Some of us here at Mango have dressed up to wish everyone a very fun-filled and happy Halloween!
Today’s post comes from an avid Mango user, Betsy Talbot. Betsy and her husband Warren quit their jobs and sold everything they owned to travel the world in 2010. Their new digital guide Dream Save Do: The Step-by-Step Blueprint for Amassing the Cash to Live Your Dream does just what it says. You can learn more about living the good life at their blog, Married with Luggage.
When we first started planning our round-the-world adventure three years ago, we knew the key to saving the money and actually taking off was to act on our plan right away, even though we didn’t have all the answers. We made mistakes, but mostly we learned and moved closer to our goal, reaching it faster than we imagined possible.
We’ve now been traveling for one year, and we’ve discovered that learning a new language requires the same level of action and fearlessness about making mistakes.
Traveling can expand your knowledge, give you a different perspective, and allow you to appreciate the beauty and diversity in the world around you. It can make you feel really smart when you figure something out, engage with people very different from you, or test yourself in ways you never could back home.
Traveling can also make you feel like an idiot, cobbling together sentences like a toddler, and using your hands and facial expressions to get your meaning across. Worse yet, using the wrong word, or the wrong tone with the word, can change the meaning entirely, possibly insulting your new friend or making him laugh hysterically.
- You wanted an egg for breakfast, but you asked for a whole chicken (Thai).
- Instead of telling your new friend you are married, you instead say you are tired (Spanish).
- Not understanding measurements or numbers in the language might get you a full bottle of wine instead of the small carafe – and the bill that goes along with it (French).
Many people hesitate when trying out their new language skills on a trip, fearing they will make a mistake. We have made these and many more, and what we’ve found is that people are generally delighted when you try to speak their language, even if you do it poorly.
As we immerse ourselves in a new culture, we stumble along like 2-year-olds, receiving correction from the locals and repeating the words back to them until we get it right. It is embarrassing at first, but it often turns into a way to better know the people and customs of an area.
We use Mango Languages to help us prepare for arriving in a new country. We can’t always learn the language, but we can always learn the basic words to get by – please, thank you, may I have, where is, excuse me, hello, goodbye. If you make an effort to be part of the local culture, the local people will be much more inclined to interact with you, even if they speak English.
So don’t wait. Take your language lessons before you go, and then dive right in when you get there. Sure, you’ll mess up, but you’ll also learn a lot and possibly even make a new friend.
And don’t forget to learn to say “I’m sorry” in the local language, just in case you accidentally tell someone you are going to kill him. (Spanish)
Have you ever had an experience where something you or someone else said was completely lost in translation? Tell us about it!
There are many classically “American” traditions, but Baseball is certainly one of the more important ones.
As far back as I can remember baseball was a staple in my home. My dad is definitely a fan. He taught me the game and even coached my softball team in middle school.
One of my favorite memories of baseball came in the fall of 1984…I remember it like it was yesterday. I was proudly wearing my signed Alan Trammel jersey and the old English D cap. My dad and I sat together on our comfy 70′s orange and brown couch watching the 19″ TV with no remote control–except me when I turned the knob and bunny ears to get the channel just right (benefit of being an only child…who says we are spoiled?). I sat there proudly with my papa and saw history being made as the Tigers won the World Series.
We jumped with pure joy when we clinched the title…”Champions.” We heard our neighbors screams of delight and all ran outside to celebrate together with the sounds of fireworks in the distance. My city was united, my father and I were bonding, and my neighbors became family that night.
Since then it has become a Father’s Day tradition to take my “old man” (who is only 59 years young) out to the ball game.
We spend about three hours in our beautiful Comerica Ballpark, shelling peanuts, eating stadium dogs, and taking in the sights of the D in the background. And just being…daddy and daughter! With an occasional wave and a joyous rendition of the classic 7th inning stretch…”Take me out to the ballgame.” These are special moments and I cherish them more each and every year!
Baseball is tied to my youth, my dad, and my city. Yes…Baseball is an American tradition but it is also a great analogy of the human spirit…and that belongs to everyone!
Most college-aged girls getting ready to study abroad indulge themselves in fantasies of a whirlwind romance with a local, leading to a “happily ever after” in a foreign land. Well, my time abroad did, indeed, yield a whirlwind romance, however it was not with a local and did not require me to stay thousands of miles from my home (much to my mother’s delight). No, this was a romance of a different kind. My European love is actually an American: Rick Steves. Many of you may know of this travel expert from his famous European guide books, or maybe from his PBS television series Rick Steves’ Europe. Before I started traveling, I thought travel books were a waste of money and that I could easily discover a city by simply chatting with the locals. While some of this may be true, it is not always that easy to simply “chat with the locals,” due to many different factors. What I like about Rick Steves’ books is the fact that he takes travelers off the beaten path. He knows the importance of visiting historical sites, yet is able to retain an authenticity to your travels.
Though I studied in France, we used Rick Steves’ travel books in Italy, Spain, and France, at the very least. My favorite part of his books is, by far, the walking tours. Traveling throughout Europe is expensive, and he is cognizant of this. Steves gives step by step directions on totally free walking tours throughout most of the cities in his books, allowing you to see all that there is to see without breaking the bank. One of the most memorable is the “Night Walk” in Rome. Though probably intended as a romantic night stroll, I participated in this guided tour with a group of about 6 travel companions. And let me tell you, the magic was not lost. The tour takes you through Rome at night, glowing under the streetlights. Notable stops include the Piazza Navona, Campo dei Fiori, Trevi Fountain, and a dramatic finish on the Spanish Steps. What I find most fascinating about Steves’ tours is the way in which he gives directions. Rather than instructing with street names, he gives direction by landmarks. For instance, instead of telling you to follow a specific road for 40 meters, he will tell you to follow the road you are on until you see the man on the corner selling roses. Then, turn right. And sure enough, after walking a few paces, you will see the man on the corner selling roses and know that you have reached your destination. It is clear that he is well traveled in these areas and it instills a sense of trust in all those who use his books.
On our last day as students in Aix-en-Provence, France, my friends and I decided to take a look at the Rick Steves book detailing the south of France. Sure enough, we found a walking tour of our beloved city and decided to spoil ourselves with the sights and sounds one last time before returning home to the good ole U S of A. Imagine our shock and awe when we discovered that Rick Steves (affectionately dubbed Rick James by this point, due to his all-around awesome-ness) recounted our daily walk to class. If that didn’t put the past 6 months into perspective, nothing could.
While I do appreciate the value of discovering things on your own (mostly by accident) and utilizing the expertise of locals to create a well-balanced vacation, a little help from time to time can’t hurt. To anyone looking for a nudge in the right direction, I highly recommend one of Rick Steves’ travel guides. So here’s to you, Rick! Thanks for the tips! And if you ever need an apprentice that loves language, culture, and travel, I’m your girl.
What are your favorite travel books? Have you ever had a great guided experience abroad? Tell us about it!
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?
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?
At first, the idea seemed crazy to me. It was March of 2010 and I had just gotten engaged to my boyfriend of 6 years. We were living in Germany, and he had spontaneously proposed during an afternoon hike close to his Bavarian hometown. Following on the heels of our engagement, we made the decision to return to Bavaria the following year to celebrate for our wedding. The only problem? We also planned to move back to the States in the meantime! In fact, the time between our engagement and our departure back to the States was so tight, that we were only left with one day to look for a suitable venue. None of those we saw ended up being our “dream location.”
And so it was in April of that year, that I headed back to the United States with a full list of “to-dos” to complete from more than 3000 miles away. From day one, I had to be realistic about many things: like, for example, that my wedding wouldn’t be full of the many DIY details that I had fawned over in bridal blogs. It just wouldn’t be logistically possible to ship decorations over from the States, so I would have to make do with the linens provided by the venue, plus a few IKEA-bought candles that we could easily pick up over there (FYI – Germany has more IKEA stores than any other country, which explains why most homes there look like a page out of the catalogue!)
The inherent cultural differences between Germany and the US also posed a few additional bumps along the way, as I found that my expectations didn’t always align with the outcome or options I was met with. Like the fact that none of my vendors asked for a deposit – except for my photographer, who was American. While this may seem like a dream, given the cost of most weddings, keep in mind that deposits also offer protection. It was only after our officiant randomly gave away our date 6 months after booking that we actually began to ask our vendors if we could put down a deposit (as you can imagine, most said yes!). I also found it difficult to locate a baker that could reproduce the dream of a modern 4-tiered cake that I had held in my head for years. In Germany, the norm still leans towards plainer, more traditional cakes – most commonly, flat heart-shaped cakes covered in fruit.
But the thing is, after several months of trying to contrive my wedding to be the event I had always imagined it to be – I stopped. I realized that it simply wasn’t going to look like the weddings I had seen in American magazines…but that this was a good thing! I had chosen to have my wedding in Germany for a reason, and I needed to embrace what it would mean to have a German wedding with American flair…rather than trying to have an “American wedding” in Germany! Once I came to this realization, I began to treasure the cultural surprises, rather being than be thrown by them. Not only did this make for a much less stressful planning experience, it also made for some incredible adventures too!
So while a having an overseas wedding meant that I had to give up control about many things, it also means that I now get to tell my kids I was married in a palace (Schloss Nymphenburg) and that I incorporated several different languages into my ceremony. I also get to show them the formal pictures I took in Munich’s main square (Marienplatz) and recount memories of having tourists follow me to take pictures. So if you’d ask me if I’d go back and change anything – I’d say no, not in a million years.
Have you ever attended a wedding or another type of celebration abroad? What kind of cultural differences did you experience?
[Thanks to Matt Owen for this guest post and his perspective!
Matt is a social media manager and part time alpenhorn champion from London.]
Hey there! I’m Matt, and I’m from England. I was trying to write a few words for Mango on the differences between UK and US English. I thought it would be fun.
Unfortunately I can’t do it.
I mean, I can write the words down easily enough, but it’s nearly impossible for me to point out the differences.
Because Microsoft Word won’t let me.
As in all fields of combat, the US tends to rely on technology to dominate the battlefield, and the battle for control of the language has been running since you guys decided you were probably better off without the King sticking his royal nose in your business.
And yeah, I’ve tried changing my settings (which incidentally, read “English” or “UK English” – make of that what you will), but every time I save or reopen a document, Microsoft discards all of this.
I’ve tried to convince it that I like spelling “Favour” like that, but it won’t take the hint. Or do me any favors.
Of course, this isn’t the only way American English has become the version most of the world speaks. When Britain was at the height of its powers, it spread the language by forcing people to use it to buy and sell, and by using it in churches and schools across the globe.
America on the other hand simply visits any given country, and quietly builds a Starbuck’s around anyone speaking another language.
I’ve already mentioned the war of independence, and John Adams himself was (unsurprisingly) a great fan of “Americanisms”, happily announcing that he thought the US would do a great job of “Polishing the language”.
What John forgot to mention was that we Brits had been polishing away ourselves for several hundred years already, and people continue to do so on both sides of the Atlantic.
To really understand the differences, you have to delve further back into history.
You can also add a few other factors to those weird roots: A history of being invaded by nearly every country in Europe (quite why the Romans were so keen on trooping all the way from sunny Lazio to get their hands on a small grey island with nothing but a bit of tin and constant rain going for it remains a mystery), and books written by semi-illiterates on printing presses that couldn’t handle all the letters.
Take the word ‘Ye’ for example, it only exists because old printing presses had a symbol that looked like a ‘Y’ instead of a ‘TH’.
Next up, Britain went through an industrial revolution a bit earlier than most countries, with the billowing smog in London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool filling the local people’s sinuses and having a similar effect on the local accents – they all make you sound as though you’ve got a clothes-peg on your nose [For Americans: case in point; we say clothes pin -Rachel].
Meanwhile, in the US, something more profound was happening. We like to call it “Hollywood”. The movie industry has a huge history of imposing standards on across the world.
Here’s a question for you – what noise do frogs make?
If you answered “Ribbit”, it’s because that’s the noise frogs from Southern California make, most other places they go “Bloik”.
And English is the same. All over the world, countries got used to the language of Shakespeare through films, where trousers were pants, pavements were sidewalks and words followed the general American rule –pronounce it how you spell it.
This approach is sensible, but wouldn’t really work in England, where no word seems complete without a hidden ‘H’ or a silent ‘U’ in the middle. This is why tourists constantly ask me the way to “Li-ses-ter Square”. It’s actually pronounced “Les-ter”, but spelled “Leicester”.
Meanwhile, my American workmate gets weird looks when she asks for Pleated Pants in stores here. In the office, any businessman who wears ‘Suspenders’ probably shouldn’t mention it if he wants that promotion (If you want to know why, try using Google.co.uk to look the word up –just don’t do it while you’re at work!).
We’ve also got different words for commonplace things: some make more sense, some make less. Want to give me a call? I’ll take it on my mobile. It’s a phone, and it’s mobile. Makes sense yes? ‘Cellphone’ actually means ‘battery powered phone’. When you think about it, that’s just weird.
On the other hand, a Truck sounds much better to me than a Lorry…
The differences don’t stop there either: remember the history bit earlier? England has a pretty long tradition of battling with France at every given opportunity, so that any word sounding vaguely French is considered low class, so the Toilet is the ‘Loo’, although you guys might say ‘restroom’. A few years back an Aunt of mine told me that when she first visited back in the 80s, she honestly thought that a restroom was just a quiet area where you could go and sit down and read a book for a while…
And then there’s slang. In the US, English has had a healthy injection of Dutch, German, Spanish, Yiddish and Eminem to help it along, In England we just go for weird rhyming slang (Apples and pears= stairs, dog and bone = phone), text speak and references to weird English sitcoms from the 70s. In other words, If we fancy an ace night out we get bladdered down the nags, and hopefully there’s no aggro involved innit, y’get me?
I’ve tried to come up with an American equivalent for that last line. Let’s just say a few beers after work doesn’t quite sum it up…
Meanwhile the yoofs have well and truly looted the language for all it’s worth. Where I live, most kids is speakin the Jafaican mon [Matt explained this to me as "fake-Jamaican" -Rachel] (when they aren’t stealing ‘Trainers’ from the local sporting goods store), usually in a weird accent that arrives in Hackney after swinging through Kingston Town and early 90s South Central LA. Don U be letting the feds catch ya janga sistrin innit?
Nope, I don’t know what that means either…
Overall, the language we speak is vaguely similar, but history, immigration and culture have changed the two so that visitors from either side have to make a real effort. Whenever I write for a website, a good bit of my time is spent going through and putting ‘Z’ instead of ‘S’ in words – although in England even the letter would be pronounced differently, so bad news for any fans of Zed Zed Top out there.
On the plus side it means that the way we speak gets more and more interesting as we go along. The regional diction of newscasters doesn’t really match what people say in San Diego, or in Des Moines, and in England it has to be said that even the Queen (god bless you ma’am…) has a pretty weird accent compared to most of her subjects.
The reason English is so dominant on the world stage is because it’s inclusive, always happy to add in a new expression from a different country or a new technology – look for ‘Twiterati’ in Websters and the Oxford English soon. And hey, next time I walk into a diner and order a beefburger and chips, cut me some slack yo?