The Linguist

The Linguist 59,4 - Aug/Sept 2020

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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'Elon Musk Claims his New Tech will Make Language Obsolete in the Next Five Years', 10/5/20 Elon's firm Neuralink has been working on a chip that can be inserted into the human brain and communicate with existing grey matter. he's hoping to start human trials within the next year… he also said speaking a foreign language would be as simple as downloading a program. This is the same Elon who wiped £10.3bn off Tesla's value by tweeting that the share price was too high, and who has named his child X Æ A-12. @Linguist_CIOL What the papers say… 'iOS 14: Apple unveils major new update for iPhone software', 22/6/20 iOS 14 also includes a new app – named Translate – which uses some of the technology from Siri to allow people to translate between 11 different languages. It can transcribe what people are saying, before translating it and then giving the option to either show the text or read out the result… The full release will likely come in September, alongside the new iPhone 12. 'Four-Year-Old who Knows Alphabet in Three Languages Joins Mensa with High IQ Score', 26/5/20 he even taught himself two of the languages – Greek and Arabic – using Youtube videos as the family have no background in those… Mum Michelle Nelson, 32, said "he just loves language" and has already asked for books of the Russian alphabet… "I had to tell the nursery [about his Arabic] – they thought he was writing nonsense!" The latest from the languages world EU contracts ended NEWS & EDITORIAL AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 5 Freelance interpreters working for the EU institutions held a demonstration in June to protest the cancelling of their contracts due to Covid-19. The EU terminated the contracts of more than 3,200 self-employed interpreters on a rolling basis from the end of May, offering them an advance payment of €1,300 as a "mitigating measure". Unhappy with the provision, which is to be paid back from future earnings, around 70 interpreters protested outside the European Parliament in Brussels. Freelancers carry out more than half of simultaneous assignments in the EU institutions and about 40% of them are on regular contracts, according to AIIC (the Association of Conference Interpreters). An EU spokesperson said the Commission had honoured "all contracts with assignment dates in the period between mid-March and end May 2020," even when the work did not happen. however, it had to cancel contracts in June and July due to a "drastic decrease in demand". It described the one-off pay out as "a contract-based mitigating measure with advance payment to bridge the months of lower demand". AIIC argued that "the institutions should go further than a loan of €1,300 to cover 3-6 months without work and offer proper help during such an unprecedented crisis." They explained: "Conference interpreters are facing financial losses that, in some cases, represent up to 100% of their income." The freelancers pay taxes directly to the EU, so they may not be eligible for financial support in their countries of residence. A new report has highlighted the need for experienced, highly qualified interpreters to ensure a fair asylum process. The Freedom from Torture investigation found that inadequate interpreting has contributed to failures in the system, with the home Office accused of "breaching its own guidelines". Transcripts of asylum interviews from 2017-18 were analysed by the charity, which also conducted interviews with 30 asylum seekers. In the last year, 23,000 asylum decisions were reversed on appeal, pointing to potential problems in the initial interview process. One refugee said his application had been "denied because of the issues with my interpreter," who "mistranslated my story into a different version of the truth". In another case, a woman who had requested a female interpreter was given a man, and "couldn't concentrate on the interview" as a result. In response, the home Office said: "We do not recognise these allegations… All asylum seekers have access to legal advice and translation services if they require them." Interpreter issues in asylum cases © ShUTTERSTOCK

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