Always evolving: some languages of the world and where they come from

This month’s collaborative post was inspired by a conversation between some of our contributors about languages and how much they ‘borrow’ words from one another. Malay has words from English, Turkish has words from French, English has words from Hindi, Spanish has words from Arabic. Not to mention the massive way in which European languages have influenced each other.

So here’s a look at the history and foreign influences of some of the languages spoken by PocketCultures contributors around the world.

It’s a long article, so if you’re interested in a particular country use these links: India, UK, France, Canada, Turkey, Spain, Argentina, Costa Rica, Portugal, Malaysia.

India: Hindi, English, Tamil, Marathi and many more!

Languages in India are as varied and complex as the country itself. The 2001 census estimated that there were 29 languages spoken by more than a million native speakers, 122 by more than 10,000!

We have 22 ‘official’ regional languages spoken across the country, but no ‘national language’. Hindi is often mistakenly referred to as the ‘national language’, but the constitution lists it as our ‘principal official language’. Where does Hindi come from? Well, it’s a language which evolved from a dialect spoken in northern India during the Mughal period, was influenced by Persian, and is closest to Urdu – the language today identified with Islam!


July 15, 2011 9 comments

Do Indians like to be alone when upset?

Test your cultural expertise with our weekly quiz question. This week’s question is from India.

If an Indian is upset about something, he or she would like to have some time alone.

True or False?


April 21, 2011 2 comments

Is it easy to learn Malaysian culture?

Test your cultural expertise with our weekly quiz question. This week’s question is from Malaysia.

The cultural uniformity of Malaysia makes learning business and social protocol relatively easy to learn.

True or False?


April 14, 2011 Comments disabled

From Malaysia to Korea and back

LeX is a Malaysian university student who recently returned from a study exchange in Korea. Here he explains some of the differences he noticed between Malaysian and Korean culture and confirms that Malaysian food is really as good as everyone says!

First, please tell us something about yourself

Hi, I am Tan Yih Liang (陈奕良/단익량 – Chinese/Korean), my nickname is LeX.

lex-in-snowI am Malaysian Chinese and my parents too. I was born in a small town called Butterworth which is located in the state of Penang. I live in a very average family.

My life getting into another transition after I graduated from High School, I was admitted to a Pre-University College in another state and then straight away admitted into University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur. During my junior year in University, I was awarded ASEAN scholarship to participate in Student Exchange program in South Korea for a year! And now, I am back in Malaysia to finish my study in the university. Finally, I will graduate at the end of this year very soon!


December 2, 2010 3 comments

Eat Malaysian

Have your cake and eat it too is about food, and Malaysia, in that order. Posts are beautifully presented, photos are gorgeous, and the theme is a perfect way to learn something about Malaysia through its cuisine.

You could start by reading about the various holidays and festivals celebrated in Malaysia:

The seasons sure do fly, and although we theoretically only have one season in my country, ie, summer, we do have the entire year dotted with festivals that make this country the united colors of benetton as it were. In my country, in January & February, it’s usually Chinese New Year-ish, then we have the Hindu celebration of Thaipusam, where devotees fast and pierce themselves with hooks and such, and carry the portable deities called Kavadis. In the March – April months, we have a mixture of Qing Ming, Lent, Easter, etc… more minor, those, and don’t warrant a public holiday. At some point, the Chinese have their dumpling festival, and then we have the Mooncake festival, Deepavali, and Christmas.

Phew! If that’s whetted your appetite, delve more into some Malaysian celebrations with Buka Puasa, about breaking the Ramadan fast, and Moony Moony Moony about innovative kinds of Moon cakes already on sale in preparation for the Chinese new year.

Read more:
More blogs from Malaysia on Blogs of the World
Penang street food
Navigating Chicago’s cultural stew

August 26, 2010 1 comment

Times Journal of Malaysia

Written by a student from Malaysia, tiMes JoUrNaL is a mixture of life and travel. Kyh clearly loves his country and is keen to show its best sites off to anyone who visits this blog through frequent travel posts.

This recent post describes an annual architectural workshop this year hosted by his university. Sounds like they had fun… the architecture exhibitions look quite impressive as well.

Thanks to Zhu for recommending this blog. Can you recommend a blog of the world? We’d love to hear from you. Send your nominations to

Read More:
Malaysian Food – Street food of Penang in Topics of the World

July 11, 2008 2 comments