Valuable Ways Language Services Can Help Endangered Languages

While English continues to enjoy robust growth with the expansion of the internet over the past two decades, rare and indigenous languages continue to experience decline in the number of fluent speakers. Of the more than 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, only a couple of dozen account for the primary languages spoken by more than half the world’s population.
Indigenous and rare languages provide some of the most vital means for capturing and preserving the cultures of which they are a part. Losing these cultural records necessarily depletes the rich diversity of art, literature, and other forms of cultural expression. Taking time to formalize a language, and then steps to preserve it, can not only celebrate a vital part of a country’s or people’s history, but it can also enrich the future.
At least 2,000 of these rare languages are considered endangered, as fluent speakers number under 1,000. These languages include many Indigenous languages, which are often lost with the aging of fluent speakers. The expansion of online resources in primary languages like Chinese, English, and Spanish can also contribute to the decline of these rare languages.
Language services, including interpretation and translation, can play a vital role in the preservation of rare and disappearing languages. While technology can help with this preservation, so much more is needed. By providing opportunities and resources through community and business support, language services can bring helpful insight into the nuances of the language and vital support for its continued use and preservation. Preservation, in turn, helps to protect the rich cultural resources and history contained in these rare and indigenous languages.
As the 400 Language People, A Foreign Language Service seeks to provide services in a number of rare languages, including Basque (660,000 speakers left), Irish Gaelic (440,000 speakers left), Ojibwe (6,000 speakers left), and Quechua (2,300,000 speakers left). If you cannot find your language on our 400 languages and counting list, please let us know! We would love to grow our resources and to work with you and your organization!

Idioms and the Challenges of Literal Translation

An idiom, loosely understood as a phrase or expression that has a figurative rather than literal meaning, can pose many challenges when it comes to translation. As a saying understood within a certain demographic group, an idiom can loose vitality and nuance when it is rendered into translated form. An experienced translator understands this particular challenge and works hard to render idioms and similar figures of speech in a way that captures both the original expression but also the meaning implied by the words.

Idioms in Cultural Context
Thousands of idioms exist across all languages and people groups, with more than 25,000 idioms occurring in the English language alone. Some idioms, when they were first used, actually had literal meaning. For example, the idiom “barking up the wrong tree”–which means to misunderstand a situation–originally developed in reference to hunting dogs that barked at the wrong tree when pursuing prey. Other idioms reflect a culture’s understanding–or misunderstanding–of a particular topic. The idiom “once in a blue moon,” for example, finds its origins in a misunderstanding of the occurrence and frequency of blue moons, which happen once every three years or so. The phrase, as used today, indicates something that occurs rarely.

Idioms in Contemporary Translation
Idioms hold a unique place in the landscape of a language. Their meaning cannot be derived by merely attempting to add together the meaning of all the words in the phrase. In fact, idioms defy definition through traditional means. To accurately render an idiom in translation, a translator must have an understanding of the culture and communities in which it occurs, as well as an understanding of the idiom’s implied meaning. This makes idioms difficult to translate, because if it is translated word-for word, the meaning will not match the original. Idioms have be treated by a translator as units of vocabulary. Only then, can a translator respond with efficacy to the challenge of rendering an idiom in translation.

Need a highly qualified translator who can adeptly handle idioms and all the other words in-between? Call (844) 813-4242 or email A Foreign Language Service, the 400 Languages people, today for a free quote!

The Neural Pathways of Simultaneous Interpretation

TED-Ed provides fascinating insight into the complexities surrounding simultaneous interpretation. This form of interpretation usually involves interpreters who wear headphones and sit in a sound booth while providing real-time interpretation to an audience.

the complex craft of simultaneous interpretation
When stepping into a sound booth to provide simultaneous interpretation, an interpreter has not only been preparing for that particular assignment for hours or days, but the interpreter has also been gaining experience for years so as to provide fast and accurate real-time interpretation.

The TED-Ed video not only illustrates the the complex process of simultaneous interpretation, it also shows the incredible hard work of the interpreter. An interpreter devotes considerable time and effort to gain not only mastery of a language, but also understanding of a subject. Over time, this experience actually changes neural pathways in the interpreter’s brain, helping the individual to interpret with greater speed and accuracy. AFLS works with experienced interpreters who are skilled in simultaneous interpretation. Call or email for a quote today!