How Sanskrit Became the Controversial Language of India

How Sanskrit Became the Controversial Language of India

It would be hard to argue that Sanskrit and Indian culture are not intertwined; but it is precisely this relationship that has aroused public opinion in a nation where language politics has a history of being controversial. Opposed by politicians in southern regions, Sanskrit is culturally more of a Hindu language that is not used by Christians and Muslims. Tamil and a few other languages in India are not derived from Sanskrit. Opponents argue the language should not be imposed on linguistic minorities to promote cultural and religious heritage of Hindu nationalists. Scholars often disagree saying Sanskrit is still the root of most Indian languages, and although less than 1 % of the population speak it, knowing Sanskrit makes it easy to understand languages like Hindi, Bengali ad Marathi. Truth is, only one Indian state in the north that is home to historic Hindu temples lists Sanskrit as an official language. Based on the most recent census, there are around 14,000 speakers of San...

May 22, 2018

South Asian-American Students Dominate the Scripps Spelling Bee

South Asian-American Students Dominate the Scripps Spelling Bee

Think you are ready to compete with some grammar school students on stage at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Well, here are a few words to warm up. How do you spell "cheiropompholyx"? I feel certain you got that one, so take your best shot at "tchefuncte" or "durchkomponiert". Those were just three of the words that 12-year-old Ananya Vinay had to spell to become the 2017 champion. The Fresno student also became the first solo champion in four years (co-champions 2014, 2015 and 2016) and thirteenth consecutive champion of South Asian-American decent. One thing is for sure. Decades of winning never go unnoticed and the streak of Indian-American contestants standing on top of the podium at the annual event has some reporters comparing it to that of the Yankees during the 1920s or maybe the Chicago Bull team led by Michael Jordan during the 90s. After all, streaks don't just happen. They typically result from years of an organization's investment in ge...

May 21, 2018

Why English Drives People Crazy

Why English Drives People Crazy

American folk singer Pete Seeger began challenging the "powers that be" at an early age through poetic lyrics that often infringed on political and cultural rhetoric. After two decades of FBI investigations related to a letter he had written to the War Department during World War II objecting to the idea that all Japanese-Americans be deported at the end of the conflict, Seeger was called before the Congressional "Un-American Activities Committee" and sentenced to ten years in prison as a social activist. Although the sentence was overturned a couple years later, Seeger's name had found its way to the top of many blacklists, which is something the artist's career never overcame. Courageously sticking to his purpose as a poet and songwriter, Pete Seeger would exercise his First Amendment rights and continued to entertain a growing fan base until his death in 2014. One of his most requested pieces would be a song that he and Josh White Jr. wrote based on Richard L...

April 24, 2018

Do You Need to Communicate in Punjabi?

Do You Need to Communicate in Punjabi?

In recent years, the need to communicate in Chinese Mandarin has grown with China playing a major role in global business and worldwide trade. With a population of 1.38 billion, China has a massive human resource. However, India is now set to surpass China as the world's most populous country and sooner than many analyst previously thought. According to the most recent forecasts, India will have 1.5 billion people by 2030, whereas China's population is expected to remain stable with the possibility for small declines. In 2015, Punjabi (an Indo-Aryan language) was spoken by over 100 million native speakers worldwide, ranking as the 10th most widely spoken language globally. Punjabi is a term that is used to identify ethnicity, race and language. Punjabis are people who reside or originated from the region of Punjab in northern India along the Pakistan border. Punjabi is also used to identify the language that grew out of this region. Today, the language is the most widely spoken in ...

April 17, 2018

Digital Lingua Franca: Do You Speak Emoticon?

Digital Lingua Franca: Do You Speak Emoticon?

A smiley face was the original emoji, an ideogram used in the digital world that originated in Japan in 1999. Shigetaka Kurita is credited with creating the first emoji, a gumdrop shaped smiley face. Although the word 'emoji' resembles the English word emotion, which is the origin of the word emoticon, the word emoji is strictly Japanese in origin and combines the symbolic words for picture "e" and character "moji". Kurita was part of a team working on an i-mode internet platform for Japanese mobile phone companies. Originally mobile companies like NTT DoCoMo, Au and Vodafone (now SoftBank Mobile) had proprietary variants and used emojis to distinguish their company's features and services. Today, emojis exist in various genres, including facial expressions, common objects, places and types of weather, and animals.  Emoticons, which are representations of human facial expressions, were originally created using only letters, numbers and punctuation marks. Bu...

March 13, 2018

Why Do So Many Words Have Silent Letters?

Why Do So Many Words Have Silent Letters?

Well, as for the English language, it might be easier to explain punctuation and why a comma precedes the word "which" and not the word "that". If you are a student of linguistics, you might be familiar with historic shifts in the English language. However, if you are teenager that sends text messages sixteen hours a day, you likely don't care. As for the truth of the matter, spelling, grammar and punctuation have been evolving forever and there is no indication that it will not continue to do so, especially in an age of digital communications. Although the English language was spread around the world (literally) between the late 16th to early 18th centuries, the truth is people speak differently in different parts of the same country, eh? From a historic perspective, vowel shifts that influence how words and/or silent letters are enunciated are nothing new. We can start with the "Great Vowel Shift" that occurred in the homeland of the English language...

March 13, 2018

Multilingualism in Morocco is a Sociolinguistic Phenomenon

Multilingualism in Morocco is a Sociolinguistic Phenomenon

From antiquity to present day, few parts of the world have experienced a more colorful blend of languages as Morocco. In part, it is one of only three nations (along with Spain and France) to border the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Due to its close proximity to the Spanish mainland, Moroccan history is filled with foreign occupation and colonization, but it is uniquely distinguished by its Berber and Arabic cultural influences. Berbers (or Amazighs) are an ethnic group indigenous to North Africa and possibly inhabitants of the Barbary Coast as far back as 10,000 BC. There are an estimated 30 million Berber speakers in North Africa today but most also adopted other languages, which explains the large multilingual population in Morocco. Berber identity goes well beyond language and ethnicity, and encompasses a broad range of societies and ancestries. Due to the narrow Strait of Gibraltar, that separates Peninsular Spain from Morocco, this portion of North Africa has a ri...

February 8, 2018

Could You Be Talking to Animals Soon?

 Could You Be Talking to Animals Soon?

With the speed at which technology has been putting new devices in the home, it is not that farfetched that the world will soon join Dr. Doolittle in talking to the animals. Who knows, maybe our pets are just waiting for the chance to tell us what’s on their minds. Although most pet owners are usually good at figuring out what their dog or cat wants, there are still times where pet owners would love to have a real conversation with their furry friends. That dream may soon be a reality thanks to Dr. Con Slobodchikoff. The Northern Arizona University biology professor  has devoted much of his career to studying the communication among animals (particularly prairie dogs). Although it might seem odd to start with these chirpy critters, it turns out prairie dogs are surprisingly sophisticated in communicating with each other.   Dr. Slobodchikoff has been using artificial intelligence (AI) to interpret distinct vocalizations used by prairie dogs to signal specific predat...

February 7, 2018

Translating and Interpreting Trump's Peculiar Political Style

Translating and Interpreting Trump's Peculiar Political Style

It's undeniable that the current President doesn't have to worry about fading into obscurity with the media. All Trump has to do is answer a question, deliver a speech, make a remark, or post to his Twitter account and it becomes a "shot heard around the world." Although it is definitely not news when the British press openly criticizes political figures in their country, the Independent recently posted an online article about the analysis of the President's first 30,000 words in office. The study compared the off-script remarks (no prepared speeches) of the last fifteen U.S. Presidents and concluded that Trump scored the lowest since Herbert Hoover. President Trump's less diverse vocabulary and simple grammatical structure suggests the 45th President speaks at the level of an 8 year old. But, is his frequent mangling of the English language part of his political genius. President Obama's "Affordable Care Act" scored at a reading level of 13.4 years of education...

January 18, 2018

The Critical Role of Language and Semantics in Taiwan

The Critical Role of Language and Semantics in Taiwan

Taiwan is a culturally rich, small island off the coast of China where "what you say" and "how you say it" can cause a quick rise in international tension. Already in 2018, the Chinese authorities have demanded that major companies like Marriott, Delta Airlines, Medtronic and Spanish fashion brand Zara remove from their websites and online marketing materials any reference of Taiwan as a "country". Although the violations cited may seem like an insignificant argument in semantics to us, China sees Taiwan as part of its territory and not a separate country. Since China is second among the world's largest economies, each company was quick to comply and issued public apologies for their oversight. Hong Kong and Macau are also frequently listed as regions. To the Communist government in China and the democratic ruled region of Taiwan, semantic differences are a reflection of powerful political rhetoric. Taiwan has prospered under democratic self-rule but t...

January 18, 2018

Get a Free Quote

Prolingo Client Testimonials

I simply gave Rosie a list of the various languages, the estimated number of attendees and a description of the room layout. In a very short period of time I had a detailed quote with multiple options in my inbox. We host monthly meetings and ProLingo never fails to impress. - K.H., The Darden Group
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
5 / 5 stars