Coding Language, the New Bilingual

Coding Language, the New Bilingual

Do you speak code? This may sound like an odd question, but many of today's high school and college graduates are being asked that very question on job interviews across the country. HTML, Java, CSS, PHP, and the like have become the new "second language" to many students, even those not focused on a technical field. Computers, software, and apps have become such a large part of our lives that schools are emphasizing coding more and more. Many students graduate with at least a rudimentary understanding of computer coding. Ambitious ones create their own software, games, and apps well before entering high school. So how do you go about learning a coding language? There are countless online tutorials and it all comes down to what you want to learn. Those focused on building websites will usually begin with HTML and CSS, the foundations of most web design applications. People wanting to develop apps for Apple and Android may begin learning the proprietary languages of those...

November 3, 2016

Are Micro-Expressions the Universal Language?

Are Micro-Expressions the Universal Language?

While it's true there is not a universally spoken language, there is a language which transcends borders and cultures. Micro-expressions are facial expressions flashed for a fraction of a second which can reveal how a person is feeling, despite what they're saying. In the hit television series Lie To Me, the main characters specialize in identifying micro-expressions and assist various groups in detecting truthfulness. While yes it is just a television show, the principles are founded on real science. Dr. Paul Ekman is the pre-eminent psychologist and co-discoverer of micro-expressions. He has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine and is ranked fifteenth among the most influential psychologists of the 21st century. His work in nonverbal behavior has been ground breaking, starting in the late 1950's. In the late 1960's, Dr. Ekman traveled to Papua New Guinea for an immersive study involving the Fore people. This isolated Stone Age culture pr...

October 27, 2016

Is English Really A Germanic Language?

Is English Really A Germanic Language?

Ever since grade school, we've all heard that English is a Germanic language. However, this often confuses most people because of how much English differs from German. For example, if you were to place a page of French and a page of German in front of an English native speaker who had never learned a foreign language, chances are they'd be able to recognize more of the words on the French page than on the German page. This leads many people to wonder if English is actually a Romance language. In the field of linguistics, languages are categorized by their genetic relationship, meaning they have a common ancestor. This common ancestor gives all languages in the family common features, which distinguish them from other groups of languages. This genetic relationship is most commonly seen between the grammar and syntax of the languages. The current vocabulary of the language is not taken into account in this categorization process. In the case of English, it developed from Proto-German...

September 27, 2016

Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

Dead Languages, a Review of the Past

We've covered some of the easiest languages to learn as well as those languages that are most commonly spoken. However did you know there is a very large list of languages that are considered "dead?" What makes a language dead you may ask? In simple terms, a dead language is one which is no longer spoken in everyday use, such as Latin. While Latin may be the most commonly known dead language, there are many other styles of communication and writing which have gone extinct over time. Some of these are incredibly interesting and have a unique history all their own. Akkadian: Spoken between 2800 BCE and 500 CE, this language is reminiscent of alien writing found in many science fiction movies. Used in ancient Mesopotamia, Akkadian utilizes the same cuneiform alphabet as Sumerian. Many ancient creation myth texts are written in Akkadian such as the Epic of Gilgamesh and the Enuma Elish creation myth. Akkadian has grammar similar to classic Arabic. Coptic: Spoken between 100...

September 13, 2016

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Papua New Guinea The Most Linguistically Diverse Country on Earth

Residents of larger nations such as the United States, China, and Russia are often surprised to find that their country does not hold the most diversity of language. Surprisingly, the tiny nation of Papua New Guinea features 820 spoken languages. This accounts for nearly 12% of the known living languages spoken in the world today. Only 462,840 square kilometers, Papua New Guinea encompasses the eastern half of New Guinea and its offshore islands. About the size of the state of California, Papua New Guinea has a population of 7.3 million. Why so many languages? The country's history is probably the biggest factor. People have inhabited the island for at least 40,000 years. The language of original settlers, left alone in relative isolation, had time to change over countless generations. The territory itself is cut off from many nearby societies by mountains, swamps, dense forests, and rivers. The indigenous groups developed very different lifestyles as separate tribes throughout the...

August 10, 2016

Are We Facing a Bilingual Future That Includes Mandarin?

Are We Facing a Bilingual Future That Includes Mandarin?

Is there a possibility Mandarin (one of the many Chinese dialects) will become a “global lingua franca” or a language which can easily be a second language that bridge international borders? While the number of Chinese speakers on the planet more than doubles that of English speakers, the language itself is overly complex in its pronunciation matrix. The same word, with different emphasis, can take on several different meanings. This would make it difficult, say for a French native speaker to use Mandarin in a conversation with a Portuguese speaker also using Mandarin. Their native tongues would naturally skew the words in different ways, causing the conversation to go off-track rather quickly. Although English has long been touted as a complicated language to learn, as far as languages go, it is very neutral. Nearly all other languages spoken across Europe have gender qualities built in. As English is absent of these, using it as a common language becomes easier, espec...

August 1, 2016

Languages Blend Beautifully at This Year’s Olympic Games

Languages Blend Beautifully at This Year’s Olympic Games

On August 5th the countries of the world will work to put aside their differences, and come together for two weeks of sportsmanship in Rio, Brazil. Many of us have already been watching the qualifying events on TV and are excited for the games to start! 205 countries will be represented, including for the first time a team comprised entirely of refugees without a nation or flag. This year’s Olympics are sure to be an historic one and will definitely be memorable. With Brazil's cost to sponsor the games reaching a reported $14.4 billion, it is clear that much planning and many resources go into putting on such a large international event. One of the biggest challenges often overlooked is the inherent language barrier among athletes, referees, judges, coaches, organizers, and spectators. Just imagine the frustrations a Chinese footballer may feel arguing a call with a French referee. One of the ways the Olympics has historically handled this issue is through translated signs an...

July 13, 2016

North American Polyglot Symposium in July

North American Polyglot Symposium in July

Are you ready to learn a new language? On July 23rd and 24th, the North American Polyglot Symposium (NAPS) will be held at the Downtown Campus of Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. It is a chance for those who speak multiple languages to meet up and share their passion for multi-lingual communications. This is the first time that Montreal will host polyglots from around the world. The event will be at the Sir George Williams Campus at 1455 De Maisonneuve Boulevard West. Click to see map for the downtown campus area. If you've always wanted to become fluent in multiple languages, you can visit italki.com. As one of the event sponsors, italki.com is an online source to connect with more 1,000 teachers and over 2,000 tutors to get 1-on-1 lessons with native language instructors. You can also connect with other polyglots at an international level by joining their online community of more than 2 million language learners. While visiting the site, you can browse thous...

July 8, 2016

Common Languages Spoken in the "Melting Pot"

Common Languages Spoken in the

The United States of American is often called the “great melting pot” or the “mixing bowl” as a way of referring to the cultures of many nations coming together into a new unified people. There is probably no other place where this is more obvious than in our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. A simple walk through the typical tourist's districts will be rife with foreign language speakers. In fact, you’ll probably hear more diverse languages being spoken in a 30 minute stroll through D.C. than anywhere else in the country. English is, of course, the most widely spoken language in the U.S. followed by Spanish. In fact, according to a 2011 Census Bureau survey, Spanish was the most spoken second language in all but seven states. There are over 37 million Spanish speakers in the United States. While Spanish may dominate the top spot on the list, Chinese is quickly growing in ranks. Much of this is due to the globalization of our economy and the str...

June 15, 2016

Want a Bigger Brain? Learn a new language.

Want a Bigger Brain? Learn a new language.

Do you know what happens to your brain when you learn a new language? Language processing is how your brain's uses the cerebral cortex to communicate ideas and feelings as well as how you process and understand words. When you learn an additional language, functions occur in specific areas of your brain that cause those areas to increase in size. As research studies continue to unlock some of the brain's secrets, scientists have concluded that a bilingual brain in someone who has been fluent in at least two languages from early childhood, enhances the person's ability to concentrate and may delay the onset of dementia by up to four years. For many years, scientists debated the issue of whether the processing of multiple languages occurred in differing areas of the brain. With more recent advances in brain imaging, they discovered that bilingual language processing occurs in much of the same brain tissue as monolingual communications. What does happen when you are using one language...

June 1, 2016

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