Monday, 13 May 2013

A thousand memoirs on a school trip to Italy!

Are you a Food Enthusiast? Because you seriously need to peep into the culinary calendar of a nation before deciding on a trip. And not just food, other considerations say weather, budget, cultural events, seasonal atmosphere and ambiance prove to be of utmost importance.

Italy has strived to be amongst those nations hugely contributing to the cultural and historic heritage to the whole of Europe and of course to the World! A nation indulged in offering world class food, music, heritage or art, Italy hosts events and festivals of international significance carrying forward a vibrant and lush style of its own. The country’s vibrant style has only come out of its glorious and celebrated history.

Winters were on it’s way to arrive. It was ‘special’. Absolutely! As this time our School authorities have planned to take its high school students on a trip to Italy. That irresistible feeling and all my crazy friends - We were ready to boast!! Witty poses, random clicks, capturing the famous attractions and worldwide popularity - all for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. (You never know, Life’s too unpredictable!)

Adding some percentage to the world of 46.1 million tourists a year, we ‘banged on’ to the fifth highest tourist earning nation. The symbolic hills, the sacred Vatican city, imperial Roman landmarks accompanied by the best of cuisine and fresh fashion; Italy was more than successful in gathering and luring tourists across the globe. We were pretty excited to explore Italian, a romance language, related to other Latin languages: Spanish, French, Portuguese and Romanian. However, the official Italian language spoken today originated from the Tuscan dialect (of Latin). Tuscany a.k.a “Birthplace of Renaissance” was a flourishing state in Italy having seen the birth of noted men - Galileo Galilei, Leonardo da Vinci, Petrarch, Dante and many others.

On our way to Florence - The birthplace of Renaissance, we got introduced to a dazzling app -RouteIt, none other by a native of Florence. This amazing app takes you on a virtual tour on both Android and iOS devices. We covered some of the most  famous and historical Italian place such as Florence Cathedral, Piazza della Repubblica, Orsanmichele, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, Palazzo Pitti, Basilica of Santa Croce, National Central Library.

Rome stands the "Eternal city" and also "Caput Mundi" (Capital in Latin), to the 25th most-developed country where Milan was home to fashion and finance. The one amongst the richest countries in the field of art and culture house a state that locked it’s own gates at night - Vatican City. We all were simply bowled by the uniqueness of the festivals and operatic seasons offered by Milan’s La Scala and the Verona Arena. Opera came out in the 17th century by Italian music composer Claudio Monteverdi in theaters "Teatro alla Scala" in Milan or ancient "Arena" in Verona.The compositions in19th and early 20th centuries on the birthplace of Opera are reckoned as the most famous operas ever performed.

Dating the country’s architectural achievements from the late 14th to 16th century, Italian art have had three phases - Early Christian, Romanesque, and Gothic (Now that we were school students we penned down some facts). The homeland of Palladianism and Neoclassical architecture got lit up by the museum works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and many more. Following the construction of arches and domes, Italian architecture was flooded with masterpieces from Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome (world's largest church) to The Santa Maria del Fiore cathedral in Florence, (world’s biggest brick dome).
Therefore, the art cities of Italy are counted amongst the most travelled and explored destinations in international cultural tourism.

The Nation with maximum number of World Heritage Sites showered the guests from Canada (Us) with the relaxed culture of Italian food. (Today you see numerous restaurants operating from different corners of the world having Italian cuisines and flavors. In large cities, you would see increasing number of Italian population spreading their love and culture). Though initially it was challenging for us to grasp the stubborn Italian words. But all was sorted when a Native introduced us to LingoDiction.  
LingoDiction is an offline app for iOS users making easy for wanderers like us get an idea of common words of other foreign languages along with their audio pronunciation. Do you know the English speaking population in Italy accounts for 34% from the eligible population of 20,300,000!

P.S. - We were so much moved by this breathtaking app that in turn inspired us to try our hand on the national anthem of Italy “Inno de Memeli”.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Lingual Logics

Learning a new language brings many funny instances. You never know it meant something else in some other languages. And if they have an entirely unrelated meaning, it becomes a bigger source of pleasure. Let me tell you some words I came across:

I used to watch Shinchan, the cartoon series with a Japanese kid, with my nephew. The name of Shinchan’s dog is Shiro. I thought its just another meaningless words for pets like tommy and all. Whereas, to my amusement, Shiro in Japanese means white in English. And it struck me that yes! the dog was white. Quite justifiable, but amusing.

Mandarin, as we know, is a language used in China, is also a word used for citrus fruits in English. I mean what would the following sentence imply “Mandarin has a flavour of bitterness.”

‘Shove’ (pronounced as shuv) is a word in Hindi that means corpse. I wonder how would we take this sentence - “That shove was necessary to make things possible.“

Hell in German means Light. So next time, if you yell at someone saying “Go to hell”, be sure that you specify which ‘hell’ you mean.

Hose means trouser in German. So next time you see a fire, grab a ‘hose’ and... wear it! You will need to run.

See, what fun you can have while learning languages! I opened the word-stock I had. What about you?

Monday, 6 May 2013

Rendezvous with non-English speakers

Being an English speaker among English-speaking natives, I had never imagined the fun of being with non-English speakers. I was in Switzerland for an official conference, when I started experiencing the effects of lingual change. Let me tell you some of the legendary moments I can still giggle on.

I decided to delight myself in a French restaurant. The menu card in French looked like a crossword puzzle. But, somehow I managed to make noodles out of Nouilles due to a small graphic after the name. The French serveur, who was almost on skateboard all the while, stood by me for at least 10 minutes to absorb the details of my order. I explained him the whole procedure of making noodles to escape any kind of bad experiences. With my loud actions and mimes, I was able to tell him that I do not want non-vegetarian touch in my Nouilles. After a while I was served with delicious looking noodles to raise my temptations, which brewed away as soon as I sniffed. It was cooked in FISH OIL!  

Next morning, I had to reach a conference via public transport. I googled about the route options that would be available to me. I had to take a train to Paradeplatz, for which I had to hire a taxi to reach the station. I had to hurl from one taxi to another with one word on my tongue Paradeplatz. I asked to every taxi but all I was getting was a perplexed look. I showed the spelling I had jotted down last night to a driver who pronounced it differently with some silent consonants and different vowel sound. Pa -ra -da - pla - z (with T silent) or t(with Z silent) Huh! I should have known that!

When people around you, suddenly start talking in their native language while looking at you, certainly they ought to be discussing you, suspense reaches the climax. You try hard to recall all your kinesics’ lessons to make out what their body language is saying. Soon I realized that it is far more difficult to understand the language of whole body without the language of tongue. And, I kept running my thoughts to try and catch some context. That is a very awkward position to be in, believe me.

Next day, I happened to meet a native speaker in the strange land who, like an angel, ebbed all my hitches with single sway of LingoDiction. With LingoDiction, an offline app for iOS, I got to know all the frequently used words with their audio pronunciation. Then, I faced the same bunch of foreign language speakers with my armours ready to their attacks. I pretended that I cannot understand like before but I could atleast make out the context of their conversation which, to my embarrassment, wasn’t related to me at all.

One more thing I and that angel native did. We reversed the trick on non-English speakers. We make them suspect our topic of conversation, which made them self-conscious. We had a furious laugh before and after the act. Cheers to LingoDiction!