Before heading out to the sun-soaked shores of southern Spain, a group of friends decided to take a basic course in Spanish to get a head start for their Hispanic holiday.
Eager to learn some common, everyday phrases and questions they signed up for a beginners’ course to learn Spanish in Bedford. Rather than the teacher visiting one of their homes for the lessons, they decided to choose a more casual venue and opted to go to a local café to have their group lessons. This made the style of learning much more interactive as the teacher taught them the Spanish way of ordering food and drinks while they ordered their own snacks and beverages during the lessons. They learned how to describe people and their features by pointing out customers in the café. They translated the menu in order to learn the names of different fruits and vegetables, breads, cakes, drinks and popular international dishes.
Having a native Spanish speaking teacher was an added bonus as it allowed the group of friends to hear the correct pronunciation of words and they were able to pick up the dialect with ease. Practising conversations with each other in such an animated environment was invaluable as a training technique for genuine situations they might find themselves in when they visited Spain.
Armed with their new language skills and a pocket Spanish dictionary, the friends headed to the airport for the start of their exciting summer holiday with the promise of sun, sand and sangría!
Is it possible to know how much two people are attracted to each other just by the words they use? New research published in Psychological Science suggests yes.
James Pennebaker and his colleagues at the University of Texas at Austin recorded 40 men and 40 women as they participated in a speed-dating exercise in which they talked to 12 strangers of the opposite sex for four minutes apiece. Later, the subjects rated each date based on how much they seemed to have in common and whether they wanted to see the person again. Pennebaker analyzed the participants’ conversations based on their use of pronouns and articles, such as “him,” “the,” “and,” “as” and “be.”
The results were quite surprising. The couples that used similar function words the same amount of times were more likely to want to see each other again. This raises the interesting question as to whether couples are attracted to each other because they speak in a similar way, or do couples modify their language to sound similar to each other. Pennebakers conclusion was that language ‘predicts relationship success because it reflects how well couples listen to each other’.
[via: Scientific American]
I didn’t think growing up in Wales had influenced my speech until I moved to England. My entire family is English but many Wenglish (Welsh-English) words have made their way into my vocabulary. I remember during a conversation with my English housemates describing how a cat had ‘scrammed’ me. A perplexed look greeted me after using the word ‘scrammed’. ‘What do you mean scrammed?’ they asked, kindly offering the word ‘scratched’ as an alternative after I made the hand gesture of a cats claw. For me scratched did not sufficiently describe what I wanted to say. A scratch is a minimal injury, a mere surface wound inflicted by a single claw. Scrammed is more violent, it implies malicious intent, brute force and many claws dragging down. I had previously thought that scrammed was a standard English word and it was confusing to me that other people had no idea what it meant.
Many differences in Wenglish can be observed in sentence structures. When answering a phone call if you wanted to ask the caller where they are, many Welsh people would say ‘Where you to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’. If the caller wanted to tell you that they will be with you shortly they might say ‘I’ll be there now, in a minute’ offering you two conflicting answers. Wenglish quirks often stem from additional superfluous words being used to express a simple statement. An example of this is instead of saying ‘I love you’ a Welsh person might say ‘I loves you I do’. Before moving to England these statements were standard English in my mind. Although most Wenglish words and phrases have now been erased from my vocabulary, I do smile whenever I’m back in Wales and hear somebody on their phone asking ‘Oh, where you to?’.
I like a bit of language fun, and also think llamas are awesome. So I thought I’d share with you the amazing Llama Font!
The website is very simple – just type in whatever you like and click ‘llamify’ and the site will convert into cute llama letters. Here’s an example.
For me, alpacas are superior to llamas. Anyone know of an alpaca font website??
Today is Día E, a day celebrating the Spanish language. Spanish is the second most spoken native language in the world (after Mandarin), and the third most spoken on the internet.
The Cervantes Institute is hosting 78 free parties in 44 countries to celebrate the day. Events will be held in London, Leeds and Manchester in England. If you can’t make it to any of these cities, take a look at the Día E website to see videos of Spanish speakers saying their favourite words – Shakira’s is meliflua.
As regular readers will know, I have been attempting to learn Spanish, and I’m going to use Día E to re-motivate myself. I don’t have a favourite word yet, but will update you when I do.
A New York City linguist is giving hope to a dying language in Croatia.
Zvjezdana Vrzic is originally from Croatia, and grew up in a household with Vlashki roots. The historical homeland of the Vlashki language (also known as Istro-Romanian) is the Istrian Peninsula in Croatia’s north-west. The language has been dying out since World War II, when emigration made the population smaller.
Vrzic initiated a project to save the language after she became a professor at New York University and connected with the community of Vlashki speakers in the city.
“I want to create a digital archive — a regional digital archive — where all the materials available on the language, including those that I’m collecting myself, will be deposited,” Vrzic says. “[I want to create] an archive that will become available to the community members. And I’m kind of bringing a different angle to it by making it very technologically-inspired.” (Source: Radio Free Europe)
Crucially, Vrzic realises that to save the language, the community needs to work to revitalise it. And it seems Vrzic has had some success – in Croatia her team is working with locals to plan a Vlashki heritage centre and has already organised well-attended language workshops.
To listen a proverb spoken in Vlashki, as well as a folk song, click here.
I found an interesting article on ScienceDaily.com reporting on research that says bilingual people can’t ‘turn off’ their second language when not using it.
Not being bilingual myself, I have always assumed there is some kind of switch in the brain when you choose to speak in a different language. This appears not to be the case:
According to a recent study published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, it appears humans are not actually capable of “turning off” another language entirely. Psychologists Eva Van Assche, Wouter Duyck, Robert Hartsuiker and Kevin Diependaele from Ghent University found that knowledge of a second language actually has a continuous impact on native-language reading.
The article goes on to say:
According to the psychologists, it is the overlap of the two languages that speeds up the brain’s activation of cognates. So even though participants did not need to use their second language to read in their native-language, they still were unable to simply “turn it off.” It appears, then, that not only is a second language always active, it has a direct impact on reading another language–even when the reader is more proficient in one language than another.
I’d be interested to hear any anecdotes from bilinguals about their experience with this.