If you became interested in learning languages due to a fascination with other cultures accompanied by a desire to travel you may have loved discovering The New European. It has joined my favourite reads for continental news, these including Le Monde, Le Figaro, L’Yonne Républicaine (for local news) and The Guardian. TNE was originally a pop-up newspaper following the EU Referendum. At first, this provided some consolation for those of us who felt bereft. However, the paper is far from just an outlet for anti-Brexit sentiment. The political articles and analyses are still there, but there is much more besides…
European Culture and Shakespeare
Each edition is full of culture and arts, much relating to Europe but also looking farther afield. An eclectic range of authors provides fascinating and often quirky articles. Alastair Campbell, Editor-at-Large, writes a great contribution. In his article ‘Proper Response to a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions’ last week he used the vocabulary of Shakespeare to vent, describing one well-known politician as being a ‘revolting blusterer’ and another as a ‘sanctimonious pale-faced gossip’.
Linking Language with Culture
Campbell clearly takes an interest in how language mirrors society. He describes how he acquired a new French word, ‘décolérer’ at a recent political meeting. In reference to standing up for political beliefs, a French activist had said ‘Il ne faut pas décolérer.’. Campbell asked what ‘décolérer’ meant and she explained that it meant ‘de-anger’ (though that word does not really exist in English). Campbell suggests that to ‘décolérer’ could therefore be a conscious decision. He comments that this could tell us something about the French mindset. After all, the French take a long time to ‘décolérer’. Sometimes they do not ‘décolèrent’ at all. They turn up at ‘manifs’ in large numbers, sometimes night after night, such as in the case of ‘Les Nuits Debouts’ (‘Up all Night’) in Paris. For weeks, large numbers attended these protests against labour reforms.
Campbell doesn’t always write about language though. For real nerds there is the column by Peter Trudgill, Professor Emeritus of English linguistics at Université de Fribourg. In the December 14-20, 2017 edition, he described how plurals can be categorised differently depending on how many things are being described. In English, ‘both’ describes two items and ‘all’ is its equivalent when there are more than two. Other languages, like Slovenian, have further developed systems. In the latter, there are three words to describe ‘you’ depending on whether you are addressing one person ‘tebe’, two people ‘vaju’ or three or more ‘vas’.
Going beyond word level, and linking language into other aspects of culture, TNE is excellent for its sections on the arts (including films, literature and music). What I especially like is that these pages are intelligent yet accessible. A few months back there was a double page spread on ‘Nordic Noir’, a genre which I have occasionally returned to since reading Stieg Larsson’s ‘Millennium’ series, being both drawn to the harsh, dark-light beauty of Nordic landscapes .and the suspense of crime writing.
On late night writing…
Speaking of ‘Noir’, it is past ‘the witching hour’ (Not only ‘midnight’ but the time of night when witches are active and magic occurs, says Google Dictionary!). I wanted to write this post earlier; in fact optimum writing time for me is in the morning. However, the children are at home (school holiday in England) so I just had to let it go for a while… Besides, painting tree decorations was fun… So this post is what it is, maybe a little dreamy.
Still, perhaps you will be inspired to pick up a New European and go exploring the continent and farther afield. Yet, I am interested to know… How do you stay up to date with happenings in Europe? …and beyond? Do comment below.
Incidentally, the Christmas tree is one of my favourite traditions in England. (My next post will be on Christmas and New Year Traditions ….). By the way, we have a recycled tree this year, not a real one but we are happy to see it again… It is adorned with cherry-red lights (my favourite), flashing in a disco sequence (Frédéric’s favourite!).