Gelati am See  

A melting-pot of language

Test your skill in finding the difference in these two pictures of an ice cream stall in Zürich, and at the same time ponder on the way Switzerland in particular, but other countries too, has an easy-going mix of languages. In this case ‘Gelati‘ is Italian for ice creams, and ‘am See‘ is German for ‘by the lake‘; ‘See‘ is obviously the same word originally as English ‘sea‘, only with a slightly different meaning. ‘Sea‘ in German is ‘Meer‘, and in French ’mer‘. But in English they still have another word for lake which is ’mere‘, as in the lake named ’Windermere‘: all these related words are Indo-European in origin.

And so language is constantly changing. In America, non-English speakers now outnumber first-language English speakers, and many people speak ’Spanglish‘, which is what linguists call it when the speaker uses a mix of Spanish and English vocabulary in the same sentence, without worrying about which language they are speaking. Some experts think that English will suffer the same fate as Latin: for a while it was a kind of ’universal language‘, (confusingly called a ’lingua franca‘) but eventually it broke down into an official language of scholars, the church and government, and a number of dialects that became Italian, Spanish and French.
But don’t worry about all that, because no one can control the language that people speak – just enjoy the ingenuity of human language, while you concentrate on finding the difference in the photos.