The Linguist

The Linguist 56,5 – October/November 2017

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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Page 28 of 35 OCTOBER/NOVEMBER The Linguist 29 OPINION & COMMENT My rook for your castle What a splendid article from Sally Fagan ('Taking the Lead', TL56,3). It chimes very much with my own experiences over a long life. I became a member of the Institute in 1970, a Fellow in 1987, and Chair of Council in 1997. After reading Modern Languages at Cambridge, I joined Courtaulds Ltd and was seconded abroad, first to Courtaulds-Verkaufs GmbH in Düsseldorf (because I spoke German) and then to Courtaulds S A Paris (because I spoke French). I was later poached by a large thread manufacturer after they asked the Institute of Linguists for possible candidates with the right language qualifications. In retirement, I volunteer as Head Guide at the Derwent Valley Mills, including a handful of tours in German and French every year. A recent experience underlines what Sally Fagan has to say: foreigners do NOT all speak brilliant English. We had a group of 40 visitors and I was asked to do a tour in German alongside the tour in English. When we came to split the group, I was sure that some of the Germans would join my English- speaking colleague, but they all opted to come with me. There is fluency and fluency! We need leaders in the language field like never before! Peter South FCIL The need for leadership David Leighton requests more information about 'Chess Moves and Elephants' (TL56,3). The standard English word for 'castle' is, in fact, 'rook'. I recall David Niven castigating the term 'castle' on his TV show Checkmate in the 1970s. 'Castle' is never used in chess- playing circles – important information for anyone translating chess-related material! 'Castle' is, however, used for the one-off move when the king is moved to the side of the board and the rook to the centre. The Russian for this is рокиро́ вкa, presumably related to the word 'rook', yet the Russian for 'rook' is лaдья, from a word meaning 'boat'. I think you will find that in India the 'rook' is called an elephant. To add to the confusion, the French for 'bishop' is fou ('madman'). Clifford Marcus MCIL Continue the discussion online @Linguist_CIOL #TheLinguist Star letter This week's Star Letter writer wins the new bluffing game Flummoxed, where players invent definitions of foreign-language words and guess which is correct. For your chance to win, share your views via In the media Proof arrived that language learning is in crisis, as results for first A level, then GCSE, recorded big drops in modern foreign languages (MFL) entries; and the TES reported on the collapse in MFL university applications. The i newspaper ran a story claiming German will soon be "extinct" in our schools. Simon Jenkins, for The Guardian, wrote a depressingly fatalistic 'Ignore the Panic. There's little point learning languages at school', while The Telegraph explained that young people are "spoiled" and just turn to Google Translate. At least the crisis is attracting the attention of influencers. In The Telegraph, Schools Minister Nick Gibb defended the government's recent reforms, stating "we cannot rely on the ubiquity of English as an excuse for refusing to speak [languages]". Schoolsweek deserves attention for crunching data to show the trend is driven by "other forces than the Ebacc – most probably Progress 8, which is now the main headline measure for schools". No wonder "over half of Britons who holiday abroad say they have pointed at a restaurant menu to avoid having to pronounce non-English words," according to BBC News. Good on them for following this with the wonderful 'Where Speaking Several Languages is a Given', explaining that a majority of the world is bilingual, and that this has "amazing benefits". The launch of BBC Pidgin was a huge breakthrough, not only recognising the status of Pidgin, but also heralding a new era for the World Service's expansion of news services to include Amharic, Afaan Oromo, Tigrinya and Korean. Closer to home, The Guardian published a plea by Lily Allen to rectify the appalling lack of translation and interpretation services for victims of the Grenfell fire disaster – a terrible reminder of the role of language services in enabling people to access justice and their rights. Philip Harding-Esch is a freelance languages project manager and consultant. PHILIP HARDING-ESCH © SHUTTERSTOCK

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