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The Beauty of Language

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

If you've wondered what happens at a meeting of Sussex Online Speakers, here's a report of the meeting on 14th February 2022. You may be surprised.

“Welcome!” “Les damos la bienvenida!” "Herzlich Willkommen" "Soyez les bienvenues".

Toastmaster Lucy Evans Brooks started this Monday’s session with greetings in several languages, English, German, French, and Spanish among them. She even had a go at Chinese!

The theme of the day was language. It could have been the language of love since it coincided with Valentine’s Day but, as Grammarian Johnathan Kaye said, we needed “to get out of such a commercial chocolate fest.”

Johnathan dove head-first into the etymology of the term “valentine.” It comes from Latin, meaning “I am healthy, sound, I am of worth.” Then he proposed “strong” as the word of the day.

The warm-up session by Anastazya Tomoko Wada was full of cultural references. Many of them related to love and passion. Anastazya asked us about our favourite language and the reason why we had chosen it.

These were some of the languages and cultures mentioned:

  • English as a language of sympathy and kindness.

  • German, with "ich liebe dich" (“I love you”) as favourite expression.

  • Mulled wine from Austria or Germany.

  • Italian because it is expressive, delicious, and romantic.

  • Welsh. The word “hwyl” (pronounced “hooil” /ˈhuːɪl/). It’s hard to translate but it means passion, “a strong feeling of emotion and enthusiasm,” according to the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

  • Proto-Nostratic: “*minV *Xeuami *Ɂäśo *mawli *i *hleŋwel.”

  • The words used in Arabic for different kinds of reading.

  • Banana, a word chosen from the Swahili phrase “poa kchisi kama ndizi.”

  • “Ayubowan,” from Sinhala, meaning “may you live long.”

  • The Turkish delight, “lokum,” is served with coffee.

Coffee was the subject of the first prepared speech of the day. Sarper Atakul talked about the economics of coffee, the second most traded commodity in the world. It moves about $100 billion a year! It was brought to Europe by merchants in the 17th century and became very popular soon.

Jean Hamilton-Fford followed with a speech full of gestures. She talked about how we can combine body language and faces in our presentations to be more expressive.

Our impromptu speaking time was presented by Oscar Curros. It was based on a fun set of questions prepared by Alex Cebo, such as: “If you had the power to shrink anything and take it with you, what would it be?” When asked, Amy Jones responded she would like to shrink her dog and take it in her handbag when boarding a plane.

At the end of the session, Michael Priest evaluated the event. He praised the good organization, with the agenda being sent some days in advance to every registered participant. He also suggested that we could have reminded participants of the theme of the event, language, a little more often during the meeting.

At Toastmasters, we evaluate everything - the speeches, the table topics, and the meeting as a whole.

Intrigued? Join us on the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month. Guests are always welcome! To participate via Zoom for free, register at the button below:

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