How do you Say “Butterfly” in Malayalam?

Photo by James Zainaldin

We have a history of sharing butterfly photos here, primarily from Kerala (ചിതശലഭം, by the way, is Malayalam script for “citaśalabhaṁ,” or butterfly) and Costa Rica (“mariposa” being the Spanish name for the insects) but also in miscellaneous nature posts by our contributors. We also have a bit of a connection to the Smithsonian Institution, and are always happy to hear about friendly, creative polyglots, in this case from the New York Times:

Amid Butterflies, a Bit of a Lingua Franca at the Natural History Museum

 20, 2015

On a recent Sunday, Holly Tooker stood by the transparent wall inside the Butterfly Conservatory, at the American Museum of Natural History. It was, as always, 81 degrees with 78 percent humidity, and it had been a busy morning. Nearby, a giant Danainae butterfly perched on a

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Top 3 Words to Avoid When Talking Shop with Architects

We are working in Cochin and sometimes I feel like I am speaking two different languages. I’m not talking about struggling with mixing English and Malayalam. I’m not talking about scratching my head each time I encounter an Indian head shake/nod (“Wait- was that a yes or a no?”). I’m talking about the client’s language vs. the architect’s language.

This internship really is a “living laboratory.” I am getting a chance to sit on the client side and discuss ideas with the architects that will push Raxa Collective’s vision forward. Crist and Amie have worked with the design team side by side on each project and I am starting to understand how they think, how to make sure my drawings, renderings, and presentations can be clearer, and more. Sitting in on these design meetings in which the architect and clients discuss, propose, discuss, present, discuss, discuss, and discuss some more, I realize…

It’s like talking shop at an auto repair.

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Learning a New Language: Malayalam

Many Cornell “hotelies” are multilingual; not only bilingual but often speaking three or four languages. Their coursework is in English, they may speak Spanish or French from high school education, and Chinese helps as the number of Chinese travelers increase every year. For example, my good friend from the Cornell Hotel School speaks Spanish because she is from Venezuela, speaks Chinese because her family is a Chinese-origin, speaks English just like all my classmates, and maybe she speaks some other languages that I don’t even know about. Similarly, I speak English, Korean, and some Spanish and Mandarin. So, as an hotelier, I called myself a multilingual and thought I could easily communicate with people anywhere I go. Until I arrived in Kerala.

Learning Malayalam is the first time in my life trying to learn a language that has a totally different alphabets and pronunciation.  So the experience is totally different from learning English, Spanish, or French. One of my colleagues here learned Hindi before she arrived in Kerala for her studies but Malayalam is so different from Hindi that it doesn’t help her communicate. The one thing that saved all of us (Interns from US) is that English is an official second language in Kerala so all of the resort staffs here speak English pretty well. However, most of them speak Malayalam to each other during work and speak English only with foreigners, so I thought that learning Malayalam would be a good idea to get to know the culture and people better.

My first step in learning Malayalam started with memorizing some simple words and phrases so that I can initiate conversation with everyone.  So our journey of learning Malayalam started by asking around for some Malayalam lessons.

Ayuraveda Therapists & Receptionist

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A Worldly Point of View

Emory's Language Lab

Diversity in American universities is on the rise: just a little under a quarter (23%) of Harvard’s undergraduate enrollment consists of international students. At Columbia University, over a quarter (26%) of the university’s enrollment are international students. The story is the same at other top schools around the nation. UCLA, Boston University, Cornell and NYU all boast international student levels at around 15%. Here at Emory, the picture is roughly the same. Most of these international students in American universities hail from Asian countries, but there is plenty of exchange from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and other parts of the world as well.

At Emory, many international students specifically come from China, India, South Korea, and Japan. Having spoken to these foreign exchange students, it is clear that international admissions to a top-20 American university are incredibly competitive, even more so than they are here. One friend told me that he was the only student from his entire town (a suburb of Calcutta, so quite a lot of competition) to attend a top-30 American school; even with his extremely impressive credentials Continue reading