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Category: Cultural lessons

What is the easiest language to learn? Esperanto!

What is the easiest language to learn? Esperanto!

What if you could communicate in a fair way with people who don’t share your native language while promoting linguistic diversity? That’s the goal of Esperanto language.

It was created by the Polish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof in 1887. He first described the language in The International Language, which he published in five languages under the pseudonym “Doktoro Esperanto” (Esperanto as “the one who hopes”). Zamenhof’s goal was to create an easy language that would serve as a universal second language to foster world peace and international understanding, and to build a “community of speakers”. read more

Learn the main Italian words for travelling

Learn the main Italian words for travelling

If you are tired of traveling only from your room to your kitchen, and vice versa, just as I did during my quarantine, I bet you have a crazy desire to travel around Europe and the world right now. If you haven’t been to Italy yet, this is probably the right time to start planning your next vacation there. Why? Well, the “Bel Paese” has so much to offer to people who love to travel. Sea, mountains, UNESCO sites, beautiful cities, history, and so much more… Something that Italy has to offer and that is worth mentioning is the Italian language.

The Italian language is a Romance language spoken mainly in Italy, but which can also be practiced in other places because of the large Italian communities scattered around the world. The Italian language is ranked as the 21st most spoken language in the world. Foreigners love to learn the Italian language because it really is a beautiful, unique language, it’s the language of love. If you’re going to learn it, I’m sure you’ll love it. Besides, if you learn the Italian language not only will you be able viajar en Italia easily, but you might also consider getting a job in Bel Paese. read more

Italian idioms that you must learn for your next trip to Italy!

Italian idioms that you must learn for your next trip to Italy!

Okay, so here we are again! Are you planning your next trip to Italy? Are you already confident with the Italian language you know? Are you ready to learn some Italian idioms and some Italian expressions so that you can sound like a local? We hope you are because if you are eager to read this blog article, we must warn you that you will learn some of them! Let’s start.

First of all, what are idioms? Idioms are phrases that have a meaning that differs from their individual parts. Most sentences have a literal meaning, while idioms have a figurative meaning. Idioms are a combination of words that mean something different than the individual words do. Idioms are used by native speakers, so if you want to sound like a native speaker, you should probably learn some Italian idioms and some Italian expressions. Why? In this way, you will be able to impress locals and native speakers the next time you will travel around Italy. read more

Papiamento – the secret language of the Caribbean

Papiamento – the secret language of the Caribbean

Papiamento is a Creole language that contains elements of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English and French, as well as Arawakan and African languages. It is primarily spoken in the lower Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao also known as the ABC islands. Papiamento is spoken by around 400.000 people worldwide but centered on these touristic paradises and in the Netherlands through their diaspora. Only these 3 places in the whole world speak Papiamento, indeed a secret language.

The ABC islands all fall under the Kingdom of the Netherlands and as such, learn Dutch from a young age through the Dutch education system. However, the mother-tongue remains Papiamento. It is important to know that Papiamentu is indeed a language, not a dialect, and evolved from several older languages as most languages today have done. read more

French expressions, idioms and argot in songs

French expressions, idioms and argot in songs

If you are learning French, we are sure that you listen to some songs in French. And if you don’t, you definitely should! Why? Well, because throughout French songs and listening to French music in general, you will be able to read the lyrics and to hear the right vocabulary’s pronunciation! We all know how much people struggle with French pronunciation; that’s why we think that French songs can be so useful.

In addition, we think that by listening to French songs you’ll be able to also learn some French expressions, some French idioms and French argots. French pop songs always use some kind of French expressions. Through this blog article, you will learn some French expressions, French idioms and French argots and also you will discover some French songs that you can listen to to practice your French!

Sapés comme jamais

Sapés comme jamais (jamais)

This French song by Maître Gims was really popular in 2015. You can already find a French argot in its title. The French expression used here is ”se saper”, that means “s’habiller, mettre ses habits”, so “to dress up”. The title of this song means to be dressed in its best dresses. read more

What language is spoken in Mexico?

What language is spoken in Mexico?

It’s well known that Mexican people speak Spanish. But why Spanish? Is it the official language? It’s not! Moreover, Mexico doesn’t even have an official language! But indeed, one of the most spoken languages in Mexico is the Spanish one, followed by Náhuatl. And what is the Náhuatl language? It’s the most spoken Indigenous language being in front of more than 60 other Indigenous languages spoken today in this country.

You’re already lost? Okay, let’s make a review of Mexican history, you’ll understand better what languages are spoken in Mexico today and why.

Once upon a time in Mexico…

Let’s go through Mexican history from the Maya period to the 21st century.

Maya, Toltec, Aztec

The Maya were people who lived in actual Mexico and Central America between 1200 BC and 400 AC. They reached the peak of their civilization between 600 and 800 AC when they were living in Palenque, Mexico.

Toltec people, another Indigenous civilisation, decided to become sedentary and to live near Tuta, the Mexican capital in 900 AC. In 980, both civilizations were unified in Yucatan and changed the capital of Mexico, in 1200, for Mayapan, located in the same area.

Aztec people set up in the Texcoco lake, this place became their capital: Tenochtitlan (the actual Mexico city) in 1325. Those three civilizations formed the triple alliance in 1428 when the Aztec empire reign began. In fact, in 1441 the old capital Mapayan collapsed. read more

The magic of untranslatable words

The magic of untranslatable words

Have you ever wished – in the middle of a conversation – that there was a word that could describe that one specific concept you have in mind, instead of having to explain it with a full articulate sentence? Yes, we know about that frustrating feeling. But don’t be desperate, because chances are high that that specific word you think of does exist in another language.

Every language develops by itself and creates new words according to the speakers’ needs. It is known that these days a new word is coined every 98 minutes: can you believe it? Every two episodes of the TV show you’re currently watching, or at the end of every football match, a new word is created!!! Mind-blowing, huh?

Now that we have hopefully triggered your interest in words and neologisms, we wanted to talk about a specific topic that fascinates us immensely. That is untranslatable words.

You might wonder what they are, and how on earth it is possible for a word not to have a natural correspondence in any other language. You see, as translators, we constantly seek for the chance to find the most accurate and effective way to translate one term, concept or sentence from one language to another. We’re willing to change the subject, register, and use different synonyms to provide the most effective translation taking into consideration not only the words per se but even the cultural background that lies behind the words themselves. But we also know that no translation can be 100% perfect, and that in some cases it is rather impossible to convey the same exact meaning from one source language to a target language. This is most definitely the case when we speak of untranslatable words. read more

Speaking French outside of France: Get to know the Belgian, Swiss, and Canadian idioms!

Speaking French outside of France: Get to know the Belgian, Swiss, and Canadian idioms!

Just like English and Spanish, the French language can be very different from one country to the other. This article is here to help you understand how French can be different in other French-speaking countries such as Canada, Belgium or Switzerland. Get acquainted with the most used words or idioms and understand some funny bickering between France and other French-speaking countries!


Why is French different…

In Quebec?

If you know your geography well, you have probably noticed that Quebec is quite far from France (compared to Belgium or Switzerland), and that just as the United States it was colonised. Quebec is not a country, it’s a province that belongs to Canada. Canada has English and French as its official languages. In 1534, the explorer Jacques Cartier claimed the land in the name of King Francis I of France, and thus New France (the former name of Quebec) was born. In 1763, after losing a battle, the French empire was forced to cease its land to the British empire, and from then on the language evolved differently. Something funny about the Canadian language is that it seems to be closer to the French language of the 17th century. Indeed, before that, the French from France and all the settlers that came to New France spoke exactly the same French. That is to say, they did not pronounce every syllable of the words. After the 17th century, France decided that the French had to pronounce every syllable and Quebeckers continued to speak French as they used to! read more

Substantive differences between American English and British English

Substantive differences between American English and British English

Although the United States and the United Kingdom share the same language, many differences can be found in the vocabulary, the grammar or the pronunciation. On top of that, both countries have very different cultures, which can be found in the food, their history, the sports they play, or even the TV shows they usually watch.

In contrast, it’s true that they both share the mile system, but it is actually the only measurement system that they have in common! In short, it can be said that the two countries are divided by a common language! All of these points will be developed in this article (among many others), so if you’re interested to discover all the differences, they will be listed below! read more

The differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

The differences between European Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese

You can learn a lot about a language by its country’s history and culture. So, if one of your goals is to learn Portuguese, the history of Brazil and the history of Portugal are very important in order to understand not only the Portuguese language but also the main differences between both variants.

Origin of the European Portuguese

The European Portuguese origin comes from the vulgar Latin. The language was first introduced by the roman who occupied the Iberian Peninsula. We can call Portuguese a neolatin language, since it is one of the modern languages that originated from the vulgar Latin. The Portuguese language suffered modifications with the invasion of the Germans and later the Arabs, although their language was never established in total. In the XV century, the peninsula was reconquered from the Arabs and after that different dialects emerged from the contact of the Arabic and Latin.

Although the language wasn’t established in total, the Arabic occupation in Portugal was crucial to shape the Portuguese language, given that there are more than one thousand words in Portuguese that have Arabic roots. Which is also why Arabs can learn Portuguese more easily! Here are some examples of those words: read more