Schwafire-Language in Life, Life in Language


By Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen

Published: 19 May 2014


"Language is a big topic. So big that we often don’t even see it for what it is—the most universal of all forms of human expression."


Last week something significant happened in the language world. Journalist Michael Erard launched Schwa Fire, an online publication "featuring long-form journalism about language and life." In our swirling world of 300-600 word content creation, curation and consumption, Scha Fire seeks a moment of calm in the information storm. It is a place where we, as linguists, translators and interpreters, language services providers, or just people interested in what ultimately lies beneath the amazing and innate human capacity for speech, can pause and reflect. 


Schwa Fire is a the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, one which InterpretAmerica enthusiastically supported. (See ourDecember 2013 post introducing the upcoming publication). We are proud to be the official sponsor of Schwa Fire's inaugural issue. In our mission to raise the profile of interpreting and the critical role interpreters play in global communication, supporting a high profile publication with the potential to reach readers far beyond our usual "audience" was a no brainer. 

Below we are posting our sponsor's letter of support for Schwa Fire. We encourage you to consider the importance of this new publication, and to click through to Schwa Fire's inaugural issue and enjoy.


Then, share it far and wide!


Happy reading!


Why We Are Sponsoring Schwa Fire...

Language is a big topic. So big that we often don’t even see it for what it is—the most universal of all forms of human expression. We take it for granted. We use it every day, sometimes thoughtfully but often carelessly. Some of us may speak more than one language, but most don’t. Spoken, signed, or written, language is what makes us human.

We now live in the information age when language is more important—and misunderstood—than ever. And although academic writing about language from linguists and literature professors abounds, there has been strikingly little in-depth reporting by journalists on the many facets of language.


Schwa Fire is poised to change that. Michael Erard has built a unique platform and assembled a network of top-notch journalists with an eye for language and its fascinating effects on just about everything. This is why InterpretAmerica is proud to sponsor Schwa Fire’s first issue. We’re also pleased that translations of its articles are in the works. After all, only 375 million of the world’s 7 billion people speak English as their native language.


InterpretAmerica’s mission is to raise the profile of interpreters—the multilingual intermediaries who make spoken communication between languages and cultures happen every day in conflict zones, at the shoulder of world leaders or in boardrooms, courtrooms and emergency rooms around the globe. So, to Schwa Fire we say: Congratulations! ¡Felicidades! Поздравляем! 恭喜!Parabéns! And in honor of Arika Okrent’s article “Ghost Voices” we say: Mazel tov!

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