Sing it!

While I was eating dinner in a pub, the big screen was showing the preliminaries to a repeat of the USA v Wales football/soccer world cup game, with the sound turned down. The teams came out and lined up and the two national anthems were played and sung. Looking very carefully, I could just see the USA team members’ mouths moving, but they clearly weren’t putting much effort into it. The Welsh team members, on the other hand, were actually singing. I even mouth-read the word Gwlad (country).  It wasn’t lip-reading, it was mouth-reading, like, their whole mouth. Sing (or don’t (see the Iranian team before their match)). Just don’t be wishy-washy about it.



A few nights ago a man was stabbed on a suburban street. He walked several blocks to a police station, from where he was taken to hospital in a survivable condition. The news report I saw interviewed a random man from that suburb, who was not even an eyewitness.  The reporter asked ‘Are you surprised there was a stabbing here?’. He said ‘Yeah. Usually it’s over there’ (pointing to the other side of the road).

The implied comparison of the question is ‘… as opposed to there not being a stabbing here?’, not ‘… as opposed to there being a stabbing over there?’. If there are usually stabbings over there, then a stabbing here cannot be especially surprising.

The man was obviously taking the mickey. Did the reporter and editor realise that but include the interview anyway, or didn’t they realise it? I would have thought news reporters and editors could recognise mickey being taken when they saw it.

Languages of Europe and Asia

One Youtuber’s videos of the languages of Europe and Asia, modelled by tv anchorwomen. I think she could have done more to point out the similarities and differences, either by grouping the related languages together or by using onscreen text. It is probably the first time I have heard many of these languages, at least consciously. (There seems to be an international preference towards anchorwomen who are at least slightly beautiful. Could there be any discriminatory hiring practices going on?)

Full credit to Margaret Ping

How will you be remembered?

This morning, one news website had the headline Happy Days star dies, 72. The photo obviously wasn’t Erin Moran (who I remember dying relatively recently, in reduced circumstances) or Marion Ross (whose name I had forgotten and who I was pleased to learn is still with us, aged 90, bless her). It was … Louisa Moritz, who was in … one episode. Other websites refer to her in One flew over the cuckoo’s nest (Wikipedia lists her second last) and/or as of one of the women who have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault.

Last year, I read a similar headline Doctor Who actress dies. Another website named Jacqueline Pierce, who was the major antagonist in Blake’s 7, and appeared in … one serial, three episodes of Doctor Who.

A few years ago in quick succession were the deaths of ‘David Bowie‘, ‘Eagles guitarist, Glenn Frey‘ and ‘Mr Ed’s human companion‘.

My name is Indo-European

My very last lesson as an English language teacher provided an interesting insight into languages … twice. I was using the Schoolhouse Rock and Grammaropolis songs to illustrate the main points of English grammar. My students on that day were from South Korea, Colombia and Nepal, so along the way I commented briefly about similarities and differences between English and Korean (eg, basic word order of subject-object-verb), and English and Spanish (eg, basic word order of noun-adjective). I could say absolutely nothing about Nepali. The only two things I know about Nepali are that it’s Indo-European and most closely related to Hindi and Urdu. So towards the end of the lesson, I went to the Wikipedia page on Nepali  in the hope of gleaning something of interest. One of the example sentences is My name is Bryan Butler, which is given in Nepali script as मेराे नाम ब्रायन बट्लर हाे । and then transliterated as mero nām brayan batlar ho.

mero nām – Indo-European much?

The Spanish student provided me with mi nombre and I know the Korean 내 이름 (nae i-reum) (usual/natural) and 제 이름 (je i-reum) (polite). Clearly, Korean is not an Indo-European language. Continue reading

Schoolhouse Rock songwriter Bob Dorough dies

I have mentioned the Schoolhouse Rock songs on English grammar. I use them in class occasionally, but have not fully explored them here.

In the news is the death of the songwriter Bob Dorough, whose name I had not encountered or thought to ascertain. He wrote many but not all of the songs.


A convenient playlist of the grammar songs


Reading Korean

I have been looking for material in easy but “real” Korean to read. About a week ago I remembered a book I bought during my first stay in Korea (2006-2009). At that time there was a popular tv program called 미녀들의 수다 (mi-nyeo-deul-e su-da), which translates literally as “beautiful women’s chat/gossip”, but which was officially called “Global Talk Show”. Young women from various countries chatted in Korean with a Korean host or panel. The topics focused on the women’s lives in Korea, compared to their own, and varied from insightful to superficial.

In 2008 I saw a book based on the show, with the women’s spoken contributions transcribed and maybe edited, and bought it for my girlfriend/fiancee/wife, who, as far as I know, never read it. For about a week I have been browsing through it. The women’s levels of Korean varies, and I am able to get the gist of most of what they say, most of some sentences and all of occasional sentences. In one case, I understood a whole paragraph:

한국에서 만든 브라지어 너무너무 귀여워서 사고 싶어요. 하지만 나는 못 사. 한국 브라지어 너무 작아요~. D컾까지밖에 없어. 영국에는 F컾까지 있어. 나 영국에서 D컾 했지만 한국 D컾 너무 작아요. 캐서린과 도미니크도 힘들 거야.

I have no idea why I read that paragraph (it’s towards the end of the book – I’ve been browsing) and I have no idea why I can understand it all. If you don’t read Korean, I’ll just point you to the fact that a young woman is talking about D컾 and F컾 and let you guess from there.

From the information at the back of the book, that young woman had been learning Korean for three and a half years at the time. I certainly couldn’t put paragraphs like that together at that stage. In fact I probably couldn’t speak paragraphs like that now.

(I think I’ve typed that paragraph correctly. Anything strange may be her spoken Korean or may be my typed Korean.)

Casting the first stone

The South Korean women’s curling team has done unexpectedly well, and will compete in the final tonight against Sweden. Australia’s affiliated broadcaster didn’t show last night’s semi-final against Japan in its entirety, or even give updates during the men’s ice hockey semi-final, so my wife and I downloaded the tv station’s app and watched on her mobile phone. The game finished after 1 am Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time (11 pm Korean time), so I went downstairs to get a drink of water. I briefly posted on Facebook “Oh, the excitement. Last throw (?terminology) win to Korea.” “Throw” just didn’t look right, but I couldn’t think of any other word. Given that the projectile is called a stone, maybe they could use “cast”. Before the game starts, the two teams need to ascertain who will cast the first stone – the player without sin, presumably. 

This morning, I set out to find the terminology. Wikipedia doesn’t help, using terminology inconsistently. I found the webpage of the World Curling Federation, which uses deliver(y) throughout, so I could/should have written “last delivery win to Korea”, but that doesn’t sound as dramatic. (Cricket also uses the term delivery, alongside ball: “last delivery win to Australia” or (probably more likely) “last ball win to Australia”. Continue reading

“choose crime huts of supplements”

The chapter in the textbook was about the media, and one activity was a reading about two famous tv interviews, David Frost’s of Richard Nixon and Martin Bashir’s of Princess Diana. I found videos of both on Youtube and played them to the students. The one I found of Princess Diana is bizarre, for reasons unconnected with her. It is subtitled in Japanese, and the autosubtitling in English is way off the mark. (I can make no comment about the quality of the Japanese.) The first question on this video (which picks up in the middle of the interview) is “What effect did the depression have on your marriage?”. Her answer is autosubtitled, “Well again everybody a wonderfully new label this time as unstable and donna’s m bank in balance enforcing that seems to stop on our thirty s”.

Other excerpts are “you have so much pain inside yourself then choose crime huts of supplements” and “I want to get better analgesic enforce and continue my teaching my romance wife mother kansas last”. All within the first minute and a quarter. Ponder a while.

She actually said:

Continue reading