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Could a Foreign Language be a Problem for International Communication?

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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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Culture and Lifestyle

DIY Bathroom Repairs Everyone Should Know

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They say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but if something is stuck or clogged, one should be on the know-how. Reaching almost a year since quarantine began, people have been spending longer than average locked inside their homes. With this, homes may have experienced more wear and tear than usual, especially bathrooms.

It can be frustrating to feel helpless when dealing with something as tedious as a leaky faucet, a broken toilet, or a clogged drain. Considering this, small do-it-yourself remedies may be resourceful. 

That began said, if challenges are too drastic, larger renovations may be in order. If that is the case, consider commercial bathroom renovations instead. 

For the meantime, these are some nice and easy-to-do remedies than can offer your bathroom a quick fix. 

Uncloging a Bathroom Drain

When taking a shower or washing your hands, having water rise from the drain is the least you would want. Slow bathroom drains are often caused by a build-up of soap-scum and hair. Many resort to using chemical drain cleansers to remedy this; however, these products carry toxic chemicals and can be ineffective at times. 

Instead, use a plastic hair snake. This product resembles a long zip-tie which can bend inside pipes to snag the accumulated gunk.

To begin, remove the drain stopper before inserting the wand. This will require unscrewing and disconnecting the stopper’s horizontal and vertical rods. After doing this, you may finally insert the snake. Once the cleaning process begins, beware: it’ll get gross. As a tip, try to girate or make sweeping motions with the snake in order to grab as much gunk as possible. 

Fixing a Broken Toilet

Dealing with a broken toilet can be a common issue. 

If the toilet won’t flush, check inside the it’s tank. To do so, remove the toilet’s rectangular lid; the lid can be found behind the toilet seat. Look for the chain which connects the flush lever to the plug at the bottom of the tank; the plug is also known as the flapper. If a toilet isn’t flushing, the likeliest answer is that the chain is disconnected from the lever. To resolve this, simply reattach the chain. 

Meanwhile, if water keeps on filling your toilet, it most likely means your toilet is flushing by itself. This isn’t good as it is wasteful. The likeliest reason would be that the toilet has a leaky flapper. To fix this, turn off the water valve from behind/ underneath your toilet. Flush your toilet until emptied. Check the flapper’s size and purchase another flapper. Brands do not matter as long as they match in size. Replace the old flapper with a new one, and voila! 

Replacing a Leaky Faucet

Fixing a leaky faucet often requires replacing the parts inside the handles. To do so, first turn off the hot and cold water valves. Doing this will help prevent any unwanted water geysers from jumping out of the faucet or handles. 

Once you’ve turned off the water valves, check if water is still trickling down. If so, rather than replacing the handles, this means your faucet is in need of a plumber. If it isn’t leaking, you may proceed. 

Pry off the handles and loosen the screws underneath. Once both items are removed, remove the top with an adjustable wrench and pull out all the parts. The best tip is to use needle nose pliers to do this. Head to a home improvement store and ask for help in searching for new replacements. To reassemble, repeat the steps in reverse and test the faucet.

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The 8 Best Christmas Movies to Watch with Your Family

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Movie with Friends

Christmas is the perfect time of year to get together with family and friends and spend as much time as possible with them, but it’s also a time to curl up on the couch and watch those Christmas movies we’ve seen a thousand times. Don’t know which one to choose, though? To inspire you over the next few days, we’ve created a top 8 Christmas movies list to watch with your loved ones during the incoming Christmas holidays. You can easily find them all online in platforms such as movie 4k, Netflix, Hulu or HBO.

Love Actually

One of the most romantic movies of recent times is also one of the most adorable Christmas films, so why not watch or the billionth time? In this movie, director Richard Curtis mixes 10 small love stories that at the beginning do not seem to have anywhing in common, but end up intertwined at the end. Apparently, as he didn’t have them all developed enough to make their own movies, he just left them as optimistic pills. They are very different stories -some euphoric, others tender, others surprising- but all of them to make you grab the handkerchief and want to wish Merry Christmas to the first person you come across.

Serendipity

Some may think that this is one of the most cheesy films in the history of cinema, but there is no denying that the chemistry between Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack is enormous. Serendipity’ is related to chance and the possibility of two people meeting over time and that’s what happens to Jonathan and Sara. The two meet in a department store while looking at a pair of wool gloves; they will connect in such a way that they are going to have a drink and skate to Central Park. When that ‘casual date’ is over, doubts will arise: to exchange the phone or not? To reveal their true identity or not? Destiny will play a key role in them.

Elf

The film follows the story of an abandoned baby who manages to slip into Santa’s sack and ends up at the North Pole. There, he will become one of the elves who help Santa make toys all year round. However, as soon as he learns that he is human, he will go to New York to look for his father. It’s not a masterpiece, but it’s definitely hilarious.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

A classic among Christmas movies starring 90’s TV stars such as Connie Sellecca, Corbin Bersnen and Cole and Dylan Sprouse. The film shows how little Justin sees his mother kissing Santa Claus -and doesn’t recognize his father in the costume-, and he beleives that his mother’s affair is the prelude to their parents divorce, so he tries to keep Santa far away from the house with his bad behavior.

While you were sleeping

A classic romantic comedy that tells how Lucy, a subway ticket vendor, is in love with a man that she sees every morning catching a train. One day, he accidentlly falls on the track; she rescues him and, for some reason, she ends up pretending to be his girlfriend to his whole family. Everyone receives her with much affection except the brother of the victim, who did not buy her story.

Bridget Jones

A good dose of Bridget Jones never hurts anyone, not even at Christmas, and especially if you choose the first movie of the saga -since the second one wasn’t as good and the third and last wasn’t successful at all. Renée Zellwegger brings to life the most clumsy journalist in history who struggles between two men: Daniel Cleaver or Mark Darcy, an old friend of her family who seems a dull, boring guy, but also charming and caring.

Home Alone

Just in case you missed the huge cultural phenomenon that was John Hughes’ big Christmas movie, it needed to be on this list. Starring Macauly Culkin, it tells the story of a young boy who is forgotten at home when his family leaves to Paris to spend the holidays. While the parents try to come back for him, the boy ends up having to defend his home from thieves who are determined to celebrate their own Christmas party by robbing everything in the house.

It’s a wonderful life

Only a director as skilled as Frank Capra could turn a film about a suicidal man into a Christmas classic. Jimmy Stewart leads the cast as George Bailey, a guy who plans to end it all until an angel named Clarence shows him what his life (and that of all his neighbours in Bedford Falls) would be like without him. In a story taken directly from Dickens, it turns out that George has a much bigger impact than he thought.

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Try These Tips out to Simplify Your Everyday Life

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Everyday life naturally has a way of getting complicated, and spiralling out of control in one way or another.

Especially if you are an ambitious person and want to achieve the most you possibly can in your professional life, while also having a lively and uplifting personal life, it can be very difficult to avoid the experience of being drowned in excessive complexity from time to time.

The thing is, there are many downsides to excessive complexity in your everyday life, ranging from significantly increased stress levels, to a real difficulty with regards to being able to effectively juggle assorted projects and responsibilities.

Try these tips to simplify your everyday life.

Declutter your home and make sure everything has a place

A lot of excess complexity can sneak into your life via a cluttered home, where things just naturally feel overwhelming because of the fact that your mind and attention are constantly drawn to the chaotic nature of your living environment.

There are many different potential benefits to decluttering your home, but one of the key benefits that various home tidying gurus and productivity experts praise about the act of decluttering, is that it helps promote a state of mental tranquillity, focus, and an overall reduced sense of complexity.

So, do what you can to declutter your home and make sure that everything has a place. Contact e-waste recyclers, load bags of clothes to donate to charity shops, and do whatever else you need to do in order to begin simplifying your life and your mindset by simplifying your home environment.

Identify one or two big goals to work towards, and put the rest aside for later

Most of us have all sorts of different dreams, projects, and potential goals that we would hypothetically like to explore and devote our time and attention to, at some point or another over the course of our lives.

Unfortunately, however, trying to juggle too many goals at once is usually a recipe for stress and failure – not to mention a sense of overwhelming complexity, as we are constantly trying to figure out the best way to allocate our time and energy to the various projects we want to make headway on.

One of the best ways of simplifying your life and of focusing your energy, is to identify just one or two big goals to work towards at any given time, and put the rest aside for later.

Do your most important tasks at the start of each day

“Analysis paralysis” is a very real phenomenon, and it tends to occur when we have too many different options at our disposal, and have to try and figure out how best to juggle a variety of factors – such as where to fit in the different tasks and chores that we are committed to each day.

A great simplicity-boosting exercise here is to always do your most important task at the start of each day. That way, everything else is more or less a nice optional extra, and stress decreases dramatically.

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