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Could a Foreign Language be a Problem for International Communication?

Alexandra Goman

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As international community is rapidly evolving, there has been a rush in learning foreign languages. Nowadays a lack of foreign language knowledge leaves you behind, so this skill is becoming essential in modern life, not to say vital. Yet, despite the undoubted advantages of speaking another language, there come certain disadvantages. In most cases nobody is even aware of them.

Let’s bring up a trolley problem here. Imagine yourself on a railway bridge. Below you, a train is heading full speed towards five unsuspecting people working on the track. There is a fat man standing on the bridge with you. If you shoved him off, his impact would stop the train, and you would save the five workers. Would you push him?

It has been found that the language in which the problem is posed can change answers. To be more precise, if the dilemma is presented in native language, people prefer not to push the man. Conversely, if presented in a foreign language – they would push the poor guy.

Everyone would rather push “didi kaci” (Georgian), “rajul sameen” (Arabic), “ootoko” (Japanese) instead of the fat man (or whatever it is in your native tongue). So what does it mean? Does it mean that switching languages make us more rational and less emotional?

Foreign language is not acquired in the same way as your mother tongue. It is a learning process, sometimes even very difficult one. In most cases, you do not learn it in a comfortable friendly warm environment like in case with you native language, when you are learning it with your parents. Therefore, that makes a foreign language less personal, less emotional. You experience more distance from the objects. You do not mean the same things as you say “mom” or “dad” in your native tongue and then in whatever language you know. Abusive language is even the brighter example. Swearing in a foreign language is more like normal talking: easy and meaningless, because you are emotionally distant from “foreign” words than your “native” ones.

Of course, a single word might not make a difference, you would say. But it takes one word to form a sentence, then a paragraph, then conversation, then whole debates and then politics steps in.

The fact is that we all understand concepts differently. The gap between what you say and what others think you mean is wider in intercultural communication. It is usually about how you interpret the things that have been said. Then, there is a foreign language with its own cultural colours and mentality used by representatives of all kinds of international organizations. The United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and many more organizations use international languages to communicate.

Our research, conducted in terms of psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics, has shown that the word “nuke” (attack or destroy with nuclear weapons) is differently associated in strong powerful nations (like USA, Russia, UK etc.) and in “smaller” ones (Slovakia, Latvia, Estonia etc.). In the first case, people tend to associate this concept with abstract notions like danger, elimination, great power, a war and so on. Meanwhile, countries that have less international influence are more concerned about other countries having a nuclear weapon, as their associations were USA, North Korea, Russia, Japan, Hiroshima. Additionally, we can assume that mass media is playing a major role in forming a particular style of thinking. That difference was shown through a single word only.

Interestingly, some languages do not even possess certain concepts. Kuuk Thaayorre language does not have notions of “right” and “left”, they use cardinal points instead. For instance, that cup is south-eastwards; the boy northwards is my brother. How difficult for people would be to learn non-existent concepts like “right” and “left”? Would it be hard for others to understand them?

These are some things to consider next time you speak a foreign language. Perhaps, it is reassuring that meetings conducted in another language would make us more rational and less dependent on our emotions… Unless you are that large man about to be pushed under the train.

Further Readings:

1.    Cortazzi M. Cross Cultural Communication a Foreign Language Perspective

2.    Ingmire J. Using a Foreign Language Changes Moral Decisions

3.    Language and  Morality, Gained in Translation

Specialist in global security and nuclear disarmament. Excited about international relations, curious about cognitive, psycho- & neuro-linguistics. A complete traveller.

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Irrefutable Truths About Having Kids in the Modern World

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There are so many things that play a role when you have kids, and you need to understand that there are plenty of things that you need to bear in mind. Having children is a massive responsibility, and there are a lot of things that you need to think about to help you make you the most of this. Understanding what parenthood entails is one of the things that plays a massive role in helping you hit the ground running. 
There is no rulebook or manual for telling you the right way to parent, but there are plenty of tips and hints you should be looking at that can help with this. Every child is different and every parenting approach will be different, but there are a lot of things that you have to keep in mind to help with this. Make sure you focus on trying to make the best possible decisions you can, and there are a lot of issues you can look at that will help you with this. Check out these irrefutable truths about being a parent these days that apply to everyone.

You’ll Always Worry

One thing that is absolutely certain about being a modern parent is that you are going to worry. It’s part and parcel of the process, and this is something you need to work on. Don’t be afraid that you are worrying too much, as this is something that all parents do, you are not alone here, and it’s important to understand that. Worrying is part of having kids, and it’s the part you’ll never quite get used to, so you are going to need to do as much as possible to work on this and do what you can to try to stop worrying and panicking quite so much, but this can be hard. 

It’s Expensive

Something else to think about when you have a kid is the fact that this is very expensive, and you are immediately going to be having additional costs to contend with. Make sure you look at what you can do to save money as much as possible. Whatever you can do to cut the costs of having a child is something you need to look into right now. That means saving where you can, using hand me downs if possible, using coupons and vouchers to save money on travel or days out, and preparing and cooking meals at home as opposed to eating out all the time. Everything you can do to slash costs, even slightly, is going to have a major impact on this process. 

Kids Change Your Life

Children will change your life, there is no question about that. This is something nobody can really be prepared for until it actually happens to them, and there are so many factors that will change in your life as a result, such as family holidays. Try to think about some of the best ways of making sure you work on this as much as possible. There are a lot of things that will change forever when you have children, such as your responsibilities, and your approach to life in general. You will now start to base your life around your children and helping to nurture them as much as possible.

State Help is Available

A lot of people forget or overlook the fact that state help is available to those with children. Whether it’s Taiwan’s childbirth allowance or the UKs Child Tax Credit, government help is available to parents all across the world. Having a child can be tough, and it can especially be tough for couples or parents who have low incomes. Sometimes the money received from government support can be crucial for improving your livelihood and helping you feed and clothe your kids as much as possible. So this is definitely something you’re going to want to know about and look into as much as possible. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

Something a lot of new parents seem to struggle with is asking for help when they need it. Being a first-time parent can be incredibly hard, and this is something you are going to have to get right as much as possible moving forward. Try to come up with ideas that will help make things easier for you, but also, make sure you ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of ways you can get help from the state, and, of course, family and friends can play a big role in the process of helping you out as well, especially your parents who have done this before so do have wise words to impart on the matter of parenting.

Nighttimes Might be Stressful

One thing that is for sure is that nighttimes are going to be stressful. You can kiss goodbye to that 8 hours of blissful and uninterrupted sleep, and this is something a lot of people struggle with. Getting into a good nighttime routine early in the process is really important, and this is something you should try to work on. Alternatively, you could get in touch with a sleep therapist who can give you advice for some of the things you should look to do when it comes to getting your child to sleep better. With a structured routine in place, it is going to get a little bit easier to deal with this, and you should have a baby that sleeps better as a result. 

There are a lot of things you need to bear in mind as a parent, and you need to try to do as much as you can to make this process easier for you. Try to do as much as you can to understand the important parts of being a parent, and try to work on being as good as you can be for your kids. There are so many things that you need to make the most of right now, and this is something that plays a big part in the process of improving your approach to parenthood. 

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Buying The Right Furniture To Do Your Home Justice

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Home furniture options seem to be much more limited when it comes to high street shopping these days. Even out-of-town stores seem to stock a smaller range of pieces as rents rise and floor space is at a premium. Today, everyone’s buying online. It’s easy to visualise yourself buying a book or a kitchen appliance online – after all, you know that wherever you source it from, it will be essentially the same item. However, you could be forgiven for not knowing where to start when it comes to home furniture. How can you tell from a few photos what will be a good buy and what won’t?

Every piece of furniture is an investment and one you hope will last for years to come. The pieces you choose are also a reflection of who you are and make a statement to those who see it in your home. Moreover, each item also needs to fit within the overall décor of your room and not look out of place. You don’t want antique furniture if you’ve invested a contemporary house design. So how do you go about choosing and buying furniture online? 

You will probably already have a good idea of the style of furniture you want for the room you are fitting out. The first thing to do is search relevant keywords and note down the manufacturers’ names that come up. Maybe you’re after ‘best shabby chic bedroom furniture’, in which case the Coach House Fayence or Belgravia range may pop up in your search results. Perhaps you ask Google for a more contemporary look for your living room, in which case the Rowico Lulworth range may be more your scene. 

Once you’ve found a few names of popular makers of the kinds of home furniture range you want, your next step is to narrow down the search based on quality and budget. A rough look through a few retailers’ websites will give you an indication of prices. In fact, you might be surprised at what you can afford: Internet retailers can often reduce costs by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the public. As for quality, search for independent online reviews from past buyers to back up the manufacturers’ claims.

Once you’ve found the pieces of furniture you want, the next factor to consider is who to purchase from. There is an ever-growing wealth of online sellers, some great and some not so good. The first thing to check on a company’s website is whether it will deliver to your part of the country. There’s little benefit in ordering low priced items from overseas if you then have to fork out a fortune for delivery and/or customs charges. Many good retailers will offer free delivery on larger items, or for orders over a certain amount. This can help save you money. 

Check how long it will take for your furniture to be delivered. Six to ten weeks for hand-crafted items is reasonable; anything less is a bonus. As furniture, especially that made from solid wood, is heavy and prone to damage, look for the company’s assurances that shipping and delivery are managed appropriately and with guarantees against damage in transit. You should also choose a firm with a fair returns policy in the unlikely event you’re not happy with your order when it arrives. Finally, it’s a smart idea to find out what past customers have said about retailers. Has the company delivered on its promises or been responsive if there were any issues?

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Why Do Movies Change The Way People Dress?

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via GIPHY

Movies transcend the silver screen. Apart from being avenues for actors to show off their skills, they also let the great and good of Hollywood strut their stuff. Impacting fashion, then, is inevitable.

At least, it has been for the past couple of decades. Directors and stylists create the looks, and ordinary people try to recreate them as best they can. But why? What makes films the leaders of fashion? After all, they are the original influencers because their reach was far and wide before social media became a thing!

Here are four factors that give Hollywood a say in the fashion industry, and why anything isn’t likely to change.

Escapism

People don’t watch movies to connect with real life. If you wanted to do that, you’d binge-watch documentaries or never turn off the news. No, you sit down to take in a film because you want to get away from life for a few hours. What this does is convince you that the characters are not representations of fictional people, but real. So, recreating their charm and swagger through their outfits seems like the logical next step. After all, you may see yourself through the width of a lens rather than your eyes.

Latest Trends

Of course, actors aren’t regular, run of the mill human beings. They’re part of the 1% of society, which means they get rich and famous perks that aren’t available to others. This means they don’t turn up on set looking angelic – they are morphed into Gods and Goddesses by stylists. Stylists are professionals with their fingers on the pulse of fashion, so they know how to dress people to appear cool or sultry or effortless. The public doesn’t have this type of access, but that doesn’t stop you from copying the styles.

They’re popular for several reasons!

via GIPHY

Pop Culture

It’s hard not to know about the latest pop culture trends, even if you actively stay away from them. That’s because they are everywhere, including on your TV screen. This has been the case for decades, from Morpheus’ rimless glasses in “The Matrix” to Marilyn Monroe’s blonde hair and white dress combo in “The Seven Year Itch.” Part of the reason that movies are iconic, aside from famous lines, is their recognizable outfits. At some point, you’ll see a trend that you love and want to recreate at home because there are thousands of movies/they are derivative.

via GIPHY

Accessibility

Film is one of the most conspicuous forms of media. Movies start their lives in theaters, move onto your screen, and finish in your DVD collection. As a result, you get tons of opportunities to see the latest fashion trends. You’re exposed to it, even if you don’t read glossy magazines or class yourself as a budding fashionista. The rise of Netflix has solidified the effect as your reference points are only one click away in an app or folder on your mobile device.

And, that’s why movies will continue to change the way people dress in the future.

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