Native American languages in the US have succumbed to linguicide over time. According to the World Atlas, approximately 300 languages were spoken in the US before colonialism. When the Europeans arrived, they forced Native Americans out of their land. The government tried to eliminate the Native American culture, including the languages, by forcing English. As a result of enforcing English in schools and in society in general, many languages were lost.
Language means so much more than communication between people – it represents culture, history, tradition and identity. According to UNESCO, there are more than 6000 languages in the world today. A startling fact is that about 97% of the world speaks just 4% of these languages, including languages such as English, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Arabic. Only 3% of the population speaks the remaining 96% of the languages, many of which are indigenous languages.
Around 600 languages have already disappeared in the last century, and experts estimate that others will continue to disappear at a rate of one language every two weeks. If this trend continues, up to 90% of the world’s languages are likely to disappear before the end of the century. Why is this happening and what can we do about it?
As an American, it can be easy to forget about the impact that our culture has on other countries. Take Hollywood movies as an example and their global popularity. They may be created here in the US but they are watched and enjoyed worldwide.
This doesn't mean that they stay in English, however. The titles are translated and subtitles or voice-overs are added.
PC Chris Chabot
At Interpreters and Translators, Inc. we love language, travel, and countries. One of our employees has several friends who have visited Vietnam and raved about that country. She couldn’t not resist doing some research of her own and considering booking her own trip to Vietnam. Here are a few of her observations.
In January 2018, the United States (U.S.) National Book Foundation added a new category to its short list of literary prizes. Now both an author and the author’s translator will be honored with the National Book Award for Translated Literature. The new prize will recognize either a fiction or nonfiction work translated into English and published in the U.S. It’s the first time in 20+ years that the National Book Foundation has added a new category.
As we pointed out in the How to Create a Thriving Export Business guide, exporting offers businesses a great way to build upon domestic success. The volume of international trade is growing fast. Trade barriers are falling. And competition in your domestic market is probably intensifying, especially from foreign competitors.
Have you heard language experts say that English has more words than other languages? The claim is made but it’s practically impossible to verify.
“What is he saying?” I asked my bilingual friend while studying Spanish in Chile. He paused, thought about the joke we had both just heard, and then said, “It’s hard to explain.”
I was just learning Spanish but he could speak both English and Spanish fluently, so I couldn’t wrap my mind around his inability to just directly translate.
Take each word, translate it in his mind, and then regurgitate it back in English. That’s all it is, right?
I later learned that sometimes things are hard to translate. Sometimes a word doesn’t have an equivalent in another language and is therefore, untranslatable, or impossible to directly translate without the help of calling upon many other words.