Here is some material for you to read during the holiday season, in between any festivities you are hosting or attending.
First, here is an article on the death of many Canadian languages.
Next, a piece on the basic question of what language is.
Third, an article on how the sounds babies make are influenced by the sounds they hear when in the womb.
Thanks to Jens Hillman for sending me this, about lexicography.
Thanks to Erika Dreifus, for mentioning this article on Yiddish on her blog.
Here, Swedish author Kerstin Ekman discusses translation.
And finally, this article, which is in Swedish, is about the team-translation effort, if it can be called that, in which Dan Brown’s latest book was divided into sections and translated by a number of different people. Doesn’t say much for the quality, probably, but does reveal some of the challenges involved in translating fiction. English-language publishers don't want foreign-language authors to have access to manuscripts, because naturally they want to sell as many copies in English as possible. So they hope that by having English-language books, such as by best-selling authors J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown, only available in English initially, readers around the world will buy the books, even if they would be more comfortable reading in their native tongue. This then puts pressure on foreign-language publishers to get translations out as quickly as possible and as soon as they finally get access to the source texts, and this leads to team-translations and other time-cutting maneuvers.