divendres, 25 de febrer de 2011

Language learning is good for you

This interesting article from Science Daily may encourage language learners not to give up!

People who speak more than two languages may lower their risk of developing memory problems, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 63rd Annual Meeting in Honolulu April 9 to April 16, 2011.

It appears speaking more than two languages has a protective effect on memory in seniors who practice foreign languages over their lifetime or at the time of the study," said study author Magali Perquin, PhD, with the Center for Health Studies from the Public Research Center for Health ("CRP-Santé") in Luxembourg. Perquin is helping to lead the MemoVie study which involves a consortium of partners from different hospitals and institutions.

The study involved 230 men and women with an average age of 73 who had spoken or currently spoke two to seven languages. Of the participants, 44 reported cognitive problems; the rest of the group had no memory issues.
Researchers discovered that those people who spoke four or more languages were five times less likely to develop cognitive problems compared to those people who only spoke two languages.
People who spoke three languages were three times less likely to have cognitive problems compared to bilinguals. In addition, people who currently spoke more than two languages were also four times less likely to have cognitive impairment. The results accounted for the age and the education of the participants.

"Further studies are needed to try to confirm these findings and determine whether the protection is limited to thinking skills related to language or if it also extends beyond that and benefits other areas of cognition," said Perquin.
The research was conducted in Luxembourg, where there is a dense population of people who speak more than two languages.
The MemoVie study was supported by The National Research Fund (FNR) from Luxembourg.

dilluns, 14 de febrer de 2011

Presentació del nou llibre de Matthew Tree a Tortosa

Presentació del llibre de Matthew Tree
Negre de merda! El racisme explicat als blancs.
A càrrec de Jesús M. Tibau
La 2 de Viladrich
18 de febrer de 2011, 19.30 h.

Aquest assaig personal aclareix què és el racisme, d'on ve i per què. Parla dels que hi creuen i de les seves víctimes. Distingeix entre el racisme envers els col·lectius humans considerats inferiors (a la secció 'Negres, etcètera') i als col·lectius humans considerats intel·ligents però malèfics (al capítol 'Jueus, etcètera'). S'hi descriuen alguns exemples, sovint poc coneguts, del que passa quan el racisme es posa en pràctica, concretament a Anglaterra, als Estats Units, a l'Europa de mitjan segle XX i a Catalunya. També ofereix una explicació històrica de l'aparent 'superioritat' dels europeus (la font principal de tantes actituds racistes).

divendres, 11 de febrer de 2011

Xiuxiuejava, She whispered

Thanks to the Col·lectiu Emma we have found this delightful article published in Granta by the poet and translator, Rowan Ricardo Philips.
Translation, at the best of times, should be a form of welcome. But for me, translating from Catalan into English sometimes feels more like a form of farewell. As I work I feel both languages equally alive, equally limber; equally conversant, competitive and playful. At these moments I am free from the immense gravitational pull of English and free from the centric tug of Spanish. If only, I think to myself in the middle of a translation, I could keep both the banality of ‘she whispered’ and the absurd beauty of the original word xiuxiuejava, how by a strange twist of fate the two words strongly hint at a rhyme, how simply cool the rangy assonance of a phrase as plain as ‘Ah! Ho haveu vist?’ (‘Ah! Have you seen it?’) is for the mouth and the mind.
Has a more beautiful language ever flowered from Vulgar Latin than Catalan? This naked joy gained from the simultaneity betwixt and between two languages is the translator’s great pleasure and also, eventually, the translator’s great and inevitable loss. With Catalan I feel that loss rather sharply as the English version further comes into focus, options discarded, everything soon ossifying into the final draft and subsequent published translation. This is in part due to Catalan’s diaphanous literary status and our sad tendency to settle for the illusion of a single-tongued Spain: a mirage of a house with Castilian spackling its holes like sores. The result has been a very visitable but not entirely visible Spain. And now with economic crises everywhere you turn and fewer people visiting, Spain is clearly not well. It has sold itself until prosperous and now has spent itself to quick ruin. Let’s hope this is temporary. In the meantime, we readers should take this opportunity to get a better view inside of this imagined house. We should strip the walls and look at Spain as Spain really is, not as it’s practical for us to pretend it to be. Translation from the Catalan – as well as from Basque, Galician and the other languages of the peninsula – is one of the most useful and poignant vehicles through which to do so.

Yet translation by itself solves little. The work of translation is to act out everything and explain nothing. As your skin is not an explanation of who you are, a translation is hardly an explanation of another culture. I translate from Catalan to English not so that the latter stands in for the former but to encourage the English-language reader that much closer to Catalan culture. The rest is up to the will of the reader. May she or he strive to be a citizen of the world. This is precisely why translation is a form of farewell: it demands a letting go.

Tyrants have tried, legislators have tried – but nothing can glean a language from the face of the earth like translation. And thus although translation is essential to knowing who we are, how we live and what we have achieved, it should never become under any circumstances what will suffice.

dimarts, 1 de febrer de 2011

Story-telling in English at Tortosa library

Tortosa public library offers many more activities than mere book-lending. Reading clubs are organised monthly at all levels, and in different languages. There are also oral story-telling sessions in Catalan and English every month. This month we have had the pleasure of being able to collaborate with these initiatives, with Silvia telling the tales of Chicken Licken and The Little Red Hen last Thursday.
We enjoyed it immensely, and so did the 27 children who came along to the activity. A very interesting introduction to English for these little minds, and hopefully an encouragement to read and enjoy more English.
This photo and more can be found at the library's blog page.