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Best of 2018 in Language and Culture Around the World

Mango's Best of 2018Check out Mango’s year in review for a look back on what brought us all together in 2018.

From sports and science to literature, music, and art, several significant moments and trends stand out from the past year. Despite differences and distances, these people, places, and events brought us together, gave us a chance to learn from one another, and spread language and culture across barriers and boundaries. Keep reading to reminisce with us as we take a look back.

1. FIFA World Cup 2018

The 2018 World Cup was a tournament of firsts. The first World Cup to be held in Russia — not to mention in Eastern Europe as a whole — was the most expensive World Cup ever. Teams from Iceland and Panama made their World Cup debuts in 2018, scoring their first World Cup goals to the sound of raucous cheering from their homeland supporters, who, win or lose, were just happy to be there.

An underdog favorite, team Croatia soared towards their first-ever Cup final, up against the Goliath team France, who eventually took home the gold. This World Cup was also the first time that video-assisted refereeing was implemented, beginning a new era of cleaner gaming and sportsmanship.

2. Unknown language discovered in Malaysia

While 2018 was a year fully immersed in technology and human advancement, there are still new discoveries to be had — as proven by the accidental discovery of a previously undocumented language in Malaysia by researchers from Lund University in Sweden.

The language is called Jedek, and is spoken by about 280 people in the northern Malay peninsula. With no words to describe ownership or the concept of stealing/buying, the language helps us understand the culture from which it comes — a hunter-gatherer community in which everyone is expected to work towards the same goals, competition is discouraged, and there are no laws or professions.

3. Puerto Rico’s Ozuna becomes an international household name

From classic ballets and flamenco to Kpop and EDM, music is one of humanity’s major unifying themes, and for 2018, that unifier was Puerto Rico’s Ozuna. The 26-year-old commanded the international stage through collaborations with some of mainstream pop’s biggest names like Cardi B, J. Balvin, and Selena Gomez. Named Billboard’s top Latin artist of 2018, Ozuna also snatched the title of YouTube’s most-viewed global artist, after four of the top 10 music videos of 2018 featured the singer.  

4. Mango Inglés makes its debut in Latin America

Based in Metro Detroit, Mango Languages continues to spread the love of language learning and cultural understanding by partnering with Mango Inglés, headquartered in the vibrant tourist hub of Cali, Colombia.

With international visits increasing two-hundred percent since 2006, Tierra de la Sabrosura [land of delicious vibes] — as Colombia is affectionately nicknamed — has become a tourism hub in Latin America. Check out our blog post to discover three reasons why we love Cali, Colombia.

5. Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk wins prestigious Man Booker Prize

2018 marked the first year that a Polish author was awarded the prestigious Man Booker Prize for a translated work of literature. Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Bieguni, or “Flights,” was translated by Jennifer Croft, and surpassed notable authors such as Spain’s Antonio Muñoz Molina, Iraq’s Ahmed Saadawi, South Korea’s Han Kang, and Hungary’s László Krasznahorkai, to win the distinguished prize.

“Flights,” a fragmentary novel, contains Tokarczuk’s philosophical musings on the nature of our modern-day nomadic lifestyle through a collection of vignettes narrated by a "nameless female traveller." The book has been hailed as impossible to classify, yet “magical: electrifying, strange, and sensationally alive.”

6. Japan chooses the symbol meaning ‘disaster’ to represent 2018

In an annual poll, the Japanese public voted for the kanji character 災, representing ‘disaster,’ to define 2018. This year, Japan suffered natural disasters ranging from typhoons, flooding, and a heatwave, to earthquakes that triggered landslides.

The loss of life, infrastructure, and impact on the economy were on everyone’s minds as channels broadcasted the announcement from a temple in Kyoto, and chief priest of the Kiyomizu-dera Temple wrote the winning term on traditional washi (Japanese paper) with a calligraphy brush.

7. China’s Story of Yanxi Palace is Google’s most-searched television series

Every year, Google Trends releases its year-end search data. Looking through the list can feel like a mini time capsule full of pop culture, news stories, global events, and the topics most on the mind of our collective consciousness.

One section, though, might be a little surprising to English-speaking Google users not in the know. China’s hit historical drama 延禧攻略, or “Story of Yanxi Palace,” drew over 15 billion viewers during the course of its first season’s 70-episode run, and the buzz earned it Google Trend’s top spot as the most-searched television series in 2018. Set during the Qing dynasty, the drama has been praised for its beautiful cinematography, intricate costume design, and accurate portrayal of Chinese history and culture.

8. Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea

While 2018’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang ended in what some might call a classic fashion (winter warriors from Norway, Germany, and Canada went home most decorated, who would’ve guessed?), the Games brought about some significant firsts in terms of international cooperation through the world’s universal language of sport.

For the first time ever, host country South Korea entered the games under a unified flag alongside North Korea, even competing as a unified team in women’s ice hockey. While many were divided on the issue, as the announcement generated both protests of criticism and elated hope for the future, it was a moment that will go down in both sport and political history.

2018 may be coming to a close, but things are already heating up for next year. 2019 will surely bring more cultural events, significant milestones for humanity, and moments to go down in history.

Through learning about other languages and cultures, you can strengthen your global awareness in 2019. Get a head start by jumping back into your most recent Mango lesson, or choose from one of our 70+ language courses, packed full of cultural tips, grammar hints, and native-speaker audio for an authentic learning experience.

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How was your 2018? Share with us any moments we may have missed, or highlights you wish we would’ve covered, in the comments below!

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Megan Polom
Written by Megan Polom

Fresh off an adventure of a lifetime teaching English in Busan, South Korea, Megan is our Junior Copywriter. A coffee and podcast addict, you can find her at the nearest cafe with a book in hand, or earbuds in and out for a hike. She is currently learning Korean and Spanish, and hopes to tackle French next.

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