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Our first meeting of the year will be held on 18 February in Dundee when Dr Jim Stewart of the University of Dundee will let us all know about “The Scots tongue; origins, varieties and uses”. The venue will again be the Baxter room 1.36, Tower Building, University of Dundee, Nethergate, Perth Road, Dundee. The room is on the first floor and accessible by lift from the foyer. The Tower Building is just as it says – it towers above other buildings in the vicinity and is about 5/10 minutes on foot from the railway station. We will meet for lunch beforehand at 12.30pm in “Nosey Parker’s Bistro” which is part of the Queen’s Hotel, Nethergate - just over the road from the Tower Building. Please let Anne Withers (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 441 2519) or me (address above) know by 15 February if you wish to join us for lunch so that tables can be reserved. Meals are reasonably priced with dishes ranging from soup for £3.25 to main courses, including vegetarian options, at £7 to £8.
CIOL Members' Day - Durham, 17th September, 2011
By Cynthia Stephens The 2011 Members' Day was held in Durham. As always it was an event not to be missed and it can be both useful from the practical point of view but also great fun. Many of us stayed for the weekend and consequently had an opportunity to experience collegiate life as well as visit the main tourist sites in an undoubtedly lovely city or, as our Scottish Society Treasurer would have it, God’s own city. The main event on the Saturday was held in one of the university buildings. There was plenty time at the beginning to chat to old friends and make new ones. The lectures were in parallel sessions with the first being either Karen Stokes on "How to Make Money as a Freelance Translator" or Kirsty Heimerl-Moggan on "A Week in the Life of a Conference Interpreter". I chose Karen Stokes’ lecture, which was very well attended. Karen is a very good speaker and the lecture was full of practical advice. She positioned herself as not one of those "celebrity translators" that we hear about who only work with direct clients; she works mainly for agencies. She recommended a book called "Can Theory Help Translators? A Dialogue between the Ivory Tower and the Wordface", by Andrew Chesterman and Emma Wagner. She suggested doing "pro bono" work as a means of getting new experience and she recommended MemoQ as a CAT tool. It has very good support and free webinars that you can record and go back to. She said that Imperial College has a good Trados course. She also gave advice about how to deal with payment problems and recommended various websites, including that of Companies House and Payment Practices. As a tip for keeping your subject knowledge up to date she suggested joining a relevant group as an affiliate member.
In the second of the parallel sessions the choice was between Brian Porro on "Lawyer-Linguists - Cross-Breed or Hybrid?" or Jeremy Evas from the Welsh Language Board on "Multilingualism and Technology: Charting a Course for Welsh". I attended the second of these and learnt that due to the current language policies in Wales the number of people speaking Welsh is increasing. There is also an interesting dialogue between the Welsh and the Catalans on these matters. In the afternoon we had a Question and Answer session with Alexandra Jones, Tony Bell and Alan Peacock, so that various issues of interest to them and to those in the audience could be raised. Then the Threlford Memorial Lecture was given by Richard Hardie on the topic of "Business, Languages and the State". Richard Hardy, chair of UBS, was welcomed by Lady Brewer in a week in which UBS had been in the news because of a rogue trader. He started his talk by saying that he was not allowed to talk about that matter, then went on to describe his views of the importance of language in business and his work in Hackney where he is involved with a new school.
Glasgow 19th November 2011 Ladino Ballads by John C. McIntyre
report by Cynthia Stephens Dr. McIntyre, an independent researcher from the University of Strathclyde, gave us a fascinating talk about Ladino ballads, which have survived within the Judaeo-Spanish (Sephardic) communities that grew up around the Mediterranean following their expulsion from Spain in 1492. In particular he spoke about their rendition, along with Flamenco songs, by the contemporary singer Yasmin Levy, and we had the opportunity to hear a number of them sung by her. Yasmin Levy, who was born in Jerusalem in 1975, drew on the research of her pioneering father, Yitzhak Levy, who recorded many of the ballads, and on the musical tradition of her mother, who sang in Ladino. We heard extracts from two of her CDs, "Romance and Yasmin" and "La Judería - Ladino and Flamenco". Ladino is a form of late fifteenth-century Spanish mixed with some elements of Hebrew vocabulary and pronunciation. Today it is spoken by around 150,000 active speakers and many of them are very elderly. Christopher J. Pountain writes about it in "Exploring the Spanish Language (2003)". Also the website www.orbilat.com has a section on it. The transcriptions of the Ladino are easier to understand once it is realized that the lack of written stress marks can hide future tenses, as in "te contare" (= "te contaré") and "azere" (="haré"). Also spelling can be different, with wide use of the "k" instead of "c", or "qu", as in "kama", "como" and "ke". "Sh" is frequent instead of the modern "z" or "j" as in "peshe" (="pez") or "disho" (="dijo"). There are also old possessive forms, as for instance "la tu mama" or "el mi amor" and "la tuya pierna", as well as other grammatical features in the fifteenth century form that are different from modern Spanish. Once these differences are understood it is easier to engage with the old Ladino meanings. "Una hora en la ventana" ("One Hour at the Window") was the first of Yasmin's songs that we heard. The sister of the loved one is described by the prospective lover as "la kulebra de tu hermana", your snake of a sister. "Ke komio la tu mama / en prenidada de ti?" he asks. What did your mother eat while she was pregnant with you (that made you so sweet)? "Madre, Si Esto Hazina" ("Mother, if I become ill") was the second song we heard. In the three-part design seen in many ballads the girl makes three requests. If she is "hazina" (sick) she wants no doctors; if she is dying she wants no prayer-singers; "Medikos no kero yo", "Hazanim no kero yo"; but instead she wants twelve young men; she wants love. "Adelantre el mi amor". The third song we heard, "Nací in Álamo" ("I was born in Álamo"), of recent composition, is from her second CD, "La Judería", in which she seeks to fuse Ladino music with Flamenco. It is about the Gypsies' bitter awareness of lacking a homeland of their own. "Las cuerdas de mi corazón lloran". "The chords of my heart are crying". The heart-rending tones of her voice bend into Flamenco shapes that fit the desperate theme perfectly. The final song that we heard, called "Noches, noches", is a traditional Ladino Ballad. It is about three young sisters: the eldest seeks youth, the next novelty, and the youngest seeks the comfort of her mother. It is a domestic but an eternal theme, of girls as they turn into young women. Yasmin sings in Flamenco tones but the original song is an ancient Judaeo-Spanish ballad. Yasmin has written that she is on a five-hundred-year voyage, bringing Ladino music back to Andalucía and mixing it with Flamenco. She is seeking a "musical reconciliation of history". The haunting tones of her
voice in all these songs make it easy to understand that she has become a successful professional singer; in so doing she is helping to preserve and transmit her ancestors' language and music for the enjoyment of future generations. [Dr. McIntyre gave us a full printed version of his talk, from which this resumé is largely taken. The full text is published in an online journal called "Tejuelo" and can be downloaded from the web. It is easy to find by putting "Tejuelo" into Google and then looking for the correct number. "Tejuelo", n° 7 (2010), págs 44-56.]
In December, The Daily Telegraph
reported that linguists from Cambridge University were racing to
chronicle the language of the Norman invaders before it becomes extinct; researchers were recording the
remaining enclave of Norman French speakers in the Channel Islands.
It reported that the two native dialects of the language – Jersey French and Guernsey French – are spoken
by about 4,000 people on Guernsey, Jersey and Sark, but academics warn that the language is not spoken
in day-to-day life by anyone under the age of 30 and is expected to disappear within a generation. Jersey
French is spoken by 2874 people – 3.2% of the islands’ population – and Guernsey French by 1,327 or
2.2% of the population.
Dr Mari Jones, a linguist from Cambridge, said “Guernsey and Jersey are trying to introduce the languages
into schools and everyday life but this only creates awareness, not a new generation of native speakers.
The next 20 years are a crucial race against the clock”.
Norman languages have been spoken in the Channel Islands for thousands of years but began to decline in
the 19th century when trade with England increased. The offshore finance industry in the 20th century led to
English being seen as a means of prosperity.
Finally, with thanks to our Chairman Simon for noticing it and due credit to Private Eye
following cartoon appeared just before Christmas:
A ghost is standing by a bed, wagging his forefinger at the Scrooge-like figure within, and the caption reads
“I am the ghost of Christmas future perfect subjunctive – I will show you what would have happened to you,
were you not to have changed your ways”.
I’m sure this strikes a chord with many of us!
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