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Interesting facts about languages

sty 18

Do you know how many languages​​ are there in the world? Which alphabet is the shortest and how many Chinese characters do you need to know to read a Chinese newspaper? Check out some fantastic facts about foreign languages!

The most people in the world speak Chinese – it is approximately a billion people. Hindi is spoken by approximately 400 million people, Spanish by approximately 350 million and English by approximately 320 million.

There are 6-7 thousand languages ​​in the world and about 2400 are in danger of extinction.

Chinese contains about 50,000 characters. To read and understand texts in newspapers you need to know about 2 thousand characters.

The Bible is the most often translated book. According to the data provided by the portal www.wycliffe.org, as of today it has been fully translated into 500 languages, in 1,300 languages ​​the New Testament and fragments of the Old Testament are available. The second most often translated book is „Pinocchio” by Carlo Collodi. The book has been translated into approximately 240 languages.

In French, the vowel „o” can be pronounced in thirteen different ways.

Most European languages ​​are based on the Latin alphabet. Some Slavic languages ​​are based on Cyrillic. Such languages as Greek, Armenian, Georgian and Yiddish have their own characters.

The Germanic language family includes, among others, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, German, Dutch, English and Yiddish.
Examples of Romance languages ​​include Italian, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Romanian.

The Slavic language family includes, among others, Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Polish, Czech, Slovak, Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian and Bulgarian.

Multilingualism brings numerous benefits: it facilitates learning more languages, has a positive impact on the thinking process and conduce contacts with other people and cultures.

The longest alphabet consisting of 74 letters belongs to the Khmer’s language, and the shortest alphabet appears in the Rotokas language. The Rotokas is spoken in Papua New Guinea and is considered the simplest language in the world – its alphabet consists of only 11 letters. There are only 5 vowels and 6 consonants in it. It is spoken by about 4,000 people living on Bougainville Island.

The Armenian language is used by the inhabitants of the village of Archib located on the Caspian Sea coast in Russia. It is estimated that it is used by only about  1,000 people, but only in the spoken form, as it does not have a written form at all. It is mainly used in informal situations – first of all, among family members and friends.

(KB)
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The Last Spark of Christmas

sty 14

Before we will pack up all our Christmas ornaments let’s have one last gaze at those beautiful decorations. Photographs made and collected by Klaudia Tarczoń.

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Unusual Christmas customs

gru 20

Christmas is celebrated all over the world. Sometimes it is really unexpected customs, but every country has its own customs.

Greenlanders cannot imagine the world without kivak. This is the raw meat of the alki – a sea bird. The meat wrapped in seal meat is placed under stone for a few days. It is served when it reaches the appropriate phase of putrefaction.

In alpine regions, Krampus is presented as a companion of Saint Nicholas, who plays his anti-role; instead of giving gifts to polite children, these receive naughty punishments. Traditionally, young men dress up as Krampus in the first two weeks of December and roam the streets, scaring children and women with rusty chains and bells. In some rural areas, the tradition also includes whipping with rods, especially young girls.

There is a unique tradition in Norway – hiding a broom (brooming) on Christmas Eve. A few hundred years ago, it was believed that on this day the evil spirits and witches would wake up from their sleep, take brooms from houses and fly away. To this day, people are looking for hiding places and hide their broom too, thus securing them against theft.

In Slovakia, some families still cultivate national Christmas customs and Christmas traditions. One of them is to throw food on Christmas Eve. The head of the family, at the beginning of the Christmas supper, takes a spoonful of one of the dishes and then throws it on the ceiling. Apparently, the more food is left on the ceiling, the more happiness the family will have in the New Year.

In the city of Caracas in Venezuela, on Christmas Eve one is not allowed to drive a car. The empty streets give residents the opportunity to reach the church on roller skates. This way of moving on Christmas Eve has been in existence for many years.

Among the festive traditions you can find both those that are close to our customs and those that are quite exotic. What is important, however, is to spend this special time with your loved ones … preferably in a way accepted in a given part of the world.

(KB)

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Salamanca – the Golden City

lis 13

Salamanca is the most student-dominated city in Spain, which is located on the west of the country. One of the reasons why so many youth decide to study in Salamanca is the fact that the University located there was founded in 1218 by King Alfonso IX; it was the fourth university in Europe. One of university’s main attractions is the Salamanca’s Frog (esp: Rana de Salamanca). It is one of thousands of ornaments on the facade of the university building. The frog is only a few centimeters long but there are some interesting legends related to it. One of them says that the one who finds the frog can be sure that he/she will graduate from the university and happily get married. According to other legends, the one who will first fall into the eye of Rana de Salamanca will also be the first to pass all the exams.

And why a frog? Well, the theories about this differ. The most common explanation says that in ancient Egypt, the frog was a symbol of death. Over time, especially in the Middle Ages, the frog began to be identified with the sin of desire. Combining it with the skull was to give students a clear signal – those whose life will be promiscuous will suffer diseases and a fast death awaits them. In the old part of the city, we can find the main square of the city – the Plaza Mayor. Until the mid-nineteenth century, bullfights were held here. It is one of the largest squares in Spain (6,400 m2), and considered by many to be the most beautiful in Europe. It is surrounded by 88 arcades located on three-storey buildings.

An unusual place is the Cathedral, which is combined from two into one. The first of these is the Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja) from the 12th century. The second part of the complex is the Late Gothic New Cathedral (Catedral Nueva). Its construction began in the sixteenth century and at the time it was compared to the Cathedral.

Later, the New Cathedral was enriched with Baroque elements but not only … On one of the portals (Puerta de Ramos), apart from the rich vegetative and animal ornaments we can also find clear references to modern times. The best example of this is a cosmonaut sculpture. How did it happen to be there? In 1992, when renovating the new cathedral, more contemporary elements were added to it in order to leave a mark of our times.

(KB)

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W poszukiwaniu jesieni

paź 31

Nie jest łatwo przejść obojętnie obok przyrody skąpanej w jesiennych barwach. Dla fotografa to wręcz niemożliwe. Próbuje, stara się, walczy, ale jakaś niewidzialna siła wyciąga jego rękami aparat z futerału. Uruchamia. Ustawia. Pstryka. Walka przegrana. Jesień to ulubiona pora roku wielu fotografów i na pewno ciężko sobie bez niej wyobrazić fotograficzny kalendarz. A jeśli takie mają być skutki owej przegranej, to ja mogę poddawać się częściej. Zapraszamy do naszej jesiennej galerii.

Fot. K. Tarczoń

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