LITTLE COSMIC DUST POEM/John Haines

Out of the debris of dying stars,
this rain of particles
that waters the waste with brightness…

The sea-wave of atoms hurrying home,
collapse of the giant,
unstable guest who cannot stay…

The sun’s heart reddens and expands,
his mighty aspiration is lasting,
as the shell of his substanace
one day will be white with frost.

In the radiant field of Orion
great hordes of stars are forming,
just as we see every night,
fiery and faithful to the end.

Out of the cold and fleeing dust
that is never and always,
the silence and waste to come…

This arm, this hand,
my voice, your face, this love.


De los escombros de estrellas moribundas,
esta lluvia de partículas
despojos húmedos con brillo …

Una ola de átomos apresurándose a volver a casa
colapso del gigante,
huésped inestable que no puede detenerse …

El corazón del sol enrojece y se expande
Su poderosa aspiración es eterna,
como la corteza de su sustancia
un día será hielo blanco.

En el campo resplandeciente de Orion
grandes cúmulos de estrellas en formación,
tal como vemos todas las noches,
ardiente e incansable hasta el final.

Alejándose del polvo frío
que nunca y siempre existe,
el silencio y los restos se acercan…

Este brazo, esta mano,
mi voz, su cara, este amor.


John Haines

This is Duolingo, a language-learning website/app that deserves some serious recognition. It offers over 10 languages for English speakers, as well as courses for non-English speakers around the world, and they’re in the process of adding more. 

But wait, I don’t want to do any more schoolwork! Not to worry little one, Duolingo is actually more like a game. You can compete with friends, and earn “lingots” (which are basically Duolingo money) to buy power-ups, extra activities, and bonus skills - like Flirting.

I’m already taking a language, what do I need this for? 

It’s not really a secret that most school language courses (in America, anyway) suck and only teach you to speak the language at about a third grader’s level. Which is why Duolingo is so freaking awesome.

Teachers can’t give every student individualized attention, but Duolingo can. If you’re not learning the way you want to or as much as you want to in the classroom, Duolingo is a really great resource. It’s easy, tailored to you, and really effective.

Duolingo tracks your progress and reminds you when you haven’t studied for a while or need a refresher on something. Already semi-fluent in a language? No problem, just take a shortcut to more advanced subjects or test out of the lesson. 

The lessons start with the basics (he, she, hello, thank you, etc) and move up to harder stuff. Duolingo focuses on vocabulary first, so you can learn the language and then the grammar that goes with it - much simpler than the system most schools use. It also tracks the number of words you’ve learned and how well you know them.

And you don’t even have to write out the flashcards!

Duolingo is perfect for reviewing everything you forgot over the summer or giving you the extra help you need. And if you’re trying to learn a language on your own, it’s fantastic - you don’t have to create your own lessons. Whether you’re trying to learn your second, third, or fifth language, I seriously recommend Duolingo.

Okay, what else?

Duolingo also has discussion boards, where you can ask for help with a hard lesson, make new friends, watch for updates, and share your achievements.

Even better is the Immersion feature. It won’t send you to Spain or France, but it’s pretty awesome. Duolingo takes real articles from the internet, which users translate. You can translate articles from your native language into the language you’re learning or vice versa, which gives you more experience and makes the Internet more universal.

You can suggest new languages and track Duolingo’s progress in creating new courses. Bilinguals (older than 13) can help to create these courses. Duolingo has a long list of courses that can be contributed to, like Punjabi, Hebrew, and Vietnamese. Oh, and Dothraki, Klingon, Sindarin, and Esperanto.

And the best part? IT’S COMPLETELY FREE. 

If you love languages or just want to pass French class this year, USE DUOLINGO. Download the app and practice a language while you wait for the bus instead of playing Angry Birds!

Tips to learn a new language

The 75 most common words make up 40% of occurrences
The 200 most common words make up 50% of occurrences
The 524 most common words make up 60% of occurrences
The 1257 most common words make up 70% of occurrences
The 2925 most common words make up 80% of occurrences
The 7444 most common words make up 90% of occurrences
The 13374 most common words make up 95% of occurrences
The 25508 most common words make up 99% of occurrences

(Source: 5 Steps to Speak a New Language by Hung Quang Pham)

This article has an excellent summary on how to rapidly learn a new language within 90 days.


We can begin with studying the first 600 words. Of course chucking is an effective way to memorize words readily. Here’s a list to translate into the language you desire to learn that Derek Roger suggested! :)

EXPRESSIONS OF POLITENESS (about 50 expressions)      

  • ‘Yes’ and 'no’: yes, no, absolutely, no way, exactly.    
  • Question words: when? where? how? how much? how many? why? what? who? which? whose?    
  • Apologizing: excuse me, sorry to interrupt, well now, I’m afraid so, I’m afraid not.    
  • Meeting and parting: good morning, good afternoon, good evening, hello, goodbye, cheers, see you later, pleased to meet you, nice to have met.    
  • Interjections: please, thank you, don’t mention it, sorry, it’ll be done, I agree, congratulations, thank heavens, nonsense.    

NOUNS (about 120 words)

  • Time: morning, afternoon, evening, night; Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; spring, summer, autumn, winter; time, occasion, minute, half-hour, hour, day, week, month, year.    
  • People: family, relative, mother, father, son, daughter, sister, brother, husband, wife; colleague, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend; people, person, human being, man, woman, lady, gentleman, boy, girl, child.    
  • Objects: address, bag, book, car, clothes, key, letter (=to post), light (=lamp), money, name, newspaper, pen, pencil, picture, suitcase, thing, ticket.    
  • Places: place, world, country, town, street, road, school, shop, house, apartment, room, ground; Britain, name of the foreign country, British town-names, foreign town-names.    
  • Abstract: accident, beginning, change, color, damage, fun, half, help, joke, journey, language, English, name of the foreign language, letter (of alphabet), life, love, mistake, news, page, pain, part, question, reason, sort, surprise, way (=method), weather, work.    
  • Other: hand, foot, head, eye, mouth, voice; the left, the right; the top, the bottom, the side; air, water, sun, bread, food, paper, noise.    

PREPOSITIONS (about 40 words)    

  • General: of, to, at, for, from, in, on.    
  • Logical: about, according-to, except, like, against, with, without, by, despite, instead of.    
  • Space: into, out of, outside, towards, away from, behind, in front of, beside, next to, between, above, on top of, below, under, underneath, near to, a long way from, through.    
  • Time: after, ago, before, during, since, until.    

DETERMINERS (about 80 words)  

  • Articles and numbers: a, the; nos. 0–20; nos. 30–100; nos. 200–1000; last, next, 1st–12th.    
  • Demonstrative: this, that.    
  • Possessive: my, your, his, her, its, our, their.    
  • Quantifiers: all, some, no, any, many, much, more, less, a few, several, whole, a little, a lot of.    
  • Comparators: both, neither, each, every, other, another, same, different, such.    

ADJECTIVES (about 80 words)    

  • Color: black, blue, green, red, white, yellow.    
  • Evaluative: bad, good, terrible; important, urgent, necessary; possible, impossible; right, wrong, true.    
  • General: big, little, small, heavy; high, low; hot, cold, warm; easy, difficult; cheap, expensive; clean, dirty; beautiful, funny (=comical), funny (=odd), usual, common (=shared), nice, pretty, wonderful; boring, interesting, dangerous, safe; short, tall, long; new, old; calm, clear, dry; fast, slow; finished, free, full, light (=not dark), open, quiet, ready, strong.    
  • Personal: afraid, alone, angry, certain, cheerful, dead, famous, glad, happy, ill, kind, married, pleased, sorry, stupid, surprised, tired, well, worried, young.    

VERBS (about 100 words)    

  • arrive, ask, be, be able to, become, begin, believe, borrow, bring, buy, can, change, check, collect, come, continue, cry, do, drop, eat, fall, feel, find, finish, forget, give, going to, have, have to, hear, help, hold, hope, hurt (oneself), hurt (someone else), keep, know, laugh, learn, leave, lend, let (=allow), lie down, like, listen, live (=be alive), live (=reside), look (at), look for, lose, love, make, may (=permission), may (=possibility), mean, meet, must, need, obtain, open, ought to, pay, play, put, read, remember, say, see, sell, send, should, show, shut, sing, sleep, speak, stand, stay, stop, suggest, take, talk, teach, think, travel, try, understand, use, used to, wait for, walk, want, watch, will, work (=operate), work (=toil), worry, would, write.    

PRONOUNS (about 40 words)

  • Personal: I, you, he, she, it, we, they, one; myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves, themselves.    
  • Possessive: mine, yours, his, hers, its, ours, theirs.    
  • Demonstrative: this, that.    
  • Universal: everyone, everybody, everything, each, both, all, one, another.
  • Indefinite: someone, somebody, something, some, a few, a little, more, less; anyone, anybody, anything, any, either, much, many.    
  • Negative: no-one, nobody, nothing, none, neither.    

ADVERBS (about 60 words)

  • Place: here, there, above, over, below, in front, behind, nearby, a long way away, inside, outside, to the right, to the left, somewhere, anywhere, everywhere, nowhere, home, upstairs, downstairs.    
  • Time: now, soon, immediately, quickly, finally, again, once, for a long time, today, generally, sometimes, always, often, before, after, early, late, never, not yet, still, already, then (=at that time), then (=next), yesterday, tomorrow, tonight.    
  • Quantifiers: a little, about (=approximately), almost, at least, completely, very, enough, exactly, just, not, too much, more, less.    
  • Manner: also, especially, gradually, of course, only, otherwise, perhaps, probably, quite, so, then (=therefore), too (=also), unfortunately, very much, well.    

CONJUNCTIONS (about 30 words)

  • Coordinating: and, but, or; as, than, like.    
  • Time & Place: when, while, before, after, since (=time), until; where.    
  • Manner & Logic: how, why, because, since (=because), although, if; what, who, whom, whose, which, that.   
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Your mother tongue has a lasting effect on your brain – even if you can’t remember it. That’s according to a new study from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital and McGill University’s Department of Psychology.

It’s hard to say exactly what this means for our understanding of language acquisition, but it’s an incredible reminder that our first few months of life are so important for our brain development.

MRI images: Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University

Title image: Moonchilde-Struck

#hispanicgirlsunited because..

• Hispanic women were made fun of forever for having a lot of hair (facial hair especially) but now ‘bold brows’ are the new thing

• Our traditional garb is now called a peasant top by stores targeted for rich, white girls

• People automatically assume my mother cleans houses and my father picks oranges

• I’m not allowed to move out of the house until I’m married but my male cousin is free to leave home when he pleases

• We’ve been fetishized objects instead of the strong women we are

• When I tell people I hate cooking and cleaning, they ask me what Im supposed to do when I get a husband

• Our culture is appropriated constantly and no one realizes but us

• White people want us “Out of their country” when without us they wouldn’t have: orange juice in the morning, people to clean their houses, people building their houses, someone to mow their lawn, tacos, enchiladas, burritos, and basically someone doing all the shitty jobs no one else wants to do for shitty wages ( also we’re badly stereotyped for doing/making/eating these things)

• Someone’s literally told me “You’re pretty for a Latin girl”

• If I don’t know how to say a word in Spanish people say “Aren’t you supposed to be bilingual?”

• People are SO impressed by the fact that I get good grades

• I’m too Mexican to listen to Nirvana and Fleetwood Mac, but too White to listen to Selena and Pedro Infante

• Our problems are completely ignored in the media

• When I say my opinion I’m suddenly the voice of my race

• People can’t grasp the idea that Hispanics don’t just come from Mexico

• When there’s people at my school doing the flowers, trees, etc. people say “oh look there’s you’re family”

• Our beauty standards are women who have light skin, hair, and eyes when the majority of us have darker everything

• I can’t eat a taco at school without people saying “Of course you’d eat that!”

• People are surprised I’m not super loud and social

• When I translate for my friends and family people make faces at me

• Whenever I get angry people blame it on me being Hispanic

• Places like Panajachel and Antigua have been taken over by white hippies

• If I’m arguing with someone their first comeback is “I’ll deport you”

• Boys have come up to my friends and said “Hey mami” or “Call me papi”

• We’re represented far less than most minorities and when we are in the media we’re portrayed as sexy, curvy, and always promiscuous

• Most of us have relatives, neighbors, or friends that have been deported and we miss them dearly but we can’t tell anyone because they’ll think we’re undocumented as well

• Cinco De Mayo = Drinking holiday Memorial Day = important holiday

• We come here to work hard and we’re perceived as lazy wetbacks

• I can’t say gringo but anyone can tell me to go back to my country

• People don’t realize America wouldn’t be shit without us and other minorities :))

I think the most painful realisation comes when you find that you cannot speak your mother tongue as well as you do the language of the land where you grew up. My English is evidence of this. When something as simple as a colour, or the name of an animal in your mother tongue leaves you dumb. Yesterday I could not find the world for ‘turtle’ in Somali, only after my mother reminded me, did I recall knowing it.


We betray our mother tongues, for the languages of nations who will never fully accept us. We let the strangeness infest our mouths until we forget how to accommodate our original tongues.

—  mother tongue, Farah Gabdon

to everyone whose ever wanted to be secretly multilingual: do it. absolutely fucnikg do it. get on memrise or duolinguo and learn whatever language you want because i was able to bust out some surprise italian last night and the shock on my friends faces was the most satisfying thing i have ever seen. there are no words for how badass it felt. there’s no motivation too small to learn languages. 10/10 would recommend feeling like a secret agent

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Language is one of the most complex feats that humans have achieved through evolution, yet we don’t even notice it. In fact, scientists have been fasicnated by it for many years. This infographic explores what parts of our brain take part in language production and comprehension, how we learn language and the benefits of learning more than one language.

Your voice sounds completely different in different languages. It alters your personality somehow. I don’t think people get the same feeling from you. The rhythm changes. Because the rhythm of the language is different, it changes your inner rhythm and that changes how you process everything.

When I hear myself speak French, I look at myself differently. Certain aspects will feel closer to the way I feel or the way I am and others won’t. I like that—to tour different sides of yourself. I often find when looking at people who are comfortable in many languages, they’re more comfortable talking about emotional stuff in a certain language or political stuff in another and that’s really interesting, how people relate to those languages.

—  Francois Arnaud 
  • me, speaking to a native speaker: I feel a little bit out of my depth but I'm keeping up with the flow of the conversation! This is going well!
  • me, an hour after speaking to a native: I did so well! We understood each other and she laughed at my joke. I think we really bonded! And she was so happy when I started talk to her in her mother tongue
  • me, lying in bed later that night: In the second sentence I spoke to her I used the wrong adjective declension. She was probably laughing at me, she was probably embarrassed for me by my attempts to speak with her, she probably