One more time! Second Languages, le premier part…

Though I’m technically still on summer break from teaching duties, it’s definitely time to start gearing up for the semester and plan my courses. However, I’ve been having a hard time transitioning my ‘summer brain’ back into activity, and so I decided to throw down a gauntlet at my own feet.

They are completely ignoring my gauntlet! What's so interesting about a camera strap, anyway?

This is a post that I originally published on 26 January 2010. It’s a piece about how learning other languages may or may not have influenced the way I think. As I was writing, I realized that it was growing beyond the confines of a single post, so I published when I’d gotten to what felt like a natural stopping point. I finished relating my experiences with languages and left off when I started exploring the question of their influence on my thought.

As you can see, that was a year-and-a-half ago. The second part of this post has been languishing as I was researching and getting distracted by the thousand other topics I’d love to write about, not to mention being occupied with teaching and, you know, general living. This then will be the challenge I give to myself this week: finish Part Deux!

So here’s ‘le premier part’ once more to get things rolling (I’ve made a few minor edits and added some pictures.) And then, finally, we’ll get to the long overdue sequel by the end of this week. Hopefully after meeting this challenge, the mental transition will be complete and I will have awakened my brain from its estival hibernation. Continue reading

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Breton: a linguistic Lazarus?

English is a global language. There is no doubt about that. In many countries around the world, you will be able to see English on road signs and in advertisements. An English-speaking tourist generally can find someone who speaks at least a little bit of English to help them with a menu or direct them to the consulate. Very often, even if English is the second language of all involved, it is still used as a common tongue to allow communication.

Not all languages enjoy that kind of status in the world. Only a small percentage of languages have become world languages. Most languages aren’t spoken outside of the region where native speakers live, or perhaps in small immigrant communities across the globe. In fact, up to half of the world’s languages are spoken in such small numbers that they are considered endangered. Continue reading

It’s that old je ne sais what.

Once upon a time, there was a little criancinha,
Que estava pendurada from a little janelinha.
A policeman que passou said,
Qu’est-ce que tu fais ici, oh little criancinha?*
 

As many women grow older, they fear becoming their mothers. They see it in little things they say or in mannerisms they have seemed to pick up without noticing. It sneaks up on them like a predator, waiting to deliver the fatal blow when they realize that they’ve just made the same yukky face that they used to hate on their mothers’ faces.

Whew! Thank goodness I don’t have to deal with that! I know I’m saved from that fate because it’s been clear to me for a long time that I am the female incarnation of my father, right down to the way my feet twitch when I’m bored or relaxed. This realization came to me hard, like a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick, one day many years ago in grad school. Continue reading