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Aramaic at Risk

The survival of Aramaic, once the Middle East’s lingua franca, is in jeopardy amid regional turmoil. Recently, the Syrian government sent troops to the ancient, predominantly Christian village of Maaloula, where rebels have battled against the regime. Maaloula, a scenic village of about 3,300 perched high in the mountains, is one of the few places in the world where residents...

Tanzania Drops English for Kiswahili

Since Tanzania's independence from Britain in 1961, public education has been bilingual, beginning with Kiswahili - known as Swahili in the West - in elementary school, and switching to English from high school to university. President Jakaya Kikwete and his administration have launched new education guidelines that will make only Kiswahili the language of instruction from primary school to...

Lee Kuan Yew’s Language Legacy

The founding father of modern Singapore, Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, passed away on Monday, March 23, 2015 at the age of 91. Leading Singapore before “self-government” from Britain in 1959, Lee served as Prime Minister until 1990, and stayed in the cabinet until 2011. Under his influence, the resource-poor country adapted to a modern globalized environment through unique economic...

Fire Destroys Museum of the Portuguese Language

A huge blow to the city of São Paulo and Portuguese-language enthusiasts everywhere, the Museu da Língua Portuguesa (Museum of the Portuguese Language) went up in flames on Monday, December 21. The museum is the only museum in the world dedicated to a single language, and a cherished cultural heritage site both for its contents and its location in...

MIT Study Reveals Secret to Language Learning – Don’t Try Too Hard

Proof that language learners should let it flow In a new study, a team of neuroscientists and psychologists led by Amy Finn, a postdoc at MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, has found evidence for an important factor that contributes to adults’ language difficulties: When learning certain elements of language, adults’ more highly developed cognitive skills actually get in the...

Google Goes Multilingual

New search app code switches like most people. For polyglots, it can be an arduous task to manually change the language on a smart phone keyboard depending on the task— between texting friends and family in different language, emailing clients around the world, and reading international news, polyglots may switch languages hundreds of times a day. Unlike the polyglot brain...

Arabic is America’s Fastest-Growing Language

The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) recently released Census Bureau data from the 2014 American Community Survey (ACS) showing that a record 63.2 million U.S. residents five years of age and older speak a language other than English at home. The number is up 3.6 million since 2010 and reflects that more than one in five U.S. residents now...

Ukraine Attempts to Appease Russian Speakers

Ukraine's de facto president and prime minister have today offered to strengthen the constitutional right to use the Russian language to try to defuse separatist movements. In a joint televised address, acting President Oleksander Turchinov and Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said they would support constitutional change and decentralizing more power to local councils, including over their official language - a...

100,000 Strong in the Americas Website Launch

Today, the U.S. Department of State unveiled a new 100,000 Strong in the Americas website available at www.100kstrongamericas.org. President Obama launched 100,000 Strong in the Americas to increase educational exchange opportunities in the Western Hemisphere. The initiative is implemented through partnerships between the U.S. government, including the White House and the Department of State; Partners of the Americas, NAFSA:...

Pluto’s Linguistic History

The name Pluto comes from the greek Ploutōn (Πλούτων), who was the ruler of the underworld in Greek and Roman religion and mythology. Plouton, sometimes conflated with Ploutos, the god of wealth who also dealt with the underworld in that mineral wealth was found under the ground, was a more positive ruler of the dead than his Greek counterpart,...