The “Gossip Girl” Guide to New York

Following on the secret #5 on watching the sensational American TV show Gossip Girl in my post “From Tourist to Real New Yorker”, I decided that today is the day.

The day for what you would ask? Good question. The day to be your favourite character for 24 hours straight of course! Serena, Chuck, Jenny, Nate, Blair, Dan or Vanessa? Time for you to make your pick.

Get your bag, your coat and your “Upper East Side” attitude and let’s go!

Palace Hotel

Let’s start by breakfast with Serena and her mum Lily at their suite located on 455 Madison Avenue in the heart of Manhattan. If you remember, the Van der Woodsen apartment is being renovated, so they moved to the Palace Hotel where they occupy a whole luxury suite to themselves. What a dream! Of course, let’s not forget about Chuck who is part of the family too but living on the penthouse on the top floor… I think you would never eat such expensive croissant than there, so enjoy! 🙂

Palace Hotel

Constance Billard and St Jude’s school for boys

Sorry guys but breakfast is over and you need to rush to school right now. Get your uniform, your books, your headband and most important your cell phone. You wouldn’t want to miss on some juicy gossips… Constance Billard and St Jude’s school for boys are on 75 East 93rd street, so you better hurry if you don’t want to miss the 1st class! Oh no, Penelope is wearing the same Chanel green cardigan. (Damn it!)


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The Story Behind Picnik

The Inspiration

Born in the mid 70’s, Richard grew up as a pretty normal kid, surrounded by a loving family and friends in the beautiful county of Leicestershire. Always captivated and driven by music, he started listening to The Police when he was 11, changed for New Order and the Smiths at the age of 16, then moved into alternative music when he hit 20, namely Blur and Oasis.

If you are familiar with the Blur music video for Coffee and TV then you’ll guess where the inspiration for Picnik came from! Small, cute, funny, blue and white little milk pack who is gonna take a chaotic but unforgettable journey to find missing Blur leading singer. Instantly attached to this sooo adorable character, Rich wanted to re-create the same feeling that he had when he first saw this video. Curious, excited, amused and fascinated, he was looking for the perfect character that would make people keen of discovering the mysterious world of translation…

The Idea

Traveller at heart, I have always been in love with New York, its atmosphere, its spirit, the people, the blocks, the cabs and even the dried bretzels that have been staying forever on street stands. One day, I had the opportunity to go to the Marketing Week Conference in London where all the best in the Marketing industry meet and talk at seminars, around a coffee or about the next brilliant idea. The magic happened when I listened to these 2 guys working for Fiat talking about their genius concept and how they created their cartoonish website where different characters interact. Eureka! Why not telling a story about how to translate a book? As predicted, I chose to start the story in beautiful Manhattan where all dreams come true. Immediately, I pictured a chubby red book stuck on a shelf in a library: Picnic was born. Read more

From Tourist to Real New Yorker… all the secrets.

Done. You finally booked your 2 weeks holiday direction New York City, Statue of Liberty, Empite State Building, the MET, Soho, Times Square, Central Park… everything is on your list. Ready for a lifetime experience? Oh, wait a minute, I think you just forgot something (no, I don’t mean your favorite wool jumper with the Santa Claus on it!) but the final ingredient to your amazing trip: how to become a real New Yorker.  Let me help you with few tips before taking off.

Secret #1 – Black is the new trend

New Yorkers are fashionable and make sure it stays that way. No colour, no prints or fantasy clothes, so the Hawaiian shirt that you love so much can stay in your wardrobe. (with the Christmas jumper actually!) By wearing black, you will never be wrong; it’s always trendy and will go with everything. Read more

Quick Guide for Blogger Apprentices

Tip #1 – Select a subject

When you are thinking of writing a post, you must be careful about the subject you are going to choose. If you are writing for your company blog, you must be aware of certain guidelines and try to follow the spirit of this one. In other words, your post must fit into the rest of the whole content and has to spread across the image the company has created for itself over the past. For example, if your company is manufacturing cars and wants to be perceived as the cool new brand arriving on the market, you definitely won’t blog about all the people who died in car accidents last year. Because the company has created a specific image and values for itself, it’s important to stick to them. For your own blogging experience, I recommend you choose a subject that you are passionate about, expert or involved in. You will find more rewards to write about something you truly feel concerned about rather than a simple fact.

Tip #2 – Make it your own

So, this is it, you finally have chosen the subject you want to talk about. Great! Now you need to make it your own and embark the reader where you want him to be. First, use “I” instead of “We”. Important rule to follow as you want the reader to be able to connect with you as a person, not as a bunch of people. Second, try to include some personal opinion or particular events that he could relate to because there is a strong probability that someone somewhere might just feel exactly the same as you do. Finally, just write as you would speak to one of your friends about this specific subject, in a friendly, casual and simple way. Ready to take the next step? Read more

Researchers Make Recordings of Ancient Babylonian Poems Available Online

Akkadian, the language of the Babylonians, was once spoken widely across the entire Middle East.  It was the language of Hammurabi and of the epic poem Gilgamesh.  Considering that the language died out 2,000 years ago, we still have a surprising amount of cuneiform writing from ancient Babylon preserved on clay and stone tablets. While scholars figured out how to decipher the text in the mid-19th century, nobody knew what spoken Babylonian (the Akkadian dialect spoken in Babylon) sounded like…until now.

According to the Daily Mail, researchers at Cambridge University have been able to reconstruct what ancient Babylonian sounded like by looking carefully at texts in the original Babylonian and at the same texts translated into other known, related languages. This analysis allowed them to uncover patterns in the language that helped them to determine how different words were pronounced.  Now, the researchers have made audio recordings available online of ancient Babylonian poetry and other writing, all read in the original Babylonian. Read more

let it fly

Ladies Professional Golf Association Helps Players Learn New Languages

In 2008, the Ladies Professional Golf Association proposed penalties for players who were unable or unwilling to speak English on tour.  The proposal was not well-received, to put it mildly, and the resulting furor eventually led Commissioner Carolyn Bivens to resign.

The idea came about largely because players from South Korea were so reluctant to speak English. As it turns out, they were simply embarrassed and self-conscious about their English skills, especially after one of the South Korean women was called out in a Canadian newspaper for calling Sponge Bob Squarepants “Spongie Bob.”

Now, according to the New York Times, the LPGA has taken a different approach, offering players the option of gaining foreign language skills via a partnership with a company called Language Training Center. Company representatives accompany the players on tour and offer one-on-one coaching. Read more

Want to pretend to be a real Parisian for a week?

Monday and Tuesday

Contrarily at what we have been taught since we were kids, these 2 days are pretty amazing. You think I’m out of my mind? Give me a chance to explain…After a very relaxing and enjoyable week end, the Parisian is feeling good and ready for a new week. For work? Well, yeah but especially for all the events where he is gonna go. Indeed, Monday and Tuesday nights in the French capital are the nights to go to Cinema Premieres, club or bar openings, new band gigs, “quiet” clubbing or even speed dating. There is definitely a special atmosphere floating in Paris on these nights.


Ideal day to organize dinners between friends, see a play at the theatre, meet your loved one at a chic restaurant or in last recourse, drag yourself to a vernissage. However you absolutely cannot go to the cinema! This is the most important rule to follow on a Wednesday in Paris. You are still listening, right? Because all the new movies are out this day…But if you fancy queuing for hours packed likes sardines under the rain just to be able to seat in a crowded screen and cannot understand anything because of the noise, then go for it! 🙂 Read more

British Sign Language Videos for Children

Today is not a day like the others for me. It’s 8am on a Tuesday in mid-September and I’m heading to our studio located in the heart of Milton Keynes. Our British Sign Language Interpreter and Lip Speaking experts are already here; ready to start the translation of some educational material. The script covers everything from letters, numbers, domestic animals, activities, foods, drinks and other everyday items found around the school and home… It’s a lot of work to get through but we are all very motivated and passionate about the project and can’t wait to start!

Why? I mean, don’t get me wrong translating animals, drinks and food is great but most important these videos are destined to school and pre-school children with hearing and learning difficulties. Thanks to these videos, they will be able to learn new words, concepts and things from everyday life. This might seem like a small contribution but it means a lot to me, being able to contribute to their wellbeing and their development is an essential reward.

Behind the Scenes

First, back to the basics. For those who don’t know what a BSL Interpreter and a Lip Speaking experts do, I will try my best to explain. The role of the Interpreter is to interpret each word, then spell the individual letters of the word using Finger Spelling. The Lip Speaking expert has to speak in a way where the words are almost over-pronounced, allowing individuals with hearing difficulties to read the lips of the person on screen. Everybody following? Great. Read more

iPhone Now Supports Cherokee

IOS 4.1, the latest software release for the iPhone and the iPod Touch, adds support for a new language: Cherokee. Now, all but the oldest iPhones are capable of using the Cherokee syllabary to send and receive text messages. In addition, now that Cherokee is supported, it will be easier for the Cherokee Nation to develop and release Cherokee-language apps.

iPhone users can access the Cherokee keyboard via the “international keyboard” option in the keyboard settings. Once the keyboard has been added to the device, it’s easy to toggle between Cherokee and English when using the phone.

Apple’s decision to include Cherokee is important because it makes it easier for the tribe to teach their children to use the language. As Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chad Smith explained to the Native American Times:

“People communicate differently today. Including our language on the iPhone and iPod makes it accessible to more people, especially our youth.  This is critical to the survival and growth of our language.” Read more

Learning a New Language May Delay Alzheimer’s Symptoms

Can learning more than one language help reduce your risk of Alzheimer’s disease?

Not exactly, but if you’re already affected by the illness, being bilingual may buy you some time. According to the Daily Mail, scientists at York University in Toronto found that bilingual individuals affected by Alzheimer’s generally sought treatment for symptoms 3.2 years later than people who spoke only one language. On average, bilingual people were 78.6 years old when they began to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s, compared to 75.4 for people who only spoke one language.

To explain the effect, the Daily Mail went to one of the scientists who conducted the study:

“Speaking two languages isn’t going to do anything to dodge the bullet,’ said Ellen Bialystok…But she added that improved cognitive reserve was ‘the same as the reserve tank in a car: Once the brain runs out of fuel, it can go a little farther’.

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