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The rise of COVID ‘snowclones’ – the mother of all linguistic phrases

The rise of COVID ‘snowclones’ – the mother of all linguistic phrases

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an explosion of new words and phrases in English (for example, ‘covidiot’) and other languages, e.g. ‘Coronaspeck’ in German (to describe lockdown weight gain) that have helped us make sense of a period defined by social confusion and constant change, as well as global stagnation. The scope of language innovation in relation to…

Australian Navy pokes fun at machine translation in its recruitment campaign for linguists

Australian Navy pokes fun at machine translation in its recruitment campaign for linguists

The Royal Australian Navy needed to recruit 40 Navy Cryptologic Linguists, a priority role whose primary duty is to intercept and translate foreign languages. To generate recruitment buzz, last year they launched a digital campaign that highlighted the need for human translators. Thus they began to enlist the help of Artificial Intelligence, the very technology most job seekers are fearful…

Our mother language is our identity

Our mother language is our identity

International Mother Language Day 21 February was announced by the UNESCO in 1999 to celebrate cultural diversity and to commemorate the “language martyr” experienced by students 1952 in Bangladesh. These students are now honoured by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the promotion of protective measures for endangered languages. It is hard to imagine the challenges faced by students who have…

Collecting Words

Collecting Words

On National Dictionary Day on 16 October, America honours the birthday of Noah Webster, the word lover who thought Americans should have their own dictionary since all English-language dictionaries came from England. It’s a day to celebrate the power, practicality, and playfulness of language itself. There is indeed power in language, in the command of a broad vocabulary consisting of…

Sign languages and manual alphabets

Sign languages and manual alphabets

The UN General has proclaimed 23 September as the International Day of Sign Languages in order to raise awareness of the importance of sign language in the full realization of the human rights of people who are deaf. Sign languages convey meaning visually, using fingerspelling systems, known as manual alphabets. These were invented so that words could be transferred from…

Literacy today requires more than just being able to read and write

Literacy today requires more than just being able to read and write

The 8th of September was proclaimed International Literacy Day by the UNESCO in 1966 to remind the international community of the importance of literacy for individuals, communities and societies as a matter of dignity and human rights, and the need for intensified efforts towards more literate societies. International Literacy Day 2020 will focus on ‘Literacy teaching and learning in the…