Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boo! It’s Hallow’s Eve!

Halloween is known by many names some of which are Samhain, Summer’s End, Lamswool, All Hallow’s Eve, Witches Night, and Snap-Apple night. It is believed to be one of the oldest holidays in the world. Halloween, as it is known today, started as an ancient pagan tradition before it was adopted and reinvented by Christians. Halloween traditions and customs have evolved into different forms. It is a blend of tradition and modern acts of public exhibitionism.

Halloween in some places is highly commercialized and strongly connected to the Halloween tradition of the United States. With the help of traditional and social media, movies, television shows, and the Internet, American Halloween is increasing in popularity year after year. It has become one celebration enjoyed by kids, teens, and adults alike. Knowing the origins of this spooky celebration is a way to understand the different Halloween customs and traditions of today.

Celtic tradition

Summer’s End or Samhain is believed to be the origin of Halloween. This is an ancient Celtic festival that signaled the end or death of summer. It also celebrated the start of the New Year for the Celts (people from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England, Britanny and northern France). The Celts saw Samhain as a sacred festival because it marked the border between summer (life) and winter (death). Samhain was a moment of change; a night filled with magic and power for these ancient people.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Famous Polyglots in History and Today

This is the second part of It’s a Polyglot World Out There

Cleopatra VII (late 69 BC – 12 August, 30 BC)

The Queen of the Nile and Ancient Egypt’s last pharaoh was of Greek descent. A member of Greece’s Ptolemaic dynasty, she ruled the country after Alexander the Great’s demise. Just like the other Ptolemies before her, Cleopatra chose not to speak Egyptian although she knew the language. Some say Cleopatra knew Aramaic, Ethiopic, Hebrew and Latin on top of Greek and Coptic/Egyptian. She was also believed to have spoken Syriac, Median, Parthian and Trogodyte and actually used her facility for languages to her advantage.

Nicolaus Copernicus (19 February 1473 – 24 May 1543)

Talented astronomer Copernicus, the one to devise a heliocentric model of the universe was a known polyglot. Born in Germany, he was said to have spoken at least four languages including Polish, Latin and Greek. Aside form being a noted astronomer Copernicus was a mathematician, physician, classical scholar, artist, and translator.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Happy Diwali! It’s Time to Celebrate the Festival of Lights

Diwali, also called Deepavali, is the Festival of Lights. Hindus, Jains, Sikhs and Buddhists observe this festival. Diwali is celebrated in many countries not only in India. Some of the countries where the Diwali Festival is given importance are Nepal, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Fiji, Guyana, Mauritius, Trinidad & Tobago and Myanmar.

The date when Diwali is observed is based on the luni-solar Hindu calendar. It falls between the middle of October and the middle of November, which is usually the end of the monsoon season. Last 2010, Diwali was celebrated on November 5. For 2011, the date of the Diwali Festival fell on October 26. In 2012, Diwali will be on November 13.

Traditional Diwali involves lighting of diyas or small clay lamps. These clay lamps are filled with oil then kept lit during the course of the night. The ritual signifies the conquest of good against evil, light versus darkness. The house is cleansed as a result of lighting diyas. To drive evil spirits away, firecrackers are lit during the festival.

Monday, October 24, 2011

It’s a Polyglot World Out There

Isn’t it fantastic to hear a person conduct conversations with different nationalities speaking different languages all at once? You may be thinking that somehow that person is a genius or something. It is an amazing feat, and may require years of hard work but it can be done, as long as you have the time, the dedication and the facility for learning languages. And for some, what’s truly incredible is their ability to pick up the nuances of a language and be able to speak it almost like a native after a few weeks without formal lessons. A majority of the citizens of the world speak at least two languages, while others are able to speak three or more. A person who can speak four or more languages is already called a polyglot.

Becoming a polyglot is not easy. It takes a lot of hard work and practice. Polyglots often have an edge in social, business or work situations. Their hard work and ability to speak many languages with ease comes in handy. Did you know that many people in the world are polyglots without them knowing it? It is possible that you may even be one.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Text-Speak, The Language of Mobile Phones

Ever since the mobile phone was invented life has never been the same. Mobile phones, also referred to as cellular phones or cellphones, have been around for many years. The mobile phone has evolved by leaps and bounds. In the beginning, it was only for military purposes. Now, anyone who can afford one, has one. It has become a sort of status symbol within the society.

The main reason for owning a mobile phone is to keep one connected with the people in their lives. Mobile phones are used for personal calls as well as business calls. It becomes a sort of lifeline. Cellphone owners can make voice calls, send short messages or even make video calls (depending on the features of the mobile phone) in order to communicate with another person.

Monday, October 10, 2011

No Room to Be Lost in Translation or Interpretation

Nobody in the world ever wants to be misinterpreted. Misinterpreting someone’s words can lead to hilarity, mortification, or embarrassment. It can also lead to disastrous consequences that can affect one’s personal or professional relationships. In the world of politics, misinterpretation may inadvertently cause animosity, violence or even death.

The Carlos Tevez Incident

Recently, there arose a brouhaha over the mistranslation of a television interview given by Carlos Tevez, player for Manchester City. Tevez, who plays forward for the English club, is a professional Argentine footballer. In the interview with Sky Sports after the Champions League game against Bayern Munich a week ago, Tevez’s comments were apparently mistranslated causing the footballer to be suspended by Manchester City for two weeks while an investigation on the matter was underway.

Tevez was accused of refusing to play during the Champions League tie and refusing to play for the Manchester City again. Kia Joorabchian, adviser to Carlos Tevez, claimed that the Manchester City’s backroom staff who acted as interpreter got both the questions and the answers wrong. However, an independent translation of Tevez’s response seems to indicate that he actually refused to play.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Austria’s Gift of Music and More to the World

The Republic of Austria is a landlocked country in the center of Europe. Italy, Slovenia, Germany, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Slovakia and Hungry surround the small country. The capital of Austria is Vienna, the most populous city in the country. It is a beautiful country in terms of natural wonders (think: The Alps), architecture (home of grand castles and fortresses), people and culture.

The land of music

With the long list of composers Austrian-born led by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, it is no wonder that Austria has been, time and again, referred to as “the land of music.” In fact, there was a time when Vienna was considered “the center of music” in Europe. Some of the other famous composers from Austria are:

• Franz Joseph Haydn
• Johann Strauss, Sr.
• Johann Strauss, Jr.
• Franz Schubert
• Arnold Schönberg
• Gustav Mahler