A Journey Through Cellular Anatomy

A Journey Through Cellular Anatomy

The year 1665: India’s Taj Mahal was completed 12 years ago; Newton will be inspired to see apples falling from a tree just over a year later ; and somewhere in London, architect and natural philosopher Robert Hooke will The thin wood slice was placed in the specimen holder of the microscope, and he observed a strange structure through the microscope.

“I observed very distinctly that this object was covered with pores throughout, like a honeycomb, but with irregularly shaped pores,” he wrote. “These pores, or cells… are really the first microscopic pores I’ve ever seen, and probably the first microscopic pores ever seen by man, because I’ve never seen any mention of them before. contributors or persons.”

Hooke discovered cells, plant cells to be exact. He actually coined the term, and he records that they resemble the dwellings of the Christian monks in a monastery he once visited. But the cells were dead, and his microscope wasn’t precise enough to see inside the cells. It wasn’t until 13 years later that anyone saw living cells up close.

Dutch businessman and scientist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek used a more sophisticated microscope of his own design to observe bacteria and protozoa for the first time. He called these single-celled organisms microzoans , Latin for “little animals.”

Hooke has long since died and is buried somewhere in the City of London Cemetery. He took the first steps towards what we now know as cell theory. Theoretically, every living organism on Earth consists of one or more cells.

Cells are the key units of structure and function in all living organisms. Every cell that has ever existed has been divided over and over again from cells that have ever existed, up to the 37.2 trillion cells that make up your body.

two different cell types

Cells are mainly divided into two types – prokaryotic cells and eukaryotic cells.

Prokaryotic cells do not have a nucleus. The “little animals” that Leeuwenhoek observed were prokaryotic cells. Bacteria and another group of cell families called archaea are classified as prokaryotes.

Cells present in plants and animals are called eukaryotic cells. This type of cell can be unicellular or multicellular.

recognize cells

But what are eukaryotic cells made of? Suppose you were to shrink down to the size of a eukaryotic cell, or even smaller, what would you see?

Imagine yourself getting smaller and the world around you getting bigger and eventually becoming a blur. As you zoom out, you start to focus on a set of structures, like the lattice that Hooke observed long ago.

Soon, you are in a certain cell. Now, some cells are more complex on the outside, and have appendages that other cells lack. Microvilli are one such feature.

Microvilli extend outward like fingers on the cell surface and are important for nutrient absorption. They also greatly expand the cell’s surface area without compromising its volume. Cilia extend even further than microvilli and can also push different substances along the cell surface.

Then there’s the flagella, which is a thin, tail-like structure that propels the entire cell, allowing the cell to swim!

cell membrane

All cells depend on the all-important cell membrane. It acts like a fence, allowing food and nutrients to enter while maintaining the contents of the cells .

Cell membranes are made of double layers of fatty acids called phospholipids. These fatty acid molecules are divided into a head and a tail. The head structure is called “hydrophilic structure”, which means it can be attracted by water. The tail structure is called “hydrophobic structure”, which means it can be repelled by water. This combination of head and tail is responsible for the structure and function of the cell membrane.

As you get smaller, you pass through cell membranes and start exploring cells. In simple terms, you can see that the bilayer structure of phospholipids is like a zipper, firmly held in place by the chemical attraction of the hydrophobic structure of its tail.

cytoplasm and cytoskeleton

Once you’ve gotten all the way inside the cell, you’ll see a medium called the cytoplasm. The cytoplasm contains a substance rich in amino acids and potassium called the cytosol. This liquid substance is also known as intracellular fluid.

You’ll also find a network that looks like a net or shelf, which is the cytoskeleton. It provides structural support to cells and allows substances to move within cells. The cytoskeleton is composed of three different types of protein fibers, which are microfilaments, intermediate fibers, and microtubules.

Microfilaments, the smallest protein fibers of the three, are composed of twisted strands of protein that can compress together to shorten the cell’s diameter. This compression often occurs in muscle cells to assist in muscle contraction.

Intermediate fibers provide the cellular framework and assist in the integration of twisted strands of proteins.

Microtubules are helical. When microtubules come together, they form a hollow cylinder. These cylinders help maintain cell shape and move organelles (another name for cellular building blocks) within the cell.

The substances they form are called centrosomes. Centrosomes are made up of structures called centrioles, which organize microtubules and provide the cell with extra structure, and they also assist in cell division during cell division.

Between the cytoplasm and the cytoskeleton, you can see the main supporting framework of the cell. You’ll also see some really weird structures, which are organelles. These important cellular components all have their specific functions.

endoplasmic reticulum

The first structure you can see that looks a lot like a series of elongated cavities is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). The endoplasmic reticulum is divided into two different types.

One type is the rough endoplasmic reticulum, which extends from the nucleus and has ribosomes attached to the outside of its membrane, giving it a rougher appearance. These ribosomes make something called a polypeptide chain, but that’s just a fancy name for a protein . Proteins produced by ribosomes are released into the ER, where they are processed and prepared for release into the cell. Upon release, ribosomes are transported into closed vesicles and shed from the rough endoplasmic reticulum, which is known as vesicular transport.

It’s worth noting that ribosomes are not organelles, but they are vital to cells. This is because they are where proteins are produced. They can float in the cytoplasm to reach other locations in the cell, or they can attach to the rough endoplasmic reticulum. Ribosomes are composed of two parts, the small subunit and the large subunit. The small subunit is responsible for reading ribonucleic acid (RNA), which contains instructions for assembling amino acids into polypeptide chains. The large subunit does the heavy lifting of actually assembling the polypeptide chain.

Another type is the smooth endoplasmic reticulum, which is another organelle with a membrane. But because it lacks ribosomes on the outside, it has earned the nickname “glossy”. The smooth endoplasmic reticulum contains enzymes that modify peptides, generate lipids and carbohydrates, and destroy toxins. Most of the lipids and carbohydrates that make up cell membranes are produced in the smooth endoplasmic reticulum.

golgi apparatus

Now you need to turn your attention to the Golgi apparatus, which definitely has the coolest name of any organelle. The Golgi apparatus is another organelle that modifies, packages and stores proteins.

It looks like a set of containers expanding outward from the center, getting bigger and bigger. Vesicular transport transports proteins from the ER to the Golgi apparatus. As proteins pass between containers in the Golgi apparatus, they are modified. Modifications can be made by adding or rearranging molecules with different enzymes, and sometimes by adding carbohydrates to make glycoproteins.

After passing through the final vessel, the protein is sequestered in another vesicle, a different vesicle called the secretory vesicle. The transport direction of most of these proteins is the cell membrane. They either become part of the cell membrane or are released outside the cell.


The Golgi apparatus is the basis for lysosome production. These vesicles shed from the Golgi organ and take over the cell’s garbage transport duties. Lysosomes are enclosed in a thin membrane that contains digestive enzymes that absorb cellular waste or recycle or convert defective organelles into waste. They are also crucial for protecting cells from attack by bacteria and viruses.


After going through the Golgi, you see the proteasome. These organelles manage the proteins already in the cell. They are distributed throughout the cytoplasm. The proteasome breaks down abnormal or misfolded proteins, as well as normal proteins that the cell no longer needs.

In the cytoplasm another protein called ubiquitin is placed on proteins marked by enzymes for recycling. The tagged proteins are then drawn into the proteasome and broken down by a process called proteolysis. During this process, the protein’s peptide bonds are broken, and the remaining peptide chains and amino acids are released into the cell for recycling .


On the rest of your journey, you’ll come across a bizarre structure called a peroxisome. Strictly speaking, it is not

Organelles are not enzymes either, but the word that best describes peroxisomes is protein complex.

They have membranes and also come out of the ER. Peroxisomes are responsible for breaking down long-chain fatty acids and amino acids. In the process, they produce a by-product, hydrogen peroxide, which is dangerous to cells because it reacts with many substances. Because of this, peroxisomes also carry enzymes that convert hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen, sort of like cleaning up their own garbage.


After passing through the peroxisomes, you’ll see a bean-shaped organelle called the mitochondria (collectively known as mitochondria). They are the ultra-high-energy power plants of the cell. They convert food particles entering the cell into a molecule called adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, which is the “energy flow” in the cell. ATP stores energy and transfers it to other parts of the cell .

Mitochondria have inner and outer membranes, and their numbers vary by cell type. In general, more active cells have more mitochondria. For example, liver cells contain thousands of mitochondria. In fact, aerobic exercise can increase the number of mitochondria in the cells that make up muscle. No wonder you have more energy if you exercise regularly.


Finally, you reach the nucleus. The nucleus is the largest structure in the cell, and its two membranes form the nuclear envelope.

The nuclear envelope, together with the pores on the surface of the membrane, wraps the nucleoplasm. While the nuclear envelope acts as a barrier, pores can open to allow certain molecules to pass in and out of the nucleus. The nucleoplasm is very similar to the cytoplasm, a plasma that separates the structures contained within the nuclear envelope.

Separated within the nuclear envelope is the nucleolus, which is composed of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), RNA, and proteins. The nucleolus is where ribosomes are made, and the proteins that ribosomes make, as mentioned above, are critical to healthy cell function.

As you get smaller, you start to notice the twisted double helix structure of your cells’ DNA . You want to reach out and touch it, and as you get smaller and closer to it, you finally reach it. For a split second, you’re back to your original volume, not sure if you’ve actually touched what you wanted to.

Somewhere in a green lawn in the City of London Cemetery, the first ray of sunlight of a new day falls on the young grass that is just sprouting. The grass seed’s cells, nourished by the rich soil and sunlight, divide and thrive in the cool morning air.

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Kidney protection tips 1

Kidney protection tips

A healthy diet and hydration are the cornerstones of nutrition , but how your body eliminates waste is just as important as what you eat. Your kidneys remove waste from your body, among other important and complex functions. Although we focus a lot of attention on the health of other specific organs, such as the heart and liver, learning how to nourish the kidneys is fundamental to optimal health.

What your kidneys do:

  • waste removal through urine
  • balance fluid levels
  • Release hormones to help maintain normal blood pressure
  • Activates Vitamin D for Bone Health
  • control red blood cell production

The kidneys regulate many of the body’s major functions to maintain overall health. That’s why kidney health is so important to keeping your body in top shape.

Learn about kidney function, the relationship between vitamin D and kidney health, and how to take care of your kidneys, including the nutrients you need for optimal health.

The role of the kidneys

Clench your hands into a fist, which is about the size of your kidney. You were born with two kidneys, located in the lower back, just below the border of the ribs. They are slightly different sizes, with your right kidney being smaller and sitting lower to give your liver room to move.

To make it easier for you to understand how the kidneys work, you can think of it this way: blood is filtered through the kidneys and returned to the circulatory system via the renal veins, and waste enters the bladder through the ureters.

We can gain a deeper understanding of the kidney from an anatomical perspective. Your kidneys are made up of millions of nephrons. The nephron is the basic unit of kidney structure and function. They filter plasma to produce urine while simultaneously absorbing water, sodium and glucose back into the circulatory system .

Each nephron consists of a renal corpuscle (the part of the kidney that filters blood) and a renal tubule (an auxiliary system that collects filtered blood). Blood first enters the kidney corpuscles and then to the filtering spaces called the glomeruli. The glomerulus has a special barrier that keeps blood cells, proteins, and large molecules in the blood, while pushing water, ions, and small molecules out of the blood. This is the first step in producing urine.

At this point, the soon-to-be urine contains most of the water and electrolytes that were previously in the blood, and the blood is therefore deprived of these nutrients. The kidney tubules return most of the water, electrolytes, and other nutrients to the blood, leaving behind water, urea, and other waste products.

This is one reason why staying hydrated is important. Without enough water, the kidneys will have a hard time filtering everything out and returning necessary nutrients to the bloodstream.

After filtration is complete, the blood leaves the kidneys through the renal veins and returns to the heart. Waste and toxins are drawn from the blood through the ureters to the bladder to be excreted in the form of urine.

not just filters

It is vital to maintain balance in life, and your kidneys help promote balance in the circulatory system. The kidneys help regulate the volume of extracellular fluid, which is important for ensuring blood flow to vital organs.

Extracellular fluids include interstitial fluid, plasma, and lymph. The kidneys also control osmotic pressure and ion concentration, ensuring that the extracellular fluid does not become too thin or too thick. A major contributor to proper fluid transport is osmotic pressure, the pressure that moves extracellular fluid across membranes.

This ensures consistent levels of key ions (charged atoms or molecules) such as sodium, potassium, and calcium . The kidneys also help regulate the pH of the plasma, which prevents the blood from becoming too acidic or alkaline.

Finally, the kidneys produce erythropoietin (EPO). Erythropoietin is the main component in the production of red blood cells. It acts like a shield, protecting red blood cells during infancy, which in turn stimulates stem cells in the bone marrow to increase production of extra red blood cells. Since red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body, maintaining proper levels of erythropoietin is extremely important to maintain the production of healthy new red blood cells.

Vitamin and Kidney Health

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in the skin in response to sunlight. The kidneys convert vitamin D into useful nutrients for the body. People can get vitamin D from two sources: exposure to ultraviolet B radiation from the sun and diet, such as food and nutritional supplements.

The kidneys pull vitamin D from the blood and send it to the skeletal system. Vitamin D is important for many reasons . An example is that it helps regulate calcium and phosphate levels in the body, maintaining healthy and normal levels. Specifically, vitamin D helps promote the intestinal absorption of healthy calcium. When you have optimal calcium levels in your body, it supports healthy bones, teeth and muscles.

By learning about vitamin D, you also better understand why learning how to take care of your kidneys benefits other vital organs and systems in your body.

Kidney protection tips

You know a little about how your kidneys work. Now, let’s explore how to maintain optimal kidney health. Taking care of the kidneys can benefit the rest of the body. Simple lifestyle changes can go a long way in promoting kidney health and improving overall health.

  1. Add water

Water is essential to good health, and it also helps the kidneys to function more efficiently. Drinking eight glasses of water a day helps the kidneys absorb the fluids necessary to rid the body of excess sodium and toxins.

However, eight glasses of water is not an absolute recommended amount. In reality, the exact amount of water your body needs depends on your health and lifestyle. An indicator of adequate fluid intake is straw-colored urine. If your urine is too dark, it could be a sign of dehydration; if it’s too clear, you’re drinking too much water.

  1. monitor blood pressure

The kidneys play a major role in regulating blood pressure. A healthy blood pressure reading is between 90 / 60 mmHg and 120 / 80 mmHg. Exceeding this index will be considered as elevated blood pressure. Your circulatory system and kidneys work together to maintain a balanced and healthy level of blood. If you have any questions about your blood pressure, please contact your doctor or healthcare professional.

  1. Maintain normal, healthy blood sugar

Keeping blood sugar in a normal healthy range helps maintain kidney and overall health. Your kidneys are already working hard to filter nutrients from your blood back into your body and remove waste products. Therefore, maintaining blood sugar in the normal range can make the kidneys work more smoothly.

  1. maintain regular exercise

While you can’t stretch your kidneys, you can maintain them by walking, swimming or biking for 150 minutes a week. From forest hikes to dancing, these can help you maintain your ideal weight and avoid putting extra strain on your kidneys. Being overweight can raise blood pressure and harm the kidneys. Regular exercise can have amazing benefits for your waistline and overall health .

  1. eat a healthy diet

Diet and exercise complement each other to protect the health of the body. But if you really value your kidneys, you can go on a low-sodium diet. The kidneys have a hard time filtering excess sodium from the body. Consider eating a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, fish and whole grains . Avoid foods that are bad for your kidneys, such as processed meats, too much dairy, and packaged foods.

  1. no smoking

You’ve probably heard a thousand reasons to quit smoking, and here’s one more: Nicotine is bad for blood pressure, so it’s bad for your kidney health.

Do you know?

  • You can live on only one kidney . You are born with approximately 1.5 million nephrons, approximately 750,000 nephrons per kidney. You only need 300,000 nephrons per day to filter your blood.
  • The heart pumps blood and the kidneys filter impurities . Your kidneys filter half a cup of blood every minute, or about 45 gallons of blood per day.
  • The two kidneys are not the same . The kidneys are asymmetrical organs. The right kidney is smaller and sits lower than the larger left kidney, leaving enough room for the liver to function.
  • artificial kidney . Dutch doctor Willem Kolff built the first dialysis machine out of sausage casings, orange juice cans and a washing machine. Uses the rotational power of the washing machine to filter the pumped blood.
  • Drink plenty of water . Too much water can cause hyponatremia, which is a symptom that occurs when the body is overhydrated, diluting the sodium that the kidneys can’t get rid of.
  • Kidney transplant . In 1954, Joseph E. Smith performed the first successful kidney transplant in Boston, Massachusetts.

Start taking care of your kidneys today

A kidney-healthy lifestyle supports overall health. A balanced diet combined with exercise is critical to maintaining kidney health. While maintaining the kidneys, it can also help other systems in the body. While you are protecting your kidneys, it also has great benefits for your digestive system, heart and immune system .

Our bodies are complex and complete, and the kidneys are important to maintaining your overall health. The kidneys are also delicate and complex organs that help keep the body in balance. Start by maintaining a healthy blood pressure within the normal range, which helps your kidneys function more smoothly.

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How to help your child to choose his modern language in college?

How to help your child to choose his modern language in college?

For a few years, the LV2 – or second living language – has been chosen from the 5th in France. In LV1 or LV2, English is compulsory. What about other languages? How to help your child to choose his second living language during his school career? 

Generally, the second living languages ​​offered are Spanish or German . Some establishments also allow you to learn Italian , while rare languages ​​such as Russian, Mandarin or Arabic are increasingly offered.

Above all, it is important not to fall into traditional prejudices and to say to oneself “my child is useless in languages” or “languages ​​are not his thing”. Languages ​​become fascinating for everyone as soon as we take an interest in the culture they convey. There is at least one foreign language made for every child. Here is a small practical guide to choose the language best suited to your desires and needs.

Spanish  : the preferred living language in college

As you probably already know, after English, Spanish is the favorite language of college students. A pleasing musicality, a structure close to French and the exoticism of South America are enough to explain this enthusiasm.

However, know that the fluency of Spanish is often overestimated . The conjugations are complex, more than in German for example! Your child will have to learn new tenses like the imperfect subjunctive, which has disappeared in French – or in any case very little used. Spanish is a language which is easy and quick to acquire the basics but which becomes more complex when it comes to mastering it to perfection.

Our advice: If your child mainly wants to focus on learning English and simply wants to acquire a few notions in an additional language, Spanish can be a very good choice.

German  : the unloved living language

This language needs more arguments to be defended, because German suffers from a bad reputation. Language ugly , difficult and a priori not very useful if we compare to the opportunities offered by Spanish. However, there is no more serious competitor to the language of Cervantes.

Strangely, a holiday in Spain is more of a dream than a stay across the Rhine. Going on a road trip to Andalusia, a city trip to Barcelona or a bad trip to Ibiza, it’s always better than visiting the port of Hamburg or the remains of the Berlin Wall, right? That’s a lot of trips for those who don’t have the guts to learn German. But do you really have to learn Spanish for many years to hope to bask in the sun on the Mediterranean coast and exchange a few words with traders?

“Yes, but Spanish is a language of the future  ! could retort ambitious parents, sensitive to the economic development of Latin America. And yes, the argument is valid! Outside of Germany, Austria, parts of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein and a handful of remote Belgian villages, opportunities to speak German are limited. But let’s not forget that German is the language of the present in Europe . And she still has a bright future ahead of her!

While many London economists regret Brexit, Frankfurt – which hosts the European Central Bank – is already dreaming of a new European capital of finance. Speaking German could guarantee a bright future for your child. Learning Spanish for Argentina is a bit like learning English for New Zealand. How many Hispanic people actually plan to go to South America? Conversely, how many of these Hispanics will be required to go to Germany one day or another? Germany is our biggest neighbour. And our best friend too! Your child’s future will certainly be played out in Europe and on this continent, there are 100 million German speakers against 45 million Spaniards.

Our advice: If your child wishes to honor the Franco-German friendship, does not tend to take the easy way out and is possibly considering a career abroad, German is the perfect language!

Italian  : the discreet living language

For the French, learning a Latin language is an easy choice. Too often, Spanish overshadows Italian . If we rely only on the numbers, then no hesitation: Spanish has around 500 million native speakers compared to 70 million for Italian. But numbers aren’t everything… Spanish is the second most studied language in France, while Italian speakers are rarer . Learning Italian is an axis of differentiation that requires little effort. Moreover, once Italian is acquired, understanding Spanish and even learning it becomes easier!

Our advice  : Italian, an alternative to Spanish to be preferred when possible.

Rare languages: differentiation

Mandarin, Portuguese, Arabic… many other living languages ​​are taught in college. But much less often than “the three classics” mentioned above. If given the opportunity, your child has every interest in choosing one of these rare languages.

The choice can of course be motivated by personal reasons. Thus, if you have Portuguese, Russian or North African origins but have little or poor command of the national language of the country, this can allow your child to reconnect with their roots. Either way, a rare language will give your child an indisputable head start . In a country where mastering English remains problematic, that of Russian or Japanese can surprise and come with interesting opportunities.

Our advice: A rare language represents an intelligent and differentiating choice which will help your child in his future, both professionally and personally.

Now it’s up to you to discuss it with your child. A living language is not chosen lightly. Finally, let’s not forget what matters most: motivation  !

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What is glottophobia, and how to fight against it?

What is glottophobia, and how to fight against it?

Inclusiveness, progress, curiosity, humility, discovery and open-mindedness: these are some of the values ​​that make Babbel and our experts proud . These are the values ​​that give us more energy every day to pass on our passion for languages ​​and cultures to you, and allow you to become who you want to become, without judgment or distinction.

Much more than a simple commercial posture, these values ​​are our pillars. Just like your passions, your culture, your place of origin or your language, your accent is a trademark, an important element of your identity that nothing and no one should be able to prevent you from displaying proudly.

So that this pride can never be questioned by anyone, we have chosen in the following article to speak to you in a simple word. A rarely used word, little known and yet heavy with meaning: the word ”  glottophobia  “.

What is glottophobia?

The word glottophobia is a neologism coined by French linguist Philippe Blanchet. The term is based on the association of two Greek roots . On the one hand, γλῶττα ( glotta ), the language in ancient Greek, which is also found in polyglot for example. On the other hand, the suffix -phobia which comes from φόβος ( phobos ), fear.

If the structure of the word can be scary, so can the reality it defines. Glottophobia refers to linguistic discrimination , that is to say the fact of excluding an individual or a population for an appropriation of the language that deviates from the norms. It should not be confused with the notion of glossophobia , synonymous with logophobia , which refers to the fear of speaking in public. Glottophobia is based on an ideology of language that only accepts a correct form, considered superior. Other ways of speaking, especially when they involve accents, are then considered inferior and a source of shame.

The Greek etymology of the term glottophobia may seem ironic since βάρϐαρος ( barbaros ), which qualified people who did not speak ancient Greek, gave the word barbarian in French. A concrete example of glottophobia which shows that if the term is recent, the discrimination it names has no age. There is another illustration in the Bible, with the episode of shibboleth , a word that only the Gileadites knew how to pronounce correctly. They subjected their enemies to a pronunciation test. If the sound “schi” was pronounced “si”, then the error was interpreted as proof of their foreign origin and the person had their throat cut!

Discrimination by accent

In French alone, there are many accents . Accent from the North, Alsatian accent, Corsican accent, Toulouse or Marseille accent… not to mention the Belgian, Swiss or Quebec accent . Beyond regions, an accent can also betray membership in a community or social class, such as an aristocratic accent or a suburban accent. Glottophobes rarely realize the scope of their teasing and ironic remarks. To reject an accent is to reject an origin, social or geographical. Like any discrimination, the consequences can be dramatic.

But glottophobia goes beyond simply disregarding mispronounced vowels, distorted consonants, or spurious eh at the end of sentences. To say that German is an ugly language is also a form of glottophobia. More than the phobia of an accent, glottophobia can then be the rejection of a foreign language or outside a community.

Glottophobia, a universal discrimination?

Unfortunately, glottophobia knows no borders. The concept is of French origin, but the reality is universal. In Iran, Guilaki is denigrated in the face of Persian, while Coptic disappeared from Egypt following pressure from Arabic. And if the situation has improved today, Tamil has long been repressed in Sri Lanka to promote only Sinhalese.

The same goes for Belarusian under the USSR, which was considered a dialect of Russian and not a full-fledged Slavic language. In Minsk, the recognition of the national language has only recently taken place. We can also mention the glottophobic policy pursued for several decades by the United Kingdom by encouraging the practice of English to the detriment of Celtic languages ​​in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Not to mention the contempt of the French during the colonial era for the pronunciation of Cameroonians or Algerians.

In view of history, we also see that wars and other ethnic conflicts are often conducive to the expression of glottophobia. The hatred of culture becomes the hatred of language. In 1937, the presence of many Haitians in the sugar cane fields of the Dominican Republic gave rise to an often forgotten ethnic massacre . French-speaking workers unable to correctly pronounce the word perejil ( parsley in Spanish) were then unmasked and massacred with machetes. A modern-day Shibboleth that claimed tens of thousands of victims!

In Bosnia-Herzegovina, people only speak Bosnian since the break with Serbia. In Montenegro, Montenegrin was born with the independence of the country. In fact, Serbian, Montenegrin and Bosnian are one and the same language. As for the decline of Yiddish since 1945, it is closely linked to the fate reserved for the Jews of Central Europe during the Second World War. More recently, in China, the repression of the Uyghurs also involves the repression of their language, related to Turkish and Uzbek and without any connection with Mandarin.

 ” Do you speak French ? » 

Implicitly, the question of glottophobia raises a broader question: what do expressions such as “  speak English  ”, “  speak Spanish  ” or “speak French  ” mean? In the case of French, it was the vagaries of history that imposed it as the national language of France. But it could have been otherwise, just as Castilian became “Spanish” to the detriment of Catalan. Or Venetian or Neapolitan become the national language of Italy instead of speaking Tuscan.

As these few examples underline – there would still be a lot to say on the subject – glottophobia hides a linguistic domination, often unconscious and discriminating. Like all discrimination, glottophobia is an injustice. To denounce it is to create a more favorable context for language learning to turn yesterday’s glottophobes into tomorrow’s polyglots!

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French modal verbs how to use them well

French modal verbs: how to use them well?

It’s not just in English , Spanish or German that modal auxiliaries are important . They are as essential as they are frequent in French! Today we suggest you review the use of the most common French modal verbs: duty , power and want . These little verbs are also called “modal auxiliaries” because they are often followed by an infinitive verb. 

French modal verbs are essential in everyday life: thanks to them, you can express obligation, possibility, permission and will. Indispensable, we tell you!

To have, to be able, to want: how to use the three French modal verbs?

1. Use the verb must to express obligation or probability

In French, unlike English, obligation and necessity are expressed with a single modal verb: duty . With duty , we can express must , have to and need to at the same time . It’s practical, isn’t it? So who said French grammar was complicated?

Example : 

  • You have to take a vacation my heart, you have to rest!

-> You must take a vacation honey, you need to rest!

  • have to take Lola to her dance class at 5:00.

-> I have to bring Lola to her dance class at 5:00.

Duty can also express probability, for example: Anne-Sophie is not there, she must be sick. Anne-Sophie isn’t here, she must be sick.

Have you noticed that French modal verbs are used without a preposition? Indeed, the infinitive verb is placed after. She must be… 

How to conjugate duty in the present: 

  • I’ve got to
  • you must
  • he/she/it must
  • we must
  • you have to
  • they must 

The pronunciation is the same for the three singular persons: I, you, he/she/on {dwa}. It’s getting easier and easier, isn’t it?

2. Use the verb can to express possibility or permission

Pouvoir works like can in English. It expresses what is possible in a particular context. 

Example : 

  • can bring wine and cheese tonight.

-> I can bring wine and cheese tonight .

Power can also express the permission given by someone. 

  • Passengers can use their computer during the flight.

-> Passengers can use their computer during the flight.

Warning: unlike can , power does not express a learned skill. For this, we use the verb to know . 

Note the difference with these examples: 

  • know how to swim.

-> I can swim (because I learned how to).

  • can swim. 

-> I can swim (because it’s possible to: the water isn’t too cold, there is no shark…).

How to conjugate power in the present:

  • I can 
  • you can 
  • he/she/it can
  • we can
  • you can
  • they can 

Again, for the first three people, the verb is pronounced the same: I, you, he/she/it {p ø }

3. Use the verb to want to express a will 

Want expresses the will, like want to in English.

Example :

  • Do you want to go to the restaurant or the cinema?

-> Do you want to go to the restaurant or to the cinema?

Here, to want is also followed by the infinitive, as in English , but without a preposition!

Good to know As you want means as you wish in English. It’s a very useful expression when you can’t decide! 

How to conjugate to want in the present:

  • I want
  • you want
  • he/she/it wants
  • we want
  • you want
  • they want 

That’s all you need to know to use French modal verbs well… and to explain them to your friends who are learning the language of Molière!

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Wishing Happy Holidays around the world

Wishing Happy Holidays around the world

In December, the “good weekend”, “good holidays” and other “see you soon” are quickly forgotten. We tend to adapt our greetings to this particular time of year. Francophones are not the only ones in this case!

And if you know a little about the United States or have lived there, you may know that New Year’s greetings can be a political issue . It happens, for example, that people working in contact with the public are answered with their “happy holidays!” a scathing “Merry Christmas  ”. It is still limited to the United States. In the UK , for example, saying “Merry Christmas” is completely normal. Around the world, some other languages ​​don’t even have an expression that directly translates to “happy holidays,” as you’ll find out right away. In any case, if you are in doubt, you can always let the other person take the initiative.

Here’s how to wish happy holidays around the world (or in thirteen languages, at least), with translations for “happy holidays” and “happy new year”.

Happy New Year wishes in thirteen languages


Happy New Year ! — ¡Happy fiestas!

Good year ! — ¡ Feliz Año Nuevo!


Happy New Year ! — Happy Holidays!

Good year ! —Happy New Year!


Happy New Year ! — Frohe Feiertage!

Good year ! ” Frohes neues Jahr!”


Happy New Year ! — Buone party!

Good year ! — Buon anno!


Happy New Year ! — Boas Festas!

Good year ! — Feliz ano novo!


Happy New Year ! — God fair!

Good year ! — Godt nytt år!

Good to know: the phrase “  God ferie!” actually means something like “happy holidays” in Norwegian, but it ‘s  the closest thing to “Happy New Year!” “. You should especially hear “God jul!”  nationwide in December .


Happy New Year ! — Glædelig højtid!

Good year ! — Godt nytår!

Good to know: Our didactics expert Peter Sørensen, who is Danish, translated “Happy New Year’s Eve!” but he tells us that there is no real Danish equivalent to this formula. Most of the time, you will hear “Merry Christmas” (Glædelig jul!) instead. He also tells us that the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent greeting cards in English with the phrase “Season’s Greetings” between 1998 and 2010, but that there is no never had a religiously neutral card in Danish.


Happy New Year ! — God hey!

Good year ! — Gott nytt år!

Good to know:   “God helg! is  not widely used these days, so you should rarely hear it in Sweden. On the other hand, there are other end-of-year greetings in Swedish! In the two days after Christmas, you will often hear “God fortsättning!” , which means “good continuation”. Closer to New Year’s Eve, we also hear “Gott slut!” , which means “good ending! ” »


Happy New Year ! — Fijne feestdagen!

Good year ! — Gelukkig nieuwjaar!


Happy New Year ! — Wesołych Świąt!

Good year ! — Szczęśliwego Nowego Roku!


Happy New Year ! — Весёлых праздников! ( Veselykh prazdnikov! )

Good year ! — С Новым годом! ( S Novym godom! )


Happy New Year ! — Selamat berlibur!

Good year ! — Selamat tahun baru!


Happy New Year ! — İyi nibble!

Good year ! — Mutlu yıllar!

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Spoonerisms, mondegreens and other common language errors

Spoonerisms, mondegreens and other common language errors

Everyone makes occasional mistakes while speaking. Even if you’ve been speaking French since birth, that won’t stop you from tripping over a sentence every once in a while . Although these slip-ups may seem random, there are certain mistakes that tend to repeat themselves . So much so that they even have names, such as spoonerisms (mistakes, errors that occur when speaking) and mondegreens (errors that occur when listening). We decided to examine these categories of linguistic faults to see what they are and why they occur. Here are the stories behind the many missteps from our mouths. 

Spoonerisms (or contrepèteries)

Definition These are two sounds that are interchanged in a sentence. While spoonerisms are usually a mistake, they are sometimes used to create a fun pun, as in Shel Silverstein’s Runny Babbit .

Example: Say “the heaviest rod” instead of “the longest day”.

Where does this name come from ? Spoonerisms are named after William Archibald Spooner , who held the office of donat Oxford University. He was a well-liked man, with amusing eccentricities: he often mixed up the letters, which is why his name became forever attached to this phenomenon. You can find plenty of quotes attributed to him on the internet – most calling for a toast to the “queer old dean” instead of the “dear old queen” – but most of the time, they are inaccurate. Although Spooner is proven to have made some funny mistakes, many of the quotes supposedly from his origin are fabricated in the same way as many quotes wrongly attributed to Winston Churchill or Mark Twain.

Why do they occur?How your brain turns ideas into words is complicated, and there’s still a lot of research to be done on the whole process. However, it seems that spoonerisms occur because of a problem in your “speech plan”. A speech plane is basically the plane your brain makes to move your mouth to make sounds that convey what you want to say. When you say “chocolate,” for example, your brain has to tell your mouth how to move from the “ch” sound to the “k” sound, to the “l” sound, with vowels in between. This process is usually smooth: you’ve probably never had to worry about where to put your tongue and when, but sometimes your brain gets confused. And these confusions are often due to the fact that you havetwo possible speech planes and your brain isn’t sure which to use, then it splits the difference. Occasionally, spoonerism will result.


Definition It’s when you hear something that’s incorrect, but it still ends up making sense to you. Often they perform with music or poetry.

Example: A famous example is Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Rain”, where the phrase is “Scuse me while I kiss the sky”, but many people hear “Scouse me while I kiss this guy”.

Where does this name come from ? The name “mondegreen” comes from a 1954 essay by Harper , in which author Sylvia Wright mentions having misheard a line from the poem “The Bonnie Earl O’ Moray.” The line actually said “They hae slain the Earl o’ Moray / And laid him on the green”, but she had heard “And Lady Mondegreen (And Lady Mondegreen). In this reading, it would be a double murder, instead of murder and burial.

Why do they occur? There is some debate about the causes of mondegreens. Most psychologists agree that this often happens in music because it is a one-sided medium, there is often very little context, and singers and poets use words and phrases that everyone world does not know. The disagreement centers on how the brain produces poor hearing. Steven Connor , professor of English at the University of Cambridge, says that if your brain can’t make sense of a word, it will just fill in what makes the most sense. On the other side, psychologist and linguist Steven Pinkerhas often said that mondegreens makes less sense than the original sentence. This is why, according to him, mondegreens are not necessarily what makes the most sense, but rather what the brain wants to hear the most. Either way, they’ve become a weird cultural phenomenon.


Definition Much like mondegreens, eggcorns occur when a common phrase is replaced with one that is similar or identical in sounding.

Example: Say “pre-Madonna” instead of “prima donna”. 

Where does this name come from ? The word was coined by linguist Geoffrey Pullum in 2003. It is itself an eggcorn from the word “acorn”. 

Why do they occur? While misnomers are word replacements that make a statement totally absurd, an eggcorn tends to make at least some sense. The term ‘deep-seated’, for example, is often replaced by ‘deep-seeded’. Although not technically correct, it is pronounced exactly the same way by Americans, and the meaning of the original term (that something is particularly deep) is still there. It also happens that the eggcorn occurs because a sentence is obsolete, and the speaker therefore does not know the original term. For example, people call something the “end” instead of the more appropriate term “knell”, because who still says “knell”?

Missed acts

Definition These are errors in language that are caused by a person’s unconscious mind sliding to the surface. Today, the term has been generalized by some to refer to any error in language.

Example: Misdeeds don’t have many general examples because they’re supposed to relate to the innermost thoughts of a single speaker. For an example from pop culture, there’s an episode of Friends where Ross marries Emma. However, during his vows, he says he would “take Rachel”, which is the name of his ex-girlfriend. The implication in the episode is that he still had deep feelings for Rachel, and so the mistake ruined his marriage.

Where does this name come from ? Sigmund Freud, the famous 20th century psychologist from Vienna, Austria, is renowned for linking actions to deep, unrecognized desires. This phrase is taken from his work in Psychopathology of Everyday Life , a book which contains an exhaustive list of errors which he believes are of great importance.

Why do they occur? Although he is certainly a giant in the field of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud is today largely discredited. Cognitive psychologists tend to believe that, more often than not, there are more innocent explanations for slips (some of which are mentioned in other sections of this article). People are more likely to make mistakes when they’re tired or distracted, which means sometimes the brain, like any other part of the body, just makes mistakes. But there’s something seductive about the idea that someone’s true feelings can be conveyed through a misplaced expression.

But if Freudian misdeeds are a real phenomenon, they are very difficult to test. How do you research a person’s innermost thoughts? Well, in 1979 they decided to give it a try with a strange study. The researchers gathered a number of “heterosexual men”, who were divided into three groups. The first group, the control group, was met by a middle-aged teacher, and group members were asked to repeat word pairs designed to encourage spoonerisms, such as saying “mack bud” (corn bud) instead of “back mud”. The second group did the same, but instead of a middle-aged professor, they were greeted by a lab assistant wearing “a very short skirt and some sort of translucent blouse.” The second group was more inclined to make sexual counterpoints [“fast passion” instead of “past fashion”], but they made the same number of mistakes overall. The third group was back with the middle-aged teacher, but they were told there was a risk of getting an electric shock at some point during the study, although that didn’t actually happen. . The electrified third group, like the enticed second group, made more errors related to their stimulus [‘cursed wattage’ instead of ‘worst cottage’]. The results seem to fit the theory that people’s mistakes are influenced by what’s on their mind. made more errors related to their stimulus [‘cursed wattage’ instead of ‘worst cottage’]. The results seem to fit the theory that people’s mistakes are influenced by what’s on their mind. made more errors related to their stimulus [‘cursed wattage’ instead of ‘worst cottage’]. The results seem to fit the theory that people’s mistakes are influenced by what’s on their mind.

So there is some evidence that if something is particularly weighing you down, it could cause some sort of error in your speech. But the vast majority of errors probably don’t have such a solid subtext. When you ask someone to give you ‘pashed motato’ (instead of ‘mashed potato’), it’s not because there’s something in your subconscious has swapped the letters. But even without psychological underpinnings, verbal slips can be a source of entertainment.

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