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Travel Cultures Language

Have You a Party Piece?

by Joyce McGreevy on November 14, 2016

Kiaran O'Donnell and Rick Chelew play guitar at a small gathering, carrying on the Irish tradition of the party piece, sharing songs, stories, and poems. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Sharing our gifts turns strangers into friends; Kiaran O’Donnell and Rick Chelew had just met.
© Joyce McGreevy

What an Irish Tradition
Can Teach Us Today

It was known as the party piece, a “bit of an auld song” or spoken word. Would we have called it an Irish tradition? Probably not. As students in Galway, sharing songs, stories, and poems was just something we did on Saturday nights.

But the tradition goes back centuries, notes Irish historian P.W. Joyce. Ancient Irish sagas depict hospitality to travelers as a social virtue, and guests reciprocated with music or spoken word. “Like the Homeric Greeks, the Irish were excessively fond of hearing tales and poetry recited  . . . Every intelligent person was expected to know a reasonable number.”

Twode to a Changing Culture

by Meredith Mullins on October 3, 2016

Happy cartoon emoticon thinking, showing the language of social media and cultural change. (Image © Tigatelu/iStock.)

Emoji emotion
© Tigatelu/iStock

The Language of Social Media

Who says a story can’t be told in 140-character tweets? Here’s a tweeted ode (a twode?) to a changing culture . . .


GAS. “Greetings and salutations” (or is it “Got a second?”) It could go either way. #AreYouConfused?

The language of social media is a universe of its own—a rapidly changing organism.

It’s a dialect of abbreviations, acronyms, emojis, emoticons, and haiku-like prose.

cat texting, showing the language of social media and changing cultures. (Image © Leo Kostik/iStock.)

Even a cat can text faster than I can.
© Leo Kostik/iStock

I am not a maestro of text or tweet. #FullDisclosure

When a Mexican Cartoonist Speaks Your Language

by Eva Boynton on August 29, 2016

A cartoon showing the female symbol as a cross on a tombstone, drawn by Cintia Bolio, a Mexican cartoonist fighting gender stereotypes. (image © Cintia Bolio).

Ni una más (Not One More) speaks out on violence against women. 
© Cintia Bolio

Cintia Bolio Fights Gender Stereotypes

At a desk, pen and sketchbook ready, I waited with 50 other people for our teacher to arrive. In walks Cintia Bolio, with black hair wrapped around her shoulders, big hoop earrings, and a giant smile spread across her face.

She was here at the Museum of Memory and Tolerance in Mexico City to teach a course that revealed, through piercing words and pictures, the woman’s role in Mexican culture. The course had an intriguing title: Political Comic and Gender Perspectives.

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