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Archive for November, 2009

Fancy learning Na’vi?

If you’re having trouble remembering your verb tables or getting your tenses confused, don’t give up hope. You can always invent your own language!

Movie geeks everywhere are eagerly anticipating the release of new Hollywood blockbuster, Avatar. In it you’ll hear something you won’t have heard before. That’s because the alien language Na’vi was devised especially for the film by a top American linguist. Director James Cameron hired Paul Frommer to come up with a fully functional language that the 10 foot blue aliens could speak – but one that could be spoken by the human actors providing the voices. He has spent four years working on the language and plans to keep going after creating all the linguistic rules as well as just over 1000 words. Read the LA Times article here for more information and for some interesting quotes from Frommer himself.

So will it catch on and become the new Klingon? Or is it a lot of unnecessary work? I think I will stick to learning French, somehow I think it’ll be a bit more useful!

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2009 – it has been a tough year for the majority of us recruiters. And when times get tough, business development becomes a priority. Where can we get new business? What other markets can we tap into? Over the past year it seems that a lot of recruiters have been asking themselves these questions and coming up with the answer – languages.

Over the past year we’ve seen a lot of generalist agencies set up language divisions in the hope of getting some new business in what has been a long and difficult recession. Too many consultancies are jumping on the bandwagon and professing to recruit linguists when in fact they don’t have the expertise to do this.

At Euro London, we specialise in languages because that’s what we’re good at. All of our consultants are fluent in at least two languages, which range from Japanese to French, to Italian, to Polish. They have also spent time living in the countries where those languages are spoken. But why does this matter? It means that whatever the role and whatever the language, we can source the ideal candidate – and we have the resources to test their language ability. Not only that, but our consultants have the cultural knowledge, allowing us to understand our clients and our candidates. How else would we have advised our client about IT qualifications in France? Or educate our candidates about working in the UK?

We have definitely entered the age of the specialist. At the moment when time to hire has reached several months, it’s crucial that organisations are hiring the right people with the right skills. And the only way to make sure you’ve got them is to use a specialist agency that has the facilities, the expertise and the experience to do this.

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What do you sink?

I recently saw a tweet from language portal bab.la that made me laugh. It was a link to a video which is a perfect example of why it’s important to know another language:

Yes, it’s an old one. But as they say, the old ones are usually the best! And it does demonstrate a good point. Bad translations and language misunderstandings can be embarassing at best, potentially damaging at worst. So to avoid these pitfalls in the workplace, make sure you have the linguistic ability in place – or you might find yourselves in dangerous water like those in the video (excuse the pun.)

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I was more than a little surprised to read a piece in The Telegraph last week about translators needed for foreign visitors to decode…wait for it. Glaswegian! Apparently Today Translations placed an advert in The Herald asking for “speakers with Glaswegian English with a knowledge of vocabulary, accent and nuances, to meet the interpreting needs of clients who find it an unexpected challenge.” It made me think about the general lack of foreign language ability among the British population and how hard it is to find translators and interpreters who have an English mother tongue. There just aren’t enough column inches given to the importance of learning foreign languages – and how they can help in winning new business for UK plc. What happens if the foreign visitors don’t speak English – will they be taught Glaswegian?

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