Archive | July, 2013

The Way of the Polyglot

No one can deny how useful it is to speak more than a single language. Many see fluency in two or more tongues as a sign of intelligence, too. But beyond being a convenience or novelty, multilingualism has the power to open closed doors. It can create job opportunities, enhance cross-cultural understanding and promote unity … Read More

Language Development Through the Ages

One of the greatest mysteries of science is the origin of human language. A lack of empirical evidence has forced researchers to rely on fossil records, observations of how animals communicate, contemporary linguistic comparisons and other indirect studies. As a result, two contrasting schools of thought have arisen. One side says the complexity of language … Read More

Keith Chen: The Benefits of Futureless Languages

In February 2013, media outlets from America’s Wall Street Journal to the U.K.’s BBC were abuzz about bold observations being made by a behavioral economist at Yale University. Keith Chen was claiming that a soon-to-be-published study would show how rates of obesity, smoking, drinking, debt and poor pension planning correlate directly to the types of … Read More

The Roots of Translation

Of all the written works ever translated from one language to another, none has gained greater attention than the Bible. One estimate puts the number of languages in which biblical passages have appeared at 2,798, and at least 518 different language versions of the book’s Old Testament have been identified. They range from the original … Read More

Progress in Machine Translation

Machine translation is nothing new—at least not in the realms of science fiction. In his 1945 novella “First Contact,” American author Murray Leinster (aka William Fitzgerald Jenkins, 1896~1975) deserves credit for proposing a device he called the “universal translator” (UT). By the time the series “Star Trek” debuted on U.S. television in 1966, the UT … Read More

The Expertise Factor in Business/Technical Translation

One of the surest ways to tell the difference between an expert and a layman in any field is their use of specialized language. The expert is a master of nomenclature, fluent with the signs, symbols and phrasings of a particular science, discipline or art. The layman uses common terms in discussing technical matters, betraying … Read More

How Language Learning Affects Thought and Behavior

Learning a language is a curiously powerful process. It’s like taking a journey through a strange land full of obstacles, surprises and discoveries. Through study, instruction or experience, one who was previously incapable of understanding the meaningless utterances of others becomes able to make sense of and replicate their words, phrases and syntax. The effects … Read More

Language and the Human Brain

While many folks struggle to master their own mother tongue, others seem to pick up new languages easily and quite naturally. Does the ability to acquire language have something to do with intelligence? Or is it simply a matter of how our “grey matter” is wired? Some revealing answers can be found in the field … Read More

Chinese Translation and its Connection to The Future of Technology & Manufacturing in China

Beginning in 1953, the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) started laying out a series of social and economic development initiatives in the form of “Five-year Plans.” From the very onset, great emphasis was placed on technology and manufacturing, launching an intensive program of industrial growth that established a firm, modern technological foundation … Read More

The Evolution of Chinese Translation

Chinese history stretches back more than 4,000 years to the Xia Dynasty (夏朝) of 2070~1600 BCE. However, it was not until the 11th century BCE that any form of serious translation activities were undertaken—what might be deemed the first of four waves of knowledge and cultural exchange with the rest of the world. Beginning with … Read More