Posts in category

LINGUISTICS


Minchia ch’è beddu! 20 Minutes to Feigning Fluent-ish Sicilian

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Neapolitan in 20 Minutes: Learn Just Enough for Any Conversation in Southern Italy

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On Learning Just Enough Bosnian Slang to Toast, Gripe, and Propose Marriage

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Today we’ll learn to count in Serbian / Bosnian / Croatian. But this South Slavic linguistic shitshow is crazy, so all we’re really going to understand is the number one. If we get really masochistic, we may cover the numbers two, three, maybe even four and more in some other article. This is a grammar …

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The horrors of Serbian/Croatian/Bosian hit you one after another: cases, verb aspect, and conjugations… And then at some point, probably later in the process, the bizarre and seemingly random distinctions between više and još will also start to get on your nerves. These words can be translated, variously, as “more”, “even more”, “yet”, “any more”, “still”, etc. …

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Over the years I’ve spent learning and refining my Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian, I’ve tried out plenty of textbooks and learning guides. Most of them were terrible. But a few have risen to the top and are worth recommending. These books aren’t the very first step you should take into the language; your first few minutes of Serbian learning should …

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If you want to joke, flirt, and gripe with the locals in Sicily, you could do so in Italian. But if you manage to do so in Sicilian you’re going to have way more fun. Sicilian is the language of the island of Sicily. Some refer to it as a “dialect” — but, prior to …

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If you want to joke, flirt, and make a proper toast in the south of Italy, you could certainly speak Italian. Or English — or Bosnian, Galician, or Russian, for that matter, as Italians are generally delighted to carry on a conversation without the slightest comprehension. But if you really want a truly local adventure, you must speak at least a little Neapolitan. …

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Bosnian is uniquely rich among its Slavic brethren in shortened informal expressions. Here’s a quick guide; master these few words and you’ll sound like a local.

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  The world thinks it knows what a French person sounds like: a derisive laugh that somehow pulls phlegm through the nostrils, a sarcastic oh-la-la between pinched puffs of smoke… But what do the French think the French sound like? And what can you say and do to pass as one of them? As part of our Fluent …

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It’s hard to complete a Catalan sentence without merda. Shit is always on the tip of the Catalan tongue, whether used to describe speed, cowardice, disappointment, avarice, explosive mushrooms, etc., etc., literally ad nauseum. In my quest to speak Catalan like a native, I’ve compiled an exhaustive list of shit-based expressions from friends and academic sources. Previously here …

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I’ve lived in nine countries, and when I first arrived in most of them, I didn’t speak much of the language. Being linguistically and culturally lost has become a habit. I’ve found the best way to advance rapidly in these situations (as well as if I’m attempting to learn before arrival) is to just jump in and start …

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As part of the our Fluent in 20 Minutes series, this post provides EVERYTHING you need to participate in conversations with Brazilians, whether or not you have any idea what anyone is saying. Why learn (a bit of) Portuguese? Well, there’s good evidence that this language has the best music, and then there are the Brazilians themselves, their dancing, …

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Your buddy is tipsy. Would you rather express this with a gesture referencing an 18th-century alcoholic carpenter’s tzar-given neck tattoo, or just mime tipping a bottle to your lips? Almost invariably, Russian gestures are more interesting and/or emphatic than their international counterparts. We at TP suggest that the following be immediately adopted into everyone’s physical …

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  Surrounded by Americans? The following key gestures and words will allow you to fake a high level of American English, even and especially when you have no idea what anyone is saying. This is derived from the Tipsy Pilgrim Language Method, which targets language’s true purpose: amusement. Rarely, we believe, does/should language serve a communicative …

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Is it random luck that so many of the world’s great songs are in Portuguese, or does the language itself have something to do with it?

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One lovely evening a ways back, U. Michigan students were served cocktails, then tested on their ability to learn Thai pronunciation. The tests were performed double-blind, and the cocktails contained varying amounts of alcohol (some, secretely, had none). Finally, science was poised to say how much exactly you should drink before attempting to pronounce new foreign …

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Learn to speak languages with without pesky bullshit like comprehension or communication.

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You can’t speak Portuguese without moving your hands. And, as you might expect from a people with their own style of kissing, Brazilians have a grand repertoire of unique gestures. Among them: “big fat liar”, “this person’s quality stuff”, and “in the hood”.

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Independentista and blogger El Fem Fatal speaks Catalan not only to foreigners like me, but also to the inanimate objects in her home. “Li fas plas!” she explained to me, flailing at her lightswitch. “You’ve gotta really slap this fucker!” is how I would translate that. “Plas” is a Catalan onomatopeia for “smack”, and can …

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Galician is uniquely rich in fixed expressions for that romantic-but-vexing moment when a man sees something he’d like to fuck. Many languages (French and Catalan come to mind) have their own clichéd versions of “do you come here often?” but Galician, in spite of losing its lexical footing a bit as it mixes with Spanish, is balls-out prolific …

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The following table will aid in communication with inanimate French objects. Tipsy Pilgrim also has a guide for communicating with the young and animate French.

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Welcome to Verlan, France’s answer to Cockney rhyming slang or Pig Latin (and an exact parallel to Serbian’s Šatrovački). Verlan became common in the ’80s among poor young folks in Parisian suburbs, and was diffused through hip hop and pop music. Today, anyone of the MTV Europe age or younger employs it to some degree. The …

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The world’s sexiest women are Catalan. They’re gorgeous, laid back, kinda grungy, and infinitely sweet.* So what do you gotta do to bang, smooch, or marry one? Former dictator Francisco Franco has inadvertently given us a leg up, with the collective mindfuck he caused by banning the region’s language. Today’s Catalans get very excited about …

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When hungover, Germans speak of howling cats while Icelanders’ phrase literally means to have the God of Thunder’s hammers in your brain. Iberian languages refer to the undertow; apparently the land’s regurgitation of water to the sea is evocative. Latin Americans show a great linguistic range in their post-bacchanal gloom, using Spanish or native words for …

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You’ve had enough. You’re ready to escape a gathering, but, in many countries, manners dictate going around the table to kiss everyone goodbye. With a certain type of folks and level of chaos and inebriation, these goodbyes can take ages. The Germans have a much less kissy-kissy culture than many of their European counterparts, so …

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Ah, the Catalans and their toasts. Ready? Lift your glass and bellow the following: Sant Hilari, sant Hilari, fill de puta, qui no se l’acabi! — Saint Hilari, Saint Hilari, oh he’s a son of a whore, he who won’t finish up! There’s no particular reason to call on poor Saint Hilari to make everyone guzzle …

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Using a pickup line in your native tongue is a dubious move. But in a foreign language the mispronounced equivalent of “Do you come here often?” can be funny, even endearing. The following are very clichéd classics; say them earnestly, falteringly, and for once your bewildered foreigner status may work in your favor. T’as des …

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