Meet Koko. Koko was a real Gorilla (July 4, 1971- June 19, 2018). Koko was taught sign language by her instructor and caregiver, Francine Patterson. By the end of her life, she is said to have had a vocabulary of 1000 ASL signs and was able to understand 2000 words of spoken English. Were her... Continue Reading →
LANGUAGE, DIALECT, REGIONALISM… WHAT’S THE DIFF?
LANGUAGE? DIALECT? REGIONALISM? ACCENT? PIDGIN? PATOIS? CREOLE? WHAT’S THE DIFF? This is a question that came up during one of our daily staff lunches and we had a good ol’ time geeking out on getting to the bottom of this question. So what is the difference exactly? Dialect/Accent /Patois/Regionalism: We all have a dialect. Our... Continue Reading →
Is it Fall or Autumn?
Today it’s a matter of regional usage (e.g. North America vs Great Britain) but how did we get here? Pre-16th century, the season was known as “hærf-est”, basically “harvest”. Interesting to note that this root is still in play in modern Germanic languages (Dutch herfst, German Herbst and Scottish hairst). The word “autumn” is thought to... Continue Reading →
Finding Your Second Language
Finding your second language: An invitation to compare yourself to…yourself There is a wonderful article in the New Yorker about hyperpolyglots (those who speak at least 6 languages) that is worth a look-see. Hyperpolyglots are basically the Olympic-level champions of language acquisition. A fascinating world to say the least! And just like their athletic counterparts,... Continue Reading →
Spotlight on Russia
The World Cup is upon us and the eyes of the world will be glued to their TVs over the coming months to watch the games taking place in Russia. That said, here’s a little linguistic trivia on where the word Russia likely comes from: While much of the ancestry of modern Russians can be... Continue Reading →
April – The Month of Opening
Like so many words in our native language, we generally don’t think about where they come from and what their meaning and, perhaps, true spirit is. Take a look at the words for “to open” and “April” in a couple of romance languages: aprire/aprile (Italian), abrir/abril (Spanish/Portuguese). Notice that the letters p and b are a... Continue Reading →
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
As we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland, we thought we’d reflect not just on the “luck of the Irish” but how they and other cultures celebrate the idea of luck. China: Is it lucky number 7 or number 8? Depends on who you ask! In western cultures, we like number 7. Probably because the... Continue Reading →
Happy Lunar New Year!
Lunar New Year is just around the corner and you will start to see signs around the city wishing people a “Happy Chinese New Year”. What many people don’t realize, but what our Korean or Vietnamese language teachers could tell you: Lunar new year is not just celebrated in Chinese communities. In Vietnam the lunar new... Continue Reading →
Grammar – How to Learn It, Use It and Maybe Even Love It!
If you are one of the many people who have tried out language programs that promise “no pesky verb conjugations or noun declensions” but find yourself wanting to figure out the patterns, you’re not alone! Poor grammar has gotten such a bad rap that a no-grammar approach has become a marketing catchphrase. How did that... Continue Reading →
Sardinia: More Than Just a Beach Vacation
Sardinia is best known for its beautiful, pristine beaches, its stunning landscape, and the Italian glitterati who descend in high season. But the island also offers a fascinating history that dates back dozens of millennia. The earliest settlers are estimated to have arrived as long as 50,000 years ago, and from 1500 to 500 BC... Continue Reading →