Changes to Australia’s Immigration Rules in 2019

There were several major changes to the immigration rules in Australia that took effect from 1st January 2019.

These were:

  • a longer processing time for overseas partners’ visas;
  • a new visa for parents for temporary visits to Australia;
  • changes to foreign students cash flow;
  • ensuring that migrants sponsored by employers are paid what has been agreed;
  • visas for South Australia start-up entrepreneurs.

1. Longer Processing Time for Overseas Partners’ Visas

The first change is the processing time has been increased for partner visas. As a result of the Family Violence bill that the Senate passed in November 2018, concern had been raised about violence that has been occurring between Australian citizens and permanent residents and the partners who had joined them from overseas countries.

The most significant change is that the partner visa sponsorship will have to be approved before the application is submitted. Any partner from overseas is now expected to pass a stringent screening process which will assess their past life and character before an application can be filed. The process will take longer overall than is usually the case.

The new law now makes it harder for people with a history of domestic violence to be able to sponsor an overseas partner visa. Up to this year, all partner visa applicants had to pass a character check, but not a police check, unless a child was included in the partner visa application. Now, a partner who has a violent criminal background will be refused a partner visa.

2. New Visa for Parents for Temporary Visits to Australia

This visa is for parents of Australian citizens and permanent residents. It allows eligible parents to stay for short periods in Australia with their children, either three or five years. Each year the quota for these visas is fixed at 15,000. The cost of the visas is $5,000 for 3 years and $10,000 for 5 years. It is possible to renew these visas, but only for up to a maximum of 10 years. In addition, the government passed an amendment that ensures the parent applying for the visa wouldn’t place any extra burden on the healthcare system in Australia. If the parent needs healthcare but doesn’t have insurance, the child in Australia will be asked to cover the health costs.

3. Changes to Foreign Students’ Cash Flow

This year, foreign students must be able to show they have at least $20,290 of cash available. Also, if a partner is accompanying them, this will cost $7,100 and each child will cost $3,040. This new rule doesn’t affect an overseas student’s right to work in a casual job to help cover living costs. This is 20 hours a week while college or university is in session and full time in vacations.

4. Ensuring That Migrants Sponsored by Employers are Paid What has Been Agreed

Due to a trend of underpaying this group of workers, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) tax records are going to be checked using the tax file numbers of 457/482 TSS visa holders. This is to ensure they are being paid the correct amount based on the agreed salary.

5. Visas for South Australia Start-Up Entrepreneurs

With the growing trend of migrants’ preference to settle in the large urban areas like Melbourne and Sydney, the Federal government has initiated a pilot program this year for owners of startups who wish to migrate to Australia. South Australia is the targeted state and the requirements aren’t as stiff as those required for the Business and Innovation visa. The new visa won’t require the $200,000 funding and the IELTS score is set at an average of 5. Each applicant will need to provide to the state a business plan with an original business idea.

Increase Your Pay Per Click Sessions Through Language Localisation

Pay Per Click (PPC) translation is one-way companies test out new market opportunities overseas. SEO is another strategy used, but it can amount to a lot of money being spent. PPC can also be a successful strategy, enabling the business to rise in the search engine rankings relatively quickly.

In order to be successful globally, the right keywords are required so you need to through the process of international keyword research. Some brands just translate the keywords used in the source language directly into the targeted language. This could prove to be dangerous as not all words will translate directly from one language to another and still come out with the same meaning. One example is when someone keys in the search term cheap flights. This is done maybe a million times per month.

If cheap flights are translated directly into Italian, it is voli economic. However, this isn’t the term used by Italians. They use voli low cost. So an airline wanting to attract the Italian market could lose millions of potential customers if they use voli economic. Sometimes, companies just ask bilingual staff to do their web pages, but in the end, only an experienced translation company will know how to translate keywords correctly.

PPC and Copywriting and Translating

As soon as you have decided on the best keywords for your overseas marketing campaign you will need to go on to writing some ad copy. This is seen by the user when inputting key terms into a search engine. It’s of the utmost importance to get the ad copy correct and the key messages too. This will increase the click-through numbers and raise the chance of being successful in your paid search campaigning efforts. This isn’t necessarily that easy, as all search engines limit the number of characters they allow for their ad copy. For example, on the platform for Google Adwords 3 lines of text are permitted with an URL displayed with each ad.

As an example, take Google’s Adwords. For each ad, 3 text lines and a web site reference are permitted.

The 1st text line is shown in a slightly bigger font which allows for 25 characters of text for languages which are single-width like English and other languages that are Latin-based. The 2nd and 3rd lines of text in the PPC ad and URL text allow 35 characters in total. With what’s called double width languages, which have characters that are double width, such as Arabic, Chinese and Japanese, the character limits are about 50% of single width languages. That’s 12 characters for the 1st line of text with 17 allowed for the following 2 lines and the URL.

Because there are character limits, it’s not always that easy to get your message noticed accurately and consistently in all your targeted languages for the paid search campaigning. A good translation company should be able to find the right keywords in the targeted languages, which ensures the PPC campaign gets the most out of the money spent with the character limitations.

PPC Landing Page, Translation and Copywriting

PPC ads aren’t able to exist on their own. Each ad needs a landing page that’s relevant and has on it details of what you have on offer and does a good job of persuading your targeted customers to do what you want and that’s to purchase your product. What is key to the success of a paid search campaign is providing highly relevant, high quality content with a call to action that’s clear. However, when marketing to a customer who doesn’t speak your company’s language you can’t just conduct a word for word translation. You will need to assign the translation task to a trusted and experienced translation company that knows how to translate your product naturally and correctly.

PPC ads and Optimising the Landing Page

Often, one ad for a number of keywords isn’t sufficient for guaranteeing success. On occasions, it’s necessary to have a separate landing page and ad for each keyword or group of keywords. There is one other way of lowering costs in the PPC campaign and that’s by increasing quality scores.

Improving a Quality Score

Google uses a quality score which is designed to rate the quality overall of the ad and landing page and compares it with competitors for the search terms provided. Google does this so users are given most times the best-paid search ad when they input a query. This, in turn, gives more money to Google. For an ad that is seen at the top of the listings that are a paid search, it’s not necessarily the highest bid for the key term that has been selected. Typically, the company will have optimised its ad and landing page so as to bring up its quality score and bring down costs too. To do all this in a foreign language the translator needs an in-depth knowledge of the language.

10 Good Reasons for Learning French

Why French Language is Important Today

You might not realise this, but French is spoken in places that are across the other side of the world from France. In fact, French is spoken in 5 continents by 220 million or more speakers. The OIF, which is the international organisation for French-speaking countries, has 88 members. French is the 2nd most commonly learned language after English, and it comes 6th for the number of people who speak it. It is estimated that at any one time there are one million people engaged in learning French. There is every good reason why the French language is important today.

French Opens Doors to Jobs

If you can speak both English and French and do French language translation as well, it opens many doors in the world of jobs, especially in developed countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Canada and of course France itself.

French opens doors to culture

French is well known in so many different international environments, such as in cooking, theatre, fashion, dance, visual arts and architecture. French is the language of philosophers, scientists, poets and authors that have become international names such as Victor Hugo, Molière and Jean-Paul Sartre. Their works have had a French language translation into all the world’s most prominent languages.

France is a Top Tourist Destination

This answers the question of why the French language is important. More than 87 million people visit France every year. It’s great to get more of an insight into French culture by knowing just a little French. Any French knowledge can be used in such countries as Switzerland, Monaco and Canada, as well as some African countries like Morocco. Far-flung island residents, like those of the Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius, speak French as well.

A Language for Higher Education

If you can do any French language translation it opens up opportunities to study at France’s highly ranked universities. French government grants are available to students who have achieved high levels of French and they can enrol in postgraduate courses in French universities in virtually any discipline.

French is a Key Language in International Relations

You will hear French spoken at key venues in the European Union. Also, it’s an official United Nation’s language and UNESCO and NATO as well as the international Red Cross, the International Olympic Committee and in international courts.

French is a Window on the World

TV5, Radio France Internationale and France 24 are broadcast all over the world in French. They cover all aspects of world affairs. This means French language translation is important, so we can see France’s world view.

French isn’t Difficult to Learn

With some perseverance, it doesn’t take long to learn how to speak French, so that you can be understood.

Knowing French makes some other languages easier to learn

There are similarities between French and other languages, like Italian, Romanian, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

French is Romantic and Analytical

French is from time to time referred to as the language of love. It’s also known for its analysis of world issues, which is increasingly valuable in this changing world.

What are Translation Plugins and How Are They Helpful?

When you are developing a website for all to see you look at a number of important features, such as content, SEO, optimisation, responsiveness and marketing. There is more to presenting a website than that as you have to think about who you expect to browse your website. If you are intending upon including overseas visitors then they probably won’t speak your language. This is where translation plugins can be helpful and they don’t cost much either.

WordPress, in particular, has available a good selection of great plugins that can assist you to put together multilingual content. All you have to think about is how much will using these plugins benefit you. If you live in Australia, England or the United States you may think that everyone speaks English. However, of the online audience, just 26% are English speakers. Even in the U.S., 10% of the population speaks Spanish. There are so many success stories heard from businesses about how much they have gained in revenue when they translate their websites into multiple languages. It makes using translation plugins so much more worthwhile.

Lingotek Translation Plugins

One useful plugin is Lingotek Translation, which uses a cloud-based translation web which makes it possible to get translations using machine tools, through crowdsourcing, or through the hiring of professional translators a pool of more than 5,000 certified translators. Once you have registered with Lingotek you can choose your translation method and follow the translation until it reaches the publishing stage. The machine translation component doesn’t cost anything for the first 100,000 characters and this is done by the Microsoft Translator called API.

GTS Plugins

This plugin’s aim is to elevate traffic to your website site partly using machine translations and polishing by using crowdsourcing which avoids making grammatical mistakes that could be embarrassing. It also has functions for optimising search engines. Most of the translations are done by machine but are edited by human translators. GTS supports more than thirty key languages.

Google Language Translator Plugins

This isn’t the official Google translator plugin, but it is a tool constructed above Google Translate that enables you to provide multilingual content in the easiest way possible. To get started it’s necessary to download the translation plugin then activate it. You are provided with several choices and in the end, you will have a rough version of your content in the languages you have chosen. There are 80 languages available and visitors can manually switch either between a selected group of languages, or the complete range of Google Translate’s choices.

Summary

Overall, translation plugins are a useful tool to tap into so that you can get your website content more user-friendly  for the multilingual world. If you are involved in marketing a product that needs a detailed accurate translation like a medical device you need to look carefully when choosing a plugin. You don’t want to be sued if you provide inaccurate user instructions and someone is injured.

Translation Industry Trends 2009 vs 2019

One thing is certain and that is that the role of translation has brought a greater ability for effective communication to take place around the world. It transforms borders between countries, permits more successful trade and allows freer movement of people to places previously unknown to them. Overall though, despite the gains for the translation industry, it has seen many changes over the last 10 years. In fact, more than at any other time in history. Some of the changes are positive, while others may appear to undermine the use of human translators as the main instigators of reliable accurate translations.

Main Translation Game Changer is the Use of Artificial Intelligence (AI)

What has alarmed the translation industry the most over the last decade is the use of artificial intelligence to perform translations. A simple example of this is Google Translate. This AI tool was first introduced some 13 years ago. Its goal was the ongoing desire that has been a presence for a number of centuries and that’s to break down language barriers and make the world far more accessible. It began by supporting just two languages but today it supports more than 103. The hundreds of users 13 years ago have led to hundreds of millions today. The commonest languages used in Google Translate occur between English and Spanish, Arabic, Indonesian, Russian, and Portuguese. Overall 100 billion words are translated every day.

The use of Google Translate and other forms of AI has without a doubt eased global communication problems and helps people out in awkward situations that could occur on vacation or on a business trip. As long as you have a cell phone with an internet connection the translation tool is available.

No one disputes the practicality of Google Translate, but the key problem is how it translates. Its aim isn’t to focus on a deep understanding of the language. It comes up with a simple decode of the language inputted into it which is just enough to gain sufficient understanding. There is an easy way to try the reliability of Google Translate and that’s by inputting a sentence in a foreign language, not your own, and ask it to translate into your language. You will see imperfections in both word usages and sentence flow. No doubt it’s sufficient to understand the gist of the meaning but it’s not by any means perfect.

AI Translation Benefits All

The technological age, including AI in translation, has without a doubt had amazing benefits. It allows those who use social media to communicate better by breaking down previously impenetrable language obstacles and it promotes sharing and open communication and sharing.

AI Translation does have Limitations

An experienced human translator still has advantages over any known AI translation tool, in that it’s able to encompass idioms, cultural references, tone and even humour and jokes. An AI translation may be able to translate many sentences perfectly, but it can trip up when it’s presented with problems when asked to translate idioms and nuances in another language.

Computer Assisted Translation (CAT) tool helps Translators Today

Despite AI aiding translations for anyone that chooses to use it, this doesn’t mean translation companies over the last 10 years haven’t taken advantage of technological advancements. Today, professional translation companies use a tool that stores and recalls their work when they are working on a translation project. These tools referred to a CAT for short work as a database and are also called translation memories(TM). A sentence is given to a human translator which is translated and then approved. This translated sentence is stored, so the next time the translator is approached to translate a similar sentence, the CAT tool will quickly suggest a translation from its TM, which results in a faster translation.

This is an example of how translators have kept up with translation trends over the last 10 years. They can construct their own terminology lists by specialism, keep them stored in the CAT database and recycle them as determined by the CAT tool when asked to do a new translation. A CAT Tool is an aid used by translators which provide good translations time after time.

A business that uses the same translation company which uses CAT technology saves a lot of money on translations because the process is so much faster as the translator can use past material as a basis for every translation for that business. If a business wants a catalogue updating the translation company should have the original catalogue stored in TM.

CAT tools aren’t perfect, but as a complement to a human translator, they have allowed faster and better translation offering work for translators and fast turnarounds for clients. There are a few translation companies that don’t depend on CAT tools today as it makes them more competitive as they can offer better rates to clients.

Faster Turnarounds are in Demand

Because clients are no longer willing to wait long periods for translators to produce the perfect translations this has forced translation services to use CAT and TM so that they can recycle older content completed for a client which avoids starting each new translation from scratch.

In summary, while MT is used often to help the translation process and CAT tools are time savers, even today perfection of a translation is only possible with input from a human translator. Machine Translation is good as a provider of a basic translation and is improving day by day,  but it needs transcreation to put it into the right context. This requires the skills of a translator to tailor the original material so that it goes down better with the targeted audience. So over the last 10 years machines have been trained to translate words but they haven’t yet been programmed to understand the greater complexities of a language and how humans manipulate words to suit themselves.

$400, 000 Raised For the Bible to be Translated Into 16 Countries’ Sign Languages

Just recently, thousands of Christian students and their leaders attended a Christian conference in the USA which raised $400,000 to help in the translation of the Bible into non-standard sign languages in parts of the world which have had little exposure to Christianity.

The gatherings took place in three U.S. cities which were Dallas, Washington D.C. and Atlanta, that attracted almost 40,000 18 to 25-year-olds. The Passion 2019 conference generally gathers to worship and learn about Christianity. However one of its aims was to raise money to make sure deaf people from other areas of the world can gain access to Christ’s teachings.

It was the Deaf Bible Society that initiated this fundraising and the $448,270 will fund their campaign to distribute as many copies as possible of the Bible in sign languages that are unique to 16 quite different countries.

Countries who will be recipients of the Bible in their sign language dialects include Malaysia, Japan, the Philippines, South Sudan, Thailand, Myanmar, South Africa, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Colombia, Egypt, Cuba, Moldova and Mexico. The Deaf Society recently revealed that 70 million people worldwide use sign language as their main way of communicating. Presently the Bible has been translated either fully or partially into many of the world’s languages. The New Testament has been fully translated into 1,521 languages and the whole Bible can be read in 683 languages.

The different sign languages around the world

Overall, there are more than 200 sign languages used throughout the world today. The number changes as new sign languages emerge rapidly due to creolisation. In a few countries, like Sri Lanka, each deaf school may use a separate language, which only its students know and use. JSL is Japan’s sign language and it’s not the same as American Sign Language (ASL). ASL does use mouth movements, but not as much as JSL. Also, finger spelling is used more often in JSL than in ASL.

French Sign Language (LSF) is used by around 100,000 people in France and it’s accepted by educators. It has had an influence on sign languages such as ASL, Russian Sign Language (RSL) and ISL. Charles Michel de l’Épée is often given the credit for inventing LSF, but in fact, all he actually did was to take the sign language already being used by Paris’s deaf community, added some rules which made it far too complicated, and then established a free deaf school where his sign language could be taught.

The American and the British don’t share the same sign language. British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language don’t even share the same language family. Between 250,000 and 500,000 individuals in the U.S. claim that ASL is their own native language. Also, S.E. Asia, Canada and West Africa use ASL. ASL resembles LSF but is also influenced by what’s called Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language, as well as other local sign languages. Like LSF, ASL uses a one-handed finger-spelling alphabet.

Irish Sign Language (ISL)

Irish deaf people speak Irish Sign Language (ISL), which originates from LSF. However, ISL has, to some extent, been influenced by BSL, it is still quite distinct. In 2014, about 5,000 deaf individuals, mostly in the Irish Republic but some in North of Ireland, do use ISL to communicate.

Chinese Sign Language (ZGS or CSL)

Sign language is used by up to 20 million people who are deaf in China. Many today use CSL to communicate. Most Chinese deaf children receive treatment at “hearing rehabilitation centres,” which prefers the oralist approach. More recently, more Chinese deaf schools have opened where CSL is preferred. The sign language is unique and doesn’t parallel sign languages from other countries like ASL.

Brazil’s Sign Language or Libras

There are approximately 3 million deaf users in Brazil and to communicate they use Libras, which gained official language status in 2002. It could be linked to Portuguese or LSF but overall it’s considered to be a unique sign language.

Indo-Pakistan Sign Language

The sign language used in South Asia is Indo-Pakistan Sign Language but has never been given official status and it’s not part of the public school curriculum. But some NGOs often use sign language when teaching on vocational and academic courses. There is a large shortage of Indo-Pakistan Sign Language interpreters, with only two hundred and fifty sign language interpreters who are fully certified in India where there is something like 1.8 million deaf people.

Why Humour is so Difficult to Translate

Defining Humour

A good but simple definition of humour is something that causes others to laugh or feel amused. However, what could make one person laugh may not make another person laugh. This has to be taken into account when translating humour. The difficulty with the definition of humour is its subjectivity. Many authors at some time or other have tried to seek out a proper definition of humour, while many have simply reached the conclusion that no real definition can be found.

Humour is found in everyday communication and it plays various roles. Sometimes a person wants to stand out from others so says something humorous to attract their attention while often it occurs spontaneously relating to an incident that has just taken place. There are professional comedians who make a living out of humour too. Most of the time humour only takes place in a single language but there are times like in international conferences when a speaker cracks a joke and an interpreter has to somehow accurately translate it so its meaning is preserved and not lost in translation.

Humour rarely stands out on its own and is usually linked to the context where it takes place. It’s often related to a specific culture making it particularly difficult for a translator or interpreter to translate into another language. Even though humour is not uncommon in everyday life, it is, in fact, difficult to translate.

Language professor, Raphaelson-West, stated in one of his journal articlesrecently that he considers there are three general joke categories. These are:

  • linguistic jokes,
  • cultural jokes
  • universal jokes.

On the question of linguistic jokes, comedian Dan Antopolski, had an award-winning joke which was “Hedgehogs – why can’t they just share the hedge?” This is fine in English but trying to translate into any other languages is difficult because hog has two meanings. This is a virtually insurmountable challenge for even the most highly skilled and experienced translator. Cultural jokes are said to be easier to translate.

Humour often isn’t learned but is part of a person’s talent and not everyone finds the same things humorous. Translating humour is very much dependent on how the translator understands the humour. Often a translator can’t accurately translate humour and if he or she is given a translation job which involves translating humour but no equivalent language in the target language can be found the translator will just say the text is untranslatable.

Translating Humour From Other Countries

Today, there are lots of English humorous TV series or movies that appear in other countries after they have been translated. Sometimes subtitles are used while at other times dubbing is used. As humour is part of the culture where it originates from sometimes subtitles don’t express the language spoken as humorous. Even if the translator has a huge amount of knowledge of both languages sometimes humour is too sophisticated for the translator to be able to convey just the right meaning in the translation. Humour is so rooted in the culture that it becomes a part of a culture’s way of life. A thorough, in-depth understanding of the source and target languages, is necessary as well as being able to interchange cultures.

Some kinds of humour like wordplay depend heavily on the linguistic features found in the source language. This means the translation is complicated because many languages differ so much in their semantic and grammatical structures. Finding a suitable translation that ensures the joke is understood is extremely difficult because of the vast differences between languages and cultures. Arabic and English have little in common so translating humour may never be realistically accurate.

Two Possible Solutions to Translating Humour

There are two main methods to help to resolve the difficulties with translating humour. The 1st is using a cultural note. This is commonly found in westernized or subtitled Japanese shows. A cultural note explains what it means when Japanese viewers are the only ones likely to understand the joke. The key problem with a cultural note is that it may potentially distract and even confuse a viewer which could result in ruining the impact of the joke. The 2nd potential solution is finding a very clever translator. There are one or two around who are able to put together a precise meaning in a translation so that the joke can be equally understood and found to be funny in two languages.

It takes a skilled interpreter, translator, or localization specialist to be able to absorb and reproduce humour and its cultural references for an audience that likes being amused. Time after time the conclusion is that the complex nature of a bilingual brain could be the key to navigating these complicated, comical waters. What everyone wants is to be able to share humour beyond the boundaries of language and culture.

The Unspoken Languages of the World

Surely, the term “unspoken language” is a misnomer? How can people speak with each other without speaking? The seeming contradiction lies in the fact that the word “language” means more than just the spoken word. Well before our ancestors ever developed the intellectual capacity through neural development to speak using words and sentences, early humans, the hominids of many different species, presumably communicated in non-verbal ways. Body language is surely a well-recognized way of communicating with each other still today. How about facial signals? Both these ways of using an ‘unspoken language’ must have been far more important in the deep past than they are today? Even now, when a shopkeeper says ‘Have a nice day’ after you have parted with some of your hard earned cash, you can tell whether they mean it or not by their body language and the way they smile at you.

Unspoken Languages of the Animal Kingdom

Many animals use an unspoken language, too. In fact, humans are probably unique in the animal kingdom in their innate ability to communicate verbally. Most other animals use a variety of vocalizations which fall short of being classified as verbal language. Birds use a variety of different calls, some of them surprisingly varied. The thicker the vegetation a species lives in, or the more distant a pair flies apart searching for food, the more elaborate the unspoken avian language used.

Our closest relatives, the great apes, use a great variety of ‘unspoken languages.’ It is not surprising that intensely social apes, closest genetically to humans, such as the chimpanzees and bonobos, have a much more diverse unspoken language of grunts, hoots and cries as well as facial signals than their more unsocial cousins, the orangutans of South East Asia.

Interesting Unspoken Languages Around the World

People have developed fascinating unspoken languages around the world in addition to their more intricate and complex spoken languages. There are many reasons, sometimes hard to understand, just why these have arisen where they have. Here below are some examples of these interesting unspoken languages, still often used today.

The Whistling Silbadors of La Gomera

La Gomera is one of the Spanish Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. It was settled, as far as we know, originally by people from Morocco, who developed a distinctive culture in each of the rocky, mountainous islands of the Canary group. In La Gomera, there developed a remarkable unspoken language called Silbo Gomero. In Spanish, the word ‘silbar’ means to whistle and that’s what the Gomerans are able to do to communicate at a distance, instead of shouting at each other. The versatility of the Gomeran whistling language is so good that as many as 4,000 whistled ‘words’ are recognized! Silbo Gomero may be in danger of extinction as an unspoken language today because of the use of cell phones and the internet, but the language is part of the curriculum in schools, so maybe it will still continue to be used.

The Hummers of the Amazonian Jungle

Rather similar to the whistlers of La Gomera are the hummers of the Maici River district in the South American Amazon. This unspoken language is used by the Pirahã people, an indigenous Indian population. The humming is not as elaborate as whistling and doesn’t carry so far, but that doesn’t worry the Pirahã. They use it to communicate when out hunting in the jungle. Perhaps they use it so that words don’t frighten their prey, or maybe they just like humming! Many kilometers away in China, there is another humming community, that of the people of Zhejiang.

Summary

Unspoken language predates the use of words and is still used by everyone today, even if it is only facial signals and body language, which are very useful because they give information about intent and emotion.
Here and there around the world, there are still many communities who have developed fascinating unspoken languages for a variety of reasons. From whistles and hums to yodels and drums, unspoken languages are an integral part of what it is to be human.

Cultural Traditions Around the World Giving People a Sense of Identity

What Cultural Traditions Mean

Culture, like language, defines a human population. It fosters a sense of identity in the same way as language does. If you can speak the same language as others, you generally share many of their cultural traditions. Today, many of these distinctive cultural traditions are changing fast, taken over by a more uniform, globalized, consumer-centered culture. Colombians may speak Spanish, Vietnamese may speak Vietnamese and Moroccans Arabic and Berber, but they all recognize MacDonald’s beef burgers and Big Macs! Culture is important for many people because it gives them a sense of identity, but the homogenization of culture that is happening today means that that very sense of identity is gradually disappearing. No-one seems to be sure if that is bad or good.

Interesting Cultural Traditions Around the World

There are literally hundreds of unique cultures around the world. Visitors from one culture are often surprised, amused or even horrified when they first encounter another culture. After a time these impressions fade as people realize that humanity is more or less the same all over the world. It often comes down to cultural translation, which is the ability to understand what cultural oddities actually mean.

Take the French kiss, for example. Many people in Europe kiss on the meeting, but the French have elevated kissing as a greeting to an art form. It takes time to appreciate that there are different ways to kiss, depending on how familiar you are with the person you are greeting. Australians, on the other hand, prefer a firm handshake, Americans a hug or a pat on the back, Maori New Zealanders a hongi (a touching of the nose), while Indians put the palms of their hands together in front of them as a greeting. They all mean more or less the same when they are translated, but the differences can take time to learn, just like language.

Tradition and Translation

Cultural customs around the world may mean the same thing in principle, but they take time to learn. Traditional customs do need to be translated if they are to mean anything to those who don’t share that culture. The importance of cultural translation cannot be underestimated as it is essential if people of different cultures are to get on peacefully and co-operate together.

Culture and tradition are important to take into account when visiting another part of the world, or even within your own borders where people of different cultures rub shoulders. Take the practice of pointing in the western world, for example. In many African cultures, as well as Islamic culture in other parts of the world, it is rude to point with the finger at something, especially another human being. It is fine, however, to use the thumb! In Nicaragua, in a totally unrelated cultural tradition, people use their lips to point at something. It takes practice to learn what to do, but this sort of cultural translation is important to communicate effectively.

Summary:- There is a need for cross-cultural translation

In a way, it is a bit of a contradiction that there is a surge in the demand for language translators at present, but not for cultural translators. The world is globalizing fast and there is recognition everywhere that language translation is essential for communication in the modern world. However, there is a significant lag in the recognition that there is also a need for cross-cultural translation. One wonders just how much violence, unease, and war might not have happened over the centuries had cultural translators existed to teach all of us world citizens what other people were trying to say with their actions.

How Do Babies Learn a Language Well Enough to Speak It?

It often seems galling to those of us adults who are struggling to learn a new language to acknowledge just how easily human babies learn a language well enough to speak it. They don’t go to school to learn how to speak. They don’t read books or use Google. They don’t go to evening classes or have private tutors. How do they do it?

Researchers have known for a long time that human babies are instinctively wired to learn to communicate using the language of those around them as they grow up. That means all babies, everywhere around the world. In fact, babies not only learn to speak easily but their method of learning how to speak and communicate verbally also cannot be replicated when you are older. That’s a pity because it means that when you are an adult, it can be much more of a struggle to learn a new language, partly because of the language that you have grown up with acts as a confusing impediment.

A Baby’s Language Learning Timeline

Much of a baby’s language learning unbelievably occurs before they reach five years old. Of course, there is no exact chronology involved. Every baby is unique and follows an independent trajectory when it comes to learning a language and there are a lot of extrinsic factors that come into play, helping or hindering that process.

Before Birth

A baby’s ability to learn a language is dependent on how its brain is designed and also how it develops after birth, as well as how the baby interacts with its external human environment. Even before birth, it is believed that a fetus is already aware of the human sounds made close to where it basks inside its mother’s womb. There is evidence that fetuses actually tune in to human voices and are able to recognize and prefer the sound of their own mother’s voice.

After birth, the first methods of communication used by the baby until it can start to verbalize involve body language and vocalization in the form of bubbles, babbles, squeals, cries, and screams. Babies are acutely interested in human faces and watch and listen carefully when people around them speak, especially when they speak to them.

The First-Year

In the first year of a baby’s life, the baby starts to make unique vocalizations expressing their feelings of pleasure, fear, hunger, and discomfort. They start to use vowel-like sounds and experiment with combinations of noises as well as listening intently when people around them interact with them. At this stage, babies all around the world appear to share the same characteristics, presaging the learning of the language which the baby first experiences.

As a baby grows, it starts to experiment with single words, then combinations of two words together then short sentences of three or more, none of which may not make much sense, to begin with.

The Second-Year

A crucial stage of a baby’s language development occurs after the first year when it now already recognizes words like ‘mama’ and ‘dada,’ its own name and is experimenting vigorously, and often loudly, with combinations of vowels and consonants that start to sound more like the native language they are hearing all around them.

At this stage, they already understand and recognize other words used, even if they can’t vocalize them themselves. It is recognized that in early baby language learning the comprehensive stage, i.e. the ability to recognize words, comes before the expressive stage when these words are actually used in a meaningful way by the baby itself.

By the baby’s second year, there has been tremendous growth in language learning, although there is considerable variation between individual babies, which is partly due to genetics and partly due to the way they have been brought up and the richness of human interaction they have experienced. At 24 months from birth, most babies will be able to recognize many words representing familiar objects, as well as commands like ‘no,’ ‘up’ and ‘down.’ They will also be able to use at least 50 words themselves, although many of their utterances may be incomprehensible to older people.

The Third-Year

By three years old, most of what the infant is saying makes sense. It will be able to speak in short sentences, enjoy using multi-syllable words, ask short questions, and crucially learn 9 or 10 new words a day. That growth in vocabulary continues during childhood and early adolescence. At the end of this phase of development, the infant will have acquired a vocabulary of around 400 words or more and be able to create sentences of their own rather than just repeat words and word combinations they have heard.

The Fourth-Year

By the end of the fourth year, children will have developed a working vocabulary of around 1,000 words or more, understand most of what they hear, express themselves sufficiently to make their needs and want to be heard, ask simple questions and construct simple sentences. Differences between one child’s speed of language acquisition and another’s are obvious, even within a single family.

The Fifth-Year

By five years old, when in many countries children first go to primary school, they have acquired a working vocabulary of 2,500 words or more, can use verbs correctly, understand and use past and future tenses, understand and use prepositions, are able to carry on a conversation and ask innumerable questions.

Conclusion

Babies are instinctively designed by nature to learn the language that they are exposed to from before birth. They do so in a way that is quite different from the way that older people learn a new language. The way that babies learn a language seems to be universal but can be influenced by the human environment in which they grow up in. This can help to speed up or slow down their natural language acquisition.

By the age of 5, little humans, for all practical purposes, have learned all the basic components of their native language.