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Travel Cultures Language

The Hidden Hearts of Bruges

by Joyce McGreevy on November 28, 2017

Bruges by night inspires the writer in Belgium, where being bilingual is just the beginning. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Bruges by night is safe and serene.
© Joyce McGreevy

Where Being Bilingual
Is Just the Beginning

So, you’ve practiced your French to visit Belgium. Well, not so fast! Here, being bilingual is just the beginning. In this country the size of Maryland, only 40% of the population speaks French.

The Other 60 Percent

Now how’s your Flemish? Because we’re bound for Bruges. Known locally as Brugge, it’s arguably Europe’s most picturesque small city.

ruges is a World Heritage city in Belgium, where being bilingual is just the beginning. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

This World Heritage city welcomes 7.5 million visitors a year.
© Joyce McGreevy

A Game of French Wordplay: Les Bons Mots

by Meredith Mullins on November 20, 2017

A French bakery (boulangerie) with two women selling baguettes, illustrating baguettiquette, a form of French wordplay about the etiquette of eating baguettes. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

Proper baguettiquette begins with the selection of the right baguette.
© Meredith Mullins

French Language Puns Offer Stories about the Culture

You can often step into French life through its language. Sometimes you can even invent new words to expand the boundaries of French language and culture. All it takes are some bilingual puns and a fun sense of French wordplay.

What word inventions come to your mind?

Observing Baguettiquette

What are the rules and traditions surrounding that oh-so-French symbol, the baguette?

Visual Wordplay for the Bilingual Brain

by Eva Boynton on November 14, 2017

A cartoon of a woman pulling a leg and hands grabbing her hair, showing how visual wordplay with Spanish and English proverbs tickles the bilingual brain. (image © Eva Boynton).

“Ouch! You’re pulling my leg!”
“¡Ay! ¡Me estás tomando el pelo!” (“Ouch! You’re grabbing my hair!”)
© drawing by Eva Boynton

Spanish and English Proverbs in Pictures

While living in Mexico, I heard phrases whose literal translations created odd visual images for me and confused my developing bilingual brain. For example: “Me estás tomando el pelo!” (You are grabbing my hair!”). My initial bewildered response? I checked to see if my hands were minding their business at my side.

With further explanation, I soon understood that such strange phrases were proverbios y refranes (proverbs and sayings), wise and colorful ways to make a point. In this case: “You are pulling my leg.”

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