removalist

My wife and I are in the process of selling one house, buying another and moving. While writing comments on Facebook, I noticed that its spell-checker was red-underlining removalist. (Pages for Mac and WordPress do, too.) Dictionary.com lists removalist as “Australian”, which surprised me. I asked my North American friends on Facebook, and they said they would only use mover but would understand removalist in the context of moving house. (By the way, moving house or just moving are both reasonably strange things to say. One student once told me that she’d spent the weekend “moving my house”.)

Some of my Facebook friends also mentioned packers. I have been doing most of the packing myself, and we won’t be paying specifically for packing (the removalists may do some incidental packing). Many years ago I attended a party for a friend whose company was relocating her to Melbourne. She said that the company was paying for the move, including the packing. Later in the evening, someone else commented on the lack of cardboard boxes around the apartment. I said “Kerry and Jamie are coming tomorrow morning”. She looked puzzled, and so were my North American friends when I told that story on Facebook. Anyone not from Australia is welcome to guess my meaning before I update with the answer.

One of my Australian friends mentioned a play (later a movie) by the Australian playwright David Williamson titled The Removalists. Given that there is only one actual removalist in the play/movie, it is possible that there is a double meaning in the title.

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How much more?

In Australia, a standard bottle of wine contains 750 millilitres. Today I bought a bottle containing 1 litre. The label proclaims “OVER 33% THAN A 750 ML BOTTLE”.

This is true. 250 ml is 33 point 33 recurring percent more than a 750 ml bottle, which is indeed over 33 percent (or more than, if that’s what your style guide says). To be fair, the winery may not legally be able to claim “33 percent more” when there’s actually “33 point 33 recurring more”. But is anyone going to complain that they got 2.5 ml more than promised, which is what the difference between 33 point 33 recurring percent and 33 percent actually comes down to?

I’ve just got to remember not to drink 33 point 33 recurring percent more of it.

이민자

My wife has a very good friend named Min-ja Lee (이민자). I was suprised to see her name on the front page of one of Sydney’s Korean-language community newspapers. Except it wasn’t. 이민자 (i-min-ja) is also the Korean word for immigration, and the story was about how the number of visa holders to coming to Australia has fallen in the wake of new regulations brought in by the Australian government recently.

I asked my wife about this, and she said that all Koreans are aware that this rather common name is a real Korean word. I am trying to think of a real English name which is a real English word. This Buzzfeed article (your sensitivity and sense of humour may vary) doesn’t provide any, and joke names like Amanda Hugginkiss aren’t ‘a’ word.

I previously knew the related Korean word 이민 (immigrant), which is often used to advertise migration services; they are immigrant agents rather than immigration agents. Although the surname 이 is pronounced Lee in English, it is pronounced ee in Korean, for reasons I’ve never been able to discover. Continue reading

I’d like to talk to you about cheeses

During the week I edited an article which quoted a company spokesperson talking about the company’s pizza which included an “Edam, mozzarella and Cheddar” topping. Edam and Cheddar are real places (in the Netherlands and England, respectively), and their cheeses originally had an upper case letter (and often still do). Mozzarella is not a place; the name is derived from the Italian mozza, a slice. So do I really have to have that mix of upper- and lower-case letters? Fortunately not. The Macquarie Dictionary styles edam and cheddar (the cheeses) with a lower-case letter, so the magazine will have “edam, mozzarella and cheddar”.

Various food and drink products have “protected designation of origin” status; for example, only sparkling wine from that region of France can be called (upper case) Champagne. There is, in the European Union, at least, no such thing as (lower case) champagne. Continue reading

499th post – first day as a magazine sub-editor

Today was my first day as a sub-editor for a small publishing company which produces business-related magazines. Compared to my English teaching job, it’s full-time, permanent, during the day, closer to where I live* and, possibly most importantly, quiet and self-focused, ideal work for an introvert. (Editors are not only allowed to be introverts, they are possibly expected to be.**) Because this blog is semi-anonymous, I’m not going to tell you the names of the magazines, publisher or location.

Before I became an English language teacher, I worked in two different editorial jobs for about eight years, mostly for one of Australia’s leading legal publishers. I also did some work for them after I returned from South Korea the first time, and an associated part of my English language teaching has been producing materials for my colleagues who teach interpreting and translating. I had applied for a number of jobs, not just in the field of editing but also anything else I thought would be vaguely suitable, and had had (I think) 12 interviews in the last 13 months. One problem was that I am very much a jack-of-all-trades-and-master-of-none, and would lose out to someone who had actually been doing that job for the last up to eleven and a half years. Finally …

I hope to continue this blog, but I might not have so much to write about. But I’ve got a lot left over from English language teaching, my masters study and ideas I’ve collected along the way, so there’ll be more yet.

*In the morning, I left with plenty of time to get there. In the afternoon, I left work at 5.06 and was arrived home at 6.01.

**Most of my colleagues are quieter than I am!

Speaking and listening to Korean

My wife’s sister-in-law is visiting from Korea, less to visit us and more to visit her daughter/our niece, who is living with us while she studies at university her. Her English is very limited (essentially just those English words which are used in Korean), so we must rely on my Korean to communicate. My listening is the worst part of my Korean, and three instances of a mis-hearing have stuck in my mind.

On the day she arrived, her daughter/our niece caught a train to the airport, met her, they caught a train back and I picked them up at our local station. I said hello, it’s nice to see you (in Korean). She then said something which flummoxed me. The Korean word for wait starts with 기다 (gi-da). I heard 기도 (gi-do), which is the Korean word for prayer, and I couldn’t figure out why she was asking me about praying. Our niece eventually translated (she’d said Have you been waiting long?). Continue reading