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Learning a foreign language can be fun!

paź 19

Are you afraid of going abroad or cannot find a good job because of your poor knowledge of foreign languages? Don’t worry! You don’t have to spend hours with dictionaries, it is possible to learn them in much more creative way.

Listen to the radio and music. You can do it everywhere – in the house, car, train, even at work. At the beginning you may become a little discouraged but you can be sure that every day you will understand a little bit more.

Watch movies in the original, with foreign subtitles. For most people it is easier to read new words than to listen to them. Try to mix these two things – you will double your chances of understanding.

Change the menu language in your phone. You use your mobile many times a day so you will contact new words very often and will memorize them quickly.

Try to cook local dishes based on the original recipes. If you like cooking, this way will be perfect for you. For sure you will have to look for some words in a dictionary, but after some time it will not be necessary. And if you make a mistake, maybe you will discover something completely new?

Find new friends who speak the language you learn. In the era of social media it is not a problem. And in this way you can not only practice your language but also meet fantastic people, who knows – maybe even find love?

Don’t be ashamed of speaking! What is the most important – try to speak a foreign language always when you have opportunity to do so, even if you know that you are making mistakes. Nobody is perfect and the more often you try, the easier it will become for you.

(BB)

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Thanks from the mountain for reading this!

wrz 29

Ponglish’ is a new hybrid language developed by Poles that are trying to speak English without having the knowledge of grammatical structures. A similar combination of English and French forms ‘Franglais’, Spanish and English develops into ‘Spanglish’, and Swedish and English combined forms ‘Swenglist’. This can result in comical sentences such as:

- Zwierzę Ci się – I will animal to you (to confide in someone);

- Wierzę Ci – I tower you (I believe you);

- Pierwsze koty za płoty – First cats behind fences

(The first pancake is always spoiled);

- Z góry dziękuję – Thanks from the mountain (Thanks in advance).

But is it a ‘real’ language at all?

In fact Ponglish (as well as Franglais, Spaglish, Swenglist etc.) can be classified as pidgin languages. The term ‘pidgin’ comes from the Chinese pronunciation of the English word ‘business’. A pidgin is nobody’s mother tongue; it is a simplified form of speech that has developed as a means of communication between two (or more) speakers without any common language. Usually pidgin languages are a blend of vocabulary that comes from one language and the grammatical structures of another. Such a language is limited in range and it often exists for one speech event. Many pidgins have been formed because of trade, colonialism, slavery etc. (for example when slaves from different tribes were trying to communicate among themselves while working together on plantations), but it seems that they are not relicts of the past – they can spontaneously develop in a modern cosmopolitan world.

What is even more interesting, while a pidgin language is not fully developed, it can become a creole language (which is a ‘complete’ language), when it is learned by the children of the next generation. So maybe, just maybe, we live in an era of the birth of new languages. Isn’t it exciting?

(RM)

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Words, words, words

wrz 20

How did it happen that human language differentiated itself from animal sounds? Why doesn’t human speech consist of barks and sound like the trill of birds. Was it an invention of the human mind or rather a gift from the gods? The question about the origin of language is a riddle that still hasn’t been solved by linguists, but there are a few interesting theories out there:

1. Divine revelationthe Bible says that the first people (Adam and Eve) were created with an ability to talk and communicate. When the human race decided to disobey God by building the Tower of Babel that was meant to reach Heaven, he punished them by confusion of their languages. This may not be the most scientific answer but it actually is one of the earliest theories.

2. Bow-wow hypothesis – another possibility is that people

invented language by imitating the sounds of animals. The problem with this hypothesis is, however, that onomatopoeia is only a limited part of language. This theory does not explain modern languages that are complex and dynamic systems. Moreover, the sound of animals differs from language to language. For example, an English pigs ‘says’ “oink, oink”, and a Polish “chrum chrum”.

3. Yo-he-ho hypothesis – this theory says that language originated from the groans and grunts evoked by physical labour.

4. La-La hypothesis the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen suggested that before the invention of words people could have been communicating by melodies.

Of course all of these

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theories are just speculation but that should not stop us from looking for the right answer. Maybe we can find it by analysing fossils or maybe it is encoded deep in our psyche. What do you think?

(RM)

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O Genderze słów kilka

wrz 06

Ile mamy rodzajów gramatycznych w języku polskim? Tak postawione pytanie może się wydać prozaiczne, wręcz szkolne i na pierwszy rzut oka mało ciekawe. O dziwo nawet językoznawcy nie są w stanie ustalić jednoznacznej odpowiedzi. Większość uczniów szkoły podstawowej potrafiłaby zapewne wyróżnić trzy podstawowe rodzaje: męski, żeński i nijaki, identyfikowane za pomocą zaimków ten (tłumacz), ta (tłumaczka), to (tłumaczenie). Niekiedy jednak wprowadza się dodatkowy podział, pozwalający wydzielić ponadto rodzaj męskoosobowy (ten klient, ci klienci) i niemęskoosobowy (te klientki). Żeby jednak jeszcze bardziej skomplikować sytuację należy uzupełnić tę klasyfikację o kolejne rozróżnienie na rodzaj męskozwierzęcy (widzę tego mastodonta i te mastodonty) i męskorzeczowy (widzę ten tekst i te teksty). Podsumowując zależnie od przyjętego podziału wydzielić można nawet do dziewięciu różnych rodzajów gramatycznych.

W obliczu

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takiego bogactwa form trudne może być wyobrażenie sobie języków, które radzą sobie z dwoma rodzajami. Holenderski i szwedzki wydzielają jedynie rodzaj nijaki i utrum (przeciwstawiany nijakiemu rodzaj wspólny), natomiast w językach semickich (takich jak arabski, czy hebrajski) funkcjonuje wyłącznie rodzaj męski i żeński. Innym językom (np. angielskiemu) pojęcie rodzaju jako kategorii gramatycznej jest zupełnie obce, a płeć oznaczana się za pomocą zaimków osobowych (he, she, it, they), bądź oficjalnych tytułów (np. formy adresatywnej w listach – Mr/Mrs/Miss). Co ciekawe w językach z grupy ugrofińskiej (węgierskim i fińskim) brak nawet oddzielnych rodzajników.

Zwykle wydaje nam się, że trudności związane z nauką języków obcych wynikają przede wszystkim z nadmiaru nieznanych nam kategorii gramatycznych (np. w języku angielskim przerazić może bogactwo czasów, a w rosyjskim wpływ akcentu na znaczenie). Jak widać brak tych cech języka, do których jesteśmy przyzwyczajeni też może, przynajmniej z początku, wydać się zaskakujący Powinno to jednak zachęcać do nauki, a nie do niej zrażać. Nie ma więc co kręcić nosem na gendery.

(RM)

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The Devil is not so black as he is painted – Fun Facts about schools

sie 31

Slowly but surely, the time is coming to go back to school. Children who spent 2 months on holidays will go back to classrooms to participate in lessons more or, sometimes, less willingly. To brighten up that hard time, we’ve decided to provide you with fun facts about education and schooling, and to show that in fact there is always something interesting to discover.

Let’s start with something simple: did you know that before the eraser became popular, children at English schools cleaned their mistakes with breadcrumbs? (source: americangraduates.com). On the ehow.com website we can read that Japanese schools do not hire janitors. It is the students’ duty to keep classrooms and corridors clean. The aim is to teach students to respect the work of others and to not see themselves as superior to such occupations.

When you think about schools, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is rules. Children have to obey so many restrictions and regulations. Recent studies show, however, that schools that loosen up schoolyard rules a little observe a massive decrease in bullying, injuries and vandalism. Apparently, giving too many rules to the kids does not play to the principal’s advantage (source: KickassFacts.com). Turns out that giving children too many rules interferes with their development.

Who does not love to read an inspiring story from the life of a famous person? Think about your favorite actor or business person. They are so successful, they simply had to finish schools with honors, right? Well, not exactly. Among celebrity dropouts you can find Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, James Cameron and Mark Zuckerberg. The founder of Wendy’s (an American food chain), Dave Thomas decided to go back to high school

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in 1993 to get his GED. Was he eager to continue his education? Not necessarily. He became worried that his success as a high school dropout might convince other teenagers to quit school so he decided to prevent this from happening (source: biography.com).

And last but definitely not least: the days off! The longest summer holidays are enjoyed by children in Chile: summer break lasts from the middle of December to early March. In Australia however, children are more excited for the Christmas holidays, for they last longer than the ones in the summer! Schools around the world may differ, yet it is safe to say that in every country you can find something that will surprise you. Even if you hated school as a child, you would probably give everything that you have to exchange it for your 9-5 job. Or would you? Let us know in the comment section below :)

(MW)

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