Posts Tagged ‘Lunar New Year’

Several celebratory days are coming up fast, so they had our attention during the International Conversation Café on Thursday. The first is Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) on February 13th.  Durham has its annual parade downtown. Perhaps you’ll come out and join in the fun?  Music starts around 6 pm, the parade runs from about 7 to 7:30 pm, and then there’s free music in several Durham venues. Scroll down on this page for details.

Valentine’s Day takes center stage on Wednesday. Our conversation participants mentioned seeing red hearts, chocolates, and flowers taking over grocery stores. One participant mentioned that this celebratory day is protested in some cultures, sometimes rather humorously (because love can be rather fickle) and sometimes violently. Wishing you a peaceful one whatever you do.

And then there’s Lunar New Year! Shows featuring Duke ASA LNY18music and dance to celebrate the year of the dog will be hosted by the Asian Student Association this week. If you have a Duke id, you can RSVP.

Our next International Conversation Café is Thursday, February 15 at 12:30. Come join us in Griffith Boardroom, the Bryan Center. Sponsored by the Thompson Writing Program & Studio.

Enjoy your celebrating ~ and see you soon!

Rene D. Caputo
Duke Lecturing fellow and ESL specialist


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(photo credit:  Rene D. Caputo)

Happy solar and lunar New Year to all!

Our International Conversation Café is back in full swing for the semester. In our two opening gatherings, topics discussed included the election, the inauguration, other current events, and New Year’s celebrations.

The tradition in the United States is to celebrate the New Year’s arrival on January 1, but for many cultures here and around the world, the year begins on other dates. Celebrants of lunar New Year (sometimes called Chinese New Year) ushered in the year of the Fire Rooster this weekend.

Duke University has some belated celebrations of the Lunar New Year in February.

Other New Year’s festivities around the world include a Sri Lankan solar festival in April, Rosh Hashanah in September/October, and Diwali in October/November.

Wishing you and yours well no matter when you celebrate.  Join us this Thursday at 12:30 in the Bryan Center’s Griffith Boardroom for our next discussion group.

~ Rene D. Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist

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We had our second International Conversation Café gathering of the semester last week and one of the topics that arose was accents in the United States.  One participant talked about how some people did not understand him sometimes ~ and how it felt as if some listeners did not make an effort to understand.  When he asked about fried potatoes at a restaurant, for example, it took the assistance of another customer, who offered the idea of  “french fries,” to get the desired food.

I sympathized and then shared my experience (after having lived in North Carolina for around a decade) of not being understood when asking for some milk at a biscuit place in Durham.  After asking for it twice, the person behind the counter said something such as, “Oh, you want meeelk,” which is a traditional North Carolinian pronunciation of milk.  And is an example of what is called an “i-e shift” in linguistics.  That is, for that person, the words “pin” and “pen” would be pronounced in the same way.

If you are interested in learning more about English accents and dialects ~ and would perhaps even like to listen to some examples of those, check out some of the sites below.

On the map of American English dialects here, look at North Carolina and notice the “pin=pen” near the coast: http://aschmann.net/AmEng/

IDEA, a collection of international English dialects: http://www.dialectsarchive.com/

The speech accent archive: http://accent.gmu.edu/ 

Do you speak American?  http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/map/map.html

Did you know that “soda” is called by different names in various parts of the U.S.? See: http://kottke.org/13/06/maps-of-us-linguistic-patterns.  And for a map dialects U.S. dialects: http://kottke.org/13/11/an-audio-map-of-us-dialects

The Audio Archive:  http://alt-usage-english.org/audio_archive.shtml

On another note, if you’re in North Carolina, you know we’ve had some roller coaster weather lately.  Highs in the 60s on Monday, January 27th, and then snow on the 28th and 29th!   Wishing you good health and many other positive things as our roller coaster continues into the new lunar new year.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Rene Caputo, Duke University ESL Specialist

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Twelve international participants joined Beth and me  for our first International Conversation Cafe last week.  And this week, there were eight international participants plus three native speakers.  Off to a positive start!

Some of our participants were asking about Lunar New Year celebrations in the Triangle area ~ and it looks as if Raleigh has the answer.  This Saturday, January 29, there will be a Chinese New Year Festival at the State Fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..  More information is here: http://www.nctacas.org/

You might also enjoy the “Chinese New Year Holiday Concert” by the Joy Recorder Ensemble at Duke Hospital on Friday, Feb. 4, from noon to 1: http://calendar.duke.edu/cal/event/showEventMore.rdo

And if you’re interested in seeing a local groundhog give its traditional weather forecast, head over to Raleigh for that, too.  The NC Museum of Natural Sciences, in the downtown area, will host a free Groundhog Day event on Wednesday, February 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: http://naturalsciences.org/programs-events/?select=1588

At our gathering next Thursday, we will talk about the Super Bowl (to be held on Sunday, Feb. 6), among other things.  Who are the teams playing?  What are some Super Bowl traditions?  And why do some people watch the big game even if they don’t care about (American) football? Come join us at the Bryan Center, Meeting Room B, from 12:30 to 1:30.

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