Confessions of an Idiom

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Something funny to start the working week — Everyone has Skeletons in their Closet but what happens if one day the Elephant in the Room decides to make the Skeleton in the Closet bring the truth to light? The Skeleton isn’t one to confess to his crimes so easily. Mayhem ensues in this power struggle with a world full of idioms.

Confessions of an Idiom

This film was done by Amanda Koh and Mollie Helms at Ringling College of Art + Design. If you have any questions, feel free to visit their website at amkoh.com

Confessions of an Idiom

Stay tuned for more information on Facebook.

#AussieSayings you never knew you needed to understand plus some Monty Python

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Those #AussieSayings got some attention in the Twitter world the other day and Mashable was so kind to collect some of the best and mostly hard to translate phrases from the land of the Bruces.

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More here.

We have to add that the intellectual überminds of Monty Python had a look at #AussieSayings way before Twitter was born of course. Here we go, Ladies and Bruces.


This is the original sketch about the Australian University of Woolloomooloo, not the live version from the Hollywood Bowl show which also includes The Philosopher’s Song. The song does not feature in the original television version, which instead ends with the first Bruces saying “Sidney Nolan! What’s that?” pointing to the ear of fourth Bruce returning to that episode’s running joke, “how to recognise different parts of the body”.

So Thou Wantst to Write Olde-Timey Speech

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Let’s say you’re a writer or a translator. Wouldn’t you like your work to not only evoke the time period you’re replicating, but actually work?

To that end Jezebel started a new series of posts filed under “Memeievalism” and aimed at giving a few tips toward improving the verisimilitude of your attempts to capture the speech of bygone days.

Read the first post here. The word ‘thou’ is the first lesson.

A good source in this context is the Middle English Dictionary by the way.

Essay: There Is No ‘Proper English’

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Never mind the grammar scolds. If people say it, it’s the right way to speak.

Is there such a thing as “proper English”? Here’s an excerpt from an essay in the Wall Street Journal by Oliver Kamm:

“A few weeks ago, pundits and columnists lauded a Wikipedia editor in San Jose, Calif., who had rooted out and changed no fewer than 47,000 instances where contributors to the online encyclopedia had written “comprised of” rather than “composed of.” Does anyone doubt that our mother tongue is in deep decline?

Well, for one, I do. It is well past time to consign grammar pedantry to the history books.

As children, we all have the instinct to acquire a set of rules and to apply them. Any toddler is already a grammatical genius. Without conscious effort, we combine words into sentences according to a particular structure, with subjects, objects, verbs, adjectives and so on. We know that a certain practice is a rule of grammar because it’s how we see and hear people use the language.

That’s how scholarly linguists work. Instead of having some rule book of what is “correct” usage, they examine the evidence of how native and fluent nonnative speakers do in fact use the language. Whatever is in general use in a language (not any use, but general use) is for that reason grammatically correct.”

Excerpt from an essay in the Wall Street Journal by Oliver Kamm, editorial writer and columnist for the Times of London. His latest book is “Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage.”

Why English Changes More Slowly Today Than It Did A Thousand Years Ago

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“As languages acquire new speakers, spread to new geographic areas, and mingle with other languages, they change. But is that change happening as quickly as it once did?” (IO9)

What might a future version of English look? Perhaps not quite so different from the version we see today — and we owe that to the widespread growth of the written word.

Read the story at IO9 here.

Top image: A 15th century edition of Recuyell of the Histories of Troy from Brandeis University’s Special Collections

RhymeZone – Find rhymes, synonyms, and more

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RhymeZone is a great website to see how a word is used in the context of famous quotes, poems, and plays, but also an easy way of finding rhymes and a whole lot more. Here’s a brief overview of what Rhymezone can do for you:

Find rhymes: This function will return words that exactly rhyme with the word you typed in.
Find near rhymes: This function will return words that almost rhyme with the word you typed in.
Find synonyms: This function will return words that are the same or similar in meaning to the word you typed in.
Find anonyms: This function will return words that can mean the opposite of what you typed in.
Find definition: This function will search for definitions of the word you typed in. It will also allow you to submit your query to other online dictionaries on the Web.
Find homophones: This function will return words that have exactly the same pronunciation as what you typed in but are spelled differently.
Find similar sounding words: This function will return words that have a pronunciation that’s similar, but not necessarily the same, as what you typed in.
Match consonants: This option will return words that have the same pattern of consonant sounds. Phonetic, for example, will return fanatic.
Find related words: This option will return words that are related in some important way to what you typed in.
Find similar spellings: This option will return words in the dictionary that are spelled similarly to what you typed in. Use this feature to spell-check a word that you aren’t sure of.
Match these letters: This option will return words and phrases that contain the letters you type in.
Search for pictures: This function will search for kids-friendly pictures on the Web related to the word you typed in.
Search in Shakespeare: This function will search all of Shakespeare’s plays and poems for your word.

Übelsetzungen

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Langenscheidt has started a new collection of incredibly bad translations into German from all over the world. Author Titus Arnus has also been a guest on “Tv Total” in case you want to know more.

Photo: Haimo Pölzl

How do we measure language fluency?

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“The first and central culprit is the idea that fluency is an absolute status, that the world of each language is divided into two groups: “fluent” and “non-fluent”. But here’s a brief example of how muddy these waters can actually be: if I am born in Moscow, but then move to Toronto at 14 and never speak a word of Russian again for the rest of my life, am I still fluent at 89? Language is a living thing; it always happens within a context and relative to that context, and those contexts often do not have any exterior criteria by which they could be termed standard.”

From “Let’s Bust Some Myths About Fluency” by Noah Harley, a short essay over at babbel.com.

Babbel Voices | Myths of Fluency

Wikipedia says: “Language fluency is used informally to denote broadly a high level of language proficiency, most typically foreign language or another learned language, and more narrowly to denote fluid language use, as opposed to slow, halting use. ”

Lesson Planet: Ready . . . Set . . . Read! Teaching Reading Fluency – There are many activities and lesson ideas that teachers can use to reinforce reading fluency skills.

Image lifted from Almost Fearless.

Hands on with the latest Google Translate App

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“Real time translation, the kind we imagined in science fiction is finally within reach”, writes Mashable. “In the space of just a few months, Microsoft has introduced live translation services to Skype (still in preview) and now the latest Google Translate features live, language-detecting, two-way audio translation on its free iOS and Android apps.

Google Translate [iTunes link] can handle dozens of languages and will understand and return text and audio translations in real time.”

Mashable had a closer look.

The Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary

Star Wars English-Japanese DictionaryHere’s a great new way to study Japanese or English: using this awesome Star Wars English Learner’s Dictionary from Japan that teaches you through Star Wars quotes. It’s much easier to learn a language when you can connect it to knowledge you already have, and this might be a great way for you or your Padawan to study! So do, or do not. There is no try!

For sale at Jbox.

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