De Culturis

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Cross-Cultural Communication skills is a relatively new term, referring to the ability to recognize cultural differences and similarities when dealing with someone from another culture and ability to recognize features of own behavior which are affected by culture.



Born bilingual?

Filed under: Lingua,Vita — Moshu @ 13:12 (UTC)
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Yes, I know, nobody has ever been born as “bilingual” or “bicultural”. However, if a child is born in a crosscultural marriage, i.e. the parents are from different cultural and lingusitic background – will have have much better chances to become bilingual than others.

Recently I was browsing language related sites through StumbleUpon and came across this interesting webpage: Bilingual/Bicultural Family Network.

The Network is made up of families around the world who are raising their children bilingually and/or biculturally. The group provides support and resouces in different ways. They even have a magazine and a newsletter.

Which leads me to wonder: how much institutional support is offered for “cross-cultural marriages” in Canada? Or, to dig even deeper into the issue – is the official multiculturalism encouraging mixed marriages or is it condemning us to live in the ghetto of our own ethnic group? My experience working with settlement agencies always has been that the official policy toward newcomers is to push the “integration” in one’s own ethnic community, even if the individual is reluctant to do so!


Translation tool

Filed under: Lingua — Moshu @ 12:02 (UTC)
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Im Translator, Online translator, spell checker, virtual keyboard, cyrillic decoder I just recently discovered this little translation gizmo (click the button ont the left). From the many applications I’ve tried it is on of the smartest: it knows grammar and syntax much better than many machine translators. Of course, this little free tool will not translate your whole website – it has its own limitations:

  • Limited number of characters: You can only translate short texts (about 1000 characters).
  • No integration into your favorite applications.
  • No layout: with IM Translator you can work with text only format.
  • No translation customization: you cannot add new words or expressions , you cannot attach specialized dictionaries to adapt the translation to your needs.

It still can be helpful if you have international readers. Furthermore, the company that provides the tool also has langauge solutions on a corporate level: high-quality Arabic, English, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish translation software.

The button that I have at the beginning of this post can be added for free to your website, too. Or, check it out on this site — by copy/pasting some text into it — and give me a feedback. Obviously, I don’t speak all the languages the software is able to translate, so I am curious, how do you find the quality of the translations.


Supporting war affected children

Filed under: Vita — Moshu @ 22:29 (UTC)
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Supporting War Affected Children Tomorrow I will be at an all day conference about war affected children. It is organized by the Manitoba School Counsellors’ Association.

Finally, somebody woke up in Winnipeg and realized the necessity to deal with the many issues related to immigrants and refugees and their settlement in a totally new world, new culture. More than a year ago, in May 2005, I wrote about the lacking willingness to address these problems.

I expect to meet some people that are genuinely interested helping those poor kids and the service providers who need to be trained in order to be able to do their job. These children often witnessed the killing of their relatives or families, were traumatized in every possible ways we barely can imagine. They really deserve to be helped!

By clicking on the poster image you can get the whole program, the speakers… Oh, and there will be a presentation of a movie made by a young African Winnipeger. (In another blog of mine I had a review of the film.)

I hope this conference is just the beginning of something bigger. Something better…
(On the weekend I’ll write more details about what happened.)



Filed under: Blogare necesse...,Vita — Moshu @ 23:02 (UTC)

Warning 1: This post has nothing to do with cross-cultural communication.
Warning 2: This post is a paid review.

Both warnings contain a kind of half-truth. From the moment you are writing for a world wide audience from various backgrounds – the communication happens across cultural boundaries. And while I am getting paid for writing this review, it doesn’t mean I have to write what they told me. Actually, nobody told me anything.

You see, for a while I have been working with Text-Link-Ads (TLA) on my blogs. This is not a secret: you can see the links on this blog and they are displayed on my main site, too. I also tried some other “blogvertisements” – none of them worked, except this one. That’s the main reason I’m reading the emails sent by this company. The other day there was a brief message in my Inbox from Patrick Gavin, president of TLA, about launching a brand new advertising system: ReviewMe. The idea is very simple. If your blog is accepted (approved) as a publisher – you can write a “review” [basically, a post like this] about a product or service, and get paid.

Advertisers don’t have to go around to contact 2345 bloggers; TLA through its new ReviewMe system will be link between the bloggers and advertisers. Of course, they get their share for doing their part, but nobody is working free, right? As it goes now, the bloggers can not pick what reviews they would like to write. It goes the other way around, the advertisers choose the blogs where they would like to have a review. The price is set based on the blog’s popularity, visitors etc. I, as a blogger, can accept or reject the request for review. I didn’t reject this opportunity for at least two reasons: first, having several blogs hosted costs money (and my blog was pre-approved in the new program); secondly, this might work well for other bloggers, too. So, go, try it! Now you can click without making me rich :) In a month or two there will be a referral program in place.

What I like the best in the ReviewMe system, the advertisers can not ask for a positive review. As far as they cannot do that (and I assume this applies to the reviews about the program itself!) I don’t feel bad about being paid. Well, I never really feel bad when getting paid, and as a former journalist I know exactly how much hidden advertisement happens everywhere in the media. At least here is a clean-cut thing. By the rules, I have to display this is a paid review. And I really hope it will pay as well as the TLA program did and does for me. OK, it couldn’t replace my income (yet), but we are working on it. ReviewMe will be another tool in this pursuit…

p.s. In my journalist days we had to put a small (x) in the right bottom corner for sponsored articles.



WordPress as a real multilingual CMS with Gengo

Filed under: Lingua,Vita — Moshu @ 22:58 (UTC)
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Recently we set up a complete bilingual content management system (CMS) using WordPress with the Gengo plugin. We didn’t need it but even more languages could be added in order to get a full multilingual system. Or, a blog for that matter. Let me describe the procedure and the end result with the benefits.

The website is for the Hungarian School (Magyar Iskola) in Winnipeg. It is a basic WP install with custom theme. The custom theme is not a novelty, it just has a customized Loop on the frontpage. The rest is pretty much standard. What is not standard: we installed the Gengo plugin and the Hungarian localization file for WordPress –

The site is using “nice permalinks”, and in the Gengo’s settings we defined Magyar (that’s how the Hungarians call themselves) as the blog’s default language – that’s why a …/hu is added at the end of the URL, to display the Hungarian version of the website. However, if you switch to the English version, by clicking on the Canadian flag, your browser will remember it (due to the cookies), and next time it will open for you the English (…/en) version.

There are more than one authors (and now I am not talking about the WP Roles here) to the blog/site – each of them is able to set the language as they wish for the backend, the admin panel.

Just to clarify it: Gengo does not translate the posts or Pages or any other content. What it does: based on the language defined for each post or Page it will display them only for the selected language. E.g. if while writing the post First Lesson for Beginners we select Hungarian as the language of the article, it would have been shown on the Hungarian page. Obviously, we selected the English for this post, since it was written in English.
We can write articles (post or Pages) only for one language simply by selecting its language. It will appear only for surfers who want to see their own language version. Or, and this is where it gets more interesting, we can start a new article and “match it” with an existing post in the other language – and saving it as its translation. If you make a post a translation, it will even display the text of the original below the text input area, so you are able to really compare the two texts. Also, the plugin will display a small not at the end of the article: “other languages: Magyar”, which means this English article has a Hungarian translation and clicking on the link (Magyar) you can switch the language.

I think there is a long way to go until machine translations will be of an acceptable quality and fidelity, so we didn’t even think about any kind of “automated” translation. The different versions of the posts are made by manual human translation.
What about the comments? – you may ask. Are they translated? No, they are not. Honestly, I don’t see a need for it. Practically, the two posts (i.e. the same content published in English and Hungarian) are two separate entries in the database with their own ID# and, as WP works, the comments are always associated with one post ID. So, the comments of the Hungarian commenters will appear under the Hungarian version, and so on…

The blocks for navigation in the sidebar (and at the bottom) can be all translated by using the tools offered in Gengo’s own admin pages. It is possible to translate navigational elements (categories and everything else) even for themes that are not prepared for localization. (There are some small issues with plugins, like the Event Calendar displaying both versions of the same event; we’ll look into it later.) We just simply created “category synonyms” and so-called synonym blocks for other texts and they work perfectly. You can observe it by watching the bottom (dark red) portion while switching languages.