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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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A Visit to Rome, Italy- Likes and Dislikes

A lil upset because I already wrote all this out, then it deleted.  Oh well, c’est la vie. Now I’m gonna write a shorter version due to my laziness.

Rome is NOT what I had expected. I think I worked it up too much in my head. I had been planning to go there for over 5 years, so naturally I created this magical place in my head. Don’t get me wrong, I did like Rome. It was full of beautiful men and women and AMAZING GELATO, but it was missing something that I normally get while travelling.

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Here’s some things that might surprise you about Rome:

#1 Overall, the food ain’t that great.

On my very last day, I had some amazing risotto, but apart from that, the food was so-so or average. It’s hard to find decently priced good quality food in Rome’s restaurants and that’s probably due to having so many tourists. I think they spend more money making the restaurants look good then making the food good.

#2 Rome is kinda ugly.

Let’s face it, it’s badly kept. So in order to improve this situation, the city of Rome has decided to put everything under construction at the same time. This to me, frankly, makes it look worse. I’d rather see some things run down while others are being repaired, but all the major monuments were covered in scaffolding.

NOW FOR SOME POSITIVE SURPRISES!

#3 Piazza di Spagna was my favorite place.

Although there was still a bit of construction there, this had to be the most pleasant place for me. They Spanish Steps are a great place to relax and enjoy the crowd. The shops nearby are delightful, especially this one Gelato place that for me, had the best Gelato in town: GelateriaVenchi. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g187791-d2260557-Reviews-Gelateria_Venchi-Rome_Lazio.html

#4 Every Gelato place is unique.

You think you’d get repeats eating gelato everywhere you go in Rome but no, it’s not true. Each gelateria has unique styles of ice cream and different flavors! I recommend having some gelato at least once per day each day that yo visit Rome.

#5 There’s so many Filipino-Italians!

I don’t know when Filipinos began immigrating to Rome, but currently there is a huge Filipino community. You can find lots of Filipino owned businesses in Rome which for tourists means you can find excellent service in English. The Philippines used to be a Spanish colony, then it was part of the U.S. for a short while which has resulted in it becoming one of the most linguistically capable countries in the world. So if you’re too shy to try to speak Italian, you’ll have no problem finding a Filipino-Italian that can assist you in English or maybe even in Spanish.

#6 The speakers in the Vatican are made to look like marble, COOL.

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# 7 Anytime a pretty girl orders food, the server will tell her: “only for you”.

Everyone says that. It must seriously be a thing. It happened to my friend and I in every restaurant without fail. They like to make you smile or giggle, probably to make you think you are getting a good deal. It worked the first day for me, then it just got annoying lol.

# 8 Rome doesn’t feel dangerous.

If you’re worried, I wouldn’t worry too much. It’s like most European cities, you just need to be the normal amount of cautious.

# 9 Religious souvenirs are cheaper at the Vatican.

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When you go up the Dome in the Vatican there’s a gift shop. Surprisingly this gift shop is actually cheaper than most of those stands you’ll see outside the Vatican area. So if you do want to buy something at one of the stands, make sure you negotiate the price with them before buying. Tell them that you saw the same thing cheaper in the Vatican.

# 1o There are colonies of cats that live in the ruins.

You’ll know what I mean when you see them.

 

 


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Hella cool places to go JOGGING in PARIS! Top 3 BEST SPOTS

I dunno if you’ve noticed.. but I feel like French people are embarrassed to do stretches in public places… Why is that? Either way, Parisians and other inhabitants of Paris still definitely go jogging! So I’m gonna tell you about my top 3 favorite places to go for a jog.

#3 Bois de Vincennes

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This place isn’t exactly in Paris but it definitely has it all; a walking trail, a lake, and the frickin forest (bois = forest). Yay! Trees and nature in the Paris suburbs. You can even rent little boats there! It’s located near Chateau de Vincennes off the Metro Line 1 or the train RER A. Despite it not being in Paris itself, on nice sunny days it’s full of people on the weekends. If you prefer running when there are less people definitely go earlier in the morning or on a weekday.

#2 Parque de Buttes Chaumont – Image

This place is absolutely gorgeous and it’s located in Paris itself in my neighborhood the 19th district (in the northeast). Even if you don’t go running you definitely must visit this park. It’s like an escape from the busy Paris city but still, right here in Paris. It’s also slightly less touristic so you can always find a spot on the grass to relax and enjoy the good weather.

# 1 Canal de l’Ourq – 

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This is also located in the 19th district of Paris near Metros Laumiere, Jaures, Parque de la Villette, Ourq, and Porte de Pantin. If you begin your jog near Metro Jaures and make your way up the canal towards Parque de la Villette you can pass by some pretty cool stuff. After leaving Metro Jaures, you’ll see a couple of footbridges that go over the canal, go over one and you can see in the distance the tippy-top of the Eiffel Tower. Continuing up the Canal you’ll definitely see some hipsters or old people playing the old fashioned French game called “Petanque”. Continue a bit more crossing the intersection at Rue de Crimee (after here it gets a little less visually stimulating but only momentarily) once you start hitting Parque de la Villette you will not be sorry. You will soon see La Geode on your left. It’s so cool cause it’s like a big mirror ball that reflects the sky. Either stop jogging here or then make your way into the Parque de la Villette to see the other cool stuff it has like concert halls, cafes, and beautiful fountain located near the Metro Porte de Pantin.

If you have done any of the jogs please leave me a comment. And if you are currently in Paris or are to go soon, please check at least one of these places out! But these are just my top 3 favorites, there are definitely other really cool places to go running in the greater metropolitan area of Paris.

Motivation for people trying to get in shape: CONSISTENCY AND A GOOD DIET! These are some wise words my friend told me. And it’s not necessarily about long dredful workouts where your legs wobble the next day. It’s about gradually building more stamina, eating well and varied, and sticking to it! Consistency my friends, consistency! Within no time you’ll feel better about your mind and body.