USA Today.com–If you’re in a foul mood, it might be time to learn Spanish. Languages, and the people who use them, tend to favor using positive words over negatives, researchers find, and they’ve learned that that’s particularly true in Spanish. Experts at the University of Vermont and the MITRE Corporation went through volumes of text from all kinds of sources: books, the news, music lyrics, movie subtitles, and more, including some 100 billion words used on Twitter,UVM reports. Investigating 10 languages, they picked out the 10,000 most common words, then had native speakers rank these words on a nine-point happiness scale; “laughter,” for instance, was rated 8.5, while “greed” came in at 3.06.
All 24 types of sources reviewed resulted in scores above the neutral 5, meaning they leaned “happy.” In other words, “people use more positive words than negative ones,” a researcher says. As far as individual languages go, here are the top five happiest ones, via Discovery:
Although the RAE is famous for being rather reticent to new words, some have found a spot
Julio Nakamurakare writes for the Buenos Aires Herald.com–We all know that some new words — coinages — have an easy time finding their way in common folk’s everyday parlance, most in the technological field. Some institutions, like the French Academy, famously — and catastrophically — failed in their effort to impose a French version of the Anglicized Japanese word “Walkman.” Baladeur did not come as close to the concept was back then, nor would it sound appropriate for today’s “mp3 player” or whatever format techno gurus decide to adopt.
Nor is Japanese immune to these gairago or loan words (borrowings), mostly from English but also from other Western languages and for more specific purposes (science, for example) to words phonetically “borrowed” from English but with a “made in Japan” meaning. Think “depãto” for “department store” (depãtomento stoa) and you find some kind of logic, even if the shopping experience is different in Japan and other countries. Whatever the case, linguists observe, language changes according to needs (technological, societal, developmental), and so a descriptive approach to semantics and grammar is preferred over prescriptive notions.
Microsoft’s Skype software will start translating voice calls between people today. As part of a preview program, Skype Translator makes it possible for English and Spanish speakers to communicate in their native language, without having to learn a new one. It sounds like magic , but it’s the result of years of work from Microsoft’s research team and Skype to provide an early working copy of software that could help change the way the world communicates in the future.
Skype Translator Preview works on Windows 8.1 or preview copies of Windows 10, and it works by translating voice input from an English or Spanish speaker into text and translated audio. An English speaker will hear a translation from a Spanish speaker, and vice versa. Microsoft previously demonstrated the technology working between English and German, but Spanish will be the only language outside of English that will be initially supported during the preview.
Microsoft is marketing Skype Translator as a tool for schools, and the company tested it out with students in the US and Mexico. Skype is already popular in the classroom, with teachers participating in video conferences around the world to connect their schools to classrooms across the globe. While tests and demonstrations have been in limited and controlled experiments, Microsoft’s move today opens up its Skype Translator to a much wider audience to test it in the real world.
Ed M Wood writes for Babbel.com–When I left university I felt like I was bursting through a set of saloon swing doors, arms loaded with qualifications about to hold up the professional world until they handed over the job of my dreams. I think many graduates feel like this, and this misplaced confidence compounds the disappointment when the professional world shrugs its collective shoulders.
My reaction to this disappointment was to turn my back on the opportunity vacuum and stock up on soft skills. I googled for TEFL courses in Spain, found a charming townlet called Zamora in Castilla y Leon and booked myself a one-way ticket. My Spanish education, albeit informal, started almost as soon as we touched down. I was tasked with navigating my way across Madrid weighed down by my backpack and an oppressive, immovable mid-summer mugginess.