Jose Carillo's Forum


Indian women bloggers find their voice, in their own language
By Nilanjana S. Roy, The New York Times
NEW DELHI, August 9, 2011—Rashmi Swaroop, who just completed her M.B.A. exams in the small tourist town of Ajmer, Rajasthan, is celebrating on her blog. Over at the popular Bengali-language site Desh-Bidesh, Nasim, a resident of Kolkata in her 60s, shares memories of the city in the years after India achieved independence in 1947. Kalki Subramaniam, an actress and transgender rights advocate, has kicked off a debate on marriage for transgendered people.

As the Internet opens up to different Indian languages, the profile of India’s female bloggers is turning out to be far more complex than many commentators might have suspected.

Ms. Swaroop writes in Hindi, Ms. Nasim and the other posters on Desh-Bidesh blog in Bengali, and Ms. Subramaniam’s two blogs are in Tamil and English.

Until recently, it would have been hard for anyone who did not speak the original languages to follow their blogs. The Indian blogosphere, a thriving community of millions now, was long constrained by language.

In 2006, Ravishankar Shrivastava, a Hindi blogger and freelance technical consultant and translator, estimated that there were fewer than 300 Hindi-language bloggers — abysmally low for a language with more than 400 million speakers in India — and about 2,000 Tamil bloggers across the whole of India. By contrast, English-language bloggers then were estimated at 40,000.

The problem was technical. At the time, the Internet in India was primarily in English. Though individual bloggers in various Indian languages have gone online for more than a decade, it required higher than average computer skills and comfort with a Roman alphabet keyboard. It was only about three years ago that access to Indic scripts became easy enough that ordinary users could engage in discussions in their own language.

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China’s drive to teach English stalls in the west
By Chris Tribble, Guardian Weekly

LANZHOU, August 2, 2011—Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu province, held its first international marathon last month. While this relatively remote city in north-west China has been attempting to raise its profile through the athletics event, thousands, if not millions, of students in the region are running their own personal marathons as they race to learn English.

Gansu is one of China's poorest provinces and is struggling to emulate the economic growth and prosperity of the country’s east coast regions. The population of Lanzhou has risen from 2 million in 2000 to over 3 million today. According to the environmental consultancy the Blacksmith Institute it ranks among the world's 30 most polluted cities.

In a bid to stem migration away from blighted cities such as Lanzhou and Xining, the capital of neighbouring Qinghai province, to the jobs and prosperity of the eastern cities, the central government in Beijing has been investing in infrastructure and jobs. These western cities are now doing everything they can to be part of China's next success story. A knowledge of English is seen as an essential skill to transform their populations into a high-value workforce.

While a national campaign for education renewal, including wholesale reform of English language teaching, started at the beginning of the last decade, its effects were only felt in Gansu and Qinghai in 2005…

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European framework in ascendancy on English competence
By John Ross, The Australian

AUSTRALIA, August 6, 2011—IELTS, which is about to lose its monopoly position as the English language test for student visa purposes, also risks losing its default position as a means of expressing English language competence.

IELTS is used generically in Australia to express minimum requirements for academic selection, skilled migration and professional entry in fields such as accounting and nursing. But a British expert said it could surrender this role to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

“There’s a lot of evidence that the CEFR will become the standard way people talk about language proficiency,” said Michael Milanovic, chief executive of IELTS co-owners Cambridge ESOL.

Dr Milanovic said the CEFR was already the standard reference in Europe and increasingly in Asia, the Middle East and parts of Latin America.

He said it was a more effective reference point because it had very detailed descriptors and wasn’t tied to a product. “Access to a product is always more limited than access to a concept,” he said.

Popular tests such as IELTS, Cambridge English Advanced, Pearson Test of English Academic and the Test of English as a Foreign Language all have their own scales, he said. “Equating them is difficult because you’re talking about different ways of testing, and testing different things.”

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Indian-origin woman’s legal bid flayed by British debaters

LONDON, July 31, 2011 (PTI)—An Indian-origin woman’s bid to challenge the visa rule requiring immigrants to have English language skills has become a subject of hot debate, with critics coming down severely against it—some citing India’s rising economic prosperity, others arguing that UK was not a “dumping ground.”

Leicester-based Rashida Chapti, 54, has filed a petition in the High Court, seeking a review of the rule that immigrants must have English language skills before they can join their spouses in Britain. The rule came into force in November 2010.

Chapti’s India-based husband has been unable to secure a visa because he reportedly does not possess English language skills.

A British citizen, her review petition has been filed on the grounds that the rule breached her human rights to family life.

On radio chats and Internet forums, Chapti’s review petition has come in for severe criticism, with people stating that if she wanted a family life, she should return to India instead of bringing her farmer-husband to the UK and then allegedly claiming financial benefits from the taxpayer here.

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“It’s very nice, no?”—Nonnative English as a norm
By Mike Guest, The Daily Yomiuri

JAPAN, August 1, 2011—When a Lithuanian businessman negotiates a deal with a Portuguese counterpart, the language of choice is almost certain to be English. So, too, when a South Korean academic meets with a fellow intellectual from Indonesia. And, unless either of the parties has spent a lot of time in English-speaking core countries, it is unlikely that the English used in these exchanges will be “standard,” if by standard we mean conforming to British/U.S. norms. If judged by such a standard, their English will appear “imperfect.” And yet business still gets done, new academic insights and findings conveyed. These nonnative speakers of English must be doing something right.

The members of the VOICE (Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English) project seem to think so. Headed by University of Vienna English and Applied Linguistics Professor Barbara Seidlhofer, the team has collected 1 million words (120 hours) of naturally occurring, unscripted, transcribed spoken English data from Europe-based nonnative speakers of English (encompassing 50 different mother tongues). The goal is to identify common denominators of English form and usage that exist among competent nonnative speakers of English that allow them to succeed in communicating. The resulting corpus, it is believed, can serve as a basis for teaching and learning ELF, English as a Lingua Franca.

This has profound implications for language teachers in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) contexts such as Japan. It begs the question as to whether traditional native English standards are really required as a learning model or goal. In one sense, it will never hurt a learner to try to emulate native speakers of any language. And certainly Japanese who plan to interact with people from English core countries or spend much time there would do well to make native English their model.

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Language, cultural barriers compromise patient care, majority of clinicians say
By Karen M. Cheung,
CALIFORNIA, July 28, 2011—A staggering 90 percent of clinicians say language barriers have compromised care in patients with limited English proficiency, and 86 percent said cultural barriers compromised care, according to a QuantiaMD report released yesterday.

QuantiaMD found that physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants encounter at least 25 percent of their patients who either have limited English skills or cultural considerations that influence their care.

One respondent said when word spread that this internal medicine physician spoke Spanish, many patients switched physicians, who otherwise did not discuss their medical issues with other providers because of language barriers.

Fluency in other languages alone, however, won't address the needs of ethnic populations, according to Victor Bonilla, a cardiologist at University of California, Davis.

"The ability to communicate with a patient in their native tongue is a huge asset, but it only addresses part of the issue," he said in the press QuantiaMD press release. "It is just as important for physicians to understand the effects of different cultural beliefs and behaviors and how these may influence expectations of healthcare, understanding of a disease state or adherence to treatment."

To address the needs of ethnic populations, some hospitals are experimenting with cultural concierges…

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The Bible is rewritten using “the language of today”

July 22, 2011—A professor from the Divinity College at McMaster University is one of a group of translators involved in a four-year $3.5 million dollar project to publish a new translation of the Bible.

“We were trying to render the text into the language of today,” Cynthia Long Westfall, a professor at McMaster’s Divinity College, told the Star.

Called the Common English Bible, with a first print run of about 70,000 copies, the work is the effort of 200 Biblical scholars, linguists, editors and readers from 24 denominations, says the associate publisher Paul Franklyn.

“We did it because the language has changed a lot,” Franklyn told the Star in a phone interview.

“Our vocabulary has expanded enormously since globalization.”

As a linguist and a translator, Westfall’s view “is that we can take the language of the Bible and put it into the language of here and now.

“There is no reason to use an archaic word that most people don’t understand anymore and you have to go to a class on theology to understand.”

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Non-native English speakers inspire linguistics archive
By Susan Logue, Voice of America News

FAIRFAX, Virginia, July 24, 2011—Everyone speaks English a little differently, especially if it is not your first language. It was these unique nuances of non-native English speakers which inspired  linguistics professor Steven Weinberger to create the Speech Accent Archive at George Mason University.

Although it was designed to prepare students for a career teaching English as a second language, the archive gets a million hits a month from an audience with diverse needs.

“We get notices from speech pathologists, from computational engineers who do speech processing," says Weinberger, "from PHD students who want to do research on bias and accent judgments, from actors who need to learn a special part.”

Estimates for the number of native English-speakers worldwide range from about 300 million to over 400 million. Millions more speak English as a second language.  Where each speaker learned the language, and at what age, can make a difference in how it sounds.  Those differences are what can be heard online at the Speech Accent Archive.

There are 1,500 recordings in the archive. The speakers come from countries across the globe, places like the United States, England and Australia, where English is the primary language.  And places like China, Iraq and Eritrea, where it is not.

Weinberger says the students in his introductory English phonetics class are mostly interested in teaching English as a second language. They wanted to study how non-native speakers pronounce different sounds. 

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Dubai becomes educational tourism hub

DUBAI, July 16, 2011—As the summer months sink in, Dubai sees an influx of young tourists pursuing their growing interest in Arabic language and culture.

Students from other parts of the world have been flocking to the region for a variety of reasons. For many, Dubai proves to be the ideal destination for language immersion.

Learning Arabic allows students to pursue careers in international relations and consular diplomacy in the Middle East. Knowledge of the language also offers a peek into the region’s rich history, steeped in art and culture.

“Dubai is the perfect mix of the modern and the traditional. Staying here has allowed me access into regional cultural artefacts, from Syrian art to Omani folklore, without having to travel to these places,” Jannike Thiesen, a 22-year-old Art History student from Norway, told Khaleej Times. She spent the last three weeks in Dubai as part of research for her thesis on Islamic Art in modern cities, and has also enrolled herself in a two-week summer Arabic language programme.

Then there are students, such as Leslie Malouf, who opt for an extended stop-over in Dubai to learn the language of their forefathers. “Two of my friends (of Arab ancestry) came with me on this trip. We decided on Dubai because it’s largely bilingual which is a safety net for us, knowing that even if our spoken Arabic is weak, people can understand us,” the third generation Lebanese American student said.

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Korean a mouthful for English speakers
By Bae Ji-sook, The Korean Herald

SEOUL, July 17, 2011—Korean has long been thought of as a difficult language to learn, and now a U.S. website, the ThirdAge (, has ranked it the fourth most difficult language to learn, at least among English native speakers.

The website, which calls itself the biggest site for baby-boomer generation women, said that Korean has a “different sentence structure, syntax, and verb conjugations that makes learning Korean extremely difficult for those who come from a European background.” It noted that written Korean also uses many Chinese characters.

Arabic was ranked as the most difficult language for using fewer vowels, which can be extremely hard for those learning to read the language. It was followed by Chinese, whose meaning changes according to the change of the tone of a word, and Japanese for having three different writing systems and two syllabary systems. Hungarian placed fifth for having feminine, masculine and neuter genders as well as seven different verb conjugations.

The site said that whether these languages are similar in grammar and structure to many people’s native tongue ― in this case, English ― was the main factor for the selection.

Susan Freese, who has been learning the Korean language for five years here, agrees. “Learning a dissimilar language is always a challenge but familiarity does matter: Learning Spanish with similar words and meanings to English is nothing like learning Korean, which you have to start from scratch,” she said.

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Citizenship is out of reach some green-card holders
By Kate Duhadway, The Herald Journal

LOGAN, Utah (AP), July 20, 2011—There is nothing Emiliano Gouarca wants more than to become a U.S. citizen.

But because the 50-year-old Mexican immigrant had never been taught to read or write in any language, he failed the citizenship test twice and, after spending more than $3,700 in lawyer and application fees, now has to start over from square one.

"I lost a lot of money," Gouarca said. But he hasn't given up hope of citizenship yet so he's taking a basic reading and writing class at the English Language Center of Cache Valley, and plans to apply again for citizenship when he can.

A green card holder and permanent resident of the United States, Gouarca has been legally living and working in the United States for more than 20 years. He can legally do everything a U.S. citizen can, except vote. But because he would like his aging parents to join him in the United States, and it will be much easier for them to come once he's a citizen, Gouarca is willing to do and spend what it takes to speed up the process.

Sally Bishop, who teaches a citizenship course at the English Language Center, said many people who go through the process of becoming a citizen do it for no other reason than that it means so much to them to be an American.

"A lot of people want to become citizens," Bishop said. "They want to because they think it's a great country. ... They want to be citizens because they want to be an American, they're happy, they're proud of that."

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An Israeli algorithm sheds light on authorship of the Bible
By Matti Friedman, Associated Press

JERUSALEM, June 29, 2011—Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible.

The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book.

The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications — from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm's creators.

For millions of Jews and Christians, it’s a tenet of their faith that God is the author of the core text of the Hebrew Bible — the Torah, also known as the Pentateuch or the Five Books of Moses. But since the advent of modern biblical scholarship, academic researchers have believed the text was written by a number of different authors whose work could be identified by seemingly different ideological agendas and linguistic styles and the different names they used for God.

Today, scholars generally split the text into two main strands…

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Seven words commonly misused and abused in the English language
By Kristal Roberts,

June 29, 2011—It’s become a bit of a trend to use words incorrectly by putting a spin on the meaning: bad is the new good, and something called “hot” isn’t dangerous, it’s hip -- you get the idea.

But sometimes wrong isn’t the new right, you’re just flat out using words incorrectly.

Here are seven commonly misused words that we’ve taken the liberty to refresh your memory on the true meaning.


Often used to mean: phrase use to intensify the intent of what is being said, often figurative.

Really means: Emphasis on the fact that something actually happened, word for word.

Example: A cow won’t literally jump over the moon, but one could literally eat a cow if given the time and dedication to such a daunting, carnivorous task.


Often used to mean: Mildly amused, tickled
Really means: Bewildered or confused.

Example: I’m bemused by the varying colors in the crayon box, I can’t tell the difference between sky blue and perriwinkle blue.


Often used to mean: A lot of something
Really means: Too much of something.

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“This time it’s different”– the four most expensive words in English
By Tim Staermose, Sovereign Man
HONG KONG, June 28, 2011—For at least a decade now, the world has marveled at China’s amazing economic transformation.

Hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of medieval peasantry and brought into the modern world. Living standards have improved dramatically. China has become the manufacturing hub of the world.

And, today, China boasts world-class infrastructure on a truly impressive scale.  Beijing, Shenzhen, and especially Shanghai, have all become modern metropolises with facilities on par with any in the world.

Every taxi driver from Melbourne to Manitoba, and every money manager from London to L.A., recite the same mantra: insatiable demand from China (and India) will guarantee decades of prosperity for countries such as Australia and Canada which are blessed with the raw materials that billions of Chinese and Indian consumers require to emulate western lifestyles.

So the story goes…

Thing is, once anything has become mainstream knowledge in financial markets, it’s usually a sign we’re nearing the END of the boom. Or, at the very least, that all the positive news is already baked in the price.  That’s where we are today with China.

The Australian press is constantly running economic puff pieces, declaring endless rosy times for the country due to its commodity exports to China. This sort of thing borders on propaganda…

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Australians urged to embrace Mandarin
By Phil Mercer, Voice of America
SYDNEY, June 29, 2011—Young Australians are being urged to learn Chinese as a way to foster and support stronger long-term economic and cultural ties with China.  A leading Sydney researcher believes that Australia’s economy, which is dependent on minerals exports to China, would benefit if young people had a deeper understanding of the Chinese psyche and an ability to address language barriers that currently hamper business. 

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner.  The economic relationship is underpinned by the resources industry, where annual exports of Australian iron ore are worth more than $34 billion.  Lucrative sales of commodities helped to insulate Australia from the worst affects of the global financial crisis but some academics worry that the country is overly reliant on its minerals trade with China. There are concerns that should the Chinese economy stutter or contract, the economic pinch would also be damaging in Australia.

Graeme Smith from the China Research Center at the University of Technology in Sydney believes Australian businesses must increasingly tap into other markets in China, such as the financial services sector.

Smith also says that to expand those opportunities, more young Australians must be encouraged to learn China’s main language, Mandarin.

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The Oxford English Dictionary unveils its latest entries
By Richard Alleyne,

June 16, 2011—To fans of the Sonny and Cher hit "I got you babe" it may come as a surprise.

But the word "babe" as a term of endearment has only just been given official recognition in the Oxford English Dictionary.
The new definition, 36 years after the song, takes it place among nearly 2,000 new words to make it into the new edition of the bible of the English language.

Described as a familiar or affectionate form of address for a person, the word is said to apply to both men and women.

The new edition also says that it can apply as a description of an attractive man, as in "he is such a babe".

Other new entries include "brain candy", described as undemanding entertainment which is not intellectually stimulating, "urb" as a shortened version of urban, and "crystal methamphetamine", the narcotic.

Growing concerns over climate change are reflected in a number of words including "environmentally unfriendly" and "green fuel".

John Simpson, the chief editor of the OED, said that it may appear that many of the words had been around for years, but they are only included when their use is widespread.

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Fluent English speakers translate into Chinese automatically

June 14, 2011 (—Over half the world’s population speaks more than one language. But it’s not clear how these languages interact in the brain.

A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that Chinese people who are fluent in English translate English words into Chinese automatically and quickly, without thinking about it.

Like her research subjects, Taoli Zhang of the University of Nottingham is originally from China, but she lives in the UK and is fluent in English. She co-wrote the new paper with her colleagues, Walter J.B. van Heuven and Kathy Conklin. She wanted to study how two different languages are stored in the bilingual brain. “If you read in English, you don’t really require your knowledge of Chinese. Do you switch it off?” Earlier research in European languages found that both languages stayed active in the brain. But that work was in pairs of languages, like English and French or Spanish and Italian, have a lot of similarities in spelling and vocabulary. That’s not true for English and Chinese.

The subjects in Zhang’s experiments were all Chinese students at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. For the study, each person was shown pairs of words. The first word flashed on the computer screen so quickly that the person didn’t realize they’d seen it…

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In SEA English proficiency, Singapore ranks 1st, the Philippines 2nd, Malaysia 3rd

KUALA LUMPUR, June 10, 2011—When it comes to English proficiency, Malaysians are not at par with their neighboring counterparts, with the country ranking third out of five countries in the English Language Assessment (ELA).

The analysis of the ELA results by online recruitment company,, placed Singapore first for each employee category including non-executive and managerial.

Job seekers in the Philippines came in second for all levels except for higher management, in which the Filipinos were tops followed by Singaporeans and Malaysians, said in a statement.

Thailand and Indonesia came in fourth and fifth respectively.

The ELA test comprised 40 random questions to evaluate an individual's grasp of the English language.

Fresh graduates in Malaysia answered an average of 27 of the 40 questions correctly, while those in the Philippines and Singapore got 28 and 30 questions right respectively.

According to the statement, the difference in scores of Malaysians and Singaporeans revealed that local graduates lacked English proficiency.

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Russia races to develop English-speaking staff for 2014 Olympics

June 7, 2011—The organizers of the 2014 winter Olympics in the Russian resort city of Sochi last month appointed EF Education First, the Swiss-based language training provider, as the official supplier of language training for the event, with the task of teaching English to up to 70,000 Olympic staff, volunteers and tourist-sector workers.

Work is already under way to build stadiums and transport infrastructure from scratch in the coastal city and neighboring alpine resort. But with the games expected to attract tens of thousands of international visitors the organizers must now ensure that language is not a final barrier to success.

English will be the lingua franca of the games, not only among officials and athletes but also on the streets of Sochi, a city that hopes to make its mark on the international tourist map. But with the 1,000-day countdown to the opening of the games in February 2014 now started, the challenge of turning everyone from trackside judges to city taxi drivers into confident users of English is daunting.

According to Bernard Shearer, head of EF in Russia, his company has a proven track record in delivering large-scale English programs.

EF links to the Olympics date back to the 1988 games in Seoul, and more recently it was responsible for training 6,000 Olympic officials in advance of the Beijing games in 2008.

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English language test authority warns cheaters

June 3, 2011 (World News Australia)—The authority in charge of the International Testing Language System (IELTS) has warned all candidates against cheating, after a student from China told SBS Mandarin News Australia how he was paid to sit the English language immigration test for someone else.

IELTS issued a statement today saying the organisation "is aware of allegations that fake passports have been used for registration purposes at an IELTS test by impostors who were paid large sums of money to sit the test on behalf of another person".

"We take our responsibility to ensure fairness, accuracy and reliability of results seriously," it added.

The SBS Mandarin News Australia report found an underground business is emerging, providing the service of falsifying everything international students need to get permanent residency.

This includes everything from organising fake passports to finding a substitute to sit their English exam for them.

The businessmen allegedly contact the "substitute" students directly, using a popular Chinese instant messaging program.

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Chinese classes miss the point
By Bernard Lane, The Australian

June 1, 1011—China’s mass circulation newspaper, China Daily, has highlighted the paradox of Chinese who go abroad to study English, only to find themselves in a classroom full of their countrymen.

In an article headlined "Language of Convenience," the English-language journal cites the case of Cheng Yin, a student at an unnamed university in Queensland, whose 30-strong classroom includes 12 Chinese. Her parents from Shenzhen had sent her to Australia in the expectation she would return fluent in English but now harbour doubts.

"I do not have any bias against Chinese students, but I am really worried about her English because she stays with Chinese classmates day and night," said her father, Cheng Wenbin.

China sends more overseas students to Australia than any other country, many of whom arrive with an expectation of mingling between visiting students and locals. A cluster of students in class who speak a particular non-English language, such as Chinese, complicates teaching and learning. It also hinders interaction with local and other international students.

As a state-run newspaper, China Daily's coverage could reflect the concerns of government officials.

"We should take this very seriously," said Simon Marginson, higher education expert at the University of Melbourne. "Nations and institutions that can provide more cultural mixing and stronger English proficiency . . . will gain an advantage in the global market."

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Oxford University offers Masters in English
LONDON, June 3—The University of Oxford is introducing a new Masters course in English language for the first time in its history.

Applications are now open for graduates hoping to study English language in October 2012 and the window will close in March 2012, a university release said.

Although English language has never been taught as a Masters course to graduates at Oxford before, the English faculty will make up for the lost time by offering some students on the course the opportunity to work as interns on the Oxford English Dictionary and other dictionaries produced by Oxford University Press.

Prof Deborah Cameron of the English Faculty, who is organising the course, said: “People around the world associate Oxford with the English language: it’s the home of the Oxford English Dictionary, and over the years the English faculty has produced many distinguished English language scholars — J.R.R. Tolkien, for instance.’’

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Napoleon used years on St. Helena to learn English
By Vicky Buffery, Reuters Life!

PARIS, May 31, 2011—Greying, inkstained notebook fragments showing Napoleon Bonaparte's efforts two centuries ago to grasp the English language go on auction in Paris at the weekend, alongside some 350 other Napoleonic artifacts.

Captured by the British at Waterloo and held on the remote Atlantic island of Saint Helena until his death in 1821, the French emperor used his time in captivity to learn English -- although the scraps show the military mastermind to be a less-than-model pupil.

Written in Napoleon's spidery handwriting, the remnants of his lessons from a French count also in exile on Saint Helena show how the headstrong leader doodled to combat boredom, and struggled with the intricacies of English grammar.

"Even learning English, he couldn't shake off the soldier, the army man inside him. His doodles are of walls and designs of military fortifications," said Jean-Pierre Osenat, chairman of Paris-based auction house Osenat, which is handling the sale.

The auction house expects the paper scraps, mounted on three framed boards, to fetch up to 9,500 euros ($13,660) in total at Sunday's auction.

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Debate: Should English continue to be the international language?

Views pro and con in BusinessWeek magazine’s Debate Room, May 2011

Maury Peiperl, IMD (pro): International companies and international commerce generally imply a fundamental need for people to communicate across the globe, at least at a basic verbal and written level. Translation and multilingual communication are important, but unless there is one common language that everyone doing global business can speak, the complexity makes it unwieldy for cross-border businesses to function. Multilingual companies, as well those that use something other than the de facto global language, will always find it difficult to compete with—and will incur higher transactions costs than—those that use a single cross-border language.

We can argue about the merits of the situation, but English already is the language of international commerce. This is not likely to change any time soon. The situation may not be optimal, especially if English is not your strongest language. I admit to having been astonishingly lucky in my choice of birthplace, but using English makes sense.

It was an accident of timing that English happened to be the language of the dominant economic world power when globalization reached a critical growth point. It’s done and it’s working. Even if there exists a better solution (Esperanto didn’t get far), it could never be put in place at this stage in a practical way without a world war or a new dominant power. For its part, China shows far more interest in teaching hundreds of millions of people to speak English than in advancing Mandarin or Cantonese as a global language.

I am no fan of international business English. It may be dominant in North America, but it is hardly a language reflective of Europe, let alone Asia…

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Under new law, US federal government must stop writing English gibberish
By Calvin Woodward, Associated Press

WASHINGTON, May 19, 2011 (AP)—The federal government is rolling out a new official language of sorts: plain English.

That's right: Pursuant to regulations promulgated thereunder and commencing in accordance with a statute signed herein by President Barack Obama, the government shall be precluded from writing the pompous gibberish heretofore evidenced, to the extent practicable.

That sentence contains 11 new language no-nos.

Obama signed the Plain Writing Act last fall after decades of effort by a cadre of passionate grammarians in the civil service to jettison the jargon.

It takes full effect in October, when federal agencies must start writing plainly in all new or substantially revised documents produced for the public. The government will still be allowed to write nonsensically to itself.

Ahead then, if the law works, is a culture change for an enterprise that turns out reams of confusing benefit forms, tangled rules and foggy pronouncements. Not to mention a Pentagon brownie recipe that went on for 26 pages about "regulations promulgated thereunder," "flow rates of thermoplastics by extrusion plastometer" and a commandment that ingredients "shall be examined organoleptically."

That means look at, smell, touch or taste…

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European ventures seek to fill a void in world news
By Eric Pfanner, The New York Times
PARIS, May 8, 2011—As news organizations around the world close down foreign bureaus, journalists, entrepreneurs and even government bodies in Europe are creating news ventures to try to fill the void.

As a result, readers seeking international news are increasingly spoiled for choice—especially if they read English, the common second language of many Europeans and the favored tongue for many of the new outlets.

Worldcrunch, a Web-based start-up in Paris, offers English translations of newspaper articles from around the world. Presseurop, another new site edited from Paris, does something similar for European newspapers, translating articles into 10 languages, including English.

The Huffington Post, one of the most popular American news aggregators on the Web, has Europe in its sights, saying it plans to introduce a British edition soon. In Brussels, a site called Europe Today aggregates news from across the region, gathering snippets from a variety of European sources and translating them into English. Its founders want to start a pan-European newspaper—in print, no less.

Why the flurry of activity? European readers seeking international news in English could already choose from a variety of sources, including The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal Europe and The International Herald Tribune, which is the global edition of The New York Times. British newspapers and their Web sites are available across the Continent. Other publications, like the German magazine Der Spiegel, long ago introduced Web sites in English.

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Language barrier limits European Internet users, study shows

May 11, 2011—A European Union-wide survey finds that 90 percent of Internet users prefer to surf online in their own language, and may be an online barrier. Nearly half say that they never spend money online in a language that isn't their own.

Not surprisingly, the survey confirmed that English is Europe's lingua franca online: Nearly half (48 percent) of those interviewed said they use English "occasionally" online.

According to a new study released Wednesday by Eurobarometer, the public opinion research wing of the European Commission, over half of EU Internet users occasionally use a language online that is not their native language. The study also found that 90 percent of EU Internet users prefer to use sites in their own language.

However, according to the study, 44 percent of such users felt that they were missing something interesting online because some websites are not in a language that they understand. The Eurobarometer survey questioned 500 people in each of the 27 member states, or a total of 13,500 people.

"If we are serious about making every European digital, we need to make sure that they can understand the web content they want,” wrote Neelie Kroes, the EU's comissioner for the digital agenda, in a statement. "We are developing new technologies that can help people that cannot understand a foreign language."

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UK slashes number of trusted English language testers

May 10, 2011—UK immigration authorities have drastically cut the number of language assessment providers they deem suitable to offer tests to demonstrate the English skills of visa applicants.

Last month the UK Border Agency, which controls visa processing, unveiled its revised list of English language tests that will be accepted as part of visa applications to come to the UK to live, work and study.

The new list will come into effect by July for applicants for work visas under the "highly skilled" Tier 1 or "general worker" Tier 2 categories and spouses or civil partners who are applying to join a partner in the UK. The list already applies to students who require visas under the Tier 4 category.

More than 12 providers included since language testing was introduced four years ago as part of the points based visa system have been dropped, with just six remaining. The deleted providers include the Academy of Oriental Cuisine, in Leeds, and the College of Excellence, north-west London.

All categories of visa applicants will use the new list, which indicates the scores required in each of 26 tests that can be used to demonstrate the range of language proficiency levels required under different visa categories.

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Parents’ limited English may prolong child’s hospital stay

May 5, 2011 (HealthDay News)—Children have longer hospital stays if their parents or other main caregivers have poor English language skills, a U.S. study finds.

The research, published in the May issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, included almost 1,300 children admitted to a children's hospital in the Midwest for treatment of infections requiring long-term antibiotics.

Among the parents or primary caregivers of those children, about 97 percent were proficient in English and the rest had limited English proficiency. The parents/caregivers with poorer English were more likely to be Hispanic and either uninsured or covered by Medicaid.

The median length of hospital stay for all patients was about four days, but was about six days for children with less fluent parents, said the researchers from Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics in Kansas City, Mo.

The study also found that children of parents with less-than-proficient English were less likely to receive a home health care referral than those with English-proficient parents (6.9 percent vs. 32.6 percent).

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French radio stations fall victim to anglophone artists
By Henry Samuel,

PARIS, May 4, 2011—French radio stations are struggling to stem the tide of English-language pop songs on their airwaves, as stations say they can no longer fulfill quotas on French-language titles because less are being produced.

Music industry representatives convened at France's broadcast watchdog, the CSA, to discuss the quota system, which forces national radio to play 40 per cent of its songs in French, half from new artists.

The 1994 law was introduced in an attempt to stem an anglophone song invasion and foster home-grown talent.

As a result French record labels long preferred to take on francophone talent rather than compete with the likes of Coldplay.

But in recent years, a growing number of French singers have switched to English for their lyrics, seen as more suited to pop music and far more easily exportable.

The best female artist at this year's Victoires de la Musique – France's Mercury awards – was Yael Naim, a Franco-Israeli artist most of whose songs are in English.

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A tip for financial advisers: when possible, use English
By Brett Arends, Wall Street Journal Online

May 2, 2011—If you're in the finance industry, there's a simple way to make your clients a lot happier: speak English.

Too often, when an adviser or some other pro talks to an investor, the result is glazed eyes and shuffling feet. And "finglish" is to blame, says Scott West, head of consulting at Invesco Van Kampen Consulting, a unit of fund manager Invesco Ltd. There's too big of a gap between financial jargon and what normal people speak.

"You've basically got a language problem," Mr. West says.

If advisers want to keep investors happier, try speaking more plain English, says WSJ's Brett Arends. He talks with Simon Constable about these and other tips for improving relations.

Invesco just completed a survey of 800 investors to find out which words and techniques work best, and which don't. The results were loud and clear: Investors hate jargon and technical language.

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