language. As this evolution of language continues in English changes also occur in other languages. The newest official additions to the Spanish language are the verb and noun used in relation to the communication app, WhatsApp - a popular mobile instant messaging application. If you want to send somebody a message via WhatsApp you will need to ‘wasapear’ them, and if you want to talk about one such message you will be discussing a ‘wasap’ (plural ‘wasaps).  The Fundación del Español Urgente (Fundéu BBVA) announced that these words were acceptable Spanish adaptations of the English brand name at the beginning of the month. The foundation is a non-profit organisation that works in conjunction with the RAE (the the official institution responsible for regulating the Spanish language) and was created in 2005 with the aim of encouraging proper use of Spanish in the media.

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