New Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus

We have just heard about this exciting new tool for training professionals and wanted to share it with you. This article originally appeared in Europa news on languages.

New Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus – Are you a training professional? A new multilingual toolkit for you.

The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) has recently published the new Multilingual Synopsis of the European Training Thesaurus for all those working in education, training and employment.

The publication, which is available online, is a selection of 1,207 terms and concepts which appear frequently in literature related to European vocational education and training. The tool, which is the basis for the complete online thesaurus CEDEFOP is currently preparing, allows for quick navigation by language, term and topic.

The terms/concepts cover several topics such as lifelong learning, vocational education and training policy, assessment and certification of learning outcomes, recognition of certificates and diplomas. Each term is presented in 11 languages: Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Swedish.

To download the thesaurus, click here.

Discover your linguistic and cultural paradise

Runner up of last year’s Languages Speak up! competition, Sophie Reece-Trapp blogs about her experience of discovering her ‘linguistic paradise’ and encourages others to do the same.

After falling in love with all things German during a school exchange to Munich, Sophie spent her Gap Year working in Cologne, before studying Modern and Medieval Language (Dutch and German) in Cambridge. Currently a trainee at the European Parliament, Sophie will be moving to Leuven in September to embark on a Master’s degree in European Studies.

Brussels might not have the climate of a tropical island, but in my eyes, it is a linguist’s paradise.

At the beating heart of a country that boasts three official languages, a rich tapestry of tongues is woven on its streets. Staccato tones of Swahili rebound from the shop fronts lining Matongé, a vibrant quarter that takes its name from the commercial district of Kinshasa, Congo. Anyone walking from the artsy square at Flagey to the Ixelles/Etterbeek border during Euro 2012 would have passed fervent Portugal supporters spilling out of pubs, marking each goal with a cacophony of shouts and whistles that could be hear from streets away. Not to mention the weekly market at the Gare du Midi, where the exchange of euros for vegetables, fruit and clothes is executed in fluent Arabic. Even the streets of Brussels exude an international character: the chic Place du Londres or the Rue Americaine with its grid-like formation.

In the aptly-named ‘European Quarter’ sprawls the European Parliament. It is in these labyrinthine buildings that I have been a trainee for the past five months, in the Committee on Culture and Education. Je discute avec mes collègues en français, die Mehrheit meiner Freunde bevorzugt Deutsch and, of course, my mother-tongue, English, is an indispensable lingua franca. And, of course, Finnish, Portuguese, Spanish and a multitude of other language echo along the corridors, as legislation is drawn up in 23 different languages. A truly international workplace in a truly international city.

Yet who says that my paradise has to be your paradise? It is certainly not only Brussels or Belgium that boasts this rich diversity of languages and cultures from across the world. Have you ever wandered around the Marais in Paris, past the Yiddish bakeries, Kosher pizzeria and Hebrew bookshop and asked yourself: am I in France or Israel? Travelled just half an hour with the train and, upon disembarking, found yourself to be barely intelligible? Or even popped into the Chinese supermarket on the corner and felt yourself transported half-way across the world? In our globalised society, we no longer need to buy an expensive flight ticket to experience different cultures and languages: they are right on our doorstep.

An increasing number of my friends, also interns, are postponing holiday plans this year, citing a lack of funds. Instead of bewailing this situation, perhaps we should take this opportunity to take a closer look at the colourful cultural and linguistic landscapes surrounding us, whether we’re based in a high-rise city flat or in mountainous climes. We might just be pleasantly surprised!

View Sophie’s Languages Speak up! entry here

Dodgeball is good craic: untranslatable words

I recently completed Google’s ‘‘Living on the Web Quiz’‘. It’s linked to the imminent launch of their new laptop which uses the search engine giant’s own operating system employing web-based applications only. Even though I knew the quiz was a marketing questionnaire masquerading as a quiz, with pretty birthday card imagery,  I couldn’t stop myself somehow. I wanted to see how much I was ‘living on the web’. Turns out less that everyone else.

Image for Google's "Living on the web quiz"

Not living on the web that much

One of the questions was ‘You’re scheduling an important meeting with your dodgeball coach. Do you… (a) use desktop calendar software, like Outlook? (b) use a web calendar that syncs to all your devices, like Google Calendar? (c) pencil it into your schedule book? or (d) write it on your hand? Now, I used to be a (d) person. Then I got a job. Now when I’m in the office I’m an (a) person. However, for some reason I try to be a (c) person (ok, the ‘some reason’ is that I really like those Moleskine diaries that appear every year in my Christmas stocking, but I have to force myself to use them, even perversely writing reminders retrospectively). When I’m not an (a) person I have a technique, which I can’t seem to shake, of e-mailing myself: I write something meaningful / meaningless / nothing in the subject line, a scrap of text or URL in the body, my name in the ‘To’ field, and click ‘send’, hoping I will read it and act on it after an undefined period of time has passed. It’s an imperfect system, but it doesn’t work!

All this is a long-winded prelude to excusing the amount of time which has passed between spotting this nice article by Jane Nethercote on the Lonely Planet blog (September 2010…) called Say again? Words that have no translation, e-mailing it to myself, and getting around to writing about it.

The article begins: ‘Travelling overseas and want to show the locals your know-how? You might not be able to say ‘please pass the cheese’ in Danish, but if you can use ‘hygge’ in a sentence, you’re bound to astound.’ It turns out that ‘hygge’, similar to the Dutch ‘gezellig’ is not so easy to translate.

Hygge is followed by a list of similarly untranslatable words like ‘antojo’ – a whim or sudden craving in Spanish, ‘saudade’ – a melancholic longing for better times in Portuguese, and ‘schadenfreude’ – ‘the classic’, meaning: deriving happiness from others’ unhappiness (interestingly one of the comments refers to a word in Sanskrit which means the exact opposite: ‘mudita’). There are also some more obscure words like the Czech ‘litost’, the Farsi word ‘ta’arof’, and the romantic ‘vacilando’, another Spanish word.

Do you have a word you’d like to share? From Irish I have ‘craic’, but I’ll leave it to the Urban Dictionary to venture a translation. Share your word here.