Culture & History
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  • Tokyo: A Biography

    This month, as you can guess from the title, I’m revealing my next language project. It’s certainly something that’s happening much farther down the road. I’m still working on Spanish and then plan to revisit Russian, but Japanese is in my future. 

    The past few weeks, I have compiled the resources I’d like to use, consulted with fellow learners and I feel just about ready to dive in. Once I give the other languages I’m already committed to the attention they deserve. 

    As a quick recap, here are the books we’ve read so far this year:

    January // Book about your native language
    February // Book in your target language (translation of a book from your native language)
    March // A book about someone who learns a language (can be fiction or non-fiction)

    The guidelines to participate are available here and you can also join up by commenting on the posts here at Eurolinguiste or by becoming a part of the group on Goodreads.

    This month, the challenge was to read a a book written by an author from a country that speaks your target language (the book can be a translation or in the original language depending on your level). So I chose to read Tokyo: A Biography by Stephen Mansfield. 

    It’s a bit tricky how this one fits into the guidelines because while the author is not Japanese by heritage, he is based in Japan as an author and photojournalist. So in a way, he is from the country. A very roundabout way. The reason I do this though – stretch the rules a bit each month – is to show you just how flexible the guidelines for the language reading challenge can be. Hopefully it makes it more fun to read along and see how creative you can get with bending the rules.

    Tokyo: A Biography, Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City by Stephen Mansfield

    Tokyo: A Biography is a concise history of Edo, today known better as Tokyo. The pace of the text is quick, but it’s interesting to read and packed with fascinating accounts of how the disasters and destruction that the city has faced over the years have led to it being what it is today.

    The book doesn’t go into significant detail on any one thing, instead it provides an overview of Tokyo from ‘its elevation from a dismal fishing village’ in the late 1500’s to present day.

    While many of the chapters discuss leaders, important figures, natural disasters, and wars, I felt that there was an imbalance in the telling. There was a pretty big focus on the pleasure district and prostitution in the city. And while these areas often contribute to development of areas and cultures, it seemed to me that the author spent more time on it than necessary.

    The book isn’t about popular culture, but more about the movements and events that have shaped present day Tokyo over the last several hundred years. It shows the perseverance and determination of Tokyokko or Edokko (people who live in Tokyo) as they overcame the various disasters and misfortunes that struck throughout history. It is really incredible just how many times Tokyo has rebuilt and started over.

    The ending is somewhat terrifying and a bit doomsday-ish, and while the mood recovers in the last few paragraphs, it leaves you with an eerie sensation as you arrive at the final words of the text.

    Tokyo: A Biography is academic in tone, but not inaccessible to the average reader. The author, who has lived in Japan for several decades, in a way, gives you an historical tour as a local. It’s definitely an interesting read and if you’re interested in history or Japan, I would certainly recommend it.

    TitleTokyo: A Biography, Disasters, Destruction and Renewal: The Story of an Indomitable City 
    Author: Stephen Mansfield
    Pages: 224 pages
    Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
    Publication Date: October 25, 2016

    Language Reading Challenge Linkup Rules:

    1. Share your post discussing the book that you’ve read this month. Submissions unrelated to the theme or links to your homepage will be deleted. You can share in the comments below.

    2. Follow the host: Shannon from Eurolinguiste.

    3. OPTIONAL: Join us on Goodreads.

    May 1, 2017 • Culture & History, Language Resources • Views: 305

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Irish Culture

    In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.

    Thus far, I’ve shared posts about Serbia, Croatia, Korea, China, and Russia, and today I’d like to talk about – Ireland!

    I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries. Here are 9 interesting facts about Irish culture.

    General

    1 // Fluent Irish speakers sometimes wear a badge

    It says fainne and it is a little gold badge that is worn on the lapel. It indicates that the wearer is a fluent Irish speaker or, at the very least, a willing speaker of the language.

    2 // The arts in Ireland are impressive

    The Irish have a strong history of scholars, writers, poets, and playwrights. They also have their own impressive mythology which makes for a fascinating read. I recommend this book as an introduction to Irish mythology.

    3 // Traditional music

    As a musician, I, of course, had to include this one. Traditional music can often be heard in pubs throughout Ireland, and some are even open to those looking to sit in (but not all). Music is a big part of Irish culture – so much so that the Irish harp is even a national symbol.

    Etiquette

    4 // When you’re at the pub, buy a round for those you’re chatting with if they include you in a round.

    If you’re bought a pint by someone at a pub, stick around to buy the next round. It isn’t required, per se, but it is polite and will be appreciated by those you’re chatting with.

    Conversation taboos

    5 // The use of vulgar language

    The use of vulgar language isn’t common amongst the Irish, but they are clever in word use to get around this (replacing vowels to soften words).

    6 // The Troubles

    It’s a subject better steered clear from in conversations in many cases.

    Introducing yourself

    7 // Getting to Know One Another

    First names are standard for introductions regardless of class or age differences with the exception of prests or nuns who are always “Father this or Sister that”, respectively.

    8 // Greeting

    Shaking hands is the norm, but hugging is okay amongst friends (but not super common). Personal space is quite respected amongst Irish.

    9 // Mind Your Manners

    Please, thank you and good old-fashioned manners go a long way in making a good impression.

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Ireland. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    November 24, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 1378

  • Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution | Beijing, China

    Sometimes some of the most interesting things you see when visiting a new place are those you find by chance. And the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution (中国人民革命军事博物馆) was definitely one of those things for me during my trip to Beijing, China.

    beijing-military-museum-1
    beijing-military-museum-12
    beijing-military-museum-11

    Located in the Haidian district of Beijing, the Military Museum showcases restored military equipment from the People’s Liberation Army. Originally built at the end of the 1950s, the museum has since undergone several renovations (notably the one that was underway while I was there).

    While visiting, we were only able to see the outdoor exhibit, but when the main building is open, it features ten halls on four floors.

    beijing-military-museum-10
    beijing-military-museum-9
    beijing-military-museum-8
    beijing-military-museum-7

    The exhibits feature both weapons and vehicles used by the Chinese military as well as those that were captured from the Japanese, the Americans, the UK, and Korea. The Hall of Weapons also showcases items from China’s space program including a satellite and an orbital capsule (which I unfortunately didn’t get to see).

    Admission to the museum is free and it is definitely worth the visit for its historical value if you have the time.

    beijing-military-museum-6
    beijing-military-museum-5
    beijing-military-museum-4
    ChinesePinyinEnglish
    中国人民革命军事博物馆Zhōngguó rénmín gémìng jūnshì bówùguǎnMilitary Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution
    海淀区Hǎidiàn qūHaidian district
    中国人民解放军Zhōngguó rénmín jiěfàngjūnPeople’s Liberation Army
    十大建筑Shí dà jiànzhúTen Great Buildings
    抗日战争Kàngrì zhànzhēngSecond Sino-Japanese War
    国民党GuómíndǎngNationalist Party of China
    beijing-military-museum-3
    beijing-military-museum-2

    Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution
    No. 9, Fuxing Road, Haidian District, Beijing
    Hours: 8:30 to 16: 00
    Telephone: 0086-10-66817161

    What about you?

    What are some of the unexpected things or places that you have come across you’re traveling?

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

    November 17, 2016 • Culture & History, Travel • Views: 328

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Serbian Culture

    In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.

    Thus far, I’ve shared posts about Croatia, Korea, China, and Russia, and today I’d like to talk about – Serbia!

    I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries. Here are 9 interesting facts about Serbian culture.

    General

    1 // It’s all in the family

    The typically Western sense of individualism is not as prevalent in Serbia. They are often more family- and friend-minded.

    2 // Two writing systems

    Serbian is the only European language with “active digrapia”. This means that it uses two writing systems – both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets. The Cyrillic alphabet is still used for more official documents and in schools, but more and more Serbs are opting to use the Latin alphabet outside of these realms.

    3 // Humor is greatly appreciated

    Serbians are known for having a good sense of humor. The most common type of humor is black humor and jokes about local stereotypes. Although, it’s probably best to leave the latter to the locals. 🙂

    Etiquette

    4 // Show your appreciation

    In Serbia, hospitality is quite important and your Serbian friends will often go out of their way to make your visit enjoyable. When your host offers something they themselves prepared, be sure to acknowledge their efforts.

    5 // Treat your friends

    When eating out, offering to pay the bill entirely rather than splitting it will go a long way to helping you build relationships. Sometimes the only way you can do this is by sneaking over to the cashier (a fight for who pays the bill might happen otherwise).

    Conversation taboos

    6 // Lumping Serbians in with any other Slavic nation

    A quick way to cause offense amongst Serbians would be to lump them in with the other nations from ex-Yugoslavia.

    Holidays

    7 // A uniquely Serbian holiday

    Slava is the celebration of the feast day of a family’s patron saint (passed down by the father to sons) and it is a uniquely Serbian tradition. The origins of this holiday date back to when the Serbs were pagan tribes and each household had its own protective god. The tradition was later assimilated by the Serbian Orthodoxy and Christian saints replaced the original deities.

    8 // The New Year’s tree

    In Serbia, trees are bought to celebrate New Year rather than Christmas (where a Yule log is the centerpiece).

    Introduce Yourself

    9 // Eye Contact

    Eye contact is important when shaking hands and greeting one another or when clinking glasses in Serbia.

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Serbia. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of t a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    October 20, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 1851

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Croatian Culture

    In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.

    Thus far, I’ve shared posts about Korea, China, and Russia, and today I’d like to talk about – Croatia!

    I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries, including a bit about a country that is a part of my heritage. Here are 9 interesting facts about Croatian culture.

    General

    1 // “What’s on the table is free”

    Enjoying the food while eating out or at the home of your Croatian friends? No one will judge you if you help yourself to seconds. A hearty appetite is welcome and is often viewed as a compliment to your host. It’s sometimes considered rude to only eat a little or leave a full plate, so be sure to go to meals with a big appetite.

    2 // Humor is greatly appreciated

    Croatians appreciate a good sense of humor. It is always well meaning and is not meant to be offensive, so if you find yourself as the subject of a joke, know that it’s all meant in good fun.

    3 // Football (soccer)

    Football is extremely popular in Croatia and you may often hear locals have heated conversations about the sport.

    4 // “The Cuisine of Regions”

    Food is an important part of Croatian culture and its cuisine dates back to the proto-slavic period. The first Croatian cookbook is said to have been written in 1813 by Ivan Bierling for the preparation of some 554 dishes.

    Etiquette

    5 // Bring gifts when invited to someone’s home

    When invited to someone’s home, it’s polite to bring gifts. Flowers will do, as long as they aren’t chrysanthemums (these are reserved for funerals), and sweets for the children of the house are a must!

    Conversation taboos

    6 // Lumping Croatians in with any other Slavic nation

    Croatians fought hard for their independence, only having recently regained it in the 1990s. A quick way to cause offense would be to lump them in with the other nations from ex-Yugoslavia.

    Introducing yourself

    7 // Ti and Vi

    In Croatian, there are two ways to say “you”. The first is “ti”, which is informal and used amongst friends and family. The second is “vi” which is both the plural form of “you” as well as the formal form of “you”. The formal “vi” can be made even more formal in writing by capitalizing the first letter so that it is written “Vi”.

    8 // Greeting

    You need to address people exactly the way they introduce themselves, so listen carefully. If they place a title before their name, be sure to use it! As far as how people greet, greetings are similar to the French bisou, a kiss on each cheek, but only for those who are familiar with one another. For those who are meeting for the first time or who do not know each other well, a firm handshake made with eye contact is typical.

    9 // Physical Contact

    Croatians touch each other frequently while speaking and often stand close together, especially when they know one another well. They are also known for being enthusiastic speakers, so don’t be surprised if it feels as though your conversation partner speaks a little louder than what you’re used to.

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Croatia. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of t a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    September 22, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 853

  • The Barcelona Cathedral | Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

    While going on our self-guided walking tour in Barcelona, we accidentally (and happily) stumbled across Catedral de la Santa Cruz y Santa Eulalia, Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Built between the 13th and 15th centuries, the Cathedral is dedicated to Eulalia of Barcelona, co-patron saint of Barcelona.

    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste

    A photo posted by Shannon Kennedy (@eurolinguiste) on Apr 22, 2015 at 3:20pm PDT

    Interesting Facts About the Cathedral

    There is a cloister where 13 white geese are contained. The number is said to represent the age of Saint Eulalia when she was martyred.

    A gothic facade was added to the Cathedral in 19th century.

    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste

    The roof of the building is renowned for its various gargoyles.

    Its organ was built in the 1530s. It was restored in the 1980s and is now used for a variety of concerts.

    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste

    It has an archives that is open to researchers.

    As a part of the celebration of Corpus Christi, there is a ceremony of the dancing egg that dates back to 1636.

    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste
    Cathedral of Barcelona, Spain | Eurolinguiste

    Visiting Hours
    Weekdays: 8.00-12.45 (Cloister: 8.30-12.30):
    Free entry

    Saturdays: 8.00-12.45 (Cloister: 8.30-12.30):
    Free entry

    Sundays: 8.00-12.45 (Cloister: 8.30-12.30):
    Free entry

    S.E. CATHEDRAL BASÍLICA METROPOLITANA OF BARCELONA
    Pla de la Seu s/n 08002 Barcelona
    (0034) 933.428.262

    What about you?

    What have you accidentally stumbled upon when you were traveling?

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

    August 25, 2016 • Culture & History, Travel • Views: 357

  • A Look at the Languages & Dialects of France

    When we think of France, the French language is one of the first associations that often comes to mind, and understandably so as it is one of the most learned languages across the globe as well as an important part of French identity. So much so, that the Académie Française exists, in part, to act as an official authority over the French language.

    The French Language

    As of today, French is the only official language of France, but that doesn’t mean that it is the only language spoken in France. In fact, France has a number of languages that are native to its lands. And even as late as 1789, the year of the French Revolution, it was estimated that only about half of the French population actually spoke French.

    There were attempts to modify the French Constitution so that it would recognize its minority languages as official languages, but efforts were blocked because it was deemed that the change would contradict the status of French within the Fifth Republic’s constitution (this change is signed but not yet ratified).

    The other languages in France are often referred to as patois, which roughly translates as dialect, but the term often has negative connotations.

    The Dialects and Languages of France

    French // Français

    Number of Speakers // 80,000,000

    Where It Is Spoken // France, Canada, Switzerland, and several countries Africa (for a full list) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_entities_where_French_is_an_official_language

    French, as mentioned earlier, is the official language of France (and 28 other countries). It is Romance language and it is a part of the Indo-European family of languages. Like Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and a few other languages, French is said to be a descendent of Latin.

    During the 17th century, French replaced Latin as the language of diplomacy and international relations. It retained this role until the mid-20th century when it was replaced by English.

    Dialects of French include Acadian French, Belgian French, Louisiana French, Quebec French, and Swiss French, among others.

    Further Resources
    Assimil
    Pimsleur Conversational

    Breton // Brezhoneg

    Number of Speakers // 280,000

    Where It Is Spoken // North Western Peninsula of France

    Breton is a Brythonic language that was brought to France by the Britons in the middle ages. It was the language of the nobility in Brittany until around the 12th century. At the end of the 19th and into the mid-20th centuries, Breton was banned in schools and children were punished for speaking it.

    Today, many Breton speakers are over the age of 60 and even fewer are monolingual in the language. There have been efforts to revive the language, notably through Diwan, or Breton immersion, schools.

    There are four traditional dialects of Breton – Leoneg, Tregerieg, Kerneveg, and Gwenedeg – but these are bishopric divisions rather than linguistic.

    Further Resources
    Wikipedia
    Assimil
    Assimil Guide de Conversation
    breizh-amerika.com
    bzh-ny.org
    Skol Ober is a very old organization for correspondence study of Breton.
    EduBreizh is an online service to learn Breton. You need to take out a yearly membership and pay for courses, but might be an effective long-distance option (using Skype)
    Kervarker.org is a course with audio files, easy short stories and links to other Breton sites.
    Bretagnenet.com and Antourtan.org include a list of radio stations in Breton which are good for hearing Breton by a variety of speakers.
    Teach Me Breton

    Alsatian // Elsässerditsch

    Number of Speakers // 548,000 (in 1999)

    Where It Is Spoken // French region of Alsace (north east)

    Alsatian is the second most spoken regional language in France after Occitan. It is a Germanic language that has a strong French influence and it is more closely related to Swiss German than standard German.

    Alsatian is different from Alsatian French which is a French dialect/accent. It is also often confused with Lorraine Franconian.

    Further Resources
    Wikipedia
    Eurotalk
    Alsatian for Dummies
    Assimil Guide de Poche
    http://www.verdammi.org/cours.html

    French Flemish // Fransch vlaemsch

    Number of Speakers // between 20,000-60,000

    Where It Is Spoken // in France near the border of Flanders, Belgium

    French Flemish is spoken in the area of France known as French Flanders. The language’s roots can be traced back to about 892 AD, when the region was ruled by the Counts of Flanders. The area became a part of France in the 17th century.

    There are three French periodicals, Platch’iou (Dunkerque), Revue de l’Houtland (Steenvoorde) and Yserhouck (Volkerinckhove) that contain articles on various aspects of Flemish in France as well as articles in the language.

    Further Resources
    Guide de Poche
    Eurotalk
    Wikipedia

    Lorraine Franconian // Plàtt

    Number of Speakers // anywhere from 30,000 to 400,000

    Where It Is Spoken // Moselle département in Lorraine

    Lorraine Franconian is a group of dialects of West Central German spoken in the Moselle département in north-eastern France. It also refers specifically to Moselle Franconian.

    Further Resources
    Guide de Poche
    Lorraine Franconian for Dummies
    Wikipedia
    http://projetbabel.org/francique/index.php3

    Langues d’oïl

    Number of Speakers // 570,000 (excluding the French language)

    Where It Is Spoken // Northern and Central France

    The Oïl language actually refers to a group of dialects that are spoken in northern and central France. They belong to the Gallo-Romance group which also includes the French language.

    The languages/dialects that are included in this group are:
    – Berrichon
    – Bourguignon-Morvandiau
    – Champenois or Campanois
    – Franc-Comtois
    – French
    – Gallo http://www.omniglot.com/writing/gallo.htm
    – Lorrain
    – Norman
    – Picard which is also known as Chtimi http://www.omniglot.com/writing/picard.htm
    – Poitevin and Saintongeais
    – Walloon
    – Angevin
    – Manceau
    – Mayennais
    – Romande

    Further Resources
    Wikipedia
    Guide Plus Chti
    Les ch’tis c’était les clichés
    Chti for Dummies
    Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis (film)

    Occitan

    Number of Speakers // 610,000

    Where It Is Spoken // Southern France

    The Occitan dialects are a part of the Romance family of languages and they are spoken in Southern France. The name is derived from lenga d’ac (òc is the word for “yes” in the language).

    Occitan is often comparable to Catalan and even has co-official status along with its counterpart in Catalonia, Spain. Like Breton, many Occitan speakers are older in age and very few of them are monolingual.

    The language first appeared in the 10th century and was often used by troubadours to write poetry. One of the oldest surviving written works in the language dates back to 960 AD.

    The poet Frédéric Mistral started a revival in interest in the language during the 19th century with his efforts to create a standardized written form of the language. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work in 1904.

    The languages/dialects that are included in this group are:
    – Vivaroalpenc
    – Auvergnat
    – Gascon including Béarnese (Béarnais) and Landese (Landais)
    – Languedocien
    – Limousin
    – Nissart (Niçois or Niçart)
    – Provençal

    Further Resources
    L’Occitan Sans Peine
    Eurotalk
    Wikipedia
    http://occitanet.free.fr/
    http://www.panoccitan.org/
    http://www.aprenemloccitan.com/
    http://www.radiolengadoc.com/

    Catalan // Català

    Number of Speakers // 9,500,000

    Where It Is Spoken // Roussillon area

    Catalan is a Romance language named after Catalonia, the northeastern region of Spain and the adjoining parts of France (which were ceded to France by Spain in 1659 with the Treaty of the Pyrenees).

    It first appeared as a distinct language sometime between the 10th and 11th centuries, and during the 12th century, it saw a surge in use.

    Further Resources
    Eurotalk
    Teach Yourself
    Catalan for Dummies
    Colloquial Catalan
    Assimil Catalan
    Guide de Conversation
    Guide de Poche
    Wikipedia

    Franco-Provençal // Francoprovençâl

    Number of Speakers // 140,000

    Where It Is Spoken // east-central France

    Franco-Provençal is a Gallo-Romance language that is spoken in east-central France as well as parts of Switzerland and Italy. It has several dialects and is one of the languages most closely related to French aside from the langues d’oïl.

    Speakers of the language refer to Franco-Provençal as Arpitan, a term popularized in the 1980s. It means “alpine”.

    There is no standard orthography for the language, although many efforts have been made to establish one. This, in part, influenced the decision of many of its speakers to prefer the French language over Franco-Provençal in the 20th century, leading to its decline in use.

    The languages/dialects that are included in this group are:
    – Vivaroalpenc
    – Auvergnat
    – Gascon including Béarnese (Béarnais) and Landese (Landais)
    – Languedocien
    – Limousin
    – Nissart (Niçois or Niçart)
    – Provençal

    Further Resources
    Guide de Poche
    Kit Regional
    Wikipedia

    Gallo Italic

    Number of Speakers // not sure

    Where It Is Spoken // Northern Italy, Monaco and parts of France

    The Gallo Italic languages/dialects are considered a part of the Gallo-Romance family (but are also argued as a part of the Italo-Dalamation language family). The language is still spoken, but in most cases, has given way to Italian.

    Further Resources
    Wikipedia

    Corsican // Corsu

    Number of Speakers // 200,000

    Where It Is Spoken // Corsica

    Corsican is a part of the Romance language family and is closely related to the Italian language. It is spoken in both Corsica and parts of Sicily, and it was the official language of the former until 1859 when it was replaced by French.

    The use of French has grown so significantly in Corsica that by the 1960s, there were said to be no remaining native, monolingual speakers of the language.

    Further Resources
    Guide de Poche
    Guide de Conversation
    Le Corse Sans Peine
    Eurotalk
    Wikipedia
    http://langue.corse.free.fr/
    http://corse.france3.fr/

    Basque // Euskara

    Number of Speakers // 50,000 (on the French side of the border, there are many more on the Spanish side of the border)

    Where It Is Spoken // South-West of France

    Basque is a language isolate and it is one of the few surviving pre-Indo-European languages in Europe. This means that it has no known connection to any language family. In addition to the standard dialect, the Navarrese–Lapurdian and Zuberoan dialects are also spoken in France.

    Mentions of the language first appeared in the 11th century as a part of Latin religious texts. The first published book in Basque, however, did not appear until 1545.

    Further Resources
    Assimil
    Guide de Conversation
    Colloquial Basque
    Wikipedia

    Other Languages That Are Spoken in France:

    There are also several languages that are spoken in France by large immigrant communities including: Berber, Arabic, Italian, Portuguese, English, Polish, Turkish, Vietnamese and German among many others.

    Further Reading

    In France There is Only One Language

    What about you?

    Are you interested in learning another language or dialect aside from the official language of a country?

    I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    August 22, 2016 • Culture & History, Language Resources • Views: 4472

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Korean Culture

    I truly honestly believe that learning a bit about the culture(s) of the language(s) that you’re studying can go a long way in helping you to feel more attached to the language. Earlier, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.

    I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries, starting with a country I’ve recently visited and a language that I’ve fairly recently learnt. Here are 9 interesting facts about Korean culture.

    General Facts About Korean Culture

    1 // Transliteration

    Transliteration for the Korean alphabet has faced significant debate since the seventeenth century. Initially, French Roman Catholic missionaries worked to offer Westerners a system for offering a suitable way to transliterate the Korean language, and this system can still be seen in Korean resources for those who speak the Romance languages.

    In the 1930s, two Americans devised yet another system of romanization which came to be known as the McCune-Reischauer System. There is also the Yale system which was developed in the 1950s and it is the system favored by linguists.

    The above systems, however, are not always accepted by Koreans and in South Korea, various attempts have been made to introduce a system that originated in Korea. In 2000, a new system was introduced (called the Revised Romanization), but many English speakers do not like the new system because it can lead to as many mispronunciations as the McCune-Reischauer System.

    Etiquette

    2 // Taking Photos

    Some people in Korea, especially elders in the countryside do not like having their photos taken. So it’s best to ask permission or avoid taking the photo to avoid giving offense. You also should avoid photographing anything that looks like it could be used for military purposes.

    3 // Giving and Receiving

    If invited to someone’s home, it is polite to bring a gift. Flowers are acceptable as is western liquor or books about your country. Gifts should be wrapped, preferably in gold colored paper. Black or white are not are not considered acceptable colors for gift wrap. It is also important to note that it is seen as rude to offer something with the left hand, especially if the person is a senior in age or rank yo you. Instead it’s best to offer objects with both hands. But if this proves impossible, use the right hand.

    4 // Food

    There are quite a few rules regarding table etiquette in Korea which is why I wrote this post. But a few quick pointers are:
    – Don’t blow your nose at the table
    – Don’t stick your chopsticks upright in your rice
    – Don’t point with your chopsticks
    – Don’t start eating until the most senior person at the table has started
    – Don’t hold your spoon and chopsticks at the same time

    Conversational Taboos

    5 // Saving Face

    Laughter is not always tied to humor. Sometimes it is used to hide embarrassment or to soften bad news and it can be used to save face. The concept of “face” in Korea is important to understand and you can either “save” or “lose” face.

    Introducing Yourself

    6 // Using Pronouns

    In general, pronouns are not used in Korean. Rather than using he/she/they, people are referred to by their relationship to the speaker (mom, uncle, brother), their profession (teacher, CEO, manager), or by their name (usually surname and not first name). You can also use miss, mrs, or mr.

    7 // Bowing

    Bowing is something you’ll do quite a bit in Korea (it’s like shaking hands amongst Westerners). A good rule of thumb to follow whenever you aren’t sure whether or not you should bow is to either bow if the other person bows or if you are addressing a senior or someone older than you. Typically, men keep their hands a their sides while they bow whereas woman clasp their hands in front of their bodies while they bow.

    8 // Pushing and Shoving

    In cities, pushing and shoving can be normal amongst strangers (those who you know will not likely exhibit the same behaviour towards you). This is done both to visitors and other Koreans, so don’t feel as though you’ve been singled out if your bumped out of the way while you’re traveling. In fact, it means quite the opposite!

    9 // Are we friends?

    The use of the word ‘friend’ in Korean is actually quite complex! The term can be used much like ‘brother’ or ‘sister’ are used in Korea. Thanks Melinda for this tip!

    One additional, interesting cultural tidbit:

    Children are celebrated 100 days after their birth because a child who survived that long was likely to live. This is called Baek-il (백일) and it is celebrated by placing red bean rice cakes at the four compass points of the house and in the sharing of rice cakes with family, friends, and neighbors (it is believed that the more people there are that eat the rice cakes, the longer the life the child will have).

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! China. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    July 25, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 203

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Russian Culture

    I personally feel that getting to know the culture (or one of the cultures) that is tied to the language that you’re learning can go a long way towards further igniting your interest in and love for the language. I love to read about the language and its culture(s) as much as I love studying the language itself and in studying culture, I am able to create more ties between myself and the language.

    In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world that I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable. This post is the second in this series. You can read the first post on Chinese culture here.

    Here are 9 interesting facts about Russian culture.

    General Facts About Russian Culture

    1 // Superstitions are still held by many Russians

    • Don’t give even numbers of flowers, only odd (even numbers are for funerals only)
    • Don’t greet someone across a threshold, it means you’ll quarrel,
    • Don’t seat thirteen people at a table
    • Don’t whistle in a house
    • If you spill salt, throw a little over your left shoulder and spit three times

    Etiquette in Russia

    2 // Polite requests far outweigh demands

    Making a polite request can go much farther than making a demand, so when asking for something, be sure to wisely choose your wording. The same can be said for almost any culture, but it seems to hold particularly true in Russia.

    3 // A refusal to eat may be viewed as offensive

    Food in Russia can be a sensitive topic, especially when a host offers it to you and you refuse. Friendships and relationships with Russians will undoubtedly lead to food and drink at some point, so when offered, be sure to accept. The threat of overeating is one that many face, so just be sure to pace yourself and remember that lunch is considered the most important (and typically largest) meal.

    4 // Gift giving

    If invited to someone’s home, it is an unspoken rule that you bring a gift. Small gifts such as a candle, a bottle of wine, or even some chocolates are appropriate. It’s really the thought that counts more than the gift itself. Gifts for the children of the house are also seen as important, so be sure to bring a few sweets for the kids whenever you call on a friend.

    Conversation Taboos

    5 // Criticisms of Russia

    While you’ll likely hear your Russian friends criticize themselves, but be careful not to offer your opinion on the subject, even if invited to participate in the conversation. It can be interesting to hear the opinions of others, but its best to avoid offering your thoughts.

    6 // Two fingers in a V-sign

    The sign often known in the west as the “peace sign” is actually the equivalent of the middle finger in Russia, so this is something to be wary of! Swear words in Russian also aren’t viewed positively, so they are something else to avoid.

    Introducing yourself

    7 // How are you?

    In Russia, especially once relationships have been built, long answers to the question “how are you?” are typical. In fact, the Western equivalent response of “fine, thanks” may even be seen as rude and Russians may be upset by it. When answering the question in conversations with Russians, especially friends, be sure that you’re prepared to answer in a little more detail than what you may be used to.

    8 // Smile when you mean it

    Russians are often described as being an “unsmiling people” but this isn’t true. A Russian proverb states that,”Laughter for no reason is a sign of foolishness.” This means that Russians prefer to reserve their smiles for the occasions that merit them. The good news is that a smile from your Russian friends means much more!

    9 // Greeting

    A traditional greeting is shaking hands while close friends and family hug. If a meeting or a conversation goes well, back slaps and hugs are a good sign. A coldness or distance is the opposite. Strong eye contact is also important – failing to maintain eye contact may imply you’re up to no good. It is not unusual for Russian men not to offer women their hand for a handshake, but if a woman presents hers, Russian men will accept it.

    Bonus // Names

    When Russians introduce themselves using a name that ends with an “a” ( Natasha, Misha, Sasha, Tania), they are likely giving you the intimate form of their birth name (Natasha is Natalia, Misha is Mikhail, Sasha is Alexander, and Tania is Tatiana). Technically, these names are only used when you are on TbI terms whereas in more formal cases, Russians will introduce themselves using their full first name and middle name (their patronymic).

    Patronymics are derived from the father’s name and there are both male and female forms. The endings either mean “son of” or “daughter of”. So your friend Vania may introduce himself to a business acquaintance as Ivan Borisovich and Natasha might go by Natalia Ivanovna. Foreigners are not expected to have patronymic names for the more formal BbI introductions, but you can always create your own. The transliteration of my Russian name, for example, is Yana Davidovna.

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! Russia. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    April 18, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 236

  • 9 Interesting Facts About Chinese Culture

    In a past post, I discussed the importance of sociolinguistics – how culture ties into language – and to continue that conversation, I’d like to share culture guides for various countries around the world to help you make your travels and language learning that much more enjoyable.

    I’ve partnered with Kuperard to create this series and I’m really excited to share a few cultural tidbits about different countries, starting with a country I’ve recently visited and a language that I’ve fairly recently learnt. Here are 9 interesting facts about Chinese culture.

    General Facts About Chinese Culture

    1 // Although the Han Chinese are the Majority, there are numerous minority races in China.

    The Han Chinese make up a whopping 92% of the Chinese population, but there are 55 minority nationalities recognized by the Chinese government (which means there are likely more than just 55). Each of these minorities have their own customs, languages, dress, and religions. Some of these minorities include Tibetans, Mongolians, Tus, Yugurs, Yi, and Dai.

    2 // Personal Questions Are Not Inappropriate But Familiarity Too Early On Is

    When conversing with someone for the first time, don’t be caught off guard by personal questions about your marital status, your salary, your children, or your age. At the same time, don’t become too friendly with your Chinese acquaintances with things like hugging or back slapping too early on because it may cause them some discomfort.

    Etiquette

    3 // There is an entire etiquette that revolves around the proper use of chopsticks.

    For example, some things that you shouldn’t do:

    • Stick chopsticks upright in a bowl. It means you’re offering the rice to the deceased and can be offensive to your host.
    • Stick your fingers in your mouth to remove something (like a bone), but instead use your chopsticks.
    • Use a pair of chopsticks that are not the same length. This once again represents death as uneven boards were once used to make coffins.
    • Chew on chopsticks.
    • Play drums with your chopsticks.
    • Dig through the food for the tastier pieces with your chopsticks. This is considered extremely poor etiquette.

    You should, however:

    • Use “public chopsticks” if they are available for serving yourself at a restaurant (but you can always use the reverse end of your chopsticks if they are not).

    4 // Gifts will be refused at least once before the receiver will accept them.

    In China, it is considered polite if the receiver of the gift refuses it at least once (and in some cases, three times). This practice has nothing to do with whether or not the gift is desired or not, so don’t take offense. It is custom for the gift giver to insist that the receiver take the gift.

    It is also not typical for a gift to be opened in front of the giver, so don’t be surprised if the gift is put away to be opened later.

    Conversational Taboos

    5 // Compliments aren’t usually accepted.

    In China, accepting a compliment is seen as vain, so many Chinese tend to deflect compliments with responses like “na li, na li” which means “where? where?” Other responses might be along the lines of “not at all” or “it was nothing”.

    6 // The “three T’s”

    In China, there are three topics that are typically taboo to discuss: Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen Square. This isn’t to say that they aren’t discussed at all, especially when you really get to know people, but their topics that you would be better to stay away from. 

    7 // Losing Face

    Understanding he concept of “face” – both maintaining it and losing it – can go a long way towards helping you better understand different social environments in China. This is very important and should be considered at all times. You can lose face (or cause someone else to lose face) by losing your temper, confronting someone, putting someone on the spot, or by failing to properly respect someone.

    Introducing Yourself

    8 // Last Names Come First

    When you are introduced to someone, it is likely that you will first hear their last name, followed by their first name. So, for example, in Chinese I would be Kennedy Shannon. Keep this in mind because Chinese tend to remain more formal than Westerners, especially in terms of address. It is polite to call someone by their last name and Mr., Miss., or Mrs. Sometimes, in lieu of the the aforementioned titles, job titles are used such as Manager Wang, CEO Zhang, or Teacher Li. It is also common for women to keep their maiden names.

    9 // Greeting

    Shaking hands is often seen as a customary way of meeting new acquaintances. It is also seen as polite (if not necessary) to stand whenever someone new walks into the room until you have been introduced and invited to sit once more (unless this person is very obviously your junior at a business meeting).

    When presenting a business card, it is seen as polite to present it with both hands and when receiving a card, to accept it with both hands. Business cards are often not just reserved for business gatherings, but for many introductions.

    Bonus Cultural Tips

    • It is rude to point or indicate people/things with your index finger. Instead, use your open palm.
    • The concept of personal space is not the same in China as in the West, so do not be surprised if you’re pushed while out and about or if you feel as though the person you are speaking with is too close to you.
    • Red and gold are always safe colors when selecting gifts or wrapping papers. Black and white, not so much.
    • It is uncommon for someone to tell you “no” outright. Instead they will deflect with responses such as “this is not convenient.”
    • Chinese point to their nose to indicate “oneself”, not their chest like many Westerners are accustomed to.
    • Laughing does not always indicate humor. It is sometimes a response to an uncomfortable situation.
    • Always leave something on your plate at the end of the meal otherwise you may find that your host continues to serve you more food.
    • When leaving, it is not unusual for your Chinese friends to accompany you all the way to your car (or other modes of transportation). At the least, they will walk you to the elevator or to the door.

    This guide was assembled with the support of Culture Smart! China. The Culture Smart books by Kuperard publishers are a part of a series of nearly 100 titles. You can purchase the books on Amazon and learn more about the company here. 

    Tips for Language Learning | Eurolinguiste

    What about you? What are some fun cultural facts you’ve learnt about the places and languages that you’re studying? Leave me a note in the comments below!

    March 21, 2016 • Culture & History • Views: 187