The Linguist

The Linguist 52,4

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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REVIEWS Language Change: Progress or decay? Jean Aitchison Cambridge University Press, 4th ed, 2013, 298 pp; ISBN 978-110767892-7, Paperback, £21.99 The fourth edition of this classic has new material about text messaging and netspeak, polysemy and language death, plus study questions and updated references. The chapter on child language and aphasia has been dropped, on the grounds that they do not significantly affect language change. Chapter 1 introduces the tradition of bemoaning language change, the hankering after purity in language and the contrast between prescription and description. It considers the appeal of Latin as a model for other languages and the belief that the written language is superior to the spoken. Chapter 2 describes the methods of comparative historical linguistics – the detective work of collecting evidence and reconstructing earlier stages of a language – and chapter 3 shows how ongoing changes can be detected by studying patterns in language variation. The following ten chapters describe how and why sound changes. Syntactic and semantic changes arise from variational features already present in a language and are spread both consciously and unconsciously, driven by overt and covert prestige, with men and women typically playing different roles as agents of language change. Similar patterns of sound change and grammaticalisation (in which lexical categories become functional categories) are observed repeatedly in different languages – eg, verbs of volition typically become markers of futurity. 28 The Linguist Fashion, foreign influence and social need are triggers that accelerate trends already present in a language; underlying causes of change include efficiency in the articulation of sound sequences, analogy, elimination of pointless variety and a preference for adjacency of related syntactic components. After chapters on language birth and death, including descriptions of pidgins, creoles and decreolisation, the final chapter concludes that there is no evidence of languages evolving in any particular direction, but rather a continuous pull between the disruption and restoration of patterns. So, progress or decay? The answer is, of course, neither. This book explains clearly how and why languages change, and deserves to be widely read, especially by those who think that English is in decline, and that language change is due to carelessness or ignorance, and should be stopped. Jean Aitchison stands out as a scholar who writes about language compellingly and entertainingly for a non-specialist readership. The book is richly illustrated with examples from different languages, apposite and sometimes humorous quotations from a great variety of sources, and telling analogies that help to make the contents accessible even to readers with no background in linguistics. Jonathan Marks MCIL Quality in Professional Translation Joanna Drugan Bloomsbury, 2013, 222 pp; ISBN 978-144117664-6, Paperback, £27.99 Although translations are constantly evaluated by those who produce, receive and use them, there are no established criteria for evaluating translation quality. This book derives from AUGUST/SEPTEMBER interviews, questionnaires and observations involving translators, clients, editors, project managers, quality managers, etc, and describes how translation quality is managed. The Introduction notes that interest in translation quality has risen because of increasing demand for quick, low-cost translation, the development of tools, and efforts to establish industry-wide standards. Chapter 1 outlines today's translation profession, focusing on recent demand-driven and technology-driven changes. There has been a huge increase in translation activity, between an increasing number of language pairs, as a result of globalisation, demand for localisation, and fast-changing products and services. There are new requirements for speed and coordination of deadlines. Increasingly sophisticated tools can have a detrimental effect on quality, as well as advantages. Translation of updates to sections of texts, without access to their context, possibly involving multiple translators, also affects quality and consistency. Chapter 2 compares academic and professional approaches to quality, and describes four academic approaches in detail. These focus primarily on final products, asking what makes a 'good' translation, whereas professional approaches take a more holistic and relativistic view of the translation process in context, asking questions such as 'Does the level of quality in this translation represent value for money?'. Chapter 3 considers new tools and workflow types, and their impact on quality. Chapters 4 and 5 respectively evaluate top-down and bottom-up translation quality models. Core concerns of top-down models include finding the optimum balance between human and technological resources, learning from experience in order to pre-empt future problems, not wasting resources, and balancing quality with other requirements. Bottom-up models involving translator communities, crowdsourcing, reliance on edited or unedited machine translation output, etc have arisen in response to downward pressure on costs, technological advances, new text types, and translation increasingly being demanded – or even carried out – by end-users themselves. Here, quality assessment and improvement rely largely on collaboration and peer assessment and support. Bottom-up

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