Language in the news

Videos, various ways to visualize language, a Brussels recruitment campaign and follow-up to past postings are just a click away.

Obama speak

"The analysis presented here explores word usage in the 2008 US Presidential and Vice-Presidential debates... The speech patterns of opposing candidates are compared in an effort to identify characteristic value and personality traits." See Martin Krzywinski's Lexical Analysis, replete with explanations of structural disasters, visualizations and a windbag index.

Is diagramming a lost art? Check out Diagramming the Obama Sentence for further insight into the man.


If you read the above-mentioned lexical analysis, you'll have seen Wordle ("a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide.") at work. Now take a look at this word cloud composed of all the English language content of this issue of Communicate!.

Videos at TED

"TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds... The annual conference now brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)."

"In an exclusive preview of his book The Stuff of Thought, Steven Pinker looks at language and how it expresses what goes on in our minds -- and how the words we choose communicate much more than we realize."

Other videos include Wade Davis on disappearing indigenous cultures, with many photographs from the field, and Murray Gell-Mann's overview of finding the common ancestry of our modern languages. Check out other TED talks on language.

Columnist at The Atlantic

Barbara Walraff writes on language for The Atlantic. You can check out her blog, or for some longer musings read In a Word ("Something I've always loved about foreign travel is that every product package, shop sign, radio program, and menu is also a language lesson.") and Word Fugitives (" 'I agree.' It's a simple statement, but what elicits it is often quite the opposite.").

Observing communication dynamics at the EP

"The technical orchestration of twenty-three languages performed by Members of the European Parliament and the cadre of Simultaneous Interpreters assigned to generate spontaneous comprehension is nearly seamless." Read the whole piece at Reflexivity.

Interpreters wanted at the EU - English please

Anyone paying attention during the month of February will have noticed that the EU launched an all-out campaign to tell the world they need warm bodies in the English booth.

Start with a 5-minute video on YouTube: Interpreting for Europe... into English. Then read this bit on the BBC to learn that "The commission... is looking to recruit about 300 English 'native speaker conference interpreters' within the next 10 years." The Independent saw an opportunity to declare victory for English (over French of course), and the EUbusiness website waxed ironic with "the English 'lingua franca'... is causing the biggest headache to the European Union's executive."

More on an immigration raid

In our Fall 2008 column we included a section called USA: immigrants, justice, interpreters with several links to articles covering the aftermath of the largest single immigration raid in US history. Erik Camayd-Freixas was one of the interpreters at the ensuing hearings and later spoke out on the events in this Personal Account. A recent issue of Translation Journal published his Statement to the Profession in which he explains his stance.

George Packer's "Betrayed"

Two years ago we highlighted George Packer's article about Iraqi interpreters in The New Yorker: Since then he has adapted Betrayed for the stage and made it into a teleplay on WNET (New York).

Packer says, "... even if the war no longer makes much news, its powerful human stories and the collective responsibility they leave behind linger on. The fate of Iraqis - interpreters and others - who joined the American effort in their country is one such story, perhaps the most emblematic of the war." Read more and see video excerpts on Inside Thirteen.

Recommended citation format:
Luigi LUCCARELLI. "Language in the news". March 10, 2009. Accessed July 13, 2020. <>.