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25
Jul

uTalk Cockney launches in the East End

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that last week uTalk became the world’s first Cockney language learning app! The traditional East London rhyming slang was launched at G Kelly pie shop on the Roman Road by the Pearly King of Forest Gate and Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road.

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The Pearly King and Queen learned how to use the app, and were impressed!
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Some children from Olga Primary School popped in to put the uTalk app to the test. They had fun playing the games, and were keen to show our chairman Dick what they’d learnt.

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And we finished with a good old-fashioned East End knees up, led by our Pearly King and Queen, pianist Mick Yarrow and the voice of uTalk Cockney, Patrick Mackervaie.

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It was a fantastic day – thank you to everyone who got involved. Check out our video for more!

Our launch even made the news! As well as a feature on ITV London News on Thursday evening, our language expert Nat appeared on London Live with chairman Dick to talk about the app, and was interviewed with actor Patrick by Robert Elms on Friday morning for BBC Radio London (listen from 1 hour 40 mins onwards).

On Sunday we were back in the East End, giving Cockney lessons to visitors at the Roman Road Summer Festival. Patrick, who’s from Hackney, got the crowd warmed up with some Cockney quizzes (some harder than others), before inviting everyone to come and have a go with the app.

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Want to have a go yourself? We’re giving away uTalk Cockney with the Evening Standard – and you get a free month’s subscription to all 133 other languages as well! Just visit eveningstandard.co.uk/offers to get started.

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Enjoy! And we’d love to hear what you think – we know Cockney is constantly changing, and that not everyone has the same way of saying things. Email us at mycockney@utalk.com or tweet us with #myCockney to join the discussion!

 

30
Jun

The Difficulties of Translation: Love Translated

To language enthusiasts, it’s sometimes a bit of a shock to see how a favourite book or film title is rendered in another language. A common phrase, especially since the film which took it as a title, is ‘Lost in Translation’, the idea of some slight nuance being dropped between one language and another.

But sometimes it’s more than just a little nuance. Sometimes it’s a total transformation of the title, and a total change in meaning. Consider the phrase ‘lost in translation’ itself: a clever play on the idea of physical loss and metaphoric loss, it contains both the sense of merely overlooking something, and of being geographically lost- as well as emotionally bewildered. It’s a poignant phrase. Now consider the title of this blog post: ‘The Difficulties of Translation’ (Трудности перевода) is the Russian title for the same film, while ‘Love Translated’ (L’amore tradotto) is the distinctly simplified Italian variant.

Italian also simplifies one of the most beautiful film titles of this age: ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind’. The original title conjures images of endless hope, while the Italian ‘Se mi lasci ti cancello’ (If you leave me, I’ll delete you) narrows the ambit significantly and reduces the complex plot to the mere idea of a lovers’ tiff. Similarly, ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, the incredibly evocative title of  Salinger’s great classic, certainly loses its panache and the protagonist’s sense of anonymity in the Italian edition, ‘Il giovane Holden’ (The Young Holden).

 


Needless to say, this works both ways, and anyone who is familiar with Proust’s famous work ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ will be disgusted by the rather trite English version, ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ (thankfully renamed in more recent publications to ‘In Search of Lost Time’). Similarly, Camus’ ‘L’Étranger’ is only ever translated as ‘The Outsider’ or ‘The Stranger’ in English- unlike the French, English lacks a word which encompasses both nuances at once.

Got any favourite translations of titles in other languages? We’d love to hear them, whether you think they’re better or worse than the original!

 

 

23
Jun

A few of our favourite things…

Today is a big day here in the UK, as we’re voting in a referendum to decide our future in the European Union. A lot’s been said on both sides of the debate, so we won’t repeat any of the arguments for or against Brexit.

Instead, lets focus on the rich and fascinating cultures of both the UK and Europe. And who better to ask about their favourite things about them than our lovely staff?

Our colleagues from overseas have come up with some interesting things they love about the UK:

Nikolay (Bulgaria) – I ♥ British humour and specifically panel shows! Can’t get enough of “Mock the Week”, “QI”, “Would I Lie to You?”, “Have I Got News for You” etc. 

Pablo (Spain) – People’s politeness and patience. In crowded places like in the centre, underground or the streets full of cars, is where you can notice it the most. The only way you can survive from bursting into a full crisis is with both qualities. I really really love that.

Sandra (Poland) – For me it is the Sunday roast, and fish and chips. Living with a lovely bunch of friends who love to cook means that I get to discover some great British dishes, and also that I love to have gravy with almost every meal! 

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Aditya (India) – I enjoy the British weather, in particular that I love the rain and cloudy weather! Originating from Delhi and having also lived in Dubai, I am rather fed up of the heat/sun. 

Ioana (Romania) – Before I came to Britain I thought the idea of tea and milk is disgusting. Now I’ll have a cuppa if I’m sad, happy, with friends, by myself, in the morning or in the evening, there is just something incredibly comforting in a hot cup of tea. Especially on rainy days.

And here are some thoughts from our British colleagues…

Brett – I think the obvious one here is pizza!

Phil – European beaches are the best :)

Simon – I visited the Sagrada Familia on my recent trip to Barcelona, and it is an absolutely incredible building, with exceptional architecture.

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Safia – I love Italian hot chocolate, you can eat it with a spoon!

Liz – The pain au chocolat… it’s a miraculous culinary invention that brightens up the dullest morning…!

Over to you! Brits – what do you love about Europe? And non-Brits, what’s your favourite thing about the UK? :)

 

16
Jun

Destination: New York, USA

The reason why New York is a super popular touristic destination is because it’s such a diverse city and it has something for everyone. More than one person told me before I went “Oh, you’ll love it! It’s my favourite city!”

So what makes it so loved? New York is definitely impressive. All the famous places you’ve seen in movies, the skyscrapers, rushed people, Central Park, they all make you feel the strong impact of this powerful city.

If you really want to “feel” the city and get that really local feeling, I’d suggest saving up and finding a place to stay on the Manhattan island, either a hotel or an airbnb – it’s close to everything and you’ll earn more time to look around than spend on transportation.

I’m not usually the type of tourist to go on the beaten path but some of the popular places have really fascinated me, like Top of The Rock, which is a three level observation deck at the 67th, 69th, and 70th floors of 30 Rockefeller Plaza. The Empire State Building is another place you can get 360° views of the city, however if you have to choose between the two, I’d go with Top of The Rock; it has windows instead of a fence and the highest level doesn’t have any restrictions. It’s totally safe though, I promise. Timing of the people going up is more organised and you actually have enough space to take photos and enjoy the view.

Empire State building seen from The Top of the Rock

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Opposite that: Central Park, Upper East Side and Upper West Side

Take a day for Central Park, it’s a fantastic place. If you’re working your way up North, on the West side of the Park you’ll find the Guggenheim Museum, which is a real masterpiece of architecture and a great art museum.

West Village and Greenwich Village are definitely the cutest districts. If you’re a fan of Friends, that’s where their famous building is! Sadly, it’s just a normal residential building, as the show was all filmed in studios in California.

Lovely West Village

Lovely West Village

If you don't recognise this building we can't be friends.

If you don’t recognise this building we can’t be friends.

Another interesting place that I loved was The High Line. It’s an old elevated section of a railway in Chelsea district transformed into a 1.45-mile-long (2.33 km) linear park. While you’re there make sure to see Chelsea Market – an old factory now transformed into an indoor food hall. They have amazing food from all over the world. It’s very hard to resist eating everything in sight, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

There are many great places in New York that are waiting to be discovered. Just get lost on the streets of different districts and wander around, they all have their own unique character.

Travelling to New York? Be prepared with uTalk – you can use it from over 100 languages!

Ioana

 

15
Jun

Saving the Cornish language: Kernewek Fights Back!

Kernewek in Kernow

When I was back home the other week, I was surprised to see the Cornish language supporters out in force at several major Maytime festivals. Back in the day, you wouldn’t tend to see much Cornish language at a public parade. In fact, back in the day, you could easily come to Cornwall and miss all the Celtic language completely, except for the odd place-name translated on road signs.

Not so now! I go to a festival in London every year where all the Cornish ex-pats gather to celebrate St Piran’s Day, and at this festival of modern music and comedy (no folk element to it), it’s very normal for the presentation to be at least partly in Cornish. Last year, at the Falmouth Sea Shanty Festival, an entire group of about 20 people came into one of the pubs and were talking exclusively in Cornish, albeit with varying levels of fluency. And most Cornish people nowadays are at least familiar with the essentials- Mitten Da, Nos da, pasti, Fatla Genes, Kernewek.

Putting Kernow back on the map!

So something’s happened between when I was at school and now. And in large part it’s down to the Cornish Language Partnership, who have been promoting and supporting the Cornish language since 2005, coordinating languages societies, local authorities and other cultural groups. It also offers a translation service and online audio dictionary for all those eager learners. They’ve put Cornish back on the map in a big way, and helped to standardise a language which, divided into many dialects, was actually officially dead.

The bad news is that the Cornish Language Partnership relies a lot on government funding, and the government has recently cut £150,000 of annual funding for the Cornish language. This is terrible news for supporters of Cornish (and worrying news for other minority languages), and a petition has been launched to reinstate the funding (with currently over 8,600 signatures).

Not taking it lightly, me lovers!

The good news is that Cornwall’s not backing down! A local (and well-loved) ice cream firm, Kelly’s, has recently launched an advert all in Cornish (with the odd cheeky nod to English thrown in here and there). In the Kelly’s ad, a young man extolls all the virtues of the Kelly’s ice cream entirely in Kernewek – quite ambitious considering Cornwall only boasts about 2000 fluent speakers – yet the simple message of this ad is completely conveyed. Have a look for yourselves:


We’re proud to do our bit to support the Cornish language – check out our Cornish programs

Nat