culturalrollercoaster

Cross-cultural insights and questions from home and abroad


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Why LINGUISTS get ANNOYED when you ask what language they study…

Hello, Hola, Salut, Olá ! 

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What do Linguists study anyway???

Degelitos is back after a long WordPress break with some more interesting topics! Today I’m gonna try to break down in simple English what Linguistics is. Hope you got a minute.

Although it is very common for linguists to be bilingual, trilingual, or even polyglots, some or even many are actually monolingual. So today I am going to explain how it is possible for a linguist to be monolingual by explaining my version of the world of linguistics.

First of all, linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which cover all subjects that have a relation to “language”.

In English the word language poses some issues right from the start. Language can refer to the type of language used within a language (such as your native language) or it can refer to a foreign language/tongue (a second language). I think the biggest problem here is that most people think linguistics is only about foreign tongues, but let me tell you that is not the case. Linguists study language within a specific tongue (language) such as English, and/or they study linguistic phenomenons in foreign languages such as grammatical structures or dialects of Arabic. This is the first important point.

 

In other languages, like Spanish or French, there are two words to carefully distinguish one type of “language” from the other. In Spanish lengua means tongue (world language if you will) and lenguaje means language, like the type of language you use such as formal/informal. So when someone asks a linguist in Spanish what they study, one doesn’t necessarily assume foreign languages.

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Since there are different subfields of linguistics a linguist can specialize in different areas of the field such as psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, morphology, semantics, typology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, grammar, dialects, language acquisition (of a first, second, or third language), translation, interpretation, computational linguistics, animal communication, or even anthropology. You can also be interested in making up new languages and become a conlanger. Conlangers are the linguists who create fake languages for movies and video games. I’m sure I’m forgetting some… please feel free to comment.

I personally am interested more in sociolinguistics, dialectology, and phonetics. What does this mean? It means, my personal linguistic interests are related to language its role in society and particular sounds or phonological traits of a language or dialect.  How you and others speak has an effect on society even in a monolingual environment. Studying foreign languages is cool, but also studies different varieties (or dialects) of the same language can be cool too!

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Back to my point about how linguists can be monolingual… Imagine I was monolingual. I’m not, but I definitely do not speak Vietnamese for example. I do however, thanks to studying linguistics, understand some things about how the Vietnamese language works. I don’t assume every language has the same grammatical processes as my native language. In Vietnamese (correct me if I’m wrong) there are many ways to say hello, and they way you say it depends on who you’re talking to and the level of respect you want to show them. How do you say these hellos? I do not know, I learned and I forgot. Another interesting feature of Vietnamese is that it´s a tonal language which means you can have the same 1 syllable word, and the tone you put on it changes the meaning completely. My favorite example is how you say table and friend, to the English speaker these words might sound the same because our ears aren’t as sensitive to the tones. Bàn means table which has a descending tone (I believe) and bạn means friend and it has another tone. Keeping these things in mind help us understand the difficulties speakers might have in learning other languages with different typical features. 

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Anyway I hope that’s enough of an introduction for now. PLEASE FEEL FREE TO COMMENT ON or CORRECT any mistakes I have here.

If you didn´t already know much about linguistics, I hope you learned something today. Also feel free to put in the comments any linguistic particularities that you find in your native language or a language you speak.

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Ridesharing – Success in Europe… Why not in the U.S.???

Why commute alone and cover all gas expenses when other people are going your way and would be willing to contribute?

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Have you heard about BlaBlaCar, Ridesharing and COLLABORATIVE CONSOMPTION?
Now in more than 15 countries BlaBlaCar is changing the way people think about travelling. Before car-lacking individuals were limited to travelling by bus, train, and plane… Now they can travel by car and make a friend in the process. Personally, as a Couchsurfer and Euro-traveller this idea immediately got my attention and I signed myself up.
This is a new community of people similarly to Couchsurfing based on trust. Yeah sure sometimes you get the occasional weirdo but quickly BlaBlaCar works to block these users in order to maintain the honest and genuine ride-sharing vibe.
What I’m wondering is why this concept is not catching on in the US???. It’s having real success in Europe and has even spread to Mexico, where like in America, there is a slight desconfianza (mistrust) towards strangers. But if websites like Wyzant tutoring and Lyft are able to build safe environnments why can’t a ride-sharing website do the same starting in one state then slowly moving to the next?

I, for one, truely believe this could work in the US... Especially in States like California where people are travelling very long distances on the daily. Trains are more expensive than driving and the state has enough honest people who are taking the same route to the point that this is really something to consider.

My best friend lives in San Jose and her boyfriend in the Sacramento area and she goes every other weekend to visit him. How many people are in long distance relationships like this and could really save some moolah on gas if they considered incorporating BlaBla into their lives. I’m sure there are also tons of daily commuters who travel from one same city to another for work. Who would like to use the carpool lane, reduce traffic, and save on gas.? We are talking about sharing expenses. This is an opportunity to opening up ourselves to other cultures or in general, new people. I think this idea could help improve American´s attitudes about strangers.


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The Holiday Season Abroad!

The holiday season can be a very challenging and emotional time for anyone who is away from their native homeland. Today, I’m gonna talk about ways you can make the most of this time of year while being abroad.

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Halloween and Thanksgiving already passed this year but we still have Christmas and New Years to get ready for.

For Halloween and Dia de los Muertos the best suggestion I have is to plan a party or outing with friends! Unfortunately I was sick so my night ended early but it was sure fun practicing painting “Catrina” faces with my partner this year. jose_pulido

The night of the actual party we had a Mexican meal and beers at home with friends while playing the “Cards Against Humanity” Spanish version. This is a good game to play for any holiday or party. If you don’t know what Cards Against Humanity is, check out this link: http://cardsagainsthumanity.com/

y para los hispanohablantes:  http://cartascontralahumanidad.com/

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Happy belated Thanksgiving! It was just yesterday and gee was I missing home! My sister should not have shown me the food they prepared over Skype! This year I had to work here in Paris so it was like any other day and so I did no actual celebrating the day of. What I did do however was plan a small lunch outing with some close friends (some of them being American) and at the end of the meal we all said what we were thankful for. My best friend was very sweet and gave everyone homemade sweet potatoe bread which was delicious.

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So if ever you are away at Thanksgiving time and are American, don’t forget that the main reason to celebrate is to remember what you are thankful for. You can do this anywhere in the world and there are always other expats out there willing and happy to get together to celebrate with you. If you don’t manage to find any expats then share your Thanksgiving traditions with your new foreign buddies! My partner isn’t American but was happy to learn about this special day for me.

Now for what’s coming up …

X-MAS

This will be the first Christmas that I won’t celebrate with some type of family so I’m gonna have to get kinda creative. I only get the day of Christmas off, so I can’t be planning any trips. I will stay here in Paris and probably celebrate it with just a few people in a similar situation. As my sister at home has told me that she is going to throw an ugly sweater party, I have decided I’d like to do the same. Have a small group of friends over in silly sweaters and have an abundant Christmas dinner. I can’t wait to start looking for my amazingly hideous sweater.

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I Googled ugly sweaters for some ideas and found this amazing website: http://uglysweaterstore.com/ So if your too lazy to go out looking for that perfect ugly sweater, go order one online.


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Unique Dining in Paris: Borgo delle Tovalgie

A must visit restaurant in ParisBorgo delle Tovalgie near Metro Oberkampf lines 5/9

In one month since it’s grand-opening, Borgo is leaving its customers enchanted! With its unique rustic decorations and fine Italian deli meats, and quant lighting Borgo leaves all passers-by tempted to enter. Those who dare enter, leave only to return. If you are still not curious just have a look at some of these pictures I’ve taken:

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So What is Borgo?

Well it’s not just a restaurant… it’s a home decor type store as well! And all the furniture you see is made by the Borgo Brand. And all the kitchenware and decor used by the restuarant is also available for purchase in the store. And the pleasant wood scent that you smell as you walk in the store is another one of Borgo’s fine products.

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Unique lamps made from old books

The store is huge! You wouldn’t guess it from the outside but you walk in and discover that it has several sections with different home themes. From bed linen and table clothes, to industructable plates, this store has everything you need to fill your home with top quality home goods. The custom fitted table clothes are a must buy because they are made with a special material which makes them super easy to wipe down, so don’t be afraid to get them wet.

Also, I forgot to mention … it also has an épicerie – small grocery store:

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So, what’s Borgo doing in Paris? 

Well it started as a small family business in Bologna, Italy. They started out as a tablecloth manufacturing firm in 1866  and slowly expanded their business to sell a variety of products. Now they are going international. Paris is their first store outside of Italy and next they plan to expand to New York. So watch out America here comes BORGO DELLE TOVAGLIE. If you want to more about Borgo check out their website: http://www.borgodelletovaglie.com/

One last thing: DO NOT FORGET DESSERT! 

My absolute favorite part of the Borgo experience is eating their delicious desserts made from the owner’s family recipes!

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Yummy pies and cakes!

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So whether you are just passing through Paris or live here, you should definitely check out Borgo!

Open Tuesday-Saturday for dinner and Monday through Saturday for lunch. Closed Sundays and major holidays

Please comment your Borgo experience or leave any questions you might have! Thank you!

 

 

 


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Cool Websites for Spanish/English bilinguals to Enjoy!

spanishenglHere is a list of some websites I like to check out when I’m bored out of my mind and don’t wanna spend all my time on Facebook… Esta lista es para los bilingües (del español e inglés) , but if you only speak English there are still some links for you. Si no hablas inglés también hay unas ligas exclusivamente para ti:

www.buzzfeed.com – Link for English speakers that want a good laugh. This site is full of short and funny videos and articles. They make up different scenarios about possible life roles or write about alternative topics. The poke fun at all flocks of life from straights, gays, different races and cultures, different ages of people, and even guys who can’t grow beards. You’ve probably come across this website on a Facebook posting.

www.papierdenorma.com – This is for those who love unique and handmade cards. The creator of Papier de Norma even does special order, custom made cards for her customers. I am a personal friend and customer of Norma’s. Check out her cute and classy, all occasion, handmade greeting cards. La creadora Norma Galan habla ingles, español y francés y estaría más que dispuesta hacerte unas tarjetas personalizadas si te interesaría.

www.chistes.com – Link for Spanish speakers that want a good laugh. Este enlace es lo que crees, un archivo para chistes en español. Hay unos cuantos bien cursis pero hay algunos bastante chistosos.

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www.sopitas.com – Otro para los hispanohablantes. Aqui no tienes chistes sino artiulos unicos e interestantes sobre todo tipo de tema. Desde deportes hasta conejos gigantes, todo se encuentra en esta pagina web. Es divertido y tiene informacion actual (es una de las primeras en poner la informacion).

www.toosile.tumblr.com – This one is for everyone, no language barrier como este blog es casi puras imágenes. It’s mainly images, many of them strange.  It’s all here: art, culture, beauty, freedom and liberty, technology, aliens, paintings, nature, photography, cinema, and science. It’s worth taking a look at. The creator: Yutsil Sanchez is a creative Mexican artist with a unique vision of the world… When you’re looking at her blog, you’re looking into her mind!

www.9gag.com – This is also a bit more international. This site is full of humerous drawings, gifs, and memes that poke fun at current pop culture.

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www.leaf.tv – Looking for some crafty inexpensive home improvement ideas? Well check out this page and you will not be let down. There are some really interesting short videos that show you how to makeover your home or just add some simple home crafted decorations.  I definitely recommend this if your looking for some new projects to do around the house. This page also includes ideas for gifts, yummy recipes, and much more!

And last but not least have a look at www.fashionlingual.com for fashion ideas.

I’d love to hear your comments! I hope you have time to check out some of these pages and I hope they bring you something new! =)

 


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Sorry USA, but can I please go back to Europe?

Don’t get me wrong, there are many things I prefer about the United States over other countries… but, living here just isn’t for me. I’ve spent over 4 years abroad and then I decided to come home. I’ve been in the U.S. for 2 months now and I can’t wait to leave again.

My American friends think I’m crazy. They ask me questions like; “Why wouldn’t you want more personal space? What, you don’t like driving?  I should have never left for Europe because it introduced me to a way of living that I feel is more healthy (for me). It’s harder to transition back to the U.S. once you feel you’ve gotten used to European life. In addition to the linguistic diversity and encouragement to learn foreign languages, there are other reasons why I feel better living in a European city.

DRIVING and PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

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I’ve never been big on driving. I realize that many many Europeans do drive on a daily basis, but the cool part is that in decent sized European cities, you do not have to own a car. It is not a necessity, but rather, a luxury. In the US if you didn’t grow up using public transportation, and everyone in your social circle drives, no one can help you figure out public transportation, and in most cases it’s not really safe. In the U.S. it’s convenient to have a car because there is plenty of parking and space on the street. The streets are wide here, and almost never do you see people walking to places to get things done. In Europe, having a car in a lot of cases can be almost a burden. In cities like Paris you have to pay a monthly car rental space, the streets are narrower, and in it can often take longer to get somewhere by can than by metro or train. I’ve never been a good driver, and in the U.S. the streets are full of angry, impatient drivers. In California, like in much of the United States, cities and towns were built for cars, so it is close to impossible to implement a better public transportation system.

LESS PERSONAL SPACE = LESS UNNECESSARY STUFF

And yes, in Europe, homes and apartments are generally smaller. In U.S. we have so much personal space, and I think that this encourages us to consume more. In Europe when shopping, you always ask yourself, do I have enough apace for what I want to buy. Many a times the answer is no, so you stop yourself from purchasing unnecessary goods. As I said there are advantages and disadvantages to both ways of living. I personally, just prefer to live a bit more simply and take public transportation most of the time.

MONEY and DISTANCE

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Another topic that bothers me, is money. Why are Americans so obsessed with talking about money? Everything is centered around money. Every social event involves spending all kinds of money. Every job is about how much you make. But I realize that there is a good reason for this: Living in the U.S. is crazy expensive. Everything has to be about money! It’s not really a free country… you can’t even get to the grocery store for free. The only really free thing you can do is take a walk to the park. If you want to go to the store on foot and you don’t live in a downtown area, GOOD LUCK! It will probably take you over 20 minutes just to get to a convenience store, and don’t buy anything too cold, cause it might be spoiled by the time you get home. In Europe I’d go to the supermarket more than once a week because it was ever so conveniently located, just a 2-5 minute walk from my apartment. And if I forgot something, big deal, I’ll just drop my groceries off at home and go back to the store at no transportation cost.

ADDED STRESS

And gas is not the only thing that Americans have to worry about, maintaining and insuring your vehicle is also not cheap.  I’m not saying we should rule out cars and driving altogether, I’m just saying that wouldn’t it be nice to have a choice – “Today do I want to go to work by car or by public transportation?” Think of it this way, you have less added stress when taking the metro. you are not responsible for anyone’s life. Yeah, maybe you’ll be late for work, but it’s the same story when you hit traffic.

LINGUISTIC DIVERSITY

In Europe you are encouraged to learn and practice foreign languages more than in the U.S. In Europe all the countries are pretty small, so average people are almost force to learn at least one other language. In the U.S. foreign languages are seen as hobbies or a cultural connection. In many countries in Europe, the use foreign languages is often regarded as essential to society’s functioning. Yes, for some it’s a hobby, but for many it’s crucial to know a foreign language. And remember, learning a foreign language can help you be more analytical. You brain thanks you when you succeed in speaking another language. You can see the world from more than one language perspective. This also decreases your chances of getting diseases like Alzheimer’s. In America we are too focused on looking at things from an English language perspective. But there are more ways to see the world. Speaking 2 or multiple languages helps you understand cultural differences and it allows you to be more patient in general.

CONCLUSION

As I mentioned before, these are my personal preferences. I don’t mean to offend anyone who prefers the American lifestyle, it’s just not for me. Nowhere is perfect! You cannot live for free anywhere. If these two different worlds could be fused together, we’d have a pretty awesome society. But for the time being they are separate and unique from each other in many ways.

Europe is cramped and service is slower but it forces you to enjoy the little things in life. America will always be a big part of me, but I want to continue to experience other culture’s realities. America is not the best country in the world. It a great country for many reasons, but it isn’t the only place where you can  live a happy-healthy life.


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Some things Americans wouldn’t expect from London!

People who are nor British nor American tend to group these two cultures together, but in reality we aren’t as much alike as one might think. Here are some reasons why…

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#1 There are NO toilet seat covers in England.

On this note, The Brits tend to be more like the rest of Europe and aren’t over the top obsessed with hygiene.  I would have never noticed this small detail if it weren’t for my much more American friend who happened to point it out. After living in Europe for so long, one becomes desensitized to this type of thing.

#2  Don’t expect free toilets.

Sorry but many a times you will have to pay to go pee pee. Even in places that seem like they’ed have free public toilets.

#3 You can sit where ever you like in the pubs!

Forget the Gringo style, you don’t need to wait for a host or hostess, you can just have a seat! You can also take your time to pay.

#4 Slow down speedy! Take your time while dining out!

Although London is a huge international city, it is again, not Gringolandia! Servers are not trying to rush you out. They don’t depend on tips to make a living. So don’t feel guilty if you take your sweet-ass time.

#5 Public Parks are a hot spot to hang out!

Hyde Park in London is a must see. Everyone and their mother go to to these beautiful public parks. And a public park doesn’t just mean grass and some trash cans. You can find a beautiful assortment of gardens, ponds, and cafes. If the sun comes out at all and it’s more than 10 degrees Celcius (which is about 50 degrees Farenheit) Brits go outside and enjoy the weather.  In California, we complain when it’s less than 60 Farenheit!

Here are some other SUPRISING FACTS about the British/English and or London in general:

#6 Brits are obsessed with Halloumi cheese and Greek food.

Mediterranean dining and cuisine is the new fad in England. In general English people have a very diverse palate, but at the moment it seems that Greek cuisine and Mediterranean style foods are more in fashion than other ethnic foods. You can find a Mediterranean inspired plate in most British chain restaurants such as All One Bar.

#7 You CAN get a SUNBURN in ENGLAND!

The sun comes out once in a while, and one it does, it can burn. Beware! Bring sunscreen on your summer trips to England… JUST IN CASE!

#8 Many British museums are free!

Check this out! If you plan right, you might not have to spend as much money in London as you think! : http://www.timeout.com/london/museums/free-museums-in-london

#9 English people still use stones as a weight measurement!

1 stone is equal to 14 pounds. So if you weigh 120 pounds (54.43 kilos) that is approximately 8.57 stones.

#10 EAT IN CAMDEN TOWN FOR 3 £ !

I kid you not, you can get full for less than the equivalent of 5 Euros. London is not a cheap city in general, but if you know where to go you can eat cheap. So if you are planing on visiting Camden Town during your stay in London, go on an empty stomach, you WILL leave satisfied. I recommend eating some Indian or Pakistani food there.