live chat Live chat
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!

quotes
06/03/2019

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

author-image

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?”

 

post-image
quotes
03/10/2018

24 Old English Words You Should Start Using Again

author-image

By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via Lifehack

Language changes over time; words and phrases come and go. In many cases, there is a good reason for words leaving our vocabulary.

I am certainly grateful that modern sewer systems mean there is no longer a need for the term Gardyloo – a warning call before chamber pots were poured out of windows onto the streets below.

Other old English words, however, still have perfectly valid meanings in our modern world and really need to be brought back, if only for the pleasure of saying them.

Here are 24 old English words and slang terms that are fun to say, still useful, and should never have left us in the first place:

1. Bedward

Exactly as it sounds, bedward means heading for bed. Who doesn’t like heading bedward after a hard day?

2. Billingsgate

This one is a sneaky word; it sounds so very proper and yet it refers to abusive language and curse words.

3. Brabble

Do you ever brabble? To brabble is to argue loudly about matters of no importance.

4. Crapulous

A most appropriate sounding word for the condition of feeling ill as a result of too much eating/drinking.

5. Elflock

Such a sweet word to describe hair that is tangled, as if it has been matted by elves.

6. Erstwhile

This very British sounding word refers to things that are not current, that belong to a former time, rather like the word itself.

7. Expergefactor

Something that wakes you up is an expergefactor. For most of us it’s our alarm clocks, but it could be anything from a chirping bird to a noisy neighbor.

8. Fudgel

Fudgel is the act of giving the impression you are working, when really you are doing nothing.

9. Groke

This means to stare intently at someone who is eating, in the hope that they will give you some. Watch any dog for a demonstration.

10. Grubble

Grubble might sound like the name of a character from a fantasy novel but it does in fact mean to feel or grope around for something that you can’t see.

11. Hugger-mugger

What a fun way to describe secretive, or covert behavior.

12. Hum durgeon

An imaginary illness. Sounds more like an imaginary word. Have you ever suffered from hum durgeon?

13. Jargogle

This is a perfect word that should never have left our vocabulary, it means to confuse or jumble.

14. Lanspresado

It sounds like the name of a sparkling wine, but no, it means a person who arrives somewhere, having conveniently forgotten their wallet, or having some other complicated story to explain why they don’t have money with them.

15. Mumpsimus

Mumpsimums is an incorrect view on something that a person refuses to let go of.

16. Quagswag

To shake something backwards and forwards is to quagswag, who knew?

17. Rawgabbit

We all know a few rawgabbits. A rawgabbit is a person who likes to gossip confidentially about matters that they know nothing about.

18. Snollygoster

I think we can all agree this is a fantastic sounding word. It means a person who has intelligence but no principles; a dangerous combination. Watch out for the snollygosters, they live amongst us.

19. Snottor

This old english term has the unlikely meaning of “wise.” Really?

20. Trumpery

Things that look good but are basically worthless. I said THINGS, not people.

21. Uhtceare

This means lying awake worrying before dawn. We all do this, we just didn’t know there was a word for it. Say it now, like this: oot-key-are-a.

22. Ultracrepidarian

Similar to the rawgabbit, this person takes every opportunity to share their opinion about things they know nothing about. Social media is the perfect outlet for these people.

23. Zwodder

Being in a drowsy, fuzzy state, after a big night out perhaps?

And finally, I broke the alphabetical listing to save my favorite till last…

24. Cockalorum

A small man with a big opinion of himself.

post-image
quotes
02/10/2018

The long war over the Ukrainian language

author-image

By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Boston Globe

Don’t call it Little Russian. Why the Ukraine’s lingua franca is a hot point.

By Britt Peterson.

AS AMERICANS have been learning in recent weeks, Russia sometimes has its own way of describing events—like when Vladimir Putin claimed on March 4, despite the presence of Russian troops on the ground, that he hadn’t invaded the Crimean region of east Ukraine. Then there’s the narrative about what is spoken in that invaded country: namely, the Ukrainian language.

A couple of obscure Russian imperial statements on Ukrainian have recently become popular on Russian nationalist blogs and Reddit pages. One comes from the 1863 Valuev Circular, a decree suspending the publication of many religious and educational texts in Ukrainian, or as the Russians called it, Little Russian: “a separate Little Russian language has never existed, does not exist and cannot exist.” The other is a quote attributed to Czar Nicholas II: “There is no Ukrainian language, just illiterate peasants speaking Little Russian.”

The claim that Ukrainian isn’t a language has been one of the drumbeats of the Russian-Ukrainian relationship for centuries. It’s true that the distinction between a language and a dialect is notoriously slippery, often more about politics than mutual intelligibility or shared vocabulary. As Yiddish linguist Max Weinreich famously quoted, “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” But according to linguists outside of Russia, Ukrainian and Russian are two distinct, if closely related, languages. The attacks on the status of Ukrainian, in that light, offer a window onto a side of the conflict that can be hard for outsiders to grasp: the persistent ways that Russia has taken advantage of a long and complicated cultural relationship to enforce its claim to power.

In the West, it’s generally agreed that Ukrainian and Russian are separate languages, with 38 percent of their lexicon differing. (That’s slightly more than Spanish and Italian, which differ by 33 percent.) It’s also generally agreed that the three Eastern Slavic languages—Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian—split off from Old East Slavic about a thousand years ago.

Some Russian linguists, however, tell the story differently: They claim that the East Slavic ancestor was in fact a form of Russian, making Russian not a sibling, but rather the mother tongue from which the other languages descended. The word for Old East Slavic in Russian is drevnerusskiy yazyk, which means “Old Russian,” whereas Ukrainians call it the more neutral davn’orus’ka mova, or language of Rus, the medieval Russian state. Russian attempts to ban Ukrainian in its imperial territories didn’t end with the Valuev Circular—in 1876, Czar Alexander II issued the Ems Ukaz, banning the public use of Ukrainian altogether.

Ukrainian scholars will remind you, meanwhile, that 17th-century Russia, having mostly missed out on the Renaissance, was still catching up to modernity. It relied on Poland and Ukraine, with their connections to Europe and European languages, to broaden its vocabulary: “The Russian language was borrowing many constructions and forms...[from] the Ukrainians, because at that time [Russia] was underdeveloped compared with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and Ukraine,” said Andriy Danylenko, a Ukrainian linguist at Pace University. Ukrainian also saw a cultural revival in the 19th century, a Romantic outpouring of literature, journalism, and folk traditions that built the fundament of a new nationalist identity. In this light, the imperial Russian decrees against Ukrainian suggest the language was seen less as a poor stepchild than as a rival. 

The ban on Ukrainian was lifted after the first Russian Revolution in 1905, and after the second Revolution, Lenin and Stalin at first oversaw a period of Ukrainization, when the language was first standardized and dictionaries were written. During this time, according to Myroslav Shkandrij’s book “Russia and Ukraine: Literature and the Discourse of Empire from Napoleonic to Postcolonial Times,” some Russians viewed Ukrainian with a patronizing admiration, as a rural, archaic proto-Russian, a folk language at a time when the folk were meant to rule. One writer even suggested that elements of it be grafted onto Russian to make Russian more “pristine.” But the perils of their condescending attitude became quickly manifest in the late 1920s and 1930s, when Stalin began to enforce Russification on the language again, rewriting dictionaries to impose Russian loan words just as he purged the Ukrainian intelligentsia. 

The Ukrainian spoken today, nearly 25 years after it was first declared the country’s official language at independence, still bears scars from centuries of linguistic and demographic oppression. Although some intellectuals would like to bring back the old Ukrainian words banned by Stalin’s linguists, it’s difficult to undo the common parlance of eight decades. Most of the country is bilingual; many who check a “Ukrainian” or “Russian” census box are still fluent, often from birth, in the other language. But the years of Soviet rule created a linguistic hierarchy, in which Russian became the language of economic and social mobility, while Ukrainian was still considered a rural language. Pressure to speak Russian produced hybrid forms, known as surzhyk, close to Ukrainian grammatically but with Russian vocabulary and endings, now spoken by many Ukrainians as a private language. “Some writers have said [speaking surzhyk] is like getting home and putting on a comfortable bathrobe and slippers,” said Michael Flier, a Ukrainian philologist at Harvard.

post-image
quotes
05/06/2018

Old Norse and Old English: The languages in History Channel “Vikings”

author-image

By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

I recently started watching History Channel Vikings for the second time. It is a good show, highly recommended, that tells the story of various famous Viking leaders more or less contemporary but often with an age gap that would have made impossible for them to share deeds and adventures. Ragnar Lothbrok, for instance, is a semi legendary figure thought to have died around 860, whereas Rollo, founder of Normandy, is a histotical leader that lived between 845 and 930. But I’m not going to speak about them here – there is plenty of information out there for those who wish to learn more. I’d like to speak a little about two aspects of the show that fascinate me as a linguist and as a lover of historical linguistics: the occasional use in the show of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) and Old Norse (among other languages that have been long gone), and the meaning of the names of some of the characters, some of which are still used nowadays but people are unaware of their origin (part II of this post).

The languages of the Germanic tribes

Around 100 AD, the Germanic tribes moved out of southern Scandinavia and northern Germany to adjacent lands. The Saxons and the Angles settled in Celtic Britain, controlled by romanized Briton tribes until the sixth century, the time when the historical King Arthur lived - if he ever did so (Arthur would have been a Briton chieftain uniting Celtic and Roman tribes to fight the Saxon invaders). Other tribes stayed in Scandinavia. All of these tribes spoke a language or dialects of a language that we call Proto-Germanic (or Common Germanic) and which was in turn diversified into several dialects. In the Northern countries it got to be Old Norse. In the Anglo-Saxon territories it got to be Old English. The Germanic tribes settling in the British Isles, who spoke basically the same language as their Scandinavian (and German) cousins, got relatively isolated, both socially and linguistically, for 200 years, until they got in touch again during the Viking era. In those 200 years, the two dialects of course underwent some changes (Old English is more syntactically like German than like Old Norse, although Modern English is more syntactically like Swedish than to German), but scholars believe they remained mutually intelligible to a great extent.

These are two main old languages we can hear on Vikings: Old Norse and Old English. Old Norse is the ancestor of the Scandinavian languages and Anglo-Saxon is the ancestor of English (this is a deliberate oversimplification, since how modern-day English got to be is a quite complex matter).

The Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons needed no interpreter to understand each other

So, Old English and Old Norse were cousin languages, but in the show we often see that the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons need interpreters to communicate with each other. In Ragnar’s second journey to England, the Viking longships drift to the Wessex coast where they are met by a group of Anglo-Saxon soldiers. They try to speak to each other, but to no avail. How realistic is that? The mutual intelligibility of the two languages is a topic of study in historical linguistics and it is believed that differences between the two Common Germanic dialects (Old English in England and Old Norse in Scandinavia) derived from that 200 year isolation period would not have posed a problem of intelligibility. The literature of this period supplements these notions of mutual intelligibility. Therefore, even though linguistics (and specially historical linguistics) is not an exact science and there are obvious syntactic differences between the two languages, we believe that Ragnar Lothbrock and his Anglo-Saxon friend, the monk Athelstan, would have been able to speak to each other quite well.

As a testimonial from those times, the author of the thirteenth century Icelandic Gunnlaugs saga ormstungu makes a reference to the spoken English language in the time of Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred (986 – 1016 AD):

Ein var þá tungu á Englandi sem í Nóregi ok í Danmörku.
“One was the tongue in England as in Norway and in Denmark”

(Quote from Old English and Old Norse: An Inquiry into Intelligibility and Categorization Methdology. Master's Thesis by Eric Martin Gay. University of South Carolina - Columbia (2014).

 

post-image
quotes
03/05/2018

Renaming English: does the world language need a new name?

author-image

By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Conversation

By Stuart Riddle

English is rapidly becoming a lingua franca in international communication for commerce and trade, education, science, international relations and tourism. 

It is the fastest growing language in the world, with more people speaking English than ever before. School children in India and China are learning English at a staggering rate as their countries emphasise the importance of English as a ticket to participating in the global economy. 

For example, the rise of English in China is unprecedented, and has been likened to a mania, with school children as young as seven learning to speak English.

So why then do we continue to link this evolving internationalising language with a small island in Europe that once upon a time controlled the world?

Perhaps it is about time we got rid of the “English” and start calling it something else – international, standard or common language?

Not one, but many Englishes

It is important to understand that there is not one English language; there are many. In fact, in Australia we don’t even speak and write English. We actually use Standard Australian English, which is not the same English that you might find in the United Kingdom, the United States, India or China. 

There are countless blends, pidgins, creoles and mixed English languages. At the same time that English is becoming the language of internationalisation, it is also becoming localised in different parts of the world as multiple world Englishes flourish.

sociocultural perspective on language considers the impacts of regional dialects, national standards and conventions, slang, different pronunciations and the use of communication technologies such as mobile telephones, texting and email. Our use of English depends on the contexts, audiences and purposes we are using it for.

Spoken English differs from written English. There are different ways of using written English depending on the formality and genre of writing. Spelling, grammar and punctuation change depending on who is writing and for who is reading. English is an “open source” language, with hybrid forms appearing all over the globe as different peoples blend English together with other languages. 

Some interesting points about English languages: there are more non-native speakers of English than native speakers; nearly four out of fiveEnglish-speaking interactions happen between non-native speakers of English; most research is shared in English-language journals; English is the number one language used on internet sites; English is the language of international aviation; and most literature is published in English or translated from English into other languages.

Serious concerns with English as an international language

The rise of English comes with several concerns, including questions of cultural hegemony and postcolonial criticisms. While it is easy to shrug off such criticisms with the argument that English is necessary for social mobility, economic prosperity and education, there remain many unanswered questions around the social and cultural impacts of English as a global language.

For example, the use of English in the internationalisation of research and higher education comes at a cost to local knowledge and languages, as academics in places such as Japan, China, Germany and other parts of the world compete with scholars from the UK and USA to publish in high-ranking English-language research journals. 

Even in France, which is renowned for its cultural and linguistic protectiveness, English is gaining ground in its universities, with 83% of French lecturers using English in their field of research.

There is a real tragedy in the loss of language diversity as English takes over, placing other languages at risk of extinction. This has been acknowledged and efforts are being made to preserve indigenous languages in places such as Papua New GuineaBrazil and Australia. However, is this enough? Are we destroying more than language through the rise of English as the international standard?

That said, there is some sadness in the idea that we might be the last generation of travellers who experience those amusing and sometimes awkward moments when attempting to order food or ask for directions in a country where everyone doesn’t speak English.

post-image
quotes
13/04/2018

The English language is the world’s Achilles heel

author-image

By Wordwide FX Financial Translations

Via The Conversation

English has achieved prime status by becoming the most widely spoken language in the world – if one disregards proficiency – ahead of Mandarin Chinese and Spanish. English is spoken in 101 countries, while Arabic is spoken in 60, French in 51, Chinese in 33, and Spanish in 31. From one small island, English has gone on to acquire lingua franca status in international business, worldwide diplomacy, and science.

But the success of English – or indeed any language – as a “universal” language comes with a hefty price, in terms of vulnerability. Problems arise when English is a second language to either speakers, listeners, or both. No matter how proficient they are, their own understanding of English, and their first (or “native”) language can change what they believe is being said.

When someone uses their second language, they seem to operate slightly differently than when they function in their native language. This phenomenon has been referred to as the “foreign language effect”. Research from our group has shown that native speakers of Chinese, for example, tended to take more risks in a gambling game when they received positive feedback in their native language (wins), when compared to negative feedback (losses). But this trend disappeared – that is, they became less impulsive – when the same positive feedback was given to them in English. It was as if they are more rational in their second language. 

While reduced impulsiveness when dealing in a second language can be seen as a positive thing, the picture is potentially much darker when it comes to human interactions. In a second language, research has found that speakers are also likely to be less emotional and show less empathy and consideration for the emotional state of others.

For instance, we showed that Chinese-English bilinguals exposed to negative words in English unconsciously filtered out the mental impact of these words. And Polish-English bilinguals who are normally affected by sad statements in their native Polish appeared to be much less disturbed by the same statements in English.

In another recent study by our group, we found that second language use can even affect one’s inclination to believe the truth. Especially when conversations touch on culture and intimate beliefs.

Since second language speakers of English are a huge majority in the world today, native English speakers will frequently interact with non-native speakers in English, more so than any other language. And in an exchange between a native and a foreign speaker, the research suggests that the foreign speaker is more likely to be emotionally detached and can even show different moral judgements.

And there is more. While English provides a phenomenal opportunity for global communication, its prominence means that native speakers of English have low awareness of language diversity. This is a problem because there is good evidence that differences between languages go hand-in-hand with differences in conceptualisation of the world and even perception of it. 

In 2009, we were able to show that native speakers of Greek, who have two words for dark blue and light blue in their language, see the contrast between light and dark blue as more salient than native speakers of English. This effect was not simply due to the different environment in which people are brought up in either, because the native speakers of English showed similar sensitivity to blue contrasts and green contrasts, the latter being very common in the UK. 

On the one hand, operating in a second language is not the same as operating in a native language. But, on the other, language diversity has a big impact on perception and conceptions. This is bound to have implications on how information is accessed, how it is interpreted, and how it is used by second language speakers when they interact with others.

We can come to the conclusion that a balanced exchange of ideas, as well as consideration for others’ emotional states and beliefs, requires a proficient knowledge of each other’s native language. In other words, we need truly bilingual exchanges, in which all involved know the language of the other. So, it is just as important for English native speakers to be able to converse with others in their languages.

The US and the UK could do much more to engage in rectifying the world’s language balance, and foster mass learning of foreign languages. Unfortunately, the best way to achieve near-native foreign language proficiency is through immersion, by visiting other countries and interacting with local speakers of the language. Doing so might also have the effect of bridging some current political divides.

post-image