Georgia's government recruits brigade of native English speakers to spur a linguistic revolution

The goal is to make Georgia a country where English is as common as in Sweden — and in the process to supplant Russian as the dominant second language.

The government has already lured 1,000 English speakers to Georgia, and by September, hopes to have another 500 in place so that every school in the country has at least one. Under the program, which resembles both the Peace Corps and the Teach for America program, the teachers live rent-free with Georgian families and receive a stipend of about $275 a month.

The initiative to embed these foreigners across Georgia reflects the ambitions of its Western-leaning president, Mikheil Saakashvili, who speaks excellent English and studied law at Columbia University. Read More...


Thai government to localize Wikipedia to enhance knowledge (source in Thai)

This translation project, which uses statistical machine translation algorithms, has received both positive and negative criticism. According to the news, Thai people use Internet widely for entertainment but not for wisdom. A former eminent Minister of ICT of the country initiated this scheme 4 years ago but administrative staff still lack understanding about valuable aspects of translation activities. Those who can read Thai can read the full article here.


The U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention new labeling standards call for more explicit instructions in the patients preferred language to improve patient comprehension

Labeling standards proposed in January by the influential U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention could make those recommendations a reality. USP’s proposal says that, when creating prescription labels, pharmacies should:
- Emphasize the most important information at the top, such as the patient’- name, drug name, drug strength and instructions.
- Steer clear of Latin terms; use simple, concise language; and make instructions more explicit. For example, labels should say “Take 2 tablets in the morning and in the evening,” instead of “Take two tablets twice daily.”
- Format labels with a large font size, the equivalent of 12-point Times New Roman or bigger, and use black print on a white background.
- Use normal punctuation, provide enough white space between lines of text and have text run only horizontally on the label.
In addition, the proposed standards say pharmacies should include the medication’s purpose, with patient permission, using familiar terms - “for high blood pressure,” not “for hypertension.” Labeling should be provided in the patient’s preferred language when possible, using high-quality translation tools.


The world translation market is estimated at $8-80 billion

Put differently, over 3.2 billion people in the world don’t know English, only 25 per cent internet users do. Just 35 per cent of Google’s revenues emanate from outside the US or the UK.
It seemed logical therefore that three months back these columns noted that a Google strategist has predicted a market in solving the world’s translation problem….a world where we could read every website automatically translated, and even speak on the phone with automatic translation (http://www.dailypioneer.com/289241/Google-trends.html).
True to promise, late last week, the company demonstrated “conversation mode,” a voice translation service on its Android smartphone. The experience was far from fluid and (so far) limited between English and Spanish. But trusting Google CEO Eric Schmidt’s conviction, by the next time he’s in India, Steven H Hirth, my guest from NYC, might simply press the mobile button for English, and Google will translate his question into Hindi with my able driver Sonu -on the other side- then responding in Hindi and Steven hearing the answer in English.
In India on his first visit, someone introduced Steven to the word “jugaad,” that horrid formulation on Indian ingenuity. I suspect Sonu’s next “jugaad” will be to use “conversation mode” like a Babel fish that sits on his ear and instantly translates even face-to-face communication into Hindi. Google isn’t quite there, but that’s a reasonable assumption of where the goal lies. Result? Sonu’s bills may balloon, but so will his value; Sunil Mittal, Ratan Tata or Kumaramangalam Birla will make a lot more money over voice; and our linguistic edge over the Chinese -as and when Google bridges them and the world’s 3-4 main business languages- will get blunted.
Google’s English-Spanish service, offered free, seemed impossible just a few months ago. Even now, the translation takes them a fraction of a second, but sending it over the phone takes longer. The feature hasn’t been released to the public in ‘’beta’’ form, to allow the ironing out. It is still in ‘’alpha’’. “Factors like regional accents, background noise or rapid speech may make it difficult to understand what you’re saying,” Google has confessed. Read More...


Rhode Island to improve interpreter services after ACLU complaint (U.S.)

The state of Rhode Island has agreed to improve language services, after a 2007 complaint from the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union that was prompted when the state laid off several interpreters.
The state announced Tuesday that the Rhode Island Department of Human Services has signed an agreement with the federal government to improve the assistance given to people who speak little or no English.
The state in 2007 laid off all its southeast Asian language interpreters as well as one of two Portuguese interpreters. That prompted a complaint from the ACLU that the state was violating a 1997 agreement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state provide timely interpreter services.
The governor’s office did not immediately provide details of the agreement. Read More...