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mid-week Connect: 4/26/23 ~ Word-wise: Colporteurs, across cultures

Greetings and Happy Midweek!

Let’s do our monthly Word-Wise exploration today and our word is: colporteur. This came into my inbox as a recent ‘daily word’ (see link below) and it led me to some fun memories…which fit nicely into the PROfile component of our Global SKILLs PROACTive Framework. The people this particular word describes have a pretty complex cross-cultural profile through history, and in these days as well.

Generally, colporteurs are people who distribute literature, historically by going house to house or sometimes by walking remote trails or standing on a city corner. The colporteur’s early merchandise was usually religious in nature since that was what was being produced for mass consumption. However, others pretty quickly used the colporteur strategy to get their own literature distributed - whether they were revolutionaries, local healers, artists…or linguists, like me!

Over thirty years ago, I was selling our recently published Jola Language Learning Lessons to whomever would buy them in the village in Senegal where we lived or in neighboring villages and towns when we visited. One fun thing happened years later with that particular piece of literature which goes to show that one colporteur’s initial work can then be continued informally hand to hand, especially when there are very few pieces of literature available in a language. A young linguist recently arrived in the Jola homeland was working with her language assistant to learn the language and he suggested she use a helpful resource he had come across…lo and behold - it was our language learning book!

How about you ~ any memorable cross cultural colporteur stories in your experiences?

Share about that with a friend or note it here.

And check out the Global SKILLs LINKs below for more on different types of colporteurs.

Thanks for being part of this Connect community.

Until next week,



~ Word Origin:

~ 19th century German use of colporteurs to empower people with books:

~ 19th century French anarchist colporteur:


Previous Word-Wise Connect posts: 1/4/23 - tapestry; 2/1/23 - lizards; 3/8/23 - slang; 4/5/23 - mien (you can find these by scrolling down to the date)

* Through my business Global SKILLs and several partner subsidiaries I offer unique cross-cultural consulting and training including:

3 Dimensional Dynamics Model: 1st dimension = HOME ; 2nd dimension = HOST ; 3rd dimension = HARBOR)

PROACTive Learning Strategies:

PRO = PROfile (which we explored this week), PROcess, PROgram

ACT = Application, Collaboration and Transformation

2023 ~ Celebrating 40+ years of working in

intercultural communications and global community building

“It takes a community to build a community”

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