What a rollercoaster start to the year it’s been! Since Christmas, HBO Max treated us to a nostalgia-packed Harry Potter 20th Anniversary reunion (we’re not crying, you’re crying 😭). The Australian Open has kicked off in spectacular fashion (and not just because of the Novak drama 👀). News dropped that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson may or may not have attended that garden party. And, the build-up to Chinese New Year is officially ON - we can’t wait to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. To top all this off, ol’ Mercury’s in retrograde.
But in particular, these language and culture-related stories caught our eye.
New year’s resolutions is so last year
We hate to break it to you, but it’s 2022. Or as we like to call it, 2020 take three. We can’t quite believe we’ve entered a third year with covid still hanging around. But in a way, it could be a good thing.
It’s believed ancient Babylonians were the first to declare ‘new year, new me’ around 4,000 years ago. Their resolutions would be along the ‘I’ll pay back the silver I owe’ and ‘I’ll work extra hard on my crops’ lines. In return, they believed the gods would bring them good luck. These days, we’re more about saving money, taking up new hobbies, and the classic ‘I’ll go to the gym, I swear’. But what if, this year, we just give ourselves a break?
2020 was bad, 2021 kicked us while we were down, and 2022 hasn’t gotten off to the virus-free start we were all hoping for. Do we really want to make it harder on ourselves by aiming for a total personal rebrand? We’re not saying it’s bad or unhealthy to have goals - humans are goal-driven beings by nature - but if the last few years have taught us anything, it should be that life can change so fast that having set-in-stone (or written-on-the-fridge) resolutions just isn’t a rewarding way to live. Instead, let’s be thankful for the little wins that happen every day. We should take more care over the small things that are happening in the here and the now, and the people who are there with us to experience them.
Ultimately, it can only boost your mental health and confidence to take the pressure off and focus on realistic, achievable goals, without the constraints of a yearly time frame. After all, it J. R. R. Tolkien took a whopping 17 years to finish The Lord of the Rings - did he get to December 31st and panic every time? Probably not. What we’re really saying is do what works for you.
Words with Friends gets a bigger, badder, and more addictive brother.
Wordle, the new kid on the ‘super-frustrating-but-I-can’t-stop-playing’ block, has taken the world by storm. It’s an online brain teaser that challenges you to uncover a randomly generated five-letter word in six guesses.
You start by popping in any five letter word you can think of - the game tells you if you’ve got any letters from the correct word, and if they’re in the right place. You then have 5 other tries to get it right - once you’ve nailed the right word (or failed dismally), you can share your results with friends and see how long it took them to guess it. Easy enough, right? Pleasant, even? WRONG.
The twist is you can only play once a day. That’s it. It draws you in, gets you trembling with rage because you can’t think of ANY OTHER five letter word, and then after your eventual sweet, sweet victory (or crippling defeat) shuts you down for another 24 hours.
The good news is that a pair of crossword wizards have found two *almost* foolproof strategies to win nearly every time, and they’re pretty intriguing. Go on, check ‘em out. We won’t tell!
“Pardon my French!” - Emily, in Paris. Probably.
Emily in Paris, the ever-popular Netflix show, has dropped its second season. Fans are being treated to another glimpse into the life of Lily Collins’ endearing-yet-ditzy character. One thing has been clear from the moment her designer-clad feet touched down on French soil: Emily definitely should’ve had a go at learning basic French before she moved to the City of Love. If she had, her coworkers wouldn’t have judged her as an ignorant American or nicknamed her ‘la plouc’ - loosely translated, this means they think she’s a hillbilly - and she could have avoided multiple mix-ups.
Interestingly, Lily Collins can actually speak French IRL. By playing Emily, she’s found herself losing her fluency. Yikes! Someone send her the link to download Memrise.
Dogs know when you're speaking a different language
Nope, we’re not barking mad - it turns out our canine pals can actually distinguish different languages. Scientists in Budapest trained eighteen dogs, who’d only ever heard one language, to lay in a brain scanner and listen to a children’s book recited in both Spanish and Hungarian. The researchers recorded that each one set off different activity in the dogs’ brains, showing for the first time ever that an animal can make the distinction between languages. Our only question is: how come they don’t understand ‘put that down!’
And that’s all for this edition of What’s the Word? Every month we round up some of the coolest things that are happening around the world and share them with you in the hope they’ll quench your language and general knowledge-seeking thirst just a little bit. Catch you next time!