National Language Service Corps

National Language Service Corps The NLSC is a U.S. Government program that maintains a readily available group of on-call multilingual members who provide language support to Federal agencies.
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We are the National Language Service Corps - the NLSC. Our mission is to maintain a ready pool of people like you who can speak, listen and understand English and other languages. These volunteers can be called upon in time of need to use their skills to interpret and translate to help others in the United States and around the world during short-term projects. If that describes you, we offer you the opportunity to join us to help others in times of emergency or crisis wherever they may be. Your abilities could truly make a difference for the good of all. Go to www.nlscorps.org to apply! External Links (including Advertising Links): The appearance of external hyperlinks does not constitute endorsement by the National Language Service Corps of the linked websites, or the information, products or services contained therein. The National Language Service Corps does not exercise any editorial control over the information you may find at these locations. All links are provided consistent with the stated purpose of these websites.

Mission: Our mission is to maintain a ready pool of people who can speak, listen, and understand English and other languages.

Operating as usual

Do you know the differences between Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia? “Linguistically, the relationship between the tw...
09/22/2020
What are the basic differences between Indonesian and Malay?

Do you know the differences between Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia? “Linguistically, the relationship between the two is more distant than that between British and American English.”

Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia are the two standardised registers of Malay. Stemming from the same source, the two languages are…

This week’s theme is the Foreign Service Institute’s Category II languages. “Research into the history of [the Indo-Euro...
09/21/2020
How German took on its modern shape | DW | 10.08.2020

This week’s theme is the Foreign Service Institute’s Category II languages. “Research into the history of [the Indo-European language family] fills entire libraries. But from the contemporary perspective, the most fascinating aspect is the fact that languages as different as Persian and German share the same origins.” What do you know about the history of German?

Before Luther and Goethe, the German language has traveled a long way from its Indo-European roots to New High German. A look at the complex history of a language that's still evolving today.

Have you heard of Acatek? It is part of the Kanjobal dialect branch of the Mayan language family, but “the two languages...
09/19/2020

Have you heard of Acatek? It is part of the Kanjobal dialect branch of the Mayan language family, but “the two languages are actually distinct enough that Kanjobal and Acateco speakers cannot easily understand each other.” Learn more about the indigenous Acatek language of northwestern Guatemala!

Off the coast of Panama lies an archipelago inhabited by the indigenous people, the Guna. “The native Guna are truly sov...
09/17/2020
Guna Yala: The indigenous people beyond Panama's tourist paradise

Off the coast of Panama lies an archipelago inhabited by the indigenous people, the Guna. “The native Guna are truly sovereign: The Panamanian government has no right over their local system of participatory democracy—the Guna General Congress—and their territory.”

There's more to Panama than beautiful beaches.

Did you know the official language of Belize is English, but many speak and understand Kriol, considered to be the lingu...
09/17/2020
A quick guide to speaking Kriol in Belize

Did you know the official language of Belize is English, but many speak and understand Kriol, considered to be the lingua franca of Belize? “If it’s business, it’s English. But if I’m not getting paid, then it’s Kriol.” Learn about Kriol in Belize!

“If it’s business, it’s English. But if I’m not getting paid...it’s Kriol.”

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This observance “recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their root...
09/15/2020
Hispanic Heritage Month 2020

Happy Hispanic Heritage Month! This observance “recognizes and celebrates the contributions Americans tracing their roots to Spain, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean have made to American society and culture.”
https://buff.ly/3kkRlG5

September 1968: Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim National Hispanic Heritage Week.

This week’s theme is Central American languages, regions, and cultures. Many people believe that the Maya civilization e...
09/14/2020
The Maya | Living Maya Time

This week’s theme is Central American languages, regions, and cultures. Many people believe that the Maya civilization ended centuries ago, but there are more than 7 million Maya still living in Mesoamerica today. “Language, tradition, and a deep sensibility toward the land and the sky continue to shape their worldview. The Maya are guardians of their culture.”

Today, more than seven million Maya live in their original homelands of Mesoamerica and in countries all over the world. Two thousand years ago, the ancient Maya developed one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas. They developed a written language of hieroglyphs and invented the mathem...

“The latest edition of the Duden, the preeminent dictionary of the German language, contains 3,000 new words. The new te...
09/14/2020
New 'Duden' stirs debate about German language

“The latest edition of the Duden, the preeminent dictionary of the German language, contains 3,000 new words. The new terms reflect “the latest social developments, like climate change, the coronavirus pandemic, social media, racism and equality,” but some language preservers are unsure of these new additions. Do you think dictionaries should be a part of reforming or preserving language?

The latest edition of the Duden, the preeminent dictionary of the German language, contains 3,000 new words. Language purists are rattled — and far-right politicians also feel threatened by the changes.

What do you know about the process of accepting a new word? “Neologisms pass through three stages: creation, trial, and ...
09/12/2020
Neologisms - their origin and how they reinvigorate language -

What do you know about the process of accepting a new word? “Neologisms pass through three stages: creation, trial, and establishment. The new term enters common language as a ‘protologism,’ which is used only by a limited audience.” Read about the rest of the stages here.

A neologism is a new term which has entered common use, but has not yet been fully accepted into mainstream language.

In Japanese, you can create nouns by joining two verbs together, “such as by combining 食べる (taberu, eat) and 残す (nokosu,...
09/11/2020
Joining Japanese words together to reveal the true nature of things

In Japanese, you can create nouns by joining two verbs together, “such as by combining 食べる (taberu, eat) and 残す (nokosu, to leave behind) to make 食べ残し (tabe-nokoshi, leftovers).” It is even possible to turn verbs into nouns and vice versa in Japanese! Can you do this in any of the languages you speak, or are there different methods you can use to create words?

Once you understand how the pieces fit together, you can magically turn verbs into nouns and vice versa, expanding your Japanese vocabulary by leaps and bounds.

The English language is constantly growing! About 1,000 new words are added every year. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and John M...
09/10/2020
How new words are born

The English language is constantly growing! About 1,000 new words are added every year. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and John Milton are all known for their contributions, but how did they come up with new words?

English speakers already have over a million words at our disposal – so why are we adding 1,000 new ones a year to the lexicon? And how?

This week’s theme is neologisms or newly coined words! Do you know what affixation is? Check out these six ways that new...
09/09/2020
6 Types of Word-Formation in English

This week’s theme is neologisms or newly coined words! Do you know what affixation is? Check out these six ways that new words are formed in English and try your hand at inventing a new word.

The process of fashioning new words out of old ones is called derivation. Here are six of the most common ways in which news words are created.

“It’s never been easier or more affordable to get help learning a language. And while you may be doing so from your livi...
09/05/2020
Want to Learn French? Italian? Russian? There’s No Time Like the Present

“It’s never been easier or more affordable to get help learning a language. And while you may be doing so from your living room, you can still dive in and meet native speakers.” Explore these suggestions for enhancing your language skills from home.

We may not be thrilled with our housebound conditions, but what better opportunity for learning a foreign language?

“In the future, language is going to be less formal—more loose-limbed and creative.” This linguist thinks future languag...
09/03/2020
How Technology Is Shaping The Future Of Language

“In the future, language is going to be less formal—more loose-limbed and creative.” This linguist thinks future language change will be driven by technology. What do you think the future of language will look like?

Over time, languages naturally change. In the past, cultural collisions caused by slavery, exploration, and war have pushed them even further, says Columbia University linguist John McWhorter.

“When dealing with a different culture, the risk—and impact—of misunderstanding gets amplified. Overcoming this risk req...
09/02/2020
How To Avoid Disaster When Sending Emails Across Cultures

“When dealing with a different culture, the risk—and impact—of misunderstanding gets amplified. Overcoming this risk requires the right mindset, cultural awareness and being intentional in crafting emails sent across cultures.” Here are some helpful tips for sending cross-cultural communications.

Emails are one of our key communication tools, but there is always the risk that they may be misunderstood. When sending emails across cultures, that risk is amplified. Here are eight tips to help you craft effective cross-cultural emails.

Do you remember when a tweet was what birds said and tag was a children’s game? “This list shows how technology has shap...
09/01/2020

Do you remember when a tweet was what birds said and tag was a children’s game? “This list shows how technology has shaped language over time. But it also shows how language has shaped technology—or, at least, our technological understandings and paradigms.” What technology-related words have you learned recently? Click here: https://buff.ly/3bbnyMs

This week’s theme is technology and language. This author wonders why so many technological terms come from English. Do ...
08/31/2020
Locating Language In Technology

This week’s theme is technology and language. This author wonders why so many technological terms come from English. Do you think language influences how we interact with technology?

How does the language shape your experience with digital technology?

“A quick glance back at the words we use every day to discuss our experience of the world reveals a hidden reliance on l...
08/29/2020
The surprising history of the word ‘dude’

“A quick glance back at the words we use every day to discuss our experience of the world reveals a hidden reliance on language hatched by art and artists.” Read about the history of art-inspired words such as “landscape” and “surreal.”

Kelly Grovier explores the unexpected origins of seven terms coined in art history, including the political meaning of ‘silhouette’ – and the roots of the word ‘mob’.

Read about the NLSC’s remote interpretation support at COVID-19 testing sites across the country. Thank you to our dedic...
08/26/2020
Linguists Translate COVID-19 Information

Read about the NLSC’s remote interpretation support at COVID-19 testing sites across the country. Thank you to our dedicated members for their support of this important effort.

From national security missions to disaster relief to COVID-19 testing, the right interpreter is vital to getting the message out in a way that can be understood. 

Many false stories about the origins of words are widely accepted, but why is this the case? “Funnily enough, the story ...
08/26/2020
What the Folk? The Charming Yet Totally Malappropriate Story of Folk Etymology | JSTOR Daily

Many false stories about the origins of words are widely accepted, but why is this the case? “Funnily enough, the story of how the words and expressions we use every day came to be is not just interesting when true, it also turns out it’s equally as linguistically intriguing when it’s false…”

Etymology is a funny thing. Even if you're not a word nerd, you might have wondered why so many English idioms we use are Just. So. Weird.

Did you know that the word “bad” is an etymological mystery? “We know that good is cognate with many other languages . ....
08/25/2020
15 Basic Words That Are Etymological Mysteries

Did you know that the word “bad” is an etymological mystery? “We know that good is cognate with many other languages . . . but bad is on its own.”

All words had to start somewhere—but sometimes, after much searching and analyzing, no satisfying origin explanation can be found.

This week’s theme is etymology. Orange “seems to be the only basic color word for which no other word exists in English....
08/24/2020
Color or Fruit? On the Unlikely Etymology of “Orange”

This week’s theme is etymology. Orange “seems to be the only basic color word for which no other word exists in English.” Where do you think the origins of the word orange come from?

The human eye can distinguish millions of shades of color, subtly discriminating small differences of energy along the visual spectrum. No language, however, has words for more than about 1,000 of …

One woman set out to bring diversity to her bookshelf by reading one book from every country in the world. Have you read...
08/21/2020

One woman set out to bring diversity to her bookshelf by reading one book from every country in the world. Have you read any of the 196 books on her list? Let us know!
https://buff.ly/3awKeXj

What do you know about Danish greetings? “Danes, lacking a word for 'please,' express politeness with grammar—but they d...
08/20/2020
Why learning Danish might be easier than you think | British Council

What do you know about Danish greetings? “Danes, lacking a word for 'please,' express politeness with grammar—but they do like to say thank you. They are specific when saying thanks, so it is tak for mad (thanks for food), tak for i dag (thanks for today).”

Julie Larsen, who teaches Danish at the University of Edinburgh, explains the links between Danish and English, and gives advice for language learners.

French “is a language of international diplomacy, a global business language, and a top internet language . . . With dee...
08/19/2020

French “is a language of international diplomacy, a global business language, and a top internet language . . . With deep historical roots in the U.S. and throughout North America and the Caribbean, it is also a local language.”
https://buff.ly/2YakBqj

“Living in the Netherlands without a knowledge of the language . . . is like ‘skirting around the edges’ and ‘never real...
08/18/2020
Dutch is like shouting in a storm, says literary translator Sam Garrett - DutchNews.nl

“Living in the Netherlands without a knowledge of the language . . . is like ‘skirting around the edges’ and ‘never really getting to the core of the thing.’ But for non-Dutch speakers both here and abroad, translated works can open a window onto this hidden world.” Read an American translator’s take on “the quirks and merits of the Dutch language” and how his award-winning translations have increased the international demand for Dutch literature.

The work of award-winning translator Sam Garrett has been pivotal in bringing Dutch literature to a new, English-speaking audience. Deborah Nicholls-Lee discusses the quirks and merits of the Dutch language and Sam’s recommended reads for internationals new to Dutch fiction. When you’re in a cou...

“Whether you're just getting started with Italian or approaching fluency, here are 21 odd, amusing and mildly interestin...
08/17/2020

“Whether you're just getting started with Italian or approaching fluency, here are 21 odd, amusing and mildly interesting facts about a language known for its beauty, romance and musicality.” https://buff.ly/318Gvwd

“Although Castilian became the primary language of the area now known as Spain, its use didn't eliminate the other Latin...
08/15/2020
Is There a Difference Between Spanish and Castilian?

“Although Castilian became the primary language of the area now known as Spain, its use didn't eliminate the other Latin-based languages in the region.” Do you know the history of Castilian?

Learn why Spanish is often referred to as Castilian, plus several ways in which the term Castilian is used.

“Culturally, the roots of lagom are tied back to communal times of the Vikings, when they gathered around the fire after...
08/13/2020
The Swedish word that’s displacing hygge

“Culturally, the roots of lagom are tied back to communal times of the Vikings, when they gathered around the fire after a hard day’s work and passed around horns filled with mead, a honey-fermented beverage.” Read about a Scandinavian lifestyle trend, lagom, and what it means!

Its virtue of moderation and balance is being espoused as the next Scandinavian trend we need to be embracing.

Although Romanian is a Romance language, “Romanian also differs from other Romance languages in terms of grammar. For ex...
08/12/2020
Romanian: The forgotten Romance language | Unravel Magazine

Although Romanian is a Romance language, “Romanian also differs from other Romance languages in terms of grammar. For example, Romanian definite articles are placed after nouns.” Learn more about the Balkan Romance language, Romanian.

Romanian (or limba română in the language itself) is a Latin-derived language related closely to languages such as Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese.

Did you know Portuguese “actually originated from spoken Latin brought back by Roman colonists and soldiers in around 3r...
08/11/2020

Did you know Portuguese “actually originated from spoken Latin brought back by Roman colonists and soldiers in around 3rd Century BC... [and that] the written form of the language dates back to 12th Century AD?”
https://buff.ly/3is6YKW

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has developed learning timelines “based on what FSI has observed as the average leng...
08/10/2020
How to Learn Norwegian in 2020

The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) has developed learning timelines “based on what FSI has observed as the average length of time for a student to achieve proficiency.” As our theme for the next two weeks, we’ll be discussing FSI’s Category I languages, which are estimated to take 24–30 weeks (600–750 class hours) to learn. Start learning Category I language Norwegian by reviewing these language tips!

Free tips, advice and resources to finally begin learning Norwegian. Use apps, free websites, online courses and more to get to grips with the Norwegian language.

False friend is a term “used to describe words in different languages that look alike but have different meanings.” View...
08/08/2020
It's Important to Know Your 'False Friends' in English and French

False friend is a term “used to describe words in different languages that look alike but have different meanings.” View these French faux amis, and learn about the history behind their formation.

English has a lot of French words in it. But not all the words have the same meaning, even if they look very similar.

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