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13
May

Beginner’s guide to Latin

Last week, Latin became the 133rd language to be added to uTalk, our app for iPhone and iPad. (Don’t have an iOS device? You can also learn Latin on your computer.)

And to get you started with Latin, we’ve put together this beginner’s guide with a few essentials – some basic greetings, colours, numbers and parts of the body, along with¬†some Latin phrases we still use in everyday English. As always, please feel free to share!

Beginner's guide to Latin

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12
May

Can you write a language limerick?

Today is apparently National Limerick Day. We had no idea this was a thing, but since it is, we threw out a challenge to the EuroTalk office to write a language limerick – and we now extend that challenge to you ūüėČ

A limerick is a five-line poem in which the first, second and fifth lines must all rhyme, as must the third and fourth. Edward Lear is probably the best known writer of limericks; here’s¬†one that was published in his Book of Nonsense in 1846:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”

So now it’s your turn – can you write a language inspired limerick? Add them in the comments¬†or send¬†them to¬†us on¬†Facebook¬†or¬†Twitter, and we’ll share our favourites!

Here are a few that we came up with, to inspire you:

Safia

Fell in love with a girl who spoke Saami
Asked her out but it sounded quite barmy
EuroTalk to the rescue
Their language apps help you
Get the girl of your dreams in a jiffy

Steve

A very nice geezer called Paul
Got lost on the way to Nepal
He learnt some Chinese
uTalk made it a breeze
But he got eaten by a tiger in Bengal

Nikolay

A bloke from the Isle of Man
Was travelling all through Japan
He wanted some noodle
But ordered a strudel
For he wasn’t a languages fan

Luke

There once was a man called Ray
Who travelled a very long way
He thought “now I’m here,
I’ll order a beer”
But Ray wasn’t quite sure what to say

Over to you – have fun!

Writing a language limerick

 

9
May

Did you know you can speak Latin?

Last week we added our 133rd language to the uTalk app – and it’s a good one!

Latin has been around ever since the year 75 BC and it has evolved from Old Latin to Classical Latin, to Early Modern Latin and finally Modern Latin. Along with Greek, its roots are used in theology, biology, and medicine right up to the present day. Romance languages, such as Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Romanian have developed from Latin. Later on, many words from all these languages were taken into English, so even if you’ve never actively learned it Рyou might actually speak Latin.

Here are a few examples of Latin words and phrases that we use regularly:

1. ad hoc: to this

Ad hoc refers to something that was created for a specific purpose or situation as the need arises, without previous planning. An ad hoc political committee, for instance, is formed specially to deal with a specific situation.

2. vice versa: the other way around

For example: ‚ÄúI like you and vice versa‚ÄĚ means that you also like me.

3. carpe diem: seize the day

This phrase comes from a poem by Horace and is used to encourage people to enjoy the moment without concern for the future.

4. sic: thus

Sic is used with square brackets [sic] after a quotation indicate that an odd or unusual phrase was reproduced exactly as it was in the source, and therefore it is not an editorial error.Latin

5. per se: by itself

Per se is used to refer to a particular thing by itself. For example: “The idea, per se, wasn’t bad; it was just the way he said it.”

6. mea culpa: through my fault

You might say this if you were admitting guilt, or owning up that something went wrong because you made a mistake.

7. circa: around

If you hear “circa” before a date or other fact, it means it’s an approximation – so for example,¬†“This church was built circa 1600”.

8. in loco parentis: in the place of a parent

When an individual or organisation acts in loco parentis, they assume legal responsibility for a child in the absence of their parents.

We‚Äôre really excited to finally add Latin to our uTalk app. Take a look –¬†it’s a great way to see¬†how Latin would sound in modern day society and also to better understand how the language works.

 

6
May

10 famous faces who speak other languages

We’ve posted previously about movie and sport stars who speak other languages.¬†But it turns out they’re not the only famous linguists, so here are a few more. Prepare to be impressed…

Audrey Hepburn

There was much more to the star of Roman Holiday and Breakfast at Tiffany’s¬†than her movie career. Audrey Hepburn was well known¬†for her charity work with UNICEF, and¬†after spending her childhood in Belgium, Britain and the Netherlands, she was also fluent in¬†English, Dutch, French, Italian, Spanish and German.

Rita Ora

Rita Ora was born in Kosovo (then called Yugoslavia) to Kosovar-Albanian parents, moving to London when she was a year old. The pop star, model and X Factor judge speaks Albanian fluently and is proud of her heritage; last year she was named an honorary ambassador for the Republic of Kosovo.

Ellen Macarthur

Former yachtswoman Dame Ellen Macarthur learnt to speak¬†French when she was 21 and living in a French boatyard while she prepared for a solo transatlantic race. She’s now fluent and says she would never have been so successful in her career without knowing the language, which helped her build relationships with other sailors and gain sponsorship.

Eddie Izzard

Comedian (and record-breaking marathon runner) Eddie Izzard is currently touring with¬†his¬†stand-up show Force Majeure, which he performs three times a night, in three languages: French, German and English. In 2014, he was named the Guardian’s public language champion, and told the newspaper:¬†‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a political basis for me to learning other languages, because if we don‚Äôt come together in the world then the world‚Äôs not going to make it.‚ÄĚ

 JK Rowling

JK Rowling studied French and Classics at university, and when she came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series in 1990, she was working as a bilingual secretary for Amnesty International. She later moved to Portugal and split her time between teaching English as a foreign language and writing the best-selling books.

Mark Zuckerberg

The Facebook founder surprised everyone in 2014 when, during a visit to Tsinghua University in Beijing, he started speaking Mandarin Рand continued for half an hour. Though his efforts got a mixed reception from the press, the audience seemed delighted Рand we were pretty impressed, too.

Jon Heder

The star of Napoleon Dynamite is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served¬†a two-year religious mission to Japan¬†after high school, where he became fluent in the language. And though he now describes himself as “a little rusty”, he still sounds pretty good to us.

Tim Peake

Tim Peake is the first British astronaut to go to the International Space Station – but before leaving Earth¬†he had to learn¬†Russian (the language of the controls in¬†the Soyuz capsule used to get to the ISS), and has described this as the hardest part of his 14 months’ training.

Tom Hiddleston

Okay so we already mentioned Tom Hiddleston in our last post, but frankly, we¬†never get bored of listening to him speaking loads of¬†languages – among them French, Spanish, Greek and Italian, plus some Mandarin, Russian and Korean. And he¬†studied Latin at university…

Viggo Mortensen

The Lord of the Rings star was born in New York, but spent his childhood in Venezuela, Denmark and Argentina, leaving him fluent in English, Spanish and Danish. He also speaks some French and Italian, and understands Norwegian and Swedish.

Does your favourite celebrity make the list?

 

4
May

Tell us about your Tartan…

We were disappointed recently to find that – somehow – we had missed National Tartan Day. I know! We’ll do better next year.

Although you might think National Tartan Day is a Scottish endeavour, it actually stems from North America and seems to have developed into rather a massive Celtic festival. Which leads us to wonder, what exactly is tartan and why is it so important?

When we think of tartan, we generally think of a woven patterned cloth which belongs to a particular Scottish clan. Most clans will tend to have both a dress and hunting tartan, the hunting tartan being a sombre¬†version made up of dark colours whilst the dress usually swaps a colour from the pattern out for white, making it much brighter. There is a lot of etiquette around tartan, and I for one would not try to wear a tartan that I had no connection with, sticking instead to the tartans from my family’s history.

Or, I might wear a Cornish tartan, because in recent times tartan has become increasingly used by regions, ethnicities and businesses. Cornwall’s tartan was created in the 1960s and has really caught on, being widely available on tourist knick-knacks and formal clothing. At a wedding I recently attended, the groom and best men were all wearing Cornish tartan waistcoats, and the Cornish tartan kilt is not an unusual site at a festival. What is perhaps especially nice about this regional tartan is that anyone Cornish is entitled to use it- there’s no difficulty in etiquette- and even if you’re not Cornish but want to celebrate Cornwall, you’re more than welcome to help yourself to some Cornish tartan, as long as you can stand the slightly weird and bright mustard yellow of it…


If you want to wear tartan but don’t really feel a particular affiliation with a particular clan, then a¬†good option for British and Commonwealth citizens is the Hunting Stewart tartan which, being Queen Elizabeth II’s personal tartan, can be used by¬†all of her subjects. The other good option is Black Watch, also known as Government Tartan, which is traditionally available to those who don’t have a tartan of their own.

Do you have a particular tartan you wear, or thoughts on tartan etiquette? We’d love to hear from you!

Nat