Archive for September, 2013

Hidden Meanings

Posted on September 29th, 2013by Melanie
In Historic, Invented languages, Language acquisition | Leave a Comment »

Double DutchSecret languages have been used for centuries, both verbally and non-verbally, as an essential way of communication where normal vocalization has been restricted or prohibited. Travellers used secret languages amongst themselves to retain their identity when they travelled through and worked in other communities; Polari was used by gay men in Britain when homosexual activity was illegal, to protect themselves from conspirators and undercover policemen, and was used considerably in the British Merchant Navy; American POWs in Vietnam developed a tapping code with their fingers when they were prevented from speaking to each other.

Nowadays, there’s little need for them and secret languages are usually no more than language games. We´ve all tried speaking in secret languages as kids, getting a kick out of no-one else being able to understand what we´re saying. Some classic secret languages are described below, using ‘Mary had a little lamb’ as an example for each.

Pig Latin

This is the most widely known secret language and is constructed by taking the first letter of a word and placing it at the end of the word, then adding ‘ay’:

Arymay adhay aay ittlelay amblay.

Double Dutch (see picture)

All consonants are replaced with a syllable, while vowels remain the same:

Mumarugyub hutchadud a lulituttutlule lulamumbub.


‘Egg’ is added before each vowel:

Meggary heggad egga leggittlegge leggamb.

Eggy-Peggy is the English equivalent of the US spoken Ubbi Dubbi which adds ‘ub’ before each vowel sound.

Have you ever been intrigued by secret languages? Which ones did you try speaking when you were younger?

Confusing Conversation

Posted on September 28th, 2013by Melanie
In dialects, English, Historic | Leave a Comment »

Double Dutch 2You have absolutely no idea what that person just said to you and your blank look says it all. They might as well be speaking to you in double Dutch!

The term ‘double Dutch’ originated after the Anglo-Dutch wars, a time when all things Dutch were spoken of in an unflattering light by the English. For example:


  • Dutch courage – a brash form of bravery induced by alcohol.
  • Dutch comfort – a cold comfort which is only a comfort at all because things could have been worse.
  • Dutch treat – this doesn’t constitute a treat in the general sense as each person actually pays for their own expenses.
  • Dutch defence – a term used for a legal defence whereby the defendant seeks clemency at the expense of those they deceitfully betray.

‘Dutch’ was also the original generic name for Germans, with High Dutch being spoken in southern Germany and Low Dutch being spoken in The Netherlands. As the dialect was so hard for the English to understand, they came to reference all incomprehensible phrases as ‘double Dutch’.

Nowadays, the phrase is still used, although with a much lighter note now that those bad relations between the countries have disappeared.

Do you find it hard to understand other dialects? When was the last time you used the phrase ‘double Dutch’, and can you think of any similar phrases?

Take Time to Talk

Posted on September 22nd, 2013by Melanie
In Education, Language acquisition, Technology | Leave a Comment »

Too much to doBusy, busy, busy! There’s always something to do, somewhere to go and never enough time to do everything you need to. Only the essentials get prioritized and hobbies or extras get left behind.

With language tuition nowadays, there’s no need to worry about how to fit it all in as the classes are designed to take away the stress and add flexibility and ease of use to your lessons. Whilst some of us might be grateful for an excuse not to have to learn something in our free time, for those of us that do want to, these pupil friendly courses will blend in seamlessly with our otherwise hectic schedules. Instead of attending an educational establishment, tutors will now happily conduct the classes at their pupils’ homes, workplaces or other convenient locations, and can fit the lessons in around their timetables, including weekends.

For those who travel regularly, online lessons are a great advantage. Pre-recorded lessons can be downloaded and emailed back to tutors from any location at any time with the use of a portable device such as an iPad or Android tablet. You can still speak directly to your tutor using the built in webcam and microphone. Conversations, messages, document sharing and the viewing of websites or videos can be conducted over free software, such as Skype or Google+. In fact, with this type of technology, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home to learn a new language!

Do you struggle to fit everything into your daily routine? What timesaving tips have you got for others who are learning a new language? Make some space in your schedule where you can and enjoy the satisfaction of being able to speak in another language!

Getting to Grips with Global Languages

Posted on September 20th, 2013by Melanie
In German, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Global languagesHow many different nationalities of people are you friends with? Not even friends, but acquainted with. Just browse through your Facebook account alone for a quick count, I think you´ll be surprised.

The world is getting smaller thanks to mediums such as the Internet, and it’s commonplace to have a diverse group of acquaintances who’ve originated from all over the world. Sixteen. That´s the number of nationalities amongst my Facebook friends, including Spanish, Danish, German, South African, Dutch, Chilean and Venezuelan, among others. Living in Spain, I used to work for a travel company which is how most of us became friends. Years later, we’re all still in touch and dotted around the world, as are many of my old school friends.

No longer held back by restrictions between countries and with the ease of travelling, we are able to explore new horizons and fulfil our dreams. We can travel abroad to discover new countries and experience their cultures, we are able to relocate in order to work abroad, retiring abroad is now a popular choice, and there are opportunities to study abroad. With so many options open to us, it’s hardly surprising that our friends and colleagues are a diverse bunch! And this diversity has led to an increase in language studies, as the need to communicate across the globe has become so commonplace and so necessary. Language courses have sprung up everywhere and are catered towards ease of accessibility and modern approaches to learning.

Have you studied another language in order to further your career or to live abroad? Has the need arisen for you to learn a new language for the sake of a partner or friend? Take a look around you and take note of all the nationalities that have become a part of your life.

Virtual Vocabulary

Posted on September 13th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Invented languages, Slang | Leave a Comment »

Virtual vocabulary 3Have you ever wondered what kids spend so much time doing on the Internet? Well it seems that they´ve been creating, learning and speaking a whole new language!

Born into the virtual world that´s still so ‘new’ to most of us, kids have grown up online with a fearless approach to the Internet and related technology. These tech savvy little people have even created their own form of online communication which is completely baffling to the rest of us.

So how are parents (or anyone else for that matter) supposed to understand what their kids are saying? Luckily, the ‘Digital Dictionary’ has been compiled to help solve the problem.

The Lingo Low-down

Savage means good

Sick means cool

Ill means amazing

Fetch means awesome

Derp means stupid

Jank means gross

Owned means embarrassed

Neg means annoying

The Digital Dictionary

Disney´s Club Penguin, an online virtual world for kids, compiled this dictionary after conducting research about parents´ holds over their children´s online activities. Of the 1,000 parents of 6-14 year olds who were surveyed, nearly two thirds confessed to not understanding their kids´ online language. In a bid to aid these bemused parents, the Digital Dictionary lists the 50 most popular words used by children online. 25 of these have positive meanings, although you wouldn´t know it at first glance, while the other 25 have negative meanings.

Are you struggling to make sense of this online vocabulary? Have you got a beef with this virtual language? The newly published dictionary will give you the tools you need to understand it, so be reem and learn the legit lingo.



Reserving Trips to Remember

Posted on September 12th, 2013by Melanie
In English, Italian, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Reservations agent 3As a reservations agent, Julie was used to speaking to people every day from different nationalities, from customers to hotels, to travel companies and tour operators. She had worked for an English-run company in Italy which operated a holiday club, offering discounted holidays and special offers to their customers. As the company wasn´t tied to specific travel agencies or resorts, this meant that Julie was able to act independently as a reservations agent and source the best travel deals that she could in an unbiased manner for her clients. She enjoyed putting together great travel packages for her customers that they wouldn´t be able to find anywhere else, especially at such a good price. She handled bookings for both Italian and English speaking clients which involved regular telephone calls and emails in both languages.

Due to the economy, however, the Italian office had closed down and Julie had relocated to the UK office. Back in the UK, almost seamlessly it seemed, she was able to continue dealing with the same customers as before, with no difference other than her own location. No longer living in Italy, Julie didn’t want to become unfamiliar with the language seeing as she wasn’t hearing it and speaking it fully on a daily basis, so invested in some local language courses to keep things fresh in her mind. She signed up for some advanced classes as she was fairly fluent but still wanted to be pushed as far as she could be.

With her Italian in check and her customers happy, Julie set about finding unbeatable travel deals that would provide the best holidays her clients could hope for!


Reading Into It

Posted on September 7th, 2013by Melanie
In Spelling, Words, Writing | Leave a Comment »

French directionsWhen we think of learning languages, we tend to mean speaking them, getting to know the basics first so that we can ‘get by’ with the little that we know, then gradually increasing our knowledge until we eventually reach a point of fluency. When people look enviously at others and say that they wished they could speak another language like that, or have the ability to switch effortlessly between two languages, they are ultimately referring to the ability to speak the language.

However, learning languages doesn´t just involve speech. It goes without saying that you also have to be able to listen to and understand it when it´s being spoken to you, but the ability to read and write it mustn´t be forgotten or dismissed.

When travelling abroad, a basic knowledge of the language is helpful for simple tasks, such as reading shop signs, understanding menus when you´re ordering food in restaurants,  being able to follow road signs and directions, and understanding how to buy and validate a ticket for the correct route at a train station. These are just some of the everyday things we deal with without thinking, but being able to read and understand the basics can go a long way in a foreign country.

Students often find the reading and writing aspects of learning languages daunting, but with the right teacher and the correct tuition, there really is no need to be worried. Once you´ve grasped the basics, you´ll find that the words will just logically fall into place. So take the plunge and enrol in some language classes; you´ll be word perfect before you know it!

Viva La Vuelta!

Posted on September 5th, 2013by Melanie
In Events, Historic, Spanish | Leave a Comment »

The VueltaSteve was a huge fan of the Vuelta. When he used to live in Spain, he would join hundreds of Spaniards and fellow Brits in lining the streets along the cyclists’ route each year. Every year, the race took a different route, so sometimes he´d find himself down on the coast while other times he´d be inland and occasionally in the mountainous regions.

He was a keen cyclist himself and loved the adrenalin of competitive cycling although he was far from the riding standards of the Vuelta cyclists. The strength and discipline that those cyclists possessed was incredible, and he admired their stamina and level of fitness which carried them through the three week long race.

Steve and his friends would usually make a day of it, grabbing a bite to eat in a chiringuito before finding a good vantage point from which to see the riders approaching. The crowds would gradually increase in size as the local police strung security tape between the gated sections. The cars and trucks advertising their wares with loud music would let everyone know that there wasn´t much longer to wait. The Guardias on their motorbikes would lead the sponsors’ and teams’ cars, while the helicopters circled above. Then, the distant cheering would signal the cyclists’ approach and the crowds would push forward to get a good look and take some action shots with their cameras. The rush of speed and force of power as the cyclists passed them was immense…and then, just as quickly as they´d appeared, they were gone, vying for their positions within the Vuelta a España.

Despite no longer living in Spain, this annual event wasn´t something that Steve was prepared to miss; it just wasn´t the same on TV! He´d kept up with his Spanish lessons and every year he looked forward to his summer holiday when he could go back to Spain and catch up with his friends, chat with the locals and get caught up in the excitement of the awe-inspiring Vuelta!

Using Innovative Cues to Converse

Posted on September 1st, 2013by Melanie
In French, Spanish, Speech | Leave a Comment »

Innovative learningEveryone´s different. People have different tastes in food, in music, in what they enjoy doing during their free time; everyone has their own preferences and their own way of doing things. The same goes with how we study and learn. Some people are more academic and studious whilst others need more inspiration to learn and absorb their studies.

An innovative approach to learning swept through Canada some years ago promoting unique ways of learning which combined traditional theories of language acquisition with brain related research. The concept encouraged students to learn foreign languages by incorporating their learning with music, singing, dance, gestures and drama. Its methods helped students to quickly and effectively grasp both verbal and written skills. Pupils learned to associate words and phrases with particular songs and gestures. That´s in Canada, but anyone can incorporate these methods into their learning techniques.

So, when you think that learning a new language is too hard for you, then think again. Apply what you´ve learned in your lessons to a song, a dance or a gesture and you´ll be surprised at how quickly you start to recall sentences. If you´ve ever fancied learning French or Spanish as a second language but never thought you could apply yourself fully, then be inspired and sign up for some foreign language classes and prove yourself wrong!

With the help of a native speaking teacher, you´ll be singing in Spanish or chewing the fat in French in no time!