About: peter

Peter is Principal of Euroasia.

Who's afraid of grammar?

Very often people are quite relaxed about the idea of learning vocabulary: the Italian for ‘table’ is ‘tavola’, the Japanese for ‘car’ is ‘kuruma’. OK, no big deal. You learn the words and you’re half way there. The problem sometimes comes with the second half to get you the whole way...

Elocution lesson

‘The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.’ Actually, as a matter of geographical fact, it doesn’t, but never mind: this rather dreary sentence is used not to convey a message as uninteresting as it is inaccurate, but instead to get us to work on our elocution. ‘How now, brown...

Minority report – Welsh

The first in an occasional series on languages spoken by fewer than a million people around the world…we start with Welsh The land of Wales, officially one of the four “home countries” which make up the UK, is famous for its beautiful scenery – usually seen through rain –...

How much money does business lose because it doesn’t get the language right?

Pretty much every business in New Zealand buys from, sells to or works with people for whom English is not their native language. Most of the time, we work on two assumptions: the first is that our partners will be prepared to deal with us in English; the second...

What is it like to learn English?

If by some strange chance you think it’s hard to learn a language which is foreign to you… what’s it like for those who learn English when it’s foreign to them? Most native speakers of English now deal at some point with people who are not native speakers of...

I was, like….what? – The new new English

For whatever reason, I was recently on a bus in Chile. Having a modest command of Spanish, I can usually manage a basic exchange in the language, but when the conductor addressed me, I heard bla, bla, bla and nothing more. Even when he repeated what he’d said, I...

Is culture ever wrong?

It's almost a truism that liberally-minded, progressive people of the world make an effort to understand and appreciate other people's cultures, no matter how different they might be from our own.  We might find practices ranging from arranged marriages to initiation ceremonies among Papuan tribes people a little strange,...

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What it means to speak another language

What does it mean to say that you “speak a language”? That you speak like a native, that you speak fluently, that you can to some extent get by? There are many different interpretations of what this phrase could mean. Over the years, I’ve had a go at learning...