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Us Europeans - 1989 testimonials

Basic German

Bad Breisig, DE (View on map)
Posted 30 Jul 2008:

German is the most important language of Europe when measured by the number of people who speak it as their first language. The German speaking family has no less than 90 million native speakers, which dwarfs French (65 million speakers) and English (64 million speakers) as native languages within the EU. Still, German is not the most popular language of the continent. Few non-native German speakers learn it as a second language. Most Europeans see English as more practical, French and Italian as more romantic and Spanish as more fashionable. But what about German then?... Read more

Language fun

Katowice, PL (View on map)
Posted 18 Jun 2008:

Many Europeans have grown accustomed to seeing words like `Piwo` (beer), `Polski sklep` (Polish shop) and `Polska Gazeta` (Polish newspaper) during the last couple of years. Also the word `kurwa` (`whore`, but used like `damn`) has become commonplace in cities across Europe, no matter how offensive its meaning may be if used in an improper context. What else is interesting to know about the Polish language?... Read more

Basic Slovenian

Ljubljana, SI (View on map)
Posted 23 Apr 2008:

It`s time for another article about language: the Slovenian language this time as I am still in Ljubljana. Slovenian is part of the South-Slavic group of languages, which further includes Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian and Bulgarian. Contrary to Serbian and Bulgarian, Slovenian is written in Latin letters. Slovenian distantly shares some words with Slovakian, but many of those are `faux amis`: the words may be the same but there meaning can be entirely different.... Read more

Language cross road

Miskolc, HU (View on map)
Posted 4 Apr 2008:

Multilingualism is a major topic on the European agenda. In general, it is an asset that is reserved for smaller countries, with `odd` languages. Large countries like the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France can afford the arrogance of not caring about foreign languages. Smaller countries cannot. Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Malta, Cyprus and all of Scandinavia depend on their language skills to maintain their positions in the global market. Such need to learn foreign languages could also be expected of Hungary. Located right in the middle of the European Union, bordering all major language groups existent in the EU, it could form an ideal European linguistic cross road. But only the capital Budapest seems to take advantage of that situation. ... Read more

Letters and numbers

Patras, GR (View on map)
Posted 20 Feb 2008:

Reading and writing are among the first skills Greek children learn in primary school. However, they won`t learn to write A`s, B`s and C`s, but Alpha`s, Beta`s and Gamma`s. Only by the time they start learning English they will get familiar with the Latin characters. Before then, it`s the Greek alphabet they learn. What else do young Greeks learn in the country where schools are not named but numbered?... Read more

Language paradise

Luxembourg, LU (View on map)
Posted 10 Dec 2007:

Walking in the streets of Luxembourg will expose visitors to a wealth of languages, making Luxembourg almost opposite to Spain and France. Most Luxembourgers are fluent in at least Luxembourgish, German and French. They speak English simply because it is useful and often another language for pleasure. Outsiders may think that Luxembourgers have a talent for learning languages, but they themselves have different ideas about that.... Read more

Language labyrinth

Lyon, FR (View on map)
Posted 6 Dec 2007:

The French love for art goes well beyond paintings and sculptures alone. It applies in equal proportion to gastronomy and language. The ability to engage in vivid conversations, no matter how trivial the subject, is not just a skill but a vital part of French life. Count yourself lost without it. The French furthermore take pride in creating complicated structures, coded expressions and heaps of abbreviations. Welcome into the labyrinth of the French language.... Read more

Poco Inglis

Salamanca, ES (View on map)
Posted 12 Nov 2007:

Before coming to Spain, the Portuguese warned me that speaking English in Spain is a tough mission. I am slowly finding out that they are right. The Spanish speak Spanish, and people who are able to communicate in English are scarce. Everybody can answer the question `do you speak English?` - most answer `poco` ? but that`s where the English part of the conversation usually ends. I`m trying to find out today how such an otherwise advanced country can do without foreign languages.... Read more

Language challenges

Edinburgh, UK (View on map)
Posted 20 Oct 2007:

Foreign languages do not come natural to everybody. Finland or Sweden may make it seem like that, but the United Kingdom proves the contrary. Britons can get by speaking English in most other European countries, which for most people takes away the wish to learn another language. How about learning another one?... Read more

Speaking Swedish

G?vle, SE (View on map)
Posted 6 Oct 2007:

As a foreign tourists in Sweden, basic knowledge of English will be sufficient to get you around the country. While many other countries struggle to improve education in foreign languages, Swedes take pride in speaking the accent of their choice in English. Making a difference requires a second or possibly even third foreign language. A bless for tourists, but what does the Swedish language itself actually look like?... Read more

Finnish for beginners

Vaasa, FI (View on map)
Posted 28 Sep 2007:

Finnish language doesn`t only look like one big mystery to outsiders, it actually is a maze of complicated constructions. Words can take 16 different endings, depending on their location in the sentence and the preposition that would have preceded them in English. `House` translates as `Talo`, 'in the house' makes `Talossa`, `(away) from the house` becomes `Talosta`, and 13 more of those. I am on a mission today to find out some more features of the Finnish language.... Read more

Estonian Language

Tallinn, EE (View on map)
Posted 12 Sep 2007:

It may not come as a surprise that the main language in Estonia is Estonian. Over one million people speak it as their first language, leaving a second place for Russian which used to be the main language of public communication until the early 1990s. Estonian is related to Finnish and, at a larger distance, Hungarian. This so called Finno-Ugric language group has very little similarities with other European languages. Today, I am hoping to learn more about the language that Estonians are so proud of.... Read more

Independent Lithuania

Kaunas, LT (View on map)
Posted 19 Aug 2007:

Lithuania has an exciting history and ownership of the territory has shifted in all directions from the 14th century onwards. Many struggles for independence have taken place over the last centuries. Once part of a Polish-Lithuanian Empire, then temporarily independent, subsequently occupied by Russia, then conquered by the Germans, and after World War II, involuntarily included in the Soviet Union. In 1990, it declared independence again and in 2004, it even joined the NATO and the European Union. While Lithuania`s roots go a long way back, it is one of Europe`s youngest nation. Today, I am interviewing young people about how much they remember of the separation from the Soviet Union, and which traces were left behind as the Soviet troops withdrew.... Read more

Irish sports

Sligo, IE (View on map)
Posted 8 Aug 2007:

Betting, sports and beer - a perfect Irish combination. I spent my second and last say in Sligo inquiring about Irish sports. I expected to hear about hurling, Gaelic football and rugby, but ended up attending the local horse races.... Read more

Gaelic is back!

Sligo, IE (View on map)
Posted 7 Aug 2007:

With all these English speaking people around, I would have presumed that English is the main language in Ireland. The constitution thinks about it differently: Irish or Gaelic is the official national and first language of the country - English only comes second. Gaelic is a compulsory subject for any pupil in the age of 4 until 17. Still, most of the Irish you encounter as a visitor would be pub names and double names for cities. What is the use of Irish to the Irish? What do they use it for and why does it still exist? Does it leave any room for people to learn other foreign languages?... Read more

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