Posted by: Carol
After reading my colleague’s blog on everyday phrases which are part of the history of the English language, I simply had to add my two pennies’ worth!
When we speak a language, we often don’t consciously reflect on what we say. Speech comes naturally to us. It has been learnt and we instinctively select appropriate terms and phrases in a manner which results in a grammatically coherent utterance. It is often not until we embark on the experience of learning a new language that we begin to look more closely at our own language. Using one to aid the understanding of the other. How is something said in German or Spanish, or whichever language it is that you are learning? Is it said in the same way? Can I say something verbatim? Obviously between, for example, Germanic or Romance languages there are many similarities, however the wonderful nature of languages never makes learning it a dull journey!
When thinking of why we say what we do, I always find phrases and idioms so interesting to consider. Under normal circumstances I would never advocate translating literally from one language into another, especially in the case of idioms! However to not, would be to deny yourself such linguistic enjoyment! If I consider German idiomatic phrases, there are certain ones, which immediately jump out at me and these often appear in my family’s Denglish-speak!
If you wish ...Continue Reading →
I spend quite a lot of time on the internet, and on my virtual travels have come across a few articles about the use and abuse of the English language online, and varying opinions about it. I began to consider the way I use English and my reactions to what I encounter on my virtual travels, and thought today I’d write a bit about my thoughts and findings.
On the one hand, it seems I’m a stickler for correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. Some people use text speak online, but I don’t understand the point of using ‘2’, ‘u/ur’,‘gr8’ instead of ‘to/too’, ‘you/you’re/your’, ‘great’ in online posts, because even if someone is on the internet on their phone, they are most definitely using a phone which has a proper keyboard, so why not use real words? What you write online and how you write it is a presentation of yourself to everyone who can read it, and by reducing the English language to a hurried mishmash of letters and numbers, I get the impression that someone writing in text speak doesn’t care about their message or its intended audience. So I tend to skip things that I come across if they’re written in text speak, because I like reading whole words in proper sentences.
On the other hand, there also exists a variation of online English called LOLSpeak, which I quite like. LOLSpeak takes conventional spelling and grammar, chews it up a bit and spits it back out into a new set ...Continue Reading →
Ahead of Royal Ascot next week, it is time for a bit of a canter through the history of the English language and in particular to a number of proverbs and phrases in language which have an equestrian derivation. As a nation we have always had a close affinity to horses, from the days when they were our only mode of transport and a vital part of farming and food production to the present day where there are over four million horse riders in an industry that is worth over £2 billion.
The following are just a few of the phrases which are part of the history of the English language and we still use today.
An oft-used phrase meaning that you should not be critical of something that you’ve been given for free or very little cost. You should simply accept it and show appreciation. So when you look a gift horse in the mouth, it’s like checking the box for the IPhone you have been given to see if it is the very latest version.
Its literal meaning refers to the age of a horse which can be roughly calculated by looking at its teeth. As a horse ages it will develop new teeth and its existing teeth start to change shape and angle more forward.
We first encounter the phrase in 1546 within John ...Continue Reading →
As mentioned in my first blog, my father was Welsh and my mother is Argentinian. Seemingly worlds apart, these two countries nevertheless share a common bond – the Welsh language. This is often hard to believe even for people living in Wales. However, true it is. For those unaware of how a Welsh colony came to be in Patagonia, Argentina, here is a quick history lesson. Very quick, I promise! In 1865 a group of 153 Welsh settlers left their home country destined for the southern part of Argentina for what they hoped would be their new Welsh promised land. Travelling on the Mimosa, they crossed the Atlantic and arrived on the shores of Puerto Mardyn. The land which first greeted them was not the fertile country they had so hoped for and further travel was needed. Many continued the journey until they reached the more fertile land in the Chubut valley in the shadows of the Andes. Here, most settled.
After visited my mother’s home town of Trevelin, at the very foot of the Andes, I loved the thought of this ‘little Wales’ so far from its home country. Welsh Tea Houses are a favourite amongst the locals, chapels stand proudly in the Argentinian sunshine, peoples’ names are a wonderful medley of Welsh and Spanish – Jorge Williams, Eduardo Hughes, … My Argentinian relatives, whose first language is Welsh were ...Continue Reading →
A couple of blogs ago I wrote a short history of translation, and mentioned Bible translation and its role in Western translation history. Today I am going to write a bit about the history of Bible translations into English, and also the future of Bible translation.
The Bible in its entirety has been translated into over 475 languages, with individual sections numbering thousands of languages (I feel sorry for the project manager, I bet the deadline was really tight as well!). It was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic (Old Testament) and Koine Greek (New Testament). The original scriptures were translated into hundreds of languages, including Latin, but by 600AD Latin was the only language the Church permitted for copies of scripture.
The history of Bible translation is long, bloody and violent. The Roman Catholic Church was completely opposed to the notion of people being able to read the Bible for themselves, as that would negate a lot of their power over the population. They did everything they could to thwart translators and punish them for their efforts, hunting them down and even burning some at the stake. Can you imagine? ‘Hello, Veritas, it’s William Tynedale’ ‘Hi William, how are you?’ ‘Well, I’m in exile in Germany, the inquisitorial squad is after me so I’m staying with Martin Luther for a bit. The translation might be a bit delayed, I’m ...Continue Reading →