If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know that last week uTalk became the world’s first Cockney language learning app! The traditional East London rhyming slang was launched at G Kelly pie shop on the Roman Road by the Pearly King of Forest Gate and Pearly Queen of Old Kent Road.
Some children from Olga Primary School popped in to put the uTalk app to the test. They had fun playing the games, and were keen to show our chairman Dick what they’d learnt.
And we finished with a good old-fashioned East End knees up, led by our Pearly King and Queen, pianist Mick Yarrow and the voice of uTalk Cockney, Patrick Mackervaie.
It was a fantastic day – thank you to everyone who got involved. Check out our video for more!
Our launch even made the news! As well as a feature on ITV London News on Thursday evening, our language expert Nat appeared on London Live with chairman Dick to talk about the app, and was interviewed with actor Patrick by Robert Elms on Friday morning for BBC Radio London (listen from 1 hour 40 mins onwards).
On Sunday we were back in the East End, giving Cockney lessons to visitors at the Roman Road Summer Festival. Patrick, who’s from Hackney, got the crowd warmed up with some Cockney quizzes (some harder than others), before inviting everyone to come and have a go with the app.
Want to have a go yourself? We’re giving away uTalk Cockney with the Evening Standard – and you get a free month’s subscription to all 133 other languages as well! Just visit eveningstandard.co.uk/offers to get started.
Enjoy! And we’d love to hear what you think – we know Cockney is constantly changing, and that not everyone has the same way of saying things. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet us with #myCockney to join the discussion!
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.
Patricia is one of our most hard working uTalk challenge participants, learning Basque, Czech, Farsi and Kazakh since January (and let’s not forget Icelandic, Esperanto and Latvian last year)! We can’t wait to hear which language she’ll choose next…
There are many reasons why I love learning languages, including popular ones such as improving my résumé or getting by on a trip (and yes, I’ve got another trip to Iceland lined up, það er spennandi!). However, today I’d like to share with you one reason that is perhaps a little less obvious.
Due to an unexpected flight delay on my way from Pittsburgh, I recently overnighted in Toronto. The airline provided us (wonderful) accommodation in downtown Toronto and I shared a cab ride with two other stranded passengers. The cab driver had a talk radio station on, but it was not in a language I immediately recognized. Curious, I asked the driver which language that was. He told me it was Amharic, one of the languages of Ethiopia. I excitedly told him it was a language that was on my uTalk Challenge list and that I would learn it soon. Promise. He laughed and told me a little about Ethiopia and the Ethiopian community in Toronto. He taught me how to say “Hello” in Amharic and said I was brave to take on a new language every month. He then asked which language I was learning at the moment. I told him I was learning Persian (Farsi) and loving it.
The other two passengers in the cab then turned to me and said “well maybe we can help you then”. I lit up and proudly said “shabetun bekheyr”, “parvaz”, and “ba t’akhir” – “good evening”, “flight”, and “delayed”. They smiled and asked me what else I knew and if I had any questions about the language. And from there on, we talked about the old Persian script, Noruz, the influence of French, various historical events, Persian poets, and many other things. When I had left my house that day, I hadn’t expected to learn so much from people who, up to that taxi ride, were perfect strangers.
And that’s exactly the point: learning languages, even at a rudimentary level, opens you up to the world because it fuels curiosity. I didn’t converse in fluent Persian with my fellow passengers – I just let them know that I was interested in it and the culture and history that surround it (but it was very nice to hear that my pronunciation’s lovely!).
On that night, immersed in the vast multiculturalism of Toronto, I suddenly felt extremely connected to the world. And that’s the feeling I keep seeking over and over again in my language-learning journey. Perhaps it’s one of those “chicken or egg?” things, where it’s unclear whether learning languages opens up your mind or if it’s the curiosity that encourages you to learn languages… but whichever one came first for me, I’m certainly happy they keep feeding off each other.
So go ahead, tackle a new language, just start with a few words – you never know where it’ll take you.
Our small office has been very busy recently preparing a big new update to uTalk, and we’re very happy to finally share it with you! Some of you may have already tried it – if you have we’d love to hear what you think.
So what’s new?
Stars and Specials
Stars are the biggest change within the new features, and it’s safe to say we’re all pretty excited about them! With the Stars, the more you play the more you get, so they’re basically in-game coins. By earning stars and achievements you can then buy additional topics or what we call uTalk Specials. These are extra topics that you may find helpful in various situations such as Camping, Driving, Sailing and many others.
We’ve introduced the Score Dashboard where you can see your points, your stars, uTalk Specials and Achievements. These are designed to keep you motivated; every time you get past a small milestone (like getting 30 correct answers in a row or try out half of the topics), we’ll reward you with stars that can be used to buy the uTalk Specials.
The store inside the app where you can purchase extra topics has a brand new look too, which we think is nice to play with. We’ve added beautiful imagery and interactive descriptions of how the app features will help you learn, so you always know exactly what you’re getting.
Something that’s not new but always helpful to have is the search bar at the top of the screen that you can use to search for words when you’re in a rush. Plus, you can search with emojis too!
The uTalk app is free to download for iPhone and iPad, and you can try any of the languages for free with our Starter Pack. We’d love to hear from you so please get in touch at email@example.com or even better, if you love the update, leave us a review on the App Store and we’ll be your friends for life 🙂
Today’s guest post is by Ed, who’s taking part in our uTalk Challenge. After successfully completing uTalk Japanese in January, Ed’s turned his attention to Welsh for February. Here he explains why learning a language is important for everyone, regardless of age.
I am a retired IT Manager aged 66 years. I am married with two grown up sons, one married with two children. My wife still works so I am one of these modern ‘house husbands’, which is fine with me. Other than gardening, ironing, shopping, cooking and cleaning (I don’t do much of the latter), I play golf, help with a local amateur dramatic society (treasurer and occasional performer), sing in our church choir, and keep fit.
Since grammar school I have always been interested in languages and linguistics. I put this down to having had a very good French teacher and an inclination towards role play, hence the amateur dramatics. I also did German at Grammar School, and did Latin ‘O’ level in one year, which I really enjoyed.
In 1970 I travelled overland to India and learn some Turkish and Farsi to help me along the way. Many years later I worked in Dubai for a while and learnt some Arabic. Over the years I have picked up some Italian and Spanish in relation to holidays.
When the opportunity to join the uTalk Challenge came along it seemed the perfect way to indulge my linguistic interests and to “stimulate the little grey cells” and slow down the aging process.
Four years ago my wife and I visited Japan for the Cherry Blossom Festival and I learnt some Japanese. That came in very handy as English wasn’t as widely spoken as I had thought it would be. We loved the country and the people and I found the language interesting, hence my choice of Japanese for my first month.
I think the uTalk Challenge offers a unique opportunity to try out a number of languages that are completely different from English and Indo-European languages in general. It’s a great mental exercise for any one, not just for someone my age. It also means that you can learn something of the language of a country when going on holiday, something I believe shows respect for the people and their culture, and enhances your experience. Better than just buying a phrase book, it allows you to hear the pronunciation by native speakers. You can, as I have done, download the extra topics and choose which one you want to study. You have nothing to lose and a great deal to gain.