LH is 3

Language Hat (or LanguageHat--don't know if it should be separated or not) is now three years old. A lot of bloggers don't even make it to one year, and if they do, they eventually give up because their readership isn't high.

I think LanguageHat has thousands of readers, which is incredibly impressive, considering it's not a simple-minded blog, nor does it cover a wide subject area. He always writes about language, and since he has so many readers, he receives a lot of interesting links and information--no need to scour the Internet every day.

I'm very impressed because he's making a noble cultural contribution without sacrificing quality or standards. And he gets all those readers, too, which says a lot about his visitors--there is a remnant of decent people out there.

If you want to get an idea of what kind of blog it is, check out one of his recent entries:

Now, isonomy is an English word (meaning 'equality of laws, or of people before the law'), as is attunement, but not so "apmonia"; where did Beckett get it? I googled, and on the first page of results found a Greek book page that included the title EPΩTIKH APMONIA [erotikí armonía]. The upper-case form of the Greek word αρμονία 'harmony' happens to look exactly like Latin-alphabet "apmonia"; Beckett had presumably noticed this at some point and made a note of it for future use.

Not simple, is it.

Well, congratulations and keep blogging! We need to be reminded of what can be achieved.


It's over

I just saw the latest episode of Stargate SG-1, and it's clear that this show is on its last legs.

First of all, they dumped a party slut character into the show, though she seems slightly more interesting than the airheaded collagen-injected twit on Enterprise, which was never a good show because it depended on the cheapest tripe around for so-called "stories." People watch sci-fi to be stimulated, not to have trash heaped upon them.

Stargate isn't garbage, but it's not what it was. First of all, Amanda Tapping has an "expected absence or lessened involvement in the new season's first several episodes, following the birth of her child -- though this has not been confirmed" (source) and Richard Dean Anderson doesn't want to stick around either because he has a "daughter who lives in L.A. and I need to be there. I need to be part of her life" (source). The team isn't together anymore, and the stargates aren't important since they've been getting into metaphysical fantasy-type stuff, so what's the point?

I went to the trusty Jump the Shark site and some people agreed that it's ending:

Looks like it's gonna be a textbook shark jump with Season 9. In the past season or two, we've lost Don Davis as the General Hammond character, Richard Dean Anderson's O'Neill becoming the general, only to leave a season later, Tea'lc growing hair, replacement characters, and--the bane of the "Star Trek" franchise--a hottie in inexplicably tight clothing...

...The plot is stupid, and the acting is bad for the first time in seven years. Daniel Jackson looks like a hippy, Amanda Tapping was not on the show, Judge has a minor part and the new General in the form of Beau Bridges is a wimp. We might also ask why the Sg-1 team drags around this Claudia Black person who is not even military. This has become stupid. The show is about a United States Air Force operation and is so non Military this season.

With so much bad culture to consume, we just might have to start doing something productive. ;)



I'm sure every person who's studied a language has used flashcards--either pre-made or homemade. They're especially handy if you're studying Chinese characters or Japanese characters--I probably have created over a hundred Japanese ones.

Someone sent me a link to a cute program for creating flashcards on your computer called Flash Card Viewer. The guy who created is funny:

I'm supposed to be learning Czech, see. I live in Prague, and it's only polite to speak the lingo. So I'm taking lessons and making progress, but there's so dang many words! To help myself review the vocab I wrote this little program and spent far more time than I should have tweaking the algorithm that prioritizes which words to show more often.
Flash Card Viewer's features include:

Adaptive prioritization focuses on words you are having difficulty with based on performance for the current session and over all sessions.

Words are grouped into levels, which can correspond to textbook chapters.

External library files allow easy sharing.

Easy to add and modify words.

I'm not learning Czech, and have no plans to unless through some weird circumstances I end up there. But I'm not even headed in that direction. So what I did was paste in some dang difficult Japanese words that I must learn before I die--at least until the Japanese Proficiency Test (yeah, I'm still studying for that, though I wonder if I'll pass).

Check it out--it's cool and free. And just ignore the Czech label.


What is wrong with Detroit?

A lot of people in Chicago, it seems, come from Michigan. Usually, if you ask someone where they're from, they'll say, "Detroit. Well, actually the suburbs." I've met one person who grew up in the actual city of Detroit, and it was a bad neighborhood. I guess anyone who cares about raising their kids in a decent area would never live in the city, so the suburbs have expanded.

Are there any normal neighborhoods in the city of Detroit? I'm sure there are a few--even in the 1970's, after the normal people left Chicago by the late 1960's, there were still a few neighborhoods that were decent, but anyone who cared about their kids would do anything to avoid raising them there. Now there are several quite decent neighborhoods, though the city of Chicago still has problems (of course).

I found an article via Black Informant about some of the wonderful people in Detroit:

The most vocal self-styled spokespersons have all but turned a blind eye to reality. Detroiters are increasingly poor, undereducated, unproductive and dependent under their watch. The unemployment rate in the city, unchanged even in good economic times, is more than twice the national average. Economic vitality is an alien concept. The city that I dearly love lags far behind other cities in the region in business opportunity and prosperity. Which leads me to the painful conclusion that the so-called strategy of demagogues who disparage and vilify job creators is fatally flawed and destructive...

...Cash-strapped Detroiters are forced to live with development inertia as common sense and common interests take a back seat to personal agendas.

Any challenges to the conventional wisdom are met with a stern rebuke. One recent example is when business and corporate leaders were accused of trying to dictate educational policy by advocating a continuation of school reforms. Community leaders launched a vicious assault against their intervention. Comparing them to the Klan was the least of the insults and admonitions.

I’m still dumbfounded over the treatment of Robert Thompson, the white philanthropist from Plymouth who wanted to contribute $200 million to new school construction. Thompson was rudely told by protectors of the status quo to essentially “go to hell.”

...Hostility and intolerance toward private-sector voices deprives Detroiters of the opportunity to explore and expand business formation, which is perhaps the single most critically important element needed for the creation of a truly revitalized city. This mindless, ill-informed approach — which is somehow being confused with the concept of black pride — is not in our collective interest and will ultimately be our undoing unless we wake up and smell the stench of the reality that surrounds us.

If I had to live in Detroit, I would live in the city--I love cities, (thus the word "Metro" in front of "lingua"), but I can't imagine a bunch of hysterical people not wanting improvement or work.

Working at home

I'm starting to hate working at home. I don't work at home all the time, but I'm not linked to a company either--I've been freelancing for a while, and even though I love my neighborhood, I dread waking up and walking to the dining room table to do work.

Today I had to teach outside the home and do research for an article, so that wasn't bad, but in the early morning I had to work on something else--at home. Sometimes I work in companies, but overall, I'm an orbiting individual in the universe.

There are people who long to work at home, but I never thought that way: there were so many opportunities and alternatives to what I was doing before, so I just followed them. But now it's getting old.



I just got back from my trip, but I didn't see what Ambra did:

"...while sitting in the Montego Bay Airport, my sister and I watched in horror as a girl ate two consecutive boogers without so much as an ounce of shame. Ah to be young and not care who's watching. What is it about kids that makes them want to eat hardened phlegm? No one teaches them to do this. They certainly aren't emulating the behavior of their parents (most of the time). Is there some special sense common to 6-year-olds that automatically activates the booger appetite?"



Finally, the day has arrived: that massive 6000-word translation I did of the history of Kraftwerk has been posted where it should be: kraftwerk.technopop.com.br/data_history.php.

I finished it nine months ago--and it's just been born. It even includes hyperlinks to images. Check it out--it is the most extensive and comprehensive history of Kraftwerk on the Internet.

I think waiting for it to be posted was harder than doing it.

See ya

I'm going to Toronto for the weekend--there's the route we'll be driving. I have yet to put the Canadian sticker on my car, but it will be on there by launching time. I'm excited to go, though I'll be missing a swell block party in Wicker Park, which is going to be centered around a gallery. But Toronto should be fun--it's a great city.


Poor Brits

I feel bad for the Brits--not only do they have to deal with Islamofascists who want to destroy their lives and their free, civilized culture, but they still have to deal with the ever-growing group of Chavs.

I went to the Chav site that I've mentioned here before, and saw this t-shirt, which seems to sum it up:

You can buy the t-shirt at the site.

(I'm sorry to post swearing--I don't swear, and don't write it, either--but I thought the shirt is a good representation of the contempt that decent Brits have for these losers.)

About comments

Just a quick note before I go and try to slay the writing dragon: If you've made a comment here and it hasn't shown up, it's not because I've deleted it. Sometimes there's something wrong with the comments mechanism--even my comments haven't appeared when I've pressed the "post" button.

So feel free to comment here--and there's no need to write in correct English, either (in case the non-native English speaking readers want to post something).

I'll do a proper post later--right now I've got non-blog stuff to do.


Take vs. Do

A while ago, I emailed Nev (the Metrolingua British English Consultant) to let him know that I was taking German, since he lives in Germany and speaks German a lot better than me (ie, he's fluent, I can barely survive).

I thought what I'd written was clear, but Nev asked me this question: "When you say 'taking German' you mean you're learning it or do you mean you're teaching it?"

Was he serious? He's a native English speaker, from the country where English began, so he should know what "I am taking German" means. But then again, British English has differences, as I've pointed out before. Still, it seemed odd that such a simple sentence would be misunderstood.

So, because of his surprising ignorance of the English language (at least the American version), I asked him what they say in England when they take classes. He told me that they say, "I'm *doing* biology, history, French, etc...plus we'd usually say such and such a teacher is 'taking' that subject."

How can a teacher "take" a subject, unless they're taking a refresher course? But if I were to tell a Brit that a teacher was "taking" a computer course, they'd think I meant that the teacher is teaching computers. That sounds weird: "Professor Smith is taking biology." Sounds like Professor Smith needs some basic tutoring.



I wanted to find out about Taiwanese democracy, so I went to The Taiwan Yearbook, which is from the Government Information Office. I first read about the Democratic Electoral System:

Since the lifting of martial law in 1987, Taiwan has moved rapidly toward full democracy. Elections for important posts in the government are held regularly, political parties have matured, and people actively participate in elections. The people of Taiwan now have greater control over affairs of state than ever before. The 2004 presidential election and the Peace Referendum represent the latest steps in more than a decade of Taiwan's democratic development.

Martial law? Obviously, I hardly know anything about that country because I didn't know that democracy is relatively new there. So now I've bookmarked the Taiwan history page and will read up on it.

I've been to several Asian countries, but I've never been to Taiwan. Still, it seems promising, and not just because they're free: They use "older" Chinese characters (with more strokes, not the simplified version), so it should be easier for me to get around since some of it resembles Japanese. Plus, I've been told that the older people can speak Japanese since it used to be a colony, so I could ask directions if my practically non-existent Mandarin fails.

But since I don't have a lot of time or money, I have to be more selective, and France is towards the top of my list--I've never been there. Taiwan may have to wait.



Yesterday my husband was driving, and I was in the passenger seat. He hit the brakes when an ambulance was coming in the opposite direction (since that's the law), and then an SUV plowed into the back of our car. The impact made my head go forward, and though it didn't hit anything, my entire head hurt. It was a total rush of pain.

The intense pain subsided, but the pain that remained was in the top of my head and behind my eyes. I went to the doctor in case it was the beginning of something more serious, and she told me that my brain was jarred and must've hit my skull. I didn't know a brain could move around like that--I thought it was more secure in there.

The doctor likened it to whiplash, except that it's in the head. Which made me think: I could call it "brainlash." So I went around yesterday telling people and myself that I had a version of brainlash, thinking that I was so clever and funny in the midst of a challenging situation.

Today I did a search to see if anyone else has used this word, and I found a Brainlash site, so the word is quite official:

BRAINLASH: (brain-lash) n., (coined word, 1993, from the brain and whiplash), a condition which may result from whiplash type actions to the brain in which tissue may be bruised or torn by the forces of the brain being whipped around inside the skull, i.e. injuries which result from a sudden stop or blow. This force throws the neck and brain into hyperflexion (forward thrusting) and then hyperextension (pulling or rebounding) and/or lateral rotation. The consequential action translates powerful forces to the brain, skull and skeletal system resulting in unnatural, potentially destructive contact between these structures and the surrounding connective soft tissue. In approximately two thirds of those affected, physical, emotional and thinking skills will return to baseline within an average of two weeks to three months. Many of the other third will take an average of a year to achieve the majority of improvements. However, a smaller proportion will sustain residual deficits which will be permanent. As mild brain injury and many of its symptoms are not readily observable to the lay person, Brainlash has been dubbed "The Unseen Injury."

So not only have I learned a new word, but see even more clearly that SUV's in the city is an insane concept.


What the...?

Last year, I said that I translated a history of Kraftwerk from Portuguese into English. I waited a while for it to be posted at the fan site in Brazil, and mentioned it again earlier this year. I was told that it would be posted soon, so I was excited--finally people would be able to read that history in English.

But then I discovered that part of my translation has already been posted at a German site, and I think they messed with the English. For instance, I'm American, so I know that it's called "the United States," not "United States" (sans "the"). And I believe the site has deleted some words, so the grammar seems screwy in some places.

Also, not only did they mistakenly say that I'm from "New York USA" (I'm from Chicago), but I didn't get a chance to proofread it again before it was posted online. Not a good situation for a language fan! So if you read that excerpt and see weird English, it's either the Germans' fault or it's mine because I didn't give it a final read-through.

Which is a lesson: do not send anything to anyone until you're sure it's absolutely perfect, because you never know who will get it (and post and/or publish it) before it's been properly finalized.

By the way, it's called "Kraftwerk--An Electronic Epic."


Jews rock

I saw a link to Jewsrock.org, which is "a non-profit group devoted to illuminating the intersection of rock and roll and Jewish culture. We've heard a lot about what the Jews have contributed to science, literature, the fine arts--all the high brow stuff. Well, we're going low. Today, we’re a website, filled with original essays, photographs, trivia, lyrics, Q & As, and, if you haven’t noticed it already, a Jewish rock quiz."

The site is entertaining and well-designed, and it even has a Challah Fame. But an interesting aspect of the site is the list of stage names that Jewish performers have adopted:

Perry Bernstein: Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction/Porno for Pyros)

Harold Belsky: Hal Blaine (session drummer for the Beach Boys)

David Blatt: Jay Black (Jay and the Americans)

Richard Blum: Handsome Dick Manitoba (Dictators)

Michael Bolotin: Michael Bolton

Leonard Borisoff: Len Barry

Marty Buchwald: Marty Balin (Jefferson Airplane/Starship)

Ellen Cohen: Mama Cass Elliot

Lee Drucker: Lee Rocker (Stray Cats)

Stanley Eisen: Paul Stanley (KISS)

Don Fagenson: Don Was (Was/Not Was)

Marc Feld: Marc Bolan (T-Rex)

John French-Segall: Jay Jay French (Twisted Sister)

Ross Friedman: Ross the Boss (Dictators)

Harvey Goldstein: Harvey Brooks (session musician, played on Bitches Brew)

Kenny Gorelick: Kenny G

Susan Gottleib: Susan Phranc

Peter Greenbaum: Peter Baum (Fleetwood Mac)

Chris Gross: Chris Barron (Spin Doctors)

Love Michelle Harrison: Courtney Love

Belo Horizonte: Igor Cavalera (Sepultra)

Jeffrey Hyman: Joey Ramone (Ramones)

Herbert Khaury: Tiny Tim

Concetta Kirshner: Princess Superstar

Carole Klein: Carole King

Annette Kleinbard: Carol Connors (the Teddy Bears)

Phoebe Laub: Phoebe Snow

Lee Oskar Levitin: Lee Oskar (War)

Steven Barry Lipkin: Steve Barri (songwriter)

Michael Lookofsky: Michael Brown (the Left Banke)

Manfred Lubowitz: Manfred Mann

Lester Meyers: Richard Hell (Richard Hell and the Voidoids)

Steve Mizrahi: Sylvain Sylvain

Alecia Moore: Pink

Michael Pasternak: Emperor Rosko

Barry Pincus: Barry Manilow

Lou Rabinowitz: Lou Reed

David Bryan Rashbaum: David Bryan (Bon Jovi)

Robert Rifkin: Bobby Z (Prince)

Scott Rosenfeld: Scott Ian (Anthrax)

Richard Salkowitz: Magic Dick (J. Geils Band)

Neil Seduka: Neil Sedaka

Buddy Blue Seigal: Buddy Blue Seigal (Beat Farmers)

Elliott Steinberg: Elliott Easton (the Cars)

Kevin Wasserman: Noodles (Offspring)

Gary Lee Weinrib: Geddy Lee (Rush)

Chaim Witz: Gene Simmons (KISS)

Randy Wolfe: Randy California (Spirit)

Leslie Wonderman: Taylor Dayne

Robert Zimmerman: Bob Dylan

The site would be a good resource for trivia games. I just hope wackos don't use it for anti-semitic propaganda.


Nev on bombing

I asked Nev (the Metrolingua British English Consultant) to offer his comments about what happened in his native land (he's a Brit living in Germany), and here's what he had to say:

It's barbarism of the first order to kill people who are just people travelling on public transport, and these terrorists compound the heinousness of their deeds by claiming they do them in the name of religion. No religion worthy of the name could condone these actions, and ultimately it is not one faith or another at fault but a misguided individual who pulls the trigger each time. I pity them. The suicide bombers think they are honouring their families and their caste and their religion, "martyrs" who destroy the lives of their fellow humans through murder and bereavement. I can still pity them for their stupidity and gullibilty, still human traits. But those I cannot pity are those who cynically plan these events and wait for the news to break in the media, and then write on the internet that their followers should rejoice. They are not human, these planners. Seemingly their wish is to bring us all into a new darker age where there is no culture but discipliine, nothing holy but control, and no joy, only cruelty.

Note the British English he uses: public transport (not transportation), honouring (not honoring). Word usage and accents and style are things I can't help but notice, even when awful things happen.


Not nice

Today my husband, who is the nicest guy and quite possibly the nicest human ever, was, ironically, looking up the word "nice" in an Online Etymology Dictionary.

Opposite to what we think, "nice" actually had a negative meaning: "Middle English, foolish, from Old French, from Latin nescius, ignorant, from nescre, to be ignorant."

Here's the etymology of that schizophrenic word:

c.1290, "foolish, stupid, senseless," from O.Fr. nice "silly, foolish," from L. nescius "ignorant," lit. "not-knowing," from ne- "not" (see un-) + stem of scire "to know." "The sense development has been extraordinary, even for an adj." [Weekley] -- from "timid" (pre-1300); to "fussy, fastidious" (c.1380); to "dainty, delicate" (c.1405); to "precise, careful" (1500s, preserved in such terms as a nice distinction and nice and early); to "agreeable, delightful" (1769); to "kind, thoughtful" (1830). In 16c.-17c. it is often difficult to determine exactly what is meant when a writer uses this word. By 1926, it was pronounced "too great a favorite with the ladies, who have charmed out of it all its individuality and converted it into a mere diffuser of vague and mild agreeableness." [Fowler]

"I am sure," cried Catherine, "I did not mean to say anything wrong; but it is a nice book, and why should I not call it so?" "Very true," said Henry, "and this is a very nice day, and we are taking a very nice walk; and you are two very nice young ladies. Oh! It is a very nice word indeed! It does for everything." [Jane Austen, "Northanger Abbey"]

So the next time you say that someone or something is nice, be careful.


NYC aristocracy

Okay, I'm finally following up on my impressions of How to Lose Friends and Alienate People by Toby Young. I read this book and did a quick post about it back in winter, when my world seemed dim. There's something about Chicago winters, an uneventful work life, and bland social life that create a dismal mix. So I somehow could relate to his book, even though it was about his life in New York while he was at Vanity Fair.

I followed up in spring with a post that included an excerpt from the book, and said that I would post another excerpt. But then I got really busy with work and distracted by other postworthy stuff. So now that the summer is here, I might as well post another excerpt. Even though I'm in a different frame of mind and it's been a while since I've read that book, I still highly recommend it. So if you haven't read it, you should.

Toby Young found himself in the thick of the snobby New York City scene, to the point of yearning for the class system in England. This is what he said about how New Yorkers judged him when he failed:

The various setbacks I suffered at the end of 1997 brought home to me the extent to which New Yorkers judge you according to how well or badly you're doing. When I'd first arrived and people had asked me what I did at parties, a noticeable change would come over them when I said I worked at Vanity Fair. They'd stop looking over my shoulder for a second and give me the once over. Occasionally, they'd even talk to me. Evidently, I was someone worth knowing. However, after I was taken off the masthead I vanished from the radar screen. Neither rich, successful, good looking, nor well connected, I wasn't worth bothering with. No sooner had the words "I'm just a freelance hack" come out of my mouth than the person I was talking to was hastily backing away, wondering how they could politely ask for their business card back. It was a sobering experience. I'd assumed that people liked me for who I was, not what I did, but in Manhattan you are what you do.

And this is how New Yorkers judge each other (according to him):

Why do New Yorkers attach such importance to the state of your career? To a certain extent, they define each other according to the usual demographic categories--gender, ethnic origin, religious background, etc.--but these things pale into insignificance beside the jobs they do. It's as if there are no alternative sources of identity. In particular, they don't define people according to what class they belong to.

Basically, he says, they don't go beyond what you do, and if you can't help them and aren't well-connected or important, "you might as well not exist."

Sounds like a wonderful way to live (not). I wonder how many snobs like that get their come-uppance.


Why we celebrate

A while ago, when I was in the midst of an awful teaching experience, I was talking about Independence Day, and the students had no idea why we celebrate it. Those ignorant students (who were about to enter college) weren't immigrants, but were born in the U.S., and their ancestors had come over at least one hundred years before. I guess the students had been brainwashed in the schools for so many years that they had avoided the history they should know. So, to prevent further ignorance, I'm posting the text of the Declaration of Independence--the reason why Independence Day is celebrated every year on the Fourth of July.

The Declaration of Independence

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

56 signatures appear on the bottom of the document.

Recently, I was talking to a European, who was surprised that Americans don't think of themselves in terms of a "people" or ethnic group. How could we? There are different ethnicities in this country. What matters is that Americans want to be and remain free, and of course, there are different opinions about what freedom means. The great thing is that we have the freedom in this country to discuss it, protest over it, complain about it, vote over it. Many countries in the world do not have that luxury.

The United States is the first country to be founded on a creed, not an ethnicity. This is what our President said:

Unlike any other country, America came into the world with a message for mankind -- that all are created equal, and all are meant to be free. There is no America race; there's only an American creed: We believe in the dignity and rights of every person. We believe in equal justice, limited government, and in the rule of law. We believe in personal responsibility, and tolerance toward others.

Of course, reality doesn't always measure up to the ideals, but at least they exist, and this nation is a work in progress.


Happy Canada Day

Jordan announced that today is Canada Day:

It celebrates the creation of the Dominion of Canada through the British North America Act 1867, which came into effect on July 1, 1867, uniting three British territories — the Province of Canada (southern Ontario and southern Quebec), Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick — into a federation.

The holiday itself was formally established in 1879 and was originally called Dominion Day, making reference to the Canadian-originated term 'dominion' to describe the political union, at a time when the Fathers of Confederation were hesitant to use a name such as the Kingdom of Canada. The name was changed to Canada Day on October 27, 1982.

I didn't know about this holiday until today. And since I'm going to Toronto in a few weeks, I guess July is going to be Canada month for me. Maybe I'll put that Canadian sticker on my car, to show solidarity with our great neighbor to the north.

Translating like neurosurgery?

I found some interesting information at a site that answered some questions about translating.

They say that "Turning out a good translation is an extremely labor-intensive task..." That is definitely true, especially when translating Japanese (or other Asian languages, I'm sure) because the sentence structure, vocabulary, and way of thinking is very different than the European languages, so there's more effort required to put it into smooth English.

However, I'm not too sure if the following is also true:

...there are too many wannabe translators who have taken a few language courses and are misled to believe that they can just start translating and boom!, like magic, they're a translator and can translate, say, legal contracts. That's like someone trying to practice neurosurgery on a brain tumor patient after he/she has attended a couple of premed courses and read a few textbooks, but has no license to practice, has not passed the board examinations, and worse, has not acquired the experience and specialization needed to truly help the patient and do a sufficient job. He/she could go ahead and perform the surgery, but not without harming or killing the patient due to a lack of specialization and experience, not to mention getting sued for practicing without a license or credentials. It's the same way with professional translation - or at least it ought to be.

So, basically, if people submit bad translations, it might kill the client. Wow. I didn't know it could have that effect. Maybe translators should buy malpractice insurance.