Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Spanish for Social Justice conversation practice group

If by chance you're a Spanish language learner in the Vancouver area, or know folks who are, you're in luck.  Nicole Benson of Esperanza Education is starting up a regular practice group, to complement the fantastic Spanish for Social Justice classes that she teaches.

If you're not in Vancouver - how about starting up something like this in your area? It would be a great fundraiser and community builder for solidarity groups.  Maybe half could go to the teacher and half to the organization? Nicole is open to talking to folks who want to do this elsewhere. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

el campo

the countryside?
a rural area?
the bush?
the hills?

ok, I don't think I've ever used the hills, but those different options in English have quite different registers, so I try to go with the one that fits the context. Any others out there folks like to use?

image by Rini Templeton, all of whose fabulous art is free for use at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

inaccurate machine translation plays a role in the US election

I can't resist reposting the article below from Think Progress.  I mean really, talk about a dumb use of machine translation. Don't let this happen to you or your friends! Make sure your compas know that it's just for getting the gist of things! Not for anything important! 

Obama ‘Foreign Donation Scandal,’ Hyped By Right-Wing, Based On Inaccurate Google Translation
As ThinkProgress detailed Tuesday, right-wing and mainstream news sources have extensively misrepresented a new report by the conservative Government Accountability Institute (GAI), suggesting incorrectly that the report details widespread foreign money flowing to President Obama’s re-election campaign. A further review of the report finds that the sole example included of a foreign-national donor giving to the Obama campaign was, in fact, based on a translation error.
The GAI’s report, America the Vulnerable: Are Foreign and Fraudulent Online Campaign Contributions Influencing U.S. Elections? cited a Norwegian blog as an example of an apparent non-citizen claiming to have illegally contributed to a U.S. political campaign:
A Norwegian blogger posts a solicitation from the Obama campaign, including the link to the donate page. When another blogger opines that non-U.S. citizens cannot contribute because of American law, the blogger responds in Norwegian, “I have in practice given money to Obama, I had done it.”
The footnote for this claim links to a blogger named “Gaupefot.” His or her comment, in Norwegian, was:
Jeg mottar nok bare epost fra Obama. Pøvde å donere penger til John Kerry i 2004. Det gikk dessverre ikke. Forøvrig har ikke USA noe de skulle sagt på det området. De tar heller livet av utenlandske politikere. Pengedonasjoner blir for pingler slik de ser det. CIA har forøvrig gitt penger til Det norske arbeiderparti, og antakeligvis også til andre norske partier og politske grupperinger.
Hadde jeg i praksis kunne gitt penger til Obama hadde jeg gjort det.
The GAI report’s authors apparently relied on Google Translator for their translation of that final line. ThinkProgress confirmed with three Norwegian speakers, including a University of North Dakota professor of Norwegian language, that the quote actually means quite the opposite.
Gaupefot’s comment claims a failed 2004 attempt to donate to John Kerry’s campaign. The correct translation of the last line is, essentially, “If I actually could have given money to Obama, I would have done it.”
The GAI did not respond to multiple requests for comment on the report and on this glaring error. It is unclear how many of the other translations throughout the report report also relied on Google Translator — a literal translation service that is incapable of understanding nuance or context.
Despite a wide array of irresponsible headlines, it is now clear that the authors did not find a single example of a foreigner donating to the Obama re-election campaign.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

oral flashcards!

Here's a cool way to grill yourself on new terminology suggested in a recent ATA chronicle:

Instead of the various flashcard apps, try recording yourself saying the terms you want to learn, with a space in between for you to say them to yourself in the target language.  You could do a set in one direction, then another in the other direction. 

I'm a more visual and kinesthetic learner, but if you're a more auditory learner, this might be just the trick.  Heck, your phone is probably already fancy enough to record you saying the 20 terms you're working on this week, but if you have an iphone and want to get really fancy, there's quick voice.  Haven't tried it, so feedback welcome!