Post Tagged with "world"

Immigrants: Citizens of the World

This is a guest post from Gina Vazquez, who is a Mexican living in Canada. Her blog Let’s Talk Languages is about languages, diversity and the experience of living abroad.

A few days ago I was writing in my blog how we immigrants are a totally different breed. First of all, we have the courage of leaving our whole lives behind to embark on the adventure of adapting to a totally new environment, which entails a new culture, a new language (in most of the cases), a new currency, etc. And we are so optimistic about this change! However, it doesn’t end there, after all that we have to cope with identity issues and feelings of not belonging to a particular place anymore.

I am at that stage now. It is very small day-to-day things that I experience, that remind me I am not 100% Canadian. For example, language issues, my English is not bad (I have to say), however, no matter how well I speak it, I have a hard time understanding humor or sarcasm, people just stare at me waiting for me to start laughing at something “funny” they have just said and I just can’t get the meaning of it! Sometimes it is not even language related, it is culture related, which makes it even worse. Getting directions is another reminder, when people mention streets or avenues with such familiarity and I have no clue where they are.

Another thing that always comes up in reunions or gatherings is references to old TV shows, as much as I try to participate in the conversation, I just feel completely left out. And these conversations can go on for hours!

The problem now is that when I go back home (to Mexico, that is) and get together with friends, they also start to talk about things they have done these past few years that I haven’t been a part of and I feel just as left out.

Every time I have traveled to Mexico I have experienced different feelings. I remember one of the first times I was so happy to come back, I really felt like I was coming “home”. But what does “home” mean? Of course, coming back from a trip and thinking you will be able to sleep in your bed and see your loved ones makes it feel you are actually coming home… but shouldn’t “home” be more than that? I am convinced that Canada is the place where I want to be (at least for now) and fortunately in my case it was my choice to come here, but will I ever feel truly Canadian? And my son, who was born in Canada and will most probably grow up here, will he ever feel at all Mexican?

As time goes by I will get passed this stage and I will probably start feeling like I belong here, in one month I will be able to apply for the Canadian citizenship and I am sure that will help. For now, I can say that this cross-cultural experience has changed me as a person and the way I see things and I am sure that it will influence the way I raise my child, hopefully, he will be able to understand and be more sensitive to cultural differences.

For all these reasons I started by saying immigrants are a different breed, “home” for us is where our heart is and for some (like me) where our loved ones are. We have such a great capacity to adapt that we end up laughing at humorous comments that in our own culture people would find boring; we do our research before the party to learn about old TV shows, and we spend our weekends traveling through the city to get familiar with streets and avenues. I guess we are the clear example of globalization (and I am just speaking about the positive aspects of it) and we are the ones responsible for cultural exchange. We make the workplace more fun and the lives of others just as rich as they make ours.

It is great privilege to be a citizen of the world.

Read more:
What is a global citizen? Defined by PocketCultures readers
Global goes local: travel like a local
Stories of cross-cultural relationships from My Partner is a Foreigner

November 2, 2009 4 comments

Favourite online hangouts around the world

Which social network should you use if you want to keep up with friends from other countries? This map, developed by Vincenzo Cosenza from Italy, shows which networks are most popular in different countries around the world.

You probably guessed that the green colour dominating the Anglophone world as well as Europe and many other countries represents Facebook.

In fact Facebook has made impressive moves towards world domination in the last 8 months – compare with this map from November 2008 to see how much progress it has made since then.

Other areas are more divided, often along language lines:

- China prefers QQ

- Several other Asian countries are equally independent in their choices: Mixi is number one in Japan, Hi5 in Mongolia and Thailand and Friendster in the Philippines.

- Russian speakers in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan choose to use V Kontakte

- Indians and Brazilians like Orkut

- Most of the Arab world uses Facebook, apart from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Syria and Oman where Maktoob is the favourite. How long before Facebook dominates?

- Facebook is also popular in Latin America, although in some countries Hi5 has the number one spot

So what about Africa? According to this map, many sub-Saharan African countries do not yet have a favourite social networking site. Probably because many parts of Africa still do not have easy internet access. Let’s hope that projects such as this one will help to change that.

(Via ReadWriteWeb )

Where are you from and what social networks do you use?

Read more:
Wired Africa? Africa prepares for its surge online
Is there an easy way to blog in a different language?
Top 20 Languages of the World: which second language will get you talking to the most people?
Which are the most religious countries?

August 25, 2009 Comments disabled

Sketching the World, one city at a time

Urban Sketchers wants to show us the world, one drawing at a time.

They have an impressive network of over 300 sketchers who live all over the world. The artists sketch their cities and share them online.

Image: Femi kuti in Gijon by Urban Sketcher Enrique Flores

It’s a cute way to see the world through someone else’s eyes, and the mixture of sketching styles also celebrates the world’s diversity.

Image: Fun day at a beach near Seattle by Urban Sketcher founder Gabriel Campanario

Read more:
A (photo) tale of 50 states: photographers in 50 different states of the USA capture their state through photos
An Eritrean village in photos

August 11, 2009 Comments disabled

Which are the most religious countries?

This map shows the importance of religion in different countries of the world.

Importance of religion in different countries
Image: Wikipedia

It’s based on a Gallup survey and counts the number of people in each country who said religion is an important part of their daily lives.


June 15, 2009 38 comments

Top 20 Languages of the World

language.gifWhat are the most widely spoken languages in the world? Or, if you are contemplating learning a second language, which will get you the most new conversation opportunities for your effort?

The following list shows number of people speaking a language either as their first or second language. It is taken from Nicholas Ostler’s ‘Empires of the Word’, a detailed (and long!) history of the main world languages.

1. Mandarin Chinese (1,052m)
2. English (508m)
3. Hindi (487m)
4. Spanish (417m)
5. Russian (277m)
6. Bengali (211m)
7. Portugese (191m)
8. German (128m)
9. French (128m)
10. Japanese (126m)
11. Urdu (104m)
12. Korean (78m)
13. Wu Chinese (77m)
14. Javanese (76m)
15. Telugu (75m)
16. Tamil (74m)
17. Yue Chinese / Cantonese (71m)
18. Marathi (71m)
19. Vietnamese (68m)
20. Turkish (61m)

It would be interesting to know how the popularity of these languages is evolving. These figures are nearly 10 years old so in that time the Chinese speaking population has probably increased by around 40 million, for example. Rate of population increase must be the strongest factor in determining whether a language is currently moving up or down this list.

e_winner.gifI suspect this list may under-estimate the power of English by not counting those who speak English very competently and use it on a regular basis, but have learnt it as their third or even fourth language. That may sound improbable if you are a native English speaker, but for some it is a necessity. As one example, This post on A Wide Angle View of India blog explains that in many parts of India children grow up learning three languages, of which one is English.

English is currently the most popular choice as language of international communication, but will there come a point where another language becomes so widely spoken that it overtakes English as second language of choice? It may happen sooner than you think.

Update: compiling a list like this involves difficult decisions. The most obvious question is ‘why is Arabic not on this list?’. If included it would come around 5th place. See Ostler’s remarks in the comments below on why he considered Arabic dialects as separate languages. As an alternative view, this post from The Linguist Blogger incorporates different sources of information as well as Ostler’s list.

Read more:
Dedicated follower of Chinglish: interview with a Chinglish spotter
Is Chinglish the future of English?: most English conversations do not involve a native speaker
How to say Hello in 20 languages
Top 10 Languages on the Internet

June 9, 2008 69 comments