Global Language’s 2014 Blog Roundup
Where has 2014 gone? It feels like the World Cup was only last week and we were enjoying impromptu barbecues in the long summer nights.
But calendars don’t lie. And neither does the weather.
So with only a few days of the year left, let’s drink some mulled wine, nibble on a minced pie and take a look back over the year.
Homage to Brazil
Back in June, Brazil kicked off the world’s largest sporting spectacular. The national teams of 31 countries descended on cities across Brazil to duke it out over the month-long competition.
In homage to host country, we scoured Brazillian Portuguese for the most interesting words, phrases and idioms.
It’s a beautiful, excellent, fantastic day
In August, we turned our attention to scintillating news of beautifully benevolent language. In the late 1960s, psychologists Matlin and Stang began investigating the positivity of language. They concluded that regardless of culture, people seem to use more positive than negative words. However, the small sample size of the study left their theory hanging in purgatory.
Forty-five years on and Peter Dodds of the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont took up the experimental torch. Dodds and his team constructed an enormous corpus of 100,000 words spread across 24 languages. They took the most frequently used 10,000 words and had subjects rate them. Each word was rated 50 times and these were compiled into a database of 5 million individual ratings.
This allowed Dodds to finally confirm Matlin and Stang’s theory.
The 41 Languages of Frozen
As well as being a cinematic and financial success, Frozen was a monumental linguistic triumph. Of the $1.2 billion grossed by Frozen, more than half came from localised versions of the musical.
Frozen has been translated and dubbed into French, German, Dutch, Danish, Italian, Catalan, Cantonese, Thai, Bahasa Malaysia, Russian, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Canadian French and another 28 languages.
While it is tricky enough to translate and dub a film, Frozen is a musical and that brought unique challenges. There were three distinct problems: maintaining meaning, keeping to the original rhythm and finding singers who could Idina Menzel’s warm vocal tone and three-octave range.
Last month, we took a moment to discuss constructed languages. That is, languages that did not evolve. Languages that do not owe their vocabulary to art, history, literature or culture.
Languages that owe their existence to the machinations of man.
The most well known of these languages is the creation of Polish-Jewish ophthalmologist Ludwik Lazarus Zamenhof, Esperanto. After a brief overview of Esperanto, we took a whistlestop tour of other important constructed languages.
5 Ways The Internet Is Changing English
Languages are like sponges: they readily absorb everything that they come into contact with. This means languages are in a constant flux of change and evolution. In September, we looked at the ways the internet had impacted the English language.