Spotlight On Texas
- Texas is the second most populous State in the United States of America. The State has an area of 268,820 square miles and is the size of France
- Texas has an international border with Mexico and a State border with the States of New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana
- Texas has a population of 16 million cattles
- The Texas flower is the bluebonnet and the State’s bird is the Mockingbird
- More land is farmed in Texas than in any other State
- In Texas, it is illegal to milk another person’s cow
- Houston is the largest city in Texas and the fourth largest in the United States
- The State of Texas is nicknamed the Lone Star State to signify its status as a former independent republic. The Lone star can be found on the State flag
- Spain was the first nation to claim the area of Texas. France had a colony in Texas and Mexico ruled over Texas until 1836
- Lyndon B. Johnson, America’s 36th President, was a proud Texan as was America’s 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower
Spotlight On Uganda
- A 2012 census revealed that Uganda’s population is an estimated 35 million inhabitants
- 84% of Ugandans are Christians
- Uganda is surrounded by five bordering countries: Sudan, Kenya, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania
- Uganda gained its independence from the British in 1962
- While there are many languages spoken in Uganda, the official languages are English and Swahili
- Agriculture accounts for 80% of Uganda’s income source with the majority of the income originating from the export of coffee
- Kampala is Uganda’s capital and the nation’s largest city. While Kampala has a diverse population, the Baganda, a local ethnic group, make up over 60% of the city’s population
- Uganda’s official motto is ‘For God and My Country’
- Soccer is the national sport of Uganda. The Super League, which is the top division, includes 16 different teams
- Lake Victoria runs through most of the southern part of Uganda. The lake is shared with Kenya and Tanzania
- Uganda has a wide variety of wildlife that includes gorillas, chimpanzees and over 600 species of birds
- Winston Churchill referred to Uganda as the “Pearl of Africa” given its variety of form and color
Spotlight On Moscow
- Moscow, Russia’s capital, is the 2nd largest city in Europe and the 6th largest city in the world with an estimated population of 11 million inhabitants
- According to a Forbes Magazine article from 2011, Moscow is the city with most billionaire residents in the world
- The highest temperature ever recorded in Moscow was 39.0 °C. The lowest temperature ever recorded was −42.2 °C
- It is believed that Moscow was founded on April 4th, 1147 as a wooden fortress
- The historic Kremlin is located at the very heart of the city
- On June of 2012, Moscow was ranked as the fourth most expensive city in the world by businessinsider website
- Moscow is home to a cat theatre where all the actors that appear on stage are in fact cats
- The Russian capital is world renowned for its subway stations some of which served as bomb shelters during the Second World War
- The Russian State Library, located in Moscow, is the largest library in Europe and the second largest in the world
- This year Moscow will celebrate its 865th birthday. Mazal Tov!
Spotlight On Estonia
- The Estonians are descendants of the Baltic Finns who have inhabited the Baltic Sea region for thousands of years. That’s why the Estonian language is similar to Finnish.
- According to the official visitestonia.com website, “the Estonian language is a nightmare to learn”.
- Almost 50% of Estonia’s territory is covered by forests.
- A recent census in Estonia revealed that the population size is approximately 1,294,236.
- The capital, Tallinn, is also the largest city in Estonia with an estimated population of 400,000.
- 25% of Estonians are Russians.
- Estonia ranks second in the world with an adult literacy rate of 99.8% (!)
- One of the world’s first daily newspapers was published in Estonia in 1675.
- The Mud in Estonia is especially exquisite and has been shown to contain large quantities of the female hormone, Estrogen, making it an essential tool in the battle for wrinkle free skin.
- Given its flat terrain, Estonia is a popular destination for avid cross country skiers.
Spotlight on Zimbabwe
- The name Zimbabwe comes from “Dzimba dza mabwe”, which means “great houses of stone”, in the Shona language.
- The counrty has three official languages: English, Shona, and Ndebele.
- AT 2952 meters high, Mount Inyangani is the highest point in Zimbabwe.
- Zimbabwe’s adult literacy rate is approximately 90 — it is one of the highest in Africa.
- The Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe are also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, “the smoke that thunders”.
- There are rock paintings — or “Bushman” paintings — across Zimbabwe that date back more than 5,000 years.
- Zimbabwe gained independence on April 18, 1980.
About 50% of the population in the country comprises of Syncretics (part Christian, part indigenous beliefs), 25% are Christians and the rest follow indigenous beliefs.
Spotlight on Sweden
- 85% of Sweden’s 9.2 million people live in cities.
- Sweden has the highest number of McDonalds restaurant per person in Europe.
- A popular souvenir in Sweden is the road sign for moose-crossing. In fact, a large number of these signs are stolen from Swedish roads every year.
- On Easter children dress up as witches and go trick-or-treating.
- The government has proposed a total ban on fossil fuel driven vehicles by 2025.
- About 13% of the Swedish population were born in a country other than Sweden.
- Sweden has the longest life expectancy — over 80 years!
- 76% of mothers in Sweden work — this is the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world.
- Parents are allotted 13 months of paid maternity leave and the father is required to take at least 1 month of it.
- Sweden granted women the right to vote in 1862. They were the first country in the world to do so.
- After Spain and France, Sweden is the largest country by land mass in the EU.
- As of 2004 you can pay your Swedish taxes by sending an SMS message from your cell phone.
Babylon Touch for Android: No More Embarrassing Lost in Translation Moments
We just launched the Babylon Touch for Android, and the positive reviews are pouring in. Here is one of our favorites:
My humiliation. Let me tell it to you:
A few years ago, I was doing one of those semester abroad things in Paris — I spoke “un peu français” — Because let’s be real: I came for the food, the fashion, and (of course) L’amour… I figured I’d pick up the language while strolling Champs Elysees or something but it sooo wasn’t a priority.
Oh, if only.
I remember sitting in a restaurant one night and staring blindly at the menu. I wanted to impress my date with my grasp of the language. (Nothing like candles, music and vin blanc to lower ones inhibitions. Ahem.) So, instead of following my usual M.O. and asking the waiter for help with the menu before ordering, I smiled confidently, and ordered “Le Cuisse de Grenouilles.”
And this is why I can never watch Disney’s Princess and the Frog. Like, ever. Because it makes me feel like a cannibal.
C’est. La. Vie.
So, this is why I’m digging the Babylon Touch for Android.
Here’s how it works: The Babylon Touch for Android enables you to get immediate translations for real world hard copy texts. Just launch the app, point your phone’s camera, and get an instant translation of any hard copy text, like a book, an article in a newspaper, an exhibit explanation board at a museum, or a menu.
Voila. I’ll never order Frog Legs again.
Merci Beaucoup, Babylon!
Babylon Touch - Latest Translation App for Android – Now available Free on Google Play
We just released the translation mobile applications suite in dozens of different languages, available for iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
This is Babylon’s latest development, bringing precise translations to its users - Easily, everywhere and anytime.
“Babylon strives to keep up with the powerful forces of mobile technology innovations. The Babylon Touch is just another groundbreaking product, exemplifying one of the many ways of how Babylon continues to have an impact on communication, breaking down its barriers.” says Liat Sade - Sternberg, Babylon’s VP of Marketing & Sales.
“The future of communication is strongly being shaped by mobile technology. With technology changing so rapidly, Babylon is aware that it must stay ahead of the times by focusing its efforts on where the next generation of mobile phones will be headed”, explains Oren Azulay, Babylon’s VP of Products.
Whether you are trying to order food from a foreign menu or home reading a newspaper, simply open the application, point the embedded camera over the text and touch the term requested. Your Babylon Touch will enable term translations from any hard copy text directly to your Android.
Babylon Touch for Android is available for translation from 22 source languages ( Bulgarian, Catalan, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish with more to come) and offers translation into 35 different languages.
You can go to the virtual media room and see how it works: www.babylon.com/mediaroom/mobile
To check out all our apps, you can go here:
And here’s a video showing the app in action:
We’d love to get your thoughts on our app. If you’ve tried it, leave us a comment or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My Life in Translation: “Swimming in an ocean of intermediates”
By Lola Akinmade-Åkerström
I was shocked when I read the news off my husband’s iPhone.
A famous Swedish actor had died in a house fire on New Year’s Eve. Quickly turning to one of the other dinner guests, I tried explaining to her what I’d just read, expressing how horrendous it was.
She looked me straight in the eye for two seconds and burst out laughing.
I was confused. Why would someone’s death generate such forced laughter? She chuckled a bit more, nodded, and then turned away. We’d chatted freely earlier that evening – in Swedish - and the conversation had flowed both ways.
This time felt different, and it was then I realized she hadn’t understood a word I had said to her, and she felt too polite to say she hadn’t grasped it. If I’d been purely green, she might have stopped me or switched to English.
But she let me go on.
This wasn’t the first time I’d gone on and on in Swedish to a local only to have them respond incorrectly. They usually just pick out a few keywords, try to form the context of what I was explaining in their minds, and formulate incorrect answers.
Again, if I’d been an absolute beginner, they probably would have asked me to repeat or switched to English.
I’d finally moved into the class of intermediates – language learners whose hands weren’t being held anymore. We were now in the sink-or-swim category; that nebulous never-ending transition period one seems to find themselves in forever.
A transition period I now call the plight of the immediate speaker.
Moving through the beginning stages of Swedish was like hopping a cross-country flight from Los Angeles to New York. Sure, there were a few turbulent bumps along the way but it was a relatively smooth experience. I was then left standing on the shores of the Eastern US about to swim across the intermediate Atlantic Ocean towards Scandinavia. My goal being to land on fluent shores of Sweden before trekking upwards as a “master” to Stockholm and finally mastering the language.
These are the four levels of language learning I’ve geographically mapped out for myself. And now, I am right in the middle of the Atlantic, swimming as best as I can towards fluency along Sweden’s shores.
Sometimes, the waves carry me backwards. Sometimes, I swim past other intermediates.
Often times when a fellow intermediate pulls out an advanced word in class, I liken it to an unexpected swimming stroke. “That’s new?!,” I’d say to myself as rogue waves of stagnancy mentally push me backwards.
Never one to overestimate my Swedish-speaking skills, I know it’s going to take some time to reach fluency the way I know it needs to be reached. I may very well take a detour over to Greenland or Iceland and hang out there for awhile – plateaued in my speaking skills while mixing and matching words I already know to keep the conversation going on deeper levels.
And when I’m ready, I’ll jump back in again and continue my swim towards Sweden’s shores, finally becoming fluent. This means speaking without those awkward pauses of trying to collect my thoughts and mentally translating them from English. Completing that final trek towards mastery remains my ultimate goal, and this goal could take decades.
Right now, I need to keep treading water to stay afloat and just take it one stroke at a time.
Spotlight on Israel
- The Dead Sea is the lowest geographical place ON EARTH.
- Israel has TWO official languages: Hebrew and Arabic.
- The population in Israel was last recorded at 7.2 million people: 75.8 percent are Jews, 19.9 percent are Arabs (mostly Muslim) and the remaining 4.3 percent include Druze, Circassians, and others not classified by religion.
- Israel is tiny: It is only 1/6 of 1% of the landmass of the Middle East.
- Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.
- The currency is the New Israeli Shekel. Currently, there are 382 NIS to the American dollar.
- Israeli bank notes have brail on them so the blind can identify them.
- Each of Israel’s holy sites is administered by its own religious authority, while protection against desecration and trespassing as well as free access are guaranteed by law.