A pretty witty 3 and a half minute skit about the importance (or impotence) of proofreading – possibly not safe for work (a little bit of coarse language), but very funny!
“Do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice: one, there is no prostitute for careful editing of your own work – no prostitute whatsoever; and three, when it comes to proofreading, the red penis your friend.”
There’s a serious point here – always proofread your work! You can sometimes be surprised at the avoidable errors you can find just by reading something through for a second time, and Word’s autocorrect is certainly not infallible. This is particularly true when learning a new language and jotting down information for the first time – it makes it very easy to get yourself into bad habits early on.
I found this hilarious post today about badly translated Latin tattoos (some NSFW language).
Why would anybody permanently mark their body with a slogan without making sure the translation was correct first? Some of them even leave English words in – a nice juxtaposition of modern parlance and a 2000+ year old language, or pretentious and lazy? You decide.
People – if you feel the need to get a tattoo of something in another language… never ever trust that Google Translate is going to be up for the job. Check with a native speaker!
A survey performed by the Center for Applied Linguistics has found that the number of US schools offering Chinese language learning is way up:
A Center for Applied Linguistics survey indicates there was a significant increase in Chinese language classes at U.S. schools offering at least one foreign language between 1997 and 2008, The New York Times reported Thursday. During that time period, the percentage of schools offering Chinese increased from 1 percent to 4 percent, the survey found.
These results come at a time when foreign language education in the US is facing cuts across the board. Mandarin is rapidly becoming the language to learn for future business endeavors, given China’s huge industrial expansion and development in recent years.
Having recently returned from China (and having found Mandarin extremely difficult to pick up), I say best of luck to everybody taking up Chinese! Or as the Chinese might say, hao yun qi (好运气)!
As somebody who has studied a lot of Latin, this one annoys me more than it should, and seems extremely avoidable. You see the two confused far too often! Both are direct abbreviations of short Latin phrases, and both are used to clarify a preceding statement – one by giving examples, the other by explaining something further. But which is which?
e.g. stands for exempli gratia (literally “for the sake of example”), and should be used when giving an example or several examples of something.
For example: “I love eating fruit – e.g. apples, oranges, and mangoes.”
i.e. stands for id est (literally “that is”), and is used in the sense of “in other words”, or “which means” – expanding on a previous statement.
For example: “The responsibility falls only to the President of the United States, i.e. Barack Obama.”
So, once again The Oatmeal has managed to put into a short, amusing cartoon what many people take years to get to grips with: the semicolon. Some people are almost ‘afraid’ to use the semicolon for fear that they’ll use it incorrectly. The rules of usage are actually pretty simple, and can be boiled down to 3 occasions:
1. Linking together two related sentences without the use of a conjunction.
e.g. “I’ve never eaten pigeon; I assume it tastes a lot like chicken.”
2. Linking together two sentences which already contain punctuation.
e.g. “For the life of me, I can’t remember where I put my keys; I must have left them at work.”
3. Separating items in a list where there are already commas used within the items themselves. (Usually used with place names)
e.g. “Replicas of the Eiffel Tower can be found in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Hangzhou, China; and Crailsheim, Germany.”
Check out the comic for more examples of correct semicolon usage!
You may remember in a previous post that I was looking forward to seeing Avatar, in part due to the fact that James Cameron had asked linguistic guru Professor Frommer to come up with an entire language for the alien race in the movie – the Na’vi. I was quite excited by this and, having no problems with subtitled films, hoped that the language would make the movie even more immersive.
I was a little disappointed.
Whilst the movie was indeed beautiful, and the 3D was fantastic, there were really very few instances where the Na’vi language was used. Maybe 0.5-1% of the movie, if that. It seems to me that they could easily have got away with using the same trick as District 9 and used a near-incoherent alien tongue. Inventing a language is surely a huge undertaking, so it strikes me that Prof. Frommer’s efforts may have been just a little wasted.
Even worse (and rather off-topic) what was Cameron thinking when he decided to use that Papyrus font for the subtitles and movie poster? I’ve always considered that font second only to Comic Sans in terms of ugliness…
Anyway, I still recommend going to see the film at the theater, in 3D. It’s certainly a feast for the eyes!
Happy new year everybody, from all of us at Language Trainers USA!
Today (that is, the day after New Year’s Day) is a bit of a special date as it’s a palindromic number in our date format: 01/02/2010.
A palindrome is a word or phrase that reads the same forwards as it does backwards. Here are some of the most famous of these… know any more?
- Madam, I’m Adam
- A man, a plan, a canal… Panama!
- A dog! A panic in a pagoda!
- No devil lived on.
- Are we not drawn onward, we few, drawn onward to new era?
Palindromes are not limited to just English, either – the Dutch word for thermometer is a fantastic example of one: koortsmeetsysteemstrook.
Pretty cool, huh?