While I was making the bed just before, I noticed that the summer quilt we’re using has the very Konglish brand name SHE’S CLUB.

This immediately reminded me of a dress shop I’ve seen in the medium-sized suburb of Strathfield (which has a large Korean community) named SHE’S … something. Is it SHE’S BOUTIQUE? No, that’s in Downers Grove, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago (with no indication of Korean ownership on the shop front).

Google Maps Street View to the rescue. (I don’t usually give free publicity to corporate entities, but I really gotta in this case.)

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South Korean public holidays

Some South Koreans and many foreigners working there have just started a 10-day extended holiday, due to a conjunction of three public holidays. Most of Korea’s public holidays are dated using the modern international solar calendar, but three are dated using the traditional Korean lunar calendar, which means that they jump around in the solar calendar like Easter. In addition, two of the traditional holidays (lunar New Year and lunar Thanksgiving) attract three-day holidays, which can extend to five depending on where the day itself falls in the week (ideally Tuesday or Thursday).

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The Blue Mountains v Blue Mountain

Yesterday I went driving, exploring and photographing in part of what some of my students call Blue Mountain, and what I insist on calling the Blue Mountains. There’s no place in Australia called Blue Mountain, but there are genuine linguistic reasons why some of my students (and, I guess, many others) change the Blue Mountains to Blue Mountain. Many languages do not have the equivalent of English a and the, and many speakers of English as a second language just aren’t used to saying those two English words. Many languages also do not have the equivalent of English plural s (or, as in Korean, it may be optional). English plural s often makes a double, triple or even quadruple consonant cluster with the final consonant(s) – here ns, which many second language speakers find difficult and want to simplify.

The Blue Mountains cover a large area, and people usually go to only a very small part of them. The officially defined geographic area covers 11,400 km2, almost as large as the Sydney metropolitan area (12,367 km2) and larger than 37 sovereign states. The local government area and the state electorate are, respectively, the City of Blue Mountains and the Electoral district of Blue Mountains, respectively.

And they aren’t blue. The sun filtering through evaporated eucalyptus oil gives the scenery a very slightly blueish tinge, but the trees are otherwise green and the rocks brown. I hope tourist books explain that.

The same linguistic issues arose when a student told me that she’d gone to Southern ’Ighland (viz, the Southern Highlands) the previous weekend. This sounded either like Southern Island (there is no Southern Island anywhere in the physical world) or (in my non-rhotic pronunciation) Southern Ireland (ooooh, a lot of Irish history and politics there).

[edit 6 Oct: after I posted on Facebook about another photo-hike to the Blue Mountains, an online friend from Canada told me that there is a Blue Mountain in Ontario (the name of the mountain and a ski resort), as well as nearby town named ‘The Blue Mountains‘.]

Somewhere under the rainbow

Yesterday I noticed that two of the WordPress blogs I regularly read show a rainbow  motif across the top. Maybe those bloggers just want to make their blogs pretty, or maybe they are using the rainbow motif to show their support for gay and lesbian etc rights. That is their choice. Then I noticed that my blog also shows a rainbow motif across the top. That is not my choice. As far as I know, WordPress has decided to show this on all the blogs on its platform (one other blog I irregularly read also shows it). (Maybe it only shows in Australia, given the current postal survey campaign on marriage law in Australia. Will someone not from Australia please tell me whether or not they can see the rainbow motif on my or any other WordPress blog?

I may or may not support any or all proposals for gay and lesbian etc rights, but if I do or don’t, I will decide or not to show, voice, demonstrate etc my thoughts and feelings, including showing or not a rainbow motif at the top of my blog. I can’t find anything on WordPress’s Help about why it has done this, or how to turn it off or on.

You may or may not think that if I may or may not support any or all proposals for gay and lesbian etc rights, then I would have the courage of my convictions and say so, one way or the other. Maybe. I have thoughts and feelings on the topics, but I have no experience about writing about them in the same way that I write about language, music etc.

The King’s Birthday, Sydney Cove, 1788

The Queen’s Birthday is a public holiday in all jurisdictions of Australia. In most, it is on the second Monday in June, a holdover from King George V, whose birthday was on 3 June. By coincidence, the birthday of King George III, the monarch at the time of the British settlement/colonisation/invasion of Australia, was on 4 June. In An Account of the English Colony in New South Wales (the most comprehensive of the First Fleet and early colonial accounts), David Collins, the Judge-Advocate and Colonial Secretary, wrote:

From His Majesty’s birthday was kept with every attention that it was possible to distinguish it by in this country; the morning was ushered in by the discharge of twenty-one guns from the Sirius and Supply; on shore the colours were hoisted at the flag-staff, and at noon the detachment of marines fired three volleys; after which the officers of the civil and military establishment waited upon the governor, and paid their respects to his excellency in honor of the day. At one o’clock the ships of war again fired twenty-one guns each; and the transports in the cove made up the same number between them, according to their irregular method on those occasions. The officers of the navy and settlement were entertained by the governor at dinner … At sunset the ships of war paid their last compliment to his Majesty by a third time firing twenty-one guns each. At night several bonfires were lighted; and, by an allowance of spirits given on this particular occasion, every person in the colony was enabled to drink his Majesty’s health.

Some of the worst among the convicts availed themselves of the opportunity that was given them in the evening, by the absence of several of the officers and people from their tents and huts, to commit depredations. One officer on going to his tent found a man in it, whom with some difficulty he secured, after wounding him with his sword. The tent of another was broken into, and several articles of wearing apparel stolen out of it; and many smaller thefts of provisions and clothing were committed among the convicts. Several people were taken into custody, and two were afterwards tried and executed. One of these had absconded, and lived in the woods for nineteen days, existing by what he was able to procure by nocturnal depredations among the huts and stock of individuals. His visits for this purpose were so frequent and daring, that it became absolutely necessary to proclaim him an outlaw, as well as to declare that no person must harbour him after such proclamation.


When is the Queen’s birthday not the Queen’s Birthday?

Last week I told my students that today was a public holiday. One student said ‘Is it Queen Elizabeth’s birthday?’. I said ‘No, it the Queen’s Birthday’. Queen Elizabeth’s birthday is 21 April. The Queen’s Birthday is today. The June date (the second Monday in June) is a holdover from George V, whose birthday was 3 June. The short-reigned Edward VIII’s birthday was 23 June, but George IV’s was 14 December (too close to Christmas/New Year and Elizabeth II’s is too close to Easter and Anzac Day (25 April). (If George V’s birthday was 3 June, why didn’t they settle on the first Monday in June?)

In Australia, there is very little, if any, official commemoration of the day. (It’s not even celebrated on the same day in each state.) Previously, awards in the Imperial honours systems (for example, MBE, OBE, KBE) were announced on the Queen’s Birthday. Apparently, awards in the Order of Australia still are; if so, it is a much smaller event that the announcement on Australia Day.

In New South Wales, all but one of the public holidays  fall in a span of less than six months, between 25 December and the second Monday in June. After this, we have only Labour Day (the first Monday in October).

We built this city

I can’t remember when I bought this puzzle. The last building on the chart dates from 2007, so it’s obviously after then (indeed after 2009, when I returned from Korea). It has three components – a standard cardboard jigsaw of the land (with buildings as at some unspecified earlier time) and water, a foam jigsaw of the land (with buildings generally as at 2007) and plastic buildings which slot into the foam layer. Some details are worrying (like the cricket ground and football stadium being there, and buildings across streets) and some have been superseded (the Entertainment Centre/Convention Centre area (now and Barangaroo). (The manufacturers are 4D Cityscapes Inc, in Markham, Ontario.)

I have done this with my students several times. The foam layer is easier (because it covers less area and has larger pieces) and more interesting. The cardboard layer is much harder. We did this in the last class of last year, and completed about 3/4 of it. Getting it home was a challenge, but I set it up on the dining room table and continued occasionally for almost two months.

I finished yesterday. This person finished quicker, and included stirring music.

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