BRIDGING CULTURES BY DOUG WALSH
Welcome back to another instalment of Bridging Cultures, presented by the Multicultural Association of Pictou County (MAPC). It's hard to believe that this is already our fourth of these columns... time sure flies.
I thought for today I would talk about the subject of languages. Language is the way we communicate with each other. It is also one way we get to learn about other cultures. Whenever I have travelled to places where English is not the main language I have tried to learn a few important words in the language of the country like “hello,” “thank you” and “please.” I love learning new languages and through the Multicultural Association of Pictou County have had the opportunity to learn some new words.
Did you know that in Pictou County alone there are residents representing over 30 different countries? On top of that, these people speak several different languages and dialects including English. Wow!
As I mentioned in our last column, we have members of the Multicultural Association who go out to the schools and teach the students about various aspects of their respective countries... including language. From looking at various sources on the Internet, I was amazed to find that, with maybe a slight different pronunciation, the word “radio” is the same in several different countries. I thought it would be fun to share some words from different countries that look and sound similar to English words but have different meanings.
If you hear the word “panch” which sounds like “punch”, it means the number 5 in Hindi. In the German language, if you hear the word “gift,” you may not want it. It means “poison.” Can you imagine how entertaining it must be for someone from Germany to visit here and see a “gift shop.” If someone in Russia is holding an onion and says “look,” they don't want you to observe the onion. The word spelled “luk” actually means onion. In Japanese if someone is using the word “saikou” which sounds like “psycho,” they aren't calling you crazy. It means “best; highest; supreme.”
Some other words I came across were “air” which means “water” in Indonesian and “smoking” which means “tuxedo” in Italian. The most interesting example of a word that sounds like English but with a different meaning that I found was from Czechoslovakia. In the Czech language “no” or “ano” means “yes.” I can only guess how interesting a conversation might get when asking a “yes” or “no” question if you didn't know the language.
While I am focusing on other languages, you can imagine what it may be like for a person who has a primary language other than English. If someone asked “Where's John and Mary?” and I said “They're over there in their backyard.” It probably sounds like I am using the same “there” word repetitively.
Well, it has been a great summer so far to attend the local festivals here in Pictou County and promote our upcoming Fusion Festival. Thank you to all those involved for having us down to their events. We will be out to more events this month, August, and next month before the big day on Sept. 27. Be sure to check out our September column which will look at the history of the Fusion Festival as well as information about this year's event.
If you are looking for more information on the Multicultural Association, you can check out our
website at www.multiculturalpc.ca. The web page has everything from events listings to photos and more. MAPC also has a Youtube channel which can be accessed by going on to the Youtube homepage and entering Multicultural Association of Pictou County. On the channel you will find videos on the Association and its members, our cooking classes and the Fusion Festival. Be sure to join us on our Facebook group at www.facebook.com/groups/multiculturalassociationofpictoucounty and our Fusion Festival page at www.facebook.com/pages/Multicultural-Fusion-Festival/298475646997647. As always if you wish to contact us via e-mail you can write to info.MAPC@gmail.com to find out more information about MAPC and to get added to our mailing list.
Doug Walsh is the Communications Officer for the Multicultural Association of Pictou County (MAPC).