Archive for April, 2012

Brotherhood Quotations for the Brotherhood Week


Today is the first day of the brotherhood week in Turkey. I think the term, brotherhood, is something that most of us has already forgot. What about reminding them that “we are all different but we are all same”? I know that this post will reach to very few people; however, I want to believe in the power of social media somehow 🙂 When I check the statistics of this blog, I see that language lovers from more than 20 countries read and enjoy the same post. I guess even this is enough to see that we have no major differences… Here are some quotatations about brotherhood and unity:

You cannot contribute anything to the ideal condition of mind and heart known as Brotherhood, however much you preach, posture, or agree, unless you live it.  ~Faith Baldwin

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent.  ~John Donne

The moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.  ~James Baldwin

In union there is strength.  ~Aesop

Remember upon the conduct of each depends the fate of all.  ~Alexander the Great

So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.  ~Bahá’u’lláh

I look to a time when brotherhood needs no publicity; to a time when a brotherhood award would be as ridiculous as an award for getting up each morning.  ~Daniel D. Mich

Unity to be real must stand the severest strain without breaking.  ~Mahatma Gandhi

In all things that are purely social we can be as separate as the fingers, yet one as the hand in all things essential to mutual progress.  ~Booker T. Washington

Our design is so flawed, so take everything and fill the gaps with selfless love.

We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963

Cooperation is the thorough conviction that nobody can get there unless everybody gets there.  ~Virginia Burden, The Process of Intuition

We’re all just walking each other home.  ~Ram Dass

Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.  ~Kenyan Proverb

I have often noticed that when chickens quit quarreling over their food they often find that there is enough for all of them.  I wonder if it might not be the same with the human race.  ~Don Marquis


P.S. The word “brotherhood” may not sound politically correct 🙂 As a female blogger and translator, I wanted to find another term for this but I could not find anything more suitable to the context. Any comment about that is welcomed 🙂

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Do You Want to Learn an Agglutinative Language? Think Twice!

Well, my native language is an agglutinative one, Turkish. After taking comparative linguistics courses, I understood why so few people speak Turkish because it is crazy! It is hard to guess why people speak such a hard language; its logic is very complex and confusing. There are hundreds of exceptions which makes it almost impossible to make rules 🙂 When you examine the chart below, you will see what I mean 🙂 Thanks God I am native, otherwise I would have to try hard to learn an agglutinative language!

In this chart, you see a Turkish word “muvaffak” meaning successful. By adding suffixes, you can make a whole sentence out of one word! Adding suffixes  alone is not enough because the vowels and the consonants are also changing according to the vowel or consonant that follow.

I’ve found this on internet, so I do not know who made it. However, I would like to thank the creator.

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The Importance of the Context

A word on its own does not mean much to a translator. We all know that words get their meanings in their specific contexts. For this reason, many linguists try hard to build a corpus to help online translation tools to improve. I have just discovered a corpus website via one of my close friends. It is still BETA so it needs to be developed. Its source is open, which means everyone can easily contribute to this website or use the whole source of sentences for their own goods. There are many language pairs that you cannot find everywhere. I am happy to contribute such initiatives because at the end of the day, it will be a huge favour for us, for translators. Ifyou want to give it a try:

Click here to explore the website.

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Do You Have Problems with Your Pronunciation?

Even if you you know a language, it is almost impossible to know all the words and the way they pronounce. I am a French learner, so I generally try to read French articles and look up the dictionary for the unknown words. However, when I need to use them in a conversation, I  just cannot do anything. I know the word, I know how to spell it but I cannot be sure how to pronounce it in the right way. I have found a  very practical web site! There are 30 languages with many dialects. I find it very useful because you can also hear different pronunciations of the same word. I hope you also like it:

First you choose your language and the dialect:

You can also give some effects! Level feature enables you to change the form of the effect.

I recommend this website to my friends who are trying to learn a language online or on their own 🙂

Click here for this website.

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Digital Tools ‘to Save Languages’

Until recently, I had been thinking that internet spoils –or even destroys- the minor languages. As a Turkish native speaker, I was furious that every social media tool was in English or in other major languages. Last year, Facebook was translated into Turkish and a couple of months ago, Twitter added Turkish alternative, which were very good news because before all the translations, new phrases emerged in Turkey- half English and half Turkish! Since we have a certain conscious about languages, it is very annoying to see the degeneration of a language. When Facebook was translated into Turkish, it also began to make spell check and to underline the words that you misspelled. This was a huge favor to the new generation because they read everything on internet and some people are not conscious enough protecting and saving languages. They just ignore all the grammar or punctuation rules, they even misspell their own mother tongue! Anyway, I read an article on BBC by Jonathan Amos who proves digital tools are helping to save minor languages. Now let’s see the points that I find most interesting. You can also read the whole article by clicking the link at the bottom:  

– Of the 7,000 or so languages spoken on Earth today, about half are expected to be extinct by the century’s end.

– Globalisation is usually blamed, but some elements of the “modern world”, especially digital technology, are pushing back against the tide.

– North American tribes use social media to re-engage their young, for example.

– Tuvan, an indigenous tongue spoken by nomadic peoples in Siberia and Mongolia, even has an iPhone app to teach the pronunciation of words to new students.

– “Small languages are using social media, YouTube, text messaging and various technologies to expand their voice and expand their presence.”

– “But a positive effect of globalisation is that you can have a language that is spoken by only five or 50 people in one remote location, and now through digital technology that language can achieve a global voice and a global audience.”

– “Digital dictionaries contain more than 32,000 word entries in eight endangered languages. All the audio recordings have been made by native speakers.”

– “What we do with technology is try to connect people,” Prof Noori said. “All of it is to keep the language.”

– “The new digital tools do offer a way back from the brink for a lot of languages that seemed doomed just a few years ago.”

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You Can Utter the Lines of Shakespeare!

I always try to publish articles that are interesting and informative at the same time. Just before weekend, I want to enjoy a couple of lines that resemble to the ones of Shakespeare’s. Here is a very funny chart. You just pick one phrase from each column and combine them together. The outcome sounds like wonderfully embellished lines of the sonets… They generally do not mean something beautiful but give it a try just for fun 🙂

In Turkey, if your field is Foreign Languages in university, you are supposed to study English and American Literature. I took many courses about literature, poetry and Shakespeare. That’s why I wanted to share this with you; this totally amused me when I saw it. Please do not take it as an insult by the way 😦

I also thank Chris Seidel for this great post. I cannot give the link because I came across this on Stumbleupon, I tried to reach to the link but it just did not work…  All I could find was the name of the publisher, Chris 🙂

Combine one word from each of the three columns below, prefaced with “Thou”:

Column 1	    Column 2            Column 3 

artless             base-court          apple-john
bawdy               bat-fowling         baggage
beslubbering        beef-witted         barnacle
bootless            beetle-headed       bladder
churlish            boil-brained        boar-pig
cockered            clapper-clawed      bugbear
clouted             clay-brained        bum-bailey
craven              common-kissing      canker-blossom
currish             crook-pated         clack-dish
dankish             dismal-dreaming     clotpole
dissembling         dizzy-eyed          coxcomb
droning             doghearted          codpiece
errant              dread-bolted        death-token
fawning             earth-vexing        dewberry
fobbing             elf-skinned         flap-dragon
froward             fat-kidneyed        flax-wench
frothy              fen-sucked          flirt-gill
gleeking            flap-mouthed        foot-licker
goatish             fly-bitten          fustilarian
gorbellied          folly-fallen        giglet
impertinent         fool-born           gudgeon
infectious          full-gorged         haggard
jarring             guts-griping        harpy
loggerheaded        half-faced          hedge-pig
lumpish             hasty-witted        horn-beast
mammering           hedge-born          hugger-mugger
mangled             hell-hated          joithead
mewling             idle-headed         lewdster
paunchy             ill-breeding        lout
pribbling           ill-nurtured        maggot-pie
puking              knotty-pated        malt-worm
puny                milk-livered        mammet
qualling            motley-minded       measle
rank                onion-eyed          minnow
reeky               plume-plucked       miscreant
roguish             pottle-deep         moldwarp
ruttish             pox-marked          mumble-news
saucy               reeling-ripe        nut-hook
spleeny             rough-hewn          pigeon-egg
spongy              rude-growing        pignut
surly               rump-fed            puttock
tottering           shard-borne         pumpion
unmuzzled           sheep-biting        ratsbane
vain                spur-galled         scut
venomed             swag-bellied        skainsmate
villainous          tardy-gaited        strumpet
warped              tickle-brained      varlot
wayward             toad-spotted        vassal
weedy               unchin-snouted      whey-face
yeasty              weather-bitten      wagtail

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Google Translate: The Facts

There have been some misunderstandings about our attitude to machine translation. Everybody uses machine translation like Google Translate but we should know its capacity. We can not use it for important texts or for texts including culture-specific phrases. Other than these, we can use machine translation to simply get the “gist” of a document.  

For Latin or Germanic languages, using machine translation can work to get a general idea about the text; however, it is not the same for other language pairs. My mother tongue is Turkish. My second language is English and I know a little bit French and Spanish. I confess that, I myself use Google Translate for my French homeworks from time to time but it “always” needs double check. During translation, I use English-French language pair because Turkish-French is such a disaster. That’s to say, machine translation works (of course not 100%) when it comes to similar language families. Although Turkish uses Latin alphabet, the sentence structure is different.

Now let’s check out some facts about Google Translate. Thanks John Bunch for listing these facts in his article titled “Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know About Google Translate”, which is kind of descriptive what we are faced with 🙂 


  • The head of Google Translate is a German. His name is Franz Ochs, and he is an expert in computers and language. He now works in Mountain View, Google’s home base in the Bay Area of California, but he is originally from Germany. He studied in Germany and California and was later asked by the U.S. government for help after 9/11, but he went to work at Google.
  • One main goal of Google Translate is to empower non-native speakers of English. Let’s face it, 70% of the Internet sites in the world are written in English, with American English being particularly dominant. If you are a teenager in China or Mali or Brazil, maybe you have not mastered English yet, but want to read certain websites. Google Translate is designed to help you figure out, in an instant, what a website is about.
  • Google uses as its source text four main things: Biblical texts (the Bible has been translated into every language known to man), texts from the United Nations (UN), and texts from The European Union (EU). This might be one reason that GT does a better job with European languages, than with non-European langauges. Another main source is – surprisingly – mystery novels. For this reason, Google Translate produces relatively decent legal and diplomatic texts. And if you want a chunk of a John Grisham novel translated, it can probably do that too.
  • Google translate does not “think”, it uses a statistical approach. From that point of view, it really – in my view – is not that different from a CAT (computer-assisted) tool. In fact, Google Translate, as I mentioned, is often used directly with a CAT tool, and it is a decent tool.
  • Google Translate is amazingly bad at simple German syntax. It really is quite awful (I am speaking from personal observation here).
  • Google uses English as a “pivot”. A pivot is a node through which everything else flows. For instance, if you use Google Translate to translate from Greek to Norwegian, Google Translate will not match Greek source text with Norwegian target text. Instead, it matches Greek with English and then English with Norwegian. English is used as a kind of “lingua franca” or intermediate language for the tool.
  • Franz Ochs, the head of Google Translate, has admitted on more than one occasion, that he does not use the tool much at all ! But he did use it on a trip to Japan, to translate menus.
  • Google has human translators do its own translations. It does not use its own tool (thanks to David Bellos for that insight).
  • Google Translate is helping preserve some endangered languages. Dialects of Maori that are no longer spoken, etc.
  • There are confidentiality issues – for translators and translation companies – in using Google Translate ! Think about it: you are feeding your client’s confidential source text into a machine that holds it “forever” and is available then to “the world”, i.e. everyone. Few think about this, I am sure.
  • Ochs thinks that improvements will continue in the tool, but admits he does not know where the tool’s limits are.
  • Google is fighting a battle – whether it knows it or not – against prescriptivism, the idea that there is a “right” way to speak, defined by pre-set rules (a view for instance that is very strong in France and in other countries). Rather than rules, it looks for how language is actually being used, “on the street”, so to say (closer to the German way of lexicography).
  • You can set your website so that it won’t be translated by Google Translate.
  • Good translators often Google Translate instead of a dictionary. One experienced patent translator said he does it “When I get lazy”.


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