A critical period to learn a second language?

Critical PeriodResearch findings on the critical period may influence educational policy and practice. Over recent years, many Catalan primary schools have lowered the starting age of foreign language learning and start teaching English in early childhood education (1). However, making pedagogical decisions solely on the basis of research on the critical period is problematic. In this article, we take a closer look at the issue.

The hypothesis that there is a critical period in life to learn a language was first proposed by the Canadian neurologists Penfield and Roberts in 1959. The hypothesis was then popularized by the linguist and neurologist Eric H. Lenneberg in his 1967 book “Biological Foundations of Language.” Lenneberg speculated that the critical period hypothesis not only affected first language acquisition, but could also be extended to second language acquisition. According to the critical period hypothesis, language can be acquired only within a critical period, extending from early infancy until puberty. The hypothesis is untestable for first language acquisition because no child can be intentionally deprived of language for experimental purposes. However, documented cases of feral children, victims of severe abuse, neglect and social isolation, such as Victor or Genie, deaf children of hearing parents, and children recovering from aphasia and language disorders lead us to believe that acquisition of a language is guaranteed up to the age of six, but then steadily compromised until puberty. After puberty, acquisition is rare. Some aspects of language will be learned but full mastery will not be achieved. The reason behind the critical period is thought to be of a biological (or maturational) nature and related to neurophysiological changes in the brain that allow, for example, the creation of more complex neural networks early in life (Long, 2007). Continue reading

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Traduïr llibres, establir ponts

Clica a la portada per anar a l’editorial.

Malgrat la crisi del sector editorial, que en els darrers anys ha fet abandonar part de l’edició de llibres de teatre, i desafiant allò que tot sovint es diu: que el teatre és un gènere invisible, l’editorial catalana Comanegra acaba de treure a la llum una nova publicació de la seva col·lecció de textos teatrals “Dramaticles”, coeditada per l’Institut del Teatre de Barcelona. Es tracta de Dramatúrgia alemanya contemporània – Teatre jove, una selecció de quatre peces de teatre adreçades especialment a joves a partir de catorze anys i sorgides de la ploma d’alguns dels autors més significatius de la dramatúrgia alemanya contemporània: Qüestió d’honor [Ehrensache], de Lutz Hübner (2005); Els boscos millors [Die besseren Wälder], de Martin Baltscheit (2010); Cap endins [Was innen geht], d’Anja Hilling (2014) i El regne animal [Das Tierreich], de Jakob Nolte i Michel Decar (2014). Continue reading

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2018. A toxic single-use year?

Yesterday Oxford Dictionaries announced their Word of the Year 2018: “toxic”. They said that there had been a 45% rise in the number of times the word has been looked up on its website, and that it best captured “the ethos, mood, or preoccupations” of 2018, thanks to “the sheer scope” of its application.

Until recently “toxic” was used almost exclusively in chemical contexts: a “toxic substance”, a “toxic gas” and “toxic waste”. But with the bitter Brexit debate and the extreme political debates that have dominated on both sides of the Atlantic over the last year, “toxic” has been increasingly used to refer to destructive human communication.

Read more about this story in The Guardian, where you can also see an article about “single-use”, which Collins Dictionary picked as their Word of the Year a few days ago.

These two selections are the starting gun for other proposals between now and the end of the year. Do Tradiling readers have any favourite words for 2018, in English, French, German, Spanish or Catalan?

Please leave any suggestions in the comments.

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New online terminology?

IATE is down today!

Today we should be celebrating the arrival of the latest version of the Inter-Active Terminology for Europe (IATE), the online terminology database of the European Union.

The announcement of a new version has created a lot of excitement, perhaps too much. Is the web server overloaded or is there some other technical hitch? Whatever the cause, this morning the IATE web is down and we will have to wait to try it out.

IATE is just one of the many online terminology and word search tools that are available to help translators and other language specialists, and which we have mentioned in Tradiling before (06.10.2014, 10.05.2017, 02.10.2017).

If IATE is down, we can always turn to Linguee, Intelliwebsearch, Glossarissimo!, Lexicool, Glossary Links (European Parliament), and many others.

If you have any favourite terminology resources that you would like to share, please leave a comment.

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Nuevo reglamento de la Oficina de Interpretación de Lenguas

Estamos en fase de participación pública en proyectos normativos de la iniciativa. El nuevo reglamento de la Oficina de Interpretación de Lenguas, organismo que depende de  Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación del Gobierno español, plantea diversas cuestiones que son de interés para l@s lector@s de Tradiling, entre las cuales mencionaremos:

  • “En cuanto a los Traductores – Intérpretes Jurados se plantea una importante novedad, basada en […] la peculiaridad del título en España, ya que comprende tanto la traducción como la interpretación (circunstancia que sólo se da en Polonia y Rumanía en el entorno de la UE, el EEE y Suiza) y las consecuencias que ello tiene en relación con el reconocimiento de cualificaciones profesionales obtenidas en otros países del ámbito geográfico mencionado.”
  • Objetivo 4: “crear los nuevos títulos de Traductor Jurado e Intérprete Jurado”.

A lo largo de los años, el papel del Ministerio en el reconocimiento español de la traducción jurada no ha sido especialmente ágil, en mi opinión, y se ha centrado en la función pública y la administración estatal, más que en las emergentes necesidades de otras personas, tituladas en traducción, que ejercen la profesión.

Es de esperar que la iniciativa actual mejore la situación, pero ¿será así?

Tenemos hasta el 16 de noviembre para hacer llegar nuestra opinión al Ministerio (enlace al final de esta página).

También, adjuntamos la carta al respecto que recientemente envió el Ministerio a la Asociación Profesional de Traductores e Intérpretes de Cataluña y a otras asociaciones y entidades del sector.

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