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Les Hauts et Bas de l’Hiver (with translation)

31 Oct

Amanda deBerardinis

Two versions of the same poem, one in French and one in English…

Dans la brise fraîche d’hiver où les eaux coulent,

Mon cœur est statique ; la marée est basse.

Mon âme se balance avec les fleurs mourantes, ô

J’ai très envie de m’échapper sur un nuage rêveur ;

Peut être reste-t-il une faible lueur de chance,

Car dans le vent siffle les chants insouciants des indigènes. Continue reading


La Telebasura en España

27 Oct

Sunniva Davies-Rommetveit

La telebasura anima a la gente cotillear

Doscientos treinta y cuatro minutos al día estuvieron los espaoles delante del televisor el año pasado, pero no es posible saber cuántos de estos minutos fueron dedicados a la telebasura. Es una cifra un tanto incógnita porque intelectuales siguen discutiendo a fondo la definición.

Lo que estos programas tienen en común es que son fáciles de ver luego de una fatigosa jornada laboral, por ejemplo, cuando has tenido un día muy duro en el trabajo o en general, hay mucha gente que quiere volver a casa para relajarse y lo primero que hace es ver unos programas de corazón o programas con los que no se necesita pensar. A la gente que está cansada no le apetece mucho ver el noticiario serio.

También existe una tendencia hacia el acostumbramiento – y asociado con éste son problemas de la salud física y también mental. Por ejemplo, una persona que ve la telebasura diariamente no quiere hacer cosas con amigos por causa del programa. Además, son programas de entretenimiento, no de aprendizaje, que nos dan una conciencia descubierta. Hay una  actitud de ‘enriquecerse rápidamente’ que anima a la gente que los ve a ser perezosa y no querer hacer cosas con sus vidas por causa de ver a otros viviendo las suyas. Continue reading


25 Oct

Katherine O’Connor

Ruins at Cusco

CUSCO is an interesting city. Someone once told me that they thought Peru’s capital city, Lima, felt “unfinished”, but to me Cusco is more so. Lima is big – and while there is obvious segregation between those who have money and those who don’t, the various barrios, districtos, and its enormous scale make it seem almost like it was made that way on purpose. Cusco, on the other hand, is a small city. Not small enough that it took me less than an hour to walk into the city centre every day, but small enough that if you meet someone once you’ll probably run into them again. Continue reading


25 Oct

Antonia Storey

Some of the most beautiful cities in Europe have been the European Capitals of Culture and Tallinn is certainly no exception.  Situated on the Baltic coast, it is a stone’s throw from Helsinki, Stockholm and St Petersburg yet is still teeming with its own charm and culture.  The Old Town is a beautiful medieval settlement dating back to 1050 which has been granted the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site and the buildings there have been kept in pristine condition. Continue reading

Preventing the Death of a Language

21 Oct

Catherine Dekeizer

This summer I found myself on a long and bumpy ferry trip to the Isle of Lewis in the north-west of Scotland. While I was on the ferry, I heard people around me speaking in a language that I did not understand and had never heard spoken before. It wasn’t French, or German or even Spanish, it was Gaelic. Gaelic (pronounced GA-lek, not GAY-lik) is a Celtic language that was at one point the predominant language in Scotland, but today is only really spoken in remote areas of the northern and western Highlands. There was a time when Gaelic appeared to be going extinct, with few schools teaching it and little interest in learning it – English having become the lingua franca of Great Britain. But in the past 50 years or so there has been a huge resurgence in interest in the language. In 2006 a school that taught solely in Gaelic opened in Glasgow, and in 2009 the Scottish government pledged nearly £1.5 million to double the number of schools teaching Gaelic as an elective. Alongside this increase in teaching, there has been a large boost in spending for the BBC Gaelic language services such as BBC Alba and BBC Radio nan Gaidheal. All this has had a huge impact on the number of Gaelic speakers which rose to nearly 60,000 in 2003.

But all this begs the question: should we try to revive Gaelic, a language spoken only in small parts of the Highlands, and hardly anywhere else in the world? Why should the government invest money in producing Gaelic radio and TV programs? Why should schools start offering it alongside French or German? Why should we put time, money and effort into breathing new life into a language that some might say has reached the end of its tether? Perhaps the real question to ask is whether or not we should try to prevent language demise. If you see language as simply a tool to communicate, then preventing the death of a language seems futile and nonsensical. Surely the fewer languages there are in the world, the easier and more efficient communication and interaction will become. But language is not just a collection of words and grammar. Language is a fundamental part of the life of a people. When a language dies, a whole culture, a whole set of songs, stories, legends and sayings die with it.  As the French linguist Charles Hagege writes: “”What we lose is essentially an enormous cultural heritage, the way of expressing the relationship with nature, with the world, between themselves in the framework of their families, their kin people…”  If Gaelic was allowed to die out, to be stamped out by the inexorable force of English, then in many ways the Gaelic culture would die with it. The British Isles was once a place of multiple languages and cultural diversity, and in order to preserve that diversity, we should act in whatever way we can to support Gaelic and its revitalisation.

If you are interested in learning more about Gaelic, the BBC website has many tools for complete beginners, as well as a large amount of Gaelic television shows and radio programmes. Alternatively, you can sign up to the Gaelic Beginner’s evening language course offered at the University of St Andrews.