Alphabet politics: Change your alphabet, alienate people

Last year, I reported on how the problems resulting from the Azeri language of Azerbaijan being written in Latin script instead of Cyrillic letters. In Azerbaijan, the elderly who haven’t caught on to the...
video

I was a child refugee. Don’t send back the migrant ships!

After long last, I am making videos again. Below you have a video in Italian and a blog post in English and link to the original Italian article I wrote. VIDEO: I made this video "I...
Lenin in Kyrgyz kindergarten

Russian as a colonial language: native Russian speaker sees her language anew

Although I knew that the Russian Empire and Soviet regime spread the Russian language to the countries that were once part of the Russian empire and Soviet Union, I only recently truly felt the...

Why culture and language matter

My friend Eric Blaisdell painted these drawings when he was teaching English in Japan to show important it is to learn cultural norms when in a foreign country. In the case of the clueless...

Teaching language learning in areas marred by ethnic violence

The odd irony of giving three presentations about language learning in a city that saw 450 people killed last year in ethnic violence was not lost on me. Via the US Embassy, I was...

Living in multiple realities

Being a world traveler and polyglot can disorient someone, even a seasoned traveler like myself. I think my brain is not able to process multiple realities simultaneously. I am actually kind of embarrassed to...
Confessions of an Economic Hit man

Living in the middle of many worlds

Are you multilingual and looking for a job? How about being a spy or economic hit man? Candidate character description: Multilingual, sensitive to other cultures, can mix with local populations in difficult areas around the world,...
barriers

Political barriers shouldn’t be linguistic barriers

I was recently in the former Yugoslavia as an election observer in Macedonia and was pleasantly surprised at how I was able to use Serbo-Croatian to communicate with various people: a Slovenian diplomat, an...

Don’t fault innovative musicians!

Instead of criticizing people who are risk takers, we should be applauding their efforts because if we don’t innovate, these languages are going to die.
The Whistleblower film

Could speaking English empower female sex trafficking victims to escape?

I rarely talk about the practical life-saving applications of speaking another language. But the topics of female sex trafficking and bride kidnapping make me wonder about how speaking another language, particularly English, could liberate...

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