Archive for October, 2012

Nobel Prize

Posted on October 31st, 2012by jake
In Chinese, Events | Leave a Comment »

Chinese author Mo Yan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Mo Yan when literally translated means ‘don’t speak’. He is one of China’s most highly regarded authors and he has written nine novels and many short stories.

‘The Swedish Academy praised his work which “with hallucinatory realism merges folk tales, history and the contemporary”.

The 57-year-old is the first Chinese resident to win the prize. Chinese-born Gao Xingjian was honoured in 2000, but is a French citizen.’

I was delighted to hear that a Chinese author had won the prize. I wrote my dissertation on Chinese literature and feel that it is underrepresented in Western culture. If you are interested in Chinese literature I would recommend the work of Mian Mian, Jung Chang and Ai Weiwei. Although Mo has written novels that are critical of the Chinese government he has not been as vocal as some of his peers with some critics accusing him of being ‘too close to the Communist Party’.

“A writer should express criticism and indignation at the dark side of society and the ugliness of human nature,” the author said in a speech at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009.

“Some may want to shout on the street, but we should tolerate those who hide in their rooms and use literature to voice their opinions.”‘

Quotes via the BBC

Compulsory Language Learning

Posted on October 30th, 2012by jake
In Culture, Education, English, Grammar | Leave a Comment »

The British government plans to change the education system making it compulsory for children to learn a language in school from the age of seven. This proposal has been put forward because of the decline in British students choosing to learn another language. ‘In 2010, 43% of GCSE pupils were entered for a language, down from a peak of 75% in 2002.’ Along with an emphasis being placed on foreign languages the government intends to improve British children’s grasp of the English language. Specific focus will be placed on grammar as well as ‘a systematic approach to the teaching of phonics – the sounds of letters and groups of letters – would be advocated to help pupils to become fluent readers and good spellers…’

I think that it is important for Britain to advocate language learning from a young age. In many jobs fluency in another language not only makes you stand out from the crowd but is also becoming a necessity to be employed in the field. Britain needs to make language learning an attractive prospect to the younger generation or else it risks being left behind in an increasingly globalised world.

Quotes via the BBC Website.

Wenglish

Posted on October 23rd, 2012by jake
In Culture, English, Uncategorized, Welsh, Words | Leave a Comment »

I didn’t think growing up in Wales had influenced my speech until I moved to England. My entire family is English but many Wenglish (Welsh-English) words have made their way into my vocabulary. I remember during a conversation with my English housemates describing how a cat had ‘scrammed’ me. A perplexed look greeted me after using the word ‘scrammed’. ‘What do you mean scrammed?’ they asked, kindly offering the word ‘scratched’ as an alternative after I made the hand gesture of a cats claw. For me scratched did not sufficiently describe what I wanted to say. A scratch is a minimal injury, a mere surface wound inflicted by a single claw. Scrammed is more violent, it implies malicious intent, brute force and many claws dragging down. I had previously thought that scrammed was a standard English word and it was confusing to me that other people had no idea what it meant.

Many differences in Wenglish can be observed in sentence structures. When answering a phone call if you wanted to ask the caller where they are, many Welsh people would say ‘Where you to?’ instead of ‘Where are you?’. If the caller wanted to tell you that they will be with you shortly they might say ‘I’ll be there now, in a minute’ offering you two conflicting answers. Wenglish quirks often stem from additional¬†superfluous words being used to express a simple statement. An example of this is instead of saying ‘I love you’ a Welsh person might say ‘I loves you I do’. Before moving to England these statements were standard English in my mind. Although most Wenglish words and phrases have now been erased from my vocabulary, I do smile whenever I’m back in Wales and hear somebody on their phone asking ‘Oh, where you to?’.

Assiduous, Perfidious and Querulous

Posted on October 22nd, 2012by jake
In Education, English, Hints and Tips, Words | Leave a Comment »

I came across a fun word game on Word Dynamo that is intended for American students studying for their SATs. As I read English at university I fancied my chances of attaining a perfect score but a few words managed to stump me. I managed to get 44/47 on the quiz and I thought I would include the words that eluded me and their definitions below.

Assiduous – Showing great care and perseverance.

Perfidious – Deceitful and untrustworthy.

Querulous – Complaining in a petulant or whining manner.

Online word games are a fantastic way to enhance your vocabulary and I am going to try and commit these words to memory so I can use them in day to day speech. The quiz I completed can be found HERE. Why not give it a go and see i you can beat my score.

Redefining Words

Posted on October 17th, 2012by jake
In English, Words | Leave a Comment »

You wouldn’t imagine the fusty world of dictionaries could spark much controversy but in Australia the definition of the word misogyny has done just that. Australian prime minister Julia Gillard has come under fire for supposedly misusing the word misogyny when critiquing the leader of the opposition. Prompted by this incident, one of Australia’s most respected dictionaries, the Macquarie Dictionary, has decided to update it’s definition of the word. From solely meaning a person that hates women the¬†Macquarie Dictionary has decided to also include it’s common usage meaning “entrenched prejudice against women”.

“Since the 1980s, misogyny has come to be used as a synonym for sexism, a synonym with bite, but nevertheless with the meaning of entrenched prejudice against women rather than pathological hatred,” [Sue Butler, editor of the Macquarie Dictionary] said in a statement.

While the Oxford English Dictionary had reworded its definition a decade ago, staff at the Macquarie had been alerted to the issue only in the aftermath of Gillard’s extraordinary speech in parliament, she said. “Perhaps as dictionary editors we should have noticed this before it was so rudely thrust in front of us as something that we’d overlooked,” Butler told the Associated Press.

[Source – The Guardian]

This story is fascinating to me because it shows how much power dictionary makers have. Redefining a word or merely adding another usage to it’s meaning can have large scale consequences. Amazingly a small alteration of the word misogyny in one dictionary is causing a political firestorm in Australia today.

Acronyms

Posted on October 16th, 2012by jake
In English, Slang | Leave a Comment »

Acronyms are found everywhere in the English language. Most people know what VIP (Very Important Person), SOS (Save Our Souls) and UFO (Unidentified Flying Object) stand for. Some acronyms no longer require knowledge of what the letters actually stand for though, as they have become words in their own right. SCUBA for instance, as in scuba diving, is an acronym standing for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus. Similarly the word radar stands for Radio Detection, and Ranging, and laser began as an acronym meaning Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

The amount of acronyms used in everyday speech has increased in modern times because of technology like mobile phones and the internet. LOL (Laugh Out Loud) is perhaps the most well known of all ‘text speak’ acronyms. Below is a handy list I’ve compiled of ‘text speak’ acronyms so when your coworker says, LOL you don’t mistake their appreciation of your hilarity for a declaration of love (Lots Of Love).

BRB – Be Right Back

GTG – Got To Go

FYI – For Your Information

TMI – Too Much Information

TTYL – Talk To You Later

BTW – By The Way

TYVM – Thank You Very Much