Happy Chinese New Year 2015!


Happy Chinese New Year 2015!

2015 marks the Year of the Goat or Sheep (the direct translation from Chinese is ‘homed animal’), with 2014 being the Year of the Horse and 2016 the Year of the Monkey. The Chinese New Year is on 19 February 2015 and is China’s most important holiday which lasts for 15 days. The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival is the most prestigious occasion in the Chinese calendar, with public holidays in Taiwan, Singapore & Malaysia, in addition to China.

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Happy Chinese New Year 2014!

night-life-new-york-chinatownHappy Chinese New Year to all of our readers!

Chinese New Year took place on 31st January this year, but the biggest day for celebrations in the UK is today, 2nd February. London’s Chinatown is set to hold the best New Year event in the country, with other big cities such as Birmingham and Manchester to follow suit.

2014 marks the Year of the Horse, with 2013 being the Year of the Snake and 2015 the Year of the Goat. This represents the animals of the Chinese zodiac, and the years cycle on a 12 year rotation.

Chinese New Year is typically celebrated in China with large family meals. It is also traditional to clean the entire house to make way for the good luck that will come with the New Year. Some people also give gifts of money in red paper envelopes to signify wealth, prosperity and good fortune.

In countries with a significant Chinese population, it is normal for Chinese New Year to be a public holiday to allow families to get together and celebrate.

Each of the days of the New Year celebrations is dedicated to a particular activity. For example, the first day is about welcoming the deities and scaring away the bad spirits with fireworks and firecrackers. On the 13th day, people eat a vegetarian diet to cleanse their bodies from the preceding days of festivities, while the 15th day, or the Lantern Festival, marks the end of the New Year celebrations.

Food is traditionally meat, fish and a series of vegetarian dishes eaten on different days of the New Year festivities. A hot pot often forms part of the reunion family meal to represent the coming together of the family, and dumplings are eaten as it is thought that the preparation represents packaging luck inside the dumplings.

If you have been celebrating Chinese New Year, we would love to hear all about it.

Find out more about cultural celebrations around the world>>

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What is Icelandic linguistic purism?

Iceland is a small country located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean between Scandinavia and North America. With a population of around 320,000 with more than two thirds of its inhabitants living in the capital, Reykjavik, its native language, Icelandic, is a little-spoken language, especially outside Iceland itself.

Icelandic is subject to strict linguistic purism, meaning the Icelandic government takes a strong interest in replacing foreign loanwords with newly created Icelandic words. These are usually derived from Old Icelandic and Old Norse, and the goal of the movement is to prevent any non-Icelandic words from entering the language; hence, ‘purism’.

This idea is rooted in sociolinguistics. Language is intrinsic to our sense of cultural identity, and this is particularly true of the geographically isolated Icelanders. Icelandic is a highly unique language, bearing only a passing resemblance to its closest existing relatives such as Norwegian and Danish. By retaining as much of the language as possible, Icelandic is better prepared to preserve the rich history and culture of the island and its people.

The approach taken by the Icelandic government is in direct contrast to governments of English-speaking countries. English has always been a melting pot of other languages, with its history stemming from Latin, French, the Nordic languages and the Germanic family, amongst others. English has adopted much of its lexicon from other languages, and as such we enjoy a rich and varied vocabulary, and with it, a complex system of rules for grammar and pronunciation.

An example of the creation of a new word in Icelandic is ‘sími’, the word for ‘telephone’. This is an old, previously disused word for ‘long thread’ which was pulled out of history and reused for the somewhat similar concept of a telephone. The disparity between Icelandic and other languages is clear in this case: in Spanish, it is ‘telefóno’; in French, ‘téléphone’; in Norwegian, ‘telefon’; in Irish, ‘teileafón’.

In Iceland, English is a compulsory language, and virtually all young Icelanders will be fluent. However, this example of linguistic purism highlights the importance of learning new languages, as learning a language such as Icelandic could hold the key to unlocking a whole new culture and its fascinating history.

Read more about the relationship between English and Icelandic>>

Learn Icelandic with Language Advantage>>

The new 24-hour working culture changing Norway

A growing number of entrepreneurs are changing the face of working culture in Norway. Designers, jewellery makers, IT specialists amongst others have been using Oslo’s first hub for specialist entrepreneurs. Called ‘Mesh’, people mingle in a communal kitchen, play table tennis and drink complimentary coffee whilst working on their own businesses and networking. ‘Our goal is to make innovators feel at home’ says one of the co-founders of this new enterprising idea.

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New Kawaii Star In Japan

Japanese kids have gone crazy for a new Kawaii ‘cute’ star in Japan. Kiriko Takemura who is now called Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is seen as the face and voice of the Kawaii culture after being spotted as a young schoolgirl. She is fast becoming a huge phenomenon in Japan and, around the world. Her first song went viral online and was watched more than 50 million times.

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Maasai Image And Name Are To Be Branded

The Maasai people in Kenya and Tanzania want to trademark their name and image. The Maasai is an easily recognisable culture in tribal Africa who symbolize the outdoors and adventure and wear colourful beads and costumes. They are a semi-nomadic people where cattle is a sign of status and speak the Maa language. A Maasai elder wants the Maasai name and image to be trademarked out of respect for his culture and people. Globally, there are currently more than 80 companies using either the Maasai name or image.

The Maasai elder, along with an NGO (which specialises in securing intellectual property rights in developing countries), want to brand the Maasai image and name so that companies have to get permission to use them. It is thought that the Maasai brand could be worth more than 10 million dollars a year.

Read more about why the Maasai want to brand their image and name>>


Huge Success For French Movies … In Britain

Attendance for French language and French-made movies rose dramatically last year … in Britain. It seems that us Brits just can’t get enough of all films French which is proving a huge boost to the French cinema industry. Unifrance, which promotes French films overseas, says that the rise in attendance for French films in the UK is not down to just one film but to several films and a growing appetite for French films, in the UK.

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Journée Internationale de la Francophonie – 20th March

International-Teddy-bear-FranceWith over 200 million French-speakers around the world, International Francophonie Day or Journée Internationale de la Francophonie, is a great chance to shout out about the French language! Every year on the 20th March, this day celebrates and promotes cultural diversity and the French language. Events take place around the world to encourage people to learn the French language further and to champion its culture with concerts, exhibitions, talks and forums. [Read more…]

Languages And Culture Are Big Business

Services specialising in language and culture are currently more in demand than ever before. Language-services companies which not only offer specialist services such as legal, litigation or technology but who also offer translation and interpreting, now find themselves part of an industry that is worth around $34 billion worldwide. The language-services business is growing at a rate of about 12% each year. That’s big business.

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Le Quatorze Juillet

Bastille Day, known in French as le quatorze juillet or Fête Nationale,  is a French National holiday held on the 14 July each year.  It was on this day in 1789  when hundreds of Parisians stormed the Bastille Prison in Paris starting the French Revolution and bringing about the end of the monarchy.   [Read more…]