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Language and national character

After reading this book and some other materials for my intercultural management I’ve been able to slightly refine an old idea I had about how different languages express and modify the characters of the people that use it. Even though I’m not a linguist I think it’s relatively accurate for some, for others I might as well get grilled. Comments are more than welcome.

  • English: good for business and action-oriented. Also good for fantasising.
  • Italian: temperamental.
  • French: philosophical.
  • Finnish: communicate the largest amount of information in the shortest amount of words possible. Also good for creating words.
  • German: precise, pünktlich.
  • Portuguese: playful, but at the same time rather melancholic.
  • Spanish: baroque, but also depends on the speaker. Spanish speakers use it in a much more direct way than, say, Mexican speakers (because their culture is much more direct).
  • Dutch: I’m having my first class today, so maybe I’ll be able to tell you something in a year.

Could a Japanese speaker please explain what does no mean?

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Cafe Tacuba

One of my favourite bands and arguably one of the most popular in Latin America, Cafe Tacuba was formed in the late 80’s in Ciudad Satelite, Naucalpan, Estado de Mexico (a suburb of Mexico City very close to where I grew up). Their music is very eclectic with influences from rock, ska, norteña, hip hop, ballad, metal, tango, ranchera, etc., and cannot be rigidly classified as Rock en Español (it is said that not two of their songs are in the same genre). Even though they sing entirely in Spanish, they also have a loyal anglophone following. In their tours they have filled stadiums and other concert venues around Spanish-speaking Latin America, one of the most notorious was packing over 120,000 people in the Zocalo (main square) of Mexico City. Below you can find examples of their music:

Puntos Cardinales (Cuatro Caminos, 2003)

Other videos available:
Rarotonga (Cafe Tacuba, 1992)
Ingrata (Re, 1994)
El Ciclon, (Re, 1994)
Las Flores (Re, 1994)
Alarmala de Tos (Avalancha de Exitos, 1996)
Chilanga Banda (Avalancha de Exitos, 1996)
Como te Extraño (Avalancha de Exitos, 1996)
Dos Niños (Reves/Yo Soy, 1999)
El Ave (Reves/Yo Soy, 1999)
Dejate Caer (Vale Callampa EP, 2002)
Eres (Cuatro Caminos, 2003)

More information in Wikipedia or at their official site.

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Rock en Español

Taken from Wikipedia:

“Spanish language rock and roll (Spanish: Rock en Español) borrows heavily from American, British, Irish, and Australian rock and roll music and from traditional and popular music of Spanish-speaking cultures (cumbia, ranchera, rumba, tango, etc) and has evolved from a cult-like music movement to a more well established music genre. Today, rock en español includes bands from all over Latin America (with especially strong rock scenes in Mexico and Argentina), France, Spain, and the United States.”

During the next few posts I’ll try to give an introduction to Rock en Español for the uninitiated.

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Recommended book: “Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind”

Recommended book:


I just finished reading this book for my class of Intercultural Management, and I really liked it. There is only one thing that I don’t really understand, and that’s the Uncertainty Avoidance Index, because in my experience Latin Americans are much better at handling unknowns and improvising than say, Northern Europeans, but the book says that Uncertainty Avoidance is much higher in Latin countries than it is in Northern Europe. Will have to think about it.

Another thing I realised is that I understand now why I was able to adapt so well to living in Finland (and now Belgium): I was not raised so much as a Mexican. While growing up my home environment was much more conductive to discussion, and my parents always insisted on us being independent. I’m very glad for that.

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Musings from a child of globalisation.

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