Though we at Babbel are of course internationally minded and outward-looking, we can’t deny that we’re based in Europe — in Berlin, to be exact. The languages we teach — English, French, Spanish, German and Italian — are largely represented in Europe, and among our over 300,000 users, there are more than a few Europeans too. So we thought it would be a good idea to get you in the Babbel community prepared for next week’s European Parliament elections with a special vocabulary package. Called “Politics and Voting,” it will teach you all the important phrases and terms to debate and make a choice about the European Union’s future…. whether you’re in a position to vote or you just want to persuade your European tandem partner!
Since 2002, the European Union has been officially urging every student in the continent to start learning a foreign language as early as possible. They’ve pursued a number of projects with the goal of extending the benefits of lifelong foreign language learning to every European citizen, improving the quality of language education, and achieving a language-friendly environment for all. Sounds a bit like Babbel.com, right? Read our press release here.
Reuters Africa picked up on a little tidbit from a dubiously scientific survey by HSBC International Bank on the “expatriate experience abroad”: Apparently Germany is the number one country in the world for expats to find “love”, with a quarter (24%) of expats located in Germany marrying a local. Germany also came out as the spot where most expatriates (75%, according to the survey) “learned” the language of the host country.
Now, I say dubiously scientific here because I’ve always been suspicious of this whole “expatriate” idea. Not to mention its cutesy shortened form, “expat”. What makes an expat an expat, rather than an immigrant (or shall we say, to make it equallly cute, an “immy”)? HSBC did not set out to define, among the 2,155 persons they surveyed, what an “expatriate” was other than “an individual who relocates to another country”. (more…)
Babbel Blog: What does Global Language Monitor do?
Paul JJ Payack: Basically what we do is monitor global English and its impact upon various areas of culture.
What exactly is “global English”? How does that differ from American English or British English?
Five years ago we thought that it was an interesting idea to monitor the growth of the English language. We started with yourdictionary.com, I was the founding president of yourdictionary.com, and it’s the largest multilingual site on the planet, with about 300 different languages, 30 million pageviews a month. What we decided was that it would be interesting to focus on English. What was happening with English was, in 1960 there were 250 million speakers of English. In 2008 there are 1.35 billion speakers of English.(more…)
Maybe too cowed to weed out the actual message(s) from last night’s American presidential debate, the media’s now wringing their hands over “body language“. Once again, more than what Senators Barack Obama and John McCain said, it’s how they said it. A nice bear hug at the end deflected the damage of McCain pointing and referring to Obama as “that one,” or Obama audibly sighing and shaking his head.
Paralanguage — tone and vocal nuance — was just as crucial. Obama apparently made a big boo-boo and came off as a bit alienating by eschewing a middle American twang and saying ‘Pahk-istan’ and ‘Tahl-iban’. The winner? More or less consensus is: if we’re speaking in body language, it was Obama. But if we’re speaking in paralanguage, McCain is ooooo-one for ZEEE-ro.
One language they did NOT speak in — or about — in last night’s debate, however, was Spanish. (more…)
According to a mysterious “language monitoring service” cited by CNN, Sarah Palin , the American Republican vice presidential candidate, spoke at a tenth grade level (due to her astute use of “passive deflections”) at last week’s debate, while her Democratic counterpart Joe Biden managed only to graduate from the 8th. The analysis however championed form over content: the web is abuzz with lamentations on the distance between the sign and the signified in Palin’s spoken word. Palin’s particular brand of talk has come to be know as “Palindrome“, on par with the “Bushism” or “Dubyaspeak“. The blogosphere has particularly glommed onto her use of the term “maverick”, which she used at least six times in the televised debate, sparking discontent among the Mavericks of Texas themselves, who have come out in the New York Times to defend the word’s etymology and wrest it back from the frontwards-backwards nature of the Palindrome.