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insight by wfx

Welcome to Wordwide FX's new enterprise!

Insight by WFX is a synthesis of our passion for languages and the financial markets. Here you will find technical and fundamental analyses from our clients, media partners and contributors in different languages, as well as discussions on languages and translation. And of course we will keep you updated on what is happening inside Wordwide FX Financial Translations. Hope you enjoy it! Greetings from the Wordwide FX team!

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06/06/2019

Language of the Week: Hebrew, the Revived Language of the Ibri

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Many people think that we linguists speak lots of languages. While this is not usually true, it is a fact that we are curious about all of them - that is certainly my case.

I took up Hebrew a while ago when I was a student at the University of Barcelona. This was my fisrt contact with a Semitic language, and I can say I really enjoyed it. My instructor, professor Jaime Vándor, who repretably passed away in 2014, fled from the Nazis in 1939 and seeked refuge in Hungary. In 1947, he was reunited with his father in Barcelona, together with his brother and their mother.

Hebrew, a West Semitic language, is the only living Canaanite language left. The name Ibri, from which the word Hebrew derives, was one of the name of the Israelite people. The script is derived from Paleo-Hebrew, the writing system used by Israelites in the historic kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the 10th century BCE, and the script as we know it today was already used in the 5th century BC. Hebrew is the only successful example of a revived dead language. By 200-400 AD is was almost extint, replaced by Aramaic and Greek, both lingua franca at that time, but it survived into the Middle Ages in Jewish liturgy, rabbinic literature, Jewish commerce and poetry. In the 19th century it was revived as a spoken and literary language. 

The responsible for the revival of Hebrew was Eliezer Ben-Yehuda (1858-1922). Born in Belarus, his first language was Russian, so his Hebrew was highly influenced by this language in grammar, lexicon, and style. This special circumstance was reflected in his work on the revival of Hebrew, which now has a "Slavic flavor", like professor Vandor used to say. 

Today, Hebrew is spoken by around 9 million people, 5 of which are native speakers, and it is the oficial language of Israel.

Photo below: Eliezer Ben-Yehuda in his desk in Jerusalem, 1912.

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23/05/2019

Language of the Week: Icelandic, Viking Speech Preserved

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

As a lover of Germanic languages and having had the chance to learn some German and Swedish, I've always been curious about Icelandic, the language of the North Atlandic island discovered and populated in the 7th century by Norsemen from different points of Scandinavia, most notably Flóki Vilgerðarson, one of the main characters of the TV show Vikings.  

With roughly 560.000 native speakers, Icelandinc (islenska) stands out among Scandinavian languages for being the closest to Old Norse, the speech of the Vikings. True, also Danish, Faroese, Norwegian, and Swedish, derive from Old Norse, but due to geogrgaphical isolation Icelandic has retained lots of features of their ancestor's speech, to the extent that Old Norse is also known among the linguistics community as "Old Icelandic" (even though, technically, Old Icelandic should be synonym with Old West Norse). The conservation of the language means that modern Icelanders are able to read the Eddas, the Sagas, and other classic Old Norse literary works created in the Viking period between the 10th and the 13th centuries. 

It is funny to think that modern Icelandic could be mutually intelligible with a language spoken so many centuries ago (at least partially, because although the written language remains quite close, the pronunciation is not the same), but it is no longer so with the other contemporary Scandinavian languages, not even with it's closest relative, Faroese.

The main difference between Icelandic and the other Scandinavian languages is that Icelandic keeps many grammatical features of other ancient Germanic languages, most notably the inflection system. While Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish have lost their inflections, Icelandic retains four cases: nominative, accusative, dative, and genitice. Also, like Old English (or modern German), nouns have 3 grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. 

Icelandic has also retained with old letters that used to be used to write Old English and Old Norse, but that the other Germanic languages have dropped: Þ, þ (þorn, modern English "thorn") and Ð, ð (, anglicised as "eth" or "edh"), representing the voiceless and voiced "th" sounds (as in English thin and this), respectively. 

The good health of the Icelandic language is in charge of Ari Páll Krinstinsson, head of the Ari Magnússon institute for Icelandic studies (in the photo, below). Some people fear that, due to the low demography, Icelandic will die out soon. Jón Gnarr, the comedian who became the mayor of Rejkjavik, was quoted on The WOold in Words in 2015: "I think Icelandic is not going to last. Probably in this century we will adopt English as our language. I think it's unavoidable". Ari Magnússon also has the same fears: "English is everywhere, from the moment we wake up untill we die". The language is also closely linked to the feeling of Iceland as a nation: "If we lost the Icelandic language there will be no Icelandic nation", said poet Krinstinsson, a feelilng shared by speakers of many minority languages.  

 

 

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21/05/2019

The World’s Most Efficient Languages

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Atlantic.com

By John McWhorter

How much do you really need to say to put a sentence together?

Just as fish presumably don’t know they’re wet, many English speakers don’t know that the way their language works is just one of endless ways it could have come out. It’s easy to think that what one’s native language puts words to, and how, reflects the fundamentals of reality.

But languages are strikingly different in the level of detail they require a speaker to provide in order to put a sentence together. In English, for example, here’s a simple sentence that comes to my mind for rather specific reasons related to having small children: “The father said ‘Come here!’” This statement specifies that there is a father, that he conducted the action of speaking in the past, and that he indicated the child should approach him at the location “here.” What else would a language need to do?

Well, for a German speaker, more. In “Der Vater sagte ‘Komm her!’”, although it just seems like a variation on the English sentence, more is happening. “Der,” the word for “the,” is a choice among other possibilities: It’s the one used for masculine nouns only. If the sentence were about a mother, it would have to use the feminine die, or if about a girl, the neuter das (for reasons unnecessary to broach here!). The word for “said,” sagte, is marked with a suffix for the third-person singular; if it were “you said,” then it would be sagtest—in English, those forms don’t vary in the past tense. Then, her for “here” means “to here”: In German one must become what feels to an English speaker rather Shakespearean and say “hither” when that’s what is meant. “Here” in the sense of just sitting “here” is a different word, hier.

This German sentence, then, requires you to pay more attention to the genders of people and things, to whether it’s me, you, her, him, us, y’all, or them driving the action. It also requires specifying not just where someone is but whether that person is moving closer or farther away. German is, overall, busier than English, and yet Germans feel their way of putting things is as normal as English speakers feel their way is.

Other languages occupy still other places on the linguistic axis of “busyness,” from prolix to laconic, and it’s surprising what a language can do without. In Mandarin Chinese, a way of saying “The father said ‘Come here!’” is “Fùqīn shuō ‘Guò lái zhè lǐ!’” Just as in English, there is no marker for the father’s gender, nor does the form of the word shuō for “said” indicate whether the speaker is me, you, or him. The word for “here,” zhè lǐ, can mean either “right here” or “to here,” just like in English. But Mandarin is even more telegraphic. There is no definite article like “the.” The word for “said” lacks not only a suffix for person, but is also not marked for tense; it just means “say.” It is assumed that context will indicate that this event happened in the past. Much of learning Mandarin involves getting a sense of how much one can not say in an acceptable sentence.

Moreover, anyone who has sampled Chinese, or Persian, or Finnish, knows that a language can get along just fine with the same word for “he” and “she.”* And whereas Mandarin can mark tense but often doesn’t, in the Maybrat language of New Guinea, there’s pretty much no way to mark it at all—context takes care of it and no one bats an eye.
If there were a prize for the busiest language, then a language like Kabardian, also known as Circassian and spoken in the Caucasus, would win. In the simple sentence “The men saw me,” the word for “saw” is sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś (pronounced roughly “suck-a-LAGH-a-HESH”). This seems like a majestic monster of a word, and yet despite its air of “supercalifragilisticexpealidocious,” the word for “saw” is every bit as ordinary for Karbadian-speakers as English-speakers’ “saw” is for them. It’s just that Karbadian-speakers have to pack so much more into their version. In sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś, other than the part meaning “see,” there is a bit that reiterates that it’s me who was seen, even though the sentence would include a separate word for “me” elsewhere. Then there are other bits that show that the seeing was most significant to “me” rather than to the men or anyone else; that the seeing was done by more than one person (despite the sentence spelling out elsewhere that it was plural “men” who did the seeing); that this event did not happen in the present; that on top of this, the event happened specifically in the past rather than the future; and finally a bit indicating that the speaker really means what he’s saying.

The prize for most economical language could go to certain colloquial dialects of Indonesian that are rarely written but represent the daily reality of Indonesian in millions of mouths. For example, in the Riau dialect spoken in Sumatra, ayam means chicken and makan means eat, but “Ayam makan” doesn’t mean only “The chicken is eating.” Depending on context, “Ayam makan” can mean the “chickens are eating,” “a chicken is eating,” “the chicken is eating,” “the chicken will be eating,” “the chicken eats,” “the chicken has eaten,” “someone is eating the chicken,” “someone is eating for the chicken,” “someone is eating with the chicken,” “the chicken that is eating,” “where the chicken is eating,” and “when the chicken is eating.” If chickens and eating are à propos, the assumption is that everybody in the conversation knows what’s what. Thus for a wide variety of situations the equivalent of “chicken eat” will do—and does.

So does the contrast between Riau Indonesian’s “chicken eat” and Kabardian’s “they saw me and it affected me, not now, and I really mean it” mean that each language gives its speakers a different way of looking at the world? It’s an intriguing idea, first formulated by anthropologist and linguist Edward Sapir and amateur linguist (and fire inspector!) Benjamin Whorf. If it were correct, an English-speaker would generally think about the past more than a Chinese-speaker would, while Germans would think more about movement than Americans or Brits.

Experiments have shown that this is often true to a faint, flickering degree a psychologist can detect in the artifice of experimental conditions. But does this mean a different way of experiencing life? Is a Kabardian shopkeeper in the Caucasus more exquisitely attuned to the nuances of experience than a Riau Indonesian-speaking fisherman in Sumatra? If that Kabardian shopkeeper’s jam-packed verbs mean that he vibrates in tune to the jots and tittles of life, then doesn’t one have to say that the Riau Indonesian speaker, whose grammar directs his attention to so few details, is something of a limp string on the guitar? We would run into similarly hopeless comparisons around the world. The Zulu speaker would be hypervigilant given the complexities of his language, the Samoan speaker inattendant given the less obsessively complicated nature of hers.

If thought and culture aren’t why some languages pile it on while others take it light, then what is the reason? Part of the answer is unsatisfying but powerful: chance. Time and repetition wear words out, and what wears away is often a nugget of meaning. This happens in some languages more than others. Think of the French song “Alouette, gentille alouette …” (“lark, nice lark”) in which one sings “ahh-loo-eh-tuh.” In running speech the word has long been pronounced just “ah-loo-ett” with no -uh at the end. That –uh in the song today is a leftover from the way the word actually was once pronounced normally, and it indicated the word’s feminine gender to the listener. Today, beyond marginal contexts like that song, only the final e in the spelling of alouette indicates its gender; hearing it in a sentence we’d have to rely on the definite article la alone to know that the word is feminine.
In a language where final sounds take the accent, such sounds tend to hold on longer because they are so loud and clear—you’re less likely to mumble it and people listening are more likely to hear it. In Hebrew, “Thank you very much,” is “Toda raba,” pronounced “toe-DAH rah-BAH.” The sounds at the end of the word mark gender in Hebrew, too, and they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon because they are enunciated with force.

When a language seems especially telegraphic, usually another factor has come into play: Enough adults learned it at a certain stage in its history that, given the difficulty of learning a new language after childhood, it became a kind of stripped-down “schoolroom” version of itself. Because all languages, are, to some extent, busier than they need to be, this streamlining leaves the language thoroughly complex and nuanced, just lighter on the bric-a-brac that so many languages pant under. Even today, Indonesian is a first language to only one in four of its speakers; the language has been used for many centuries as a lingua franca in a vast region, imposed on speakers of several hundred languages. This means that while other languages can be like overgrown lawns, Indonesian’s grammar has been regularly mowed, such that especially the colloquial forms are tidier. Lots of adult learning over long periods of time is also why, for example, the colloquial forms of Arabic like Egyptian and Moroccan are somewhat less elaborated than Modern Standard Arabic—they were imposed on new people as Islam spread after the seventh century.

In contrast, one cannot help suspecting that not too many adults have been tackling the likes of sǝq’ayǝƛaaɣwǝaɣhaś. Kabardian has been left to its own devices, and my, has it hoarded a lot of them. This is, as languages go, normal, even if Kabardian is rather extreme. By contrast, only a few languages have been taken up as vehicles of empire and imposed on millions of unsuspecting and underqualified adults. Long-dominant Mandarin, then, is less “busy” than Cantonese and Taiwanese, which have been imposed on fewer people. English came out the way it did because Vikings, who in the first millennium forged something of an empire of their own in northern and western Europe, imposed themselves on the Old English of the people they invaded and, as it were, mowed it. German, meanwhile, stayed “normal.”

Even if languages’ differences in busyness can’t be taken as windows on psychological alertness, the differences remain awesome. In a Native American language of California called Atsugewi (now extinct), if a tree was burned and we found the ashes in a creek afterward, we would have said that soot w’oqhputíc’ta into the creek. W’oqhputíc’ta is a conglomeration of bits that mean “it moved like dirt, in a falling fashion, into liquid, and for real.” In English, we would just say “flowed.”
 

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14/05/2019

Language of the Week: Bavarian

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

If you are a foregner traveling to Bavaria, in Southern Germany, and you have a good ear for languages, you might notice that other than German something else is spoken there which you might not be able to place. It is Bavarian, also known as Austro-Bavarian, Boarisch, or Bairisch. Other than Bavaria, it is spoken in most of Austria, southern Tyrol in Italy, and the village of Samnaun, in the Swiss Alps, and in the Hungarian city of Sopron, near the Austrian border. Related to Alammannic (the variaty of German spoken in Switzerland), Bairisch has around 14 million native speakers. 

Bavarian is not a dialect of Standard German (Hochdeutsch), although they share the same roots. The two are languages of the West Germanic branch, but Standard German derives from High German, wherea Bairisch derives from Upper German, itself a branch of Standard German. 

The two are more apart then Norwegian and Danish, which roughly means that a speaker of Standard German will more or less understand Bairisch at first, but they will get familiar with it quickly if spending some time in the region. In 2009, the Barisch language was included in the Chart of Regional and Minority Languages by the UNESCO.

Here0's a few examples of Bairisch:

i schau (I look), Standard German ich shaue.

i fui (I feel), SG ich fühle

i få, mia fåma (I, you travel), SG ich fahre, wir fahren

Gfå (dangerous), SG gefärlich

Doud (dead), SG Tod.

(below)

Mia redn Boarisch (we speak Bavarian), SG Wir sprechen Bairisch

Pfia God (May God guide you), SG Gehe mit Godd; Pfia is cognate with "fúhren", to guide)

Griass God (Greetings to God), SG Grüss Gott.

 

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06/03/2019

Hey, America: Y’all need to start saying y’all, linguist says

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via ai.com

By Greg Garrison

Across America, it’s becoming increasingly common to hear the use of the Southern contraction “Y’all,” a linguistic fusion of the words “you” and “all.”

It may be partly because of the spread of Southern influence nationwide, but it also fills an important need in the English language, said Southern linguist Thomas Nunnally.

“It’s being adopted all over the country, because it needs to be,” said Nunnally, a retired professor of linguistics at Auburn University who spoke at Samford University on Thursday. Nunnally is editor and co-author of “Speaking of Alabama: The History, Diversity, Function and Change of Language,” published by the University of Alabama Press. 

Linguists have noted that “y’all” addresses a gap in the English language left behind by the disappearance of the pronoun “ye,” the second person plural form of the pronoun “thou,” both of which have become stilted, archaic and fallen out of use.

The English language now generally uses the pronoun “you” to function as both singular and plural.

Regional adaptations include “youse” or “Youse guys” in the Northeast; “yunz” or “yinz” in Pittsburgh; the Midwestern “You’nes” a contraction of “you-ones,” or the upper Southern “You all.”

The phrase “you guys” fills the function, but can be seen as uncomfortable because of the masculine word guys.

Nunnally recalls he and his wife being addressed as “you guys,” and he took exception.

“To call my wife a guy, I was aghast,” he said.

Other variations seem to Southern ears to be inadequate.

But the spread of “y’all” shows its appeal and functionality.

“Y’all does it nicely and concisely,” Nunnally said.

“Y’all” is also part of Africa-American Vernacular English, which derives from black language in the South, so musical artists in rap, hip-hop and the larger entertainment culture can play a role in helping its spread.

“Y’all” can also be used in addressing one person, to politely include others, such as in the phrase, “How y’all doing?”

 

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28/02/2019

Importance Of Indonesian Language And Indonesia Around The Globe

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By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via tridindia.com

By Achia Sharma

There is a huge Importance of Indonesian Language and Indonesia, considering the fact that Indonesia is one of the fastest and steadily growing economies in the world today. With a population of more than 43 million natives and a lot of high profile tourist destinations, the. In this article, we will explore the why and how’s of navigating this bustling and highly potential market.

Brief Intro Of The Indonesian Language

Bahasa or Bahasa Indonesia is the official language of the South Asian country of Indonesia. Home to 43 million native speakers, it is undoubtedly one of the most popular languages in the country. The language has been spoken in the land for centuries and therefore is a part of the standardized Register of Malay.

Other than the native language of Bahasa, the 43 million residents of Indonesia are fluent in 700 other local dialects. Prominent examples of these local languages include Sundanese, Javanese and also Balinese. However, despite the popularity of these 700 other languages, the country provides most of its formal education and other official communication to the public in Indonesian, as it is undoubtedly understood by all and even to a large number of immigrants in the country, along with a substantial amount of foreigners visiting the country every year.

The name Indonesian for the language which is originally known as Bahasa Indonesian is commonly found in popular languages spoken in the world and also English.

Popular English words with Indonesian origin

During the rule of the Great Britain in the British colonies of Malay and the monarchy’s short stay in Java, the English language borrowed a substantial number of words from the Indonesian language. These words, borrowed from the Malay language family is also known as kata serapan in the local language. But the distinctive factor is not all words were borrowed from Bahasa alone, some were borrowed from local dialects such as Javanese and Sundanese as well.

The main purpose of loaning words from the Indonesian language is to describe things which are uniquely Indonesian like flora and fauna of the country, known as Cockatoo and Komodo. Both these English words have Indonesian roots. Another popular reason to loan words from Indonesian is to describe the local art forms such as wayang, kris and batik among others.

The most recent stint of borrowing English words from Indonesian is to describe volcanic occurrences and to describe food processing materials such as tempeh and agar. Mentioned below are some of the most popular English words with an Indonesian, Javanese or Sundanese origin. Language learning is fun, and this list will simply give you an idea of that. Also, the list is not exhaustive and has been categorized into subsections for a better understanding of the reader.

1. Animals: Dugong from the Indonesian word Duyung, Orangutan, Siamang, Tokay or gecko from the Javanese word Tolek, Tapir, Bantam named after the town of Banten.

2. Nature: Bamboo from the Indonesian word Bambu, Meranti which is a kind of tropical tree inhabitant to the country, Pandanus from Pandan, Sago from the Indonesian word Sagu, Cajuput from the Indonesian word Kayu Putih.

3. Fruits: Salak from the Indonesian word Zalacca, Papaya from Pepaya, Cempedak and Mangosteen from the Indonesian word Manggis.

4. Food Items: Agar which is used in food processing and manufacture, Ketchup from the Indonesian word kecap which means soy sauce and not tomato sauce, Satay from the Javanese word of Sate.

5. Textiles and Clothes: Batik a type of textile and weaving technique from the Javanese word Batik, Ikat, Songket, Sarong from the Indonesian word Sarung and Canting from the Javanese word Canting.

6. Musical Instruments: Gong which is a very popular musical instrument in the country as well as Gamelan and Angklung.

7. Nautical Archaeology: Popular words used in the industry like Junk which originated from the Indonesian word Jong, Proa from the Javanese word Prahu as well as Indonesian word Perahu.

8. Hoplology: Sjamnok which is a kind of weapon made from wood and used to punish slaves originated from the Indonesian word Cambuk.

9. Anthroponomastics: Popular English names like Mata Hari has its roots in the Indonesian word Mata Hari meaning Sun.

10. Psychology: Psychological terms used to describe the human state and mind like Latah and Amok.

Indonesia Business Economy

Indonesia is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to the supply of natural resources like natural gas, crude oil, gold and copper. This is why more and more businesses are investing in Indonesian translation, in order to expand their business at the said location. Over the years Indonesia has popularized its name for being a manufacturing centre and the country’s Gross Domestic Product or GDP, and Price Per Capita or PPC is estimated at 3.481 trillion United States Dollar and $13,120 respectively.

 

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