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A solo trip to Russia

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When you hear about Russia, what images come to your mind? Grand Palaces, matryoshka dolls, vodka?

Since studying Russian history at school and in my endeavour to visit as many countries as possible during my lifetime (I’ve currently visited 42), I’ve always wanted to visit the largest country in the world and to see the Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral and the Winter Palace with my own eyes. Read More »

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Is it really funny?

Driving home from the supermarket a few Saturday mornings ago, I switched on the radio to discover a female chef talking very enthusiastically about her collection of knives. I couldn’t place who she was but was suddenly more interested when out of her mouth popped the phrase:

“Anyone who uses a serrated knife for anything other than tomatoes is totally gay.”

I turned up the radio hoping to check what I’d heard was really what I’d heard but there was only silence, as if the chat show host and other guests were deliberating over the need to pick up on the chef’s use of the term gay.

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Change your language

I love this video. It conveys so simply how our choice of words can radically change how people react to us.

It also shows how difficult it is to make an impact when we’re stuck in a rut of talking a particular way.

The way we use language in the technology sector is a funny old business. At one end of the scale we have acronyms galore, a list as long as my arm that I’m forever trying [and failing] to work my way through. At the other we have company names becoming common parlance verbs. Today there are millions of people around the world who Facebook, Google and Twitter.

The murky in-between is a mixture of techy specifications containing bits and bytes, or else roll-off-the-tongue phrases like broadband, plug-and-play and cloud computing that only a tiny minority of the world’s population truly understand. For many, the technology sector is amongst the worst for language that doesn’t invite people in.

This hasn’t stopped the relentless rise in the use of technology. But whilst the e-comfortable click ahead, those left behind just want to be talked to in a language they understand.

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Do you use the word “today” in your emails?

The other day I was reading a blog post from the Guardian’s Mind Your Language Blog and was interested to learn that The Guardian is following in The BBC’s footsteps and has dropped most references to words like “today”, “tomorrow”, “yesterday”, “tonight” and so on from reports on their website. Many of their readers are spread out across the globe and such words will have different meanings for them, depending on which time zone they are in. These national newspapers feel that by including words like “yesterday” and “today” (unless a day is still relevant), they are in fact excluding a large sector of their readers. Read More »

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Do you work in a multi-lingual workplace?

“Data realised from last month’s American Community Survey show that the percentage of people aged five and over who speak Spanish at home increased from 10.7% in 2000 to 12.1% in 2009.”

Are you aware of the number of people in your workplace who can speak different languages? Share your thoughts below.

To read the full article, click here: http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2011/01/hispanics_united_states

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