May dates for your diary

Calendar snapshots

1st – Beltane, Celtic/Wiccan/Pagan

Beltane is an ancient Celtic festival, welcoming summer and letting the cattle out into the open pastures. Celebrants light bonfires and in rural Ireland, cattle were traditionally led between two fires in order to protect them from disease.

2nd – Eid al Fitr, Islamic

This Eid marks the end of the Muslim Holy Month of Ramadan. The day begins with communal prayer (salat), after which typically follows a lot of feasting and celebration.

6th – Vesak, Buddhist

This is the most important festival of the year for Theravada Buddhists, and honours the birth, enlightenment and death of the Buddha. It is marked with special services and good deeds, like the release of birds previously held captive.

May dates

1st Beltane (Wicca/Pagan, Northern and Southern hemispheres)
2nd Twelfth Day of Ridvan (Baha’i)
Eid al Fitr (Islam)
Birthday of Guru Arjan Dev (Sikh)
Bank Holiday – England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and ROI
3rd Feast of Saints Philip and James (Catholic Christian)
Akshaya Tritiya (Hindu, Jain)
World Press Freedom Day
4th Yom HaZikaron (Judaism)
International Firefighters Day
5th Yom Ha’Atzmaut (Judaism)
6th Vesak (Buddhist)
8th World Red Cross and Red Crescent Day
12th International Nurses Day
15th International Day of Families
17th International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia
19th Lag BaOmer (Judaism)
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
21st World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development
22nd International Day for Biological Diversity
23rd Birthday of Guru Amar Das (Sikh)
24th Declaration of the Báb (Baha’i)
26th Ascension Day – Christian
29th Ascension of Baha’u’llah (Baha’i)
Yom Yerushalayim (Judaism)
International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
31st Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Catholic Christian)
World No Tobacco Day

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Rare language spotlight: Rotokas

In this month's rare language spotlight we reveal some little-known facts about Rotokas, which is believed to have the smallest alphabet of all known languages!

Fact file

Native to: Papua New Guinea

Number of native speakers: Approx. 4,000

Spoken by: Bougainville Islanders

Learn some Rotokas: If you visit Bougainville Island, you probably will not have trouble finding the beach, but if you do, you can ask the way by saying 'Ovu-ia avakava?'

Interesting facts:

  • Rotokas is believed to have the smallest alphabet of all known languages, with just 12 letters and 11 sounds (two of the 12 letters share one sound). Its only potential rival for this title is Piraha (see Dec 2019 Monthly View!). For this reason it is said to be one of the easiest languages in the world to learn.
  • There are no nasal tones in Rotokas. An example of a nasal tone is the letter ‘n’ in English – if you say this you should feel a vibration in your nose. Rotokas speakers only use their noses when they are making fun of foreigners trying to pronounce Rotokas words!
  • Although Bougainville Island is less than half the size of Wales, an astonishing 18 languages are spoken by its inhabitants. This makes them even more vulnerable to extinction than other small languages, and indeed the numbers of native Rotokas speakers are in decline.

The Language Shop provides support in any language you may need, including many of the rarer ones. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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Meet the Team: Natalia Bailey, On-demand Telephone Interpreting Mentor

Every month, we introduce you to one of The Language Shop team. This month, meet Natalia Bailey, tls' On-demand Telephone Interpreting Mentor, who tells us all about what it's like to settle into a new job while working remotely and some of her favourite social events she's organised for the team.

Tell us about what you do at tls?

I assist the team with their queries, provide training and feedback for their personal development and help them provide a better service to our clients. I am also part of the work council; this is a small group who work to improve our company, services and working lives. We also plan some fun socials for over Zoom to bring everyone together, but are hoping to get out into the real world when it’s safe to do so.

What’s been your favourite thing to work on at tls so far?

I created a quiz for our last Christmas party. It was a full PowerPoint with playlists, timings, questions and emojis, which I think went down well. My other favourite project to work on was our ‘Would I Lie to You’ social. The tls council came up with the idea and me and my colleague Shah were the hosts - it was such a funny evening!

What do you most enjoy about working at tls?

The amazing team I work with every day and the whole company, who have been incredibly welcoming and supportive. Everyone has made it so easy for me to settle in and it’s strange to say but I have extremely good working relationships and friendships with people I haven’t actually met yet in person.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?

I think for the first time I am exactly where I need to be, but if I had to do something else it would definitely be something that makes a difference and helps people. If I ever won the lottery I would adopt all the poorly treated horses, donkeys, dogs and cats and give them a place to live happily and peacefully.

Tell us something interesting about you

I have an extra bone in each foot and one of them actually has a permanent screw in it. I lived in Prague for short time, which was incredible. I have a horse, his name is Oliver Twist, I have had him for 18 years and he is just the best horse I could ever ask for.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Tough question! I’d say Sir Alex Ferguson or Ben Stokes because I would love to ask about the last World Cup and his super over, or the presenters of A League of Their Own, as I think it would just be absolutely hilarious.

What are your ambitions for next year?

I have achieved so much in 2021. I applied for the Mentor position, which I was so happy to be successful for. I bought my first car and successfully moved our wedding to a date next year with all our original suppliers. We are also hoping to buy our first property.

Say hello to Natalia on The Language Shop's social media – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedInKeep up to date with all our latest news here.