Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Catblogging

From reader Schmutz, who appears to be a cat rancher somewhere in the Midwest of America.

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Devon Life

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

How Slow Has It Been At Americans Amuck Lately?

But we have scads of photos from our trip to Devon, aka the English Riviera, (including this snap from Mrs. W during a boat/steam train trip through several seaside towns) so look forward to more reporting from that trip.

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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Of Articles, Plurals and Syntax

We've frequently posted on language/dialect issues, so I'd rather not belabo(u)r them, but our most recent visitors (bye, Bill and Michelle!) had a lot of fun with English as a Foreign Language during their time here.

There are some strange variants on the use of articles and plurals between American English and English English. For example, Americans say "sports" to encompass all athletic activities while English say "sport" (and the English reserve "athletics" for what Americans call "track and field"). Now you could say that Americans are right--there are many different sports, so it ought to be plural. But you could easily say that it's one large field, so it ought to be singular. I guess we're both right.

There's an area where the usage is completely reversed. Americans say "math," while English say "maths." It's one large field, so it ought to be singular, right? But wait: Math is simply a truncated version of "mathematics," which is plural, so the truncated word ought to be plural. I guess we're both right again.

Then there are the articles. Visitor Michelle pointed to a news report about somebody who had been injured, and the news report stated that the victim "was in hospital in a serious condition." The same report in the United States would have said the victim "was in a hospital in serious condition." Same number of articles, just different placement. (Or worse yet, "hospitalized in a serious condition," but that's a nasty usage that involves turning a noun into a verb using the dreaded "ize" suffix. Bad!)

Finally, I had a good laugh at sign in a public toilet in Paignton that read "When wet, these floors may be slippery" rather than the concise "floors slippery when wet" you'd likely see in America. (I believe Jon Bon Jovi's English cousin Simon Bon Jovi was going to title the group's 1986 album "When Wet, These Floors May Be Slippery," which prompted Jon to kick Simon out of the band and go with the mega-hit title Slippery When Wet.) But in either case, the reader is warned: Step carefully on this floor if it appears to have fluid on it. So again, I guess we're both right.

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Saturday, August 11, 2007

Back After This Short Break

We'll be taking a break from posting for a few days (like you'd notice the difference lately), so I'm left to ask you to ponder along with Arj Barker whether God has a sense of humor:


Friday, August 10, 2007

The Further Continuing Adventures Of New Frontiers In English As A Second Language

A current visitor has clued us into another dictionary of UK slang--a little more exhaustive, a little less personal than our friends at English2American. I'll add it to the blogroll when I get a few minutes.

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New Adventures In Cultural Understanding

Oggy Oggy Oggy! Oi! Oi! Oi!"

What's it mean? I don't know. But I was urged to shout it as a floated in London dockwater Sunday morning before starting in the The London Triathlon. I'm told it sounded impressive, if a bit testosteroney, from the shore. Wikipedia says it's a common chant at British sporting events, but until now I'd only heard its derivative antipodean version, which begins, not surprisingly, "Aussie Aussie Aussie!" There's a longer explanation of the chant's possible origin over at Wikipedia--the roots are Cornish, and it involves pasties.

I asked my cultural interpreter, Simon, its meaning. His reply: "I blame the midlands or may be summer holiday camps (I will explain). I have never liked such chants."

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