Monthly Archives: May 2009

A language of French Caribbean, Spanish unity and disunity, and more (not) teaching English in France

This week, two takes on language teaching in France.

First, a couple of Paris high schools have started teaching Antillean creole, a language in the French overseas departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

Guadeloupe

Those two islands were in the news earlier this year after a series of strikes and protests. Then, part two of my conversation with American Laurel Zuckerman who wanted to teach high school English. Zuckerman fought the French education establishment- and guess who won? We then consider an Arabic word beloved by Saudi Arabia’s morality police. Finally, Spain unites over a soccer victory, but remains divided over which songs best represent the spirit of the nation.

Listen in iTunes or here.


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Facebook’s new Indian languages, bilingual politics in Belgium, and a new development in lip-reading

I’m doing a new monthly news round-up, which everyone who subscribes to the World in Words feed will receive.  So I corralled The Big Show’s Carol Hills into a studio to talk about five language-related stories from May 2009. Carol, by the way, maintains a page on The World‘s website that presents a weekly survey of newspaper and magazine cartoons from around the world.

Among the stories we discuss:

The strongest challenger to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad  is campaigning in his native Turkish Azeri;  he’s also using some bold body language.

You can now update, poke and unfriend on Facebook in six more languages, all spoken in India.

lips

British researchers are developing software that would not only lip-read, but also determine the language being spoken from soundless video images.

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Trying to teach English in France, Sri Lanka’s language gap and potato-ness

Here’s what’s in the latest podcast:

sc large

When Laurel Zuckerman tried to become an English teacher in France, she assumed that being a native English speaker would be an advantage. The book she wrote about her experience caused a sensation in France. Also, the linguistic underpinnings of Sri Lanka’s just-concluded civil war. Plus, a Sinhala word that succinctly describes how many teeth you still have, and the tax implications of “potato-ness.”

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French love, Star Trek dubs, and made-up Churchill quotes

For all the Americans who love to hate France, there are also plenty who simply adore all things French.  One of them, GI Alan Cope, loved France and the French language so much that he stayed in France after end of World War Two. He lived there for the rest of his life.  Anne Ishii also put in some time in France, and used her prowess with the language to date a succession of French men. You do what you have to do.

Also in this podcast, how the original stars of Star Trek  sounded in several European languages. Plus, the German predilection for making up quotes and attributing them to Winston Churchill.

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Birthday pod: the language of food

So the podcast I do is one year old, at least I think it is. As far as I can recall, I haven’t missed a week, and I’ve arrived today at number 53. The World in Words wouldn’t have made it this without your downloads, your iTunes reviews and your suggestions. So thank you thank you THANK YOU… and let everyone eat cake.

Well maybe not cake, but I can offer a global feast.

How would you prefer to spend your evening…memorizing Russian declensions and conjugations…or chowing down on some pelmeni and shaslyk? Let’s face it, sampling another culture’s cuisine is a whole lot easier than learning a foreign language. But food and how it’s viewed from one culture to the next is far from simple. Is it to ward off starvation, or to show off sophistication?

We take a cooking class in Beijing that draws on recent Chinese history. Then we go to Cyprus, where local Turks and Greeks are claiming sole ownership of the dishes both love. And then, what happens to the simple Eastern European dumpling when capitalism replaces communism? It gets garnished with sprig of parsley and costs ten times as much.

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