Wednesday, 30 December 2009

X is for...


I think of myself as a xenophile, a person who is attracted to that which is foreign, especially people, cultures and manners.

Now, the first thing to start with if you want to be a proper xenophile who will meet a lot of foreign people and experience the different cultures and manners is to learn a different language. The first language I learned was Dutch, which enables me to communicate with people from the Netherlands, Belgium, Northern France (yes, there are a few people still speaking Flemish there), South Africa, Surinam, Aruba, Curaçao, St Eustatius, Saba, Bonaire, St Maarten and even some older people in Indonesia. Later on I learned to speak German, English, French and a bit of Italian.

Speaking a different language doesn't mean a thing of course if you then don't use it. When I am in a country of which I do speak the language, I will use it. They know I am not from that country by my accent (Great Britain perhaps excluded) and will then help me if I get stuck, because I make the effort. I get to spend time with people I would otherwise never even have met and they show me where to go, how to do it. They give me little tips and tricks to do my job better, or just ideas for great days out for myself.

I've spent a week at an Italian friend's place, spending time with her family, eating the fantastic food her Mum prepared and even helping to make tortellini! I met her Nonna and Nonno (grandparents) and was invited to her wedding several years later. I have English friends where I have stayed. I've eaten their food and they have even asked me to become godmother to their lovely daughter A!

I lived in Yougoslavia (when it still was), Italy, France, Belgium and England and I want to move to Canada. I've met people through my work and through my blog and they all have a different story to tell. But in the end everyone's story is the same: everybody wants to be happy and healthy, no matter where they live. And whether they eat pickled cold cooked cauliflower or bangers and mash, whether they drink Palinka or Schnapps, whether they live in Paris or in Denver, they have stories which can be incredibly interesting!

For more X words from around the world, please check out ABC Wednesday and join in the fun!

PS: If you missed coming back to my blog for Christmas, here's the link for a variation on the well-known song: The Twelve Days of Christmas.


  1. I like your header photo. Wow, you know allot of languages. I know only English!

  2. That sounds like so much fun! I would love to be able to learn another language but I have great difficulty. My husband speaks three languages - I think he thinks I'm hopeless too, lol.

  3. neat post! How interesting, you and your languages, wish I had more than english under my belt!

  4. Hats off to you, especially since I don't even speak one language very well.

  5. I once learned English, French, German (and a little Spanish). Sadly, nowadays it is mostly English. The others are mostly forgotten due too disuse.

    Happy New Year - with more languages!

  6. Very interesting post and which is true as you type:-)
    It's fun to travel, meet people and other cultures.
    Wish you a Happy New Year!

  7. We hear a lot about xenophobes but not much about your much more attractive variety.

  8. I have to agree with you--if you learn another language you must use it. I was almost fluent in German in my college days, but now I have trouble saying anything more than "how are you" in German. I wish I could remember more.

    I did check out your Christmas parody--hilarious! And I love your header photo--I have a cat who looks almost like yours. Wishes for a very happy New Year, Mara!

  9. I am a little like you ! I started with German, which is my mothertongue. When I when my parents moved to Brussels I had to learn french, then I always worked for American companies and improved my English which was very helpful when my son lived for 10 years in London and my aunt in the States. I married an Italian and learned Italian with the Inlaws. I understand very well dutch and my DIL is dutch, living in Amsterdam. We speak English together. My cats meow the same languages but only old Lisa also knows flemish, lol !

  10. Thanks for this word. How did I not know the word xenophile?! I too am one.
    Nice story.
    I think it is fun that Dutch has Yiddish words. :)
    My favorite rabbi in Jerusalem is from Amsterdam.
    Have a good new year with many new friends and maybe a new language.

  11. I wish I knew languages. A bit of high school Spanish has helped me out a few times. I love this post and all the interesting things you wrote about. That's what makes blogging so much fun. I get to talk to and learn about so many different parts of the world.

  12. You amaze me my friend and teach me so much. You are one of the neatest friends I have and I cherish our long distant relationship. Thank you for all you have taught me and shown me on your blog. You are special to my heart! Happy New Year. I cant wait for the New Year(s) to come and learn from you.

  13. I'm fond of other cultures, but I'm quite inept at learning new languages.
    I was hoping someone would do xenophile after Anthony North did xenophobe.

  14. How wonderful to know so many languages. I tried to learn the most basic phrases for places I visited and found the people to be creative and helpful in conversation. Excellent X. Happy New Year!

  15. What an interesting life you lead! And how talented you are to have learned so many languages!

    I learned very basic French at school, and still remember some. I can read parts of labels and instruction manuals, but I can't speak very much. I tried learning German but found it very difficult, and didn't know anyone who spoke German to practice with. Now I'm learning Italian because Son No. 1's girlfriend is Italian, and he's learning too. I am making some progress at last!


  16. Great choice..I love to learn something new...Your cat looks like my two cats...Michelle


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