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Tigrinya and Amharic

  • 19/06/2018
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Rare Languages we provide

Here at Vandu, we pride ourselves on being able to provide interpreting for the rarer languages needed by our customers. In this blog series, we’ll have a look at these wonderful languages and the unique people that speak them.

Tigrinya and Amharic

Amharic and Tigrinya are the main languages spoken by the Ethiopians and Eritreans, of Eastern Africa. The reason we’ve grouped these two languages together is that they are strongly intertwined, both deriving from the same ancestor and both sharing characters in their alphabet. Though there are many different ethnicities and relating languages in the region, Eritrea’s the main language is Tigrinya and it is widely spoken throughout the country, but particularly in its central and southern areas. It is thought that there are just under 7 million speakers of Tigrinya. Amharic is the official language of Ethiopia and has around 22 million speakers; (interestingly, Oromo has a slightly higher number of speakers).

Amharic is a descendant of the Ge’ez script, which is thought to date back to the 9th Century BC – the link is easily recognisable when looking at the Amharic alphabet which share many characters with the Ge’ez script. While Ge’ez and Tigrinya also share many alphabetical characters, the link between the two is not so clear; many historians and linguists believe that Tigrinya is as old as Ge’ez, however the earliest evidence of written Tigrinya is from the 13th century, more than a few centuries after the earliest evidence of Ge’ez.

Whilst Amharic and Tigrinya are considered sister languages, unfortunately the relationship between the two nations is not nearly as close. The Eastern Africans suffered a long war for Eritrean independence from 1961 to 1991, which was then followed by a two-year border conflict in 1998. There has been a “No war, no peace” policy ever since, which has been detrimental to both countries’ economies and their general world-standing.

Having said that, there is much to be said for the futures of these two countries. Both the economies enjoyed considerable growth between 2000 and 2015, and both countries enjoy incredibly varied ecological regions, boasting mountainous regions, desert-like environments, dense forest/jungle areas, should the two countries look to seriously invest in its tourism industries. Eritrea also has an incredibly low crime-rate and is rich in its natural resources, while Ethiopia is investing in its light manufacturing industry. The president of Ethiopia recently announced that they would accept Eritrea’s ownership of the town of Badme, which has been a longstanding problem for the two nations, this step in the right direction makes you wonder what these two countries could accomplish were they on better terms.

Do you require interpreting for Amharic or Tigrinya? They're two of the many rare languages we provide for here at Vandu. Call 01273 473986 or email info@vlslanguages.com for more information!

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Tagalog

  • 31/05/2018
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Rare Languages we provide

Here at Vandu, we pride ourselves on being able to provide interpreting for the rarer languages needed by our customers. In this blog series, we’ll have a look at these wonderful languages and the unique people that speak them.

 

Tagalog

Tagalog is a language that originates from the Philippines in southeast Asia and along with English and Tagalog’s standardised form Filipino, mark the nationally recognised languages of that area. All in all, the Philippines is thought to have a whopping 134 languages, though Tagalog/Filipino is by far the most popular language of the country.

The earliest known evidence of the language is thought to be dated back to 900 CE (though Old Tagalog can be dated much farther back than that), but the first real dictionary arrived in the 18th century thanks to a Jesuit missionary named Pablo Cain. The Philippines went through three periods of colonial rule in its history; first under the Spanish, the islands were then ceded to the US following Spain’s defeat in the Spanish-American War, and finally during World War II, when the Japanese Empire took control of the islands. Evidence of this colonialism is observable in Tagalog; its words for the days of the week are lifted from Spanish, and code-switching (when a speaker switches between languages for particular words or entire sentences) to English is very common in the capital and its surrounding areas, and can even be witnessed on national television.

Tagalog and its standardised form Filipino are not without its controversies though. Due to the fact that the Philippines is a group of islands and its subsequent fragmented nature and culture, Tagalog was not a popular choice to form the basis of Filipino by those outside the main Island of Luzon and the capital, Manila. The reasoning was that by placing emphasis on Tagalog as a language, it also implied the same for the Tagalog people as an ethnic group. Eventually a ‘universalist’ approach was adopted and the word ‘Tagalog’ was erased, when regarding the national language.

Finally, you might be wondering what the difference actually is between Tagalog and Filipino – its mainly Filipinos adoption of words from other languages. For example: ‘diksyunaryo’, derived from its Spanish form ‘diccionario’, is the acceptable Filipino translation of ‘dictionary’; however, a Tagalog purist would insist on translating it as ‘talatinigan’.

Do you require interpreting for Tagalog? It’s one of the many rare languages we provide for here at Vandu. Call 01273 473986 or email info@vlslanguages.com for more information!

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Wolof

  • 24/05/2018
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Rare Languages we provide

Here at Vandu, we pride ourselves on being able to provide interpreting for the rarer languages needed by our customers. In this blog series, we’ll have a look at these wonderful languages and the unique people that speak them.

Wolof

Wolof is an officially recognised language in Senegal and is also popular in The Gambia and Mauritania; it is from the Niger-Congo family of languages, and unlike the most of that language family, Wolof is not tonal. It is the official language of the Wolof people, and most Senegalese people have it as a second language.

Wolof is thought to be spoken by around 10 million people both as a native and a second language. There are three dialects: Senegalese Wolof and Gambian Wolof are slightly different but mutually understandable, the key difference is that Senegalese Wolof uses French for loanwords, whereas the Gambian dialect uses English. The language originated from the Lebu people, whom have thought to be in the area of Senegal since 1430, however the Lebu dialect of Wolof is no longer understandable to its modern-day counterparts.

The Wolof people are spread over most of West Africa, and modern-day Wolof are predominantly Sufi Muslim, but this was not always the case, as the Wolof had their own undocumented religion before they encountered French colonial forces, which seemed to trigger a mass conversion. The evidence of colonialism can still be seen by the fact that French is the official national language, though apparently Wolof is often spoken when various ethnic groups come together, making it something of a West African lingua franca.

 

Do you require interpreting for Wolof? It’s one of the many rare languages we provide for here at Vandu. Call 01273 473986 or email info@vlslanguages.com for more information!

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UN World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development

  • 17/05/2018
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We like to think of ourselves as passionate advocates of cultural diversity here at Vandu, and with good reason; apart from the fact that our business depends on it, but the diversity of our cultures is a strong force in development, in both the economic sense and the personal sense too – it’s common thought that the more culturally aware you are, the more well-rounded you are as a person.

So, what’s the argument for cultural diversity and why should we dedicate an entire day to it? Perhaps it might be worthwhile to look at when cultural diversity is not embraced; for starters, three quarters of the world’s major conflicts have a cultural dimension according to the UN’s website, and it’s obvious when you look back to the 2nd World War, or the current Rohingya crisis. Another reason why cultural diversity is good for us is that it offers new methods of learning and different perspectives on any given subject – take teaching, for example; when Chinese academics sought to compare their own method of teaching with the USA’s version, they recognised that the Chinese focused on the acceptance of facts and fixed information and had teachers regarded as authoritative figures, whereas "American students are encouraged to debate topics. The free open discussion on various topics is due to the academic freedom which most American colleges and universities enjoy” and saw teachers as equals; both methods have their merits, and you now see culturally diverse university campuses across the globe.

So, what are the threats to cultural diversity? The most pressing issue is the age of information; as we share information over the internet in standardised languages i.e. standard French or Spanish, we lose the more rarer dialects as they go out of fashion, and the cultures that might go with them – some linguistic professors predict that by the year 2100, 90% of languages around the world will have become extinct if language death continues at its current rate. Another issue is the U.S’ superpower status and its subsequent cultural dominance – the ubiquity of Hollywood movies, fast food, music and clothing are clear indications of its strength. Finally, the lack of protection for minority cultures, and the attraction to larger ones that tend to have better technology and perhaps be more progressive, mean that we may slowly slide to the opposite of cultural diversity – cultural uniformity.

Cultural uniformity doesn't sound very interesting does it? The argument for cultural diversity is clear, and we hope to see you celebrating the UN’s World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development, on the 21st of May!

Do you require interpreting or translation in any of the languages mentioned? Give us a call on 01273 473986, or email info@vlslanguages.com

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Europe Day

  • 03/05/2018
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“A day will come when all nations on our continent will form a European brotherhood ... A day will come when we shall see ... the United States of America and the United States of Europe face to face, reaching out for each other across the seas.”

Victor Hugo, 1849

Whilst the European Union formally began in 1993, the idea of a unified continent has been bandied about as early as 1693, as William Penn considered the devastation of war in Europe. As we celebrate Europe Day on the 9th of May, now seems a good-a-time as any to reflect on the EU.

The notion of a united Europe began in earnest following the catastrophe of the Second World War. Previously, the likes of Winston Churchill and many other European politicians liked the idea of unifying other countries on the continent, but wanted little to do with it themselves. Given the rise of nationalism and the far-right leading up-to and during the War, and the subsequent destruction it caused, many opinions understandably changed. In 1951, The Treaty of Paris was signed by Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and whilst the treaty dealt solely in coal and steel, they were the two most important materials in the world at the time and in neutralising the competition for the substances, the treaty marked the earliest form of the European Union.

So where is the European Union now? In its main and original aims, it can be considered a success – there has been comparatively little conflict in Europe since its implementation, and the Union is a competitive economic superpower on the world stage.  The list of members has grown to 28, though it looks set to lose one of its most important members. Britain officially joined on the 1st of January 1973 and was a member until the country’s Euroscepticism came to a head during the referendum vote in 2016. The scepticism could be found along the entire political spectrum, with its main issues being the weakening of national sovereignty, the bureaucracy of the EU and the opinion that it is a neoliberal organisation that costs the working-class, as well as encourages high immigration. The highly divisive nature of the Brexit vote is still very apparent today, and will likely remain so for a very long time.

Regardless of your political allegiances, Europe day is worth celebrating. Most countries do this by raising the European Union flag and celebrating pan-Europeanism. There are many rich cultures worth enjoying in Europe… perhaps now more than ever.    

 

Do you require interpreting or translation in any of the European languages? Give us a call on 01273 473986, or email info@vlslanguages.com!

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