Rare language fact file: Seke

Here at The Language Shop we like to shine a light on some of the rarer languages spoken across the world, many of which have long and fascinating histories. This month we take a closer look at Seke.

Fact file

Native to: Mustang, Nepal

Number of native speakers: Approximately 700.

Spoken by: Inhabitants of five villages: Chuksang, Chaile, Gyakar, Tangbe, and Tetang – and approximately 100 people in Brooklyn, NYC!

Learn some U’wa:  ‘Ca garawa mu’ translates as ‘that’s good’, which can be used in lots of different contexts!

Interesting facts:

  • ‘Seke’ means ‘golden language’ and the region in Nepal it is from, Mustang, means ‘plain of aspiration’ in Tibetan languages.
  • As with many endangered languages, Seke is dying out because young people in the area are educated in Nepali or Hindi, and TV is mainly in Hindi. In addition to this, Nepali is considered crucial for making progress in education or the jobs market, so speaking Seke is not generally encouraged.
  • Seke’s fortunes have been revived a little by a movement in Nepal to preserve it, and by the thriving community of diasporic Seke speakers in Brooklyn, New York. Of the 100 speakers there, approximately half live in the same building! This unusual enclave has brought the Seke language some attention, and the Endangered Language Alliance is working with one of the older inhabitants to produce a Seke dictionary.

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.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Meet the team - Naveeda Mahmod

Meet the Team: Naveeda Mahmood, Intepreter

 

Every month, we introduce you to one of The Language Shop team. This month, meet Naveeda Mahmood, one of our interpreters who works in Punjabi, Urdu, Hindi and English. Find out about how she got to grips with Zoom over lockdown and her passion for baking!

What’s been your favourite project at tls?

As an interpreter I enjoy interacting with people generally, but on a personal level I have learnt tremendously from the talking therapies and physiotherapy.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

Covid and all the changes it brought with it. All the technology, like Zoom, was new to me. Working from home, staying put and interacting with people only on the phone was a challenge.

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

I would have been a teacher in adult education, teaching either English or cookery (baking preferably).

Tell us something interesting about you

I love baking and trying new recipes. I try new dishes all the time and have taken courses in baking and cake decorating.

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

I would love to meet our prophet Muhammad (PBUH). He was the perfect human being, he preached Allah's message (the Quran) to humanity. He set an example for us all.

What are your ambitions for 2021?

I would like to complete my Interpreting level 4 course. Also I would like to do a course in cupping.

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


Book with Purubora language written on it

Rare language spotlight: Purubora

Here at The Language Shop we like to shine a light on some of the rarer languages spoken across the world, many of which have long and fascinating histories. This month we take a closer look at Purubora.

Fact file

Native to: Rondônia, Brazil

Number of native speakers: 1

Spoken by: The Purubora people

Learn some Purubora: There exists very little written in the language, except for lists of words. The official list contains only 49 words. Included are the numbers 1 to 3, which are: ‘múm, wewáb, bokód-wewáb’.

Interesting facts:

  • Until 2020, there were two native speakers left alive. However, sadly, one of the remaining two, Eliezer Purubora, died from Covid in late 2020. He was one of six Purubora who died from the virus.
  • Purubora translates as ‘people who transform into jaguars to heal’. They believe that when someone dies, they become a jaguar. When relatively tame jaguars visited the village, they would be welcomed as the new hosts of dead people’s spirits.
  • The Purubora had been considered extinct, following a practice of marrying off the women to colonisers who had arrived to work on rubber plantations. However, in 2001 there was an assembly, bringing together its remaining people to establish a claim to their original land. This claim is still ongoing today.

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.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Rare language spotlight: U’wa

Here at The Language Shop we like to shine a light on some of the rarer languages spoken across the world, many of which have long and fascinating histories. This month we take a closer look at U'wa.

Fact file

Native to: Northeastern Colombia and Venezuela

Number of native speakers: 2,000

Spoken by: The U’wa people

Learn some U’wa: The most common greeting is ‘eyariki?’, which translates literally to ‘are you there?’. Respond with ‘usatro’, which means ‘I’m here’.

Interesting facts:

  • The U’wa believe that the world was created by a god called Sira, who punishes any exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources. They believe that Sira will send natural phenomenon such as earthquakes, floods or darkness to punish humans who violate the planet.
  • The U’wa are known for their strength as a community and willingness to stand up for what they believe in. Despite being very insular, they are well known internationally for the stand they took in the 1990s against Occidental Petroleum, a US oil extraction company who wanted to mine their land. The U’wa mounted a campaign and threatened to commit mass suicide if Occidental succeeded. This drew international attention to the story and the U’wa won.
  • The U’wa are still engaged in legal battles to keep their ancestral lands free from exploitation by foreign and domestic companies. They have the additional problem of armed guerrilla groups who are active in Colombia, such as FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), who blow up pipelines and poison wildlife.

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.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Meet the Team: Ratnam Ratneswaran, Tamil Interpreter

Every month, we introduce you to one of our team. This month, meet Ratnam Ratneswaran, one of our interpreters working between Tamil and English. Find out about his enthusiasm for communicating with people and why he'd still be an interpreter even if he won the lottery!

What do you do for tls?

I have been working as a Tamil and English interpreter since 2017. Before Covid I worked face-to-face, but I have worked remotely during the pandemic.

What’s been your favourite project at tls?

I love all of it! I really enjoy talking to people; after living in four different countries and working in four different fields, I would say that I’ve finally landed a job that I really love. I like meeting people and putting them at ease – for example, I always adapt my dialect to match the service user, to make them as comfortable as possible. I’m looking forward to working face-to-face again.

What’s been the biggest challenge?

When I first started in the job, I had been away from my community for such a long time. I started working at Barts [hospital], and seeing first-hand the domestic violence, mental health problems and abuse happening in my community was really hard.

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

Even if I won the lottery, I would still be an interpreter! Before this, I was an insurance broker. As I progressed up the ladder I had less and less contact with people, and I didn’t like it. When my wife’s work needed a Tamil-speaking health advocate, I thought I would give it a go for six months. And here I am!

Tell us something interesting about you

I was once the only passenger on a commercial flight! It was Christmas 1983 and I was flying to Zurich. When I realised it was only me on the plane, I asked if I could go into the cockpit with the pilot. They let me in there until it was time to land. And when I disembarked, I got given all the chocolate that they would have handed out!

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

I wish I could have met former US President John F Kennedy. I really admire him: he was the youngest elected US president at 43, he stood up to the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis, navigated the Civil Rights Movement and took on the US mafia.

Say hello to Ratnam on social media – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedInKeep up to date with all our latest news here.

 


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.

Keep up to date with all our latest news here and on social media  – we are on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn.


Meet the Team: Suppalak Bird, Thai Interpreter

We caught up with one of our Thai interpreters, Suppalak Bird, to find out about the most rewarding parts of her job and her passion for vintage clothes.

What do you do for tls?
I’m a freelance Thai interpreter.

What’s been your favourite project at tls?
I worked with therapists and psychologists who were helping a trafficked Thai woman who felt suicidal. The sessions were done via Zoom during the pandemic. It was a very challenging and sensitive case. In the end, all the hard work from everyone involved, including the Thai client, paid off. It was so rewarding to see how her life has changed remarkably.

What’s been the biggest challenge?
To stay focussed at all times when working with emotional and crying clients who have experienced trauma and to translate accurately using the clients’ own words (even though they might not make sense to me sometimes).

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?
Start a small business designing and making 60’s style vintage dresses.

Tell us something interesting about you
I love vintage clothes, techno music and travelling to exotic places. I have recently decided to challenge myself (as a complete beginner) by running a half-marathon for a cancer charity at the beginning of October.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
It would be an honour to meet H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (of the Kingdom of Thailand) to show my gratitude for all of the work she’s done for the Thai people throughout her life and to ask her if I could be of any help in any of her projects.

What are your ambitions for the rest of 2021?
I want to learn how to sew and make clothes and to continue working as an interpreter. I also want to be able to travel more.

Say hello to Suppalak on social media - we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep up to date with all our latest news here.


Meet the Team: Peta Moore, TLS Service Coordinator

Every month we like to give you an insight into a member of the tls team. We recently sat down with our Service Coordinator, Peta Moore, to discuss hidden talents in music, karate and car mechanics, and a love of horror films.

What do you do for tls?
I joined tls in June 2018 as part of the Quality Assurance team for the MOJ (Ministry of Justice) side of the business. As of January 2021, I moved over to the ops team. I am also part of the ‘fun squad’, we take turns to create quizzes, riddles and other fun team activities for our weekly team meetings.

What’s been your favourite project at tls?
Before I changed teams I was involved in a recruitment drive for new assessors up and down the country for the QA team. That was fun as I had never done recruitment before, I learnt so much.

What’s been the biggest challenge?
Honestly – COVID. So much changed in such a short space of time, both at work and at home, but it’s all become second nature now. I love a challenge though so I adapted quickly.

If you didn’t do your current job, what would you like to do?
My dream as a teenager was to join the Royal Marines Band Service as a drummer/bugler. I auditioned when I was 18 but was unsuccessful at the time. Apart from that – I reckon I would be a mechanic.

Tell us something interesting about you
I am a black belt 2nd dan in Shotokan Karate and have been training since I was eight. I can play guitar, drums, bass guitar, piano, bugle and military snare drum. I have recently joined Dagenham and Redbridge Women’s football team as a goalkeeper. I am also a qualified car mechanic.

If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Wes Craven. A weird one but I am a huge horror fan and I’ve always wanted to write my own stories. He was known as the ‘Master of Horror’ as the creator of franchises such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream, so I would have loved to get some writing/creative tips from him!

What are your ambitions for the rest of 2021?
I have grown so much as a person since January 2020 – I think I would like to continue on this path of self-discovery and find myself again.

Say hello to Peta on social media - we are on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Keep up to date with all our latest news here.


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.