New French Resources!

maBiblio_logoWe have some great new options for patrons looking for eBooks and Audiobooks in French! Mabiblionumerique is our newest e-Resource, completely accessible through our main library website. All you need is a library card,  set your login, and you’re ready to go!

There are plenty of great options, from Quebecois authors, to non-fiction, to translations of popular titles for both adults and children. And if you’re not fluent, but looking for some options to get you started, the website is also offered in an English interface to make it easy. Drop by our library website, and choose ONLINE RESOURCES, then LANGUAGE LEARNING, and then Mabiblionumerique….or simply click the link here to go directly to the login page.

You’ll have to download a small program to use the interface, but it’s easy to use, and you can take out a number of books at one time and read to your heart’s content.

Voila! This is a wonderful way to supplement your French reading!

Learn a Language!

mango.jpgThis year, we’re excited to offer our patrons a whole host of new eResources through our online catalog, and one of our most exciting additions is Mango Languages! They’ve made it fun and easy to learn a new language, and we’re making it simple for you to take advantage of it.  All you need is your library card!

Visit our online catalog, click on the eResources link, and choose Mango Languages. All you’ll need to do is sign in with your library card, and then choose a language you’d like to learn. Want to know some Spanish for the mid-winter holiday? Feel like expanding your knowledge for a someday trip? There are plenty of choices. (They even have Pirate-speak as something you can choose. Arrgggh, Mateys! This is great!)

The website is super fun and easy to use. Once you set up an account, they’ll keep track of your lessons, where you’ve finished, and what you might want to work on next. Practice conversations based on activities you might participate in when visiting a particular country (you can learn all about Flamenco dancing while practicing the language in context, for example. They even include cute graphics to make you feel like you’re there! The guitar-playing mango is particularly funny).

This resource would be great for students who might need some brushing up on their French skills, or for people new to our country. You can learn English, too! There are so many fun ways you can use Mango Languages.  What’s your favourite?

The Future of Language

Recently, in the December 2015 issue of Popular Science magazine, there was an amazingly interesting article by John McWhorter, a linguist at Columbia University. In the article, McWhorter talked about how languages are changing–and being lost–due to technological advances and the way cultures have so much access to each other now. It was an eye opening discussion, where McWhorter claimed that of the six or seven thousand languages in the world today, in the next 100 hundred years, that number will drop to about six or seven hundred.  Wow.

More common languages will absorb the ones spoken in remote areas of the world, and instead of people needing to learn languages when they travel, McWhorter believes there will be instant-translation apps where people speak into their devices and the translation will be instantly communicated to listeners. That sure would make traveling a lot easier for people. But does it make us lazier?

You might think that the English language will become the dominant language spoken throughout the world, but this linguist claims it won’t be…not exactly.

“It’s going to be this weird language that originated from tribes drinking blood out of skulls somewhere in Denmark a very long time ago. That’s what we’re speaking now. The Chinese will be running the world, but they’ll be doing it in English, simply because English [got there first].”

John McWhorter

The emergence of a simplistic texting language on our phones is evidence enough for McWhorter to believe that our languages will also be reduced to less formal, and more creative versions of what we know now. Will that translate into how people speak, also? It will be interesting to see if that’s what happens.

To listen to more about this topic and the evolution of language, you might want to watch this fascinating TEDtalk by McWhorter from 2013.

Carmel vs. Caramel

I’m not going to say we have this conversation at work often because we eat a lot of candy, but is it pronounced “car-mel” or “caramel”?  The debate is on, and it turns out, it depends on where you live!

This is a great website that strives to show how word pronunciation differs, even just across the US. This is just the carmel/caramel example. Have fun looking through the maps.


How Do You Pronounce That?

I come across words everyday that I’d probably mumble into my shirt if anyone asked me to say them out loud. Unless you happen to hear a word or a name you’re unsure of, how else can you be sure of a pronunciation?

forvo is a fabulous site that allows people to ask for a word or name they don’t know how to pronounce, and someone will upload an audio file of that word so everyone can hear it. Isn’t that amazing? There are words in other languages, words you might find in a dictionary, but also names and places that you might be reading about in far-off countries. Readers can vote on the pronunciations they think are most accurate, so there won’t be any discrepancies because of local dialects etc.

Even if you’re not struggling with a word right now, it’s a fascinating site to peruse. You might even come away learning a thing or two!

Endangered Language

Distribution of language families and isolates...

Distribution of language families and isolates north of Mexico at first contact. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Most of us probably never think about the language we speak, unless we’re visiting another country and find it difficult to communicate.  But what if you spoke a language that had slowly died out with all of the people who ever knew it, until you were the only person who could still speak it?


Even worse…what if there was someone else who also knew the language, but refused to speak to you?


This isn’t such an improbable scenario.  In Mexico, for example,  there are many indigenous languages that are slowly fading away as the population ages.  One such language is called Ayapaneco—spoken in the town of Apaya, Mexico for generations. Unfortunately, the language is about to disappear as only two men still speak it…and they refuse to talk to each other.  Linguists have stepped in and are trying to convince the men to converse with each other so that the vocabulary, diction and accent may be recorded and studied, in hopes of preserving it. But the men just don’t seem to get along.


It’s not clear why the men refuse to talk to each other…maybe a feud or maybe they just don’t have a lot in common…but if no one is able to get them chatting, Ayapaneco is just one of many languages that will probably disappear in this generation. There are probably similar languages in the area, as is common with indigenous peoples, and linguists might be able to piece together some aspects in order to preserve parts of it. But it would be much easier if they had a little help, of course.


One might argue that the English language has evolved and changed so much through generations (and is still changing), that it might be hardly recognizable to someone who spoke it 500 years ago, let’s say. The advent of computers and the use of spell check and short forms and the like has certainly changed the written form. Could massive changes to the spoken word be far behind? Could it be that someday, someone will be lamenting over the loss of English?  It seems unlikely, I know, but it makes you stop and think about communication and language in a new way when you hear stories like this.  You can read more on the story of the Mexican village and the men who are willing to let their language die out, right here.


Would YOU refuse to talk to someone if you were the only two people who knew a language?