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Month: February 2024

Dispatches from Linguists: Dinner with the In-Laws, Language Barriers

By Rachael Brown

This month the Dispatch is from Rachael Brown, who narrates a humorous tale of learning German and how this can bring an extra level of stress to those tricky everyday occasions that are always funnier when you are not living through them.

Dinner with the in-laws, that age-old anxiety, is the cardiac event that occurs the moment a partner announces a Pizza Express voucher or that they have purchased something from Lakeland:

“I keep saying we should have them round. Now we can use the…” 

[Tagine], [Spiraliser], [Ravioli attachment for the pasta-maker I bought with my ex, just before he had that unrelated nervous breakdown.]

It is a night of hypertension, an evening when skills you mastered during infancy suddenly require a lot more thought than they did before. For instance, where to put your hands when not in use, locating the hole in the middle of your face, not setting your hair on fire (tried and tested), or standing up from beneath a tablecloth and taking it with you in a wildly inappropriate parody of your future wedding to the offspring of said in-laws.

In short – a minefield. 

But what about when that dinner isn’t in your first language?

My partner and I have been together for three years, long-distance (UK-Germany), so I suppose that’s one and a half years in real time. Two weeks ago, we met up with Valentin’s extended family, who were holidaying in Konstanz, Baden-Württemberg. This would mean dinner in my third language. (I never learnt German at school and can just about carry a conversation in French.)

They were waiting in the courtyard of the restaurant when we arrived, smart in a kind of effortless, European way. We sat down. I was going for nonchalance, but none of my limbs seemed to look normal where I placed them, sort of like when you put a puppet down for a moment.

We made the usual greetings and I went through the back catalogue of phrase book classics – the ones I know I’m not going to screw up: “How are you?” “What have you been doing today?” “It’s nice to see you.” 

It was going surprisingly well; I hadn’t dropped anything or set myself on fire. On looking through the menu, someone realised the vegetarian dishes were on the specials list. A waiter came over to explain. Knowing my chance of remaining vegetarian relied on understanding something of this, I felt myself lean into the machine-gun fire of “Pilze,” “Salbei” and “Muscheln.” His words were definitely muschelled. Staring into his soul, and mouthing to myself, I assume the waiter thought we were there for pre-exorcism spaghetti.

You’re a different version of yourself when you’re not speaking in your mother tongue. Something I’m finding more and more challenging, the further this relationship goes. Comparing myself to my personality in German is like comparing a MacBook Pro to the old Dell banger you keep resurrecting, the one that wheezes when you open too many tabs, responds to commands 30 seconds too late and has a severely reduced processing speed.

Valentin sits down at the table, and with a dull thump and a rising cloud of dust from my filter, I join him, simultaneously ejecting my disk drive, which sticks, and remains ejected for the duration of the meal. Undercutting the birdsong and low-voiced conversation, I buzz with the overload of translating a six-person conversation.

I find myself identifying with Sherlock from the BBC adaptation. To search for the meaning of his clues, Sherlock returns to his “Mind Palace”, a mental space where he stores every word and meaning he has ever learnt. I quite like the idea of a Mind Shed, somewhere dark and musty, something full of crap.

Valentin’s uncle cuts into his veal and asks me something:

“Burgerschnitzelzeinwaffendoobleschnitt…Schaf?”

I lean across the table, nodding thoughtfully. “Schaf” is what I’ve got to go on. It sounds familiar. I fling open the door to my mind shed.

“SCHAF,” I shout into the dark interior, “SCHAF.”

Silence. The bleating of a sheep from behind a lawnmower. I drag it by the horns to the door and let it go. WRONG. We weren’t talking about sheep, were we? Perhaps we were…I rifle through shears, a seedling incubator, fertilizer, “SCHAF, SCHAF, SCHAF.”

Out pops a shepherd from under a floorboard. “Schäfer?” he suggests, pointing sheepishly to himself in the chest. I grab his withered arm and march him through the doorway. WRONG. I turn back as a ticket inspector claws her way out of a bag of compost like that scene from Lord of the Rings where the Uruk-hai claws its way out of the slime.  (I don’t like ticket inspectors.) 

“Schaffner,” she says, mid “choo choo” action. I grab her by the whistle and launch her through the glass window. She lands on the schäfer outside, who adjusts his tea towel headdress and blearily commends me on being “sehr schaffig.”

This is also not the word I am looking for. I lob a biscuit tin full of old seeds at him and feel a sense of achievement. Then suddenly – I did it. It was…achieved. “SCHAFFEN,” I exclaim – to achieve or complete! “SCHAFFEN, SCHAFFEN, SCHAFFEN.” This man was asking me whether I’d completed my dissertation, which, as it happens, has nothing whatsoever to do with sheep. I slam the door of the mind shed, bleating receding, as I race back to the conversation.

Valentin’s uncle has finished his sentence, and also his veal. I appear to have arrived with the second course. His aunt turns to me with an encouraging smile and asks another question: “Also, wie ist es mit…[lost in translation]? und ja natürlich, wenn du willst….[lost in translation]…. Fahrplan.”

Fahrplan? Fahrplan?

Fahrplan…

Fahr. Plan.

I pause, and with a sinking feeling, trudge back to the mind shed.

Some Linguistic Customs Around the World

By Valentin Pradelou

There are as many varieties of language as there are customs attached to these languages. It is easy to note, when learning a new language, that some representations of the world may differ and ways to express certain significations might be very different.

Through my linguistic degree and some of the travels I have had the chance to take, I have made a little list. It maybe could pave the way to be a list of articles as well. Coming from a French cultural background, I took it as a base of comparison with all customs related to the cultures, which I encountered directly or read about.

Thus, I’d like to present a few of them, as I was really surprised when finding out about them, especially when compared to the customs from where we belong. It seems important to talk about different cultures, in order to claim that every society and their related culture has their own way to behave and express things with language, and every way is as beautiful and interesting as the other.

We’ll go with different elements, such as ways to mean “thank you” in Albania, means to be polite in Uganda, in the USA or in France, among other things. We will also discover it can be related to actual linguistic utterances or be attached to non-verbal interactions.

Some verbal facts attached to the culture
I’ll show here two different points, going first with politeness in the USA and in France, and then we will study how to say “thanks” in Albania and in France. Just as a reminder, these are coming from my own experience: I just want to show things I’ve read or seen, but it’s not to be considered exhaustive.

An example of politeness in USA and in France
To the scholars Brown and Levinson, there is a politeness theory, explaining that people, within the scope of social interactions, will try to claim positive social values in order to respect people’s self-esteem. Then, they explain that ‘positive face’ refers to one’s self esteem.

In the USA, as it’s kind of notorious, people can most of the time say “Hello” or “Hi” and then ask how you’re doing, in a shop for example, and this would be a particular example of ‘positive face’. We can surely think a cashier doesn’t really want to know how you’re doing, but they’re asking to create a contact, thus respect the ‘positive face’.

However, as I live in France, I can tell that this is impossible here: actually, in a regular context of talking to a cashier, for example, asking them how’s they’re doing will have a strongly negative value. In fact, you’re supposed to only ask anyone you know at least a little bit, so that they do not feel trespassed.

You’re only supposed, on a cultural basis, to ask how somebody’s doing when you know the individual, not somebody you don’t know at all. Politeness just goes with a “hello” in France, in this kind of contexts.

Saying thanks in Albania
I had the chance to do an Albanian course during my linguistic degree, and I happen to have learnt numerous interesting cultural elements, as much as this language is beautiful. Among these elements, one really surprised me: the way of saying thanks, as explained by the professor.

In the UK, the USA, France or Spain, we would use the word “Thanks”, Merci, Gracias for any action made to you, even the tiniest one, that deserves a verbal reward: serving you a glass of water, holding a door, congratulating you, etc. In the Albanian language, there is a word for Thanks, semantically equivalent (it is Faleminderit).

But it seems that it’s only used in particular occasions, such as really important things to your advantage. Our professor told that: “if someone gives you a thousand euros, you’ll say faleminderit, not if he serves you a glass of water”. It makes a big difference to some customs in France, for example, where politeness necessitates a verbal reward for any tiny act done for you.

Some non-verbal facts attached to the culture
We have just seen some examples of verbal facts in relation to cultures. Here, still in relation to linguistics, we’ll see some examples of how non-verbal behaviors can create sense and how it can be interpreted.

Hands’ negative answer in Bohemia and in France
In a very interesting article by Milena Srapvo published in 1995, we can read that there are some differences in expressing negation with hands in Bohemia (a historical region in what is now the Czech Republic) and France.

In France, negation with the hand will go with the index pointed in the air, waving from left to right. In Bohemia, negation will go with an open hand, palm parallel to the ground, fingers spread, with a rotation of the wrist from left to right. It is even more interesting to note that this particular movement of saying no with the hand in Bohemia has another meaning in France: hesitation.

These ways of expressing things with hands are thus connected, yet different. Following the evolution of words and their meaning is easier. As it is possible to write them down. This is not the case for non-verbal communication, which can be very mysterious and interesting.

House interactions in Uganda and in France
In the same article as cited before, we have pieces of information about non-verbal politeness around interaction, which is related to the house. Let’s make it clear with some examples.

First, in France, if someone comes unexpectedly to someone else’s house, it’ll be considered bothering most of the time, and even unpolite or rude (it can be accepted if the individual is a really close friend of the owner, for example, but most of the time, it remains unpolite).
In Uganda, it is considered kind of regular: as said in the article, it is neither marked positively, nor negatively.

Now let’s imagine that some French people, after having been embarrassed by this unexpected visit, make it into the house. The house’s owner can bring a drink to his/her guest, and it’ll be seen as polite, thus positive. It’s not the case in Uganda!
In this central African country, the guest will feel embarrassed if you bring them something to drink. It is even the same in case of asking him if they want to drink something, they’ll feel unsettled and can even refuse. It’s utterly normal in France though.

One last interesting element: let’s now imagine the owner makes his guest look round the house. In France, when it’s the first time coming to a new house, the tour is considered normal and neither marked positively nor negatively (it’ll be weird if you show your guest around after they have been before though). However, in Uganda, the owner is going to be seen as a vain person acting in a cocky way as if he would like to show off his wealth.

Conclusion
It’s always interesting to see how culture works in the other countries. When I was younger, as did my friends, I believed that our customs were almost universal and could only shift a little bit from place to place, from country to country.

It actually seems that they are very different, beautiful and interesting to know in order to dodge any form of ethnocentrism.

I hope you guys enjoyed this article, and thanks for reading!

Seeing and Unseeing

By Gil Cohen

Ever heard of the saying: “Once you see it, you can’t unsee it”? Let’s say you have a friend who has a habit of chewing very loudly, but you don’t hear it. Then, one day, another friend talks about your other friend’s loud chewing, and afterwards, you can’t stop hearing it! It didn’t bother you before, but now it really bothers you (just like in that How I Met Your Mother episode).

Could it be the same for languages and language change? Once you hear about a change that’s happening in your language, you keep noticing it all the time, consciously? If you do, how does it affect you and your day to day life? Would it make you overthink the way you speak? Would it make you embrace the change, or on the contrary, distance you from it?

A few months ago, a good friend of mine and I chatted on WhatsApp, and he wrote ships, when he actually meant chips, which is how we say “French fries” in Hebrew (probably a remnant of the British mandate), but also a slang term for something that is extremely easy. I didn’t pay much attention the first few times he used it, like I wrote in an earlier piece about noticing language change (Issue #27).

Then, a few days and WhatsApp chats later, he wrote lejit (pronounced /leʒit/), when he actually meant legit, which is a slang term, used in a similar fashion to the one in English. That caught my attention, since it’s not just the one time or the one word that he “misspelled”. So I asked him whether he actually pronounces these words as ships and lejit, and he wrote back that he thinks he does.

Now let’s take a small detour to the world of Digital Discourse, which is the discourse held between humans through a computer, or CMC (Computer Mediated Communication). One of the most interesting things about CMC is the way we speak (or write). It’s not quite the spoken language, but it isn’t any closer to the formal, written language. One wouldn’t compose a message on WhatsApp (or any other messaging app) like they would a formal letter, right? The ones that do are usually made fun of (take Captain Holt from Brooklyn 99 as a great example for this).

Nevertheless, our CMC language is closer to the way we actually speak, and it reflects it, be it in the use of nonformal structures, slang terms or pronunciation (or spelling). We (or maybe that’s just me and the ones I chat with) write the words in our messages usually like we say them.

Back to my friend: If he wrote these words on WhatsApp the way he did, that probably does mean that he pronounces them that way. So after I asked him about the way he pronounces these words, I asked him if there are more words that he pronounces differently. I trying to find a pattern and was already thinking about the changes that have happened when Latin gradually evolved to French and in French itself (/g/ -> /d͡ʒ/ -> /ʒ/ and /c/ -> /t͡ʃ/ -> /ʃ/).

One of the things all these words have in common is that the vowel following the consonant in question is a front vowel (i or a), which is the phonetic environment in which the Latin-French change has happened. I wanted to challenge him with words with back vowels, but couldn’t think of any.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t live close by and we rarely see each other, so I couldn’t test my theory in person, and in fact forgot about it. Then, all of a sudden, a few days ago he sent me message in which he wrote: “Gil, pay attention, shopsticks (instead of chopsticks)”, and I asked him whether he really pronounces that word in that fashion, and he said he would from now on, and that he thought about me when a mutual friend used chopsticks. That’s when I realized that I have ruined it. He is now aware of the fact that it is a different pronunciation, and he may be doing it on purpose, just because of me.

I know that we, as language enthusiasts, are more aware of linguistic changes than the common person, who are to the most part ignorant (and I don’t mean it in any degrading way). Does being aware actually affect the way we speak? I believe it does, at least for me. Like I wrote in my last piece (Issue #28), I noticed a few changes in Hebrew, and it made me self-conscious about the way I speak. Nonetheless, the changes that I am trying to avoid sometimes slip by and find their way out of my mouth.

But I’m hyper aware to things related to language, what about my friend and the other laypeople? Had this tiny beam of light that I have shone on this change made him “see it” and now he can’t “unsee it”? Or would he continue his day to day life, once in a while thinking about this change and writing to me about it? I think that even if he won’t be hyper aware of this change, like I am, he would be at least slightly more aware of it, and perhaps to other changes in the language.

The Best of the World’s Untranslatable Words

By Catherine Muxworthy

Every language has words in it that are unique to it, that don’t translate exactly as a singular word or idea from one language into another. There are thousands of these words in languages from all around the world, words that have become known as ‘untranslatable’ because their literal meaning does not fully depict the emotions, feelings and ideas that the word holds in its original language. While there are countless examples, today we’re going to look at some of the best ‘untranslatable’ words that have no direct translation into the English language.

Spanish – ‘Sobremesa’:

Sobremesa (‘Sobretaula’ in Catalan) is a Spanish word that refers to the time spent after lunch or dinner during which you socialise with the people you ate said meal with. In Spanish culture, meals are very important and they highly value this time spent relaxing and chatting with their friends, family and loved ones when they’ve finished eating.

Danish – ‘Hyggelig’:

Hyggelig is a Danish word that refers to a warm, friendly, cozily intimate moment or thing. In recent years, many books have been published about ‘Hygge’, however, as part of the Danish culture this is not a ‘how-to’ feeling or something that can be bought. While there are similar words to the Danish Hyggelig in other Nordic languages, in Swedish you’ll find the word ‘Gemytlig’ and in Norwegian you’ll find the word ‘hyggelig’, there is no exact translation in English.

Greek – ‘Meraki’:

The Greek word ‘Meraki’ cannot be translated into a singular word in English. Meraki refers to doing something creativity, love and/or soul wherein you leave a peace of yourself in the work. Meraki could be used to refer to authors writing a book, artists creating a beautiful painting or, indeed, any other creative work produced by someone who loves what they do.

Japanese – ‘Tsundoku’:

Tsundoku is a notion that nearly all literary lovers and bookworms will understand. The word refers to the act of buying books and leaving them unread – often in a pile of other unread books. In English we might call this a TBR (to be read) pile. Tsundoku combines elements of tsunde-oku (積んでおく) meaning ‘to pile things up and leave them ready for later’ and dokusho (読書) which means ‘reading books’.

French – ‘L’esprit de l’escalier’:

L’esprit de l’escalier literally translates from French into English to ‘Staircase Wit’. The term refers to witty retorts that come to you only after the conversation or argument you were part of has finished or you have left.  

Swedish – ‘Gökotta’:

Gökotta is essentially the act of rising at dawn with the sole purpose of going outside and listening to the first birdsong of the morning. The reason for doing so is to boost your mental health and give you a positive start to your day. The origin of this word comes from a Swedish tradition of going out into the wild on Ascension Day (40 Days before Easter) to listen to the cuckoos sing their first songs of Spring.

Dutch – ‘Uitwaaien’:

Uitwaaien comes from a combination of From ‘uit’ meaning ‘out’ and ‘waaien’ meaning to ‘to blow’. It’s an idiomatic words that refers to the act of going out, often in windy or breezy weather, particularly to a park or nature spot, as a means of refreshing yourself and clearing your mind.

German – ‘Kummerspeck’:

Kummerspeck literally translates as ‘Grief Bacon’. The word is a combination of der Kummer, which refers to emotional pains like grief, concern, worry, sorrow or anxiety, and der Speck, which translates as either ‘bacon’ or ‘fat’. In German, Kummerspeck refers to the overeating due to emotional grief which is often known in English as ‘Eating your emotions’. Kummerspeck refers to the excessive eating people might do during times of stress or sorrow, and the weight or fat gained through this emotional eating.

Japanese – ‘Komorebi’:

Komorebi is a Japanese word that depicts the appearance of sunlight filtering through the leaves of trees, a beautiful sight you are likely to see in a forest on a sunny day. Komorebi roughly translates as “the scattered light that filters through when sunlight shines through the trees” and the word is made up of three Kanji; the first meaning tree or trees, the second meaning escape and the third meaning light or sun.

Welsh – ‘Hiraeth’:

Hireath is a Welsh word which refers to a homesickness, grief and/or sadness for something that is lost or departed for example a longing for your homeland or a nostalgia for a romanticized past.  While there is no exact translation into English, the Welsh ‘Hiraeth’ is similar to the Romanian ‘dor’, the Ethiopian ‘tizita’ and the Portuguese word ‘saudade’ which refers to a feeling of longing for something or someone that you love which is now lost.

Tagalog – ‘Kilig’:

Tagolog is an Austronesian language. It’s spoken as a first language by the ethnic Tagalog people who make up roughly a quarter of the Philippines population and it is also spoken as a second language by the remaining majority. The Tagalog word ‘Kilig’ is used in the Philippine culture to refers to the excited butterflies in your stomach, often experienced during a romantic or exciting moment, such as speaking to someone you have a crush or being proposed to by the love of your life. 

Italian – ‘Cavoli Riscaldati’:

Translating literally to mean reheated cabbage, Cavoli Riscaldati refers to an attempt to revive an old romantic flame or restart a failed relationship, which is likely to fail. It reportedly originates from the proverb, “cavoli riscaldati né amore ritornato non fu mai buono” which translates as “neither reheated cabbage nor revived love is ever any good.”

Polish – ‘Po Ptakach’:

Po Ptakach translates literally as “After the birds”. The phrase is used to describe an action that happened way too late after the fact and, therefore, nothing can be done about it. For example, if you wanted to buy tickets for an event but they’d sold out by the time you got to it.

The Big DON’Ts of Language Learning: Don’t Look for ONE method

By Alessio F. Bona

The promise of “the best way” to do a certain thing is a very tempting one. Advertisements and click-baits are full of such promises: the best diet, the best work-out routine, the best investment strategy, etc.

No surprise then, that Duolingo calls itself “The world’s best way to learn a language”.

Most of you probably don’t believe that sentence to be true, but many of you are still convinced that there can be “one best method” to learn languages, and that it could be found.

People ask me all the time: “what do you think is the best method to learn languages?” My answer will alway be the same: There is no best method. And to look for it, to believe that it’s out there somewhere, will do more harm than good.

Of course there are better and worse ways of doing things, and to practice a foreign language is no exception. And clearly you can get better at learning and improve your learning techniques, otherwise I wouldn’t be a language coach, but this doesn’t mean that “one method” exists which would presumably be the best for every person learning any language at any time.

Person:

Your age, your native language, the languages you have already learned, your previous learning experiences, your hobbies, your passions, your job, your relationships, where you live, the kind of media you use. All these aspects play an important role by learning a foreign language and will determine which learning techniques fit you the best.

Language

For me, as an Italian, learning Spanish, German and Mandarin have been three completely different experiences. It would have made no sense at all to apply the same techniques to these three languages. Every language will challenge you in specific ways and you have to find the right resources and approaches to overcome them. If you take my experience with German and you try to apply it step by step to Japanese, you are set up to fail.

Time

Even while learning the same language, you can’t use the same method during the whole process.

Each phase of learning is different and requires a different kind of training. Duolingo is a great way to break the ice with a new language, but do you expect it to bring you to fluency? Learners should change their training during their development, like in any other kind of training, like sports or arts.

Balance

Let me add a last point to the list: every technique has its strengths but also its weaknesses. If you stick with the same methods for too long, you will suffer unbalanced learning. The most typical examples are either those who study only from grammar books, who excel in exercises but can’t enjoy a tv-show or have a conversation. Or their opposite: those who brute force vocabulary and quickly get to the point where they know a lot of words and idioms, but they lack deep control of the language and can only repeat the chunks they already know. You have to balance your diet.

To sum it up, my first “don’t” for you: don’t look for the best method. Be wary of magic wands and one-sided approaches, even if they claim to be “science based”.

Consider all the methods you will find on the path, like ingredients you have to combine, to create a rich diet. And consider the language you are learning, as if it were a child growing up. It will need different nutrients during its life and it’s up to you to try them and figure out which one helps it the most.

And just because spicy food isn’t good for babies, it doesn’t mean it can’t be good for adults. Maybe a method which doesn’t fit your learning today, may be worth a second try in a few months.

Experimenting is fun and you never stop learning.

Diary of a (Student) Teacher

Diary of a (Student) Teacher

By Giulia Raus

In the previous issues we spoke a lot about students – British, Italian and French students and their struggle in learning languages.  This time I would love to focus on a different scenario: the teacher.

We normally don’t think about it when we speak our own language, but all of us have a “starter”; some words or sentences that we use to catch other people’s attention, something that we say so often that it comes out automatically and we don’t even realise it. In Italian for instance I usually say: “Allora” which we can translate in English with “So” or in French with “Alors/donc”.

You are probably asking yourself “and then? What’s the point of this?” the point is, when you are a teacher in a foreign country and you are teaching your third language and the class you are teaching is composed of 35 teenagers that are not planning to stop talking just because you are standing there with a badge around your neck, the confusion inside and outside of your brain kind of get to you and mixes up all the languages you know into just one embarrassing, meaningless group of letters that most of the time sounds like: “Allssoooonc!”.

At that point you have caught their attention, not because they want to listen to you, but because they are surprised and confused about what is going on with the teacher – is she having a stroke? – (to be honest I think the same, am I alright? Should I get checked?). 

I am not going to lie, sometimes it is embarrassing and I don’t particularly like the sensation of impotence when the words don’t come out how they are supposed to, it feels like the ground is missing beneath your feet and you are falling into a deep hole of embarrassment. Many times, I doubted myself asking if I was the right person to teach languages if in moments of need, I get confused. 

Well, let me tell you something at the end of the day your students will recognise the effort. They seem as though they are not observing you, they seem like they are playing the “dumb card” but they don’t, don’t get me wrong, they will make fun of you, of your accent, of your weird sentences that make sense in (maybe) another language, but they will also ask you astonished – miss how do you do it? – or say – wow I will never be that fluent in French like you are in English – in those cases it’s your turn to reassure them that they are going to be able to speak a foreign language and that you are going to help them. 

But see, after those ten seconds of kindness they will go back talking to their partners completely ignoring you and then here you go again trying to catch their attention, especially the attention of the one who is dangerously swinging on the chair but eerrrm what was the word for “swinging”? How do you say that? And then you try to rapidly read the dictionary in your brain looking for a synonym and the only solution is shouting either “you stoooop!” or “sit properly”, or more rapid but ineffective “non ti dondolare” in Italian. 

And I have plenty of examples, the funniest is a student asking me, “miss how do I say – I wear a yellow skirt?”  and because I was busy stopping a kid throwing a pen I dismissively replied, “I wear une jupe jaune”. At that point the poor kid, with very confused ideas, stayed still, staring at me hoping I could realise on my own what I said or if it was his hard job telling me that I was mixing up two languages. At the end of the story, the typical kid that notices and points out everything happened to listen and instantly laughed shouting “miss are you drunk?”. Unfortunately, it happens, and when you are tired, confused by the noises and many people talking at you it doesn’t help you at all. 

In conclusion I noticed how every language is composed of “comfortable” words. Those that people use to catch attention, to start a sentence or to finish one and there is one for every context and situation. Unfortunately, it is rare that you are going to learn these little words in school or university. This is the occasion where my grandma’s words actually make sense, “you can only learn a language if you go to the country where they speak it, that is the only way to learn” (that is what she said to the poor granddaughter that was studying languages at university). However, in this case it makes sense like in this particular situation where you have to hold your emotions and make space for reason and knowledge to prevail over those little adorable monsters that we call students.