english is not their first language


I saw a notice on the bus that said a particular route will be advanced effective a certain date. It’s a football club that will get promoted up next season? Upon further examination, it turns out that advancement means the timetable will be extended, and there will be an extra stop somewhere along the route. I’m thinking someone’s vocabulary needs to be advanced.

Far too many examples of poor English usage that ends up being hilarious (or sad, depending on your POV). Reminds me of this “germy” bread I spotted a while ago. Some type of super word association must have gone on — it’s wholegrain breadrolls, and wheat germinates, hence germy.

I wonder what these people are thinking. Their excuse is English isn’t their first language. (Except, um, google translate.) Then again, it wasn’t the first language I learned either and I turned out okay. Shrug.

random london

Random x2:

mm is in London this week, but all we’ve managed were emails and a couple of very brief phone calls. I’m not used to the time difference, she’s jetlagged. By the time I get round to calling her it’s her 10pm and she’s in bed. I’ve woken her up twice now, eeek. Doesn’t matter, we’ll see each other on Saturday.

I was talking with a UK colleague today and I realised I’ve picked up a little bit of an american accent. Subtle pronunciation and the way some vowels got flattened. I had to consciously get back to my londoner accent. It felt strange. Although, to an american I still sound different.

absolutely brilliant [not]


Actually I shouldn’t have used “[not]” to indicate sarcasm, I should have downloaded the newest punctuation, the sarcmark and used that instead. I should be desperate to pay $1.99 for the privilege of using a punctuation mark and be glad I am part of another brilliant marketing scheme to get many people to pay a small amount for something inconsequential. Yeah right. [insert sarcmark here]

which version of english do you speak: the dialect meme

Sometimes I’m posting non-stop on food, or macs, or music. These couple of days, it’s been memes. Huh.

This one is a few months old, and I can’t trace its origins. The heading is the dialect meme, but it’s really to do with which version of English you most commonly use. Despite globalisation of the language, I find that it takes less brain power for me to use British words, there are American words I never get.

  1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks.
  2. What the thing you push around the grocery store is called.
    shopping trolley
  3. A metal container to carry a meal in.
    lunch box
  4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in.
    pan, or if I want to be more specific a frying pan
  5. The piece of furniture that seats three people.
  6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof.
  7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening.
    balcony, or if on the ground floor between the house and garden it’s the conervatory
  8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages.
    soft drink
  9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup.
    pancakes, but thin ones not thick American ones
  10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself.
    bap. I know the answer is supposed to be sub, but that for me is short for either a submarine or a substitute
  11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach.
    swimming trunks or preferably please have them wear surfer dude shorts
  12. Shoes worn for sports.
  13. Putting a room in order.
    tidying up
  14. A flying insect that glows in the dark.
  15. The little insect that curls up into a ball.
    I have no idea
  16. The children’s playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down.
  17. How do you eat your pizza?
    um, knife and fork
  18. When private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff.
    garage sale
  19. The evening meal.
  20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are.
  21. The thing that you can get water out of to drink in public places?
    water fountain

more expert than beginner

confussed words meme

Your result for The Commonly Confused Words Test…
English Genius

You did so extremely well, even I can’t find a word to describe your excellence! You have the uncommon intelligence necessary to understand things that most people don’t. You have an extensive vocabulary, and you’re not afraid to use it properly! Way to go!

Take The Commonly Confused Words Test at HelloQuizzy

reading writing meme

Came across this on a bunch of writing LJs earlier this year. Now that it’s almost time to register for nano, I thought it’s timely.

  1. Three authors that have inspired or influenced my writing are:
    Brett Easton Ellis: Less than Zero in particular
    David Eddings who taught me the importance of telling a good story
    David Harsent: more known as a poet but his book From an Inland Sea had a mood that I’ve tried to create many times but without much success
  2. The hardest part of the writing process for me is:
    anything descriptive. I can’t write paragraphs and paragraphs of scenery or one person’s thoughts on the flowers in her garden
  3. One book I have always intended to read, but I haven’t yet is:
    the Count of Monte Cristo
  4. (True or False) I sometimes read non-fiction for pleasure.
    false. I’m afraid to say I have no patience for non-fiction. The only non-fiction I read are travel guides, which don’t really count
  5. (True or False) I came from a family that read a lot.
    true. I’m lucky enough to come from well educated families on both sides. My grandmother on my dad’s side was highly literate, in a generation some of whom didn’t know how to write their names. She taught me to read some quite complicated books even before I was a teenager
  6. My favorite movie adaptation of a book is:
    lord of the rings. I’d never be able to read the books, I tried. I know I’m not alone in this
  7. The most boring book I ever read all the way through is:
    none, if I find a book boring, I’d never finish it
  8. Poetry is:
    one of those things that’s just beyond my reach, like the word that’s on the tip of my tongue
  9. My favorite place to read is:
    where there is no noise
  10. The funniest thing I have read recently is:
    the guardian’s assertation it’s proven that teabags taste better than leaf tea because over 96% of British households use teabags. Get real! 96% of households use teabags because they’re convenient
  11. The most mind challenging thing I have read recently is:
    the independent article on consummation, very thought-provoking
  12. When I stop by my local library the librarians must think:
    did you come in here for the air-con?

my hovercraft is full of eels

After the blip that was the Nigella pancake post yesterday, we return you to regular mind babbles. The topic this week coincidentally has been speech. I’m not sure why, it wasn’t planned.

Via kottke’s remaindered links comes today’s fun language tidbit. The immortal phrase “my hovercraft is full of eels” in more languages than we will ever need. (Not all translations show up because of character set.)

Also on the site, translations for “a sandwich short of a picnic” and “this gentleman/lady will pay for everything.” Not to mention under Useful Phrases we have the Esperanto for “I want to hug that squirrel,” the Finnish for “is it ok if I bring my laptop in the sauna?” and the Swedish for “the giant crayfishes are attempting to conquer the Earth!” Huh.


The speech accent archive has over 630 recordings of people from all over the world reading the same English paragraph. The idea, according to the archivists, is to “uniformly exhibit a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds.” They rightly point out that people notice it if someone speak with an accent different from theirs and may even make judgements about the speaker based on accent alone.

Great site, where people can search by clicking on the flags of the country or region they are interested in. I had loads of fun listening to the various accents, and with some I found myself imitating them a little bit.

This is the paragraph they read. May be I should record me and save it here. Hahaha, I dunno.

Please call Stella. Ask her to bring these things with her from the store: Six spoons of fresh snow peas, five thick slabs of blue cheese, and maybe a snack for her brother Bob. We also need a small plastic snake and a big toy frog for the kids. She can scoop these things into three red bags, and we will go meet her Wednesday at the train station.

I’m not demented, I speak more than one language

via yahoo news, people who are fully bilingual and speak both languages every day for most of their lives can delay the onset of dementia by up to four years compared with those who only know one language.

The scientists from Toronto’s York University says that the extra effort involved in using more than one language appeared to boost blood supply to the brain and ensure nerve connections remained healthy — two factors thought to help fight off dementia.

That’s good isn’t it? So, to extrapolate, if I were fully trilingual would I delay the onset of Alzheimer’s by 8 years?

here’s my best brushoff

New York Times, first spotted via kottke, the hidden meaning behind email sign-offs. Apparently “Best” is a brush-off. Like, huh?

We definitely have become more casual in email correspondences. In terms of legality it’s like a letter, but the tone is certainly not that of a letter. At work I usually start with “Hi” and end with “regards” which I think is fairly safe. Sometimes I replace “regards” with “thanks”. I don’t like using a sig — a lot of people have their department, title, phone numbers at the bottom of their emails. I know it’s supposed to be professional, but I don’t even answer my phone ‘properly’ let alone email. “Best” is quite American to me, I’m fine with it, though I won’t use it myself. With colleagues I know better I may use “cheers”.

With friends I don’t even sign-off, I think it’s quite acceptable. Not meant to be rude, it’s like posting in forums, your username is already there, so why repeat it?

Salutations are over-rated anyway.


And now back to regularly scheduled programming.

From herodios via washington post.

In this age of email, the symbol @ is as common as, well, it is the symbol of email. Before email, it used to stand for “at” and used for measurment … at least in English speaking countries, like 5lbs applies @ $1/lb. Some other countries and languages didn’t used to have this symbol, so in the early days of email, this little symbol was called different things. Most names are related to how @ looks to the native speaker.

Most instances the languages refer to the tail of an animal or the animal itself:

  • monkey’s tail – Dutch (apestaart / apestaartje), German (affenschwanz), Polish (malpa – monkey), Swedish (apsvans)
  • pig’s tail – Danish / Norwegian (grisehale)
  • pig’s ear – Polish (ucho s’wini)
  • cat’s tail – Finnish (kissanhnta), Polish (kotek – cat)
  • dog – Russian (sobachka), meaning little dog
  • elephant’s trunk – Danish / Swedish (snabel)
  • rollmops – Czech & Slovak (zavinac)
  • worm – Hungarian (kukac)
  • snail – Italian (chiocciola), Hebrew (shablul), Korean (dalphaengi)

Some languages relate the @ sign to a roll, or rolled up food:

  • strudel – Hebrew (shtrudl)
  • cinnamon roll – Swedish (kanelbulle)
  • pretzel – Swedish (kringla)

Some languages are less inventive, going for boring terms like the Thais with ai tua yiukyiu (the wiggling worm-like character) or the Japanese with atto maaku (“at” mark) or in Mongolian buurunhii dotorh aa (A in round circle).

Of course, since that list was first compiled in 1997, the internet has exploded and usage of those terms has faded. Nowadays almost anyone around the world will use “at”.

Wouldn’t it be fun to tell someone that my email address is “invisiblecompany pig’s tail yahoo dot com”?

words and many more like it

From yahoo news.

Irritating words of 2004 include: flip flop when used as a verb, improvised explosive device or what once was known as a bomb, carbs, “You’re fired”, uber, wardrobe malfunction, blog, body wash or what used to be soap.

These are taken from the Lake Superior University Banished words list.

Strangely enough, some of the banished words have been voted words of the year by the American Dialect Society. Words like blog and the 2003 entry, metrosexual.

Just to show, each to their own.

I master you slave

This from yahoo news.

This year’s most politically incorrec term is master/slave, which some find racially offensive.

Which is true, given the phrase’s historical context and how totally unacceptably slavery was.

So how come it’s returned to semi-mainstream vocabulary. I don’t mean using it in D/s situations because that’s a whole area the mainstream is not ready for and by its nature, politically incorrect anyway.

Apparently some computer idiot coined the term to describe primary and secondary hard drives. Just what sort of insensitive geek would think of this term, the mind boggles, why not use primary and secondary drives?

Other politically incorrect terms mentioned include “non-same sex marriage” to describe heterosexual unions, “waitron” for waiter or waitress and “higher being” for God, which only makes me think of Cordelia Chase, hmmm.

beastly words

Note: I should put a R rating on this post, because of the topic.

I was trying to make sure I have the correct spelling for this word that describes a compendium of demons and mystical beings as it pertains to a particular universe.

a collection of stories providing physical and allegorical descriptions of real or imaginary animals along with an interpretation of the moral significance each animal was thought to embody.

Like a BtVS bestiary would contain descriptions and myths surrounding vampires, hellgods, praying mantis ladies, bringers, and such like.

Now I know, but when I googled it, I didn’t know how it’s spelled properly and typed bestiality, thinking it’s something similar.


1. the quality or condition of being an animal or like an animal;
2. conduct or an action marked by depravity or brutality;
3. sexual relations between a human and an animal.

The website with that name, let’s just say I have quite a high tolerance / indifference level for things other people do that don’t affect me. But I was wigged out, and feel decidedly uncomfortable. Now, I’m not condemning people who practice zoophilia, and I’m glad to read it’s no longer considered a disorder. It’s just that I can’t get my head around the concept.


While on shiver-worthy topics, check out the list of philia/s. Some are downright weird, some are just kinda silly.

I can’t believe I actually wrote a post on this.