I am researching places to go and things to do in South Korea. We’ve booked flights there at the end of Dec and back at the end of Jan. In fact, I ‘ve been researching since before the travel restrictions started. We were just about to book travel to South Korea and Europe.
Unlike one of the only places, which has its defenders but I find meaningless even as I understand what the person is trying to mean, one of the few most romantic places does make sense, mostly. There are romantic places in Korea. This is one of the romantic places in Korea. There are the most romantic places in Korea. This is one of the most romantic places in Korea. There are few most romantic places in Korea. This is one of the few most romantic places in Korea. (Compare One of the few romantic places in Korea!)
It makes sense, but it’s very awkward. We expect the most to be either one or few at most. Having many mosts defeats the purpose of them being most.
A Google search shows one of the few most:
stable currencies, important ways, talented and complete musician [sic], natural sites, beautiful Islamic prayer quotes, prestigious museums
In most cases, either few or most would suffice, few if you want to imply a smaller number (one of the few stable currencies) and most if you don’t (one of the most important ways).
One of the few most important musician is plain wrong. Few must be followed by a plural noun.
Many years ago, a service worker introduced herself as a name which sounded like Psycho. It would have been unreasonable to ask for clarification, so I just tucked it away at the back of my mind. Maybe now I’d have more confidence to ask.
A few months ago I was watching a video by Chris Broad, who has a Youtube channel about his life in Japan. One, titled 25 ESSENTIAL Japanese Words for EVERYDAY Conversation includes the word saikou literally the most, used to mean It’s the best. Searching for Japanese names, I found Saiko. There’s no definitive website of Japanese names, but this one gives a number of meanings, depending on the kanji; others give ‘most, greatest’ as the or a meaning. In the absence of any further information, I’ll assume that the service worker was Japanese, and this was her name. You’d think that some colleague would have told her that it’s not a good name for a service worker trying to make a good impression. Either that or wear a name tag.
I searched for ‘name sounds like psycho’ and found this unexplained site of Baby names like Psycho, which a) isn’t the same thing and b) mostly aren’t remotely like psycho.
So why did this name stick in my mind out of all the service workers who have ever introduced themselves? Probably because of the unusualness of it. Maybe if I’d moved to Japan and/or been a manga or anime fan, I might have discovered this sooner.
(There’s a cartoon of a worker lettering the door of an office with ‘Psycho the rapist’.)
I have posted before about the ways in which the titles of Korean movies are rendered in English: either the Korean name is retained (Silmido), or the English title is an exact or approximate translation of the Korean (Parasite), or the English title is more or less completely different (The host), or the Korean title is itself a transliteration of English (Oldboy).
I recently discovered the website koreanfilm.org, which I first assumed was an official site, but which turned out to be the private site of Darcy Paquet, now best known for his collaboration with director Bong Joon-Ho on the English subtitles for Parasite, assisted by a team of volunteer reviewers. The site gives the title of each movie in Korean and English, but otherwise refers to each by its English title. With some knowledge of Korean, the strategies I listed in the first paragraph can be seen. Sometimes the reviewer discusses the Korean title when it sheds some light on the meaning of the movie.
The champion in the ‘more different’ category is surely the 2004 movie 어디선가 누군가에 무슨일이 생기면 틀림없이 나타난다 홍반장 (eo-di-seon-ga nu-gun-ga-e mu-seun-il-i saeng-ki-myeon teul-rim-eob-shi na-ta-nan-da hong ban-jang), which is rendered in English as Mr Handy, or Mr Hong, or Mr Handy, Mr Hong, but which translates literally as If something happens to somebody somewhere, he always shows up, Chief Hong. This was the basis for the 2021 tv series Hometown Cha-cha-cha, which I mentioned here (in the PS at the end). ban-jang by itself usually translates as class monitor or class president at a school. Calling him Chief Hong makes it sound like he is the chief of police. Three major translation tools don’t even bother with the last word(s), Google giving If something happens to someone somewhere, it will definitely show up, Bing If something happens to someone anywhere, it will surely appear and Papago If something happens to someone, he will definitely appear.
A few weeks ago, I submitted an application for an online editorial job. The ad stated that the company uses US English style, so I doubled-checked for anything I could incorporate. I was able to include search engine optimization, but the only Honours was part of the official name of my linguistics degree, so that had to stay. I then thought about serial commas, which I don’t usually use. (They have their uses, but if in doubt, leave it out.) I searched for and, and was surprised to find 63 ands in a 938-word document, or 6.71% of the total.
And is the third or fifth most common word in English, depending on which list you consult. One site gives its frequency as 2.67%, which means I used it more than average. I could avoid almost all of them. I could write:
I hold qualifications in linguistics. I hold qualifications in teaching English to speakers of other languages. I hold qualifications in classical music. I have worked as a legal publishing editor. I have worked as a magazine subeditor. I have worked as an English language teacher.
But it is more natural to write:
I hold qualifications in linguistics, teaching English to speakers of other languages and classical music, and have worked as a legal publishing editor, magazine subeditor and English language teacher.
Three ands in 29 words is just over 10%, without being particularly noticeable.
My sisters and I have been notifying relatives and friends of our father’s death. One of them got a card from our mother’s father’s cousin. Given that our grandfather would be 115, how old is his cousin? One sister found a family history website that gives her year of birth as 1926, so she’s 92 – her father married late.
That’s a very big family history website. How far back does that go? One section (a family tree showing names only) traces that side of the family back to Scotland in 1520 (with a lot of Majors and The Reverends along the way). (At one point there were three Major John [surname]s in a row. The first was the son of Sir John, just to be different.) Impressive. But another section of the site (giving more or fewer biographical details for each person) traces the family back through earls of various places in Scotland (at one point there were three Earl Patricks in a row) to King Duncan – you know, the one fictionally killed by Macbeth (apparently the real Macbeth didn’t kill the real Duncan, but defeated him in battle) (you mean Shakespeare made stuff up?). The male line stops at Duncan’s father, but Duncan’s wife’s family traces back to Kenneth MacAlpin, the first ‘King of Scots’ (my 35x great-grandfather, if I’ve counted correctly) and past him to semi-history/semi-legend then complete legend.
I may have written a different essay for year 11 English if I’d known that.
For the past few days Korea has been battered by a typhoon, though fortunately the damage seems to have been contained.
I looked at the Korea Herald website for information. I noticed that the story contained information which seemed to be superfluous, for example, “Daejeon, South Chungcheong Province, about 140 kilometers south of Seoul” and “The southern port city of Busan”, as well as “Busan, some 450 km southeast of Seoul” in a photo caption.
Given that the Herald’s readership is predominantly a) Koreans who want to practice their English, b) English-speaking people in Korea, and c) English-speaking people elsewhere who are interested in Korea and have gone to the Herald instead of any other news site, I would have thought that the Herald’s readership would probably know where Busan is and possibly know where Daejeon is.
On the side of the page was a list of the top 10 recent stories. Among a number of typhoon-related stories, was: “Filipino-Indian couple caught stealing plastic bins from kimchi factory.”
One of the items my local choir is singing is a medley of the American folk songs Shenandoah (which I previously knew) and He’s gone away (which I didn’t). Because of the folk origins of both songs, information about them is confused and confusing. Shenandoah might be the Oneida Iroquois chief (“I love your daughter”) or the river in Virginia and West Virginia (“Away, you rolling river”) or both. On the other hand “Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter” might just be a poetic way of saying “I love a young woman who lives in the Shenandoah Valley”.
The only information I could find about He’s gone away is that it’s from North Carolina. It contains the line “Look away over Yandro”. Where is Yandro? It probably isn’t. There is a possibility that it’s a local name for a local watercourse or mountain which (the name) didn’t survive, but the consensus of opinion on a discussion site for choral directors is that it’s a local pronunciation of yonder(indeed some versions of the words render it “over Yondro”, which might have originated as “over yondro”). One participant linked to what looks like a personal blog which claims that yandro means “the place we put our hopes and our longings. It is the place of reunions dreamt of fondly. It is the place, wherever it may be, that we meet our hearts”. Yeah, right. That blog is private, so I can’t check its writer’s credentials.Continue reading →
I have posted before about unexplained and puzzling advice on language-related websites. This kind of advice is given in terms of ‘that is wrong, this is right’. I stumbled across a website which gives generally correct and useful advice on English vocabulary, grammar and usage for second-language learners. But on one page, among 13 pieces of unexceptional advice, are three pieces of unexplained and puzzling advice on word usage. I won’t identify the website, because I don’t want to name and shame; this person has obviously put a lot of time and effort into the site and the advice is generally correct and useful. The name and photo indicate someone from a major English-speaking country, one sentence uses the spelling center, many of the mistakes sound typical of Indian English, and one sentence mentions Chennai, so draw your own conclusions from that.
The website has a page of ‘Common mistakes in the use of nouns’. Only one piece of advice comes with an explanation:
Incorrect: I am learning a new poetry.
Correct: I am learning a new poem. Poetry means poems collectively.
The three puzzling pieces of advice are:
(1) Incorrect: He enquired about your state of health.
(2) Correct: He enquired about the state of your health.
(3) Incorrect: My English is very weak.
(4) Correct: I am very weak in English.
(5) Incorrect: Why are you standing in the center of the street?
(6) Correct: Why are you standing in the middle of the street? [my numbering]