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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.”

The Egg and “Ei”

by Joyce McGreevy on October 24, 2017

When four teenagers and a writer, Joyce McGreevy, meet in the Volksgarten, Vienna, Austria, they share the fun of speaking two languages. Image © Joyce McGreevy

Finding our voices in Vienna: Catrina, Cedric, the author, Nicky, and Adah. (Oh, and “Albert.”)
© Joyce McGreevy

What Four Viennese Teens Taught Me
About Speaking Two Languages

I was sitting on a park bench in Vienna when they approached me, speaking two languages.

What’s more international than the Volksgarten? An Austrian park in formal French style around a replica Greek temple, it attracts visitors from around the world.

The replica Temple of Theseus at the Volksgarten, Vienna gives a group of visitors an opportunity for speaking in two languages. (Public domain image by Norman Davies)

The Volksgarten (“people’s garden”) blooms with roses and buzzes with languages. 
Norman Davies (public domain)

I’d been thinking about language, about the surprising fact that I’d found it easier to speak Hungarian than German.

14 Ways of Learning
a Second Language

by Joyce McGreevy on August 8, 2017

A signpost atop Floyen, Bergen in Norway reflects the idea that learning a second language can take you in new directions. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Learning a language takes you in new directions.
© Joyce McGreevy

Language Tips for Busy People

Research shows that learning a second language is like superfood for the brain. Experts say we’re predisposed to be multilingual. So why do so many smart people think learning a second language is impossible?

Curiously, those who claim linguistic ineptitude often use complex grammar:

  • “Had I understood the benefits of learning Japanese, I would have taken classes.”
  • “If only I could have learned Spanish in high school, I would be fluent today.”

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