Monday, December 28, 2009

Essentials for the New Year!

Just in time to fulfill your New Year's resolution to improve your French, brush up on your Spanish or fine-tune your English, Language Routes presents not one, but two new audio learning guides in all three languages!

Se présenter
How do you address someone when you first meet them? How do you introduce people? What questions do you ask and what can you say about yourself, your work and your interests? This audio CD will help you feel at ease when meeting French people and make sure you get off on the right foot! 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

Comment se renseigner
Finding your way around, getting information, reserving your hotel or asking for recommendations. Everyday dialogues to give you the questions you need to make the most of a trip to France. 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

¡Buen viaje!
This audio guide is your passport for travelling around Spanish-speaking countries. Acquire the vocabulary and useful phrases you need when planning your trip, asking for directions, buying tickets, making reservations, renting a car and getting information. 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

¡Vamos de compras!
Everything you need to know when shopping in Spanish. Learn how to attract the attention of the salesperson, try something out, ask for another size and enquire about prices and discounts all in Spanish. 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

Everyday Situations in English
Having a coffee with a friend, going to the doctor, choosing a gift, driving in the US or in the UK. These dialogues will help you improve your comprehension and give you the key phrases as well as the cultural information you need. Be prepared for everyday situations by listening to this CD. 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

Introducing Yourself in English
What do you say when you meet somebody for the first time? Do you know how to introduce somebody in English? What questions can you ask and what can you say about yourself, your job and your hobbies? This audio CD will help you feel at ease when meeting English-speakers and make sure you get off on the right foot. 60-minute CD with transcription booklet.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The friendliest language lesson of the season...

Being away from family and friends is expecially difficult during the holidays. I know this is true because I've experienced it many times. One particular memory has stuck with me though - a friend who wished me a Merry Christmas in English at a time that I was feeling particularly homesick.

So in an effort to spread the joy around to your friends who aren't native English-speakers, try learning a holiday greeting in their language. I guarantee it will bring a smile to their face... maybe even a little chuckle at your pronunciation. But the sentiment will speak louder than any mispronounced words, so go for it anyway!

Mīlād Majīd ميلاد مجيد
Arabic for "Merry Christmas" as used in Lebanon and several other countries

Veselé Vánoce a šťastný nový rok
Czech language, "Merry Christmas and Happy New Year"

God jul
Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, lit. "Good Yule"

Gajan Kristnaskon
"Merry Christmas" in Esperanto

Joyeux Noël
French for "Happy Christmas" used in France, French Canada, Belgium, Luxembourg, Louisiana, Switzerland, the Lebanon and Francophone Africa

Frohe Weihnachten/Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein glückliches/gutes Neues Jahr
German for Merry Christmas/Merry Christmas and a Happy/Good New Year

Boldog karácsonyt
"Merry Christmas" in Hungarian

Buon Natale
Italian for "Happy Christmas"

Feliz Natal
Literally "Happy Nativity" in Portuguese

Feliz Navidad y próspero Año Nuevo
Spanish literally "Happy Nativity and prosperous New Year"

Mutlu Noeller
Turkish for "Happy Christmas"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Purest language spoken here

Most countries have a place where their language is spoken 'without accent' or where it's spoken clearly. So where is English spoken without accent in the United States? Apparently (and much to my chagrin) speakers from Nebraska and Iowa are accentless. As a Georgian married to an Iowan, I have to admit that little tidbit hurt. But it's true, as my in-laws have pointed out, that national news anchors often sound like they are from Iowa. Also, people in American films and in television also speak like my Iowan family, unless playing a character that specifically needed to have an accent from another part of the US.

General American accent spoken here

What about outside the US? In Spain, where my Iowan sister-in-law currently lives, it's in a place called Valladolid. Her university used to send Spanish students there so they could learn 'clear and correct' Spanish. But if you move across the globe, residents of Bogotá, Colombia, pride themselves saying that it's the purest form of Spanish, due to the supposed lack of intonation when it is spoken.

Back in the 1980s, my parents moved to Tours, France, to learn 'the purest' French. For German with the least dialect influence, go to Northern Germany. And in Florence you will find only the purest Italian (and some fantastic antipasti).

But as one who speaks Southern English proudly, I say a little accent builds character - don't y'all think? So which would you choose: learning a language in its purest form, or spicing it up with a regional accent?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Uh... fill in the gap

Linguistics fillers are, um, specific to a language. So when you're like, learning a new language, you should also learn the appropriate language fillers for casual language. In English we tend to use 'um' or 'uh', even 'like' or 'you know'.

But what about authentic fillers in other languages?
Did you know?
In American Sign Language, 'um' can be signed with open-8 held at chin, palm in, eyebrows down.
The French use the 'euh' filler most commonly, but also 'quoi' (what), 'bah', 'ben' (well), 'tu vois (you see), and 'eh bien' (well...). In other Francophone countries, the fillers change and may include 'tu sais' (you know). In Québec, additional filler words include 'genre' (kind of like), 'comme' (like) and 'style'.

Spanish-speakers call these fillers muletillas. You may hear 'e' or 'este' (this) as well as 'o sea' (I mean). Similarly, in Italian 'e' is used to fill in the gaps.

I don't speak Czech (at all!), but in Prague I picked up on people saying 'tak' often. It's a linguistic filler meaning 'so...'

What other lingustic fillers have you heard or do you use regularly?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

10 reasons to learn a new language

1. Euh... ta... eh ben... e... you can learn common lingistic fillers in other languages.

2. Impress your friends with your pronunciation of foreign words in everyday conversation, such as marinara, mozzarella and coup d'état.

3. So many choices: the language of romance (Spanish), the language of songs (Hindi), the language of love (French), the language of... whatever you want!

4. Find out what that guy at the kebab shop really said about your hair.

5. Learning languages boosts your brain-power.

6. Get back to your roots by learning a language spoken by your ancestors.

7. Chicks dig cool accents. (And, surprisingly, almost any accent is 'cool'.)

8. Dig deeper in your religion. For example, Christians may be interested in learning Hebrew, Aramaic and Biblical Greek; Muslims could learn Classical Arabic; and both Hindus and Buddhists could be interested in Sanskrit.

9. Self-imposed verifier of online translation tools. Go on - try it. Type a phrase in English, then check the translation using your new language skills.

10. “You live a new life for every language you speak. If you only know one language, you only live once.” Czech proverb (Anyone want to learn Czech?)