• #TLL2015 – Favourite Language Lovers Contest •

THANK YOU SO MUCH! :))
THANK YOU SO MUCH! :))

#‎TLL2015‬
I’ve been nominated among your favourite language lovers! I didn’t expect it, so thank you so much! 🙂

But, now, it’s up to you!

Please, vote for my facebook page ▷ One Sec Translations ◃ in the category “Top 100 Language Facebook Pages 2015” (here ➡ http://en.bab.la/…/top-100-language-facebook-pages-2015-vot…) and my twitter account ▷ One Sec (Chiara) ◃ in the category “Top 100 Language Twitter Accounts 2015” (here ➡ http://en.bab.la/ne…/top-100-language-twitterers-2015-voting).
It’s a one shot, you can only vote once for each category.

Check the other categories (Language Learning Blogs, Language Professionals Blogs, and YouTube Channels) to vote your favourite people!

Game on!

***

Top Language Lovers 2015 || Lexiophiles | bab.la
Top Language Lovers 2015 || Lexiophiles | bab.la
Vote for my facebook page!
Vote for my facebook page!
Vote for my twitter account!
Vote for my twitter account!

***
#TLL2015
Ho ottenuto due nomination al concorso bab.la + Lexiophiles e appaio tra gli amanti della lingua preferiti dagli utenti! Non me lo aspettavo davvero, grazie mille a tutti!

Ora, però, tocca a voi!

Se vi piace la mia pagina facebook ▷ One Sec Translations ◃ la categoria in cui potete votarmi è “Top 100 Language Facebook Pages 2015” (cliccate qui http://en.bab.la/…/top-100-language-facebook-pages-2015… )
e per il mio account di twitter ▷ One Sec (Chiara) ◃ la categoria è “Top 100 Language Twitter Accounts 2015” (cliccate qui http://en.bab.la/…/top-100-language-twitterers-2015-voting ).

Potete esprimere la vostra preferenza una sola volta, quindi anche ricaricando la pagina e cliccando insistentemente verrà conteggiato un solo voto.

Date uno sguardo anche alle altre categorie (Language Learning Blogs, Language Professionals Blogs, and YouTube Channels) e votate i vostri link preferiti!

Che il voto abbia inizio! 😉

Nominate - Vote - Award
Nominate – Vote – Award
Annunci

[Repost] Up the apples, she’s got a lovely pair of bacons – what do East Londoners mean? (by transpanish)

Up the apples, she’s got a lovely pair of bacons – what do East Londoners mean?

Cockney rhyming slang is jam-packed with references to fruit, vegetables and other kinds of foods. This East London working-class slang, structured around a simple rhyming system, was the East Londoner’s language code which prevented bosses, the police and other authority figures from understanding what was being said.

Some of the most popular food-related cockney rhyming phrases include “apples and pears,” “bacon and eggs” and “custard and jelly.” Below, we’ve compiled a fairly extensive list of food rhymes and their East London meaning…

cockney_slang

apples and pears

The phrase “apples and pears” rhymes with “stairs” and so is commonly used to refer to anything which might be going on above. You might say to someone, looking for an item they’ve lost, “It might be up the apples,” meaning it might be upstairs and therefore worth checking.

bacon and eggs

Bacon and eggs rhymes with legs and is used when you want to compliment a woman. You might say, “You’ve got a lovely pair of bacons,” meaning that she has a really good looking pair of legs.

custard and jelly

“Shall we watch a bit of custard?” might be a question someone would ask if they wanted to watch the television, as custard and jelly refers directly to the telly (television).

loaf of bread

If you’re ever told to, “use your loaf,” in the East End of London, it’s because you’re being told to “use your head” or to think/act smarter. “Head” rhymes with “bread,” and so the phrase is shortened from “use your loaf of bread (head)” to “use your loaf!”

mince pies

When a guy from the East End of London wants to chat up a lovely lady that he sets his eyes on, he might say, “You’ve got lovely mincies.” “Mince pies”, rhymes with “eyes” and… the conclusion to be drawn from the rest is quite clear.

peas in the pot

When you walk into a room and someone says, “It’s a bit peasy in here,” they mean that it’s a bit hot. “Peas in the pot” rhymes with “hot,” hence the use of the phrase, “peasy.”

plates of meat

“Plates of meat” rhymes with “feet.” You might hear someone say, “Be careful of me (my) plates,” if they’re frightened that someone else is about to stand on their feet.

potatoes in the mould

A shortened version of “potatoes” in the East End of London is the word “taters.” The phrase “potatoes (taters) in the mould” rhymes with “cold” and is used when someone is feeling a little nippy. You might hear someone say, “It’s a bit taters in here.”

rabbit and pork

If you happen to be spending a lot of time with someone who talks and talks and talks and never seems to want to just be quiet, you might want to say, “Wow! You can really rabbit, can’t you!” The phrase “rabbit and pork” rhymes with “talk” and is used to talk about the big chatterboxes in our lives.

tea leaf

“He’s a little tea leaf,” is used to accuse someone of being a “thief.”

As is made evident from the examples above, the parts of the rhymes which don’t actually match the sound of the word they are referring to is the word that is normally used in Cockney Rhyming Slang. For instance, in “bacon and eggs”, “eggs” rhymes with “legs”, but “bacon” is the part of the phrase which is used when you want to tell a woman she has a lovely pair of “bacons” (legs).

By opting for the section of the rhyme which doesn’t actually rhyme, the secret meaning of the phrase was kept even more of a secret amongst the working classes of East London. Secrecy to Cockney Rhymers means everything.

 

Cf. original: http://www.transpanish.biz/translation_blog/examples-cockney/

 

[Repost] Lost in translations: la questione della traduzione a partire dal principio. Ovvero: il titolo (by Mariachiara Eredia)

Lost in translations: la questione della traduzione a partire dal principio. Ovvero: il titolo

lostintranslations4

In un mondo in cui spirito di servizio e galanteria sono ormai un retaggio perduto di austeniana memoria, sopravvive nonostante tutto un cavalier servente, Highlander dei giorni nostri armato non di spada ma di dizionario: costui (o costei, non perdiamoci in sottigliezze di genere) è il traduttore.

Dal latino tradūcere (letteralmente: “condurre al di là”), il traduttore staziona a cavallo fra due lingue, due mondi, due culture diverse, teso nello sforzo continuo di mettere in comunicazione una parte con l’altra, travasando forme e contenuti con la mano più ferma che gli riesca di trovare: il pericolo di far traboccare stile e parole è infatti costante, e il punto non è tanto evitare che trabocchino, quanto piuttosto non farli traboccare eccessivamente.

Ma anche se qualcosa va perduto, inevitabilmente, in ogni traduzione, lo specialista nella rimozione delle barriere linguistiche cerca sempre di servire il testo nel modo più fedele possibile, rendendolo al meglio nella lingua d’arrivo (“target language”, è così che la chiamano gli addetti ai lavori; anglicizzarsi è cool e fa tendenza, di questi tempi); o almeno, servire il testo dovrebbe essere l’obiettivo di un traduttore come si deve, uno tutto d’un pezzo. Ma non è facile, e questa rubrica si propone di rendere più o meno l’idea di quanto non lo sia; la lingua-campione scelta per questa carrellata di perdite e grattacapi traduttivi è l’inglese, di competenza di chi scrive e, probabilmente, al giorno d’oggi, un po’ di tutti quanti.

Tra una tappa e l’altra di questo viaggio interlinguistico ci si concentrerà prevalentemente sui risvolti letterari della traduzione, senza però escludere altri ambiti, dal cinematografico al televisivo, come succede in questa prima puntata, dedicata all’inizio degli inizi: il titolo.

Chi ben titola…

Ovviamente, qualunque cosa, sia essa un libro o un film, comincia dal principio, che nel nostro caso è il titolo; citazione extra-testuale, gioco di parole accattivante, anticipazione sibillina, il titolo è il biglietto da visita di un qualsiasi prodotto letterario o cinematografico, e tradurlo, a volte, diventa una missione impossibile davanti alla quale pure Tom Cruise batterebbe in ritirata.

Purtroppo, non tutti i titoli si prestano a traduzioni immediate come The Da Vinci Code (Il codice Da Vinci), Pride and Prejudice (Orgoglio e pregiudizio) e The Lord of the Rings (Il signore degli anelli); e allora, il traduttore è solo con il suo dramma, oppure a volte, come vedremo, gli viene richiesto di rispondere a direttive editoriali ben precise.il giovane holden

Un esempio emblematico della difficoltà di tradurre i titoli è quello di The Catcher in the Rye, che dizionario alla mano diventerebbe “Il ricevitore nella segale”, titolo che nessun lettore italiano riconoscerebbe là per là, e nemmeno riflettendoci su. Il titolo corrispondente nella nostra lingua, infatti, è Il giovane Holden, il romanzo di Salinger sull’alienazione adolescenziale che, per lo stile e il linguaggio peculiari che ne hanno fatto la fortuna, promette crisi traduttive che vanno ben oltre il problematico titolo. E così, mentre l’originale inglese è un riferimento al verso di una poesia storpiata dal protagonista, e fa leva su due termini più che popolari nel linguaggio corrente americano (il “catcher”, infatti, è un ruolo del baseball, e il “rye” rimanda al “rye whiskey”), la traduzione italiana è l’insipidità fatta titolo; d’altronde, “Il ricevitore nella segale” avrebbe senz’altro fatto sgranare gli occhi ai possibili lettori.

Peggio ancora quando, invece, i titoli originali possiedono un doppio significatoderivano da un modo di dire o sono costruiti con un gioco di parole: è questo il caso di The Man with Two Left Feet, racconto del grande umorista inglese P.G. Wodehouse, tradotto letteralmente con L’uomo con due piedi sinistri, che non significa assolutamente niente ma che, complice il mondo surreale e i personaggi sgangherati di Wodehouse, riesce a passare inosservato. Per la cronaca, in inglese “avere due piedi sinistri significa “ballare malissimo”.

L’ultimo esempio letterario presentato qui è il titolo di un (meraviglioso) thriller di Agatha Christie, Crooked House, che letteralmente dovrebbe essere reso con “Casa storta”; la “stortura” a cui allude questo titolo inquietante riguarda da vicino l’insospettabile assassino di turno. L’edizione italiana recita È un problema (sottinteso: tradurre questo titolo).agatha cristie

Ma il cinema regala spunti altrettanto interessanti: un esempio su tutti, il caso dei vari “Se fai qualcosa, io faccio qualcos’altro”, che annovera, fra gli altri, Se mi lasci ti cancelloSe scappi ti sposoSe cucini ti sposo, e la variante a parti invertite Se ti investo mi sposi?, titoli che suonano più o meno minacciosi alle orecchie di celibi e nubili impenitenti, perché non serve scappare così come basta preparare un’omelette, l’altare è lì a un passo. Sarebbe forse superfluo chiarire che non uno solo di questi titoli, in originale, minacciava lo spettatore (i titoli in inglese sono, rispettivamente, Endless Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,Runaway BrideTime Share e Elvis Has Left the Building). La scelta traduttiva “seriale” adottata dall’Italia mirava certamente a creare un filone di prodotti che, richiamandosi l’un l’altro, avrebbero suggerito allo spettatore una familiare continuità; peccato che l’improprioSe mi lasci ti cancello sia un film di diversi significato e levatura, e che sia finito nel calderone dei minacciosi “Se” per…non si sa bene quale motivo.

L’elenco di film con titoli italiani che, confrontati con l’originale inglese, strappano un sospiro perplesso allo spettatore è piuttosto lungo, e se a volte lo stravolgimento è inevitabile, altre volte viene il sospetto che si sarebbe potuto evitare: esemplare, in quest’ultimo caso, il primo capitolo della fortunatissima saga dei “Pirati dei Caraibi”, intitolato The Curse of the Black Pearl (“La maledizione della Perla Nera”), e tradotto con La maledizione della prima luna, sostituendo alla nave del pirata Jack Sparrow la “prima luna” che innesca la maledizione; perché se ne sia sentita la necessità, non si capisce bene.pirati dei caraibi

Oggigiorno, in ogni caso, il problema titolo è spesso arginato, soprattutto per quanto riguarda generi popolari fra gli adolescenti, dal fantasy al paranormal romance: se lapidario e attraente, il titolo originale non viene tradotto affatto, o al massimo è accompagnato da un sottotitolo chiarificatore nella lingua d’arrivo. Quindi abbiamo TwilightHunger Games eShadowhunters, titoli invariati tanto nelle versioni letterarie quanto nelle loro trasposizioni cinematografiche; l’ultimo citato non è l’originale, ma per il pubblico italiano si è scelto comunque di mantenere un titolo inglese, estrapolandolo dalla trama. Insomma, sarà per il fascino esotico della lingua straniera, sarà perché, ancora una volta, si tende al richiamo seriale intertestuale, ma Twilight e gli altri volumi della saga, tutti dai titoli rigorosamente “congelati”, non hanno avuto alcun problema a diventare veri e propri cult fra le giovanissime. Che poi, una dodicenne con una cultura media, “Crepuscolo”, forse, non sa neanche cosa significhi.

Se questa prima fase di “riscaldamento” vi è piaciuta, non perdete il prossimo appuntamento; strada traducendo, ne vedremo delle belle!

Mariachiara Eredia

 

Cfr. originale: http://www.temperamente.it/lostintranslations/lost-in-translations-la-questione-della-traduzione-a-partire-dal-principio-ovvero-il-titolo/?error=access_denied&error_code=200&error_description=Permissions+error&error_reason=user_denied#_=_

 

[Repost] Word histories: conscious uncoupling (by Simon Thomas)

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Word histories: conscious uncoupling

 

 Simon Thomas blogs at Stuck-in-a-Book.co.uk

Published4 April 2014

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Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin (better known as an Oscar-winning actress and the Grammy-winning lead singer of Coldplay respectively) recently announced that they would be separating. While the news of any separation is sad, we can’t deny that the report also carried some linguistic interest. In the announcement, on Paltrow’s lifestyle site Goop, the pair described the end of their marriage as a ‘conscious uncoupling’. So… what does that mean?

The phrase was picked up by journalists, commentators, and tweeters around the world. Some called it pretentious, some thought it wise, others simply didn’t know what was going on. Let’s have a look into the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and see what we can learn about these words.

Conscious is perhaps the less controversial word of the pair. A look through the Oxford Thesaurus of English brings up adjectives like awaredeliberate,intentional, and considered. But did you know that the earliest recorded use ofconscious related only to misdeeds? The OED currently dates the word to 1573, with the definition ‘having awareness of one’s own wrongdoing, affected by a feeling of guilt’. This sense is now confined to literary contexts, but it was only a few decades before the general sense ‘having knowledge or awareness; able to perceive or experience something’ became common. The idea of it being used as an adjective referring to a deliberate action came later, in 1726, according to the OED’s current research.

The verb uncouple has an intriguing history. The current earliest evidence in the OED dates to the early fourteenth century, where it means ‘to release (dogs) from being fastened together in couples; to set free for the chase’. Interestingly, this is found earlier than its opposite (‘to tie or fasten (dogs) together in pairs’), currently dated to c.1400 in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In c.1386, in the hands of Chaucer and ‘The Monk’s Tale’, uncouple is given a figurative use: ‘He maked hym so konnyng and so sowple / That longe tyme it was er tirannye / Or any vice dorste on hym vncowple.’ The wider meaning ‘to unfasten, disconnect, detach’ arrives in the early sixteenth century, and that is where things rested for some centuries.

The twentieth century saw another couple of uncouples – one of which is applicable to the Paltrow-Martins, and one of which refers to a very different field. In 1948, a biochemical use is first recorded – which the OED defines ‘to separate the processes of (phosphorylation) from those of oxidation’. But six years earlier, an American Thesaurus of Slang includes the word as a synonym for ‘to divorce’, and this forms the earliest example found in theOED sense defined as ‘to separate at the end of a relationship’. Other instances of uncouple meaning ‘to split up’ can be found in a 1977Washington Post article and one from the Boston Globe in 1989.

So, despite all the attention given to the term ‘conscious uncoupling’, people have been uncoupling in exactly the same way as Gwyneth and Chris – and using the same word – since at least 1942. So perhaps not quite as controversial as some commentators suggested.

 

Cf. original: http://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/04/word-histories-conscious-uncoupling/

[Repost] On mother tongue, native speakers and other linguistic myths (by Pierre Fuentes)

On mother tongue, native speakers
and other linguistic myths

It is often said that real professional translators translate only into their ‘mother tongue’ because only ‘native speakers’ are fully competent in ‘their language’. I wish to question these linguistic myths.

What does ‘mother tongue’ mean?

The meaning of the expression ‘mother tongue’ is ambiguous.

Admittedly, the only language that monolingual speakers generally claim to know is that of their mother. They first learnt that language through interaction with their mother, at an early age.

But the world is diverse. Some people first learned their father’s tongue. Some did not have parents. Some were raised by people who spoke different languages.

Moreover, the expression ‘mother tongue’ poses an ideological problem, because some people imply that their mother tongue is the mother of their identity, as if, without it, they would not be ‘their true selves’.

Such a claim can bring people together, as in the case of the Irish slogan ‘ní tír gan teanga’ (no land without language).

But we must not forget that romantic slogans can also be used to discriminate towards the Other.

The Nazis, for instance, used mother tongue fascism to justify linguistic discrimination towards multilingual Jewish Germans. They claimed that these multilingual speakers were perverting the ‘mother tongue’ because they were not true ‘native’ German speakers.

I will let you reflect on what ‘perverting a tongue’ might mean and move onto my second question.

Who’s the ‘native speaker’?

One can only marvel at the term ‘native speaker’. This bizarre expression implies either that we were born speaking – a rare achievement – or that we were born into a language. My non-native instinct tells me we’ve got a metaphor on our hands.

Obviously, ‘native speaker’ does not imply that we are linguistically autonomous from birth. In fact, nothing much happens linguistically in the first year of our lives. Any parent of a young child will confirm this: what first happens with your newborn is communication.

When we use the term ‘native speaker’, we imply that a person has alegitimate competence in a given language.

But how do we make it legitimate? By being born with it, or by acquiring it? In other words, does native legitimacy come from innate or learned behaviour?

As sociolinguist Deborah Cameron recently pointed out, UK statistics suggest that the test for British citizenship applicants advantages native speakers of white European ancestry. So it would seem that there are different types of native speakers and that they are not all legitimate.

Interestingly, discourses that promote the ‘native speaker’ concept are often qualified with adjectives like ‘pure’, ‘perfect’, ‘authentic’ or ‘unique’.

Let’s take a look at translators

Some of us have developed a high level of oral or written comprehension in various languages, but cannot speak or write such languages as ‘correctly’ as ‘native speakers’ would. Some of us can even write languages that we cannot speak.

Sounds weird? Try speaking like Julius Caesar. While we can read him and write like him, no one really knows what this true native Latin speaker sounded like.

In any case, we don’t need to interact with living people to read or write a language – be it ancient or modern. These activities involve a different type of language use than, say, buying a pint for your mates on a Friday night.

Indeed, it has to do with how we use languages. Since we do not speak like we write, conversation plays a limited role in the work of most professional translators. Speaking like a true native is therefore far less important than having excellent writing skills.

The second mother tongue

Using the language of your mother on a daily basis does not make you a professional translator. And English has in common with many minority and endangered languages the fact that most of its speakers were not ‘born into it’.

While these ‘new speakers’ are often criticized by those who claim to be ‘natives’ – for their mistreat of language conventions, ie illegitimate use – some of these new speakers reach a level of competency that is so high that their new language becomes their language of habitual use – a fact that ITI’s Code of Professional Conduct takes into account.

Such competency allows them to claim certain legitimacy, at least in some areas of language use. They may not be able to have a laugh in that language at the pub on a Friday night, but they can translate medical reports that most ‘natives’ would simply not understand.

As a group of intellectuals commissioned by the EU once put it, some people are capable of adopting a ‘second mother tongue’. Language diversity is not about building walls between languages. It is about recognising the diversity of use human beings make of their tongues.

About the author:

Pierre Fuentes is a French translator and a registered architect who works mostly with texts in the fields of architecture, design, property and construction engineering. He suffers from lingophilia, having been severely exposed to English and Spanish and, to a lesser extent, to several other languages, including Galician, German and Irish.

[Repost] How important are slang and idioms in language learning? (by Anne Merritt)

How important are slang and idioms in language learning?

Photo: Michael Nyika

ESL teacher Anne Merritt considers what place slang and idioms should play in the classroom.

I once had an ESL student who had spent a year working in Miami. In my upper-intermediate class, alongside peers who had studied English formally for years, did he ever stand out.

One day, we discussed celebrity worship. “I think when people gossip about celebrities, they will gossip more in their own lives, about friends,” one student shared.

The Miami transplant perked up. “Shit, man, I saw so many famous people in Miami. Listen, you know that tennis player? What’s her name? The ugly chick? I saw her, man, it was nuts!”

Man? Chick? Shit? The rest of the class started flicking through their dictionaries, baffled.

We had made a list of new vocabulary on the board. Gossip, idolize, tabloid. Now, we were adding to it, with “It was nuts!” and (to my grave discomfort) “chick.” The students were insistent though. These terms, they said, must be useful too, if their classmate picked them up.

How important is slang in language learning? I’m not just talking about the four-letter words, though heaven knows they come up often. I’m speaking more broadly than that, to colloquialisms (gimme or ain’t), idioms, (hit the road) to the pop culture bits so embedded in our way of speaking (You can’t handle the truth!).

Photo: Karl Jonsson

On one hand, slang is unavoidable, no matter what language you’re speaking. The phrase “worst movie ever” may not show up on BBC’s website anytime soon, but you’ll see constructions like these daily on Facebook and blogs. What’s more, communication mediums such as texting and Twitter are moving so far from formal language that even native speakers can have trouble figuring out messages like “word” and “big up.”

Let’s take a language student, attending daily classes. They study the grammar, the formalities, the subtle differences between look at and watch. They might produce lovely coherent sentences and conversations. Take this student out of the classroom and away from the textbooks, though, and they will encounter a world of language that breaks those rules. In advertising, online, and in conversation, language becomes far less structured. Taking the time to understand slang and informal speech might save someone a whole lot of confusion. In understanding and in speaking, it will allow that student to use language in a current way.

I can attest personally to the slang handicap. I studied French for fifteen years. Conversing with shopkeepers is a breeze, but a night out at a bar leaves me feeling like a scared student all over again, the speech is so different from the textbook stuff. I can read books in French, but can’t get through an article in French Glamour without a list of new terms; the slangy colloquialisms that are never taught in school.

Of course, there are some potential obstacles when you try to learn slang.

Slang is also ever-evolving, and terms can grow outdated.

For one thing, learning a language is hard enough! Remembering vocabulary and syntax is a job in itself, especially when elements of the language don’t exist in your native tongue. Attributes like tonality and honorific speaking, for example, can throw native English speakers into spirals of confusion, since they don’t exist in English.

With slang, there also comes a whole sliding scale of social appropriateness; one that can vary, confusingly, from person to person. I wouldn’t use “bullshit” or “asshole” with family; some native speakers might. One wouldn’t type “gimme” or “gonna” in an email to a professor, though the terms might be used orally in a class discussion.

Slang can also toe the line between casual and offensive. Personally, I loathe the terms “retarded” or “gay” when used in the pejorative sense. As a teacher, I would reprimand any ESL student using those terms, and yet that student probably hears them used quite casually by native speakers on a daily basis. What’s offensive or uncomfortable to some is just conversation filler to others. It’s a murky area; one in which even native speakers will slip up. Trying to navigate the best time and place for slang terms can bring about enormous confusion for a language learner.

Slang is also ever-evolving, and terms can grow outdated. Though “It’s raining cats and dogs” and “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” are go-to idioms in any ESL textbook, how often do people really say them? It might be futile to memorize phrases that are rarely used, or are used only with a certain generation of people.

Photo: weeta

Slang terms can also vary regionally or nationally. In English, money can be “bucks” or “quid.” Food can be “chow” or “nosh.” Common slang in one country can be unheard of in another. I once had a German roommate who had studied in England but lived with Canadians for years. When he spoke, he would deliver British slang in the twangy Canadian accent that he had adopted. “Are you taking the piss, mate?”, spoken in an Ontario lilt, sounds hands-down ridiculous. What’s more, in some parts of the English-speaking world, that sentence would not be understood at all.

The effectiveness of slang also depends on your conversation partner. If you’re learning, say, Vietnamese or Finnish, you’ll likely converse mostly with native speakers who have a ready understanding of slang. Widespread languages like Arabic or French, though, are often conduits for communication between people who don’t speak one another’s language. A fellow language student may understand the language but not the slang. My ESL student with the ugly tennis player story is a good example; though I understood him clearly, his fellow English learners did not.

We’ve all met travellers who have picked up English exclusively through television and rap lyrics. They’re the ones who swear like sailors and talk like a Fresh Prince Mad Lib, with terms like fly and bro being emphasized unnaturally.

In the end, I think slang’s relevance depends on the language student’s goals. If you plan to attend university abroad, then formal language is what you’ll be using daily for essays and formal emails. If you’re using that foreign tongue for work, you will also need to communicate formally and properly. If, on the other hand, you’re learning a language in order to simply get by and socialize in a foreign place, you’ll encounter and use a lot more slang.

Slang will always come up in the language learning process. It’s important, yes, but not more so than the proper mechanics of a language. We’ve all met travellers who have picked up English exclusively through television and rap lyrics. They’re the ones who swear like sailors and talk like a Fresh Prince Mad Lib, with terms like fly and bro being emphasized unnaturally. It’s a bit charming, but a bit impractical too.

Slang is, I suppose, like the junk food of language. Some seem to survive on it exclusively, some abstain completely. However much or little you like it, I don’t think you’ll get far without taking in the basic sustenance first.