The baby sun

This is going to sound weird, but I sometimes like to watch Teletubbies. I don't have kids, so I don't "have" to have it on, but there's something relaxing about it.

I especially like the Baby Sun. I don't know what the proper name of it is, but there's a baby in a sun, and when the Teletubbies come out of their dwelling or whatever it is, and when they say goodbye, the Baby Sun watches over them, and slowly sets at the end of the show. The Baby Sun also laughs sometimes during the show. The Baby Sun knows and sees All.

I have some Important Questions about the Baby Sun: what does it represent? Is it controlling the Teletubbies? Is it giving them energy? Is the Baby Sun their leader? Does the Baby Sun run their universe? Does everything revolve around the Baby Sun?

Watch the show sometime and you, too, will wonder what role the Baby Sun plays, and if it's the Ultimate Power in that world.


Online katakana dictionary!

I have a katakana dictionary in book form, but I couldn't find a word in it, so I looked online to do the usual "what does this word mean in context" thing, and came upon an online katakana dictionary created by a Japanese guy named Yamada Yosuke (or, in the English version of the name, Yosuke Yamada, since Yamada is his last name). At least that was the name I saw after the Japanese word for "publisher".

What is really great is that he gives you the katakana word, the English meaning, then an example in Japanese! I hope he never takes this site down!


still here!

I guess it's been so extremely freezing in Chicago (ie, 4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is -16 Celsius) and my schedule has been full with radio stuff, translating, and teaching, that I forgot to do a post within the past few days, even though I have plenty of stuff to write about.

Such as a nifty word that I see often but forget the meaning of: quixotic. I like the way it looks and how it sounds, and the meaning is hopeful, in a quirky, crazy way: "foolishly impractical especially in the pursuit of ideals; especially marked by rash lofty romantic ideas or extravagantly chivalrous action"

The connotation isn't positive, but it can sometimes be refreshing in certain contexts.


Davy Crockett's autobiography

I was looking for information on a small Tennessee town, and saw that Davy Crockett lived around there. So I did a search, and found his autobiography, A Narrative of the Life of David Crockett, of the State of Tennessee. which you can read for free!

I don't have time now to read the whole thing, but I might attempt it, even though it's written in sort of annoying, stilted, cumbersome 19th century English with sentence structures that we don't use today.

Another thing: why did everyone back then use periods in titles? Note that I remained true to his book's title by including the period after "Tennessee." Another period occurs after that below the main title: "Written by himself."

Nowadays, book titles, even subtitles, don't use periods. I wonder when people stopped doing that.


Have you?

Here's something that Americans never say: "Have you any plans?" It's a British expression, which seems to be derived from German, since German often begins with, "Haben Sie..."

It's too bad Americans don't say, "Have you..." because it would be easier to teach that than "Do you have..." For some reason, the word "do" at the beginning of a question seems to confuse people who are learning English. I think it's because it's too complicated. "Have you" is easier.

Whenever I hear Brits say "Have you..." it seems so formal, but that's because "Have" sounds more formal than "Do".


Flammable or inflammable?

Sometimes I have to translate a word that means "flammable" from another language, but when I look in a dictionary, the word can also be "inflammable." What's the difference? None!

We'd assume that the prefix "in" makes it a negative, as in "incorrect" or "incoherent", but it doesn't. According to The Word Detective:

In the beginning, there was "inflammable," a perfectly nice English word based on the Latin "inflammare," meaning "to kindle," from "in" (in) plus "flamma" (flame). "Inflammable" became standard English in the 16th century. So far, so good.

Comes the 19th century, and some well-meaning soul dreamt up the word "flammable," basing it on a slightly different Latin word, "flammare," meaning "to set on fire." There was nothing terribly wrong with "flammable," but it never really caught on. After all, we already had "inflammable," so "flammable" pretty much died out in the 1800's.

After World War Two, safety officials on both sides of the Atlantic decided that folks were too likely to see "inflammable" and decide that the word meant "fireproof," so various agencies set about encouraging the revival of "flammable" as a substitute.

I think that was a good decision because few people know Latin concepts (not even moi). It's not like they say, "Oh, that's based on the Latin word "inflammare!" They just want a quick understanding, no extra analysis.


Deluded people

Millions of people watch "American Idol," but honestly, I've never watched it for more than a few minutes. But I had to watch it tonight to look for some good audio for the radio show I'm helping out with, and I must say that in spite of the show being on for several seasons, there still seem to be a lot of people who are totally deluded.

I think it's because people want fame and to escape their boring lives so badly, they convince themselves that they are great, almost as a kind of associated greatness that results when they latch on to celebrities, living vicariously through them.

I can't believe these people think they are talented. They really need to dwell within reality and work on what they really *are* good at.


County of Orange

Every time I see this image of the Orange County sign, I think it's so cute. "County of Orange" sounds so formal and even French-like, because French uses "de" between a noun and adjective or to indicate possession or when describing things. "County of Orange" also sounds important, because let's face it: a county named after a fruit doesn't command respect.


I need mnemonics

I was at Japanese class tonight, and saw a kanji that I should have known. So I used a mnemonic to remember it, and when I saw it again, I remembered what the reading was.

When I first studied Japanese, I always used mnemonics because that was the only way I was going to make sense of that very different language. But as I learned more kanji, I thought there wasn't a "need" to use mnemonics anymore. I guess I figured I could manage to memorize them without such a "crutch", but mnemonics really are helpful. I knew that, but I thought I was stronger than that. Well, there's nothing weak or wimpy about mnemonics, so I'm going to resume using them. They're not just for beginners.



I've been helping someone with English and American culture (shameless plug), and we read an article about a plane accident, which had the word "tarmac". If you think about it, it's sort of a weird word to use for a place where airplanes sit before they get on the runway to take off. What's puzzling is the source of it, and that it's a trademark. Usually I don't think of words coming from trademarks, but according to The Word Detective , it's:

short for "tar macadam." John McAdam (1756-1836) invented the "macadam" type of road pavement made of crushed stone, which resisted the rutting formerly plaguing highways in England. "Macadamizing" was later further improved by the addition of tar as a binder, resulting in the "Tarmac" process still widely used today.

Who would've known a commercial application would become a common, though odd-sounding, word.


Streaming rice

I was at a tiny Thai restaurant today, which would probably be characterized as a "hole in the wall," and on the grease-stained paper menus I saw the word "streamed rice" instead of "steamed rice". I guess their rice is online as well :D


Star Trek Rhapsody

This is funny, though I'm not a fan of the original Star Trek series. It's based on Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.


Jive translator!

This is totally weird and funny: Gizoogle, which translates webpages and text to jive! You can paste in a URL to transform it to jive, or you can paste in text to "tranzilate" it.

I tried it with my homepage, which made the quotes look funny :D