Fads and Languages ~ 5 Photos 5 Day Challenge

conversation, foreign languages

Speaking a foreign language is not only trendy in Southern California, but it’s necessary. Still, we are a state of fads, and at the moment learning Chinese (or perhaps Mandarin) is all the craze, with China’s growing influence in the world as large as it is.

I think speaking a second language is wonderful, reason or not. For the writer in me, this opens up the world, so to speak, helps describe characters through an outside-our-borders narrative, helps give them universal ambitions. I am very curious about the world at large, and language is vital in that regard.

 foreign languages, Romanian

I speak two languages (English and Romanian), and if necessary I can almost pull off a third (Italian). And although I hail from afar, my name couldn’t be more Southern Californian. Silvia Villalobos.

When I introduce myself to folks, many engage me in Spanish. I can’t blame them. Luckily, I can speak enough Spanish to get a mini-conversation going, but soon I reveal myself as a non-native speaker, and the Where are you from question pops up.

When I say Romania, many people are at a loss. I would be, too.

Armenia, they ask? No, but you’re close. I try again. Some know enough to remember Nadia Comaneci, the dictator, and Dracula. We share a good laugh.

But back to languages, there are hundreds spoken here in Southern California. Next to New York City, California is probably the place with most bilingual, trilingual, etc. speakers in the world. I find that universality attractive.

The chart below is old — at least 10 years — and only a snapshot, but it’s the best I could find to give it all some perspective.

Language       Number          %

Spanish           8,105,505          25.8

Chinese             815,386             2.6

Tagalog             626,399             2.0

Vietnamese         407,119             1.3

Korean               298,076             0.9

Armenian           155,237             0.5

Persian              154,321             0.5

Yes, we are a very international bunch here, fads and all, regardless of the tribe we personally identify with. Maybe the best way to understand and tolerate one another is to live in close proximity and embrace each other for what we all are — just another kid from somewhere in the world.


I nominate Sammy at Bemuzin to carry on the challenge.  No obligation, of course, only if possible, and here are the rules:

1) post a photo (photos) each day for 5 consecutive days; 2) attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you; 3) nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! More importantly, have fun.

Two more nominees coming tomorrow and Fri!

Images: google.com; pixabay.com

18 responses to “Fads and Languages ~ 5 Photos 5 Day Challenge

  1. Different languages, different cultures…it’s what I love about our country!

  2. You did a very nice job with this challenge.

  3. Great post. I took five years of Latin, but please don’t ask me to speak it. My brother spoke French, Italian, Russian, Tibetan, and some German and Dutch. Languages are so interesting as is learning from another culture. It is interesting to me that Chinese is becoming so popular down there. The world is becoming smaller.

    • Your brother was amazing, Gwynn. I remember his story, a very special human being. I tool Latin in school, too, but can’t remember much. The thing with foreign languages is that without practice, it won’t really work. Thank you.

  4. Hi Silvia – now I’d love to speak more languages … when I was a kid I was ‘terrified’ of making a mistake, or a fool of myself .. and so never stretched out to learn. Having lived in SA … there’s some Dutch/German I can ‘comprehend’ … and doing Latin, French and Italian at school – a total smattering lingers … which comes from the recesses of my mind somehow.

    I love learning where words come from … and I gather London had the mix of peoples it’s got today three hundred years ago – all ascertained from a graveyard they found when digging down for the new Crossrail line across London – West to East.

    Fascinating world we live in … cheers Hilary

    • London must’ve been amazing in that sense, Hilary. I’m horrible with any language outside the Latin family of languages. Romanian is part of that family, so it’s not a huge stretch learning Italian and such. But ask me to speak Russian, which I had to take in school, and I may remember a few words … on a good day :) Thank you.

  5. We have 11 official languages here in South Africa, English and Afrikaans the languages mostly used by ‘whites’ though Afrikaans is also mostly spoken by the ‘coloureds’ or those of Malay heritage. The other 9 or so eg Zulu, Pedi, Xhosa, Sotho are spoken by blacks which make up the majority of our people. We also have a huge Chinese population and I agree Mandarin is being vigorously pursued as NB language to learn! Great post thanks Silvia😊

    • SA sounds like such an amazing place, Susan. And wow, so many official languages. There are hundreds of languages spoken here, but only 1 official. Thank you for coming by. Loving the challenge.

  6. That photo of map hands is fascinating, Silvia, as is your topic today. It makes sense that our east/west coastal urban areas would be the most advanced and varied at second languages, with Texans & Arizonans being equally well-versed in Spanish. I am glad to hear our country is becoming more bi ot tri lingual for all the reasons you stated.

    It is certainly possible to take classes here in the middle of our country or even find pockets of a migratory language we might hear and learn from immigrants. But it’s not trendy or easy. We are often criticized but many don’t realize how vast our land and how few crossovers we have in much of our country, still. The world continues to come to America and eventually more languages will be heard (and spoken by us) even here in the nether regions.

    Thank you so much for nominating me!! This is a challenge I gladly accept because I can work it into one of my upcoming projects. I hope it’s ok if I don’t complete it right away – lots on the burner right now, but I truly appreciate the shoutout and an interesting way to feature some photos. *rubs hands in anticipation *

    • Absolutely no rush with the challenge, Sammy. Happy you can fit it with a theme you had in mind.

      We are a bunch of nationalities here, but as in immigrant myself, I see an issue with folks unwilling to integrate. It doesn’t matter where we come from, if the choice is to live here, then integration is necessary for our success and for keeping the peace. I see folks screaming about being discriminated against — which happens a lot — and on the other hand I see them refusing to speak the language and accept the new way oflife. Sure, we want to remain part of our own culture, it’s natural, but it should be as natural to accept our new home if this is where we choose to live. Thank you for listening. :) And for reading.

      • Silvia, I couldn’t agree with you more! Homeland or adopted homeland (we all came from immigrants) – love it, support it, give back to it or find another place to call home. We gotta embrace each other through commonalities before we get comfortable embracing differences !! That’s human nature and the more we practice it, the better off we will all be. 😊

  7. They actually have a Mandarin Chinese class at the schools I sub in. It’s new, but it’s there. And it has students.

  8. Sylvia, I very much admire your talent with languages, the comfort with languages that you have makes me think of the comfort that a fish has in water. No challenge!

    I also have an interest in languages, and some tiny familiarity with Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Spanish, and Italian. When I was a child I also heard about the language Esperanto, but I no longer have recollection of the details. Morse Code was something I learned at home when I was a child thumbing through a family encyclopedia. These days, the dictionary is my best friend, I am always looking up the origin of a word, from Greek, Italian, French, and so on. It makes understanding the potential meanings of a word much better. I had a doctor whose name was Villalba, and I found out that this doctor’s name, came from a villa in Southern Italy, where the roofs were usually painted white. The doctor, who was a surgeon and from a family of surgeons, was interested in hearing about his family name for the first time!

    Some languages make you simply fall in love with the sounds. The vocal music in Italian blends so well with the tempo of the music as, for example in the compositions by Rossini. I bought a dictionary to help me understand the Italian notations in music, words such as Andante con moto, Rondo, Vivace, Adagio un poco mosso..

    It feels unfortunate that one often wishes to have strong mastery in a particular language, but reaching that level in most cases requires formal education and practice. Where does one find the time, I ask myself.

    • Time is a problem after a certain point in our lives. That is perhaps why we acquire most of our language knowledge in childhood when it feels like play and in our twenties when time is still bountiful and the mind easier to trick into learning. Having grown up in E. Europe, we were surrounded by languages, mostly Slavic, but a bunch of other kinds as well, from Hungarian, Scandinavian, etc. and of course, my favorite, Italian. Latin-derived languages are easier for me to learn, considering Romanian is part of that family, but I would have a very hard time with any other types. When we visited Turkey, in my early 20s, I was catching on to Turkish. Today, I only remember the first three numbers. Have not heard of Esperanto. Will have to look it up.

      Nowadays, I just try to make sure I master English as well as possible, particularly in writing, a whole different art form in and of itself.

      Many thanks. I absolutely love reading your comments, Joseph, and I appreciate the thought you put in each and every one.

  9. It is very good to learn another language. I think it opens your mind to other cultures as well. I learned German in college, and picked up some Norwegian from my relatives. I wish I had a chance to learn more.

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