We’ve got some proper cultural folk here at Clearbox, but none more so than Kerry G. The gal who wants to visit 25 countries before she’s 25, or 30 before she’s 30. We can never remember, but it’s a lot.
She tells us that today is European Languages Day and she wanted to write some words about it. Who are we to say no? Or nein, as the case may be today. Go on yourself, Kezza.
Anyone who knows me will be aware that I absolutely LOVE foreign languages and my magic power would definitely be to be fluent in every single language in the world. Niche, I know.
Today is European Day of Languages - a day where people living across Europe, of all ages, are encouraged to discover and learn new languages. The Council of Europe believes that linguistic diversity is important if we want to achieve a greater understanding of each other and our different cultures.
Europe alone is home to over 200 different languages - this makes up a grand 3% of the world’s total. Yes, this means there are between 6,000 and 7,000 languages spoken in the world. Just take a second to think about that.
As a native English speaker, I find myself in a pickle. So many people across the world learn English as a foreign language because it’s the international language of the world. As a result, I was never pushed in school to learn another language. It was never something that was a necessity, or something I thought I needed to succeed.
Despite this, the German language has become something I’m quite passionate about. I studied German for A-level, started my degree with a minor in German and studied abroad for a year in Austria. Contrary to popular option, I think German is one of the most beautiful languages in the world. I know it wouldn’t be classed as one of the sexier languages, but just so you know, I would beg to differ.
I have gained so much as a result of learning a language, so this European Day of Languages, I’ve decided to share some of the things I’ve gained in the hope that it might encourage you broaden your linguistic horizons.
1) The first one’s a big one - every single human that learns English so that they can communicate with ME when I’m on holiday in THEIR country is an absolute Saint and should be appreciated and respected.
2) Learning a foreign language has taught me much more about my own language than I thought possible. I now appreciate grammar, sentence structure and punctuation like never before.
3) It might sound strange, but learning a language has given me a greater level of self confidence. When you have jump out of your comfort zone to communicate with those around you, you learn to back yourself in many an unknown situation.
4) I have developed a love for idioms - the way you can communicate through language, without using the words you probably should is my absolute favourite. Saying that, it’s not as fun when it’s not in your native language and you have absolutely no idea what they are trying to say.
Finally, it would be rude not to share some of the German words that don’t have a direct English translation to demonstrate just how great other languages can be. They are fantastic. Please take my translations with a pinch of salt. I’m not promising you will ever need to use them but they’re still my favourite - you’re welcome.
Fernweh = Distance pain - the feeling of wanting to be somewhere else, look at it as the reason we all go on holiday.
Wanderlust = the desire to travel.
Treppenwitz = Staircase joke - it’s basically a word to describe the comeback you always have after the fact.
Kummerspeck = Grief Bacon - the weight you gain as a result of emotional eating.
Fremdschämen = Exterior shame - that feeling you get when someone else has completely embarrassed themselves and you’re cringing for them.
Gemütlichkeit = the feeling of being warm and cosy, surrounded by your favourite people with a cuppa. Perhaps the feeling of being totally content.