Tag Archives: language

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta!

kells_text_1_smIf you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

Cee’s Photography included a similar question a couple of weeks ago, so I’ve already talked briefly about this topic in Share Your World Week Three.

At the time, I simply mentioned that I would like to have learned Latin because it is the root language for so many of what are called the “Romance” languages.  Although English has it’s origins in the Germanic languages, today approximately 29% of it’s vocabulary is Latin and another 29% is French – which is a Romance language.

I studied English literature a way back, and time and time again, the works I studied referenced some Latin text or other that I just did not have sufficient access to because I could only read them in translation.  I wanted to read Plautus in the original so I could get a better feel, for example, for the comedy that inspired the great Frankie Howerd’s TV series Up Pompei! 

Right now, while I am writing this post, The Zoo NZ is on TV.  With one eye on my laptop and an ear to the television, I hear that marsupials  called Macropus rufogriseus and Macropus giganteus  are busy having babies. Meanwhile, in the primate habitat, a keeper suspects that a tiny Cebuella pygmaea is in the third trimester of her pregnancy

Zoologists all over the world may not speak each other’s languages, but they know exactly what their international colleagues are talking about.  It’s the same for medicine, botany, genetics, pharmacology and so on, and so on… 

The British Natural History Museum has an extended article on taxonomy (a Greek word, actually) which explains the history and use of  Linnaeus’s binomial naming system which is still used by these scientists today.

Assuming I woke up tomorrow morning fluent in Latin, the first thing I would do is go to The Book of Kells online and finally read the text that I (and many others) have admired since this beautifully illuminated medieval manuscript was re-discovered.

Then I would read through at least one of those Wikipedia articles I linked to above, from start to finish, without having to click off to yet another site in order to get a fuller understanding of what is being said.

O yes,  and I think my French, Italian and Spanish might improve a little too.

Daily Post: Take That, Rosetta! –  Extract from Book of Kells from Codex 99

Share your world: Week 4

Cee tells us this week’s set of questions were inspired by Having an Introvert Day, which sounds like a perfect plan to me. I really enjoyed that post, it’s about time us introverts stood up and got noticed (if only we weren’t so – well – introverted….) Smile

Without further ado – on to the questions:

Do you recharge your energy by going out with friends for a good time or by spending with quiet time alone?

I absolutely prefer to recharge by spending quiet time – but not exactly alone.  An outsider might observe that in the Baskerville Beastie pecking order, I’m pretty much at the bottom of the list, having to make sure the needs of every furry or finned critter in the house have been met before I get to settle down to do my own thing.  It’s just as well that I consider looking after my menagerie as doing my own thing.

What is the most number of blankets you’ve ever had on your bed?

If I could count The Elder Statesman and The Diva as blankets (and I often have) then my maximum blanketage would be five.

You are invited to a party that will be attended by many fascinating people you never met. Would you attend this party if you were to go by yourself?

This entirely depends on what type of fascinating the people at the party would be.  Guaranteed to be fascinating? Yes.  Perceived to be fascinating? No.

Do you like talking to people on the phone? Or do you prefer voice mail or email?

I don’t like talking to people on the phone at all.  For incoming calls, you really can’t know who might be at the other end – never forget Ghostface’s modus operandi in Scream.

On the first day of my first full-time job, I was assigned to an eight-line switchboard with 24 extensions.  I thought I was Lt Uhuru from Star Trek – I loved it.  Because not everybody had a phone back then, most callers were uncertain enough about making calls to remain polite and reasonable.   When we finally got a phone installed at home, I was thrilled. Until the first time my parents went on holiday and left me home alone.  Some local yokel decided it was fun to inflict a series of very scary prank calls which I did not appreciate.  When I was about seventeen, my employer’s phone number was almost exactly the same as The Samaritans – to this day I admire the volunteers who are ready to pick up the phone and listen to the worst kind of pain and sorrow, but I really and truly was not equipped to deal with it.

But life goes on and if you want to work in an office, you generally don’t get away without taking at least one phone call through the day.  Some years ago I worked in an English language school, and was driven quite mad by potential students who would have carefully worked out their question about the course from Google translate or a phrase book, and never realise that if you ask a question, the most likely response you will get is another question, that you are not equipped to answer.  There is no room within a phone call for the expressions, gestures and sometimes little sketches that get you through a conversation with somebody who does not speak your language.   At least I could include a diagram in an email.

I also spent some time working online support and figured out very quickly that people on the phone only pick up about a tenth of the information you give them.  Callers seeking technical support can be so worried about what they can’t achieve because XYZ service is not working that they can’t take in the instructions they need to make it work. There was a classic call where the voice on the other end rained vituperations and curses upon me, my employer and all our works for several minutes because of the suffering caused by this terrible online service he was subjected to, only ceasing when I finally managed to tell him he wasn’t actually our client at all – if only he had looked before he dialled and yelled.

Calling people is also quite a pain, because, until your call interrupts whatever they are doing (and it could be something quite important that needs concentration) you have no idea whether they  really want to hear from you at that moment.  So voicemail doesn’t do too much for me either, unless I can respond by sending an email, or the caller specifies an exact time when it is appropriate to reply to them, and if they do, that the specified response time is miraculously something you can actually meet.  Scrolling through endless spam voice mails to get to a message you really want to hear is a complete waste of time.

Finally, at the end of a working day, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is pick up a phone unless there is a very good reason (for example, to arrange to meet somebody I want to talk to). My family and friends know I will only answer calls from people in my contact list. If you haven’t made it into my contacts, don’t leave a message, send me a text.


Share your world – Week 4    – Picture from Next Movie.Com

Share Your World–Week Three

share-your-world2Ooo yeay! Another challenge to add to the list.  This is another one from Cee’s Photography – she is just full of ideas and her blog is just chock full of things and stuff- I love things and stuff  Smile

So, this one is about getting to know people.   Cee poses four simple questions every week, and we just have to answer them.  The questions this week are:

In what do you find the simplest of joys?

  • Jello or Pudding? And what is your favorite flavor?
  • Is there a language you would like to learn?
  • Do you prefer juice or fruit?

In what do you find the simplest of joys?

My pets.  Three dogs, Chloe, a 14 year old Collie cross, Izzy an approximately 11 year old Old English Sheepdog, and Shiloh, an economy sized Golden Labrador aged about 10.  I’ve also got a range of fish, and last October, two cats, Mr Kit-Kat, a very formal, polite tuxedo boy and Little Jet-Black, a giddy little black chap, moved in.  Actually, Little Jet-Black is not actually black at all, more a very, very, very, extremely dark tabby, but that’s the name he arrived with and he is confused enough already, so the name stays.

I get endless fun watching the interactions between them all.  Every one of them has their own, very distinct, personality traits. I’ve been working hard to get them all to live in peace together and so far we have detente between four out of five of them – Chloe is a stubborn old lady who just wants to chase a cat – any cat. But she is beginning to realise that it’s quite exhausting charging round the house every time one of the felines moves into her eyeline and she is an old lady so I’m confident that I will see the day when they all snooze happily in the same room.  So far, the fish are all intact, but I think both cats have sore necks from watching them.

Jello or Pudding? And what is your favorite flavor?

There is a little bit of cultural confusion in this question!  It hurt typing it out because I write English English, and Cee writes American English. But it is her question so favourite and flavour will have to wait a minute.  There is another slight cultural conflict here, I know that Jello is what I would call jelly, and that Cee would call jelly jam, but I’m not sure what defines pudding in America.  For me, pudding is generally something we have at Christmas, made with a variety of fruit, Guinness, whiskey (called whisky in Scotland!), flour, eggs and beef suet.  It can also be a confection made with rice or sago, cream and sugar. Or egg-whites, apples and sponge cake mix.  Or sponge cake and treacle.  There are probably zillions of pudding types (at least a whole lot of types!).   The English often call dessert pudding – o my word, this is getting very complicated!

But to get to the point, I prefer the pudding types I described to jelly/jello, but if I have jelly/jello, I like rasberry flavor/flavour best.

Is there a language you would like to learn?

Over the years I have studied French, Spanish, Italian and German.  One of my regrets about my education is that Latin was taken off the required curriculum just before I made it into secondary school – as this is the root language of all the Romance languages, it would have made it so much easier to learn any of them.

Do you prefer juice or fruit?

Juice, every time.  Especially if there is mango in it.

Share Your World 2014 – Week 3