5.30.2007

Teaching and translating

Sometimes my teaching and translating work intersect. There have been times when I have translated Japanese, then taught a Japanese person (or group) English. I haven't had that experience with French, which I've been translating most frequently--I've never taught French people English, and actually, I haven't even been to France. But I have been teaching Spanish speakers since the beginning of this year, and lately I've been translating Spanish. So it's sort of cool: I get to read conversational Spanish, and then I can go to the school and hear the students speak it. So the two gigs can reinforce each other.

Note: when I say "translate" I mean the written word, not interpreting, which is for the spoken word. Sometimes people use the word "translate" when they mean "interpret."

5.29.2007

Metrotalk

Okay, this is what I was talking about in my previous post: Metrotalk, which is my online radio "show". I put it in quotes because it's not a daily show, but it is broadcast live, then archived as an audio file that is very easy to access.

I created Metrotalk to interview interesting people from Chicago and beyond. I love talking to interesting people--seriously. It's my hobby. So this is a good way to do what I love and share it with the world.

My first guest was Jim Moran, who's a radio pro here in Chicago. We talked about the radio biz and are going to continue the interview next week when we talk about a history book he wrote about a town near Chicago.

I have some other interesting guests lined up, so I'll keep people posted.

5.27.2007

Coming soon

I'm working on something that I think is quite cool and exciting, and when it's finalized, I'll post more information about it here. But I just want to let folks know that there's more coming from Metrolingua that everyone will be able to enjoy (I hope).

Also, I really need to go into my archives and categorize my posts, because I think there are some good reads that people don't know about because they're not labeled. So if someone clicks on a label, they might not see many posts (or any) that can go along with it because there are too many posts to deal with--hundreds, actually. I just have to avoid laziness and spend the free time I have on such nerdy pursuits as categorizing blog posts. Exciting :)

5.25.2007

Cute words

Here are some cute words that I see around Chicago: "polskie filmy." I think the meaning is evident: Polish films. I see those words on signs at video stores in Polish neighborhoods. Actually, the Polish community is so large in Chicago, people say it's the largest population outside of Krakow. I think what makes those words so cute is the "ie" at the end of "polskie" and the "y" at the end of "film". They look diminutive. In English, the word "film" sounds so serious compared to "filmy." It's just so cute, like, "Oh, look at that little filmy--so cute. That little polskie filmy." And then you just want to pinch its cheek.

5.23.2007

Serbian email

I know someone in Serbia, and discovered that I got on their Serbian email list because I got an email with this in the subject line: "Ovo je zakon! Napravi forward, mo3da ne1to svi zajedno zaradimo! A ako ne bar znamo da smo poku1"

What does that mean? I opened it up and saw that it had been forwarded many times to a bunch of Serbian-looking names (and maybe Croatians too, since their languages are similar). The original email, which is very long, started with "Da vidimo kdo bo èastil, haha." So I guess it's a joke. And we're supposed to forward it because that's the only English word in the email I received.

It's sort of cool to get an email in a language I totally don't understand--I'm probably the only non-Serb/Croatian on the list. I hope. But it's too bad I can't laugh with them.

5.21.2007

Curiosity hasn't killed that cat

Recently, Studs Terkel celebrated his 95th birthday, and he said, "Curiosity did not kill this cat" which is a great modification of the idiom (proverb) curiosity killed the cat. It basically means that you have to be careful about being too curious, or you will get in trouble or be harmed. So Terkel is saying that his curiosity did not kill him--he actually made a successful career out of it. Lucky guy.

But why does that phrase involve a cat? The earliest reference is from a 16th century British play, but it involved the concept of "worry". Shakespeare used it that way too. But

The earliest known printed reference to the actual phrase occurred in The Washington Post on 4 March 1916 (page 6): CURIOSITY KILLED THE CAT

because the curiosity of a cat literally killed it when it went somewhere it shouldn't have gone, was trapped, and died.

What I don't get is that people think the proverb means that people shouldn't ask too many personal questions. Sure, that's probably a part of the meaning, but it doesn't encompass its entirety.

5.19.2007

To the point

I was reading about Edna St Vincent Millay, who had a crazy life. Even the way she died was odd: she "was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her house...having broken her neck in a fall."

Among her interesting writing is a quote that's to the point:

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.

5.17.2007

70k

Well, I've surpassed 70,000 unique visitors here, from over 100 countries. It's quite amazing because there are only a handful of people who've listed my blog, and I've done no "marketing" or any kind of online promotion. I appreciate all the visitors, and hope to be posting stuff that even more people will want to see :)

5.15.2007

It's over!

I had a feeling and didn't do a search online because I didn't want to know (face reality), but Gilmore Girls, a show that I've been watching consistently from the beginning, is now over!

They say that the show started in 2000, but I thought it started in the 90's, because I was working at a youth hostel when I first saw it. It was the second or third episode, and I was flipping through the channels when I came upon the show. I thought the mother was ditsy and didn't understand what was appealing about watching her not acting her age. But I kept watching because I kept working those nights (it was originally on Thursdays), and got hooked.

This is basically why: it allowed me to escape. I mean, isn't that what entertainment is for? I thought it unbelievable, thus worthy of escapism, that a small town would include so many interesting, quirky people. Usually there is intolerance towards "difference" or odd behavior, but the townspeople seemed to appreciate such qualities. Also, the townspeople got along with each other and they were a true community. Plus, the Gilmore family were rich blue bloods. That's not common, so it was enjoyable to see their fancy parties, exclusive clubs, and tasteful consumerism. Problems were solved, everything was cute, and relationships were interesting.

Of course, there was a point when I thought it jumped the shark, so I didn't watch it for a bit, but I returned because I wanted to keep following the characters. I didn't have the same kind of interest and "love" for it as I originally had, but I still had to know what was going to happen.

And now it's over. My Tuesday nights are going to be lacking, and I won't see any more developments in that make-believe world of wealth, intelligence, and eccentricity. I can't believe it, but I have to accept it.

5.13.2007

Vestal

Someone assumed that since I am a "linguist", I'd know the meaning of "vestal"--they wanted to know why they're called "vestal virgins."

Well I didn't know the meaning of vestal, so I looked it up:

a virgin consecrated to the Roman goddess Vesta and to the service of watching the sacred fire perpetually kept burning on her altar

So now you know. Now you can impress your friends with obscure language knowledge :)

(And for the record, I'm not a linguist--I'm just into languages. For some reason, people think I'm a linguist. I don't know why. Maybe it's because there aren't a lot of non-linguist language lovers out there.)

5.11.2007

The way of sushi

Mad Minerva (a very smart chick) sent me the link to this video. It's quite thorough--maybe too much. But if you wanted to know almost everything about sushi eating and etiquette, then this is for you.

5.09.2007

Writing to cope

Yesterday I was working on a short fiction piece that is probably one of the weirdest things I've written (though it may not be weird enough), and I walked away from the computer very happy. Which means that I have to keep writing because when other stuff doesn't fall into place in life, writing sure does. Or at least the way I feel about it does.

I think my mistake has been to put all my eggs in one basket: whether it's a job or people or whatever. For some reason, I sometimes assume that things in the non-fiction world (ie, reality) will be enough, but then when I hit walls, instead of focusing on the obstacles, all I've got to do is write, and it's a nice option to real-life disappointments.

So the lesson I've learned is to keep pursuing creative projects because it makes life a lot more tolerable. Sort of like a backup plan: if there's no real-life adventure, then writing (or photos) can provide it.

5.07.2007

Pure laine

When I was in Toronto, I picked up the latest copy of Toronto Life and read an article about the popular columnist Jan Wong, who got into a ton of trouble for using the phrase "pure laine" in analyzing the reasons for murders in Quebec. The article is worth the read because you can learn a lot about the Canadian print media and about Quebec's politics, in addition to arrogance, fear, and hate.

I'd never heard of that phrase before, though I knew that "laine" is French for "wool." From the context I deduced that it means those who are "purely" French, and found out that it's "a politically and culturally charged phrase referring to the nationalist myth of a 'pure French race' being the original ancestors of the French-Canadians."

5.04.2007

Going to TO

As I said yesterday, I'm going to Toronto for the weekend, so I'll most likely not post anything for a few days.

5.03.2007

Hating Toronto

I didn't know so many people in Canada hated Toronto. I like it, which is why I'm going there this weekend for a short vacation. Too bad I can't see this documentary there. That would be cool. But it was only shown for a couple of days (last weekend), and it sold out fast.

According to an interview with the filmmakers, if people don't hate it, they mock it. That's odd, but I guess they don't have much else to do up there ;)

5.01.2007

Italian George?

I came across an Italian proverb:

Meglio sola che male accompagnata.

Better to be alone than in bad company.

But then I found a similar quote from George Washington:

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.

So which came first: the Washington quote or the Italian one? Or did they create those independently? Or maybe George Washington was Italian ;) Either way, it's good advice.