August 30, 2010

Interesting news about the OED

I found this interesting. Apparently OUP are considering the not unsurprising possibility of not printing a physical copy of the next "edition" of the OED.

Aside from questions about the utility of printing a work that in printed form spans several volumes and still requires a magnifying glass in order to be read, I find two things interesting:

- in today's climate, the editors still aoparently see the dictionary as existing in discreet "editions" rather than a work that continuously evolves over time;
- the task of formatting and printing a work (albeit a long one) that exists in electronic format is still seen as an arduous task.

The description of the OED as "the authoritative guide to the English language" is also intriguing. It is *a* dictionary produced by *one* set of human dictionary editors. I'm always perplexed by this image of certain people somehow being in direct communication with a mystical "God of Language" to which other mortals do not have access...

Interesting news about the OED

First audio recordings now available with the dictionary

I'm pleased to announce that the first audio recordings are now integrated into the French-English dictionary. This means that for the most common French words, a small "loudspeaker" icon will appear next to the headword. Clicking on this icon will allow you to listen to the pronunciation of the French word in question.

Automatic translation quoting now possible with docx files

The translation service quotation tool now understands DOCX files. Whilst many clients still submit their documents in the "traditional" DOC format, an increasing number are moving over to the DOCX file. Hopefully this update to the tool will assist those requesting quick translation quotes before deciding whether or not to go ahead with the translation.

If you require a translation of other document formats that are not supported (for example, French translation of a PDF or scanned document), then please make initial contact and potentially e-mail the file for quotation as indicated.

E-mail contact will also be necessary in the case of web site translation, where you may initially send the URL of the site. (A number of options are available: see the separate information page on website information for more details. Key issues are how you are able to provide the copy to be translated, and what workflow is best suited to your needs.)

August 28, 2010

French Linguistics translation service availability

Enquiries to the site's French translation service (also available in other languages) will generally be available as usual over the bank holiday weekend, including Monday 30th August.

Update to the French dictionary

Today's minor update adds a few basic "declined" forms of words previously missing from the French dictionary.

August 27, 2010

Maintenance work this weekend

I'm going to be carrying out some maintenance work this weekend on the French Linguistics web site which will probably mean that the dictionary and some other pages of the site will be unavailable for occasional 30-60 second periods.

This work is in preparation for work to be carried out next month to move the site to a new upgraded server. Most of the work will be done over weekends and at times when as few as possible people are using the site in order to minimise disruption. Thank you for your patience!

August 25, 2010

Fix to present tense exercises

A fix has been made to the interactive present tense exercise available in the French grammar section of the web site. If you're learning the present tense and are not aware of this page, then you may like to check it out and practise forming the present tense on line.

A full screen version of this and various of the other on-line grammar exercises is also available for classroom use.

August 24, 2010

Speech enabled on the verb conjugation pages

The French verb tables given on the site now allow you to listen to the pronunciation of the verb forms.

To listen to the forms of a verb, look the verb up in the French dictionary, then look for the list of verb forms that appears-- usually towards the bottom-- in the dictionary entry. Look for the link saying Click here to see the full conjugation. Clicking on that link will take you to the full verb table for that verb, from where you can click to listen to the pronunciation any of the verb tenses.


- Conjugation of avoir
- Conjugation of être
- Conjugation of aimer
- Conjugation of faire
- Conjugation of prendre
- Conjugation of finir

The French grammar page also gives a list of various common French verbs (regular and irregular), allowing you to get to the pronunciation of various common French verbs more quickly.

August 23, 2010

New worksheets: French grammar exercises

The French worksheets section of the web site now contains a new PDF with French grammar exercises. The exercises are based on the interactive ones available from the French grammar section of the French Linguistics web site. Further PDFs containing French grammar exercises will be added in the near future. As ever, your feedback on this and any content on the site is appreciated.

August 16, 2010

French dictionary update

The site's French-English and English-French dictionaries have been updated today. As usual, the updates come in various forms:

- various corrections to minor spelling mistakes which users have pointed out over the last few months;
- new vocabulary has been added, particular in the field of computing and new technological developments (words such as biclef, jailbreaké, smartphone);
- expansion of the entries to some common and basic words.

As usual, your feedback on any of the entries is appreciated and helps to ensure that the site's French dictionary is being continually improved.

August 3, 2010

Reaction: "High cost of interpreters hits local courts"

There has been predictably negative reaction among the linguistic community in response to an article published in the Atlanta Journal Constitution reporting on how some councils in the US are apparently bemoaning the cost of court interpreters. One councilman is quoted to have reacted to interpreters' pay by saying: "I need to get a Rosetta Stone [CD]. That's not a bad gig." Nobody on the other hand is reported to have commented on councillors' or lawyers' pay (or are people saying they really get paid less than interpreters?) by saying "I need to get myself a few law books."

The reaction from the translation and interpreting community echoes a longfelt feeling that clients and the public at large severely underestimate the high level of skill and training required to carry out this type of language work. Taking written translation first (and I should say that most of my own work involves this type of translation rather than spoken interpreting), it is worth reminding ourselves of what the task entails: one is generally expecting the translator to have a perfect understanding of the source text, to be able to convey the content of that source text in the target language not only extremely accurately, but with a quality of writing that disguises the fact that the new text is even a translation at all. The translator must be continually questioning their translation with issues such as, "what ambiguities am I potentially introducing into my translation that weren't there in the original?", or "in what way does my translation need cultural adaptation?". These can sometimes involve subtle nuances that take a great deal of linguistic experience and aptitude to spot and resolve.

When it comes to interpreting, the interpreter is generally expected to carry out much of this process on the fly, and in a courtroom, the potential implications of an accidental misunderstanding, omission or ambiguity may be all the more serious. As our learned friend embarks upon his "teach yourself Spanish in X weeks" course, I and many other linguists suspect he will discover that translating "anything thrown at him" to a standard admissible as court evidence is a bit more involved than ordering a coffee and asking directions to the station.

Surveys extended

Many thanks to all of those users who have filled in the three surveys currently running on the site:

- the French learner's survey is gathering some interesting, and in some cases surprising, trends on what aspects of language learning users find difficult, and will point the way for new material added to the French Linguistics site over the coming months;
- the iPad survey is also gathering feedback on how users would like to use their iPhones and/or iPads to help them with their linguistic pursuits, and will provide valuable input into future software offered for these two devices;
- in a slightly different vein, the translation survey is providing an insight into the expectations and requirements of those using the site's translation service.

I'd like to extend my thanks to all those users who have participated in the surveys so far. If you haven't yet taken part and have a couple of minutes to spare, then your feedback is greately appreciated. The surveys will be running for a little while longer, to give as many people as possible chance to take part.