Posts in tag

language hacking


The Best Gift Ideas for Language Learning: Spanish, French, Chinese, and Anything Else

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Love = Murder? Balkan Romance (and Serbian Grammar!) as Understood in the Song “Ubiću Te”

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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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You Can Pass for French with Just These Gestures and Noises

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Learn All 53 Catalan Expressions Involving Shit

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Got a special someone in your life who wants to take on a new language? Here’s a look at how to give the gift of learning a foreign language — what works best, what is the most fun, and what will be the most motivating as the receiver sets out on their journey. Why take …

If you love someone should you kill her? Probably yes, according to one Serbian-language song. Magnifico’s tune “Ubiću Te” is a frenetic ride into romance, and translates as: “I Will Kill You.” On this blog I’ve long suggested that you should all pour yourself a rakija, eat some cupi, and learn some Serbian. But taking …

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 …

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. …

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 …

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 …

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

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.

  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 …

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. At my …