found in the translation

I’ve finally managed to get a decent range of machine translations organised for this site, so in addition to the orginal English, readers can select from 30 other languages. Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Chinese (traditional and modern), Czech, Danish, Dutch, Filipino, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Tagalog, Turkish, and Welsh.

Thank goodness for Welsh. I hope that this will mean my writing takes on the lyrical structures of Dylan Thomas delivered in the honey-shaped vowel tones of Richard Burton.

If I could get Hindi/Urdu and Bengali, I’d have a huge chunk of the population able to read these words in something resembling the language of choice. I’ve always added translations to any of my web sites where ever possible – in the old days it was images of scanned translations (probably more exact translations) of static pages, and then when Babel Fish Translation came along I was able to add powerpoint generated graphics. It was a bit rough and ready then so I checked the German with generous souls in the then Yahoo chatrooms. I’ve never understood why translation has never been one of the very first, and very best things available on computers.

As I understand it, there are over six thousand known languages still used on Earth, but a substantial portion – as much as half – are facing extinction. Others languages, including French and Danish, are being ‘anglocised’ by the all pervasive English language. According to an article in politiken.dk (please excuse my inept translation – Danish became lost in our home pretty much before I was born) some 130 of 329 Danish advanced education institutions offer courses delivered in English. The author (Marie Hjortdal) suggests that many Danes now incorporate English words into their everyday conversations – Danglish – and notes that in many larger businesses English is the first language. When I enquired about studying in Denmark 30 years ago I was advised that Danish was the language of instruction and if I wasn’t fluent, don’t bother. I wasn’t, I didn’t.

In writing about the article, a Danish expat living in France Ming the Mechanic notes

What makes the potential disappearance of any language sad is in part that there usually are things you can say in it that you can’t say in others. I speak English, French and Danish, and it is quite clear that one thinks differently with each language. There are things that I can say in Danish that just can’t be translated into the others. Nothing very technical, but more which kind of atmosphere is created with the way one says it. Like, there’s a certain warmness to Danish, and more ways of expressing friendly and cozy relations. And I can’t even properly describe what I mean in English, because the words don’t mean the same, and there aren’t good substitutes. It is a bit like the eskimoes and snow.

From Unipkausivt – Building Language and Literacy Skills through Oral History:

The Flourishing Language
* Has speakers of all ages, some of them monolingual.
* Population increases lead to an increase in the number of speakers.
* Is used in all areas of communication.
* The language adapts to the changing culture of the community.
* Speakers become increasingly literate.

The Enduring Language
* Has speakers of all ages; most are bilingual.
* The number of speakers remains the same in spite of population increases.
* English tends to be used exclusively in some situations.
* The language adapts to the changing culture of the community.
* There is little or no Aboriginal language literacy in the community.

The Declining Language
* There are more older speakers than younger ones.
* Younger speakers are less fluent in the language.
* The number of speakers actually decreases over time, in spite of an increased population.
* All speakers are bilingual and English is preferred in many situations.
* There is very limited literacy in the language.

The Obsolete Language
* The language is not taught to the children at home.
* The number of speakers is declining rapidly.
* The speakers are all bilingual and English is preferred in most situations.
* The language no longer adapts to new situations.

The Extinct Language
* There are no living ‘mother-tongue’ speakers.

I notice here in New Zealand, with English as my only fluent language, that more and more of English being consumed by USAenglish. I’ve heard Swiss-German being described as less of a language and more of a condition of the throat. I find increasing loss of English of – well – it’s a loss. On days when I’m less charitable, I think of it as cultural imperialism – I can still remember the cringe of installing software that gave me the option of English language, but in order to do so I had to click on the image of an American flag.

Again, from Unipkausivt – Building Language and Literacy Skills through Oral History:

Two factors chip away at the stronghold of a minority language such as Inuktitut. One is that by the time parents realize its use is disappearing, it is already too late. The second factor is the overwhelming power of English, a power felt today across the world. It’s not just that English is the language of Shakespeare, and Ernest Hemingway, and Margaret Atwood. It is also the language of Coca-Cola, and the Apollo program, and Bill Gates, and Michael Jackson, and Disney World. English is the language of power, and of glitter. Parents use English to link their children to the source of power.

I installed the software with the French option.

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