About the Blog

I love language, and I’m not sure if I learn languages to travel or if I travel to learn languages, but I don’t think there’s that much of a difference.

Globalect is a blog about language and travel, because these are two things that simply go together, like pizza and beer, Ross and Rachel, chocolate sprinkles on bread.* Some people do a semester abroad or work in a foreign country to learn a new language, but the reverse also works: learning a language for the purpose of exploring new parts of the world. The more you travel, the more languages you (can) learn, and the more languages you learn, the more parts of the world spring open for you.

This blog isn’t just about learning languages in the plural sense, but also learning about language itself as a plural thing. An American living in the UK will quickly learn that ‘blowing someone off’ means something a lot ruder than ‘cancelling at the last minute’ to an Englishman. After learning a bit of Dutch or German, one might realize with a giggle that ‘gloves’ in both of these languages are literally called ‘hand shoes’. Backpacking through Latin America, someone from an Anglophone country will find that the seven continents they learned in school don’t match up with the five continents most students in this region learn about, and that the two discrete entities we call ‘North and South America’ is, to many people in the world, one giant landmass simply called ‘America’.

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A ‘muurgedicht’ (wall poem) in Leiden, the Netherlands. The bold line on the left side, “het woord is machteloos”, means “the word is powerless”.

This blog is about what it means that the English language looks at ‘shoes’ and ‘gloves’ as two unrelated things while Dutch treats them as variants of the same, and what it says about your worldview when you call the Americas one continent or two. It’s about not only language learning, learning languages to travel, and traveling to learn languages, but about how we talk to each other across the world, and what this means about how we view and participate in our world.

‘Globalect’, if it were actually a word, would mean something like ‘world language’, or maybe it would refer to the particular way of speaking one uses to communicate at the global level. This blog is mostly trying to think interesting thoughts and say interesting words about travel and language, where they overlap, and how they interact, but it will inevitably at times be a travel blog with really cheap links to language stuff (“…and in this cool place people also say words!”), or now and then linguistic rants that really have little to do with any particular location or travelly thing (“and, ya know, accents and stuff, they have those in like, Europe or somewhere”). For the most part I’m trying to explore what people do with language throughout the world, and to learn some new languages, see some new places, and meet some new people while I’m at it.

* weird shit that Dutch people eat. For breakfast, no less.

One comment

  1. Gerard L van Wesep · October 15, 2014

    Great post. All my relatives are/were dutch which I suppose makes me all dutch except I don’t speak any of it and live in Seattle. I also speak some German and Spanish is a current work in progress. Carry on.