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Origin of “It Takes Two to Tango”

The tango is a popular dance in which two partners move in relation to each other. Tango is always danced in couples, and both parts are essential.  “It takes two to tango” is a common idiomatic expression inspired in this intrinsic partnership and is used to describe a situation in which more than one person is paired in an active and complex related manner, with positive and negative connotations.

The phrase “It takes two to tango” first appeared in the song Takes Two To Tango that Al Hoffman and Dick Manning composed in 1952. However, the expression reached top popularity thirty years later, when US President Ronald Reagan used it during a news conference. Since then, “it takes two to tango” expression has made it to the headlines several times.

Cooperation

This common expression can be used to suggest that the active cooperation of two parties is required in some enterprise in order to succeed or accomplish the objectives.

In the same way, it can also be used to refer to the fact that agreements or consensual bargains require both parties to assent in order to be successful.

Quarreling Also Takes Two

Disputes and discussions also need the participation of two parties. Thus, in situations in which both partners don’t agree upon something, we can also say “it takes two to tango”.

 

September 30: Happy International Translation Day!

Did you know that the Bible has been translated into 310 languages and that some of its text passages have been translated into 1597 languages and dialects? Did you know that the works of Lenin have been translated more often than Shakespeare’s dramas (321 compared to 93) or that Jules Verne was published in more languages that  Karl Mark (238 against 103)? And did you know that Asterix and Tintin have been both translated into 41 languages and dialects?

Who said that translators didn’t have a day to celebrate their profession? The International Translation Day is celebrated on 30th September on the feast of St Jerome, the bible translator. St Jerome has always been considered the patron saint of translators.

St. Jerome

The International Federation of Translators promoted celebrating St Jerome’s Day worldwide in 1953. All across the globe different celebrations and activities were organized to raise social awareness about the huge impact that translators and their work have on society: from users’ manuals to literature pieces to scientific discoveries, all of them can be globally known because a translator has made that possible.

Thirty-eight years later, in 1991, the FIT launched the idea of an officially International Translation Day to show the solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in all countries, and not necessarily only in Christian ones.

The International Translation Day also offers us all with a great opportunity to draw attention to the importance of translators and interpreters in the world as they often remain invisible and unacknowledged, despite their huge contribution to communication and interaction in all sorts professional and social spheres.

Origin of the Word “Futon”

Futons have become an ordinary furniture piece and it is very likely that you are reading this article comfortably seated on one. But, have you ever wondered about the etymological origin of the word?

Western futon

Japanese Origin

English (as well as Spanish) borrowed the word from the Japanese and the Chinese, and it means “round cushions filled with cattail flower spikes”.

A Traditional Japanese Bedding

Futons can be easily found in Japanese homes. They are padded mattresses and quilts that can be plied and stored away during the day so that the room can be used not only as a bedroom. In fact, what we call futons in Japan are combinations of a bottom mattress and a thick quilted bedcover.

Futon Japan

Japanese Futon

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

(c) Exequiela Goldini

September is a very special month for Hispanics in the United States as the Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated all across the country. Since 1989, from September 15 to October 15, US celebrates the rich tradition and culture that the Spanish and Latin American population has brought to the nation.

According to the last census, the Hispanic population in the US is the nation’s largest ethnic minority representing a 17% percent of the total inhabitants with 53 million people.   As we have already mentioned in other articles, the number of Spanish-speaking people living in the United States has increased steadily within the last ten years and everything seems to indicate that this tendency will continue in the years to come. In fact, only from July 2011 to July 2012 it has increased 2.2%.

Why on 15th September?

The celebration of the Hispanic Heritage Month starts on 15th September because many Latin American countries celebrate their independence anniversary near that date: Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Costa Rica, Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua.

President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed the Hispanic Heritage Week in September 1968, and it was the Congress under the administration of President Ronald Reagan that made the celebration a month long.

What is the Oxford Comma?

The Oxford comma has been in the center of the debate amongst language experts for quite a long time. Is it useful? Is it necessary? Should we use it? Haven’t we got enough punctuation rules already? Can’t we just do without it? And to make things even a little bit more interesting, not everybody knows what the Oxford comma is and how it should be used.

Understanding the Oxford Comma

The Oxford comma is the comma that precedes the conjunction “and” or “or” before the final item in a list of three or more items. For instance:

“This poem is dedicated to Beth, Anna, and Rosemary.”

“This recipe takes: sugar, eggs, and flour.”

It is so called because it has traditionally been used by editors and printers at Oxford University Press although this convention is also followed by Harvard University Press. All throughout the United States, this mark is better known as the serial comma.

The Oxford comma helps to clarify the meaning intended of a sentence when it is placed before conjunctions in a series of words, especially when you are dealing with complicated lists. For instance, the use of the Oxford comma is advisable in this case:

“I would like to thank my parents, Barack Obama, and Oprah Winfrey.” If you omit the comma before the “and” people may think that Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey are your parents!

Besides, it matches the natural speech pattern of pausing before the last item in a series and, therefore, makes a list easier to comprehend.

When Should It Be Used?

Most editors and publishers agree on the fact that the most important thing to remember regarding the usage of this quotation mark is that you should be consistent. In other words: if you start using it, always do. Consistency is the key.

 

Queen Elizabeth I, the Translator

Rulers at present may be seen as practical, passionate, determined or powerful but few would think of them as intellectuals. Thus, it may be quite surprising to learn that Queen Elizabeth I, one of the most powerful English rulers during the Renaissance, was not only disciplined and independent but also an inward intellectual who devoted her teenage years to the translation of various religious texts that definitely shaped her “man’s mind”.

Elizabeth I was a successful queen in times where women were not considered suitable for holding certain positions in society. And according to Janel Mueller, professor of English language and literature at the University of Chicago, William Rainey Harper Professor in the College, and dean of the Division of the Humanities., much of her success can be related to the translations she did while still being a princess influenced by her stepmother Katherine Parr. Mueller even takes this a little bit further and says that her translations were key to her power.

In 1545, when she was still a teenager, she translated the first chapter of Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion. Then she took a religious work that Katherine Parr had done in English and translated it into Latin, French and Italian and gave it as a New Year’s gift to her dad.

Mueller points out that during the early period of Elizabeth’s reign she translated some devotional literature, but shifted later to classical texts from Seneca’s tragedies as she had more experience as Queen of England.

Mueller as well as other scholars looking into Elizabeth I’s translations, are interested in determining that these works are not only a proof of her refined schooling but also a way she found of making these texts available. Despite the fact that Elizabeth did quite literal translations and avoided using English references, it is undeniable that she was part of a culture highly interested in translation as a means of making something foreign available to the natives.

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