A Pick of the Week from
Special Collections of the UM Libraries
By Emily Gibson
Developed by Pan Am’s Operations Training Department, Language Development Section, Language Tieline from the Pan American World Airways, Inc. Records was an internal newsletter published routinely in multiple languages for the benefit of Pan Am’s own staff, particularly their flight attendants who often hailed from different parts of the world and were required to know more than one language at the time. Included within are basic geographical facts with a focus on a particular region per issue and various stories and anecdotes presented in different languages, including French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.
The publication also sought to enrich the readers’ general knowledge of the world and provide amusing tidbits to share with others. One anecdote discusses the absurdities in French grammar by detailing how items are not only arbitrarily categorized as masculine or feminine, but there are words that fall into neither category, such as the French word “livre,” a homonym that behaves like a masculine noun when it means “book” and a feminine noun when it means “pound” or indicates the old form of French currency. Another humorous anecdote in Spanish tells the story of a plane trying to take off but running into trouble because there is a turtle slowly moving across the track. The sheer variety of languages indicates how multicultural their staff was and demonstrates Pan Am’s commitment to globalization.
COOLCRAZYBEAUTIFUL is written by Yvette Yurubi and showcases unique items at Special Collections and the University Archives discovered by librarians and staff members while on the job. They gather monthly for “Show and Tell” to present their top finds. You too can experience these items up close, and access other rare and interesting treasures, by visiting Special Collections and the University Archives, located on the 8th floor of the Otto G. Richter Library.