International Balloon Festival – León, Mexico

Festival Internacional del Globo, Mexico

Photo by Ariana Ramos, Mexico

The Festival Internacional del Globo or, International Balloon Festival, is held every year in León, Guanajuato in Mexico. It is the biggest hot air balloon event in Latin America and is renowned around the world. Nearly 2 million spectators come from all around the globe to see over 200 hot air balloons float above the city of León, Guanajuato.

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Crowdsourcing used for video game translation

The future of video game translation could lie in the power of the public in the form of language crowdsourcing.

The premise of crowdsourcing is simple: rather than enlisting the services of a professional translator to translate content in a game or computer program, the task is given to native speakers of that language who can pool their resources and expertise to complete the job much more cheaply.

Translating something as heavily scripted and content-heavy as a game is very costly and time-consuming, and if the translator isn’t a native speaker of the target language they may struggle to pick up on the nuances, wordplay and subtleties of language that the characters or narrators in the game may be using. This is why it’s so useful to draw on the rich linguistic knowledge of the speakers of the language to get the most natural, accurate translation.

Ackuna is one of the companies pioneering this type of game content translation, and it will work by allowing volunteers to perform the translation bit by bit to avoid making it too big a burden for any one translator. The volunteers are vetted by a translation system so that only the best translators are used to maintain the quality of the translation.

There is a distinct trend for hyper-realistic games at the moment, and with this comes an increase in more realistic, potentially colloquial scripts for the characters to keep it feeling relevant and authentic. Professional translators may be trained in translating business documents or more formal copy, so any slang or inventive uses of language will be more effectively translated.

This goes to show that you don’t need to be a language expert or a professional translator to be able to offer your assistance to translation projects. People of all ability levels could be able to help as part of a crowdsourcing project such as those run by companies like Ackuna, which just goes to show that learning languages is more important than ever.

Find out more about the Ackuna crowdsourcing game translation project here>>

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Happy European Day of Languages 2013!

European Day of Languages logo

What is the European Day of Languages?

Every 26th September, Europe celebrates its annual European Day of Languages, a celebration of linguistic diversity throughout the continent and language learning as a whole. The day is dedicated to promoting the benefits of language learning and exploring the many languages spoken throughout Europe, and there are three key aims of the day:

  1. To alert the public to the importance of language learning and boost the range of languages learnt
  2. To promote the linguistic and cultural diversity of Europe
  3. To encourage language learning in and out of school for a range of reasons, whether it’s for professional use, for mobility, for opening new job prospects, for travel or for leisure

More than 800 million people live in Europe, and are encouraged to participate in the European Day of Languages by taking part in activities designed to celebrate linguistic diversity and learn new languages. For example, the day might remind schools that while they offer certain languages to their students, there will be many languages that children won’t have access to that they may want to learn, which may encourage them to expand the range of languages on offer.

As Ólöf Ólafsdóttir, the Director of the Directorate of Democratic Citizenship and Participation for the Council of Europe said in this year’s statement:

“… the Day is a reminder of the many benefits of language learning, not least to further develop cognitive competences, break down cultural barriers and open the door to new friendships and professional opportunities.”

Why does the day exist?

In many countries in Europe, only around half of people are able to hold a conversation in a language other than their own, and this lack of language competence can act as a barrier to travel, to working and studying abroad and intercultural understanding. The European Day of Languages is important because there are around 225 indigenous languages in Europe, all of which should be appreciated and the ability to use these languages cultivated.

Of course, at Language Advantage, we fully support the idea of a day promoting language learning and appreciation. Languages are a resource, and we should embrace this by giving ourselves the pleasure of language learning to open up a whole new world of opportunities.

Click here to find out more about the European Day of Languages>>

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Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival 2013

We have just come to the end of the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival for 2013, a celebration dating back to the Zhou Dynasty starting in 1046BC where the people of Ancient China celebrated the moon’s role in the changing of the seasons and its effect on agriculture. This year’s festival took place from 19th-21st September, and 2014’s festival will take place from 6th-8th September. It is said that this time of year is an especially pleasant time to travel around China, so if you are planning a trip you may wish to incorporate the Mid-Autumn Festival into your itinerary!

Chinese lanterns

The day is dedicated to celebrating the moon and showing appreciation for the role it plays in the agricultural calendar. In some regions, dragon and lion dances may take place, and the lighting of lanterns may also play a role in the day. As well as this, families gather to eat mooncakes, which are round in shape to symbolise the reunion of the family. These are sacrificed to the moon as a token of appreciation, and are eaten as a celebration or offered to friends and family members to wish them a long, prosperous life. This explains why the celebration may also be known as the Mooncake Festival.

The festival always takes place during a full moon to allow the Chinese people to revel in its beauty, and is a form of harvest festival that has also become a significant part of the Vietnamese calendar. There is also a strong association between the Mid-Autumn Festival and the celebration of marriages and partnerships, with communities in some parts of China holding ceremonies and dances to help young women find a partner. It is one of the most important festivals in the Chinese calendar, and visitors are warmly welcomed to join in with the celebrations and festivities.

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Mexican Independence Day 2013

Today, 16th September, marks Mexican Independence Day, the day the Central American country found itself independent from Spanish rule, where for the first time Mexicans were able to rule themselves and escape the Spanish dictatorship which had governed them for almost three centuries. [Read more…]

‘Amelie’ To Go To Broadway

The highly acclaimed French language film ‘Amelie’ is to be adapted as a musical for the stage and brought to Broadway in New York. The 2001 film starring French actress Audrey Tautou tells the story of a waitress in Paris who sets out to make it her mission to make other people happy.

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Japanese Viewer Sues Japanese TV Channel for Overuse of English Words

A Japanese viewer is suing a Japanese TV channel called NHK, due to the ‘mental distress’ he says was caused by the channel using too many English words. His lawyer confirms that the basis for this is the concern that Japan is being Americanised. Modern Japanese vocabulary has many English words which have been changed to fit the Japanese word structure.

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Canada Day

The 1st July each year marks the national day of Canada or Canada Day. In French, the day is called la Fête du Canada. This day celebrates the anniversary of the British North America Act (also more commonly known as the Constitution Act, 1867) when three British colonies were united to become one country, or what we know as Canada.

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Are You ‘Asia Literate’?

What do you think being ‘Asia Literate’ means? For those studying Asian languages such as Japanese and Chinese, this term means much more than just learning the language. It suggests a greater understanding of Asia’s culture, cuisine and customs. It is also much more than just learning the language of a country; it represents a true understanding of cultures and other languages.

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Africa Has Some Of The Fastest Growing Economies In The World


Photo taken by Andrea Lainé

Experts say that Africa has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have both said that countries such as Ghana, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Mozambique are all maintaining significant economic growth. As Europe and the USA struggle with persistent recessions and countries such as Spain and Greece suffer massive unemployment, these African countries have seen huge growth which some say could be attributed to the thriving middle classes.

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