Londoners Abroad: 6 reasons why Latin Americans want to learn British English

Having spent six months living in Latin America myself, I can say that this sponsored  post by Londoner Tracey Chandler rings true. Tracey has been living in Buenos Aires for a while now and is here to give us some insight on what it’s like to be a Londoner abroad. In this post, she tells us about the reputation of her mother tongue in her adopted country. As an American with a Spanish speaking boyfriend who learned English in the UK and uses BBC as guide for pronunciation, I often get teased for my American English accent and general “Americanisms”. It’s nice to hear Tracey is admired for her British one!

—————-

Words by Tracey Chandler

As an expat Brit living in Latin America I have always been surprised at how highly thought of British English, as opposed to American English, is here. I had only just arrived when a new acquaintance grasped my hand firmly and declared warmly: “Me gustan los ingleses porque hablan muy lindo.” (“I love the English because they speak so nicely.”)

At the time I thought this an odd statement but I now understand that he meant we speak ‘proper’ English. Here are seven reasons why Latin Americans want to learn British English.

1. Authenticity and authority
In Latin America, British English is seen as the “authentic” English. It is as though the language began losing something the moment the Mayflower touched land in the Americas. Britain, home to Oxford and the world-famous guardians of the language at the Oxford English Dictionary, is seen as the original source of English.

OxfordOxford by Marc Willmore

2. Social status
Linked to this is the view that British English confers a higher social standing on the speaker. This is a view that researchers have found extends to the States itself. Americans, when asked to rate the social status of people with standard American or standard British accents, have a strong tendency to assign speakers of British English a higher social status.

3. English schools
There is a belief in Latin America that English language schools in Britain are the best in the world. This is related to the points above, but it is certainly true that quality language schools such as UIC – the only language school in the world to win the Star Award and the British Council ELTon, as this page explains – have done much to cement this reputation.

4. The Latin American presence in London
In recent years there has been a growing Latin American presence in Britain. London, in particular, has seen a four-fold rise in its Latin American population over the last 10 years. This presence is a reflection of push factors from countries such as Brazil, but also of pull factors such as the high esteem that Britain is held in and the perceived opportunities that exist there even in an economic downturn.

St Pauls CathedralSt. Paul’s Cathedral by xlibber

5. Studying English in London
An aspiration I have encountered many times is to study English in London. To learn English near the iconic images that define England’s capital – such as the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral – is a dream held by many. It is as if the history and authority of these buildings will add the same qualities to the speaker’s English.

6. Being in London  specifically
For many, to study in London is to laze in Regent’s Park by day and party at night. The lure of British English is, in part, the lure of Europe. It is somewhere different where life must be better. It is not Central or South America nor the other America across the border, but somewhere new and fresh. Life must be better and the language must be better. Learning British English is like a passport to a better life.

Bio

Tracey writes her way around the globe, focusing on travel, culture and love. She has developed a penchant for Whitesnake and Joss Stone on a daily basis, doesn’t have the guts to jump out of a plane and cannot live without internet connection.

And a video for your amusement…

Advertisements

London Art Spot: Patricia Vidal Delgado

Photo of Patricia above is courtesy of professional photographer, Ambra Vernuccio.

Meet Patricia from Portugal who speaks five languages and learned to pole-dance especially for her art: film-making. She’s studied in London, Jerusalem and Lisbon. She’s interned in London, Lisbon and Rio de  Janeiro. She’s held a residency in Morocco and exhibited her work in Stuttgart, Budapest, Zürich and, of course, London and Lisbon. She can’t keep away from London and if you read on below, you’ll find out why.

Patricia’s work reaches an international audience, not just for its movement in the world, but because she explores important subjects that touch people around the world. For this week’s London Art Spot, Patricia delves into the topics that have inspired her film-making, tells us about a new double-screen projection she’s working on and shares a few video stills and clips that she’s made available just for us.

Soundbite – Click to download:  NESIA

LLO:You’re originally from Portugal but have spent quite a lot of time living, studying and working in London. Which aspects of life in this city most influence your creativity and in which way?
PVD: I think that living in London makes me more adventurous in my creative endeavours. You can do anything you want here. For example, when I wanted to learn how to pole-dance for my ‘Monument’ performance-piece, I found that there were over 100 pole-dancing class venues in Central London alone. When I started to become interested in the idea of real-time live animation, after some research I found several London-based artists’ organisations that work with this type of technology. I then liaised with Bruno Martelli at Igloo, in order to talk about possible configurations for an interactive video installation.

LLO: Briefly describe your approach to film – the most important subjects for you to capture, the progression of an idea, etc.
PVD: This depends… It depends on whether I already have an idea in mind before I start shooting, or if I don’t have a definite idea in mind and I’m just shooting for the joy of it. I’m certainly drawn to certain images but at the time that I’m shooting them I won’t know why I’m so attracted to them. I think that part of the process of making art is understanding why, as an artist, you’re so drawn to the images that you keep finding yourself gravitating towards.

LLO: Roland Barthes’ book, A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments has influenced your work Black Sand. Are you often inspired by literature? If so, which other pieces have motivated you to create? What else inspires you?
PVD: I am often inspired by literature. Sometimes I’ll start working on a film and then I’ll read around the themes of the film in order to flesh out my ideas – which is what happened with ‘Black Sand’. Or sometimes I’ll read a book first and find myself profoundly shaken by it. The first time I experienced that was with Jorge Amado’s ‘Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos’ (English Title – Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands), when Vadinho says to Dona Flor:

‘Tua mãe é uma velha coroca, não sabe que na vida só vale o amor e a amizade. O resto é tudo pinóia, é tudo presunção, não paga a pena…’
‘Your mother is an old hag, she doesn’t know that love and friendship are the only things that matter in life. The rest is all worthless, its all vanity, its not worth it…’

And this statement really hit me on the head, and whenever I write or make work about love or relationships (i.e Black Sand) I’m torn apart by the hypothesis that, if it IS an absolute truth that love is the only thing that matters in life, then its also true that you can’t live on love alone and, therefore, no matter what choice you make regret is inevitable.

Music often inspires me as well – I’ll listen to a song and it’ll get under my skin and circulate in my blood and it won’t leave me alone until I’ve re-created it in my art. This happened with Clara Nunes’ ‘Ternura Antiga’, which tormented me until I used it in my sound-piece entitled ‘Mermaid’.

LLO: On your website, you write, “Girl with Gun developed from my interest in the psychological and archetypal aspects of the phallic female.” Can you elaborate on this statement and tell us a bit about this film?
PVD: I’ll start with the psychological aspects first – I first came across the figure of the phallic female in Freud’s writings, where he talks about the phallic mother. Prior to the traumatic realisation that sets off the castration complex in the young boy, the child assumes that everyone possesses a set of genitals like his own and so, by inference, believes his mother to possess a phallus as well. Therefore, the phallic female is a product of male fantasy that stems from the young boy’s blissful ignorance of sexual difference.

Lacan also refers to ‘phallic women’ as women that display masculine characteristics and/or behaviour. In Renata Salecl’s writings, she refers to a woman suffering from hysteria as a ‘phallic woman’, because the female hysteric will not accept the terms of her castration. This feeds into feminist theory because 1st wave feminism reclaimed the female hysteric as a figure of female resistance to the patriarchy, precisely because she does not perceive herself as castrated and therefore weak.

In terms of archetypal aspects, Marina Warner has hypothesized that the goddess Athena was the first phallic female, because she was “the defender of father-right (…) the upholder of patriarchy” and was born directly from Zeus’ head. She is a virgin goddess that channels the power of the Phallus, but as an asexual female eunuch she does not ‘desire’ the Phallus and therefore poses no threat of castration.

In ‘Girl with Gun’ I sought to embody the figure of the phallic female in order to play with the psychological signifiers and archetypal guises that make up the many layers of her persona. Ultimately I wanted to explode the dichotomy of the phallic aggressor and the castrated victim, in order to move beyond such insidious politics.

LLO: Which piece are you most proud of at the moment and why?
PVD: The piece I’m most proud of is my video installation, ‘Coming to Term’. In this piece I talk about my father’s illness and death, and although I acknowledge that it is very raw, and somewhat relentless, and sometimes very cruel, I speak from experience when I say that watching a loved one die from cancer is also very cruel and there’s no other way to talk about that situation. The only way that I could accept that loss was to deal with it in my art, and I hope that it helps others that have lost family members to cancer.

LLO: You’ve mastered Portuguese, English, French and Spanish and are working on learning Hebrew as well. What are your thoughts on the effect of language on a film? Is the language it is presented in originally important or is your work easily translated?
PVD: I think that language certainly ‘flavours’ a film, in the sense that it constitutes a cultural signifier in itself, which in turn can convey exoticism or familiarity to the viewer. Exoticism can result in fascination or alienation, but what really interests me is the point where language is pushed beyond the point of signification, once we are in the realm of Julie Kristeva’s semiotic, and one can truly enjoy the jouissance of speech. When I use language in my sound-pieces I’m definitely experimenting with the different rhythms and phonemes particular to Hebrew, Portuguese or English.

I think in some cases, too much is lost in translation – for my film ‘Fonte da Saudade’ I asked a Brazilian actor to perform a voice-over, and the inherent warmth and sensual vowel-sounds of Brazilian Portuguese created the emotional atmosphere of the film. Needless to say, English is not as sexy!

LLO: Which stage of producing a film is usually the most enjoyable – from original idea through working toward a finished project to marketing and sharing your work?
PVD: The most enjoyable bit is when its just me and my camera, traveling and filming, shooting for sheer pleasure.

LLO: Is there a place or object or person specific to London that you would love to incorporate in a future project and why?
PVD: I’ve started collaborating with an artist called Philip Levine and we’re going to make a documentary together about his artistic practice for his upcoming solo show in Summer 2011. Phil is involved in a lot of different activities but his exhibition will focus on his head designs, which are amazing, anyone who is interested should check out his website: www.philsays.com

LLO: Other artists you admire?
PVD: While on residency in Morocco I met an Italian photographer called Ambra Vernuccio who takes the most stunning pictures. Whilst there I also met three highly talented illustrators: Seif Alhasani, Kiboko HachiYon and Raimund Wong. Seif is of Iraqi origin but grew up in Sweden and creates mostly hip, funky-fresh graphic design. Kiboko HachiYon is Kenyan and has his own artist-led collective called ifreecans and makes ultra-groovy designs for everything from murals to T-shirts. Raimund is from Hong Kong and makes beautiful prints from wood-cut blocks and also plays electric guitar in a band called Lord Magpie.

In terms of Slade colleagues, I’ve always admired the work of Michael C. Schuller who was in my year in the Fine Art Media area. Michael is from Nashville and his artistic practice includes photography, illustration, creative writing and book-making.

LLO: What are you working on now?
PVD: I shot two hours’ worth of footage in Morocco and I’m currently thinking about creating a double screen projection with the footage I’ve captured. One side of the screen will play a male voice-over and the other side will play a female voice-over. Its funny that you asked me how often literature inspires me, because I’m currently reading a seminal work in Portuguese feminist literature, ‘Novas Cartas Portuguesas’ (English Title – ‘The Three Marias’), and I’ve long wanted to make a work that deals with the female archetypes manifest in Portuguese culture…

Thanks Patricia!

Check out more of Patricia’s work here: http://www.pvdelgado.com/

For more London Art Spot interviews, click here.

Passing Through Chinatown

An interesting mix of the Chinese community who live and work in the area, other locals passing through Soho and curious tourists, the atmosphere alone makes Chinatown worth a visit.

There is central London rubbish to step around on the pavement, roasted ducks hanging in windows and the occasional waft of polluted air from dirty alleyways, but there’s also an amazing array of Chinese, Korean, Thai and other Asian goodies in the local supermarkets and corner shops, restaurants with dim sum and buffets galore. Like Banglatown in the East End, the street signs in Chinatown are written in two languages.

I passed through the other day and thought I’d share a few photos from an ordinary Chinatown day.

Dragon

Male Tonic

Duck

Chinatown

Do Not Enter

Shopping in Chinatown

Shoppers in Chinatown

Crispy Duck

Thai Jackfruit

Love in Chinatown

Oriental Delight

Be Health Centre

Magazines

Cigarette Break

Photo Scavengers – October

This will be quite a long entry as is it is a result of the Photo Scavenger hunt for October. The main site is here if you want to check it out or join in. Some of these photos have already been posted here, so I will make them smaller.

OCTOBER KEY WORDS:
 
1.   Cosy
Strangers snuggled up under a willow tree in Camden
2.   A stranger
For this one, I did something I never did before and worked up the nerve to approach a stranger for a photo. I got talking to her because she was selling lapis lazuli jewellery from Afghanistan in Camden Market for a man who was away to see his family in Kabul. When I asked her, she was amazingly cooperative, found a cool place to stand. She said, “You know, I’m flattered. I used to be a model you know. Many years ago. I ain’t got the face anymore, but I’ve still got the body.”

3.   An icon of your city
Two for one deal – Big Ben and the London Underground.

4.   Childhood
This little girl was hanging out in Hampstead on Sunday while we were watching the Morris Dancers.



5.  
Something red and green
Not the best image as far as photography goes, but instead of red and green foliage photos, I chose this one because I thought the concept was pretty cool to fit the key word (along with the colours, of course).
6.   A pattern or texture
This was taken near St James’s Park.
 
7.   Street art
This is above a garage on Portobello Road.

8.   An image that could be a book cover
For some sort of thriller novel…This is from the edge of the City.

9.   Old
A lively Morris Dancer in Hampstead, taking a break from his performance.

10.   New
New growth, Ravenscourt Park, West London

11.   A shadow or silhouette
A silhouette of branches against the sunset over Parliament Hill, Hampstead Heath in North London.

12.   Language
Bilingual English/Bengali street sign off Brick Lane, East London

13.   Music
Camden Market

14.   Autumn
So many Autumn photos this month, but this is Hampstead Heath.


15.  
An animal
Okay, I have some fluffy ones as well, but decided to opt for the bird on a sign. Found this one in St. James’s park one evening. The bird just stood there looking about, not a care in the world.

16.   A place to contemplate life
Hampstead Heath again… what can I say? It’s a good place for photos. And comtemplating life…

17.   Something that begins with the letter O
O is for “orange”, a coloured building that stands out in Covent Garden.

18.   A reflection on water
St. James’s Park

19.   An interesting perspective
D and a lonely tree in Hampstead Heath.

20. A self-portrait
Just me in my room.

Morning Map of Moments

  • Funny how trying to learn a new language can keep you up at night, head running through words and phrases. Silly things like Aami ackta mota kalo biral ardoor korbo. I want to cuddle a fat black cat. Only, I’d rather say “fluffy”. Does anyone know the Bengali word for “fluffy”?
  • Speaking of felines…while walking to work, a shiny white-coated cat with a black tail looks at me and then rolls in a small patch of sun on a dusty concrete driveway.
  • 52 bus, southbound toward Victoria. Next to me, a man in skinny gray jeans with floppy indie hair, absently reading a copy of the Metro, doodling circles in the margins with a red pen. I can hear the tones of Manic Street Preachers on his iPod.
  • A bright yellow book with the cut out words Guerrilla Advertising lands on my desk. I flip it open to page 30. A campaign for World Water Day in Sydney. Public bins with handles, giant straws or slices of lemon perched on the rim placed in public spaces with a series of messages: “Polluted water kills 6,000 people a day.” “Over a billion people drink worse.” “A fifth of the world can’t get clean drinking water.” The bins were all overflowing with rubbish. Clever.