I was reading a bio of Gordon Brown and saw that he lived in a manse when he was growing up.

Of course, since I'm not a Brit nor fully knowledgeable of every word in the English language, I had to look that word up, which is "from the late 15th century" and comes from the "medieval Latin mansus 'unit of land'. A manse is "a house provided for a church minister" or "a large, stately house." Since Brown's dad was a minister, then the first definition refers to his "manse."

Anyway, it's a new word I learned, one which I'll probably never use.



Someone gave me a box of chocolate covered raisins, and I couldn't believe there was a typo on them: instead of having the word "raisins" on the box, it said "raisin's". Attention world: plural words are not formed with apostrophe s; you just have to add the "s"--that is all. Why do so many people nowadays make such a mistake? I can understand if people who are spelling-challenged add an apostrophe out of ignorance, but a company? Don't they have proofreaders?

The company that created the chocolate covered raisins is World's Finest, which creates various products for fund raising. It says on the box, "fund raising since 1949." So in all those years, they never learned that the plural form of "raisin" is "raisins" and not "raisin's"?

If you ever see these things, check it out: they're called "Fund Raisin's". As in "the Fund Raisin's proofreader was absent when this candy was packaged."

Unless they're making a play on words. Like they're saying that they're "fund raising" and wanted to be cute by deleting the "g".


Oklahoma info

A long-time Metrolingua reader and online pal has set up a site with a lot of info about Oklahoma: you can get tourism information and Oklahoma links.

He's also going to set up a Japanese-English bilingual blog, which is quite an ambitious project--right now it's still under construction, so when it kicks off (like in the fall), I'll mention it again.


Funny Indian video

This is an obvious rip-off of Michael Jackson's Thriller. But at least the folks in this video can dance.


Too many characters

I've been watching Miss Marple on PBS, and it's hard to follow what's going on because there are too many characters. At the beginning of each show, they seem to introduce us to a group of like 8 to 12 people who are gathering at a house or party or trip, and I think that's too many. So by the end, when Miss Marple solves the murders, I'm sort of worn out from following all those characters and how their lives are involved with the deceased.

Even when I watched the older Miss Marple series (which was from the 1980's and 90's), I still thought there were too many characters. Plus, that Miss Marple (played by Joan Hickson) would be out of it most of the episode, and then at the end, she'd perk up and solve the murders, giving lots of details that were hardly revealed throughout the show about characters we hardly knew.

Well, Agatha Christie was obviously very successful despite the numerous characters, so whatever she did worked. It's just hard to follow on TV--I've never read her books, actually.


80k plus

Ok, I have to say this for the record: over 80,000 unique visitors have come here from over 100 countries. That's not bad, especially because I've done no promotion and hardly anyone mentions this blog. But it's true what I read when I first started: build it and they will come.

Now all I need is some type of media coverage to really put it over the top ;)



When komfo commented on a previous post, I looked at his blog, which is in English and Lojban. I'd never heard of Lojban before, and other people probably haven't either, so here are some features:

culturally neutral
grammar based on the principles of logic
unambiguous grammar
phonetic spelling
the root words can be easily combined to form new words
regular, no exceptions

Sounds like an ambitious project. And the fact that komfo writes a blog in both languages means that he probably emits a lot of brain energy. Which I don't have. I have enough trouble with Japanese kanji as it is.


Awful English

Someone sent me these awful instructions, and you don't have to think too hard to understand why this is a horrible translation. Even the title doesn't make sense: "The hard dish installs the manual." And none of the instructions make sense either, such as: "Single press down the left slippery must use dint in handle in a hand to drag along outside, then square take out the hard dish then."


Either the translation was unbelievably horrible, or they had no idea whatsoever how to write correct English.


Why I'm crazy

While I was stuck in traffic today, it hit me: my mind has been collapsing upon itself because I have not used it to tackle any fiction. I haven't written fiction in more than a few months because I finished a novel and then had to write a good query letter, and kept thinking that once I finished the query, I'd send it off and then start a new novel. But I was stuck on trying to write a good query letter, and since I wasn't getting anywhere, I put it aside to do other stuff.

Usually, even if I have difficult stuff going on, fiction writing has made me feel great and has even made me feel overwhelmingly peaceful. And if I have seemingly unsolvable problems, at least I can use my problem-solving skills to create a story. When I first tried to write a novel, I was often stressed out and worried. But I got so used to writing so consistently, I started to enjoy the process. And now I feel like I'm crazy because months have passed and I haven't written anything. So even if I don't manage to write a decent query letter, I should write another novel.

I've heard of published authors talking about how great writing makes them feel, and if they have to do the non-writing stuff that's related to their profession, they get all frustrated because they're not writing. But they have that added incentive of editors and readers waiting for their work. But we unpublished folks just have to be rewarded by the feeling we get from writing. And I've really neglected it, so I feel awful. All the other stuff I've been worried about would've been greatly eased if only I'd taken the time during these past months to write fiction. And I would've had at least a first draft done!


Are Japanese snacks scary?

I'm planning to have people over for Japanese snacks and drinks, and I think some people are sort of scared about it. Why, I don't know, because Japanese snacks don't bite. I've noticed varying reactions, from "cool!" to "oh...why?" to "yeah, I'm uh busy." Living abroad made me see things differently, to the point of changing my definitions of what "normal" and "odd" are. But I think some people aren't as, well, adventurous. Maybe it's weird and possibly nerdy to have a Japanese snack party, but life is bland enough to necessitate weirdly harmless things.


Erroneous characters

Somebody sent me a link to an article that's no longer new news, but some people may not know about it: the wrong Japanese on the Wikipedia logo. What's funny is that it's written in katakana, which is a script that even people who can't read Japanese well usually learn quite decently because it is usually used for foreign (non-Japanese) words, and people learn at least how to write their names with it.

I can't believe with all the people who use and write Wikipedia, they couldn't get such a simple thing right. As the image says, the correct characters spell "wi" but the ones that Wikipedia originally used spell "kwi". And that's something else I'm wondering about: why didn't the New York Times, which published the story and the image, say what Wikipedia used? All they said is that it "contains two erroneous characters."


It contains ONE erroneous character because "wi" and "kwi" use the SAME second character イ which is "i".

Update: komfo pointed out that the second erroneous character is the Devanagari one--I was just focusing on the Japanese ones.


It's for real

I was flipping through the channels and came upon a Rock Paper Scissors competition and wondered if it was a spoof, or if it was true. It was.

The winner got $50,000. That's not a bad way to earn a bunch of moolah. I can't believe that not only were people competing, but lots of people were in the audience.

The USA Rock Paper Scissors League has a site that looks legit too.

Very interesting...and seemingly silly.


Online word and text translators

I was doing a search for a French word, and came upon a bunch of online dictionaries that translate words from or into French, Spanish, German, Russian, Chinese, and Portuguese. They also have an English Dictionary & Thesaurus.

You can enter a word to be translated, or you can go to each language to look up a word. I don't know how extensive the dictionaries are because they're trying to sell translation software and other language products, but still, it's better than nothing. Plus, it's hard to find a decent Portuguese dictionary online, so theirs should be helpful.

What's quite cool is that they also have a text translator that translates short passages from or into French, Spanish, German, and Italian.


Happy Independence Day!

July 4 is a celebration of the Declaration of Independence, which was signed in 1776. A lot of hot dogs and hamburgers are going to be consumed throughout the U.S., I'm sure.


Happy Canada Day!

To the Metrolingua visitors from Up North: Happy [belated] Canada Day!

Here's some info:

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.