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!
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!
My wife and I recently had the privilege of traveling to our 50th state, Hawaiʻi. While every state in the contiguous United States offers its own unique slant on what makes our great country what it is, Hawaiʻi and Alaska in particular have long held an allure due to their geographic remoteness and utterly unique histories as compared with the rest of the nation. Having visited Alaska back in March (yes, it was cold, but having grown up in northern lower Michigan and my wife having grown up in eastern Ukraine we’re used to this stuff) it seemed to make sense to hit Hawaiʻi next. And so we did…
Hawaiʻi holds the distinction of being one of the most naturally awe inspiring places on the planet. While the exotic nature of Hawaiʻi may seem obvious due to its location and climate, for some reason what we were in for didn’t really dawn on me until I began researching all the spectacular things to do and see once we got there. With many different islands to choose from, each with its own unique scenery and history, it was challenging to fit so many exciting experiences into a 4 day trip.
I’ll spare you the brutal details of the flight in. It’s probably obvious how one feels after spending 12 hours on multiple airliners traversing a country and an ocean (we flew out of Detroit). Upon landing and exiting the plane for the concourse I was immediately struck by the flavor of the “island” lifestyle. This includes open-air hallways, warm breezes, tall palm trees swaying in the wind, and comfortably humid air. Being notoriously un-well traveled, I had never been in the tropics before. I’d been to the Bahamas once, but this was something different altogether. I was prepared for scorching hot temperatures and scalp-frying sun, but the weather was actually some of the mildest, most beautiful I had ever experienced. I don’t think it ever got warmer than 85 degrees the entire time we were there and the temperatrure averaged around 75 degrees.
Anyway, what we did while we were there: Since we’re not really “touristy” types, we chose to do things that gave us the opportunity to experience Hawaiʻi as authentically as possible. Sure, there were the occasional “tourist traps” (like the lava tube on Maui), but generally it was a lot of being outdoors and enjoying nature. For the most part, our trip was confined to the island of Maui. We had discussed the possibility of making a trip to Oʻahu to see the Pearl Harbor Memorial, Diamond Head, the beaches, and so forth but decided it would have probably been more difficult than it was worth to charter a plane and all that. However, Maui proved to be so chock-full of amazing things to see that we didn’t feel like were missing a thing. A brief list of what we did includes a flight-seeing tour of the island of Hawaiʻi (known locally as “The Big Island”) which included amazing waterfalls, coastal valleys, the caldera of Kilauea, and a flight between the two big volcanoes Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea before returning back to the airport in Maui, a drive up to the top of Haleakala (the dormant volcano which makes up ¾ of the island of Maui) to view the Martian-like terrain inside of the crater, a drive on the Hana highway which is known worldwide as one of the most scenic stretches of road anywhere, visits to several coastal towns for snorkeling, sailing, and a variety of on-foot activities, and fresh mahi-mahi and pineapple for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day we were there. There are few things I enjoy more than fresh fish for a meal.
A note on the Hawaiian language. Something else I thought was kind of neat and wasn’t quite prepared for was the degree to which the local inhabitants recognize, respect, and embrace their ethnic Hawaiian roots. Many signs in local businesses (like Burger King) were printed in English AND Hawaiian and being greeted with the ubiquitous “aloha” and thanked with “mahalo” was a pleasant surprise for somebody who was used to hearing very few languages in day to day life other than English and Russian.
In summary, Hawaiʻi is a fantastic place to visit for anybody who’s looking for an exotic vacation offering a different climate, geography, culture, and language, but who isn’t quite prepared for the need to learn a new language to get around or who doesn’t want to be tethered to a foreign language phrasebook the entire trip. Plus, because it’s in the United States, there is no visa required! I’m convinced that there’s something there for everybody and we hope to make it back at some point in our lives.
Been to Hawaiʻi? Got any experience learning or speaking the Hawaiian language? Tell us about it.
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.
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?
I love Montréal; the sights, the sounds, the food (try the poutine at La Banquise Resto), the people, everything! But let’s talk about the sounds.
One of my favorite parts of traveling to Montréal is overhearing, “Québécismes;” words and phrases that are très French Canadian.
Check out these five actual phrases I’ve heard during my travels to Montréal and what they can teach us about the language:
1. C’était bien le fun!
What it means: It was really fun!
Why it’s awesome: I was speaking in French with a Quebecois man when I heard this phrase. After he said it, I remarked that it was interesting that he used the English word “fun.”
He looked at me like I was crazy.
Much like “bouquet” or “clique” in English, the word “fun” (among many others) is used so frequently that French Canadian speakers don’t even realize it’s an English word.
2. Je vais te sender un email.
What it means: I am going to send you an email.
Why it’s awesome: The word “sender” in this sentence is what I found the most interesting. Especially when it comes to technology, French Canadians borrow lots of English words. When referring to email, the English verb “to send” was adopted into French grammar by adding an “–er” verb ending.
3. Il faut pas se bâdrer avec les détails!
What it means: Don’t bother with the details!
Why it’s awesome: The word “bâdrer” comes from “to bother” in English. This sentence is awesome because of what it reveals about the difference in the accents of Francophones when speaking in English. Stick with me here. When someone from Paris says, “the car” it usually sounds like “zee car.” When someone from Montreal says it, it usually sounds like “deh car.”
So, the word bâdrer comes from the French Canadian pronunciation of the word “bother” in English. The “th” sounds like a “d” and an “–er” verb ending was added.
4. C’est le friforâll (See photo above)
What it means: It’s a free-for-all.
Why it’s awesome: When I first looked at the advertisement in the photo above, I had no idea what friforâll meant…until I sounded it out in French: free…for…all ! Voila! French Canadian often takes English words and changes the spelling so that when sounded out in French, the pronunciation remains similar to how it’s pronounced in English.
5. Je suis badeloqué, la.
What is means: I have bad luck.
Why it’s awesome: Much like the free-for-all example above, badeloqué comes from the English “bad luck” but with a French spelling and is used as an adjective, “bad-lucked.” The “la” at the end of this sentence is heavily used in French-speaking Canada. In instances like this, “la” doesn’t have much meaning. It’s a filler that can be compared to “um” or “so” in English and is used to show emphasis.
The French Canadian language is a fascinating mélange of culture and history (with some English mixed in for good measure). Have you encountered any interesting “franglais” phrases or any other language combinations?
Working in events, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel from time to time for work. Unfortunately, this was not the case for a recent trip to Puerto Rico taken by Jason Teshuba and Ryan Colpaert, our CEO and Director of Sales and Marketing, respectively. The rest of us Mangoes spent the week slaving away at the office while Jason and Ryan spent a week relaxing on the beach in sunny San Juan. Ok fiiiine, I will admit that their trip was not without purpose (and I promise I’m not still bitter). Our two jetsetters made their way to Puerto Rico to attend the 77th Annual World Library and Information Congress Conference and Assembly! The conference took place from August 13-18 and, according to the website, it brings together over 3,500 participants from more than 120 countries. The exhibition portion of the conference boasts over 80 exhibitors with a combined buying power of all delegates estimated at more than 1.2 billion dollars! Needless to say, it was an exciting opportunity for Mango Languages to attend the show for the first time, especially given this year’s exotic location.
Because most of our Mangoes are curious travelers and always seeking out cultural experiences, Ryan and Jason decided to extend their trip and get a little taste of what San Juan has to offer. And being a self-proclaimed foodie, I was most interested in what they actually DID taste. Jason came back raving about his new favorite food, mofongo. A specialty of Puerto Rico, the dish combines mashed plantains with any combination of meat, seafood, and vegetables. Traditionally, the dish is prepared in a mortar and pestle, but can also be made in a food processor, depending on how authentic you want your experience to be. Either way, I will selflessly offer to taste any mofongo you decide to prepare. I’ll bring the Puerto Rican rum.
Aside from food and drink, Jason and Ryan also took advantage of Puerto Rico’s famous rain forests. While in San Juan, they had the opportunity to take a tour of El Yunque, pictured above. Additionally, the guys caught an awesome cultural performance of native dances at the conference, shown in the video below. I’m thinking we should try this out in the office. Nothing like a little choreography to break up the work day!
That, coupled with lounging in the sun, does not sound like too stressful of a work trip, no? That, my friends, is what we call “fundipline.” A combination of “fun” and “discipline,” it is one of our core values we are always striving to emphasize over at the Mango office (and the creation of a new word exemplifies “innovation,” another one of Mango’s core values.. TANGENT ALERT). Work hard, play hard is what we are all about. Rather than fly in and out solely for the show, our Mangoes decided to take advantage of their time in a new and exciting place. I think it goes without saying that I will be joining the guys for the 2012 conference in Helsinki (where we will hopefully indulge in some Finnish sweet bread, called pulla). Until then, adios and hei-hei!
Can you recall a time where you have been able to combine business and pleasure to gain a cultural experience?
Kelly, one of our rockstar linguists shares loads of linguistic and cultural information on our new Hawaiian course with the Mango Elves. There is even a really cool picture of the owners in hula skirts! VERY funny!
Have you been to Hawai’i and learned some of the local language? Please share some tips!
The following post is a guest blog from one of our Mangoes, Alana Wolfman. Alana recently returned from a Mediterranean cruise, where she traveled to Italy, Greece, Croatia, and Turkey. Here is a bit about her time spent in Venice.
Crossing the southern end of the Grand Canal, the Ponte dell’Accademia (aka the Academia Bridge) was the one place in Venice, Italy to make such an impact during my 10-day trip through the Mediterranean.
Rebuilt in 1985, the Ponte dell’Accademia is a busy bridge because it’s one of only four bridges in Venice allowing pedestrians to walk across the main canal. It was designed to replicate the temporary wooden bridge built there in 1932, but the new one was to be built with metal support features to maintain its durability throughout the years. The view from this bridge is absolutely outstanding and, unlike any of the other bridges in Venice, the location almost reaches St. Mark’s Basin and you have wonderful sights in all directions.
It was not only the view that caught my eye; looking down on the inner hand rails on the bridge, I noticed a cluster of pad-locks locked to the railing. Looking around even more, there were multiple clusters of pad-locks, each with writing on them. “Mila + Greg 1998″ and “Dimitri <3 Lena 2003″ and “L + K forever” were just a few.
These “love locks” have been noticed in other cities in Italy, but reportedly started in Hungarian city of Pécs during the 1980s. It is meant to symbolize that lovers’ love lasts forever, where they lock their locks to the rails and throw the key into the waters below. There were so many love locks, I couldn’t believe all of those tourists knew about it! If anyone is going to take a romantic trip to Venice, Italy, head over to the Academia Bridge, but be sure to carry an extra lock with you and a permanent marker.
What other “romantic” traditions have you come across in your travels?