So, we’re a week into the uTalk Challenge… Thank you to everyone who’s thrown themselves so enthusiastically into learning a new language this month – we’ve been really impressed with your commitment and fantastic scores.
You may remember that we EuroTalkers are also joining in, learning a variety of languages for lots of different reasons. And because we’re a competitive bunch, we’ve set up a scoreboard in the office – right now, Liz and Nat (both learning Welsh) are in the lead, but that could all change over the weekend…
Each week, we’ll be sharing a video update in which a few of us will share what we’ve been learning. For week 1, we’ve got Safia (learning Mandarin Chinese), Ioana (learning Argentinian Spanish) and Liz (learning Welsh). How did we do?
If you’d like to share your own progress, please drop us an email to email@example.com, or – even better – send us your own video, like this brilliant one from Patricia!
Good luck, enjoy and have a great weekend 🙂
Just before Christmas I helped our language producer record Latin, which will be coming to uTalk later in the year. Whilst listening to the Latin speakers I found I recognised some of the words (although I have never learnt Latin before). And then I realised this was due to my love for/slight obsession with Harry Potter.
As a child I would read every Harry Potter book that came out (this could take some time, as my mum would read it first, followed by my sister, then my dad and then finally me; by which point my mum would have already disclosed a summary of the book including 100 different spoilers!). The extremely clever use of Latin has helped to allow the Harry Potter stories to become even more accessible worldwide, as Latin runs through many modern romance languages, such as French and English. It is also a language that isn’t as widely used or known in modern society anymore.
A few examples of J.K.Rowling’s use of Latin:
- ‘Protego’, which is a shield charm that creates a magical barrier, literally means ‘protect’ in Latin.
- ‘Lumos’, which produces a burst of light, is related to the Latin word lumen – which directly translates into light.
- ‘Crucio’ one of the ‘forbidden curses’ which causes a lot of pain, means ‘I torture’ in Latin.
- ‘Expecto Patronum’ which is used to produce a spirit animal to shield you from dementors, translates into ‘I wait for a patron’ in Latin.
- ‘Levicorpus‘, which is a spell that suspends someone from their ankles in mid-air, is a combination of two Latin words: levare, which means ‘lift’, and corpus translates as ‘body’.
These spells are pretty self-explanatory when you know Latin!
Again, the Latin theme can be found across names used in Harry Potter, often describing their personality or role in the books.
- Remus Lupin – his surname means wolf (which Hermione worked out early on in the third book).
- Draco – means dragon although the character’s surname, Malfoy, is actually French for ‘bad faith’.
- Severus (Snape) – means ‘stern’ in Latin, which is an appropriate word for Hogwarts’ meanest teacher!
- Sirius Black – it’s no coincidence that this character’s named after the Dog Star.
- Ludo Bagman – he’s the head of the Division for Magical Games and Sports, so it makes sense that his first name, Ludo, means ‘I play’ in Latin.
Can you think of any more examples of Latin in Harry Potter?
The uTalk Challenge is almost here!
From January 1st, start a new language for free, and learn as much as you can with our uTalk app by January 31st.
The uTalk challenge is open to everyone and totally free, so if you’d like to join in, you can find more details and sign up to the challenge here: eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge
With 130 languages to choose from (we’ve just added Greenlandic and Indian English to the app, so there’s now even more choice!), there’s something for everyone – and we’re certainly covering a variety of languages here in the EuroTalk office, where competition is bound to be fierce…
Safia – Mandarin Chinese
My mum and little sister despair at my lack of ability to speak any Mandarin so it’s probably about time to rectify the situation. And then they can’t gang up on me anymore when we play Mahjong!
Alex – Turkish
My best friend and her twin sister at uni are Turkish Cypriot, and they always speak Turkish between the two of them when they’re with us, so I want to be able to understand who or what they’re talking about.
Nat – Welsh
I always intended to move to Wales one day so thought I should learn a bit of the language – plus I’m interested to see how much my (limited) Cornish will help with Welsh!
Ioana – Argentinian Spanish
I want to be able to chat with the lovely non-English speaking relatives of my boyfriend, and also to unexpectedly add Spanish words to our daily conversations.
Adi – Arabic
I lived in Dubai for six years, and I hardly know any Arabic, so it’s high time.
Liz – Welsh
No particular reason, if I’m honest; I just fancy a challenge! I think trying to say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch whet my appetite…
Steve – Scots Gaelic
Scotland is one of my favourite places in the UK and I’d like to learn a Celtic language which is still spoken there.
Simon – Polish
It’s the second most common language spoken in the UK. It’s very different from anything I’ve learnt before, and would be interested to try and pick up a few words and sentences and then try and see if I can hear them in real life!
Brett – Arabic
I have been to the UAE on a couple of occasions this year. I am going again next year to meet some schools who need a solution to help get their English-speaking students to speak Arabic. If I’m trying to help them, then I should really learn it too.
Pablo – Romanian
My girlfriend is from Romania. I’ll try to be able to say something else other than her name and ‘da’.
Which language will you learn?
PS No EuroTalkers were harmed in the making of this blog post.
If, like me, you used to expectantly write a long list of improbable demands to Santa each year as a child, you’ll be curious to know what happened to those letters. Oddly enough, it never ever occurred to tiny Nat to question where the (probably unaddressed, definitely unstamped) letter went once it dropped into the post box: after all, if Santa was so magical then he’d surely have solved the small problem of how to access my very important letter.
But when I was recording Greenlandic recently for uTalk and doing some research on the country, I was intrigued to find that my letters actually may have reached Santa, and that he lived in Greenland. Until 2002, letters to Santa from all over the world would collect in a giant red post box in Nuuk and – here’s the exciting part – if they had a return address they’d be replied to by Santa himself (or an elf).
Sadly, Santa went bust in Greenland, and although letters may still end up there, they won’t be processed or answered. But, being super Santa, he obviously had a back-up plan and didn’t just run things from Greenland: Santa has operations going in Iceland, Sweden and Finland too. In fact, all of Scandinavia claims to be Santa’s home, raising the interesting question of which language Santa speaks.
Of course, we all know that Santa travels around the whole world on Christmas Eve and must therefore be fairly proficient in various world languages (he’s probably been dabbling in uTalk‘s Directions topic, available in 128 languages, to help him find his way), but just to prove it, his operation in Finland, still going strong, will reply to letters in up to 12 different languages from around the world. So Santa’s clearly at least a dodecalinguist!
Why not try to be a bit more like Santa this year and learn a new language? You could start off for free with the January uTalk Challengeand, if you really want to emulate Santa, go for the 12 month language challenge. Complete a language by the end of the month, and we’ll give you another free uTalk Essentials for a new language the following month.
Quit smoking. Learn Welsh. Finally finish writing that book – and actually let someone read it. Learn Thai. Spend more time sailing. Learn Mandarin. Walk the street map of London. Learn Turkish. Achieve a freestanding handstand and a scorpion/needle stretch (whatever that is). Learn Argentinian Spanish.
These are just a few of the New Year’s resolutions we’ve been setting ourselves in the EuroTalk office, having just realised 2016 has crept up on us and is suddenly, terrifyingly close. And you may have noticed a bit of a language theme…
Introducing the uTalk challenge 2016 – learn a language for free this New Year
That’s because this January, we’ll be taking on the uTalk challenge 2016, using our uTalk app to learn as much as we can of our chosen language before 31st January. Last year Nat stormed to victory in our first uTalk challenge, completing the app in Icelandic before most of us had even mastered ‘hello’… but we’re hoping for a closer contest this time around. And failing that, our back-up plan is to steal her iPad.
How to join the uTalk challenge
But we don’t want to do it alone! So if you’re an iOS user*, and you’d like to finally start learning that language you’ve been talking about for ages, now’s your chance. And even better, the uTalk challenge is completely FREE. All you need to do is sign up at eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge, and on January 1st we’ll send you over a code to unlock the Essentials upgrade (worth £7.99) for your chosen language. Then it’s over to you…
We’ll check in with you each week by email to see how you’re doing and update the online leaderboard, so you can see how your score compares to everyone else’s. AND if you complete the Essentials by the end of January, we’ll give you another language to learn in February, and so on. So if you’re really determined, you could learn 12 new languages in 2016. Now that’s a pretty cool New Year’s resolution.
*Unfortunately the uTalk app is only available on iOS, we’re really sorry! But we don’t want anyone to miss out, so if you’re not an iOS-er and you’d like to take part, drop us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see if we can work out an alternative for you.
Spread the word
Challenges are a lot more fun if you’ve got company, so please help us spread the word to friends and family using the link eurotalk.com/utalkchallenge and on social media, using #uTalkChallenge. And for regular video updates from the EuroTalk team, in which we’ll attempt to demonstrate how much we’ve learnt, come and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
Some of last year’s uTalk Challengers (who we hope will join us again this year!)…
Ingrid, learning Serbian
I’ve really enjoyed doing the challenge. Serbian is a language I’ve wanted to get to grips with for a long time for quite a bizarre reason (it involves a love of the Eurovision Song Contest!) but I haven’t really known where to start.
Patricia, learning Icelandic
The uTalk app is a whole lot of fun, filled with useful words and phrases. I particularly enjoyed repeating the words and phrases after the native speakers and then hearing my own voice. What a great tool to gain confidence and improve pronunciation!
Jacqui, learning Croatian
After a month, I’ve made great progress. I haven’t earned maximum points (I’m on just over 4000), but I have managed to learn a lot more than I thought I would, even waking up some mornings with various phrases springing to mind!
And here’s how the EuroTalkers got on…
So… who’s up for the challenge?