We were so excited when Lilia Mouma, our head linguist, came all the way from Greece to visit the Mango Grove for three weeks. We talk to her all the time via skype but having her here in person is awesome! Check out her welcome by the Elves! Warning…we are huggers!
The name “Chong Yang” in Chinese actually means “double Yang,” and while that might be reminiscent of Chris Farley’s explanation of El Nino, the Yang in this case actually comes from the Chinese concept Yin and Yang. In a nutshell, Yin and Yang represent the positive and negative sides of everything. Yin is considered to be the negative side, while Yang was dubbed positive. This concept was applied to numbers: even numbers belong Yin, and odd ones to Yang. Since nine is an odd number, it belongs to Yang, and since this is a double nine: Double Yang. Also noteworthy, since nine is the largest odd number, putting two nines together symbolizes longevity. Often, there is a focus on the elderly during this celebration.
So how is Chong Yang celebrated? Well, legend has it that a man named Huan Jing was told about a terrible event that would happen on the ninth day of the ninth month, and that he had to rush home and take his family to the top of a mountain, spray dogwood on his bags, and drink chrysanthemum wine to escape their plight. Long story short, they climbed the mountain, sprayed their bags, and drank the wine. This is the tradition that continues today, and the fall weather is perfect for doing this. Many people head outdoors and either hike or climb in the country, and this is generally the last time in the year that people have a chance to do this before winter.
Well, Barbie has done it again. As if the trendy clothes, Dream House, hot pink convertible, hunky boyfriend, and wide array of over 125 careers weren’t enough, Barbie has fans everywhere jealous of her latest feat: Paris fashion week! Boasting about her world travels via her Facebook page, Barbie announces she “Just arrived in Paris for Fashion Week… I’m such a lucky doll!” and “Dior, Lanvin, Chanel, and Celine! Feeling so lucky to be in the fashion capital of the world.”
Before she arrived in Paris, she and Ken made a quick stop in Milan for the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2012 show. Some dolls have all the luck! Aside from being a fashionista, Barbie takes time to appreciate the culture and history of these iconic cities (in true Mango fashion). She reports she is “Taking advantage of everything Milan has to offer and sightseeing with Ken for the day.” She even asks fans for suggestions on things to see and do in Milan. Sounds like she should check out the Mango Languages Facebook page, non? Or maybe check out Mango Passport to brush up on her French and Italian before hob-nobbing with designers
Barbie is no stranger to foreign lands, as her doll pals come from all ends of the Earth. Hopefully they have taught her more about their native countries than simply fashion. With Barbie’s influence over her gaggle of young followers, she has the opportunity to instill in them a sense of wonderment and travel. While I must say that globetrotting to world renowned fashion hubs to see the latest trends from some of the biggest designers sounds grand, what sounds even better is discovering the rich culture of these cities (donning the runway looks, bien sûr)! Imagine traipsing through Milan on your way to the duomo (in a flowy summer maxi dress and embellished sandals) or taking a night stroll in Paris to see the sparkly light show at the Eiffel Tower (sporting a structured trench coat and Parisian scarf). Traveling is about breaking outside of your comfort zone and discovering what makes each city unique. Barbie has always been an appreciator of these things, and we are excited to see where they take her next!
Cheers to Barbie on 52 years of fabulosity and here’s to (at least) another 52 more! Santé!
Barbie is an iconic figure for American youth. What are some other Barbie-like personas from around the world?
Our language is infused with technological influence. Consider this sentence:
“He liked my status.”
Ten years ago this would have been a weird sentence, implying that a man appreciated the speaker’s marital status perhaps? But today, we understand this to mean that a man clicked the “like” button underneath the speaker’s post on Facebook.
“When we started, the vocabulary was really limited. You could only express a small number of things, like who you were friends with. Then last year, when we introduced the Open Graph, we added nouns, so you could like anything that you wanted. This year, we’re adding verbs. We’re going to make it so you can connect to anything in any way you want. It is all part of building this language for how people connect.”
What do you think of Facebook’s impact on language? Do you have examples of technology’s influence on vernacular?
Gulshen was born in Korla, People’s Republic of China. She moved to the U.S. in 1999 because her husband was going to graduate school here. She had learned English in college and had studied linguistics, specifically Turkic languages. Gulshen speaks Uyghur (her native tongue, a member of Turkic Language family), Mandarin Chinese, and English. She understands most of the Central Asian languages as well.
She loved the linguistic graduate program back in China as she learned about the history of her native language, why certain words are used and where many words are borrowed from. But when she moved to the U.S. she had to stop her linguistic studies, not many schools here specialize in Turkic languages. Hmmm…I wonder why. She started a family but made a promise to her dad to finish her Master’s degree.
After her son was born she applied to college here in the U.S. and decided to go into accounting. Crazy right!?! A friend of hers said she could get a good job in this field, so she thought she would give it a try. She ended up loving it and finished Schoolcraft College in August 2007 and transferred her credits to Walsh College in September 2007. She received her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Walsh College in December 2009.
She found Mango through an online job search and fell in love with the idea of working at a language company where both her passion for linguistics and her knowledge of accounting could be put into practice. Gulshen is The Numberist (number+linguist) who makes sense of our numbers and accounting here at Mango Languages. We are so glad to have her and her very rich background here at the Grove.
Do you use what you went to school for?
Rosh Hashanah symbolizes a time of reflection called the aseret yamei teshuva, ten days of penitence. Jews believe that while they can find forgiveness for sins committed against the Boss, it is left to them to seek out and apologize to people they feel they have wronged in the previous year. The aseret yamei teshuva end on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Many Jews go to Synagogues for Rosh Hashanah, asking for forgiveness and pray to be inscribed in the “Book of Life” for a sweet and healthy New Year.
The most famous symbol of the holiday, the Shofar, is sounded in synagogues on Rosh Hashanah, and is critical to the obligations on Rosh Hashanah. The Shofar is fashioned from a ram’s horn. Yonah Bookstein, from the Washington Post, says, “The blasts of the Shofar are likened both to the wordless cries of the humanity speaking to God and a wake-up call to the soul which transcends rational explanation.”
“Some other cherished customs include: dipping challah and apples into honey and eating honey cake to symbolize our wish for a sweet new year; consuming huge meals with too many courses, calories, and cousins; tossing bread crumbs into living waters during a ceremony called ‘Tashlich‘ to symbolically cast away our sins; and renewing synagogue memberships.” Rosh Hashanah brings the whole family together to celebrate the New Year.
A typical greeting is שנה טובה (shaNAH toVAH) meaning “Happy New Year.” Shana means “year” and tovah means “good.” Another common greeting is שנה טובה ומתוקה (shaNAH toVAH ve metooKAH) meaning “Happy and Sweet New Year.” Metookah means “sweet.”
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and sweet New Year! Shanah Tovah!
I love the taste of mangoes but admittedly, had never bought and cut one myself. As you can tell by the photo, it didn’t work out very well.
So here goes, I’ll put my pride aside and recount the time I [failed to] cut a mango.
What NOT to do:
1. Do not say to yourself, “Ah, no peeler? No problem! I’ll try this butter knife!”
2. Do not forget that mangoes have a pit. It may be a funny looking one, but it’s still a pit.
3. Do not underestimate the slippery-ness of a peeled mango! (HINT: Alton Brown from FoodTV suggests using corn-on-the-cob holders to secure the mango)
What to do:
Not to worry, here’s some advice on exactly how to dice up a delicious mango! Do you have any yummy cultural mango recipes or advice for the less culinary inclined like myself?
Nicolas was born in Paris, France but grew up an army brat so he has lived all over France and even in Tahiti. He moved to the U.S. in 2002 as an exchange student. He attended Michigan State University and obtained two degrees, one in telecommunications and the other in French. He speaks several languages (I am so jealous), French, English, Spanish and a bit of Italian, German, and Russian. He enjoys any opportunity to learn a language. I think he found a great place to work that feeds his addiction.
He said that when he moved here from Paris…getting used to a more suburban lifestyle was interesting. He said everything was bigger here, especially the cars. He shared a story with m about his first night at the university. He said he kept hearing honking all night and thought someone had double parked and trapped a driver. But he quickly realized that our trains honk. Who knew?
His wife calls him “Nicopedia” because he is full of random trivia. Next Trivial Pursuit game at the Grove, I am calling dibs on Nicolas to be on my team. He loves rugby and even took fencing and orienteering at boarding school. Give him a compass and a map and he is your best bet out of the forest. He is also an avid barefoot runner.
Please help me give Nicolas a warm welcome to the Mango Grove.
I’ve never seen an advertisement more powerful than this Louis Vuitton spot.
In fact, it gave me goose bumps.
Maybe it was the breath-taking images or the thought-provoking copy. Or maybe it was the fact that this ad expresses exactly what I’ve failed at expressing for years: how travel changes you.
What this ad doesn’t address, however, is how knowing another language changes you.
So much of who we are is based on how we express ourselves; what we say and how we say it. So, when we express ourselves in a new language, it’s like creating a whole new version of ourselves. When we can understand others in a new language is when we broaden our perspectives.
Here’s my stance:
Going on a journey is amazing.
Communicating in another language is amazing.
Going on a journey + communicating in the native language = life changing.
What do you think, does the person create the journey or does the journey create the person? Tell us about how a journey or speaking another language has changed you!
Twitter recently announced the release of the social networking site in 5 new languages bringing the total number of available languages to 17. As a student of French and an avid social media user, this news made me stop and think about the many ways in which social media (Twitter specifically) has shaped my language learning.
Since I first created a Twitter account, I began following French speakers who were influential in topics that interested me. In my case, that means I follow graphic design and marketing professionals from France and French-speaking Canada.
I was able to “eavesdrop” on their topical conversations to learn industry-specific vocabulary. Learning real-word vocabulary, grammar, and slang specific to my interests is something I could have never experienced reading out of one of my college textbooks.
Sorry to any of my dear professeurs reading this but here’s why I think social media is better than traditional advanced language-learning methods:
1. It’s more fun.
Let’s be honest: hanging out on Twitter is more fun than making conjugation charts or writing a literary analysis of a French poem. While learning the basics first is necessary to understanding and interacting in a new language online, once you build a foundation, you’re more likely to stay engaged with something fun that doesn’t feel like homework.
Bottom line: textbooks are expensive and they’re horrible conversationalists.
2. It’s real.
The language you read on Twitter from native speakers is unstructured and natural. People express themselves on social media the same way they do in real life.
If your end goal is to be able to communicate effectively with native speakers of the language you’re learning, the best way to do it is talk with them! If a luxury séjour in the south of France isn’t 100% doable for you right now, logging on to your social networking accounts might be a cheaper alternative (albeit minus the tan).
My advice on how to use the [excessive, in my case] time you spend on social networking sites to accelerate your language learning? Follow, respond to and make your way into the online social circles of native speakers of your target language.
In my experience doing exactly this, I’ve learned cultural nuances, new vocabulary, met fascinating people from around the globe and have even attended tweet-ups in other countries.
Not ready to start chatting-up foreign strangers? Understandable.
A great place to start is by changing the default language on your accounts to the language you want to learn. It’s a simple way to learn new vocabulary words and have them really sink in!
Do you have a success story or suggestion for ways to utilize social media to learn a language?