Top Stories! 7th June

Posted: June 16 2021

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Take a look at what’s been happening in the world of languages over the last couple of weeks!

 

Apple announces innovative new sign-language software

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Last week, Apple announced powerful software features designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities. As well as several product software updates, Apple’s new service ‘SignTime’ enables people to communicate with their customer service team in American Sign Language (ASL), British Sign Language (BSL), or French Sign Language (LSF), straight from their web browsers (and if you want to visit an Apple store, you can use SignTime to access a sign language interpreter without the need to book ahead).

 

SignTime has initially launched in the US, UK, and France, with plans to expand to additional countries in the future. “These next-generation technologies showcase Apple’s belief that accessibility is a human right and advance the company’s long history of delivering industry-leading features that make Apple products customizable for all users.”


Read more here

 

Computers that speak Icelandic could save the language from ‘Stafrænn Dauði’ (That’s Icelandic for ‘Digital Death’)

To counter the dominance of English in technology and media, Iceland is teaching apps and devices to speak its native language. This effort is part of a broader $23 million initiative which is funded by the Icelandic government. Its aim is to secure a digital future for languages that are spoken by fewer than 400,000 people. 


To date, approximately 19,000 Icelanders, young and old, have contributed their voice to this technology database that will be available to developers around the world for free. While the majority of Icelanders are quite proficient in English, Icelandic continues to be a cornerstone in the foundation of the country’s national identity. 


Read more here.
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Quebec can amend the Canadian constitution to protect the French language

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Quebec Premier François Legault sent a letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau containing his proposal to reform the province’s language law and amend the Canadian Constitution.

 

The letter stated that Quebec has the power to unilaterally amend the Canadian constitution to protect French as its official language. Legault wrote: “French is at the very foundation of our identity and our culture. Quebec is the only French-speaking province in North America. Protecting the French language is one of the most important responsibilities, maybe the most important responsibility, of a Quebec premier.”

 

Trudeau’s response was optimistic; he agreed that it was legitimate for Quebec to modify the section of the constitution that applies specifically to them as long as the rights of anglophones in Quebec are also respected.


Read more here.

 

Fool Britannia: UK branded an embarrassment by Amanda Holden’s Eurovision gaffe

Upon delivering the UK’s Eurovision jury results, presenter Amanda Holden made a joke that people branded “arrogant” and “embarrassing”. Appearing from London to address viewers and the show's international participants, she said: "Bonsoir, Goedenavond. That is ‘good evening’ in French and Dutch although I've got absolutely no idea which is which."

 

Saturday's show was the 65th Eurovision Song Contest and crowned Italy's entry, Maneskin, as winners of this year's competition, but it was the language joke that had viewers turning to Twitter to voice their displeasure. 


Read more here.

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