Lekker, itafile, weak performance

South Africa has eleven official languages. The most spoken ones are English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa. My roommates are English natives, the lectures at the university and most information is in English. As I graduated in English linguistics and literature in my Bachelor Minor, accomplished a C1 English certificate and lived in an English-speaking shared flat for a while in Switzerland, I was confident regarding the language challenges.

Continue reading “Lekker, itafile, weak performance”

Korean Language 101

Hangul is the writing system of Korea, created and introduced by King Sejong the Great in 1443. Today, the 9th of October, is a national holiday that celebrates the first publication of the Hunminjeong’eum, the document introducing the language to the public. Hangul’s most important purpose was to reduce the illiteracy of the Koreans with a lower education. They struggled with the Chinese writing system, as the spoken Korean and Chinese were already very different, and the large number of characters didn’t help either. So the newly created alphabet consists of only 24 letters, benefiting everyone who wants to learn to read, including me.

Continue reading “Korean Language 101”

The limits of translation tools

The solution to all translation problems is “papago”. Despite an introductory course in Korean in Switzerland, I got into a bit of a rut when I arrived at Incheon Airport. I was surprised by the fact that people in South Korea don’t really know how to communicate in English. This is surprising because English is taught from the basic level and the Korean school system requires a high school diploma. The final exam includes a multiple-choice reading comprehension test, tricky even for native English speakers. And yet only Koreans with an international background can communicate in English. This was not a bad thing for me because it gives me the chance to immerse myself in new spheres of communication.

Continue reading “The limits of translation tools”

Learning Swedish in a country where everybody speaks English better than you do

I‘m currently on a semester abroad in Stockholm, Sweden. As I am a master’s student, all the courses that I‘m attending are held in English. I was able to receive a room through the universities housing office. I have my own room (bathroom included) and I’m sharing a large kitchen with eleven other international students. In those aspects of my life English is needed, in the other part of Swedish is the dominant language, e.g. grocery shopping. Therefore I’m going to divide my analysis into two parts.

Continue reading “Learning Swedish in a country where everybody speaks English better than you do”

Berlin in and its languages

Compared to other exchange students, I have the advantage that I don’t have to speak a foreign language. As a native German speaker, it was easy for me to find my way around in Berlin, linguistically speaking. Especially the German students are often surprised when I tell them that I come from Switzerland. At the beginning, they often can’t understand why a Swiss German comes to Berlin for an Erasmus exchange semester. But when I explain the reasons to them, of course they can understand me.

Continue reading “Berlin in and its languages”

Yksi, kaksi, kolme …

In my first blog I already spoke about where Finnish people meet to talk, but how they talk is another topic. Finland belongs to the kind of country that has its own specific language. It is not like France, where the official language is French and in more than 25 other countries on our planet French is the official language too. Finland is the only country with the official language Finnish, but for example in Sweden, Russia, Norway, and Estonia some people speak or understand Finnish too.

In the beginning of my exchange, I was a bit worried about going to a country where I don’t know the official language and I knew that there were a lot of challenges waiting for me.

Continue reading “Yksi, kaksi, kolme …”

Italiano – la lingua dell’amore, delle emozioni e dei sentimenti

When I went to Padova, I could already speak Italian as I learnt it at the long term grammar school. For this reason, I didn’t have the problem of having to talk with hands and feet at the beginning. 3 years ago, I went to Spain for half a year (also Erasmus) and when I came back home, I lost almost all of my Italian due to the similarity of these two beautiful languages. A little bit of travelling in Italy and talking to some Italian friends helped to make it come back a little bit though. But only did I properly get back in the flow here in Padova.

Continue reading “Italiano – la lingua dell’amore, delle emozioni e dei sentimenti”

Translating for a lung specialist

« Puis eeh oui c’est comme une caméra, qui entre par la bouche… ah non par le nez, pardon, et ben, on regarde les poumons avec ça. C’est très important pour l’enfant.»

You might be looking forward to a blog entry about the beauties of French now, but I have to break it to you. This scene did not take place in France, but actually in a hospital in Florence. Why should one care to speak French there? Well, not only les français are known for the perceived superiority of their language, but also gli italiani are very proud of Dante, Petrarca & Co.. That is why unfortunately you will not find many doctors speaking foreign languages in Italy. And this is the point where medical students in Erasmus come in.

Continue reading “Translating for a lung specialist”

Bom dia – boa tarde – Obrigado – Desculpe – De nada

I have lived in Lisbon for 4 months now, but no, my Portuguese vocabulary did not expand at all. Every time when I go to a store and trying to be polite, my Portuguese conversation already ends after the greeting and unfortunately, I need to switch to English. Do I feel guilty and ashamed about it? Of course! But why haven’t I made any change yet? Shouldn’t I have an intrinsic motivation to do so? Isn’t it the first step of getting in contact with a new culture by learning the specific language?

Continue reading “Bom dia – boa tarde – Obrigado – Desculpe – De nada”

Bokmål, Nynorsk and Samisk – the three languages of Norway

Similar to Switzerland, Norway has also more than one official language: Bokmål, Nynorsk and Samisk (which is the language of the Sami, the indigenous people who live in the north of Norway, Finland and a part of Russia). Bokmål and Nynorsk are somewhat similar while Samisk is totally different. Both, Bokmål and Nynorsk are only written language, the spoken language is a mix between these two and characterized by many dialects. Bokmål is used by over 80% as their written language. It is comparable to the “high German” we use as formal language in Switzerland.

Continue reading “Bokmål, Nynorsk and Samisk – the three languages of Norway”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑