February 27, 2019

Italy: A heaven for ice-cream lovers

When in Italy, it’s truly difficult to avoid them… they look & taste amazing… yes, the ice-creams… As I normally don’t eat sweets (I know, shocking!!!), if I wanted to be naughty, I wanted to do it properly and experience the best of Italian ice-cream. Below are my absolute favourites.

Gelateria De’ Coltelli, Pisa

Situated very conveniently alongside the river bank. Natural & delicious. I think they change their ice-cream flavours regularly, as every time I visited them, I was tempted by new flavours (BTW all tasted amazing!).

Grom, Florence

Situated very centrally, just steps from the cathedral Duomo. The ice-cream is so creamy: our daughter had a sorbet which was really smooth & tasty. Buy your ice-cream, sit on the pavement opposite the cathedral and just enjoy the taste, that’s dreamy!

Obviously, there are many more places to taste the absolute deliciousness of Italian ice-cream, if you have some tips, please let me know in the comments below.

Kinga Macalla

February 20, 2019

Book review: Bilingual Games. Some Literary Investigations, ed. by Doris Sommer

Speaking another language is quite simply the minimum and primary condition for being alive. Julia Kristeva

It’s a thought-provoking and fascinating read. Bilingual Games, edited by Doris Sommer, presents the idea of bilingualism from many different perspectives. The book is divided into 5 parts and each of them contains essays written by intellectuals who portray the topic of bilingualism as a concept: social, geographical, literary and cultural, educational, but most importantly as human and natural. The contributors seem to prove that multilingualism is a natural human phenomenon and we shouldn’t and cannot limit ourselves to be speaking only one language, after all monolingualism is rarer than multilingualism.

The wonderful thing about this book is that you can choose which essays you wish to read, and find your own reading order. One of the essays that I found particularly interesting was devoted to bilingualism in the educational setting: “Found in Translation. Reflections of a Bilingual American.” by Julio Marzán. Bilingualism can be defined in many different positive ways, it can be also seen as an obstruction to being a ‘true citizen’ or to being fully assimilated in a new country; it can also be understood as having a negative impact on a child’s achievement at school.  One can say that bilingualism is a personal choice on the part of parents, but if we are living in a new country and “learning that true Americans are loath to speak a foreign language” (Marzán 2003: 224), one cannot doubt it will have some impact on our and our children’s bilingualism. A simple question like, “Does your child speak another language at home?” which, as Julio Marzán writes, is also aimed at parents who are potentially seen as those who could obstruct “their child’s capacity to learn in an English-speaking classroom” (221) is not an innocent question, especially considering that Marzán answers in contradiction with the truth and says “no”.  As he later explains, he said “no” because he did not want to endanger his daughter’s “ability to achieve in the classroom”, but he also chose bilingualism, because he wanted his daughter to be able to connect with her cultural heritage. It might be surprising that bilingualism can be linked with underachievement at school, especially since the most recent research suggests that, actually, bilingualism “is now associated with a mild degree of intellectual superiority.” (Baker 2014: 54)

As you can see, it’s a fascinating read and I highly recommend it to those interested in bilingualism seen from many different intellectual perspectives. Let me know what your current read on bilingualism is in the comments below.


Baker, C. 2014. A Parents’ and Teachers’ Guide to Bilingualism. Bristol: Multilingual Matters

Sommer D. (ed) Bilingual Games. Some Literary Investigations. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Kinga Macalla

February 13, 2019

Romance in Your New Language – How to Say “I Love You” in Different Languages

Happy Valentine’s Day / Buon San Valentino / Bonne Saint-Valentin / Alles liebe zum Valentinstag / Fijne Valentijnsdag / Šťastného Valentýna / Szczęśliwych Walentynek / Feliz Dia dos Namorados / Feliz día de San Valentín / с днем ​​Святого Валентина / عيد حب سعيد !

14th February is when we usually celebrate how much we love our other half (even more than usual) or we tell someone who doesn’t know yet that we love them!  But saying “I love you” isn’t always easy, and not every language uses the same formula as those three little words in English.  This post helps you understand the ins and outs of saying “I love you” in different languages and gives you links to some popular love songs where you can hear the expressions being used.  Who knows, it might come in handy this year…!


In French, to say “I love you”, you would say “Je t’aime”.  It seems to translate literally as “I like you”, but it is not to be confused with “Je t’aime bien”, “I like you well (enough!)”, which is how you actually say “I like you”.  “Aimer” can be “to like” or “to love” but you only reserve “Je t’aime” (informal form) for someone you love.  It can also be used for family members.  Other options for romantic purposes are “Je t’adore” (“I adore you”) and “tu me plais” (“I fancy you” (“you are pleasing to me”!)).  A very famous love song is ‘Que je t’aime’ (‘How I love you’) by Johnny Halliday (here + lyrics).


Dutch has three interesting constructions for saying “I love you”: “Ik zie je graag” (“I gladly see you”/”I like seeing you”), “Ik heb je lief” (“I love you”) and “Ik hou van jou/u” (like “I hold you dear”).   Here are some links to love songs by the very famous Belgian band Clouseau: ‘Zie me graag (‘Love me’) and ‘Altijd heb ik je lief (‘I love you always’) (with lyrics!) and ‘Ik hou van u by Noordkaap (popular at weddings).  All expressions reserved for romantic purposes.


Italian has the form “ti amo” (“I love you”), that many people know from the Umberto Tozzi song and that is reserved for romantic use, but there is another expression that can be used for romantic partners and family members, which is “ti voglio bene”, kind of like “I wish you well”.  Can be shortened in text messages to “tvb”.  Here is a very rousing song about love by new operatic sensation and San Remo music festival winners, Il Volo, called ‘Grande Amore’ (‘Great/True Love’) (lyrics here).


Spanish in Spain has the expression “te quiero”, which comes from “querer”, “to want”, but it actually means “I love you”.  In some Latin American countries, “te amo” (similar to the Italian “ti amo”)  is used instead.  Here is a nice song to help you practise your grammar, ‘Te Quise Te Quiero y Te Querré’ (‘I loved you, I love you and I will love you’) by Manolo Galván.


“I love you” in Polish is “kocham cię”, from the verb “kochać”, “to love”.  The noun, “love” is “miłość”, linked to “miły”, “nice”.  “My love” or “my dear” is “kochanie” (“loved one”).  A famous song is ‘Kocham cię, kochanie moje’ (‘I love you, my darling’) by Maanam.


I learnt a nice thing today, which is that the Arabic word for “love”, “بح” (“hob”), also means “seed”, which gives the idea of love growing into something bigger.  “I love you” in Arabic is “كبحا انا” (“ana ohebak” (if the recipient of the love is male) or “ana ohebek” (if the recipient of the love is female).[1]


Most people probably know the famous term “Ich liebe dich”, “I love you” in German.  Some ways to express even greater love are “Ich liebe dich wie verrückt”, “I love you like crazy” and “Ich liebe dich bis zum Wahnsinn”, “I love you to to distraction” – impressive!


“I love you” in Czech is “Miluji tě”, from the verb “milovat”, but “love” is “láska”.  “Miláček” means “sweetheart”.


There are several ways to say “I love you” in Portuguese: “(eu) te amo” and “amo-te” in Portugal and “(eu) amo você” in Brazil.


“I love you” in Russian is “Я тебя люблю” (“YA tebya lyublyu”) or “я люблю тебя” (“YA lyublyu tebya”).  The verb “to love” is “любить” (“lyubit’”).

Have fun practising these expressions and let us know how it goes when you use them!

[1] Sorry to those who can read Arabic and have noticed that I have not used cursive script – my computer won’t do it, I’m afraid!

Suzannah Young

February 6, 2019

Film review: Dangal (2016)

Last weekend I decided to treat myself to an evening of Netflix, to practise my quickly-rusting language skills. My film of choice? The award-winning Hindi-language biographical wrestling movie, Dangal (2016). The film is loosely based on the lives of Geeta Phogat and Babita Kumari, daughters of Mahavir Singh Phogat, a national level wrestling champion in India who had a dream of raising a son to become an international wrestling champion.
He was, instead, blessed with four daughters. Thinking his dream would never become true, he sank into depression – until a fight between his two oldest daughters and a couple of local lads gave him an idea… Starring and produced by Aamir Khan, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. The story is believable and very well-acted, with a great soundtrack (featuring one of my favourite artists, Daler Mehndi). This tale of struggle, loss, hard work and persistence in the face of ridicule, makes for a great evening’s viewing, running at 161 minutes.
I watched it with Polish subtitles (trying to practise two languages at once) but English subtitles are available.
Darren Cameron