French Immersion: My Happy Place

Sometimes when my anxiety is a little too much to handle, I take a moment to close my eyes and go back to my happy place. A place of sweet grass, mosquito spray, and deep blue waters. A place of growth, frustration, and empathy. A place of culture, education, and silliness. A place of tears from laughter, singing, and always dancing. A place of being free. A place of being 100% myself. A place of finding the sun in the hearts of children. A place I never ever want to leave. Lac du Bois.

The main building of Lac du Bois, "Paris", photo by Jean François

The main building of Lac du Bois, “Paris”, photo by Jean François

Lac du Bois is a summer camp in Bemidji, Minnesota. It’s part of Concordia Language Villages, which is a larger program that has 15 villages (campsites) set up around the lakes of Minnesota. Each village has its own language and the buildings within each site are designed with authentic architecture from countries that predominantly speak that language.

Concordia Language Villages sign, photo from google.com

Concordia Language Villages sign, photo from google.com

The goal of these camps is to teach language through immersion as well as prepare young people for responsible citizenship in global communities.

Each summer, all of the camps come together to interact at an event called “International Day.” At International Day, each camp sets up a booth serving foods from countries of their language or has games set up for others to play that are native to countries that speak their language. They even have a “World Cup,” where each camp forms a soccer team and they all compete.

International Day 2014, photo by Julia Schaller

International Day 2014, photo by Julia Schaller

Lac du Bois is the French language village, and is one of the greatest places on Earth.

I first went to Lac du Bois when I was 11 years old. My family heard about the camp through friends of my parents, and my parents both decided it would be a good opportunity for my sister and I. My parents enrolled my sister and I up for a two week, overnight session. We all drove up to Minnesota together and when we pulled our car up to the camp, a counselor greeted us at the window of the car and spoke exclusively in French.

It was terrifying! My dad had taught me some french when I was really young, and my parents put my sister and I in French classes when we were growing up, but I was not ready for complete sentences or even answering questions.

After my parents left, I was hopeless. I had nothing to hide behind and there was no longer someone to speak to the counselors for me. I felt naked and embarrassed. The first night was rough.

Throughout the second day, I bonded with girls in my cabin and from around camp and from then on, I was in my happy place. I learned more about french language and culture in those two weeks than I had ever before in my life. I made lasting friendships. I laughed until I cried, and I cried on the last night with my cabin-mates wrapped in my arms.

Extremely embarrassing photo of my cabin, Lac du Bois 2008

Extremely embarrassing photo of my cabin, Lac du Bois 2008

I then went back to camp for the next four summers. My fifth summer, I went to Lac du Bois for a month as part of their “Credit” program, which earned me high school French credit. They say that one will learn more French in one month at Lac du Bois than potentially a whole year in school (hence why they offer the credit program). They were right.

Language immersion is said to be the best way to learn a language and culture, and it is 100% true. I spoke more French at Lac du Bois than a full year of French class in public school. I was forced to use the language to communicate, since the camp was total immersion.

The counselors are only allowed to speak in the target language, and even the food is francophone authentic. Counselors and villagers come from all over the world. There are always counselors and villagers from the United States, Europe, Africa, Asia, Canada, and India, as well as other countries.

Villagers are put into classic summer camp activities like canoeing or soccer, but they are also put into language learning groups. These language learning groups focus on a francophone region or time period and are more education based (but always include crafting, dancing, and interactive games).

Activité Canoé, Lac du Bois 2012

Activité Canoé, Lac du Bois 2012

The entire camp is sort of one big simulation. The counselors put on a show for the villagers, and it’s the most fun show I’ve ever been a part of. There is continuous dancing, multiple skits every day, and songs about everything (even about baguettes at dinner!).

Last year I applied to be a counselor, and I got the job. I went back to my favorite place in the world for my 6th summer, and had the time of my life. This time, I was the one required to speak exclusively in French and I was the one teaching others about francophone cultures and about the language. I was the one helping villagers cope with their frustration and homesickness. I was the one teaching the songs and dances. And, the amount I learned about other countries and French language, was way more than I ever thought.

Journée Sénégal, Lac du Bois 2014

Journée Sénégal, Lac du Bois 2014

In an article posted in the New York Times, author Sindya N. Bhanoo discussed how language immersion is more beneficial than learning through a formal classroom setting. In a study in the journal PloS One, scientists tested the brain patterns of subjects who learned a language through immersion vs. in a classroom. The tests showed that the subjects who learned the language through immersion had the full brain patterns of a native speaker, while the subjects who learned the language in a formal classroom setting did not.

The camps of Concordia Language Villages are hands-down the best way to learn a language. Being fully immersed in anything is the best way to learn, empathize, and adapt to it. Even a two week program makes a difference.

The lake of Lac du Bois, photo by Alyson Kriz

The lake of Lac du Bois, photo by Alyson Kriz

In the middle of the woods by the lakes of Minnesota lies little villages that change the way people see the world. These programs really do cultivate global leaders, global thinkers, and peaceful communities.

Learning French through Ballet

From age four through seventeen, my world revolved around ballet. Through it, I developed my interest in the French language and my appreciation for culture expressed through performed art. Interestingly, much of the terminology for ballet is rooted in common French verbs. For example, tendu, French for stretched, is arguably the most basic of ballet steps and involves the dancer stretching the foot and leg to a pointed position. Below, I have provided a short glossary of both common and unique ballet terminology. Several of the terms are quite literal; are there any that you’ve heard outside of the ballet context?

Assemblé: assembled – This is a jump that lands on two feet.

Sketch of dancer in croisé position via michaelminn.net

Sketch of dancer in croisé position via michaelminn.net

Croisé: cross – Instead of facing the audience directly, the dancer will turn slightly toward the corner of the stage.

Battement: beat – A step involving a beating action of the extended leg such as stretching, lifting or striking.

Changement: change – A dancer jumps, landing with the opposite foot in front.

Croisé: cross – Instead of facing the audience directly, the dancer will turn slightly toward the corner of the stage.

Développé: developed – The toe is drawn up the standing leg before bringing the working leg out to the front, side or behind the dancer.

Moving through the steps of a developpé via ballethub.org

Moving through the steps of a developpé via ballethub.org

Échappé: escaped – A dancer moves both feet from a closed to an open position.

Pas: step. A movement where a dancer transfers weight. In ballet terminology, there are several pas…

Pas de deux: dance for two – A duet between two dancers.

Pas de chat: step of the cat – Named for the similarity of the dance step to a cat’s leap.

Plié via pixshark.com

Plié via pixshark.com

Pas de poisson: step of the fish (a lot more graceful than it sounds).

Plié: bent – Known as the mother step of ballet, a dancer simply bends her knees.

Port de bras: way of the arms – Made by passing the arms through various positions.

Relevé: raised – A dancer lifts her body from a standing position to putting all weight on either the toes or ball of the foot.

Sauté: sprung – The same meaning as carried by the popular cooking technique. In ballet terminology, this means simply a jump.

Tombé: fell – Normally not taken literally. The dancer will step from a straight-legged position to a bent position on one leg. This step is generally done as a link between other steps.

Sauté via abt.org

Sauté via abt.org

If you want a job in Estonia, don’t speak Russian

As Latvia works to make Russian its second language, Estonia is now enforcing a different belief. According to RT, a Russian news source, Estonia is forcing citizens to speak Estonian or face consequences.

To help fight the use of Russian in Estonia, a group was formed to police language called the Language Inspectorate. They go to official meetings and make sure proceedings are occurring in the native language.

“The language inspection has the legal right to conduct spontaneous checks on anyone working in any sphere,” writes RT. “And should a person fail the Estonian exam, the body then may initiate the sacking of this employee. Human rights activists say this has turned the language inspection into a punitive body.”

We have also struggled with this issue, as the United States has no official language.

English may be used for all government affairs, but in personal lives, America remains a melting pot of languages and ideas. This has prompted some in congress to want to pass laws similar to those in Estonia, but they usually act as more political sideshows than addressing real issues.

In Estonia, citizens now have to fear for their job if they speak Russian. This can be a major issue, as some regions of Estonia have high pockets of Russian speaking residents.

Latvia is in much the same situation. Nearly 80% of the country speaks Russian, with 37% of the country speaking it natively. Instead of disallowing it like Estonia, Latvia is working to adopt it as a second official language, which is causing the opposite effect, causing some citizens to fear the country is loosing its identity.

Assi TV – Germany’s Jersey Shore

Bad Girls Club?  No way.  It's "Böse Mädchen" for Germany.Rethink your classy connotations of society, its time to bring on EuroTrash. Welcome to RTL, Germany’s quasi-copy-cat-less-relevant version of VH1 minus all the “Behind the Music” substance.  We’re looking at straight daytime television here, folks and all predictions point to trash.

RTL is infamous throughout Germany, France, Luxembourg, England and most Western European countries for it’ mixture of talkshows, reality TV, but most importantly, what the Germans fondly term, “Assi Fernsehen.”  Don’t know what Assi means?  Let’s get you the basics.

Assi is a combination of what Germans coined “Asozial,” directly translating to Anti-Social.  However, Germans (notorious for their love of word play and dubious double meanings) play up the spelling of this abbreviation, toying with the word “ass.”  Which literally translates… to ass.  And the vulgarity only goes deeper.

So, let me spell this one out for you just one more time to be certain you get it.

Get it?  Good.

Okay?  Okay.  Moving forward…

Now, there are many subcategories of Assi TV.  Just like on that American boob tube, you’ll find your overly dramatic, life changing talk-show,  your typical video-cameras-in-the-faces-of-dysfunctional-families-who-need-counseling documentaries, and the famous German-termed “Doku-Soap” (the bottom of the abyss where documentation and soap operas swirl ominously).

So,  Let’s discuss.

Overly Dramatic, Life Changing Talkshow

In this category, any daytime television watching German will immediately tell you, you need to watch BrittBritt is a talkshow so kindly self-termed a “comedy show” by its makers at SAT.1.  However, after watching a few episodes, your average American viewer will start to notice some running similarities that sets a little bell ringing in the back of your head.  That bell… is called the Jerry Springer bell.  With show titles spanning the range from “Du Bitch” to “DNA Test- Passen wir wirklich zusammen?” Britt is very Springer, indeed.  More of a Maury fan in the first place? No problem.  See for yourself.

Video-Cameras-in-the-Faces-of-Dysfunctional-Families-who-Need-Counseling Documentaries

This is a category also hideously well-known to the average American television connoisseur.  We’re running much more along the lines of Jersey Shore here.  The top Assi show in Germany that falls under this sub-category is without a doubt Familien im BrennpunktFamilien im Brennpunkt shows every day during the week at 4PM in Germany on RTL (Germany’s pseudo-VH1) and supposedly  “begleitet im Stil einer Doku Konflikte unter deutschen Daechern, die Anwaelte und Gerichte beschaeftigen: Scheidungsdramen, Sorgerechtsstreitigkeiten,Probleme rund um die Anerkennung der Vaterschaft oder Probleme mit Aemtern und Behoerden.”  Whew.  Let’s break it down now y’all.  Basically, what RTL is trying to say, is this show covers (with STYLE!) complaints that generally require lawyers and pertain to common law.  You know.  Things like mega-divorce, Fist fights, Problems with and questions about paternity,  general wanting to stick it to the man, 13 year olds with babies and children who won’t poop on the toilet.  Each show revolves around a different set of dysfunctional people doing hideously dysfunctional things. Typical Trash TV gold.

Doku-Soap

Finally, the best for last–The “Doku-Soap.”  Be it following people with a “love” (ahem) for animals or a 50 year old woman with an Ultra-Crush on the boyband, Tokio Hotel, the DokuSoap Mitten im Leben has it all.  Mitten im Leben has been termed the purest of the pure when it comes to Assi Television in Germany.   Each episode is an hour of premium filth, the clearest of embarassment to humanity.  Descriptions do not do it justice.

Albeit the extreme lack of English language throughout the clips provided, it remains extraordinarily evident, trash TV is a banal human desire.  We need it.  Its global, universal and in a way connects us all.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Komödie vs. Comedy – Understanding German Humor

© Cinetext

Germany is experiencing the end of an era with the recent August 22nd death of Bernhard Victor Christoph Carl von Bülow, pseudonym “Loriot.”  For decades, Loriot has characterized and personified German humor, as well as confused and confounded American and British comedians.

It would be a decently safe assumption to say that Loriot lead and directed German humor.  His influence is massive and lives on even after his death.  Dieter Wedel, one of Germany’s most famous television directors (known for shows like Tatort and Schwarz Rot Gold) once said, “The Germans don’t have any sense of humor — the Germans have Loriot!” However, such a broad, sweeping statement also asks the question, what is German humor and why is it so widely misunderstood?

Loriot is known for his live action sketches, but even more so, for his cartoons.  His work reflects the mindset and pervasive “German” perspective on life and human interactions.  Most of his humor stems from problems with communication between individuals during every day life, the comedy therein coming from the staunchly formal nature of the German language.  Loriot was, as per usual with all typically German writers, a stickler for grammar.  In this sense, Americans attempting to understand German humor often deal with the problem of the fundamental humor being, so to say, “lost in translation.”

Many German jokes are based on double meanings, coming from German’s favoritism towards taking many words, ideas and concepts and crashing them into one (sometimes absurdly) long compound word.  The German language has very strict grammatical structure and often relies more on humorous ideas opposed to English’s reliance on wordplay.  Loriot brought a sort of inanity to his work with the juxtaposition of his character’s dignified behavior against the exaggeration of their features.  This is typified in his short sketch Herren im Bad.

For the original version (auf Deutsch) click below

Herren im Bad (Men in the Bathtub)

Seriousness combined a focus on banal flaws is a stereotypical theme in German humor.  This is also seen in the way that Germans observe and perceive the world and people around them.  I mean, there is no serious data to prove this and I’m being entirely subjective, but in my experience, Germans do not focus on personality flaws as something you can easily change, but instead as something that is a basic part of a person’s being.  You aren’t dumb because you don’t study, you’re just dumb because you are.  They’re not going to shun you for being a bit socially inept, they’re just going to accept that you’re kinda weird and run with it.  Needless to say, Americans generally DO NOT get this.

The problem with German humor, is that you need to understand German to get it.  You can’t explain or clarify the nuances of German diction or the play of grammar in English.  Comedy doesn’t translate.  Loriot’s genius comes from the fact that he was exactly as meticulous with his words as he was with his physical comedy.  He made fun of the narrow-mindedness of and excessive formality of German while maintaining respect for the language’s tone and essence.

In response to Loriot’s death, Germany’s president of parliament, Norbert Lammert, captured von Bülow’s lasting effect on German humor and culture stating, “Vicco von Bülow put his stamp on cultural life in Germany for decades and, as Loriot, helped Germans to gain a more relaxed view of their mentality and habits.”

Stefan Kuzmany, a correspondant from Der Spiegel(Germany’s top newsmagazine) summed it up nicely: “Abschließend bleibt zu sagen, dass Loriots Tod absolut nicht nötig gewesen wäre. Unsterblich war er längst. Er wird es bleiben.”  (“Loriot’s death was absolutely unnecessary.  He had long since become immortal. And will remain it.”)

Press PLAY

©stuffwhitepeoplelike.com

Studying a foreign language can sometimes make you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle.  Sifting through endless lists of vocabulary, reading lengthy paragraphs out loud, and, if you’re learning German, trying to pronounce a succession of words that all read like “onomatopoeia-expialidocious.”  An integral part of learning a new language is to immerse yourself in hearing the language. For instance, listening to how someone annunciates their words helps you understand the difference between please step aside and move!

If you’re not so keen on listening to either Podcasts or news broadcasts in a foreign language, there is a solution: watching foreign films.  Films with dialogue recorded in your language of study are a great resource for hearing how that language is spoken.  Warning: DO NOT flaunt the fact that you’re only watching foreign films or listening to foreign broadcasts.  This quote, taken from the website Stuff White People Like I think pretty much sums up how “obnoxious” that kind of elitist posturing can be:

In order to reach this level of fluency and obnoxiousness, white people believe they must put themselves into a local immersion.  This means a promise to watch only Spanish language TV, listen only to Spanish language radio, read Marquez in his native tongue, and watch foreign films with the subtitles turned off.  There are some instances of white people doing this for almost a week!

Recently, I had the opportunity to revisit a German film titled Das Leben der Anderen (The Lives of Others) with my German language class. Das Leben der Anderen was released to critical acclaim in 2007, winning the Academy Award that year for Best Foreign Language Film and snagging quite a few Deutscher Filmpreis Adwards.  Personally, this is one of the best movies I have ever seen.  If you haven’t seen it yet, do yourself a favor; rent the DVD, make some tea, read up on the GDR and the Stasi, and press PLAY.  Here is the official trailer for the film to whet your appetite.

As I thought about the state of German films, I began to wonder what type of movies Germans are seeing when they go to the cinema.  It came as a slight surprise to me that a majority of the films listed for a handful of cinemas in Berlin were Hollywood blockbuster films.  I guess no matter what country you travel to, you can be sure that Michael Bay and Roland Emmerich will be there blowing things to pieces.

There is an organization named German Films Marketing + GmbH that promotes German films for worldwide viewing and distribution.  German Films, as it is known on its website, together with the Goethe-Institut, bring German films to the rest of the world.  The Goethe-Institut is an institution whose goal is to promote the learning of German around the world and to facilitate communication between Germany and other nations.  They have institutions in many countries such as Canada, Mexico, Taiwan, Serbia, Spain, Italy, and the list goes on.  German Films recently selected the film that would compete for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 83rd Academy Awards on Feb. 27, 2011.  The independently appointed expert jury selected a film titled Die Fremde (When We Leave).  Trailer and short explanation below.

The jury on its decision: “WHEN WE LEAVE is an extraordinarily well written, atmospherically precise and moving film with outstanding acting performances. The film deals in a highly dramatic and subtle way with the struggle of a young German-Turkish mother for her self-determination in two value systems.”

On a local note of interest, the Ragtag Cinema in Columbia, Missouri hosts an annual screening of foreign films for two months out of the year called the Passport Series.  I recently went to the screening of the Maren Ade directed German film Alle Anderen (Everyone Else)Alle Anderen follows Gitti and Chris as they vacation in the Sardinia region of Italy.  Birgit Minichmayr, the Austrian actress who plays Gitti in Alle Anderen, won the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival 2009.  Since I don’t want to give away too much, I’ll just say this: if you enjoy movies about the ups and downs of being in a relationship with someone, think  Closer or Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, you should queue up Alle Anderen in your Netflix.  Check out the trailer below (I couldn’t find a trailer with English subtitles.)

And finally, maybe because I am, in fact, a “white person”, the goal of my foreign film watching experience is to be able to watch a German film without needing subtitles.  Until then, I’ll take my foreign films crisp, well-produced, and with a side of English.

~Ende

Musical Dialects

Photo Courtesy of aemde at CreativeCommons.org

In America, dialect differences rarely blur the line between to-MAY-to, to-MAH-to.

Sure, some might say “bye y’all” while others say “see you later, you guys”. Some might ask for a pop in a restaurant, while others ask for soda or soda pop (and some just call everything Coke). Bottom line: in the U.S. you’d have to go pretty far out of your way to get to a place where you couldn’t understand what the people around you were saying.

Not so in many parts of Europe. In Germany, for example, dialect differences are so distinct, even a distance of a few kilometers can make the language difference feel like you’re in another country. To an Ostfriese, Bayerisch (dialect spoken in Bavaria) might as well be Greek.

Even though most people in Germany speak a main common language, high German (Hochdeutsch), there has been a resurgence of pride in regional dialects, partly out of efforts to preserve regional identities. People are more interested in strengthening those distinctive language differences that allow people to pinpoint a person’s place of origin. You can see this in the surge of German bands that use dialects in their lyrics.

One of my all-time favorites: Fettes Brot’s “Nordisch By Nature”.

At the beginning of the video, the conversation between the old man and the younger one at the dock is entirely in Plattdeutsch. He’s complaining about the music and all the “singen und bumsen” (which means, shall we say, “fooling around”). And one look at the lyrics and even a student of German will no doubt be clueless. (Wisst ihr, bi uns in Norden is dat schwer to verstohn!)

But like they say in the song, that’s just Fettes Brot speaking Plattdeutsch in the Disco! Plattdeutsch is the main dialect spoken in northern Germany in cities such as Hamburg. According to Deutsche Welle, traditional Platt replaces Hochdeutsch as the predominant language in the highest parts of Germany, but in general, most people speak a mixture.

(One phrase to remember if you travel North: “Moin! Moin! “ means hello.)

Other bands/artists that use regional dialects in their lyrics include:

Kä Thäma (Pfalzish)
BAP
Pomm Fritz (Schwabish)
Claudia Koreck (Bavarian)

But alas, this trend of German dialects over the airwaves is not catching on for everyone. As one blogger observes, many native German speakers waver between public and private use of dialects because of a stigma attached to them. It sounds similar to the “y’all” stereotype here: the assumption that a pronounced accent means you must be just a simple country bumpkin with a home-grown education to match.

I just call it taking pride in your roots.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

“Ich bin ein Berliner.”

DonutThe famous line, “Ich bin ein Berliner” was said by John F. Kennedy when the Berlin Wall isolated East Berlin from the rest of Germany. The common misconception is that he said he was a doughnut. While a Berliner is a type of pastry in Germany, if used in the correct context it can also mean you are from Berlin.

British comedian Eddie Izzard makes fun of Kennedy saying he called himself a doughnut in front of thousands of Germans. In reality Kennedy did get the phrase correct but only because of the context he was using it in. Had he been in a bakery, Kennedy might have been laughed at. Learning how to say a phrase in another language can be easy but really understanding what it means can be difficult.


Language is one of the most complicated aspects of life and translations can be lost or misunderstood so easily. Throughout my time posting on EuroKulture I have found how exciting and complicated it can be to write about another country’s popular culture. In my first blog post An intro into culture shock, I discuss that the differences between cultures is what makes them great. I hope EuroKulture has brought insight to many readers and encouraged others to explore and celebrate cultures that are different from their own.

The world is getting smaller and we are going to have to come into contact with people that are different than us. It will no longer be enough to be aware of other countries but actually to study and to learn about their culture. Popular culture is a good starting off point, because it really shows what other countries are like. Where will America be in ten years? Does America need to become more aware of other countries cultures and languages? Was this blog helpful to people unfamiliar with European culture? What could we have done differently to make this blog better?

The simplicity of swears

The above poster says “Dick” and below it the message states “we do not swear.”

I suspect that this poster is a parody to what may be in an office to announce the rules.

What is representative of Russia? Is it their beautiful women, their Soviet regime, their love for vodka, or may it be their distinguished language and art of swearing?

This is a video I found on rutube.ru (Russian equivalent to youtube.com) from something called “nasha Russia,” which literally translates into “our Russia.”

I thought this video was great because of the amount and complexity of swears the Old Lady uses.

This video is basically a journalist interviewing a resident of a building as to why a fire started. She seems to be the one who started it and rambles on a while about getting wasted with her neighbors.

When the journalist further questions her, she explains a discussion that she had with the fire itself about sharing vodka. In the end the Old Lady states she was not home when the fire started and does not know what happened.

In this video she uses exaggerations and and had her own way of talking. Much like other people globally she uses certain words to express herself, even though most of them are swears. I can compare her language to a way a Southerner would use slang, something we can refer to as hill billies. They of course have their own dialect and way of saying things, just like this old woman does. Many people speak like this, but just like everywhere in the world not everyone uses exaggerations.

Russian swear slang is really hard to translate since there are no words for some of it in English. It would be like trying to translate ebonics to a person in the Middle East or Asia. They can basically ad on a few prefixes and syllables and make a simple word a swear.

One saying that comes to mind for me is “Ta pishla von” which literally means go over there, but translates into f*** off.

This article explains that Russian swears are even sometimes a form of philosophy. It also talks about how Gorbachev tried to make one uniform proper Russian language.

“Mat” literally means swear and it is what many people use.

This Newsweek article I found explains that some cities in Russia are imposing an anti-swearing campaign. They can fine people up to $33 for swearing in the streets and people can be jailed for up to 15 days. One librarian went as far as getting rid of all the books in the library that contained profanity.

In Russia, different villages will have different ways of saying a swear or using a different pronunciation. The same goes for the United States. Just look at the way people in Texas say something as opposed to people in New Jersey.

There is an online dictionary dedicated to deciphering the different terms people have come up with in the past for the United  States.

Take for example the term “cougar.” According to urbandictionary.com this means

“Noun. A 35+ year old female who is on the “hunt” for a much younger, energetic, willing-to-do-anything male. The cougar can frequently be seen in a padded bra, cleavage exposed, propped up against a swanky bar in San Francisco (or another city) waiting, watching, calculating; gearing up to sink her claws into an innocent young and strapping buck who happens to cross her path. “Man is cougar’s number one prey.”

This term and definition is the way some people use words in the United States today. Although it is not a regional term, this is the way some people speak. This definition of cougar is not the same as the animal but rather a slang that has been created.

So what do you think? Does having a diversified slang characterize a certain place? Why and how do you believe it evolves over time?

New Age French Poetry

matu

photo by Emilie Johnson

A new kind of French metro poetry meant for text messaging can be quite confusing, especially for non-native French speakers. Emilie Johnson’s blog post “Matuvu” breaks down how the word “Matuvu” really means “M’as-tu vu” in French metro poetry. It is the same idea as English shorthand phrases that have been created, like “CUl8r” or “c-ya,” meaning “see you later.”

This particular French slang word is a fun play on words because “Un Matuvu” also stands for “Un M’as-tu vu” and can be translated into English as “A Show Off.”

I think it is very clever and useful when young people create new slang or short-hand for communication mediums such as texting (SMS) or instant messaging. It is especially useful in the French language, which can take a long time to write out fully with so many dashes, apostrophes and accented vowels.