English Language Remained More Stable in the 20th Century

A scientific and linguistic analysis of data culled from digitized books shows that the English language remained relatively stable in the 20th century, with popular words and phrases falling out of favor at a slower pace as compared with past centuries.

The increased availability of digital information through initiatives such as Google Books makes quantitative academic research more feasible than ever. This access to copious amounts of digitized data allowed Slovenian researcher Matjaz Perc from the University of Maribor to analyze English-language books spanning five centuries. He discovered that during that time period, the English language has grown by about one-third. Additionally, he found that while the word “the” holds the distinction of most-frequently-used word between the years 1520 and 2008, the most common five-word phrases have changed quite dramatically since the end of the 16th century. In 1575, the top three phrases were “I have the honour to,” “Long Service and Good Conduct,” and “Lord’s Commissioners of the Admiralty.” By 2008, those top three phrases were supplanted by the following: “at the end of the,” “on the part of the,” and “in the middle of the.”

Perc found that popular words and phrases—referred to as “n-grams” in the study—went in and out of style much quicker in the 1500s, often being given the linguistic boot after just a few years. It wasn’t until the end of the 1700s that the English language’s list of top 100 phrases began to stabilize. Today common turns of phrase can live on for decades.

From a mathematical point of view, a snowball effect of sorts seems to be at work with these commonly used words and phrases. Once a particular phrase becomes popular, its popularity continues to grow and grow, making it less likely to be phased out of the language in the near future. And so, for better or worse, it looks like those well-worn clichés are here to stay.

The Meaning of ‘Chamuyar’ / ‘Chamullar’

Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language in Argentina (especially in and around Buenos Aires) and Uruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.

In Lunfardo, the word “chamuyar” (also spelled chamullar) means “to chat up” or “to sweet talk” a woman or “to make small talk.” Other possible informal English translations of the word include to smooth talk, to chitchat, to bullshit, to shoot the breeze, and to shoot the shit.

Chamuyar has also come to mean “to lie” in certain contexts.

It’s said that the verb “chamuyar” stems from the caló (gypsy dialect) word “chamullar,” which means to converse or chat.

Related words in Lunfardo:
noun chamuyo or chamullo: smooth talk, bullshit, small talk, lie
noun chamuyero/a or chamullero/a: smoothtalker, bullshitter, liar, pick-up artist

Usage examples: Vamos a chamuyar a unas cuantas minas. // We’re going to put the moves on a bunch of girls.

El nuevo plan de viviendas es un chamuyo. // The new housing plan is nothing but a lie.

The song “El chamuyo,” written in the milonga style by Edmundo Rivero, prominently features the word “chamuyo” in the title and lyrics.

Se bate, se chamuya, se parola,
se parlamenta reo, como “grilo”,
y aunque la barra bufe y dé el “estrilo”
el lengo e’ chile es un bacán de gola.

Si es vichenzo, escafaña y no la grola
lo catan pal’ fideo manco dilo,
y hay cada espamentoso tirifilo,
más puntiagudo que zapallo angola.

El chamuyo cafiolo es una papa
cualquier mistongo el repertorio “ñapa”
y es respetao cuando lo parla un macho.

A veces si otro camba me lo emparda,
hay programa de espiche en la busarda
o se firma, con un feite, en el escracho.

The Meaning of ‘Piola’

Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets ofBuenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language inArgentina (especially in and aroundBuenos Aires) andUruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.

In Lunfardo, the word “piola” takes on a number of meanings, but it generally refers to someone who is clever, crafty or astute. Piola can also be used to describe someone who’s nice or friendly, calm or relaxed in nature, or something that’s cool or great.

When piola is paired with the verb quedarse, the phrase takes the meaning “to be/stay/keep cool.” The phrase hacerse el piola is also used, an expression that means to pretend to be/make like one is clever.

Related words in Lunfardo:

noun piolada: 1 cleverness 2 a case where one personally benefits from a situation without considering how others will be affected

Usage example: Mi amigo es muy piola. Seguro que te va a dar buenos consejos. // My friend is quite clever. Surely he’ll give you good advice.

The 1975 song Patente de piola by Eladia Blázquez features the word “piola” in the title and lyrics.

PATENTE DE PIOLA

La gente hace rato, no quiere más lola,
Con los avivados llamados los piolas
Y ni por asomo entres en su ley,
Porque de los plomos el piola es el rey.

Cuidado muchachos con tanta ranada,
Porque no nos hace ninguna gauchada
Y eso que parece risueño y pueril,
Puede ser a veces patente de gil.

El que nada en la piolada,
Vos sabés, se puede ahogar
En la clásica bobada de faltar
O de sobrar,

Pero para el porteño flor,
Es un loco berretín,
Un glorioso antecedente
De ocurrente y de pillín.

En la maratón del piola nadie cola quiere ser,
En el ranking del canchero, él primero y vos después.
Yo no se quién lo embarcó en la estupidez genial
La que él piensa que es señor, cuando es un chanta nacional.

Que aunque nadie le dé bola, él es piola y nada más.

Que loca manía que tiene el porteño,
Cuanta fantasía, que inútil empeño,
Muestra complacido, en cada ocasión
Que está recibido de vivo y piolón.

Un candor ingenuo lo caracteriza,
Y aquel que lo juna, se mata de risa.
Vive pregonando que raja de más
Y lo ven jadeando llegar siempre atrás.

El que nada en la piolada, vos sabés, se puede ahogar,
En la clásica bobada de faltar o de sobrar,

Pero para el porteño flor,
Es un loco berretín,
Un glorioso antecedente
De ocurrente y de pillín.

En la maratón del piola nadie cola quiere ser,
En el ranking del canchero, él primero y vos después.
Yo no se quién lo embarcó en la estupidez genial
La que él piensa que es señor, cuando es un chanta nacional.

Que aunque nadie le dé bola, él es piola y nada más.

Latinos Spend More Time on Social Media than Other Groups

According to a market research study conducted by BIGinsight in February 2012, U.S. Hispanics spend significantly more time on social media than the average American Internet user. On any given day, 26.8% of Latino users are active on social media sites for upwards of six hours, while just 8.5% of all Internet users spend that amount of time on social media. While the big players like Facebook and Twitter garner plenty of attention from Latino users, interestingly, Hispanics are also more willing to visit some of the smaller social media sites such as Pinterest, foursquare and LinkedIn. For example, while just 4.9% of white users reported visiting LinkedIn on a daily basis, 15.5% of U.S. Hispanics log in to the site at least once a day. Understanding the social media usage patterns of Latino Internet users is vital to connecting with this key demographic and to creating meaningful relationships with customers.

For more information, take a look at this article by eMarketer.

The Absence of Certified Translators in the U.S. and Implications for Translation Buyers

Unlike most European and Latin American countries, licensure or certification for translators does not exist within the United States, neither at the federal nor the state level. In the case of interpreters, a program does exist to certify individuals so that they may work within the federal court system; however, interpreters in other fields are not subject to this certification process. Although there’s no official certification program for U.S. translators, they may seek accreditation through professional organizations such as the American Translators Association (ATA), which rigorously test translators before granting them a “seal of approval.” Without a formal certification scheme—and thus a lack of assurances regarding a translator’s competence—many agencies have developed their own certification procedures to vet potential translators.

In other parts of the world, only certified translators may translate certain types of documents, such as legal or medical texts, for example. However, in the United States, translators are not required to be certified or licensed in order to provide a certified translation. Any translators willing to take an oath before a notary public, attesting to the accuracy of the translation and their qualifications to translate to and from a specific language pair, can offer clients certified translations.

Unfortunately, the absence of certification for language professionals in the U.S. means that nearly anyone, regardless of experience, education or aptitude, can pose as a translator. In addition, many translators refer to themselves as “certified” in an attempt to increase their marketability. Given that there’s no licensure or certification program in the United States, it’s wise to question the qualifications of those claiming to be certified translators (i.e. who certified them?). It’s important to note that there are many highly qualified, experienced translators who are neither accredited nor certified by a particular institution.
What can translation buyers do given the lack of translator credentialing programs in the U.S.?

  • Inquire as to whether the translator is accredited by a professional organization for translators.
  • Thoroughly check the translator’s references.
  • Work with a translation agency that has taken the time to put together a trusted team of qualified translators.

Latinos and the 2012 Elections

As the 2012 U.S. elections draw ever closer, some candidates scramble to curry favor with influential Latino voters while others have dismissed the Hispanic vote altogether. However, the impact of the Latino vote in this year’s elections cannot be ignored by those seeking office, as Latino voters’ say at the ballot box will make or break competitive Senate races and decide who ascends to the office of president (or remains there) for the next four years.

The flexibility of the Latino vote means that this crucial demographic could swing either way politically in this year’s election. Most Republican candidates have firmly taken an anti-immigrant stance, and many of the party’s key priorities fail to resonate with Latinos. Nonetheless, President Obama hasn’t come through on important campaign promises to the Hispanic community and has, in fact, distanced himself from many in the demographic by increasing the number of deportations.

Immigration is the key issue for Latino voters. A recent poll conducted by Univision News revealed immigration reform as the number one concern for registered Hispanic voters, followed closely by jobs and the economy. Even when voters find that they agree with a candidate’s take on economic issues, they are less likely to vote for that candidate if he supports restrictive immigration policies.

In spite of a tremendous push to register Latino voters in 2008 and 2010, only some 60% of Latino adults are registered to vote, in comparison with 70% of blacks and 74% of whites. So, while the Latino population is experiencing dramatic growth, the influence of the Hispanic demographic on the 2012 election could be even greater than expected if voter registration drives result in more Latinos on the rolls.

The Latino community is engaged and energized ahead of these elections. Organizations such as The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Mi Familia Vota are working hard to register every eligible Latino voter and to encourage Hispanic turnout at this year’s election, which is predicted to be 25% higher than in the previous presidential election.

The Meaning of ‘Atorrante”‘

Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language in Argentina (especially in and around Buenos Aires) and Uruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.

In Lunfardo, the word atorrante commonly refers to one who avoids work and other responsibilities or one who lacks honesty and respect, with concern only for his own personal gain. In addition, atorrante carries the following meanings:

  • When used to describe a man or a woman (atorranta in the case of a female) – scum, bum, tramp, layabout, crook, slacker, good-for-nothing, naughty, cheeky
  • When used to describe a woman – whore, slut, easy, promiscuous
  • When used to describe a child – prankster, mischievous, cheeky
  • When used to describe an animal – mutt

The origin of the word “atorrante” is uncertain; however, there are two widely held explanations as to its etymological roots.

(1) It’s said that in the early 20th century, vagabonds and indigents slept inside huge cement pipes being installed for an important public works project in the City of Buenos Aires. Allegedly, the French-made pipes were emblazoned with the name of the manufacturer A. Torrent, and the men spending the night in these pipes gained the moniker “atorrantes” as a result.

(2) At the turn of the 20th century, unemployed men who came looking for work at general stores were offered the job of roasting coffee beans (to roast/toast = torrar). The raggedy-looking folks given this task later came to be known as atorrantes.

Related words in Lunfardo:

atorrantear – to loiter; to go out and have fun, especially at night; to go out in search of someone to have sex with

atorrar– to sleep

The word “atorrante” appears in the lyrics of popular 70s tune “Cara de tramposo” by Argentine pop and tango singer Cacho Castaña.

Cara de tramposo

Cara de tramposo y ojos de atorrante
con el pelo largo y la lengua picante

Dejó la Argentina buscando horizontes
en un viejo barco fue de polizonte
en tierras lejanas buscando fortuna

 

How Translators Can Protect Their Vision

Translators spend hours and hours each day plugging away at their work in front of a flickering computer screen. The pressure of deadlines often leads translators – and other professionals who work long hours in front of a monitor – to sit for extended periods without resting their eyesight. Unfortunately, this unhealthy behavior may lead to permanent damage to your vision, including the eye disorder glaucoma.

In addition to heavy computer use, screen flicker rate, glare, reflections and/or a poorly lit work environment place stress on your vision. This visual stress may manifest itself as eyestrain, headaches, blurred vision, dryness or irritation of the eyes, double vision, or trouble seeing at a distance after a prolonged session in front of the computer.

So, what can translation professionals do to protect their vision? Eye exercises, modifications to your workstation, regular breaks, and appropriate lighting are all steps you can take to avoid the symptoms listed above and maintain good eye health. Get more excellent tips for preventing and relieving computer eyestrain here.

 

Most endangered languages in the World

An endangered language is defined as any language that children will probably not be speaking them in 100 years. Here are the top ten most at risk languages:

1. Apiaca: Brazil

This language and way of life is threatened by the gradual creep of Portuguese into the Mato Grosso region. In 2007, the language only appeared to have one remaining speaker. This in spite of an ethnic population hovering around 192 people.

2. Bikya: Cameroon

This language might actually be extinct without ethnographers knowing it. The last contact with the only known Biyka speaker occurred in 1986. The remaining speaker also happened to be the last known Bikya in the country.

3. Taje: Sulawesi

This Austronesian language, also known as Petapa, was apparently only spoken by one person in 2000. It’s entirely plausible that it may have passed into extinction since then, but no linguist or ethnographer knows for certain.

4. Dampelas: Sulawesi

UNESCO claims that only one of the 10,300 Dampelas peoples spoke the Austronesian language as of 2000, meaning it may very well be extinct by now.

5. Diahoi: Brazil

As of 2006, there was only one Diahoi speaker in the world. Hailing from the Amazon region of Brazil, Diahoi is also known as Jiahui, Jahoi, Djahui, Diahkoi and Diarroi. Because of the isolated location, linguists and ethnographers don’t know for certain whether or not the language has become officially extinct.

Continue reading in The Telegraph

Lunfardo: What Does “Guita” Mean?

Argentine Spanish is strewn with words and colorful phrases from Lunfardo, a rich vocabulary born on the streets of Buenos Aires in the second half of the 19th century. Now considered a fixture of the Spanish language in Argentina (especially in and around Buenos Aires) and Uruguay, linguists cite the use of Lunfardo as a defining characteristic of the Rioplatense dialect. Add a dash of Argentine flavor to your Spanish vocabulary with the Transpanish blog’s ongoing feature highlighting some of the most frequently used terms in Lunfardo.

The Meaning of Guita

In Lunfardo, the word “guita” means “money” or “cash.” The word “dinero” (money) is not frequently heard in Argentina, with speakers tending to favor the word “plata” instead. The term “guita” is in widespread use throughout Argentina. In addition to guita, you may run across the words “mango,” “vento,” “sope” (a reversal of the syllables in the word “peso”), and “mosca” in a discussion about money. Also the word “guita” is equivalent to cent or “peso” (Argentine currency).

The word “guita” turns up in the lyrics of the tango “Al mundo le falta un tornillo” by José María Aguilar  and Enrique Cadícamo

Todo el mundo está en la estufa,
Triste, amargao y sin garufa,
neurasténico y cortao…
Se acabaron los robustos,
si hasta yo, que daba gusto,
¡cuatro kilos he bajao!
Hoy no hay guita ni de asalto
y el puchero está tan alto
que hay que usar el trampolín.
Si habrá crisis, bronca y hambre,
que el que compra diez de fiambre
hoy se morfa hasta el piolín.

Hoy se vive de prepo
y se duerme apurao.
Y la chiva hasta a Cristo
se la han afeitao…
Hoy se lleva a empeñar
al amigo más fiel,
nadie invita a morfar…