The Amazigh languages, also known as the Berber languages, consist of an estimated 40 different languages, which are all part of the Afro-Asiatic language family. It is estimated that the Amazigh languages are spoken by between 25 and 30 million people throughout Northern Africa. Some of the most widely spoken Amazigh languages are Tuareg, Kabyle, Central Atlas Tamazight, Shilha, and Tarifit Berber (Riffian). These languages are spoken most prevalently in North Africa, in countries such as Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mali and Niger.
The Tuareg languages
The Tuareg languages are a group of related dialects, namely Tamasheq, Tamahaq, Air Tamajaq, and Tawellemet. These languages are spoken primarily by the Tuareg people, a nomadic Berber ethnic group, who live mainly in Sub-Saharan and Northern Africa. One of the most spoken Tuareg dialects is Tamasheq, which is spoken most notably in Mali, by an estimated 378,000 people. Like the majority of the Tuareg languages, Tamasheq is written using both a Latin and Tifinagh script and makes use of Arabic loanwords. As Tamasheq uses the Tifinagh script, the original alphabet of the Tuareg people, it is written from left to right. In addition to this, written and spoken Tamasheq (as well as the other Tuareg languages) uses an abjad writing system (derives from the Arabic language), which places greater emphasis on consonants.
The Kabyle language, also known as Taqbaylit, is spoken by 5 million people in Algeria, and 5.59 million total speakers globally. Being an Amazigh language, Kablye is one of the official languages of Algeria alongside French and is used as a lingua franca in the country, especially in professional settings and the home. The language is written in both a Latin script and Tifinagh, although Tifinagh is used solely for logos and symbols rather than as a writing system. As well as being spoken in Algeria, Kabyle is also spoken in Morocco, Tunisia, and the Western Sahara.
Central Atlas Tamazight
Central Atlas Tamazight, also known as Tamaziɣt, is spoken in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia by a total of 4.7 million people. The vast majority of the language’s speakers reside in Morocco, where there are an estimated 4,590,000 speakers of Central Atlas Tamazight. Despite being classified as a threatened language, Tamazight is a major Berber language, and is one of the three Berber dialects spoken in Morocco by 40% of the population. It is used across different multimedia platforms, such as publishing, television, radio, and social media. Like Kabyle and the Tuareg languages, Tamazight is written using the Tifinagh script, although it is primarily written using a Latin script and the Naskh Arabic script. The language is also written using the SVO (subject-verb-object) word order.
The Tachelhit language, also known as Shilha and Soussiya, is another of the most widely spoken Amazigh languages. In Morocco, there are 7 million Tachelhit speakers, and the language is also spoken in Algeria and Tunisia. The language is used in the Moroccan education system, as it is taught in Moroccan primary schools. It is also used in television, radio, newspapers, and publishing. The language uses the Naskh variant of the Arabic script, a Latin script, and the Tifinagh script.
Tarifit, also known as Riffian, is an Amazigh language spoken in Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia. It is spoken by 4.2 million people in Morocco, and 4.3 million people in total across Northern Africa. It is part of the Zenati Berber language family (named after the Zenati Amazigh tribe), which is comprised of Berber languages that derived in Morocco and southwestern Algeria. The language features just four vowels (“e, i, a, u”) and 33 consonants. Tarifit uses three different writing systems: the Naskh Arabic script, Latin, and Tifinagh. Like the majority of the most widely spoken Amazigh languages, it is used across television, radio, and in publishing.
The Amazigh (or Berber) languages spoken throughout Northern Africa and Sub-Sharan Africa are rich, fascinating languages, which are spoken daily by millions of people and will continue to be spoken by millions in the region in the future. These languages use as lingua franca, as well as in different media, are further proof of the culturally diverse language families that are spoken in many different countries in Africa.
If you should require translation of any of the Amazigh languages spoken in Northern Africa, such as Tuareg, Kabyle, Central Atlas Tamazight, Tachelhit, or Tarifit Berber, you would benefit from a translator cognisant of the colloquialisms and language influences of the unique Amazigh languages. At Crystal Clear Translation, you will find many efficient and reliable translators able to navigate the intricacies of many different languages – click here for a quote.
Working in the linguistics and translation field can be an extremely rewarding career. Your job role can vary day to day and offer an exciting and diverse work-life balance. Many people believe that translation is a simple role, however there is a lot more to it than the ability to speak a language well. With a vast array of career prospects available to prospective students, the job market is incredibly competitive. But what does it take to become a professional translator? What does one have to attain to succeed in the field?
What do translators do day-to-day?
It’s important to note that translators and interpreters are not the same, this is a common misconception- but in fact, the differences are quite straightforward. Translators work with a written text or document whereas an interpreter deals with spoken dialogue.
The typical aim of a translator is to translate documents and other material from one language into another, known as the target language. Usually, the translator will be fluent or native to the target language. This is something that all clients will look for when selecting the right professional for their case load or project.
There are many types of content in which a translator may be called upon for. This can include legal documents, marketing and advertising campaigns and even projects involving the media. If you have ever watched a film with subtitles, this is a prime example of a translator in action. Whatever the aim of the project, there is likely a professional that will suit your needs. It is important to ensure that the translator being used has proven experience in the specific area. Early on in your career, you will be able to select specific areas to specialise in- this can be an area of particular interest to you.
What specific skills are needed to be a translator?
A fully qualified translator will need to acquire a certain skill set in order to get the most out of their career. Some of these skills are listed below:
- A cemented knowledge of culture within the target language country- this is something that can be obtained by living and working in that location over a significant period. Whilst not absolutely essential, it is extremely advantageous.
- Complete fluency or native understanding of the language or languages chosen to specialise in.
- Exemplary reading and writing skills in ones native tongue.
- A keen eye for detail and the ability to edit and proofread meticulously
- It is ideal to have a degree in the source languages selected as an area of expertise.
What qualifications do you need to become a professional translator?
Although anyone with fluent knowledge of more than one language can translate, working as a paid, ‘official’ translator usually requires some level of qualification. If you wish to translate in areas involving law, medicine, and government/administration for example, specialist knowledge is often non-negotiable, so having a specific qualification under your belt is hugely advantageous career-wise. The main types of qualification are:
- A postgraduate degree – many universities offer MAs in Translation or Translation Studies, which is particularly helpful if you hold an undergraduate degree that is not in a language-based subject. Translation MAs will usually cover the theory and practice of translation as well as offer instruction in how to translate for specific sectors. A list of postgraduate courses (for UK residents) can be found here
- A language-based undergraduate degree – having a degree in a second (or even third) language (particularly with evidence of having focused on translation/translation modules) is very useful for anyone looking to go into translation as a career.
- A Diploma in Translation (DipTrans) from the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) is one of the most respected translation qualifications available, providing high-level specialised training in many different areas of the discipline. A fee-paying course, the diploma is well worth the money as it is an internationally recognised qualification, meaning that you can – in theory – work anywhere in the world.
- Relevant translation experience – in some cases, having proven translation experience can look just as good as any official qualification/diploma, particularly if said experience involves working for voluntary organisations like Translators without Borders and UN Volunteers.
What careers are there for translators?
Because practically every job in the world uses spoken and written language, opportunities involving translation are everywhere. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the areas and roles into which having translation qualifications or experience can lead you:
- Literary translation– working as a literary translator involves translating literary text from one language into another. Because of the importance of capturing the original author’s language, style, and meaning, working as a literary translator is a good job for anyone interested in writing and the world of books and who has prior experience in translating literary material (such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, magazine articles etc.). Due to the level of skill required, the job of a literary translator is one of the higher-earning translation jobs.
- Healthcare/medical translation – a highly in-demand and very rewarding job, working as a medical translator can often make a difference to the quality of care and treatment that a patient receives. Translating medical documents, brochures, and patient and pharmaceutical information is also a major part of being a medical translator and requires specific knowledge to undertake. Because clients’ wellbeing is often on the line, working as a medical translator can be fairly high pressure, but also well-paid.
- Localisation – localizers are tasked with translating texts and graphics used in various forms of media, ranging from advertisement to video games. The localizer must make text seem as if it originated in the target country – for example, media translated for Latin American audiences will need to use expressions and vocabulary that are local to whatever area it will be displayed or sold in, rather than just using a generic ‘standard’ Spanish translation which can seem clunky or inauthentic. Working in localisation is one of the more ‘fun’ areas of translation, as often localisation jobs deal with a diverse range of topics that use casual, everyday language.
- Business translation – most businesses are always looking to expand (especially on an international level) and as a result, translators with knowledge of business terminology and jargon are always in demand.
- Government translation – although most translators work on a freelance basis, some government departments specifically recruit experienced translators to work with them, including MI5, MI6, the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), and GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters). There are also opportunities to work for international government organisations such as the United Nations. It is worth noting, however, that official government organisations are more likely to take on translators who have a little more experience behind them, particularly when it comes to translating in matters of diplomacy or for humanitarian issues.
Although getting started requires some patience, becoming qualified to work as a translator will lead to a career that is nothing if not unique. Because so many sectors of employment require translators and prefer to use humans rather than machines to ensure accuracy and correct localisation, there is always work to be found for any proficient linguist. To find out more about the specific translation services that we offer at Crystal Clear Translation, you can visit us here.
When you ask most people what one thing they’d like to achieve before they die, learning a foreign language is a very common response, particularly for native English speakers. With the rise in language-learning methods, from night classes to online apps, more people than ever are making real efforts to achieve this goal. As such, it seems a good time to share some of the best ways to learn a language and improve fluency.
It goes without saying that one of the most obvious ways to learn another language is to receive professional instruction in it. Outside of an academic environment (schools or university), there are actually many language classes available for any potential linguist – it’s just a case of finding the right one. Things to take into account when finding a good class is your personal schedule, cost, travel, and your level in whatever language you’re learning (beginner, intermediate, etc.). Attending a class is a solid way to start if you’re a beginner, as you’ll be surrounded by other people in the same position and learning-level as yourself, with a teacher on hand to answer any queries, which will undoubtedly make the experience of learning a new language way less intimidating. Classes alone, however, are not enough when it comes to learning a language, as self-study and practice outside of the classroom are equally important for maintaining and improving fluency.
One of the easiest – and often cheapest – ways to learn and practice another language is via online apps. Everyone has heard of Duolingo and Babbel, but other programmes like Quizlet, Anki, and Memrise offer hundreds of ways to keep up with your language learning. Some apps will focus more on the ‘teaching’ aspect (Duolingo and Babbel) and others are a useful tool for compiling vocabulary and making flashcards to help with memorisation (Quizlet and Anki). Whatever your goals are, downloading an app to your phone is a quick and accessible way to keep on top of your language learning whilst managing your day-to-day responsibilities.
Language Exchange Groups
Although classes are a good way of meeting like-minded learners, they do not provide the opportunity to practice in a relaxed environment. Language-exchange groups – which involve meeting up in more relaxed venues (usually pubs or cafés) to speak in whatever common target language everyone has – are, however. Groups are usually made up of a mix of beginners and intermediate learners, with some higher-level speakers present. Although speaking is usually the aspect of mastering a foreign language that intimidates learners the most, it is also the aspect that improves the most with practice and becomes far easier as time goes on. Therefore, making friends with whom you can actually practice speaking makes the journey to fluency far easier and far less embarrassing. If you live in an area where there are no such groups, you should maybe set up your own, meeting up with others in your local pub, community centre, or even house, to simply sit and chat in the group’s shared target language(s).
Arguably the most entertaining way to learn or improve fluency in another language is by immersing yourself in your target language’s culture. This can be by watching foreign films with subtitles in the language itself (or not, depending on your level), reading books, and listening to music. These are effective ways to improve both listening and reading comprehension in a manner that is fairly passive. Streaming sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime have a plethora of foreign-language films and TV shows for you to enjoy, and Spotify and Apple Music have thousands of playlists catered to lovers of non-English language music. As well as being a good way of improving language proficiency, immersing yourself in the cultural output of a language means you are far less likely to become bored with it. Some good foreign language TV shows include:
Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha (South Korean)
Money Heist (Spanish)
Call My Agent! (French)
The Bridge (Swedish/Danish)
Alice in Borderland (Japanese)
The Platform (Arabic)
Immerse yourself into the culture
A language and its surrounding culture go hand in hand. When learning to speak a language it is essential to understand its relationship with culture. Without grasping the culture, the language simply becomes an assortment of words and sounds with little to no content whatsoever.
The simplest way to immerse yourself into a certain country’s culture is to travel there and spend some time living in the setting. By doing this, you are experiencing the culture first-hand, along with real life experience from the country’s citizens. Whether it be ordering in a restaurant or conversing with locals in the park- these authentic experiences will enable you to swiftly adapt to the cultural differences between your native and target languages.
Sometimes, it’s easier said than done to be able to travel to your desired destination. Perhaps you’re a student on a tight budget, or you simply cannot justify upping sticks and moving. It’s reassuring to know that there are other ways of experiencing culture immersion- some of which don’t even require leaving the house. For example, watching a foreign movie can aid your understanding more than you think. Whilst watching, you are absorbing the mannerisms and gestures of a language, experiencing the setting and what it looks like and simply taking in language whilst enjoying a good movie! The internet is littered with handy ways in which you can experience a different culture and get yourself geared up to mastering your chosen dialect.
Find a learning partner/study buddy
Studying alone can often seem overwhelming and stressful. Learning a new language should be a fun and rewarding experience; one that could be made better by sharing the journey with somebody else. When it comes to finding your ideal study buddy, the options can be endless. You could look closer to home, perhaps a family member or a close friend has the same intentions of language learning as you? Or if not, social networking platforms can offer prime opportunities to unite with like-minded individuals. If the social networking option is a route you decide to take, professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn can offer up tailored suggestions in regard to the type of person you are looking for.
Here are a few pointers to enable you and your language learning buddy to get the most out of your working relationship:
- Setting appropriate goals together- you both should decide what it is you are looking to achieve and in what time scale you wish to do it. For example, by this time next month we will both be able to confidentially recite the alphabet in our target language. By setting these small goals, you can keep track of your journey with ease.
- Arrange regular study times- When it comes to learning something, consistency is key. You should deliberate with your partner to decipher the times you will spend together learning and discussing progress. This could be one substantial session per week or a cluster of smaller ones. It may also be sensible to pre plan what you will do during this time- this will enable you to be as productive as possible during your learning sessions.
- Find somebody as committed as you are- Finding a fellow learner that is as passionate about the outcome as you are is vital. If you are both on the same page, your working relationship will run smoother. A huge dose of passion on both ends can pay dividends to the end result, with both parties motivating and supporting each other throughout.
Finding smart study techniques
It is no secret that everybody learns in different ways. No two learners are the same. So, it is important to devise a set of study techniques which aid your learning rather than hinder it. Below is a selection of techniques which may be of interest to a prospective language learner.
Flashcards and note making
This is not a technique that suits everyone, as words can often become congested and overwhelming, however if you are good with words this may be the option for you. You should go about making extensive notes whilst you are learning, which can then be turned into detailed flash cards. This technique comes into play when these cards are used and practiced regularly.
Keep a learning journal
By documenting your learning, you are keeping a great record of where you are at on your journey. Every time you study, you could make a note of what you have learnt today, what you found easy and what was difficult. This way, you can identify areas of weakness that may need more time spent on them. It also enables you to look back on the journey you have taken, with a firm record of everything you have learnt over time.
Smart use of pictures and colourful aids
A vast proportion of people are known as visual learners; therefore, the use of picture and colour can aid the learning greatly. Drawing pictures and symbols can help you to remember certain expressions and vocabularyFor example, you could create a series of picture cards with words on the back- these can be used for you to test yourself or for other people to test you. It is all about making learning fun, after all!
Read, read, and then read some more
Reading in any form can nourish the mind. Reading to learn is an incredibly rewarding activity. Sometimes, it can seem like a chore to read, but it doesn’t have to be this way when incorporating it into you learning plan. The days of reading long, repetitive texts are gone, as there are many other ways to read and learn. Although textbooks can be useful in learning a language, they aren’t always essential. Reading blogs written in your target language can be fun and useful. It will help you to see the language in context and may even aid your understanding of the culture too! Any passages, words or phrases that you don’t understand can then be taken away as an area of interest to you.
Language learning is an extremely fun and fruitful practice! Whether you are learning for a job, for a new life abroad or just for fun, learning a foreign language is incredibly beneficial. It is reassuring to know that not one technique is the same, and there are many ways for one to achieve success.
Situated on the Hispaniola Island and bordering the Dominican Republic, Haiti is one of the most populous Caribbean regions with a population of 10 million. Haiti is home to a rich cultural history, dating back to as early as 1492, which saw the arrival of Christopher Columbus and the Spanish settlers. This then led to the French takeover. It wasn’t until 1804 that the island gained its independence. It is apparent that Haiti and its spoken languages are greatly influenced by its history- but what is the official language? What other languages are spoken?
French: The official language
The French takeover was a huge part of Haiti’s history. The use of the language has stuck, as the sovereign nation is one of two to have French as its official language. Despite its status, it is only used in official documents, within education and the media- this makes it the country’s administrative language. Only around 5% of the population speak French, even though it is the standard written language. The small minority of speakers are to be found in urban areas and are considered as ‘Well to do’ citizens, due to their success and wealth.
More than 95% of Haitian people are fluent in Haitian Creole, making it the most popular language in the region. The language itself is a blend of a handful of West African languages along with Taino and French. Despite is popularity there is a very minute number of texts written in the language, it tends to remain as a solely spoken language.
There are three main dialects within the creole-based tongue which include northern dialect, central dialect and southern. These are based upon region and differ slightly based on their location.
Spanish and English: the minority languages
Spanish and English are both considered minority languages in Haiti.
Spanish is the official language of the Dominican Republic, which borders Haiti. The Spanish language has spilled over into the country’s dialects as a result of interaction between the two regions.
The proportion of Haitians who speak English remains incredibly small, but it is growing in population due to many young people from England coming to Haiti for business and work purposes.
In terms of dialect that Haiti lacks linguistic diversity, with the sole dialect being Haitian Creole and French. The only clear links to foreign languages come from travellers and businesspeople. Haiti is independent in the sense that the majority of its dialect comes from a homegrown language, which the Haitian people take pride in greatly.
Should you require a Haitian Creole interpreter or translator, visit Crystal Clear Translation for a quote.
Ethiopia is a fascinating mosaic of cultures, not to mention the over eighty-eight languages in the country. Most of the languages can be split up into either Semitic (spoken mainly in the north), Cushitic (native to the western, southern, eastern, and south-western areas) or Omotic languages (concentrated in the southwest). Here, we will look at the main spoken languages in Ethiopia and provide some useful common phrases!
Tigrinya is a Semitic language, from the Afro-Asiatic language family. Aside from Tigre region of Ethiopia, it is also spoken in Eritrea. The written form of Tigrinya is called Ge’ez, named after the now extinct ancient language that preceded Tigrinya. It is spoken by around 7 million people worldwide and is present in varying communities such as in Israel, the US and Italy. Tigrinya differs in many ways from English. Consecutive consonants never occur at the beginning of words. Emphatic pronunciations are a distinctive feature of Tigrinya. Certain letters such as p or k are pronounced with a retracted tongue which alters the plosive sound of the letter. A consonant can only be in parentheses if it is a borrowed word. Here are some phrases from the Tigrinya language:
- ሰላም (selam) – Hello.
- ከመይ ኣለኻ (kemey ‘aleka) – How are you?
- ስመይ…. ይበሃል (simey … yebehal) – My name is…
- ይቅሬታ! (Yiqreta!) – Sorry.
- የቐንየለይ! (Yekenyeley!) – Thank you.
- ኣበይ ኣሎ ሽንቲ ቤት? (Abey Alo Shnti Bet?) – Where’s the toilet?
Sidama is a Cushitic language spoken mainly in the Southern regions of Ethiopia and has over 4.3 million native speakers. It employs a subject-object-verb (SOV) word order, like English, and shares lexical similarity with the Southern Ethiopian languages of Alaba-K’abeena, Kambaata, and Hidiyya. The literacy rate for native Sidama speakers is now below 5%. Until 1993, an Ethiopic alphabet was used to write Sidama, however the language now uses a Latin script. Here are some phrases in the Sidama language:
- Keereho – Hello.
- Keeruni – Goodbye.
- Ane Su’mi – My name is…
- Ate Su’mi ayeti? – What is your name?
- Mee-ae sateeti? – What time is it?
Wolaytta is a North Omotic language, the official language of Ethiopia’s Welayta zone, and spoken by around 2 million people. The first official Wolaytta publication was produced in 1934, when part of the bible was published in the language by the Sudan Interior Mission. The Welaytta are extremely proud of their written language, for instance when the Ethiopian government attempted to distribute books written in Wegagoda in 1998, the Welaytta discarded them and distributed their own. Wolaytta is a poetic language rich with proverbs such as “If one sells honey that is delicious and sweet to eat what he/she will eat, if one dislikes children, what will he/she love?” This represents the integral nature of children in society symbolised by the positive connotations of honey. It uses the basic SOV sentence structure. Unlike other Ethiopian languages, it uses ‘p’ instead of ‘f’. Here are some phrases in the Wolaytta language:
- Halo – Hello.
- Saro Agadi – Good morning.
- Taani Hagappe – I am from…
- Ta Sunfay – My name is…
- Tana Maara – Excuse me.
- Galatays – Thank you.
- Azanays – I am sorry.
Spoken in Ethiopia and Kenya, Oromo is a Cushitic language from the Afro-Asiatic language family and is the language of the Oromo ethnic group. It is one of the five official languages in Ethiopia and is the primary language of 33.8% (around 24.9 million people) of the country’s population. Unlike other languages in this list, like Amharic, Oromo is a macrolanguage, which can be defined as “a group of individual languages which are closely related to each other and are considered as a single language in certain contexts”. Three of the individual languages of the Oromo macrolanguage derive from Ethiopia: Borana-Arsi-Guji Oromo, Eastern Oromo, and West-Central Oromo. All these languages are written using a Latin script, although Muslim speakers of the Oromo language use an Arabic script. Here are some Oromo phrases, from the Borana-Arsi-Guji Oromo (Afaan Oromoo) language:
- Akkam Jirtuu – How are you?
- Negaa-ti – Goodbye
- Meeqa – How much is it?
- Tole – OK
- Dhiifama – Excuse me
- Galatoomi – Thank you
Another of the official languages of Ethiopia, Amharic is the language of the Amhara people, and is one of Semitic languages from the Afro-Asiatic language family. The language is used as a working language (lingua franca) in Addis Ababa, Dire Dawa, the Amhara Region, Gambala Region, and the Benishangul-Gumuz Region. It is also the working language of the Ethiopian federal government, and was previously the only official language of Ethiopia until 2020. Despite being the sole official language of Ethiopia for many years, Amharic was spoken by fewer people than Oromo, being spoken by an estimated 29.1% of the country’s population. In total, Amharic is spoken as a first language by 21.6 million people in Ethiopia. Amharic is written using a version of the Ge’ez script known as Fidel and uses an abugida writing system. Here are some useful phrases in the Amharic language:
- እንኳን ደህና መጣህ. – Welcome
- ሰላም። – Hello
- እንደምን አለህ፧ – How are you?
- እርስዎ ስም ማን ነው፧ – What’s your name?
- የኔ ስም… ነው – My name is…
- መልካም እድል – Good luck!
The Somali language is spoken most notably in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, located in eastern Ethiopia. Overall, Somali is spoken by 6.5% of the Ethiopian population, which amounts to 4.7 million Somali speakers. The Somali language is an official language of Ethiopia and is also a statutory provincial working language in the Somali Region. The Somali dialects known as Northern Somali and Af Maay are the most widely spoken Somali dialects spoken in Ethiopia. Neither of these dialects are regarded as being mutually intelligible. The Somali language is a subject-object-verb (SOV) language and is written using an Arabic and Latin script. Here are some useful phrases in the Somali language:
- Salaam alaykum – Hello
- Iska warran? – How are you?
- Magacaa? – What’s your name?
- Magacaygu waa… – My name is…
- Xagee ayaad ka timid? – Where are you from?
- Guul ayaan kuu rajaynayaa! – Good luck!
The multifaceted languages of Ethiopia are distinctly unique and incredibly interesting, highlighting different aspects of Ethiopian culture, as well as the wider cultures of the different ethnic groups that live throughout the country. If you require translation or interpreting services in any language, you can get a quote here from Crystal Clear Translation.