The Linguist

The Linguist 53,1

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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Vol/53 No/1 2014 FEBRUARY/MARCH The Linguist 5 The latest from the languages world An index of traditional knowledge and languages of indigenous communities has been developed to allow researchers to assess both elements at the same time. Developers at Curtin and Unimas universities in Sarawak, Malaysia hope the index will bring further understanding of the link between biodiversity, culture and language. The practical application of the TraLavi index will be piloted in South-East Asia, where a research team will be working with indigenous communities for the next two years. It is the first index of its kind and can be used in conjuction with existing resources such as Unesco's Language Vitality Index. NEWS & EDITORIAL Biodiversity link investigated New scheme to inspire pupils A free scheme to encourage children to learn languages is being promoted by Speak to the future, the campaign for languages. The week-long event in March brings hundreds of volunteers, working in a range of jobs, to UK schools. 'Inspiring the Future' is run by the Education and Employers Taskforce and supported by Routes into Languages. Speak to the future has also partnered with online learning application Vocab Express and Oxford University Press (OUP) to provide an online platform to help secondary school pupils and adults learn 1,000 words in a foreign language. The free service enables learners to develop a tailormade programme to acquire and practise vocabulary in Spanish, French and German, with more languages to follow. Launched on 22 January at Bett 2014, the website enables learners to track their progress and issues a certificate once they have successfully learnt 1,000 words. For information about Inspiring the Future and the 1000 Words campaign, see To register for the 1000 Words challenge, visit A new language learning app claims to harness the 'internet obsession with cats' to aid learners' memory. The Spanish-language program CatAcademy draws on new research indicating that people are better able to recall phrases when they are linked to funny images. It is a trick that is already widely used by the advertising industry. 'We wanted to know what kinds of visual mnemonics were most effective at helping people to learn fast,' says Ben Whately, Chief Operating Officer at app developer Memrise. They found pictures of cats to be the most effective. 'A cat's cuteness means you really pay attention,' according to Memrise co-Founder Ed Cooke, who cited Japanese research that found a link between improved cognitive function and cuteness. Cat-meme app 'aids learning' A US$10 million investment will enable One Hour Translation to 'become the largest professional translation service in the world', the online agency has claimed. In January, Fortissimo Capita bought a one-third stake in the company, which promises to deliver one-page translations within an hour via its global network of 15,000 translators. Offering services in 75 languages, the company will now double its staff of 50 to take on developers and expand its sales, customer services and support teams. Agency set to be 'the largest' Researchers have suggested that a common pill could improve people's capacity for language learning. The new study indicates that valproate, an anticonvulsant used to treat epilepsy and mood disorders, can increase 'neuroplasticity' – the kind of brain flexibility that enables children to process information so quickly. Judit Gervain, of Université Paris Descartes, led the research team, which found that adult male volunteers performed significantly better on a test for absolute pitch after two weeks' treatment with the drug. They said this was '"proof-of-concept" for the possibility to restore neuroplasticity using a drug' – a state that previous research has linked to language-learning ability. Pill for learning a language?

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