Archive for the 'Languages' Category


Monday, January 29th, 2007

Just had a quick go at The Profane Game** but despite trying to remember some of Lyle‘s little gems (and *Karan‘s wonderful term which I use repeatedly and always see written as such in my head).

I scored a miserly 14 which I’m blaming on being British (why is arse not acceptable but ass is?) and not terribly imaginative in the cussing department.

The top score currently 140 – go see if you can beat it ‘cos I sure as shit can’t.

** MetaFilter discussion here.

Like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup

Friday, January 19th, 2007

I’m sure I’ve posted this before but I’m too lazy to go look for it and besides, it still makes me laugh. A lot. And that’s what we all need on a Friday.

Every year, English teachers from across the country can submit their collections of actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays. These excerpts are published each year to the amusement of teachers across the country. Here are last year’s winners.

  1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
  2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
  3. (more…)

Mind your own beeswax

Friday, January 19th, 2007

A lovely grey, wrinkled elephant bum.
Photo by Anna Grist at Stock Xchng

Ever wanted to politely tell someone to mind their own business without offending them? Try this:

Wind it in, trunky.

I laughed solidly for three days the first time I heard that. Yes, I know, get thyself a life.

Quote of the day, #41

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

From the much missed Open Brackets (especially for e):

Any editor or translator will tell you that the sensation of dread that descends when faced (once again) with having to proof someone else’s work, sick will be lightened immeasurably when the text on the dull topic of telecoms begins like this:

Penetration in the Belgium is one of the deepest and hardest in Europe.

Lost in translation

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

alternatively titled Clichés are us. Wonder how many times those three words have been abused since the release of the film. Oh wait – 62 million! Oh wait, let me dig in the bookmarks a little…. here it is, Carl Tashian’s Lost in translation lets you see what happens when an English phrase is translated by computer back and forth between 5 different languages. So if we start off with a relatively simple snippet from the Sanyo VI-2300 manual (pdf):

You’ll get the most out of your phone if you read each section. However, if you’d like to get right to a specific feature, simply locate that section in the Table of Contents and go directly to that page. Follow the instructions in that section, and you’ll be ready to use your phone in no time.

We end up with:

_ majority of ricev of You_ll its telephone, if you legg each section_ nevertheless if you_d with a specific unit for divent like exact, you the simple fact of trov that the section when satisfer and entr you dirigem this pagination _ obbed the section done of the instruction, and you_ll to wait for the use for utilizz its telephone between anything _

Not a fair test? Well there’s a rather good Wired article by Steve Silberman about the history and far distant future of accurate machine translation.

Anyway, I logged on to finish a post about favourite forrun words and ask about yours but this story from the BBC caught my eye and raised a quiet chuckle:

Bladder alert lost in translation

Road sign reads: Cyclists dismount, Llid y bledren dymchwelyd

Cyclists were left confused by a bilingual road sign telling them they had problems with an inflamed bladder.

The “cyclists dismount” sign between Penarth and Cardiff became “llid y bledren dymchwelyd” in Welsh – literally “bladder inflammation upset” (or tip or overturn).

It is possible that an online translation led to confusion between cyclists and cystisis.

Which led me to dig up some other stories in the pending to blog folder (Gordon will be so proud of me!).


Oh Dorking

Sunday, July 16th, 2006

So to Dorking at the crack of dawn on a fishing related mission.

I do love the word Dorking. It conjures up memories of Enid Blyton tales, cream teas and village post offices run by kindly old ladies ready to gossip at the drop of a hat.

I put this to himself but he thinks that the word is more suited to something that should have a section of its own in the Sexual Offences Act.

Thank you M’lud. Mr Smith, you are charged in that you did, wilfully and maliciously dork in a public place to the annoyance of residents and passengers, including the disruption of the Annual General Meeting of the Godalming Women’s Insitute.

Oh blame it on the heat. The temperature is set to reach 28 ºC today, 33 ºC by Tuesday (that’s 82 ºF and 91 ºF in old money). Bleugh.

Time wasters #1

Monday, June 26th, 2006

It’s Sunday night, there’s nowt on the tellybox and you’re in the mood for a little light entertainment. How about Etymologic “The toughest word game on the internet”. You’re presented with 10 randomly selected etymology or word definition puzzles to solve, such as:

Whence comes the phrase on tenterhooks, which means in a state of uneasy suspense or anxiety?

  • USA, 20th Century. In meat packing, beef is aged (tenderized) by hanging on extremely sharp, large steel hooks.
  • USA, 19th Century. On the Chautauqua speakers circuit, the tent canvasses were raised using large hooks called tenter hooks.
  • An English adulteration of the French, tendre, to touch. In needlework, if a stitcher frequently pricked her finger, she was said to be using tendre hooks, rather than straight needles.
  • English. From clothweaving. The first few strands used to start a new fabric bolt are stretched precariously on small hooks or bent nails, called tenter hooks.

Failing that, you could learn to write your name in Elvish in ten minutes.

Finally, I’ve a suspicion that this is a setup but it does make me thank the good Lord that we were too poor to afford video cameras when I was a child.

A (wo)man with a mission

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I think I just discovered my purpose in life : editing Wikipedia articles to correct the use of England when it should be the United Kingdom and (far more rarely), the use of the UK when it should be England.

1 down, 6 gazillion to go.

If only we could fix the output of BBC Radio 4 so easily.

Ydach chi wedi ceisio troi’r cyfrifiadur ymlaen ac i ffwrdd?

Friday, March 24th, 2006

From the BBC:

A whole glossary for the IT-generation of Welsh-speakers has been incorporated in a new database launched by the Welsh Language Board (WLB).

Technological advances are reflected in laptop (coliadur), download (llwytho i lawr) or even cookies (briwsion) being included in the online dictionary.

For those still stuck, there is also “Ydach chi wedi ceisio troi’r cyfrifiadur ymlaen ac i ffwrdd?”, which is Welsh for “Have you tried turning it off and on?”

Nos da.

[tags]Welsh, language, new, words, technology[/tags]

Habla Espanol?

Monday, May 2nd, 2005

If not but you’d like to start learning and have access to BBC2 you might like to set the video tonight because the BBC are broadcasting 20 episodes of the Sueños World Spanish series (Tuesday 3 May from 01:00 to 06:00).

I really wish I’d kept up with Spanish. I took daily lunchtime classes while working at Big Multinational Company in Belgium with an excellent tutor with an almost hypnotic voice that forced even the English (yes, I mean the English not the British Lisp) to speak with a perfect accent. Trouble is, I’d leave every lesson speaking with a lithp lisp.

¡Hasta luego, mis amigos!

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