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 – you 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: “I like you and vice versa” 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.
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’re 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.
The Junior Language Challenge is a national competition for children aged 10 and under across the UK. One of the goals of the competition is to give young learners the chance to discover exciting new languages, and this year we’ve chosen Romanian as the first language.
But how much do you know about this European language? Here’s Ioana’s introduction to her mother tongue…
Some other fun facts about Romanian
- The Romanian language is 1,700 years old and is the only Romance language spoken in Eastern Europe. That’s why you’ll be surprised how many similarities it has with French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. However, it also retains a number of features of old Latin and also contains many words taken from the surrounding Slavic languages, as well as from German, Greek and Turkish.
- The name “Romania” comes from the Latin word “Romanus” which means “citizen of the Roman Empire.”
- Something that might come in handy is that Romanian is a phonetic language, so words are pronounced as they are spelled. Yay!
- A foreigner trying to learn or speak Romanian can expect positive reactions from native speakers. Most Romanian will certainly appreciate the fact that you are making an effort to speak their language.
- Romanians tend to be very good at foreign languages, they start learning as early as 6 years old in school either English, French or German and they add a second language at the age of 11. The majority of young people speak very good English and some of them even another one or 2 languages.
- Romanians love meeting new people and making friends; they are also renowned for their hospitality, so if you speak Romanian you have a pretty good chance of having a blast if you’re visiting this country.
- And speaking of travelling, Romania has amazing landscapes. In fact, Romania’s Carpathian Mountains are home to the largest undisturbed forests in Europe.
- Don’t deny yourself the ease of ordering delicious Romanian food that comes in generous portions, and you’re guaranteed to remember a trip to Romania as one of the best you’ve ever had.
La revedere și mult succes (goodbye and good luck)
If you’re a parent or teacher of children aged 10 and under in the UK, visit juniorlanguagechallenge.com to find out more about our annual competition, which is now open! Entry costs just £5, which is all donated to our fantastic charity, onebillion.
Valentine’s Day is a moment we should all pause our busy lives to celebrate love and the important people in our lives with whom we share special moments – not only lovers but also friends or family.
Obviously a popular holiday on the American continent, followed by Western Europe and in the last years Eastern Europe, the world’s interest towards the popular celebration of love has been rising.
Although Valentine’s Day is internationally celebrated on 14th February, some cultures have their own version of it around the year.
1. Dragobete – Romania
Romanians celebrate Dragobete on the 24th of February, a day that not only celebrates love but also the fact that spring is getting close. In old times it was an occasion for the young girls and boys to get together and play different games, dance and confess their love for each other.
2. Dia dos Namorados – Brazil
Brazilians celebrate Dia dos Namorados on 12th June, which is the day before Saint Anthony’s day (the marriage saint). One of the reasons Brazilians choose to celebrate love on this day is that traditional Valentine’s Day on February 14th would coincide with the Carnival celebration, which takes place in February and some of March. Dia dos Namorados is a day when people exchange little gifts, like sweets and flowers and lovers enjoy a romantic dinner or night out.
3. Qi xi – China
The Chinese version of Valentine’s Day is celebrated on the seventh night of the seventh month (also called Double Seven festival) of the Chinese lunar calendar – that is sometime in August. Qi xi (pronounced chee – she) is nowadays celebrated similarly to other cultures by offering flowers and chocolates to the loved ones as well as couples spending a romantic day together.
4. Valentine’s Day and White Day – Japan
Japanese culture celebrates love on the same day as Valentine’s Day but instead of men offering gifts to women, it’s the other way around. Then one month later, on 14th March on White Day, it’s the men’s turn to reciprocate the gifts. The difference is that Valentine’s Day chocolates are a symbol of a man’s popularity, but the ones on White Day are only for couples or romantically involved people. Black Day (on April 14th) however is a day when the singles, or the people that haven’t received any gifts on any of the holidays, gather to “commiserate”, often wearing black, eating black coloured food and complaining about their love life.
No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day – or maybe you don’t celebrate at all – we believe love is a great feeling that we should hold onto every day and show our loved ones how much they mean to us.
Download our app uTalk – Learn a Language to find out how to say “I love you” in 130 languages.
The Junior Language Challenge 2015 launched last week, with children all over the UK learning Portuguese in the first round of our national competition. If you’re wondering why we picked Portuguese, here are a few fun facts about one of the world’s most widely spoken languages.
Boa sorte to everyone taking part in the Junior Language Challenge – and if you’re a parent or teacher of children aged 10 or under, take a look at the JLC website to find out more – it’s a lot of fun!
Portuguese facts and figures
It’s a Romance language, along with French, Spanish, Italian and Romanian. This family of modern languages derives from Latin, which was spoken in the Roman Empire – hence the name.
Portuguese is the second most spoken of the Romance languages, after Spanish, and it’s the seventh most widely spoken language in the world. That said, there are significant differences between European and Brazilian Portuguese, so make sure you learn the right one before you travel! (We offer both…)
Portuguese and English
Some Portuguese words that we’ve adopted in English – piranha, flamingo, cobra, albino, palaver, mosquito. Does anyone know any more?
Saudade is a word with no direct English translation, which means a feeling of longing or nostalgia for someone or something that may never return.
Famous Portuguese speakers
José de Sousa Saramago (1922-2010), who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1998.
Luís Vaz de Camões (1524-1580), often considered the Portuguese language’s greatest poet, and best known for his epic work, Os Lusíadas.
Explorers Vasco da Gama, the first person to sail directly from Europe to India, and Ferdinand Magellan, the first to sail around the world. Some people also think that Christopher Columbus was Portuguese too, although most agree he was actually Italian.
Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo and manager Jose Mourinho, who are both from Portugal.
Actor Rodrigo Santoro and former racing driver Rubens Barrichello both come from Brazil, as did singer and actress Carmen Miranda.
Like every language, Portuguese has its own idioms. Here are a few of our favourites:
A galinha do vizinho é sempre mais gorda
Translation: your neighbour’s chicken is always fatter
Meaning in English: the grass is always greener on the other side
Burro velho não aprende línguas
Translation: an old donkey doesn’t learn languages
Meaning in English: you can’t teach an old dog new tricks
Água mole em pedra dura tanto bate até que fura
Translation: water dripping day by day wears the hardest rock away
Meaning in English: persistence pays off
Did you know?
Tom Hanks, Keanu Reeves, James Franco and Nelly Furtado all have Portuguese heritage.
There’s an interactive Museum of the Portuguese Language, which opened in 2006 in São Paulo, Brazil. The 12,000 square foot museum is in the Estação da Luz train station.
Portuguese was the language learnt by Colin Firth in Love Actually, so that he could ask a girl to marry him.
Thanks to London Translations for today’s blog post about the value of learning Latin!
Latin, a language that is more than 2,000 years old and is still spoken in the Vatican today, has shaped modern European languages like no other. Who would’ve thought that this medium of communication, which spread through the power of the Roman Empire, would influence language as we know it, speak it and understand it worldwide?
But why bother with learning Latin? If you don’t want to work in the Vatican, why should you learn a dead language? Surely you might as well focus on learning a modern language that actually helps you to communicate with other human beings, whether you’re travelling the world, writing emails or letters, or having business meetings with international clients.
However, despite being so old, Latin can give your language skills a real boost and help with a range of tasks, including consecutive interpreting. Why? Let’s take a closer look.
It’s a fact that almost 50 per cent of English vocabulary comes from Latin and 20 per cent from Greek. So if you know your Latin, you can derive an array of English words and improve your vocabulary in general. This applies to other European languages as well.
By getting to grips with Latin grammar, you can gain a better understanding of what grammar is about and how to apply that knowledge to other languages, making it easier to identify grammatical differences in a variety of languages.
Better learning of modern languages
If you know your Latin, it will be easy for you to apply your grammar and vocabulary skills to the modern Romance languages, such as Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. In fact, around 40 languages are connected to Latin. That is a big pool of knowledge.
Better performance in tests
People who know Latin generally outperform people who don’t in standardised tests. This may be because a language that has so many rules can help to shape logical thinking and cognitive skills in general.
Better foundation for different career paths
Knowing Latin and Greek can help to enhance your chances of succeeding in different career paths. In some professions, it is especially beneficial. Think of medicine, the law and philosophy.
As you can see, learning Latin has numerous advantages. It is not only a language for old, sophisticated men who sit in libraries all day. It is a language we should not forget and something that is well worth teaching future generations.
(In case you wondered what ‘scire linguas’ means, it translates as ‘learn languages’.)
If you’d like to try out a bit of Latin, you can find a free demo on our website.